Archive for the ‘Stage’ Category

Mike Launches Crowdfunding Appeal to Help Fight Libel Battle

June 16, 2018

On Wednesday, 13th June 2018, Mike annnounced that he had set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for him to take to court the organisations and publications that have libelled him as an anti-Semite. He has had to do this, because he simply doesn’t make enough from the Vox Political page to pay the legal fees himself, and so he has turned to the generosity of his readers.

He posted up the description of his case, and why he needs the money, which he has put on his JustGiving page. This runs

“My name is Mike Sivier. You may know me as the writer of the Vox Political website.

I am probably best-known as the man who forced the Conservative government to reveal the number of sick and disabled benefit claimants who had lost their lives after being denied benefit, after a two-year campaign.

In 2017, immediately before local government elections in which I was standing as a Labour candidate, an organisation calling itself the Campaign Against Antisemitism published an article falsely alleging anti-Semitism by me. I believe the intention was to corruptly spoil my chance of being elected.

The piece ‘quotemined’ investigative articles I had written about claims of anti-Semitism against Labour Party politicians, using only those words that could present the most prejudicial impression about me, in order to falsely suggest hatred of the Jewish people. A weblink to the article was then sent to the Labour Party, in an attempt to have my membership suspended. This led to newspaper articles including one in which my local Conservative MP libelled me.

Labour obligingly suspended my membership, and subsequently launched a one-sided investigation in which I was found guilty despite being absent from the proceedings, at which none of the evidence I had presented to the party was mentioned by the investigator.

A copy of the report to the Labour Party committee that heard my case was then handed to a member of the national press. This led to further newspaper articles claiming I was not only an anti-Semite but also a Holocaust denier (an innovation by the Labour Party investigator).

I have been trying to persuade all those involved to retract their unfounded claims and apologise. These lies have harmed my main business – the Vox Political website – by encouraging readers to believe I should be avoided because of the unacceptable views they have attributed to me.

My attempts seem unlikely to produce positive results so it seems I must resort to court action.

I need your support to fund the court campaign to clear my name.

Please support this case and share. As a Labour Party member, I believe in equal opportunities for all people, no matter the colour of their skin, their religion or ethnic background, or any other accident of birth. My campaign to force the Tory government to release its sickness and disability death figures was an example of my commitment to end discrimination, prejudice and hate based on such characteristics.”

He ends his article with an appeal to readers to support him, either by donating or sharing the link, or both, which is

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mike-sivier

The article is at: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/06/13/help-vox-political-writer-fight-anti-semitism-libels-in-court/

All this is absolutely true. And I’ve written time and again that Mike is no racist, Anti-Semite or any kind of Nazi. He and I had an uncle, who was of Jewish descent, with whom our family used to go on holidays when we were children. Our father had done his national service in Germany, not far from Belsen concentration camp, and showed us the photos he’d taken of the remains of that terrible place, and the memorial the British army put up to the Jews murdered there.

He has always enjoyed the friendship of people of different cultures, religions and nationalities. One of his mates at college was a Muslim Nigerian. And while he was there, he was one of the speakers reading out the names of some of the victims of the Holocaust in a performance commemorating them and the others butchered in the Shoah. He had done this at the invitation of a female Jewish friend, who was deeply moved by his performance.

One of the books I’ve got on my shelf on the Third Reich was given to me by Mike after he went on a College trip to Berlin. It’s on the Nazi Sicherheitsdienst – the infamous ‘Security Service’, which formed a part of the apparatus of state terror in the Third Reich. It was published by the-then West German government to acccompany an exhibition on the SD and the horrors they perpetrated following the redevelopment and archaeological investigation of the organisation’s headquarters in what was then West Berlin. As well as information on the SD and the other parts of the Nazi secret police, like the Gestapo and the Krimipolizei, the ordinary criminal police, who were also responsible for persecuting political and ethnic enemies of the Nazi order, the book also gave due coverage of the Nazis’ victims. It described the network of camps, and gave the figures for the number of Jews and other victims murdered in the occupied countries. It also had a photographs and potted biographies of some of the most notable victims. It is most definitely not the kind of book Nazis, ant-Semites and Holocaust deniers want people reading, let alone give to their relatives.

Mike and I grew up in the ’80s, when the NF and BNP were very much in the news and trying to make their presence felt through terrorising and attacking people of colour and lefties. It was also the decade when Blacks and Asians also fought back against racism with the support of White sympathisers. There was a real fear at the time that the BNP or something like them could gain power, especially under Thatcher’s noxious government, with its links to South American Fasciss like Pinochet and the horrific Rios Montt. This fear was expressed in some of the comic literature that both he and I read, which dealt with issues like racism and persecution.

It shows the absolute contempt for truth or any kind of journalistic integrity that he, and so many others like him, have been smeared and libelled by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the scumbags of the right-wing press. I full support Mike in his court battle, and hope others will too.

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Mail Spikes Story about German Anti-Nazi Tennis Champ to Save Embarrassing Its Chiefs’ Grandfathers

June 14, 2018

This is another piece from Private Eye, which shows you once again how grotty the Daily Mail and its sister paper, the Mail on Sunday are, and their historic links with Fascism and anti-Semitism.

Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, resigned last week to start a new job elsewhere in the company. He was succeeded by Geordie Grieg, who was previously the editor of the Mail on Sunday. This fortnight’s Private Eye for 15th-28th June 2018 therefore carried a special, two-page article paying suitable tribute to him and his editorship of the rag, on pages 8 and 9. On page 9, in the section ‘Good Sports Finally Agree’, the Eye describes how both Dacre and Grieg spiked a story about a 1930s German tennis player, Baron Gottfried von Cramm. Von Cramm was an opponent of the Nazis, and was imprisoned by them for having a gay affair. The Mail was considering running a story about this courageous and principled man, up to the point when one of its staff noticed a few lines in the article describing how he had been banned from participating in the 1939 Wimbledon tournament by the All England Club. One of those pushing for the ban was Harold, the first Viscount Rothermere. And so to avoid embarrassing the current Viscount Rothermre, the piece was spiked.

The story was then picked up the Mail on Sunday, which was also considering publishing it, until a hack dug up another connection between events then and the MoS’ editor. It turns out that the president of the All-England Club at the time von Cramm was banned was one Louis Grieg, Geordie Grieg’s grandfather. Who was also a member of Oswald Mosley’s January Club. And so the story was spiked again. This sorry tale was revealed, according to the Eye, in the ‘Mandrake’ column of the New European.

The Mail is infamous for the backing it gave Oswald Mosley’s legions with the headline ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’. One of the great left-wing bloggers, I think it was Tom Pride at Pride’s Purge, a few years ago posted up the various headlines and articles the paper had run in the 1930s raving about Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, Mosley and fulminating against Jewish immigration. This was after the Mail did a hatchet piece on Ed Miliband, the then head of the Labour party, which attacked him through his father. The article was headlined ‘The Man Who Hated Britain’, and sought to portray Ralph Miliband, a Jewish Belgian immigrant and an important Marxist thinker, as someone who despised his adopted country. Well, he certainly despised its class institutions, like the public schools and monarchy, but as Tom Pride’s piece revealed, Miliband senior did his patriotic duty like millions of other people, and served in the army fighting the Nazis.

This was in sharp contrast to Dacre’s father or grandfather, I can’t remember which, who spent the war as a showbiz or society correspondent. So, more hypocrisy from the Mail. This won’t surprise anyone, as the Mail’s always been hypocritical in its nasty attitudes.

With all these murky little family secrets about their predecessors’ extreme right-wing views, the editors of the Mail and Mail on Sunday have got no business libelling anyone on the Left as anti-Semites or Holocaust Deniers.

The Pascon Agan Arluth and Other Classic Works of Cornish Literature

March 30, 2018

As this is Good Friday, I thought I write about one of treatments of Christ’s trial and crucifixion in one of the other languages of Britain, the Celtic language of Cornwall. The Pascon Agan Arluth translates as ‘The Passion of Our Lord’ I think it was originally written in 1637 in Middle Cornish. There is a bilingual edition of the text in both Cornish and English published in the 1980s by the Cornish language publishers Dyllansow Truran. Unfortunately, I can’t say much more about it nor show a picture, because I’m afraid I’ve mislaid my copy. Dam’. But like the English mystery plays in England, its a classic of literature for Cornish, regardless of whether you’re a Christian or not.

Dyllansow Truran have also published a number of other classic works of Cornish literature, which also date from the 17th century, and which are also on religious themes. These include

Gwryans an Bys: A Medieval Cornish Drama, William Jordan 1611, translated and amended by R. Morton Nance (Mordon) and A.S.D. Smith (Caradar), ed. by E.G. Retallack Hooper (Talek) (Redruth, Cornwall: Dyllansow Truran 1986).

It was written by William Jordan of Helston, and then translated into English by John Keigwin eight decades later in 1691, at the request of the Bishop of Exeter, Sir Jonathan Trelawney. This edition follows the translation and unified spelling of the two revivalists of the Cornish language, Nance and Smith. It’s a rough retelling of the story of Genesis from God’s creation of the world, the fall of Lucifer and the rebel angels, the temptation of Adam and Eve, Cain’s murder of Abel and his subsequent life, Enoch and his translation alive into heaven, and ends with Noah and God’s revelation to him of the Enochian laws. These are four simply laws that guarantee salvation to everyone, provided that they believe in one God. This is obviously one of them. I can’t remember the other two, but another is that people are not to eat meat cut from a living animal.

It begins with the lines from God the Father

Ego sum Alpha et Omega:
hep dalleth na dewethva
pur wyr my yu:
omma a-jy dhe’n clowdys
war fas an dowr, yn-certan,
Try Person yn un Deways,
ow kesregnya bya vyken
yn mur honor ha vertu.
My ha’w Map na’n Spyrys Sans
Try yth on yn un Substans,
comprehendys yn un Dew.
I am Alpha and Omega:
without beginning ore end
right truly am I:
here within the clouds
upon the face of the water, verily,
The Persons in one Godhead,
reigning together for ever
in great honour and power.
I and my son and the Holy Spirit
Three are we in one Substance,
Comprised in one God.

And ends with the epilogue

an keth jorna-ma y de –
deh’n Tas Dew re bo grassys:
why a welas, pup degree,
lyes mater gwaryes,
ha Creasyon oll a’n bys.
Ynweth oll why a welas
an keth bys-ma Consumyes
der lyvyow a dhowr pur vras.
Ny ve un mabden sparyas
ma’s Noy, y wrek, ha’y
fleghes.
Deugh avorow a dermyn:
why a wel maters pur vras
ha redempsyon grontys.

dre vercy a dhew on Tas
dhe sawya neb us Kellys.

Mynstrels, gwreugh heny pbyba
may hyllyn warbarth donsya,
del yu an vaner ha’n gys.

This same day is ended –
to the Father God be thanks:-
you have seen, every degree,
many matters acted,
and the creation of all the world.
Also you have seen, all of you,
this same world destroyed
by very great floods of water.
No one human being was spared
except Noah, his wife, and his children.
Come in time tomorrow:

you shall see very great matters,
and redemption granted
by the mercy of God the Father,
to save whoever is lost.

Minstrels, do you pipe for us
what we may dance together,
as is the manner and the fashion.

The play continued on a second day, but William Jordan didn’t write it down, and so it’s been lost.

The Camborne Play: A Verse Translation of the Beunans Meriasek by Myrna Combellach (Redruth: Dyllansow Truran 1988)

The play’s manuscript was written in 1504, though this is just the date the play was finally written down, and it may have been composed much earlier. The manuscript itself comprises there separate plays bound together in a logical sequence, with a cast of 120, and intended to be performed in the round, probably in a natural amphitheatre. Myrna Combellach’s version of the play was produced for a performance directed by Jerry Finch of for the Cornwall Drama Association at the Cornish Eisteddfod, 1986. It was rehearsed and performed at St. Paul’s Church, Truro, in February 1986, and the performers were a mixture of amateur, student and professional actors. The play is a treatment of the life of Camborne’s patron saint, Meriasek. Hence the title in Cornish Beunans Meriasek.

The blurb on the back cover reads

Vitality and joy of life are the keynotes of this new translation of the sixteenth century Cornish language play, Beunans Meriasek. In it, Camborne’s noble patron saint, Meriasek, is sent to school, refuses marriage and all world considerations, embarking instead on a priestly career of such piety that it ends in a bishopric of immense wealth and grandeur of the kind that he had studious worked to avoid all his life. Meanwhile, in Rome eight centuries earlier, the pagan emperor Constantine is stricken with leprosy, only to be cured by the outlawed Christian pope, Silvester, resulting in the Christian conversion of an empire. A black mass takes place, an evil worm of a dragon is slain, a forest is set on fire in Brittany, the Duke of Cornwall goes to war against paganism, and a third play on a completely different theme is added for good measure.

Mike Libelled as Holocaust-Denier by Sunset Times

February 5, 2018

Yesterday, the newspaper dubbed by Private Eye the Sunset Times went ahead and smeared Mike as an anti-Semite and Holocaust-denier. Mike was mentioned in yet another scaremongering article about how Labour under Corbyn was welcoming back the hard left and anti-Semites. There was a photograph at the top of the article of a few of those so accused, including Mike, along with Jeremy Corbyn. The others were professional politicians, such as the Black activist Lee Jaspers.

Mike was aware that the article was coming, and had more than an inkling that it wasn’t going to be sympathetic. He had been contacted on Saturday by Gabriel Pogrund, one of the Sunset Times’ hacks, who told him they were writing a story about the suspensions from the Labour Party for anti-Semitism, and wanted Mike’s view. So Mike told him, making it clear that he was very definitely not anti-Semitic and that the false allegations against him were made by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and politically motivated. So Mike recorded the interview, and has put up his version of it on his blog.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/02/03/the-sunday-times-wanted-me-to-talk-about-labours-antisemitism-investigation-so-i-did/

As far as the Times article went, they needn’t have bothered to call Mike at all. None of that appeared in the final article. What did appear were a few, very selective quotes, ripped out their context, which suggested that Mike believed that Blair was surrounded by a clique of Jewish advisers, and doubted whether millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust, or only thousands. It was material straight from the gutter pens or keyboards of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism or the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion.

As Mike, myself and very many others have pointed out, ad nauseam, Mike is very definitely not an anti-Semite nor does he deny or minimise the Holocaust. I’ve mentioned on this blog many times before that he and I had an uncle of Jewish heritage, with whom we used to go on holiday with our family when we were children. Mike when he was at College was asked by a Jewish friend of his to read out some of the names of the people butchered by the Nazis during the Shoah as part of her commemoration of the atrocity. I’ve a German book on my shelf on the Nazi terror apparatus, including the Holocaust, which Mike bought for me on a trip to Berlin. This is a piece of thoroughly respectable scholarship, which discusses the Holocaust and the numbers of people murdered in the various areas of the Reich during the Nazi occupation. The book was published to accompany an exhibition on the Nazis’ apparatus of state terror following excavation and building work on the SS’ headquarters in Berlin. It was published by the German government, and so is a work of serious, and often moving scholarship, as it contains photos and some potted biographies of the Nazis’ victims. It is very definitely not something that would delight or give comfort to real anti-Semites and Holocaust-deniers like those in the Alternative fuer Deutschland, the National Democrats or the banned British Nazi youth group, National Action.

Mike points out that the comment about not knowing whether thousands or millions died in the Holocaust actually came from a reply he gave to a question about the SWP. Someone in the Socialist Workers’ Party had said a few years ago that thousands died in the Holocaust, and Mike was asked why they said that. Mike didn’t know, as he’s not and never has been a member of the SWP. Mike made that clear in his answer. But the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, being the lying frauds they are, took that one sentence out of context to make it appear that Mike denied that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

Mike, understandably, was upset by this gross libel, and has written a letter of complaint to the Sunset Times.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/02/04/my-complaint-to-the-sunday-times-about-its-libellous-article/

Mike has also written to ITV to complain about Robert Peston, after Peston described him as ‘vile’ on his programme, Peston on Sunday. This shows the amount of research Peston and his crew did. They didn’t contact Mike, or check the facts. They simply took what was said in the Times as completely true, and just repeated the libel with a bit of abuse thrown in.

I am not surprised that the Times decided to smear Mike in the article, though I am very, very disappointed. Throughout the past week it seems that it, the Torygraph and the other right-wing rags have been running scare stories pushing the idea that the Labour party is seething with anti-Semitism. On Saturday, for example, the ‘Opinion Matrix’ column of the I newspaper, which republishes extracts from the rest of the press, contained a snippet from the Times about the subject. This not only promoted the idea that Labour under Corbyn was full of anti-Semitic hate, but went on to say that if nothing was done about it, Jews would increasingly be put off the party.

In fact, if you look at what’s actually going on, the reverse is true. An increasing number of Jewish people are becoming alienated, not from the Labour party, but from the state of Israel and the Conservative Jewish establishment that supports it. An increasing number of Jewish American young people are now bitterly critical of Israel, including those who have suffered real anti-Semitic abuse themselves. And although over 70 per cent of British Jews say that the state of Israel is important to their sense of identity, critics of Israel like Tony Greenstein have also argued that this may well decline. Zionism was always a marginal movement within Judaism, and the vast majority of diaspora Jews wanted to live in the homelands of their birth as free, equal citizens with their gentile fellow countrymen and women. Support of Israel became a major plank of right-wing ideology in America as psychological compensation for that nation’s loss of the Vietnam War. Since then the country has benefited massively from considerable American and Western aid and a very largely uncritical stance by the mainstream media to the atrocities Israeli security forces have committed against the indigenous Palestinians, and the institutional racism of the Israeli state itself.

That situation is now changing, and the Israeli right is starting to panic. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism was founded in 2014 by people, who were aghast to discover that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza had disgusted ordinary Brits. As I’ve said here, over and over again, the organisation is a pro-Israel pressure group. It has precious little interest in real anti-Semitism. It’s patrons are nearly all Tories, and there is little condemnation of anti-Semitism in that party, or indeed, of the real, vicious anti-Semites of the Far Right. It appears to exist solely to attack left-wing critics of Israel. Which it does through the well-worn Zionist tactic of smearing them as anti-Semites.

Corbyn isn’t anti-Israel. One of the commenters to this blog pointed out that he does support Israel. But he also supports the Palestinians, and that terrifies the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement and their friends in the Israeli Right, who wish to continue the Palestinians’ oppression and ethnic cleansing. They are very strongly allied to the Blairites, and so both groups are determined to silence Israel’s critics on the left, including and especially Jews, by smearing them as anti-Semites.

Mike is clearly one of those targeted. He’s been asked by journos about his document, the Livingstone Presumption, which he sent to the Labour party to defend Ken Livingstone against the smear against him. This shows just how much the liars and frauds of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Labour Movement fear him as a blogger, as well as the Tories and their lapdogs in the lamestream media.

Don’t believe the mainstream media about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. They are lying, and they have lied and smeared Mike. Go and read what he has to say instead.

Tharg’s Tribute to Kevin O’Neill: When the Comics Code Banned His Art

December 30, 2017

Yesterday in one of the posts I mentioned the dictatorial grip the Comics Code Authority had over American comics from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. The Code was sent up to reassure and protect the American public after the moral panic over Horror comics in the 1950s. This spread to comics as a whole, which were seen as subversive, morally corrupting and un-American. This included bizarre accusations of Fascism and deviant sexuality aimed at those stalwarts of popular American culture, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The scare decimated the American comics industry, and nearly caused its total collapse.

The Code was set up to ensure that all comics were suitable for a child of seven to read. Its officials were unelected, and in many cases had right-wing views that showed absolutely no understanding of popular politics or culture. It was supposed to be a voluntary organisation, and there were comics creators who worked outside and often against the code. Like Robert Crumb and the underground scene, or the independents Like Dave Sim and Cerebus the Aardvark. In practice, however, those comics were well outside the mainstream, and were only available in head shops and specialist comics stores like Forbidden Planet and the late, lamented Forever People in Bristol.

I discussed how the Code rejected one issue of the Green Lantern Corps, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Kevin O’Neill, on the grounds that O’Neill’s artwork was too grotesque and disturbing for children. This was ironic, as he had been delighting children and adults with his monstrous aliens, mutants, robots and equally grotesque humans for years in the pages of 2000 AD. He was and remains one of comicdom’s favourite artists, and while the other artists who worked on the Nemesis the Warlock strip added the considerable talents to the tale of the Warlock and his foe, the human ‘Ultimate Fascist’ Grand Master Torquemada, I think much of the strip’s initial popularity came from his superb, bizarre artwork.

2000 AD duly paid tribute to him and his censorship by the Comics Code in their anniversary issue, Prog 500, published on 14 December 1986. In it, Tharg took a walk through the contents of his mind, reviewing the comic’s history and revisiting some of the characters that didn’t work. At the end he comes to Kevin O’Neill, who appears as a stunted, crazed sadist. O’Neill admonishes him for censoring the most extreme piece of violence in the strip. Tharg tries to reassure him by reminding him that he won the ‘ultimate accolade’ for which other comics creators all envy him: the day the Comics Code banned his art as totally unsuitable for children. To which O’Neill replies ‘Hmmph. You won’t get around me by flattery’. Unsatisfied, O’Neill then calls down Torquemade, who promptly beats Tharg up.

The different sections of that strip were written and drawn by the different artists and writers, who worked on the comic, so there were different credit cards for them for each section. That section ends with the credits reading ‘Script Therapy: Pat Mills. Art Therapy: Kev O’Neill. Letters: Steve Potter’. Which suggests that the letterer was the only sane one there.

Here’s a few panels.

The real O’Neill is, however, quite different from his portrayal in the strip. It’s been pointed out several times that the fans, who’ve met him, are often surprised that he doesn’t dress in black and silver like the Terminators. And the other rumours about him are also totally untrue. Like he only works at night using a quill pen in the light of candles, and has an occult temple in his basement. I met him at UKCAC 90 in Reading, where I queued with Mike to have him draw a character on the blank badges we’d been given for our fave artists to draw on. O’Neill at the time was a wearing a ‘Solidarity for Nicaragua’ T-shirt, which a left-wing friend of mine at college also wore. He also was wearing a brown leather jacket, and his facial features at the time reminded me a bit of John Hurt. He was affable, enthusiastic, full of nervous energy and completely unthreatening. If you seem him now at comic conventions or footage of them on YouTube, or the occasional interview for television, he’s obviously older and balder, as effects so many of us eventually. He comes across as genial and entertaining British gent, completely unlike the berserk monstrosities that rampage across his strips down the years. Even when he’s telling the stories about how he and Pat Mills went as far as they could in savaging American superhero comics and right-wing, superpatriotic American politics in the violent and nihilistic Marshal Law. Actors, writers and artists aren’t their creations. Fortunately.

Brian Blessed Talks about his Role as Boss Nass in Star Wars Prequels

December 24, 2017

In this clip I found on YouTube, the mighty Brian Blessed is interviewed by host Jaime Stangroom about his role as the amphibian alien king, Boss Nass of the Naboo, in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Stangroom opens the interview by declaring that Blessed is a British institution. Or belongs in one, referring to the great man’s over the top personality. He notes that among his other achievement, he’s the oldest man to go to the South Pole and has climbed Mt. Everest.

It seems George Lucas was quite a fan of his. Before they started filming, Lucas asked to be alone with Brian for about half an hour. He said he wanted to cast him as Jedi, but that he would be too powerful for such a role. What other role could he cast which would be more suitable for his energies? Quick as a flash, Blessed’s agent, who surely deserves their fee, suggested Boss Nass.

The scene where Nass finally offers peace between the Naboo and humans was unscripted. The crowd surrounding Nass were to kneel or stand respectfully towards him, waiting for him to make a pronouncement. But Nass’ lines hadn’t been written and it was left to the Dynamite Kid to make them up. Which he did. He made the characteristic noises, before making his pronouncement of peace between human and amphibian. Lucas was delighted, and said that was exactly what was in his mind.

Stangroom asked the inevitable question about what he thought of Jar Jar Binks. Blessed, like the professional actor he really is, is very careful in his reply. He states that it’s always dangerous to criticise another actor’s interpretation. He just says that you have to make sure that the noises the Naboo characters make do not overshadow the spoken lines, as you can lose a lot of plot that way. He then gives a demonstration from his own performance as Boss Nass to show how he avoided that problem.

Rather more entertaining is his tale of talking to the actor, who was unveiled as the true face of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker in last of the original trilogy, The Return of the Jedi. The actor, who played him had been a big star in the 1940s, but was now quite elderly, or at least when Blessed talked to him. He remembered that he’d been in a film, where they took a mask off him. He had a bit of a struggle remembering who he’d played, until it came to him: Darth Vader. Blessed was astonished. ‘You played Darth Vader! You don’t know how big that character is!’ before going on to explain how massively popular Vader was and how everyone wanted to play him. The actor replied by saying, ‘Well, they only gave me a little wage.’

Blessed’s got a reputation as something of a bit of a ham, thanks to his powerful personality. Well, as Fritz Leiber, who was the son of Shakespearian actors wrote in A Spectre is Haunting Texas, ‘All actors are hams and secretly love it’. But the interview reveals that behind the shouting there’s a very thoughtful mind that carefully considers what to say and what to put into the performance.

He’s also very left-wing. Blessed himself is working class, the son of a northern miner. When he did a one-man show back in the 1990s, He described going to the peace conferences in the 1950s. At one of these he found himself sitting next to a foreign gentleman. He asked who he was. ‘Picasso’, the stranger replied. ‘Oh yes, what do you do?’ ‘I’m an artist’. So Blessed asked him if he could draw something for him. So Picasso drew a picture of a dove on a bit of paper hankie Blessed had at the time. Of course, Picasso drew it in his extremely simplified, modernist style. When Blessed got home and looked at it, he declared it was ‘rubbish’, and that Picasso wasn’t an artist at all, and threw it in the bin. Thus throwing away potentially thousands of pounds.

Blessed for a long time said that he wanted to play Dr. Who. I think that time is long past, as he’s rather too old now. And the job of the new Doctor is already taken, and he’s the wrong gender. But he has appeared in the show. He was in the Colin Baker ‘Trial of a Timelord’ serial ‘Mindwarp’, in which he played an alien samurai warrior battling the evil Mentors, and the alien supercapitalist Sil.

Oh yes, and while Han was killed in the last Star Wars sequel, we can always take comfort in that Gordon’s Alive !

‘Florence’ Suggests I should Compile a Book about British & American Support for Fascist Dictators

November 12, 2017

Yesterday I put up a piece commenting on a video from the Aussie left-wing blogger, Democratic Socialist. This showed the Tory media’s double standard in reviling Jeremy Corbyn as a supporter of terrorism, Iran, and an anti-Semite, when he is none of those things. But the hacks of the Telegraph definitely did not make those accusations against their Tory molten idol, Maggie Thatcher, when she by association supported all of the above through her friendship with General Pinochet.

Corbyn’s support for Iran was based on an interview he made to an Iranian group, the Mossadeq Project. Mohammed Mossadeq was the last, democratically elected prime minister of that ancient and extremely cultured nation. He was no theocrat, but a secular liberal. He was also a Baha’i, a post-Islamic, syncretistic faith which embraces human equality, including that of men and women. The Shi’a Muslim establishment have hated them since the faith first emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and there have been terrible pogroms against them. This hatred is not shared by all Iranian Muslims, and I have personally known Iranian Muslims, who are heartily sick of the way their Baha’i friends are treated.

Mossadeq’s crime was that he dared nationalise the Iranian oil industry, then dominated by the British-owned Anglo-Persian Oil, which became BP. This resulted in us and the Americans organising a coup, which toppled Mossadeq, and began the long process by which the Shah gradually assumed absolute power, ruling through terror and a secret police force, SAVAK.

‘Florence’, one of the many great commenters on this blog, commented

In the early 70s I volunteered to help type up translation transcriptions of reports from torture victims of the “Shit” of Iran, as Private eye called him. (It was as evidence for Amnesty.) Its not something you can ever forget. When the revolution happened, it was simply new bosses at the same slaughter houses. This is another lesson learned; the violence required by a state to terrorise its own people seeps into the culture, and remains for generations (maybe longer, its too early to tell in most of the cases you cover in this interesting and evocative piece). The violence of the state becomes symmetrical in the revolution in many countries, Iran, Iraq, etc. that follows such repression.

(For this reason I also worry that, for example, the almost visceral hatred of the disabled (and other poor) in the UK bred by the eugenics of neoliberalism for decades will not be so easily dislodged with a change in government. )

I see that the experience of having lived through those times is no longer part of the wider political education of the younger members of the left. In Labour the excesses of the neoliberals all but wiped out that generation and the links. I talk sometimes to our younger members in the Labour party and they are fascinated – but totally clueless. I do try to point them at this blog for this very reason. They are oblivious to who Pinochet was, why it mattered to us then and now, the refuge given to that butcher by Thatcher, the entire history of the Chicago school etc. The traditional passing in of this history, personal history too, through social groups in the Labour party has all but broken down.

As a suggestion, perhaps you could edit your blogs into a book we could use in discussion groups? You would help us be that collective memory board for the newer (not just younger) activists. It would help tease out the older members stories of their personal part in the struggles at home and abroad, but more than that your pieces on the collision of religious and political also show the rich complexities of life.

I am really honoured that my blog is so highly regarded and useful. While talking to Mike earlier today, I mentioned the idea to him. He was enthusiastic and supportive, making a few suggestions on how I should go about it. I told him I have had problems finding a mainstream publisher for some of my other books I have written. He suggested I should try Lulu again, and have the cover done by a professional artist. This would be a great help to actually selling the book, and he could put me in touch with some of the great comics artists he’s worked with.

I am therefore definitely going to look into this.

Now for the other points ‘Florence’ has raised in her comment.

As for the point about how a whole generation in the Left and the Labour party having an awareness and opposition to the various Fascist leaders run riot around the world thanks to British and American support as part of their political education, I think that’s how very many people got involved in politics. Private Eye covered these issues, as it still does, and there was the series of comedy reviews put on in support of Amnesty in the 1980s called The Secret Policeman’s Ball. These featured some of the greatest comedy talents of the day, such as the Pythons and the languid, caustic wit of Peter Cook. I don’t think you had to be particularly left-wing to be a fan, only a supporter of democracy and civil liberties. Very many of the other kids in my Sixth Form were into it, including those, who could be described as working-class Tories.

But come to think about it, we haven’t seen anything like that on our screens for many, many years. The series was becoming long and drawn out towards the end, but nevertheless there’s no reason something else like it, which could be launched. And I don’t doubt that there are young, angry, talented comedians out there, who are perfectly capable of stepping up to the mike and doing it.

And some of the absence of comment and criticism of the monsters, who ran amok across the globe thanks to British and American support does come from the victory of neoliberalism. Including its adoption by New Labour. Blair was an Atlanticist, and an alumni of the Reagan-founded British-American Project for the Successor Generation, or BAP for short. This was a group that trained up future British political leaders, sending them on free jaunts to the US, so that on return to Britain they would be enthusiastic supporters of the ‘Special Relationship’. And they did a superb job on Blair. Before he went on one jaunt, he was a supporter of unilateral disarmament. When he returned, after meeting the American nuclear lobby, he was fully on board with us supporting America’s siting of nukes in Britain, as well as our own, independent nuclear deterrent.

Much of the activism against these thugs came out, it seems to me, of the campaigns against the Vietnam War. This inspired the radical young people of the time to look more closely at what America and the West were doing in the Cold War, and the people we supported as the bulwark of ‘freedom’ – which really meant ‘capitalism’ and western big business – against the Soviets. And the brutal realities of Pinochet’s regime, and that of the Shah of Iran, and very many others, were extensively reported. Clive James in one of his TV reviews written for the Observer, acidly commented on an interview on British TV with some high level thug from the Shah’s Iran. This torturer was asked about the brutal methods of interrogation employed by SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police. There was no problem, said the thug. They were improving all the time. Oh yes, commented James, or something similar.

Incidentally, an Iranian friend of mine told me had some experience of the activities of the Shah’s secret police himself. Back in Iran, he’d been a footie fan. But he noticed that several of his mates kept disappearing. He then found out that one of his friends was a snitch for the secret police, and had been informing on them. It’s when you hear these experiences from the people, who observed what was happening, that really begin to understand why so much of the world is less than enthusiastic about western imperialism. And why so many Iranians were taken in by that other thug, Khomeini. When he returned to Iran, he promised freedom to all Iranians. That didn’t last long, as it was back to normal with the rapists and torturers in Evin prison under his regime.

I was also part of a British medieval re-enactment group. One of the great peeps I met in that was an American chap, whose ancestry was South American. He was proud of his Incan heritage, and in America he’d been part of a similar group, that recreated the warrior traditions of this Andean people. He’d also been a translator for one of the human rights organisations, translating documents on abuses from Spanish.

There is indeed a whole generation out there, with personal experience of the dictatorship supported by the West, people whose wealth of knowledge and experience should be passed on.

But part of the problem is the supposed break with dictatorship and the entry of neoliberalism into the Labour party. The Fall of Communism was meant to be the End of History, as heralded by Francis Fukuyama. From now on, Western liberal democracy and capitalism would reign unchallenged. And with the threat of Communism gone, the Americans decided to cut their losses and move against the Fascist dictators they’d been propping up. Hence their ouster of General Noriega.

This gave the impression that the world was going to be nicely democratic, with the unspoken assumption that western, Euro-American culture would remain dominant and unchallenged.

But the old culture of lies, coups and regime change when the dominated countries in the developing world get too uppity is still there. As are the Cold Warriors. We didn’t invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to free its peoples. We invaded because the Neocons wanted their state industries for American multinationals, and the Saudi-American oil industry wanted their oil fields. And Israel wanted to stop Hussein from aiding the Palestinians. Human rights was just a convenient pretext. And it’s been like this for the last 14 years.

Just like we’re also being told lies about the situation in Ukraine. The Maidan Revolution was not spontaneous. It was staged by the CIA, National Endowment for Democracy, George Soros, and Victoria Nuland in Obama’s state department. It was to stop Ukraine becoming too close to Putin’s Russia. Ukraine has always had strong links to its eastern neighbour. Indeed, Kiev was one of the earliest and most powerful of the Russian states to emerge in the Middle Ages. Trying to sever the links between the two is similar, as someone put it, to Canada moving away from America to side with the Communist bloc.

But we aren’t being told any of that. Nor are we told that real, unreconstructed Nazis from the Pravy Sektor are in the ruling coalition, and that there is credible evidence that human rights abuses have been visited on the Russian minority and Russian speaking Ukrainians.

We are just being told that Putin is a thug – which is true – and that he’s ready to invade the former Soviet satellites. Which probably isn’t.

There is also a further problem, in that some of the countries, whose Fascist leaders Britain and America supported, are very remote. I’d guess that many people really wouldn’t be able to find them on a map, let alone know much about their history. And so we face the same problem the Czechs faced, when Chamberlain sacrificed their country to Hitler at Munich. They are faraway countries, of which we know nothing.

And this is a problem with British imperial history generally. Salman Rushdie once said that the British don’t know their own history, because so much of it happened abroad. This is true. British capitalism was stimulated through the colonisation of the West Indies, the slave trade and the sugar industry. How much is a matter of debate. Black and West Indian scholars have suggested that it was the prime stimulus behind the emergence of capitalism and the industrial revolution in Britain. Others have argued instead that it added only 5 per cent to the economy. But that it did have an effect is undeniable, especially on its colonised peoples. In the West Indies, this meant the virtual extermination of the indigenous Amerindian peoples and their replacement with enslaved Africans.

Well, the Empire has gone, and been replaced by the Commonwealth. But western domination of these countries’ economies still remains through the various tariff barriers that the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal called Neocolonialism. As well as the domination of their industries by western multinationals.

There are book available on the British Empire, some of them critical. Like John Newsinger’s The Blood Never Dried, and a recent book about the internment, torture and mutilation of the indigenous Kenyans during the Mao Mao crisis, Africa’s Secret Gulags. But the people, who appear on TV to talk about imperialism tend to be those on the right, like Niall Ferguson, who will admit that the British Empire was seriously flawed, but on balance did more good. Which might be true, but still glosses over some of the horrors we perpetrated.

And many of these are still kept from us. The public documents supporting the allegations of the victims of British torture in Kenya only came to light because they fought a long and hard battle in the British courts to get them released. I honestly don’t know what other nasty little secrets are being kept from us, in case it embarrasses senior ministers or industrialists.

So if you want to see the brutal reality behinds the West’s foreign policy, you have to read specialist magazines, many of them small press. Like Robin Ramsay’s Lobster, which has been going since the 1980s, and which is now online, and Counterpunch, an American radical magazine and website, which has been digging the sordid truth up about the American Empire and the rapacity of capitalism and the global elite. I also recommend William Blum’s The Anti-Empire Report, and his books, as well as Greg Palast’s dissection of the real reasons we invaded Iraq, Armed Madhouse.

More material on the rapacity of western imperialism is coming to light through the internet, and especially the emergence of alternative news sites. And there is a growing audience for it, as young and older people from across the world are brought together through international links. This isn’t just business, but also through the foreign students coming to Britain, as well as Brits living, working and studying elsewhere in the world.

The problem is getting it out there, and moving it from the sidelines so that it becomes a major topic that can be used to challenge our leaders and hold them to account, without being written off as ‘loony radical lefties’ spouting about things no-one else wants to know about or even hear. About other ‘faraway places, of which we know nothing’.

Have the Internet Giants Censored Mike due to Tory Lies Spouted by Chris Stevens

November 11, 2017

I’m amending this piece, as I wrote it in haste late last night because I couldn’t get on Mike’s site to read his article responding to Chris Stevens’ denouncement of the journalists showing how the Tories are murdering benefits claimants as ‘inflammatory rubbish’. I’ve talked to Mike since then, and he’s managed to correct me on a few points.

Mike put his article up, which can be found at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/11/11/tory-tv-plant-peddles-ugly-lie-to-hide-the-uglier-truth-about-dwp-deaths/ after last Thursday’s edition of Question Time, in which Chris Stevens, a Tory councillor from Horley in Surrey, was planted in the audience as an ‘ordinary man’. Picked out by the man Private Eye describes as ‘Dimblebore’, Stevens responded to Aditya Chakrabortty’s remarks on the deaths caused by the Tories’ policies to the disabled and long term sick as ‘inflammatory rubbish’. Chakrobortty is a Guardian columnist. Real journalists, as opposed to the hacks writing for the Scum, the Heil and the Torygraph, have to check their facts.

I thought that this was a personal attack on Mike, as I couldn’t get through to Mike’s blog. It seemed that the internet providers had taken Mike off the air. I got on to his website and read the long, long list of articles he put up refuting Stevens’ bilge about his documentation of the Tory crimes against the disabled being ‘inflammatory nonsense’.

Then I tried to get through to the previous article, describing Stevens’ smears against the many journalists and disability rights activists documenting this issue.

I failed to get through to it. And despite repeated attempts I couldn’t get through to his later post or his website. This was with Internet Explorer. I tried with Google, and had no more success with that. I was told that my computer was configured correctly, but the website could not be found.

So it appeared that Mike’s been censored.

Talking to Mike today, it appears that he probably wasn’t. He said that afterwards he had been inundated by people asking for his response to the show. Hence the long list of articles he put up, which, by no means exhaustive, extensively documents just how this government and its predecessor are killing the disabled.

All to give the rich 25 per cent a whopping tax break. And create a cowed workforce, which will accept any starvation wages.

It reminded me very much of how Mike was smeared by another Tory, Chris Davies, the Tory MP in Mike’s part of the principality. He smeared Mike as an anti-Semite based on the entirely false accusations and sheer lies of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a pro-Israel lobby group that was founded in 2014 when the Zionist lobby got worried that severely normal Brits, Jews, Gentiles, whatever, were turning away from supporting Israel due to the Israeli state’s bombardment of Gaza. They have been responsible for smearing anyone, who raises difficult questions about the Zionists long and bloody history of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, and their willingness, over and over again, to make deals with real anti-Semites and outright Nazis, ending in the persecution of diaspora Jews, in order to provide more prospective colonists for Israel. Very many of the people smeared by the CAA are Jews, ranging from secular liberals, to the Torah-observant and devoutly ultra-orthodox. So many, in fact, that Alexei Sayle, himself the son of Jewish communists, observed that it was strange that the majority of those smeared were Jews.

Mike was smeared because he dared to speak up for those smeared as anti-Semites. People like Ken Livingstone, who was notorious for his opposition to racism, whether against the Irish, Blacks or anti-Semitism. And Jackie Walker, a Jewish woman of colour, who aroused their ire because she criticised their attempts to conflate anti-Semitism with opposition to Israel, or at least its policy of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

The press took up the story about the smears against Mike, and asked Stevens what he thought of it. So, showing his utter ignorance, Davies opened his mouth and declared Mike to be a disgusting anti-Semite with no place in politics. Stevens knew nothing of the background to the story. He had not asked Mike for his views, or whether the accusations were genuine.

He didn’t even have the decency to ask the people Mike was at College with, who asked him to perform in a theatrical work they staged to commemorate those murdered by the Nazis in the Shoah.

And he didn’t ask Mike, or other members of his family, like myself, about our uncle Bill. Uncle Bill’s surname was Hyman. It used to be Goldberg-Hyman, which is, you reverse the order, an almost stereotypical Ashkenazi surname. But we and Mike just called him ‘Uncle Bill’. As you do.

And now we have another bilious ignoramus, who appeared on TV to claim that articles attacking the government’s merciless persecution of the disabled are ‘inflammatory rubbish’.

They are not. They are sourced, reasoned descriptions of an objective truth, which Mike himself has sought to publicise over and over again.

And Mike speaks from personal experience. He cares for Mrs. Mike, who has fibromyalgia, which has left her in terrible pain. Our uncle, Bill, suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, a terrible, paralysing illness that struck down Michael J. Fox, the star of movies such as TeenWolf and The Frighteners, and the TV series Spin City. Our grandmother was also severely disabled with Alzheimers in the last few years of her life, when our mother gave up her career as a teacher to look after her.

But Mike has suffered from censorship in the past. He has reblogged several of his articles, after he found that they had mysteriously disappeared from Facebook.

Just like the other left-wing bloggers and vloggers, who are finding their sites demonetised or flagged down as ‘controversial’.

This is how the Tories handle criticism, as does that section of the Zionist establishment that is totally behind the massacre, brutalisation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and the contemptible vilification of decent, genuinely liberal anti-racist women and men. Simply because they include Israeli racism amongst the other forms, including anti-Semitism, that they have fought and, in very many case, of which they have been a victim.

I have nothing, absolutely nothing, but contempt for this censorship.

As for Chris Stevens, he has shown himself to be totally unfit to stand as an MP. In a party now notorious for its utter mendacity, he has shown himself one of the most mendacious.

He has to go.
Like his fellow Tory Chris Davies.

By siding with the CAA, Davies has shown how willing he is to adopt the postures of real racists, whose own language against Jewish critics of Zionism recalls some of the worst tropes of anti-Semitic rhetoric.

And Stevens has shown himself completely at ease with the Tories’ murderous policies towards the disabled, which have seen hundreds of thousands, if not millions thrown off the benefits that support them, and which has led to the deaths of 700 plus people.

If they has any decency, they should recant and resign. As indeed, should his entire vile government.

From C. 1989: Pravda International on Launch of Greenpeace Rock Album in Soviet Union

October 18, 2017

Pravda International, with pic of Yeltsyn before he became president. This seems to have been before the drunkenness took hold. It also doesn’t show his uncritical adulation of capitalism, which destroyed the Soviet economy and caused massive unemployment and poverty.

Way back in the 1980s when I was at College, I used to buy Pravda International occasionally. It was, very roughly, an English language version of the Russian Communist party newspaper, but with articles also drawn from the other Russian newspapers and magazines Izvestia, Argumenty I Fakty, Moscow News, as well as by the English editions own staff. Like many magazines over the years, it seems to have folded due to lack of interest. I tried to buy it from my local newsagent, but found out that it was unavailable. The two big magazine distributors had divided Bristol up between them, and one of them wouldn’t carry it. So guess which half of Bristol I was in.

I nevertheless kept hold of some of them, as they were records of an exciting, historic time. This was when Glaznost and Perestroika were in full swing, the Soviet Union was being democratised according to Gorbachev’s belief that democracy and Communism could be combined to produce a new, vigorous, prosperous Soviet Union. The Soviets were opening their borders and allowing western media into the country. The Cold War was thawing rapidly, and right across the Communist bloc censorship was being lifted. The Soviet people were making their voices heard, and books, plays, poetry and art that had previously been banned were now being published and publicly discussed. Stalin and his minions stood, thanks to dissident Marxist historians like Roy and Zhores Medvedev, openly condemned as monstrous mass murderers. And the families, friends and loved ones of his victims organised to demand memorials to the millions he had murdered. And instead of hatred, distrust and the looming threat of nuclear holocaust, for a few years it looked like the peoples of the West and East would live as friends and co-workers. The missiles were being decommissioned, the silos filled in. Across the world it seemed that our peoples would never again have to fear the threat of nuclear attack, or invasion from across the other side of the Iron Curtain.

And I also dug out the old copy of Pravda International out of a sense of mischief. RT UK and America have been under attack recently, accused of spreading Russian propaganda and interfering with our politics. What this means is that the Russian-owned news agency has actually done some good journalism, and uncovered the poverty, misery and despair caused by corporatist late capitalism and the gutting of the British and American welfare state and working class organisations. It’s what our own, domestic news networks should be reporting on, but instead they’ve been turned into part of the same corporate system, publishing nothing but mainstream propaganda for the corporatist elite and their puppets and shills in the political parties. I wanted to dig it out to show that the Russians have always had a media presence in the West, and there was a time when it also really frightened some capitalist interests. Although flicking through that issue of the magazine, many of the stories were about western businesses, including British firms, securing contracts to work with Soviet enterprises, as the economy opened up.

Russia, like everywhere else, is also suffering from environmental damage and climate change. Simon Reeve, in his recent TV journey across Russia from the Far East to St. Petersburg, stopped in Siberia to show the terrifying changes that are occurring in the Russian north. The permafrost is melting causing the remaining rock and soil to subside. This has created vast craters in the tundra. One Russian environmental scientist took Reeve to see one of these. It was staggering, the size of the vast Arizona meterorite crater in the US. It was as if a piece of land the size of a city had been scooped out of the Arctic.

These climatic changes are threatening the stability of many of the cities the Russians built up in the north. They’re also a further threat to all humanity, as they release methane, a greenhouse gas far more powerful than Carbon Dioxide. About 25 times more powerful. This threatens to create runaway global warming beyond the tipping point, to the point where the survival or human civilisation, if not the human species itself, is very much under threat.

Looking through this old issue of Pravda International, it was therefore particularly interesting to find an article by their staffer, Jennie Walsh, reporting the launch of a rock album by Greenpeace, released by the Soviet recording company Melodiya, to raise awareness of environmental issues.
The article, ‘Breakthrough for the Environment’, reads

The ecological pressure group Greenpeace has long highlighted the international potential of the environmental movement. The recent release of their rock compilation album, Breakthrough marks an important step forward for the campaign, and for Western music.

Two years ago Greenpeace chairman David McTaggart approached Ian Flookes of the Wasted Talent Artists Agency with a view to putting on a concert of Western bands in the Soviet Union in order to generate roubles for a Soviet-based Greenpeace campaign. Political problems prevented this at the time, but in the changing climate of perestroika the plans were restarted last year, though a compilation record was considered more appropriate.

‘After what happened at Chernobyl, I think the Soviet authorities have become extremely environment-conscious and their approach to Greenpeace and to the project has been one of great support’, Flookes told Pravda International.

With the full cooperation of the Soviet state record company Melodiya, who were granted independent status last year, Breakthrough is the first major release of contemporary Western rock music in the USSR.

It is the first time that Melodiya has been able to do a ‘normal’ promotion campaign, with many of the artists (who all gave their services free of charge) present at the Moscow launch in March. There was an incredible reception. One record store queue was over 7,000 people, which is quite phenomenal – even by Soviet standards!

The purpose behind Breakthrough, however, must not be forgotten amid such hysteria. Kate Karam of Greenpeace emphasised that in releasing the album, they wanted to educate as much as to entertain. Despite perestroika, it is still difficult to put out independent information in the USSR, and the album provided a vehicle for the distribution of a booklet highlighting the work of Greenpeace and the environmental problems of the USSR.

The profits from the record sales will be shared between Greenpeace and the International Foundation for the Survival and Development of Humanity, one of the first independent, non-governmental organisations to be founded in the Soviet Union.

The money will be spent only on projects within the USSR. This is a major indication of the political changes that have taken place. Greenpeace is quite a radical organisation by any standards, and to have some of the top soviet scientists and public servants (including Velikov, vice-president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences) support them through the Foundation, has been vital to the project. It is also an important challenge – a challenge to get programmes started in the USSR while maintaining the traditional Greenpeace principle of direct action.

Several environmental projects have now been formally agreed. Greenpeace will use some of the funds from the record to organise an East-West exchange programme in cooperation with the Soviet Academy of Sciences, for children to study environmental problems. Projects in the pipeline include work with the International Foundation to establish a central clearing house for information on atmospheric pollution problems and trying to involve the Soviet Union in the campaign to stop the industrial pollution of the Baltic Sea.

‘We don’t want to impose our Western standards about the environment on the Soviet Union,’ explains Karam. ‘I think that’s a danger with many of the Western organisations taking advantage of the new political climate there. Greenpeace is going to Russia to learn about their specific problems, because it is wrong to develop homogeneous attitudes about the environment. We need to study and talk to people before we launch into setting up offices and membership drives. Getting educational materials out in Russia is a big enough challenge right now without going straight into direct action projects.’

The popularisation of ‘green politics’ in the West may be little more than rhetoric on the part of its leaders, but it has encouraged the critical eye to fall on eastern Europe with regard to its environmental record. The socialist system may have failed the environment as much as the capitalist, but the big difference is the West has had 10 years lead time with environmentalists pushing legislation through. ‘I think the question is now how bad the USSR’s record is, but what is going to happen over the next 10 years – not in the past 50. I don’t think its fair to criticise.’

Now that the Soviet authorities have made active moves to encourage environmental concern, particularly by creating a Ministry for the Environment, Greenpeace are keen to see whether other east European countries follow suit.

Breakthrough is to be released in all the east European countries as well as in the UK, USA, India, Australia and Japan, emphasising the international aspect of the green movement.

The release of the album worldwide, under the title Rainbow Warriors, will probably be slightly more of a gamble than it has been in the Soviet Union. Compassion fatigue in the West, however, might be overcome by the quality of the record.

There probably hasn’t been an album released yet, which features so many top musicians – U2, Simple Minds, The Eurythmics, Bryan Ferry, Peter Gabriel and Sting to name a few. There are 26 tracks, all of which have recently been hits. For many, the album will probably have an intrinsic value just for this reason. The fact that it supports Greenpeace will be a bonus.

In the three weeks since the album was released in the USSR over 10,000 copies have been received on the forms that were enclosed in the information booklets.

The worldwide launch is on May 22nd and if it sells for reasons other than its musical content, its educational and mobilising potential could be as effective as the fundraising.

Now, unfortunately, we have had Russian hackers releasing scientific data in an attempt to discredit climate change and global warming, while Trump is also trying to stifle climate science, including the virtual closure of America’s Environmental protection Agency. He and the rest of the Republican party are determined that only the paid propagandists for the Koch brothers will be heard.

Radio 4 Programme on British Invasion of Russia to Overthrow Russian Revolution

October 13, 2017

Also on Radio 4 next week, on Friday, 20th October 2017 at 11.00 am., is a programme on the British invasion of Russia. This followed the Bolshevik coup of 1917, and was intended to overthrow the new Communist regime. The blurb for the programme in the Radio Times states

The story of a little-known war that took place a century ago along the frozen rivers of the Russian Arctic and transformed Russia’s relations with the West for decades to come. After the October Revolution, thousands of foreign troops under British command fought Russians on Russian soil for more than 18 months. Lucy Ash meets the 93-year-old son of General Edmund Ironside, who wrote at the time that he was in charge of “a tiny army of not very first class troops” stranded in the icy vastness of Russia “in the midst of a bitter civil war”. (Page 139).

Again, there’s a bit more information on the facing page, 138, written by Tom Goulding. This reads

The UK’s relationship with Russia has always seemed cold – coloured by by decades of menacing but empty rhetoric on both sides. so it’s often overlooked that just under 100 years ago a real and bloody conflict took place between Britain and the Bolsheviks in the frozen Arctic. Journalist Lucy Ash investigates this infamous incursion of British boots on Russian soil by speaking to the 93-year-old son of Edmund Ironside, the general who led Churchill’s crusade to put down the fledgling Bolshevik state. The intervention was a disaster, and the resulting mistrust between the two countries looms large to this day.

With 20/20 hindsight, it could be said that it’s a pity that the invasion didn’t succeed. The Bolsheviks were authoritarians from the start. They suppressed the other political parties and organisations, including left-wing and socialist groups such as the Mensheviks, Trudoviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries. Strict discipline was reintroduced, and the Bolsheviks reinstated the same proprietors and managers to manage the factories and other industrial concerns that they’d nationalised, against the desires of the anarchists, syndicalists and Left Communists, who wished to create a genuine worker’s state with worker’s control of industry. These were also suppressed, and their leaders and members arrested.

And if Bolshevik rule had been overturned, the Nazis may never have come to power as there would not have been a Communist threat that they could claim to be protecting Germany and the upper and middle classes from. And Stalin would not have come to power, to kill and imprison something like 30 million Soviet citizens – although some estimates put the death toll higher at 45 million – in the gulags and purges.

On the other hand, the Whites were also extremely brutal and oppressive. They, like the Bolsheviks during the Civil War, also held out the prospect of restoring democracy. However, the leader of one of the White counter-revolutionary bands was a maniac, who I think believed himself to be Jesus Christ or Buddha – or both. This butcher used to throw cold water over his prisoners’ naked bodies in the depths of the Russia winter so that they froze to death, and snap pieces of their bodies. Tony Greenstein in a recent blog post describes how the Zionist leaders approached another anti-Semitic White General, Petlyura, about sending Jews from Russia to Palestine. The Russian novelist Mikhail Bulgakov vividly describes the outbreak of anti-Semitic violence during the Civil War in the Ukraine in his classic, The White Guard, adapted from his play, The Days of the Turbins. He mentions the lynching of Jews by the peasants, and one of the characters killed by the mob in this way is a Jewish man, whose only crime was to have left his home to try to buy food and medicine for his family.

And if you read accounts of the Russian Revolution, it’s very clear why the peoples of the Russian Empire rose up, even if they mostly didn’t support Lenin and the Bolsheviks: they were pushed to the end of their tether through losing a war for which the ordinary squaddies were poorly treated and equipped, and by social conditions of horrendous poverty and near starvation in industry and the countryside. Russia was beset by strikes, and their were hundreds of peasant uprisings that occurred one after the other in the Russian countryside.

As for the British invasion, it seems to me it had two objectives. These were to keep the Russians in the War, fighting the Germans and Austrians, and to overthrow the Bolshevik state as a threat to capitalism. I dare say that it was accompanied with claims that it was about defending democracy, but as it wasn’t until the ’20s that all men got the vote regardless of property qualifications, and women finally gained the suffrage, such claims are probably rather specious.

Pat Mills, in one of the interviews I put up a few weeks ago, mentioned that he wrote a story for the First World War strip, Charlie’s War, in the comic Battle, which dealt with the British invasion of Russia. Mills is very left-wing, and says in the interview that the British officers ‘behaved like animals’. Which I don’t doubt they did, considering the stupid brutality they later unleashed in Ireland during their Revolution, though this was mostly done by the auxiliary units, the Black and Tans, rather than the regular army.