Archive for the ‘Switzerland’ Category

Candace Owens on the Historic Forcible Sterilisation of Greenland Inuit Women by Danish Government

December 31, 2022

Yes, I know this is Black American conservative Candace Owens of Republican youth activist group Turning Point USA. Yes, I know she made herself look massively stupid by denying that Adolf Hitler was a nationalist and stating that his policies would have been all right had he stuck to Germany. It’s a ‘no’ to both statements. Hitler was very much a nationalist and wanted to make the Germans the master race, Herrenvolk, of Europe. And the imprisonment of opposition political groups, the smashing of the trade unions, the sterilisation of those judged biologically unfit, the eugenic murder of the disabled, the imprisonment of the long-term unemployed, the mentally unwell and others in concentration camps, and the industrial murder of the Jews and Gypsies would still all have been wicked had they occurred only in Germany. But here she’s saying something genuinely liberal and anti-racist.

She reports that during the 60s and 70s, 4,500 Inuit women, including girls as young as twelve, were forcibly sterilised with the insertion of the IUD – the coil – by the Danish government. This was half the Inuit female population of 9,000 at the time, and was done as part of a programme by the Danish government to control their fertility.

This doesn’t surprise me. The Swedish government was sterilising those it considered biologically unfit until well into the ’90s. There were laws protecting minority ethnic groups, like the Gypsies proper, from sterilisation but they were overlooked when it came to the Tartare, another group of travellers, who were considered ethnically Swedish. This ruling was overturned in the 90s when the programme’s victims came forward. There was also an article a few years ago in the Independent reporting that the Czechoslovakian government had also been sterilising their Gypsy women against their will in order to control their numbers. My guess is that there was similar racist assumption that the Inuit were racially unfit and if their numbers grew too large, they would be a drain on resources. I’ve also heard of Gypsy children in Switzerland being given shock treatment in order to ‘cure’ them of their travelling culture and lifestyle. I don’t know if this will lead to human rights action and the payment of compensation, though it should.

Saturn as the Abode of the Dead in Victorian Science Fiction

December 22, 2022

I put up a post the other day about an early 20th century SF story from 1901, in which Jesus Christ is raised on Mars and sent to Earth by the Martians to enlighten us. They rescue Him from the crucifixion, and bring Him back to Mars. It struck me that the story may have been an influence or at least prefigured the idea that later arose among UFO contactees and researcher that Christ was an alien. The best-known of the various UFO religions that believe this is the Aetherius Society, founded in the 1950s by former taxi driver George King. King was into eastern mysticism, and became aware of his mission as spokesman for the Space Brothers when he heard a voice in his kitchen one day telling him to prepare to be the voice of interplanetary parliament. The Aetherius Society believes that King was the recipient of spiritual messages from Aetherius, an alien on Venus, and that Jesus is also there on the planet. Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Israel, also claimed that he’d been taken aboard a UFO and shown how Jesus and his predecessor as head of the religion, W.D. Fard, were also on Venus. Both Christ and Fard were Black, and Fard was directing and preparing for the coming apocalyptic war against the Whites that would free Black America.

Looking through the SF collection Born of the Sun again today, I found another early SF story with a religious or supernatural dimension. This was John Jacob Astor’s 1894 A Journey in Other Worlds, in which Saturn is inhabited by the spirits of the dead. I think this was influenced by contemporary spiritualism and trends in psychic research. The followers of the 18th century Swedish scientist and mystic, Immanuel Swedenborg, believed that he had travelled in spirit across the Solar System and that the various planets were inhabited, including by the spirits of the departed. This was also the same time, I think, that mediums like Helene Smith believed that they were receiving telepathic messages from Mars. The Surrealists were fascinated by these mediumistic accounts, and one collection of Surrealist writings contains a drawing, done automatically, of Mozart’s house on either Jupiter or Saturn. There’s definitely a religious element in much Spiritualist speculation about space and early Science Fiction, and I’m very sure that this has had an influence on the UFO phenomenon and its accounts of contacts with spiritually advanced, benevolent alien beings.

Private Eye Reviews Alex Jones’ Conspiracy Theory Book about the World Economic Forum

December 4, 2022

Things aren’t looking good for Alex Jones, the mad Texan conspiracist theorist behind Infowars. Jones has been using his YouTube channel and website to push some very nasty conspiracy theories about how the world, and especially America, are under attack from ‘the globalists’. These are evil Communist, feminist, trans businesspeople determined to set up some kind of global one-world totalitarian superstate on behalf of evil aliens or demons or whatever. He’s pushed often dangerous nonsense about various prominent and not-so prominent politicians, organisations and ordinary people. He claimed that Barack Obama was the anti-Christ, and was going to use the laws providing for government action in emergencies to force everybody into FEMA camps to enslave Americans. Hilary Clinton was also Satanic, and was some kind of cyborg or robot, at least from the waist down. She was also impregnated with the spawn of some demon or alien or mixture of the two. Quite often this stuff was just so over the top that it’s the subject of ridicule and laughter rather than alarm, as when he claimed that they were putting stuff in the water that was turning the frickin’ frogs gay. But often it wasn’t, and the effects of his rants were dangerous and distressing to their targets. One example is when he claimed that a Boston pizza parlour contained a dungeon, in which children were being kept, to supply to leading Democrat politician to abuse. It was a complete lie, but it resulted in a gunman walking in to free the captive children. After being shown round the business and persuaded that there was no dungeon and no abused children, he put down his gun and gave himself up to the cops. It’s a mercy no-one was killed. Jones has been hit by a judgement for $1 billion in damages for libelling the parents of the schoolchildren killed in the Sandy Hook massacre. Jones had claimed that the school shooting hadn’t really occurred and had just been staged in order to provide a pretext for the government to deprive Americans of their precious guns. The grieving parents were just ‘crisis actors’. The result was years of harassment by people, who had bought this offensive nonsense. They sued, the beak has found in their favour, and now Jones is crying that he’s bankrupt as a result. ‘Oh dear. How sad. Never mind’, as Sergeant-Major Shutup from It Ain’t ‘Alf Hot Mum used to say.

Jones has published a book, in which he attacks the World Economic Forum and its leader, Klaus Schwab, now the target of right-wing conspiracy theories about shadowy organisations trying to create the one-world superstate. Private Eye reviewed it in last fortnight’s edition for 18th November to 1st December 2022. And they very definitely weren’t impressed. This is what they had to say about it

Toxic Schlock

The Great Reset and the War for the World

Alex Jones

According to Alex Jones, the gravel-voiced US conspiracy-monger, the world is facing a “Great Reset”. That reset is, he writes, an attempt by a shady cabal of internationalists “to achieve an unprecedented amount of control over your daily life.” To make sure he has the reader’s undivided attention, Jones warns that the whole thing “is a war to control the future of human development and capture control of the human species.”

These evil internationalists are, according to Jones, a group of technocrats and money men who have swilled around the world stage for the last 80 or so years. These evil plotters have names such as Kissinger, Rockefeller, Yuval Noah Hariri and Soros (and yes, there is an unfortunate pattern to those names. Between them, these men have spawned and sustained a new global elite, at the centre of which is the World Economic Forum at Davos.

For anyone lucky enough to be invited, Davos is essentially as piss-up0 in a posh ski resort. Jones’ view is somewhat different. The man who runs the thing, Karl Schwab, may look like a common-or-garden egghead but, we learn, he is in fact a very evil egghead, bent on global destruction. “Schwab and his Davos gang are interested in wiping out every one of the previously existing social structures that have guided the development of countries and nations,” says Jones.

He quotes from one of Schwab’s books, singling out a passing reference to “more agile forms of governance”. The phrase sends Jones into a horrified tizzy. “What are these ‘more agile forms of governance’?” he demands to know. “Summary execution by firing squad without the demand of a trial?”

The globalists have no moral centre, says Jones, and seeing as “God was the original insurrectionist”, it is up to every decent, freedom-loving citizen to stand up to the evil Davos cabal. They will take away your cars and your petrol, restrict your food supply, invent fake pandemics, lock you in your home, turn all money into digital tokens so your bank accounts can be frozen and — oh but this book is just so exhausting. So, so exhausting.

If you have not heard of the author, lucky you. A preposterous, ranting fatso, Jones is from the internet’s nether regions. Essentially a man with a website – the idiotically named “Infowars” – he’s made his reputation by parping out a vast, toxic guff-cloud of paranoid nonsense about lefty plots. This book is a distilled version of his bizarre world view, in which every government employee is a Hitler, anyone who wants to improve society is a fascist and our future will consist of “Karl Schwab, or his downloaded brain, giving us all orders from his laptop.”

Jones, then, is a maniac. As nice as it would be to pull the lever and flush him into the septic tank of history, he is not so easy to dismiss. A glimpse at the back cover of this book reveals a set of glowing endorsements. “If Alex Jones is just a crackpot,” one reads, “why are the most powerful people in the country trying to silence him?” It continues: “Maybe Alex Jones is onto something.”

That glowing endorsement comes from Tucker Carlson, the star turn on Fox News (prop: Rupert Murdoch). Jones, you see, has powerful fans who’ve noticed the sizeable, Trumpy audience he’s built. They want to keep him onside.

The quote now looks somewhat embarrassing for Carlson – and Murdoch. For years, Jones promoted a vile conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook shooting, during which 26 people were murdered, most of them small children, had been faked. The grieving parents were actors, he said, and the whole thing had been staged to justify a left-wing attack on people’s gun rights. The parents sued and won. The court ordered Jones to pay damages of $1bn. That amount could rise farther.

So Alex, it turns out, is not “onto something”, and no one in their right mind should touch him, his website or this book with a bargepole. But this deranged nonsense does serve one purpose. It is a warning. The Americans are in the midst of a culture war, stoked by odious loudmouths like Jones and his buddy Carlson. The results include an increase in social division, the 6 January Capitol riots and a delusional young man attacking Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer.

There are people in the current Westminster government and on Fleet Street, who have flirted with the culture war – some even whipping off their undies and hopping straight into bed with it. But as this book makes clear, culture war, with its “us-and-them” rhetoric, is an attack on the stuff that holds societies together. As someone once nearly said: trying to win a culture war is like to trying to win and earthquake. Britain should stay well clear.’ (p. 30).

The problem is that there are real issues threatening freedom in the west and around the world. This includes governments and big corporations harvesting personal information from the internet, including our purchases, and using electronic banking to track the way we move our money. Corporations and clandestine interest groups really do exist and attempt to lobby governments to their own ends. The conspiracy magazine Lobster has been documenting all this for years.

Jones and his nonsense points people away from these real threats and replaces them with dangerous fascistic nonsense.

Liz Truss Member of Pro-Privatisation Organisation against the NHS

August 10, 2022

Bog-eyed, pork and cheese promoting Brexiteer Liz Truss is this fortnight’s issue of Private Eye, dated 12th-25th of August 2022. And as any fule kno, that ain’t good. The satirical magazine has revealed she’s a member of a bonkers free trade organisation which wishes to have the NHS privatised and its funding replaced by social insurance, like what they have on the continent. The snippet about this, on page 9 of Ian Hislop’s mighty organ, runs

Health Threat

Would-be leader Liz Truss has offered little on how she would fix the crixix in the NHS, beyond soundbites on cutting management and installing a “strong” health secretary and withdrawing plans to “level down” health workers’ pay in regional rates.

Nor has she mentioned to the Tory faithful that she is on a six-strong board of parliamentary supporters for the obscure think-tank, 1828. Its mission? To “champion freedom and make the case for free markets and limited government.

1828’s advisory board includes Eurosceptic Julian Knight, climate “luke-warmer” Matt Ridley and other assorted right-wingers, including former Ukipper Douglas Carswell. In 2019 it published a “Neoliberal Manifesto for a freer and more prosperous Britain”. But for whom? Its health chapter condemns the NHS record as “deplorable” while ignoring years of Tory government underfundiing, and calls for “far-reaching reforms” – ie a new social health insurance scheme, ,similar to that used in “Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Israel, among others”.

In 2020 Truss said: “1828 is huge part of what’s happening to the right of politics, where a lot of new ideas are coming to fruition. There will always be a need to fight for the forces of freedom.” Is an expansion of NHS plc on her not-so-hidden agenda?’

It certainly looks like it, which is why she, nor Sunak nor indeed any other Tory should be allowed anywhere near the NHS.

Tories very definitely out!

The 19th Century Social Catholic Warning Against Bozo

May 10, 2022

This morning I had the misfortune to hear the Queen’s Speech, actually given in her absence by Prince Charles. This obviously lays out the intentions of Johnson’s wretched government, and how nauseating they were. I’m still very weak with a dodgy stomach from the Covid booster, and this announcement of Bozo’s policies didn’t improve my condition. Johnson has pledged to remove the legislation he claims is restricting industry and so hindering economic growth, will repeal EU-inspired human rights legislation, and pass further law allowing the state to clamp down on ‘disruptive’ protests such as Extinction Rebellion’s.,

We all know where this is going. The removal of more workers’ right so that they can be hired and fired at will, as well as restrictions on planning permission and other laws preventing companies from trashing the environment. Meanwhile, the Tories will take away the right to protest for everybody on the grounds that it’s causing a nuisance.

One of the books I’ve been reading is Aidan Nichol’s Catholic Thought Since The Enlightenment (Pretoria: University of South Africa 1998). This is a short guide to the rich intellectual history of the Roman Catholic Church since the 17th century as it attempted to tackle issues such as the rise of atheism and scepticism, the competing claims of the national churches against the papacy, historical scepticism, the conflict between French Revolutionary attempts to destroy Christianity and particularly the Roman Church, as well as purely metaphysical issues. These latter, which involve complex arguments about ontology, epistemology – the theory of knowledge – and psychology rather go over my head. But I’ve been very interested indeed in the chapter on Social Catholicism. Social Catholicism is that branch of Roman Catholic theology and pastoral care directed at social issues, such as alleviating poverty, questions of political pluralism, protecting the rights of Roman Catholics in non-Catholic societies, and combating the poverty created amongst working people through modern industrial capitalism.

One of the founders of the Social Catholic tradition was Adam Heinrich Muller (1779-1829), a north German convert to the faith. Muller defended the family, respect for the traditional institutions that had developed under Christianity, such as the estates and corporations that focussed loyalties, duties and organised decision-making. Here he was influenced by Burke, the founder of modern Conservatism. From one perspective he’s a conservative. But he gave a speech to the Saxonian diplomatic corps warning against the dangers of liberal economics and absolutist government.

Liberal economics and absolutist government sounds precisely like Johnson’s dream.

I realise that what he was talking about then isn’t going to be the same as the current political situation. He was speaking at a time when democracy largely didn’t exist anywhere in Europe except Switzerland, and was feared by many, Roman Catholic and Protestant, because of the carnage caused by the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. But nevertheless, there’s still a point here for contemporary politics.

Johnson is the type of politician Muller warned us about.

Book on the Gypsies and Their History

February 9, 2022

Angus Fraser, The Gypsies (Oxford: Blackwell 1992).

I’ve been meaning to blog about this book, off and on, for a little while now. This is largely in response to the right-wing, Tory and Blairite Labour racists, who screamed blue murder at any chance they could get to smear Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite, but who had absolutely no qualms about whipping up hatred against Roma, Sinti and other Travellers for their own political benefit. Anti-Gypsy hatred has become topical once again thanks to Jimmy Carr’s wretched joke about their genocide in the Nazi Holocaust somehow being a ‘positive’. Mike’s written extensively about that tasteless joke, as have very many others. He’s pointed out that it came just when Boris Johnson was passing legislation very similar to that of the Nazis, which would allow the cops to close down Gypsy encampments, move them on and impound their vehicles simply for suspecting they might be about to do something illegal. And when you get to eastern Europe, the prejudice against them is even more extreme and really does approach the genocidal hatred of the Nazis. A decade or so ago doctors in Czechoslovakia were caught operating a programme of involuntary sterilisation of Gypsy women very much like the Nazis’ eugenics programme against those of mixed race and the biologically unfit. Czech politicians were also very keen to have the Gypsies emigrate to Canada after a documentary was shown on television about a Czech Gypsy family finding a welcome in the land of the maple leaf and beaver. This was, like anti-Semitic and Nazi plans to force the Jews to move to Palestine, simply a way of forcing the Gypsies out of Czechoslovakia. One female Czech MP made this very clear when she screamed ‘They will go to Canada or the gas chambers!’ Such naked, genocidal bigotry means that Carr’s joke really, really isn’t funny. Respect, then, to the Auschwitz museum for taking the moment to offer him some of its courses on the murder of 27,000 Gypsies so that he could learn about the horrific reality.

The book’s blurb runs

‘Since their unexplained appearance in Europe over nine centuries ago, the Gypsies have refused to fall in with conventional settled life. They remain a people whose culture and customs are beset with misunderstandings, and who cling to their distinct identity in the teeth of persistent rejection and pressure to conform. The book describes their history.

The book opens with an investigation of Gypsy origins in India. The author then traces the Gypsy migration from the early Middle Ages to the present, through the Middle East, Europe and the world. Through their known history they have been recognised for their music, metal working, fortune telling, healing and horse-dealing, but from the outset they outraged the prejudices of the populations they encountered; they were enslaved, harassed, outlawed and hunted. Yet against all the odds the Gypsies have survived, preserving a distinctive heritage and culture that transcends national boundaries. How they did so is the compelling them of this book.

This new paperback edition has been revised to take account of recent research and of the political changes in Eastern Europe, which have sadly been followed by a resurgence of Gypsy persecution in a number of countries.’

The book has chapters on their origins, then subsequently traces their migration through Persia and Armenia, Greece and the Byzantine Empire, Serbia, Bulgaria, Wallachia and Moldavia, the provinces that are now part of modern Romania; Germany, Austria and Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal, the Low Countries, Italy, Hungary and Transylvania, now also part of Romania, Scotland and England and Scandinavia. It also discusses images and stereotypes, the pressures placed on them to assimilate, and persecution, including expulsion, transportation and extermination, both in Europe and the Ottoman Empire, as well as their survival. It also discusses changes in Gypsy society and culture, including their music, and their genocide under the Nazis – ‘The Forgotten Holocaust’. The final section discusses modern Gypsy society and culture.

It should be clear from this that the Gypsy Holocaust is, like that of the Jews, absolutely no joke. Carr has been defended by various members of the media set, including Victoria Coren. They’ve defended him as being good and kind. I don’t doubt he is. The problem is that there are some subjects that are too terrible to be the subject of jokes, as well as moral consistency. Carr clearly balked at telling jokes about the Jewish Holocaust, as he should. But if the Jewish Holocaust is unfit as a subject of humour, so should the Nazi murder of other racial groups, especially those still experiencing persecution.

The Lotus Eaters have run to Carrs defence, posting up a video of him as a ‘free speech berserker’. Now I don’t believe that Carr should be prosecuted for his joke. It was outrageous, but, in my opinion, not hateful. He wasn’t intending to stir up racial hatred, although I don’t doubt that some others, who would tell the joke would have definite malign intentions. In my view it’s really a case of a moral problem discussed by John Stuart Mill in his classic book On Liberty: just because something’s legal doesn’t mean that it’s moral. He put it in the following terms: just because there’s no law against chasing a Jew up an alley waving a piece of pork doesn’t mean that you should do it. I don’t believe that Carr has broken any law or should be prosecuted. He just shouldn’t have told the joke. The best thing now is for him to apologise and Netflix to cut the joke. Then perhaps we should move on to combatting some real Nazis.

Conservative Guest on GB News Says Prince Andrew Should Renounce Royal Titles and Army Connections and Disappear

January 7, 2022

Oh dear, things are not going well for Prince Andrew and his fight against the allegation that he had sex with an underage girl enslaved as a prostitute by his mate, Jeffrey Epstein. Ghislaine Maxwell, another of Epstein’s close friends, has also been found guilty of child trafficking. I believe the woman, although 17 at the time, is nevertheless considered underage as in American law the age of consent is 18, rather than 16 over here. And whether it’s consensual or not,, I think it’s considered ‘statutory rape of a minor’. It may well be that Andrew isn’t guilty, just like Peter Mandelson, who also turns up in Epstein’s little black book. But as Mike has pointed out over at Vox Political, he’s undermining the monarchy by behaving as if he were. He has repeatedly tried to get the case thrown out of court, declared that a photograph of him with the girl is a fake, and claimed that at the time in question he was eating at Pizza Hut in Reading with his daughters. Does anybody really believe this claim? I can’t remember what I was doing on specific dates years ago, and I have trouble believing that his lordship would eat at a popular, downmarket place like Pizza Hut. It might be true, and there’s nothing wrong with the Hut. I’ve dined there with friends myself. But it just doesn’t seem to fit with Andy’s place as a member of the aristocracy. You expect he’d eat somewhere are little more exclusive. And nobody else seems to remember him there, despite the fact that the place would be alive with security guards and the mere presence of the man and his daughters would be a massive occasion and surprise.

And some Conservatives are getting sick and tired of his evasions and denials. I found a video today by GB News in which a very establishment guest, Rafe Heydel-Mankoo, described as a broadcaster and royal commenter, argued that Andrew should renounce his royal titles and army offices and links, and disappear for the sake of the monarchy. He believes that Andrew may be prepared to do this, as he served in the Falklands War and so has had the ideolog of service that animates both the British monarchy and the armed forces. When asked where he could possibly disappear to, Heydel-Mankoo suggests Scotland. This might help reinforce the union. His interviewer, someone called Brazier, replies that it could instead push them even further to independence. He’s got a point. I got the distinct impression that the monarchy is particularly unpopular over the border. Some of this may well go back to the Jacobites, but it may also be simply caused by the fact that they’re perceived as distant from Scotland and its affairs, despite the Bowes-Lyons family’s personal estates in Scotland and Her Maj spending her hols at Balmoral.

And Andy’s problems also don’t stop there. Another news report I found on YouTube, which I didn’t read, claims that the cost of defending himself is disastrously eating into his own personal finances. He has been forced to sell a £32 million chalet in Switzerland.

I don’t know if Andy is guilty. Like everyone else, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know how it works in American law, but over here you’re innocent until proven guilty. But his evasive behaviour, in my view, makes him look guilty and I believe it is undermining the monarchy.

I therefore agree with Mr Heydel-Mankoo that he should disappear, at least for a while. Or he should face his accusers and clear himself, if innocent, in a court of law.

Missionaries Samuel Crowther and Frederick Schon on the Equal Intelligence of African Schoolchildren

August 14, 2021

I’ve reblogged on here several videos from Simon Webb’s History Debunked channel, in which Webb, an author, has disputed some of the false history being promoted by Black and anti-racist activists. He’s definitely a Telegraph-reading Tory, but much of his material, when he backs it up with relevant sources, appears sound. One issue which I’m not happy about, however, is his embrace of the ‘Bell Curve’ theory of a racial intellectual hierarchy. This was proposed by an American academic a few years ago, and caused a storm of controversy and outrage. It proposes that the various races differ in their intellectual capabilities. The Chinese and east Asians are the most intelligent, Blacks the least. Whites are somewhere in the middle. Now I remember being told when I was a child that the Japanese had the highest IQs of any people in the world. While 100 was the European average, theirs was 120. And it was considered to be an established biological fact among many mainstream biologists that Blacks were intellectually inferior. This was used as the rationale for limiting Black immigration to the US and was a major part of the eugenics movement. It has also kept Blacks from achieving their full educational potential. Akala in his book Natives, states that some of the teachers who taught him – not all, but some – believed it and so thought that he too must be more stupid than his White classmates.

But while many anthropologists and biologists did believe Blacks were intellectually inferior, others made it very plain they thought the reverse was true. The missionaries Samuel Crowther and Frederick Schon were two of them. Crowther was a ‘man of colour’, a man of mixed African and White European heritage, who went to bring Christianity to Africa, for which he became the first Anglican bishop of Africa outside the British empire. He held this post until racists in the Anglican church had it taken away from him. His fellow missionary, Frederick Schon, was a Swiss Protestant pastor. During the 19th century they were called up to testify about slavery and the Christian mission to Africa before the parliamentary commission of inquiry tasked with overseeing Britain’s attempt to exterminate slavery and the slave trade. The gentlemen of the committee asked them if the African pupils in the schools they set up were intellectually inferior to White, British children. They responded that they weren’t. Indeed, they felt they were actually rather more intelligent than White Brits. That is until they hit 14 or 15, when they became dull and uninterested. To prove that Black Africans were intellectually equal, they submitted various essays on Divinity, as RE was called back then, discussing God and Christianity, which had been written by these pupils. The good reverend gentlemen’s experience of teaching in Africa does rebut the claims by the supporters of the Bell Curve that Blacks are somehow less intelligent than Whites.

I admit, however, that their statement that the children lose interest and appear to become less intelligent when the hit their mid-teens is a problem. But this could well be due to cultural factors. Nigel Barley’s book anthropological novel, The Coast, certainly suggests this is the case. Set in the 19th century, this about a British Christian missionary to west Africa, who utterly fails to convert the locals. In one episode, the missionary sets up a school for the local children, who are utterly uninterested in what he tries to teach them, until he starts talking about money. The African state in which the missionary is attempting to spread the Gospel, Akwa, is a very mercantile culture and its people are keenly interested in trade, including the local schoolchildren. Barley states in his introduction that Akwa is based on a number of historical states in that region of Africa. He’s a professional anthropologist, who has written a number of books, including his hilarious account of trying to do research among the Dowayo people of Cameroon, The Innocent Anthropologist. I’ve no doubt that, although fiction, The Coast is based on historical and anthropological fact. And it may have been similar cultural forces that resulted in Crowther’s and Schon’s school pupils similarly losing interest in the European schooling they were receiving when they entered puberty.

There is a problem with Black educational underachievement in the UK, for which a number of explanations have been suggested, including institutional racism in British society and the school system. Other factors may also include the breakdown of the Black family in particular, and the growth of urban gang culture.

Crowther’s and Schon’s experience of actually teaching in Africa, as well as Barley’s book, suggests that Black academic underperformance is almost certainly due to cultural and social factors, rather than biology.

Marvel Studios’ Teaser Trailer for the Eternals Movie

May 24, 2021

Marvel have released the teaser trailer for the movie of their comic, The Eternals. This shows a race of highly advanced, superpowered people landing on prehistoric Earth to teach early humanity. The voiceover announces that they’ve watched us create some splendid achievements, but have never interfered. Until now. There’s then scenes of them making their presence known, and family gathering in which a juvenile member talks about leading the Avengers and them all joking about it. The movie debuts in November.

After watching this, I’m in two minds about going to see it. I’m not really into superhero movies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate them. It’s just that I’ve no interest in most of them. I loved the original Superman flicks when they came out in the ’70s -80s with Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steele. I like the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and I actually think the Ang Lee Hulk movie is seriously underappreciated.

I actually got choked up a bit when I saw it at our local cinema. Yeah, it took liberties with the Hulk’s origin, but it actually got the tone of the book right. The Hulk was always a profoundly countercultural figure. Banner was a former nuclear scientist conducting bomb tests for the military. His girlfriend was the daughter of the senior officer in charge of the project. He was exposed to the gamma radiation that turned him into a ‘raging behemoth’, in Smilin Stan’s somewhat overheated prose, by rescuing a disaffected teenager, Rick, who had driven into the testing range playing his harmonica. I think the model for the character was probably James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause and similar teen anti-heroes. Banner threw him into the protective trench just in time to save him from the blast, but was himself caught in release of deadly radiation as the bomb detonated. And the army Banner served hated his alter ego. The army was determined to hunt him down, and so the Jolly Green Giant was constantly fighting running battles with the American military. And with the revelations of atrocities by American forces during the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, in some of the strips Banner was critical of the military and the dehumanisation of ordinary soldiers who participated in covert military experimentation. I am not surprised it flopped when it pitched its hero against the American army at a time when the American, British and European public were all being urged to support our troops during the War on Terror.

But I got choked up on the flick because it was faithful to that aspect of the strip. And in the scenes when the Hulk faces down and fights his father, who has also used the gamma ray process to become the supervillain, the Absorbing Man, they were shot almost exactly like the comic’s depiction of the Hulk’s battles with superpowered enemies. At least as they were drawn by mighty Bill Mantlo.

And then there was the nod right at the end to the Hulk TV series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. This is the scene where a group of paramilitaries walk into a camp where Banner is giving medical care to the local Latin American peasants. They declare they’re seizing his drugs and supplies. Banner naturally objects with the classic line ‘Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry’. All the while the camera is pulling upward until all you see is the tops of the trees. And then it ends with the Hulk’s roar.

Blow what the critics think, I thought it was awesome!

But back to the Eternals. They were drawn by Jack Kirby, and first appeared over this side of the Pond in Star Wars Weekly, if I remember correctly. The strip was based on the theories of Erich von Daniken. He’s the Swiss hotelier and the author of Chariot of the Gods and its various sequels, which claimed that humanity had been visited by spacefaring aliens in antiquity, who’d been worshipped as gods. Alien expertise were behind the construction of various monuments, like the pyramids, the Easter Island heads. The mysterious Nazca lines out in the Chilean desert weren’t made by the genius of the pre-Columbian Indian peoples. No! They were landing strips for the aliens’ spaceships. His ideas have been extensively debunked, most notably in Crash Go The Chariots. But they still exert a certain influence on the ancient astronaut crowd, along with the bonkers theories of Zechariah Sitchin and his wretched Nephilim.

In the strip, the Eternals were a sister race to humanity. Both peoples were the results of experimentation on ancient pre-human apes by the Celestials. These were fifty foot tall ‘space gods’, encased entirely in space armour and possessed of immense powers. The Eternals were blessed with immortality, highly advanced technology, and superpowers. Their names recalled those of the Graeco-Roman divinities. One of the leaders of the Eternals in their dealing with humanity was Ikaris, whose name is obviously a form of Icarus, the son of the inventor Daedalus, who died because he flew too close to the sun. Alongside the benign Eternals were a malign third race, the Deviants. Make up your own jokes here. I wonder if they’re going to be in the film, and if they are, whether they’ll give them a different monicker because of its sexual connotations. While the genomes of humans and Eternals were genetically stable, that of the Deviants very definitely wasn’t. They were thus monstrous in appearance, and were bitterly jealous of the handsome appearance of their cousins. Human-looking Deviants were hated and persecuted, forced to fight against each other in gladiatorial combat and the Deviants were constantly seeking ways to destroy humanity.

Meanwhile, the Space Gods themselves had returned to Earth to judge the results of their experiments. They would take fifty years doing so, during which time they remained immobile and hidden at the sites of their ancient landings and cults. If humanity was judged a failure, the Celestials would destroy us.

I liked it because at the time I was really into the possibility of ancient astronauts, and Kirby’s art was magnificent. He’d taken pains to educate himself about science and cosmology, and nobody drew ‘cosmic’ like Jolly Jack. Even now I’d say that he’s peerless in his depiction of alien gods and godlike beings like the Celestials and Galactus. In the 1970s he was approached to provide the concept art for a film of Roger Zelazny’s novel, Lord of Light. This fell through, but the idea and his art was later used by the CIA as a cover for rescuing American hostages in Iran. If you see some of it, you’ll see just how impressive Kirby was.

Kirby’s Art for the abortive film, Lord of Light, from Desirina Boskovich, Lost Transmissions – The Secret History of Science Fiction, Film and Fantasy (New York: Abrams Image 2019) 234.

But I’m in two minds about this movie.

I was fascinated by the Celestials themselves. They were huge, ridiculously powerful, and totally alien. They were roughly humanoid, with the same number of arms and legs, but encased in armoured suits that suggested more the gods of the ancient, primal societies of some Amerindian peoples and ancient Japan. They also had no interest in communicating with us whatsoever. When they returned, their emissary just took up his position in an ancient Mayan/ Aztec temple and then stood stock still. This was how he’d remain for the next fifty years. And the Celestials made it very clear that they wanted to be left alone. When a villainous scientist ignores the urgings of the Eternal Ikaris, in human disguise as Ike Harris, to leave, the Celestial uses his advanced technological powers to transform him into a cube of inert matter. The scientist will remain in this state for the next fifty years, when he will be restored when the Space Gods pronounce their final judgement on humanity.

They were like true aliens in that they were incomprehensible. And genuinely awesome in their immense power. You couldn’t challenge them, you couldn’t negotiate with them or even talk to them. You could only stay out of their way.

But the trailer doesn’t show them. The Guardians of the Galaxy showed glimpses of them, which is one of the reasons I like them. Apart from the fact that they also had Steve Gerber’s avian hero from a parallel dimension, Howard the Duck. I’d like them to be in the flick, and that they are as powerful and awesome as they were in the original comics and in their very brief appearances in the two Guardians movies.

But I’m afraid they won’t, or they will be underused, and that the film will be simply another superhero movie, as enjoyable as they are for Marvel aficionados. At the moment I’m cautiously optimistic, as Cosmic Book News and other SF/Fantasy/comics websites have covered photos released way back in 2019 showing the Space Gods tombs. These were originally passed off as sets for the latest Star Wars movie, but later revealed to be for The Eternals film. And they do show the influence of Jolly Jack.

See: Eternals Set Images Reveal Jack Kirby Influence | Cosmic Book News

This might make the film worth seeing, just for another reminder of the sheer cosmic awesomeness of Kirby’s creations.

Starmer’s Flag-Waving and Fixation on Celebrities Shows Hollowness of New Labour

February 11, 2021

I know this is another piece of old news, which Mike has commented on already but there are a few more things to say about it. A few days ago Mike posted up a piece about an idea from the Labour party about winning more members and votes. This new, exciting strategy for gaining the support of the British public was for Starmer to be seen more with the Union Jack. Yep, Starmer’s leadership, which is already determined to copy Tory economic policies, also wants to follow them and be seen as the party of flag-waving – some critics called it’ flag-shagging’ patriotism.

The Tories have been draping themselves in the flag and waving it at every opportunity just about since they emerged in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Their aggressive projection of themselves as the party of British patriotism became particularly acute under Maggie in the 1980s. Thatcher was deeply inspired by Winston Churchill’s heroic vision of the British people and their history, and so was constantly invoking his memory and legacy. Thus we had Torygraph headlines quoting the Leaderene, screaming ‘Don’t Call Them Booj-wah, Call Them British’, while the spirit of the Battle of Britain was invoked in the Tory 1987 election broadcast. This featured Spitfires zooming about the sky, while an excited voice intoned ‘We were born free. It’s our fundamental right’. It’s a misquotation of the great Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His book, The Social Contract, one of the first works advocating democracy and a major influence on the French Revolution, begins: ‘Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains’. You can see why Thatcher didn’t want to include the second part of that sentence. Commenting on it on Radio 4’s News Quiz, the late Alan Coren drily called it ‘the Royal Conservative Airforce’ and made the point that all the servicemen, whose memory and sacrifice Thatcher was exploiting all came back and voted Labour. Now Starmer apparently wants to wave the flag as well in order to win over Tory voters.

The new strategy was proposed by a focus group, which were used by Blair’s New Labour to devise party policy, or put the rubber stamp on those the Dear Leader had already decided upon, when the grinning butcher of Iraq was in office. It was part of the Blairite’s centralisation of decision-making, their managerialism and their pointed determination to ignore the demands and recommendations of grassroots members. Now it seems we’re back to the same tired old attitudes and strategies.

Mike and the peeps on Twitter saw past this threadbare strategy immediately. They quoted Dr. Johnson, who said that ‘patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’. But I remember Jon Downes, the frontman for the Devon band Jon Downes and the Amphibians from Outer Space making another observation: ‘a patriot is a man with nothing left to say’. This was in a song entitled ‘Land of Dopes and Tories’. It was a commented on Major’s Conservative party, which carried on the flag-waving while handing over vast tracts of Britain’s historic landscape to English Heritage, which promptly erected fences around them to keep the British public out, as at Stonehenge. Major’s Tories were ideologically bankrupt. It was Thatcherism with the nasty bits cut off and a marked paucity of ideas. His big notion for galvanising the British public behind his party was a ‘Cones Hotline’. This was a number you could call if you thought their were too many cones clogging up the roads. It’s hardly a grand vision, and was rightly ridiculed by Spitting Image and the rest of the media.

And Starmer’s leadership really doesn’t have any ideas. His policy so far has been to agree with the Tories, then criticise them in retrospect. He seems determined to copy their disastrous economic and social policies of privatisation, including that of the NHS, the destruction of the welfare state, and low wages, just like Blair. The only difference is that Blair and Starmer claimed that they would be able to carry out these Tory policies better than the Tories themselves.

Starmer really, really doesn’t have anything left to say. A fact also confirmed by another recommendation. This was that he should be seen with celebrities. Well, that was another feature of Blairite New Labour, which was also very relaxed, as Peter Mandelson put it, about people getting rich. Hence Blair’s desire to be seen with such celebrity businessmen as Beardie Branson and Alan Sugar. But Mike and the other Twitter peeps pointed out that, thanks to his attack on Corbyn, Starmer might find recruiting other celebs to endorse him difficult. Robert Webb apparently has torn up his Labour membership card.

I realise Angela Rayner also returned to make a speech claiming that Labour was still behind the policies laid out in last year’s election manifesto – nationalised public services and welfare state, strong unions, workers’ rights and so on, but Mike asked the pertinent question of whether you could trust her or him on this issue. And you can’t. They’ve shown repeatedly that they’re not prepared to honour the manifesto.

The flag-waving and celebrity-seeking isn’t going to win over traditional Labour voters, who will see past it. Some may even be repelled by it because of the way the Tories appropriated British patriotism and mixed it with aggressive imperialist nostalgia and xenophobia. And it isn’t going to win over Tories. There is a hard rump of extreme right-wing Tory types, who regard the Labour party as the enemies of Britain. The anti-immigrant YouTube channel, We Got A Problem, refers to asylum seekers and illegal immigrants as ‘imported Labour voters’. There are people who honestly believe the allegation that Blair deliberately encouraged mass non-White immigration to this country to destroy the largely White society at the heart of Tory visions of Britain. The same type of people, who believe that the Jews are also encouraging non-White immigration to destroy the White race, the Kalergi plan and the Great Replacement. These people aren’t going to be won over by Starmer waving the flag. They are, of course, probably not going to vote Labour anyway because of Labour’s avowed commitment of multiculturalism. Blair also waved the flag during ‘Cool Britannia’, but it also included Blacks and Asians along with more traditionally British images to project the view of a new, multicultural Britain. That was two decades ago, and while it impressed many, the super-patriotic right still regard it as some kind of betrayal of British identity through its inclusion of non-White culture. Starmer waving the flag won’t get them to change their political allegiances.

In fact, there is a sense that traditional Labour was and has always been the true party of patriotism. George Bernard Shaw pointed it out years ago in his book The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism and Sovietism. He stated that socialists wanted money to be spent here, in Britain, developing its industries and aiding its working people. The Tories, on the other hand, allowed the idle rich to spend their wealth abroad, while undercutting domestic industry with products from the colonies, whose people could be exploited more cheaply. Just like under slavery.

Mike made the point that you could connect British patriotism to a desire for a fairer society where people were supported by a proper welfare state. You could also begin by presenting the Labour party as the party of true British patriotism by saying that it was opposed to the rich hiding their immense wealth away in offshore tax havens, as well as benefiting from tax cuts while the rest of the population have to shoulder the tax burden. Oh yes, and industries that, instead of being owned by the British people, were owned by multinational corporations which simply took their profits without reinvesting in them.

But that would be seen as horribly xenophobic and attacking the free trade and foreign investment the Neoliberals are trying to promote, and so would probably be denounced as horribly racist. Even as the Tories continue to demonise immigrants and asylum seekers.