Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Right-Wingers Outraged at Trans/Gay Pop Video, But It’s just a Return to the ’80s

January 31, 2023

Now for a bit about the latest right-wing rage about pop music. This morning there were a number of videos on YouTube by various pundits, right-wing and otherwise, discussing or denouncing a pop video. I honestly don’t know who the pop star who made it is, and have actually forgotten his name. I gather he had quite a successful career a few years ago, after which he came out of the closet and revealed he was gay. A little while later he said he was non-binary and now he seems to have gone a bit further in declaring his sexual identity. The video showed him in a revealing dress or robe, surrounded with dancers wearing chaps to expose their rear ends, during which he mimes various sex acts. Right-wing American YouTuber Matt Walsh was outraged, while somebody on GB News defended it, and claimed the video’s critics were homophobic.

What struck me, as someone who grew up in the 1980s, was how familiar it all was. I can remember when Frankie Goes to Hollywood were shocking the press and provoking scandal and outrage with their single ‘Relax’. It’s video seemed to be about a man in suit being pushed and pulled about the dance floor in a gay club by people dressed as gay bikers, watched by a fat bloke dressed as Nero. The single was banned, so say, by the BBC, although I’ve heard since that it was simply that one particular DJ refused to play it. This was entirely counterproductive, as the moment people heard it was banned they went out and bought it, with the result that it got to No. 1. And then there was Divine, an overweight drag queen and friend of American underground filmmaker John Waters, who starred in several of Waters’ deranged productions. Divine also had a hit in that decade, ‘Walk Like a Man’. Of course, Divine was a drag queen, rather than trans, but he wasn’t too far away from this latest attempt to climb the charts. The video’s shocking now, but it’s little different from what people were listening to and watching in the ’80s.

And the worst thing that came out of that decade was Margaret Thatcher. Her policies have done far more damage than anything that came out of the charts ever did.

Hurrah! The Green Party Wants to Renationalise the NHS

January 27, 2023

I don’t usually watch the party political broadcasts. I find them too boring, depressing and, in the case of the Tories, infuriating. But I caught a bit of the Greens’ broadcast last night, and was impressed. They stated that as part of their platform of policies they would renationalise the NHS, end its outsourcing and make social care free at the point of use as with the health service. Excellent! This is what the Labour party should be doing, and should have done 16 years ago when Blair won his landslide victory in 1997. But I’m afraid Starmer won’t. Everything he’s said has raised warning signs that he means to privatise more of the health service following Blair’s precedent, starting with using private healthcare providers to clear the backlog of cases. This is exactly what the Tories have been saying. Or course, Jeremy Corbyn wanted to renationalise the NHS, along with the public utilities and restore and revitalise the welfare state. Which is why they smeared him, first as a Communist, then as an anti-Semite, enthusiastically aided by Starmer’s allies in the Labour party.

I’ve very mixed feelings about the Greens. They’re very woke. There was a controversy a few years ago about the schools in Brighton, which I think is a Green council or their MP is Green, teaching Critical Race Theory and White Privilege. In Scotland the Greens are behind the SNP’s wretched Gender Recognition Act, which would lower the age people can legally declare themselves trans to 16 amongst other reforms. I don’t doubt that it’s meant well, but I strongly feel it will do much harm by encouraging confused young people to pursue medical treatment that may be totally inappropriate for them and could lead to lasting harm.

But I entirely support their demand for a properly nationalised and funded NHS.

I am just annoyed that it’s the Greens, who are regarded as an extreme, fringe party, demanding this and not Labour.

Well, a few years ago the Greens took a number of local seats from Labour in the council elections in Bristol until they were only one or two behind them on the council. I would therefore not blame anyone if, in the forthcoming council elections, they turned their votes away from Starmer’s Labour and voted Green instead.

Spat Between UKIP and Reform as Tice Refuses Offer of an Alliance

January 23, 2023

This comes from a video by right-winger Mahyar Tousi on YouTube. UKIP has been trying to organise some kind of alliance with the other right-wing populist parties and splinter groups. They have said that if they join this alliance they can keep their leaders and independence under an agreement intended to bring all these groups an electoral victory which would be beyond them as individual, separate groups. To join this proposed alliance, all that was necessary was that 95 per cent of the parties’ views should be the same. Today UKIP’s deputy fuehrer, Rebecca Jane, announced that the only one of these smaller right-wing parties to have ignored the Kipper’s overtures was Reform. She stated that it because its Duce, Richard Tice, believed that he could challenge the other parties alone. This was a mistake. She also criticised him for criticising the Tory MP, Andrew Bridgen, who had been thrown out for attacking the Covid compulsory vaccination programme. Tousi himself declared that this was splitting the right, and that it was all a clash of personalities rather than any real disagreement over policies..

I was surprised that UKIP was still going. I thought it had absolutely collapsed and been wound up following the departure of Nigel of Farage, his replacement by Gerard Batten and the entry into the party of Count Dankula, Carl Benjamin and Paul Joseph Watson. I also thought that whatever remained of the party had been reconstituted as Reform, but that’s evidently not true. As for these parties remaining separate and splitting the right, I am more than happy to see that continue. From what I’ve seen, they’re all hard right, Thatcherite parties, who’d continue the Tories’ attack on the welfare state and NHS. The only difference I can see is that they’d be more overt about it. And that is quite apart from their aggressively anti-immigrant policies.

I therefore think it’s no bad thing that these right-wing, populist parties are divided. Labour’s not perfect, but I want them to gain power and overturn 12 wretched years of Tory misrule. And these parties splitting the vote between hopefully makes that easier.

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

January 20, 2023

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

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

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

  1. The state is our servant not our master.

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

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

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

3. People are free.

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

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

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

4. National Sovereignty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fascist Argument Against Free Market Capitalism

January 15, 2023

I notice that as the failure of contemporary free market capitalism becomes every more obvious, its right-wing supporters are out on the net telling everyone how wonderful capitalism is. Capitalism, according to them, has lifted more people out of poverty than any socialist state has ever done. You find this repeated by the Lotus Eaters, and I recent found yet another video on YouTube put up by a right-winger.

Now there is something to this. Marx in the Communist Manifesto was impressed by the global achievements of capitalism, and industrialisation and trade has produced development and prosperity in Britain, the West and elsewhere, and lifted people out of the poverty of agricultural subsistence economies. But this hasn’t been done by capitalism alone. Trade unions have also been part of the development of mass prosperity in the industrialised nations through demands for increased wages, better working conditions and so on, a fact ignored by the right. And working people in the west enjoyed their greatest period of prosperity when capitalism was regulated as part of the post-War consensus. In Britain this took the form of a mixed economy in which the utilities were owned and operated by the state. The privatisation of these utilities, the devastation of the welfare state and the deregulation of the economy has led to a massive transfer of wealth upwards, so that the poor have become colossally poorer and the wealth of the rich even more bloated and obscene. Properly regulated, capitalism does raise people out of poverty. But free market capitalism, of the kind frantically promoted by right-wingers like the Lotus Eaters, has done the reverse.

But let’s grant them that the 19th century was an age of industrial and agricultural expansion in which people enriched themselves. Mussolini expressed this view in his speech about the corporative state he was introducing into Italy. The fascist corporations were industrial organisations, one for each industry, which included representatives of the trade unions and the owners’ organisations. The Italian parliament was dissolved and reorganised into a Chamber of Fasces and Corporations, in which these organisations were supposed to debate economic policy. In fact, it just served as a rubber stamp for the Duce’s decisions. It was, however, important for propaganda purposes, to show that Mussolini’s regime had transcended capitalism and socialism.

The Fascists weren’t enemies of capitalism, far from it. Mussolini’s constitution made private industry the basis of the state and economic life, which is why I’m using it his critique of free market capitalism against the free marketeers. Mussolini had been a radical socialist, but when the Fascists seized power he declared them to be true followers of Manchester School capitalism. In other words, free trade. This was accompanied by a programme of privatisation. In Germany Hitler gave a speech to the German equivalent of the Confederation of British Industry, saying that capitalism could only be preserved through a dictatorship. He stated that he would not nationalise any company, unless it was failing. During the Nazi dictatorship industry was organised into a series of interlocking associations subject to state control. But they were not nationalised, and the leadership of the organisations was always given to private industrialists, not the managers of state industries.

Back to Italy, Mussolini described how this initial period had begun to decay. The old family run firms declined, to be replaced by joint stock companies. At the same time, firms organised themselves into cartels. In America, these cartels demanded intervention from the government. Mussolini announced that, if left unchecked, this would lead to the emergence of a state capitalism that was every bit as pernicious as state socialism. His solution was that capitalism needed to be more ‘social’. It would be subordinated to the state through the corporations, where workers and management would cooperate to make Italy a great power once more.

Something similar has happened over the past four decades. Under this new corporativism, representatives of private industry have entered government as advisors and officials, often in the departments charged with regulating their industries. At the same time, industry has received massive subsidies and tax breaks so that much of the tax burden has moved lower down on working people. Mussolini was correct about private industry demanding state intervention, however much this is denied and state planning attacked by free market theorists. And the result is corporativism, which the free marketeers denounce as not being true capitalism. But it’s been pointed out that the type of capitalism they believe in has never existed.

Free market capitalism is a failure. The solution is not a murderous dictatorship, but the old, regulated, mixed economy of the social democratic consensus. An economy that includes private industry, but which recognises that it alone does not create wealth, and which demands the inclusion of working people and their organisations in industrial negotiations and policies in order to create prosperity for working people.

Simon Webb Attacks Secret Magistrate Courts

January 15, 2023

Webb also put up another piece yesterday, which also looks remarkably left-wing. He was attacking the secret magistrates’ courts, which according to him now handle half the country’s court cases. These deal with minor offences like speeding and parking fines. However, they meet in secret, and journalists, the defendant and their defence counsel are not present. The accused simply gets a form through the post asking them how they plead. Webb makes the point that this is against the British tradition of open justice, that not only must justice be done, it must be seen to be done. It’s why there are public galleries in courts and their doors were flung open in court cases. These courts date from 2015, and Webb fears that although they only deal with minor cases at the moment, they will expand to include more serious cases later on.

This is interesting. I had no idea these courts existed though I was aware that Cameron had set up a system of secret courts, at which the defendant may not know the identity of his accuser or hear the evidence against him, and from which journalists are also barred, if it was deemed necessary for reasons of national security. I blogged against this, as did many other left-wing bloggers, because it is too much like the travesties of justice described by Franz Kafka in his novels The Trial and The Castle, and which became a terrifying reality in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia. My guess is that Cameron probably set them up in order to clear a backlog of minor, civil offences that had been building up. But I do agree with Webb that there is a danger that this system will expand and become a serious threat to British justice. After all, the food banks were originally set up to cater to illegal immigrants after Blair passed legislation stating they were no longer eligible for benefit. These have now massively expanded due to the Tories’ attack on the welfare state and determination to keep workers’ wages well below the level of inflation at literally starvation level. For all the right’s boasts about defending liberty and democracy, they hate independent, impartial justice and I can easily see this system expanding to cover criminal cases under some pretext or other.

Gladstone: There Should Be More Working Class Men in Parliament

January 11, 2023

Another piece of political wisdom from the past, this time from the great 19th century Liberal leader William Ewart Gladstone. In the 1866 debate of the extension of the franchise to part of the working class, Gladstone stated very firmly that he was in favour of it. Because working people were not adequately represented in parliament. He said

‘I am justified, then, in stating that the working classes are not adequately represented in this House. They are not, it is admitted, represented in any proportion to their numbers …. They are not represented, as I have previously shown, in accordance with their share of the income of the country. Especially after the events of the last few years, I may boldly proceed to say they are not represented in proportion to their intelligence, their virtue, or their loyalty. Finally, they are less represented now than they were thirty-six years ago, when they were less competent to exercise the franchise…. If these are not good reasons for extending the franchise at the present, I know not what reason can be good.’

In Alan Bullock and Maurice Shock, The Liberal Tradition from Fox to Keynes (Oxford: Clarendon 1956).

Unfortunately, despite the extension of the franchise to cover all adults in Britain, working people aren’t properly represented in parliament. Way back in 2014/15 or so someone worked out that 77 per cent of all the MPs in parliament were heads or senior executives of companies. And I don’t expect this to improve when Starmer gets in, as the Blairites were only too keen on admitting rich businessmen into the party and giving them government posts. The current demand for greater diversity in politics really doesn’t extend to class. It is all about increasing the number of women and ethnic minority MPs. But the class background and the economic views tend to remain the same – very middle class and neoliberal. We really need to start demanding the selection of more working people as political candidates and to challenge everywhere we can neoliberalism.

And especially in the Labour party, which was founded to represent working people and oppose unfettered capitalism.

False! Woke Swedish Green MEP Does Not Want Viking Artefacts Destroyed in Name of International Friendship

January 10, 2023

Right-wing YouTuber Paz49 put up a piece this morning claiming that Alice Bah-Kuhnke, a Swedish Green MP, had called for the country’s Viking artefacts to be turned into scrap metal in order to show other countries that Sweden is friendly. Bah-Kuhnke’s mixed race, the daughter of an African father and Swedish mother. She was also a member, possibly the head, of an all-female government, whose members all wore pink hats, presumably as a feminist statement. Paz also reports that there are claims she wants the artefacts replaced with Islamic and African objects, but he thinks this may be just a rumour. He does, however, believe that this is a woke assault on White identity, and that it ignores the fact that other nations throughout the globe are also responsible for war and imperialism.

The story’s false, however. It’s several years old, dating from c. 2017, and comes from the American Alt-Right distorting reports of a perfectly reasonable law passed by the Swedish government to clear out artefacts of low scientific value in order to clear space in their national museum. I found this video below from the Archaeosource channel on YouTube, in which two professional archaeologists discuss what was really going on. They point out that archaeologists can’t keep everything they find, otherwise museums would be full of old Roman tiles. They rebury material that they can’t retain and conserve. The Swedish law is about throwing away poorly preserved Iron Age and Viking artefacts that don’t have much scientific value. It is not about destroying Sweden’s heritage. One of the speakers says he worked as a Viking for four years, six-hours a day, and has a profound respect for the ancient Norsemen. He takes issue with the way the Alt-Right and other extreme right-wing groups have appropriated them, especially regarding issues of masculinity, being a warrior and so on. The Vikings were open to other cultures, they had words for Blacks, Blamenn, and extensive trade contacts extending down to Africa and India. They were hired by other nations, and were hospitable to them. I think here he’s probably talking about Ibn Fadlan, the Arab traveller, and his observations of the Vikings on the Volga. They were hired by the Byzantines to serve as the emperor’s bodyguard. They also had bards and weren’t homophobic.

So, as commenters like Gillyflower suspected, this is a bogus non-story, an example of Alt-Right fearmongering.

The Stupidity of Black Anti-Semitism

December 23, 2022

Last week, the American rapper Kanye ‘Ye’ West successfully managed to torpedo his career and popularity by making stupid and bigoted comments about Jews. Unfortunately he isn’t the only person to hold stupid and malign anti-Semitic beliefs. His comments, however, led to one YouTuber putting up a half-hour long video examining whether Michael Jackson was anti-Semitic. I don’t know whether Jackson was or wasn’t. He may have been, but at the end of his life one of his friends or associates was, I believe, a rabbi, Shmuely Boteach. This suggests he probably wasn’t, or if he was, that any anti-Semitic views he had may have been nuanced and riddled with exceptions. But I confess, I didn’t watch that part of the video because I’m not that interested in Michael Jackson. As far as I’m concerned, Jackson was an immensely talented musician and dancer, but a deeply flawed human being. He seemed to me to be a perpetual child, surrounding himself with toys and exotic animals, and his musical achievements are tarnished by the accusations of child abuse.

What I found interesting instead was the beginning of the video, which included clips of other rappers and Black musicians airing their prejudices and negative opinions about the Jews. Many of them were complaints that they were being exploited by the music industry, which they believed was run by the Jews. I dare say that there may be a higher proportion of Jews in the music business, as there supposedly is or has been with the film industry. But this doesn’t come from any kind of stupid conspiracy to control the media. It’s simply because the entertainment industry, by and large, was more tolerant of Jews than other sectors of society. As for exploitation, there are any number of White musicians as well who’ve fallen out with the record label and feel they’ve been cheated on issues of recording rights and royalties. Where this has occurred, it’s been because their managers or the recording companies are acting as exploitative individuals. Again, it’s got nothing at all to do with race, and everything to do with the fact that there are people in every industry who will try to exploit and cheat their clients.

The video began with Professor Griff, who was sacked from NWA because of his anti-Semitic views, and included a clip of Griff explaining them and the circumstances of his sudden exit from the band. And from what he said, Griff certainly appeared to have genuinely Nazi views. He claimed he carried a library of books on them around in a suitcase, in order to educated people, and he’d lay them out on a table. These included such classic anti-Semitic texts as Henry Ford’s The International Jew. Ford was certainly a member of the extreme right. He hated socialism and trade unions, as well as Jews and Lord knows who else. I think he was a favourite of Hitler and the Nazis, who also believed that Blacks were racially inferior. One nasty piece of Nazi doctrine, according to Orwell, was that Blacks could interbreed with gorillas. I really do wonder why any self-respecting person of colour would read anything by people who believed such vile rubbish.

He then came out with some of the class anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, like the Jews caused World War II. This is still being repeated by White fascists after Hitler and Oswald Mosley over here in the UK. No, the Jews had nothing to do with it. The War started because Hitler invaded Poland, thus provoking France and Britain who had made pledged themselves to defend the country.

He also talked about the Rothschild’s and other Jewish banks extending credit and loans to Nazi Germany. This is true. They did, along with a number of other big American companies like IBM. This has absolutely nothing to do with the owners of these banks being Jewish. It’s simply because they, and the other gentile-owned companies that did business with the Nazis, were run by utterly amoral people who cared only about profit. Their dealing with the Nazi was naturally deeply and bitterly resented by ordinary Jewish peeps. And it should be a problem for any daft conspiracy theories about a secret Jewish plot to gain global domination. I really don’t understand how that can be squared with Jewish banks, which are an integral part of this putative conspiracy, collaborating with a regime dedicated to destroying their people. There are attempts to do this, in which a distinction is drawn between the Jewish elite behind the conspiracy and normal, decent Jews, but it’s still an obvious, glaring inconsistency that should show that the conspiracy theory is utter nonsense.

I do wonder where this anti-Semitism in parts of Black popular culture comes from. The Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan are one source. Farrakhan blames the Jews for the slave trade and in the 1980s a ‘historical research institute’ connected with the sect published a book promoting this idea. Proper historians of the slave trade dismiss the idea. Very few of the merchants involved in the trade in America were Jewish. I think Hugh Thomas says there were just four in his excellent book The Slave Trade. There were Jewish financiers involved, but again I don’t think there were that many. And as has been pointed out by historians of transatlantic slavery and anti-racist activists, they were employed by Christian princes.

I do wonder if some of this Jew-hatred comes from racial politics in Harlem during the 1920s and ’30s. The book Colour Prejudice notes that there was considerable anti-Semitism among Harlem’s Black community. This might come from the fact that many of the stores were White-owned, and despite selling to a Black clientele they wouldn’t employ Black staff. This resulted in a concerted campaign by an alliance of Black labour organisations against the policy. They organised a boycott of these stores under the slogan ‘Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work’. One of the leaders of the boycott was Sufi Abdul Hamid, a colourful figure who dressed in exotic eastern robes. He was another native-born Black American, who had converted to a form of Islam. Hamid was particularly vehement against the Jewish owners of such stores, as well as Greeks and Italians, who he derided as ‘spaghetti-slingers’. The boycott was successful, but Hamid lost control of the movement because the other leaders were acutely embarrassed by his racism. See the chapter on Hamid and his literary followers, ‘”In Turban and Gorgeous Robe”: Claude McKay, Black Fascism and Labor’ in Mark Christian Thompson, Black Fascisms: African American Literature and Culture Between the Wars (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press 2007), 87-116.

And against ideas of a Jewish racial antipathy towards Blacks, there’s the long history of Jewish support for the Black Civil Rights movement. Many Jews worked as social workers, school teachers and other professionals within the Black community and so were deeply sympathetic to their cause. The awesome Black Jewish pro-Palestinian activist, Jackie Walker, is an example of this. Her mother was a Black civil rights activist from Georgia and her father was a Russian Jew. Her parents met at a rally by the Communist party. I’ve forgotten the fellow’s name, but one of the Jewish supporters and campaigners for the civil rights of Black Americans was a rabbi.

Griff’s endorsement of Ford’s wretched tome did confirm something that I’ve suspected: that Black anti-Semites were also reading and being influenced by White racists. The same thing appears to be the case in much Afrocentric literature about ancient Egypt being the source of both European and African civilisation. It’s based on long out-disproven theories by White colonial anthropologists, for whom the Egyptians were White Hamites, who spread southward and colonised the continent. The Black Afrocentrists who took over this view simply flipped the races, so that the Egyptians were Black. The result, however, was much the same in that the indigenous African peoples were denied the credit for their own cultural achievement made independently of Egypt, whatever skin colour the Egyptians had.

If the ultimate source of Black American anti-Semitism does come from the racial politics of pre-World War II Harlem, then it’s profoundly depressing that it should still cast a shadow over race relations nearly a century later. Quite apart from the fact that no-one, of any colour, should believe Nazi conspiratorial rubbish.

Video from Boston Dynamics: Robots Decorate the Christmas Tree

December 22, 2022

I found this cheery little video a day or so ago on YouTube. It’s from the American robotics company Boston Dynamics, and is of three of their four-legged robots forming a robot pyramid so that one, equipped with a mechanical arm, can put a star on the Christmas tree. I’m posting it up here as a bit of Christmas cheer in this new Winter of Discontent when the Tories are trying to drive us all into more poverty.