Posts Tagged ‘Aliens’

Alexander Bogdanov, Soviet SF Writer and Originator of Fully Automated Luxury Communism

September 18, 2021

One of my friends gave me a copy of A.M. Gittlitz’s I Want to Believe: Posadism, UFOs and Apocalypse Communism, for which I’m really grateful. It’s fascinating! Posadism is a weird Trotskyite sect, founded by Posadas, the nom-de-guerre of Homero Cristalli, an Argentinian Marxist. They were hardline Marxists, joining other Communist and Trotskyite guerrillas fighting a war against capitalism and Fascist oppression across Latin America and Cuba. From what I remember from an article about them in the Fortean Times, they also looked forward to an apocalyptic nuclear war that would destroy the capitalist nations and allow the workers of the world to seize power. This is frightening, as any such war would have destroyed the planet or at least killed countless billions and sent the survivors hurtling back into the Stone Age. Unfortunately, it was also shared by Chairman Mao, who really couldn’t believe why Khrushchev hadn’t launched a nuclear attack on America during the Cuban missile crisis. Khrushchev was certainly no angel. During Stalin’s reign he was responsible for organising purges of dissidents in Ukraine and when in power led a brutal crackdown on religion that sent thousands of people of faith, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, shamanists to the gulags. He was also responsible for creating the system of curtained shops which served only members of the Communist party. But in refusing to start a nuclear war, Khrushchev helped save the world and showed himself a far better man than Mao.

But Posadas also had some other, rather more eccentric views. He believed in establishing contact with intelligent aliens and also believed dolphins were another intelligent species with whom we should establish real, meaningful contact and understanding. A college friend of mine told me that they wanted to make contact with aliens because of their belief in the inevitable victory of Marxism. If there were alien civilisations, they reasoned, they would have achieved true, Marxist socialism and could therefore help us do the same. It sound completely bonkers, but they took their views on dolphin intelligence from the scientist and psychologist John Lilley. Many others shared their views. I have a feeling that dolphins feature in several of Larry Niven’s novels as intelligent creatures with whom humans have a relationship as equal species. To help them interact with us, they have been given artificial arms and mobile pods containing the water they need to support them.

There was a brief resurgence of Posadism on the Net in 2016, and the book contains amongst its illustrations a number of memes posted by them. One contrasts the despair and defeatism of capitalism and the mainstream socialist parties with Posadism. It features a grey alien looking on accompanied with slogans like ‘Solidarity with the space comrades’ – not ‘space brothers’, note, like the old-fashioned UFO contactees talked about, but Marxist aliens determined to overthrow capitalism. Other slogans included ‘It’s Communism, Jim, but not a we know it’, clearly a parody of the famous line from Star Trek, ‘It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it’. And there’s also a parody of one of the famous sayings of the Space Prophet himself, Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The Posadist meme reworked this as ‘Dialectical Materialism so advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic.’ They are also in favour of fully automated luxury communism. This is the doctrine, embraced by Yannis Varoufakis amongst others, that mechanisation will make most workers redundant. To prevent the immense harm this will do, the only choice will be for the state to take over industry and run it so that everyone has free access to goods and services. This got reworked in one of the Posadist memes as ‘Fully automated luxury gay communism.’ I have to say this sounds distinctly unappealing. Not because I’m opposed to gay rights, but because it sounds like only gays will be allowed into the new utopia. I hope if it comes, it will benefit everyone, whatever their sexuality.

In fact the idea of fully automated luxury communism and alien contact goes back a long way in Marxist history. Alexander Bogdanov, an early rival to Marx, wrote an SF novel, Red Star. Inspired by Tsiolkovsky, the Russian rocket pioneer, and H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, this was about a revolutionary from the 1905 anti-Tsarist uprising, who is abducted to Mars. Martian society is advanced both technologically and socially. All the factories are automated, so that goods are plentiful and money is obsolete, as everyone has access to all the goods and services they need or want. As a result, Martians share their possessions. What work remains is entirely voluntary, but done idealistically for the good of society. This includes young Martians donating blood to increase the lives of the elderly. (see page 5 of the above book).

As the Bard says in The Tempest ‘Oh brave new world that hath such people in it!’

Posadas was an eccentric with some extremely dangerous views, but some of his ideas aren’t so daft. If mechanisation proceeds, then I feel that fully automated luxury communism, or something very like it, will have to come into existence. It’s the only humane alternative to the grind mass poverty and despair depicted in dystopian SF stories like 2000 AD’s ‘Judge Dredd’, where 95 per cent of the population of Megacity 1 is unemployed and films like Elysium, where the world’s masses live in shanty towns, workers are exploited and disposable, and the rich live in luxury orbital colonies.

And serious scientists are still looking for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, following American astronomer Frank Drake and scientist and broadcaster Carl Sagan. Interestingly, the book states that Sagan, a Humanist and left-wing activist, denied being a Marxist. But he and his wife Anne Druyan smuggled copies of Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, so that Soviet citizens could read its real, suppressed history. I think most SETI scientists believe that real aliens would probably be so different from us that their political and institutions may well be inapplicable to us. Nevertheless advocates of SETI believe that aliens may nevertheless be able to give us vital scientific information, including the cure of disease and how to extend our lifespan. It probably won’t be Marxism, but if the aliens do have something like it or Fascism, then these ideologies will become popular on Earth after contact.

Communist aliens sounds like a ridiculous idea, but until we make contact, we won’t know if there are or aren’t any.

As for the Martian society of Red Star, the absence of a money economy, the abolition of scarcity and work as a purely voluntary activity sound very much like the Federation in Star Trek. Thanks to contact with the Vulcans and other aliens, humans had overcome racism, poverty and starvation. People didn’t need to work, but they did so in order to better themselves. It should be said, though, that the series never openly advocated socialism. It simply said that ‘the economics of the future are different’ and implied that both capitalism and socialism had been transcended. Nevertheless, the parallels are so close that the far right, like Sargon of Gasbag and his fellow Lotus Eaters, have been moaning that Star Trek’s communist. I doubt it, not least because the actress who plays Seven Of Nine is married to a Republican politico. I think Star Trek is broadly liberal and presents an inspiring utopian society. One of the complaints about Star Trek: Picard is that it has now abandoned this utopian optimism in favour of portraying the Federation as a standard SF dystopia and that it’s liberal slant has become too shrill and intolerant at the expense of good stories, plots and characterisation. Utopias are unattainable, but we need them to inspire us, to show us that ‘another world is possible’ and that, in the words of The Style Council, ‘you don’t have to take this crap/ You don’t have to sit back and relax’. Or work yourselves to death to increase the profits of already bloated big business elites.

Apart from this, the book is also a fascinating look at the history of Marxism in Argentina and Latin America, and I intend to review on this blog when I finish it.

As for aliens, well, I’d rather we made contact with benign Space Comrades than the little Grey buggers that haunt our nightmares of UFOs, abductions and malign conspiracies at the moment.

And yes, the title very definitely is taken from the poster of a UFO hanging in Fox Mulder’s office in the X-Files.

Cartoonist Kayfabe on the US Army’s Guide to Cartooning

September 7, 2021

Face front, true believers, as Stan ‘the Man’ Lee used to say at Marvel. Here’s a bit of fun I found on the Cartoonist Kayfabe channel on YouTube. In it, comics creators Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg look at a little curiosity from the past. Back in the middle of World War II, the US army produced a booklet intended to teach squaddies the basics of cartooning.

The booklet was part of a series of such manuals intended to teach basic craft skills to wounded and shell-shocked troopers when they were recovering in hospital. It was also to give them skills that would help them find a job when they were finally demobilised. These booklets weren’t long. They were deliberately made short enough so that a trooper could have one in a pocket or in his kit bag. Other manuals in the series included leatherwork, knot-making and carpentry.

Although short, the booklet does cover all the basics of cartooning, such as proportion, perspectives, drawing action, the need to observe the wrinkles in clothes and so on, including tips on drawing noses and ears. Unfortunately, it also contains a section on ‘racial symbols’ – basically drawing national stereotypes, which includes two racist caricatures. One of these is of a Jew, which is especially distasteful given the nature of the regimes the US and its allies were fighting at the time.

The booklet’s own artwork is very fine and is stylistically similar to many of the great comics’ artists who were emerging at the time. The two speculate whether it was done by Art Spiegelman, the creator of Maus, a metaphor about the Nazi persecution of the Jews, or Stan Lee. Although both were in the army at the time, both were actually occupied on other projects. In the case of Lee, it was working on pamphlets about the VD. The pair also note that the booklet doesn’t say anything about sequential storytelling. It’s intended to teach single panel cartooning, the type published in newspapers at the time and which was massively popular.

I’ve got a feeling it was US army course on cartooning that produced the great American SF novelist, Harry Harrison. I think he trained as a cartoonist and started working in comics and from there found his way into writing SF short stories and novels. Harrison is probably best known for his comic SF novel, The Stainless Steel Rat, about a reformed criminal, ‘Slippery’ Jim diGriz, who works for a galactic detective bureau staffed with similar ex-crims to catch the villains, tyrants, murderers and general menaces to society that the ordinary police can’t. One of his other novels is Bill the Galactic Hero, which is a satire on the army and militarism, as well as spoofing Asimov and some of the other leading SF authors of the time. It was written, along with a number of other novels by various SF writers, as a reply to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and its glorification of war and the armed forces. In the book, the captains of the space navy aren’t the six-foot good-looking guys that appear in the films. Those are all actors. They’re members of the galactic aristocracy, and so are terribly inbred with low IQs. The aliens they are fighting against aren’t the aggressors as portrayed in the army’s propaganda, but are an otherwise peaceful race, the victims of human attack. When Bill finally meets one, who explains this to him shortly before it escapes, he asks it why they’re fighting them then. The alien replies that it doesn’t know, but ‘we think you like it’. When Bill is finally allowed some leave, he travels down to the nearest planet with a group of other squaddies. One of them is a man, who has had half of his face shot away and replaced with cybernetics. Another man wires himself into a saline drip that feeds him a mixture of alcohol and glucose so he can be flat out unconscious drunk for the duration. And at the end of the book Bill meets the Biblical Cain, here described as the first soldier, who gives him tips on how to be successful and survive as a squaddie.

Bill the Galactic Hero isn’t biting satire. It’s tone, like the Stainless Steel Rat, is largely light. But that doesn’t stop it making some very serious points about the lunacy of the armed forces and the hell of war amongst the jokes. I think it’s significant that Harrison had served in the war, while Heinlein was rejected as unfit for active service. It’s been said that the people who are least likely to start a war are those, who have actually fought in one.

And if Harrison did come into literature through the US’ army training on cartooning, there’s an irony in that it launched the career of one of SF’s great satirists of the military, along with just about everything else.

My Defence to the Labour Party Against the Anti-Semitism Allegations

August 29, 2021

On Thursday I submitted my defence against the utterly false accusations of anti-Semitism levelled against to the Labour party. Although the complaints procedure is severely flawed, perhaps deliberately so in order to secure convictions of guilt more easily, I felt I had no choice. I had seven days to respond and they were determined to go ahead with the charges even if they didn’t have a response from me. In my defence I not only refute the anti-Semitism charges, but I also voice my criticisms of the entire complaints and disciplinary procedure. I also include a biographical statement making it clear that by upbringing and education I am not an anti-Semite. Here is my defence. Be warned: It is long.

Antisemitism Accusations: Refutation

I have never been an anti-Semite, and, given the horrors perpetrated against the Jewish people, especially the Holocaust, find this form of racism particularly abhorrent. I therefore find these accusations to be nothing short of vile calumny.

The Accusations: Baseless and Insubstantial

I have looked at the accusations and the evidence that have been levelled against me, and find them to be so baseless, contrived and ahistorical that they are actually both personally insulting and an attack on real scholarship by people who I can only surmise are sectarian political propagandists. As you will be aware, I am an historian and archaeologist with a doctorate in the latter subject. I consider historical truth extremely important and have nothing but absolute contempt for those who wish to falsify or deny history. And I am afraid this is precisely what my accusers have done. Let’s go through the accusations.

  1. David Sivier (the Respondent) has engaged in conduct prejudicial and / or grossly detrimental to the Party in breach of Chapter 2, Clause I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book by engaging in conduct which:  

     
    1. may reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on religion or belief ;  
  • Engages in stereotypical allegations of Jewish control in the media, economy, government or other societal institutions;  

I should begin by stating that I find this a very poorly constructed document. It seems that you have a list of accusations, which you have decided must be applied to all cases such as mine involving accusations of prejudice, regardless of their individual applicability. Furthermore, you provide no supporting argument for these accusations. You simply reproduce the prohibitions from the party handbook, the blog post which appears to offend you and a list of quotes. Some of these, which you seem to find anti-Semitic, are anything but. For example, with the above quote

“My own preferred view is that anti-Semitism is simply hatred of Jews as Jews, and that no state or ideology should be beyond debate and criticism. This includes Israel and Zionism,”  

Your objections themselves, if I am reading you correctly, show considerable prejudice.

  1. It was Wilhelm Marr who defined anti-Semitism as hatred of Jews as Jews, regardless of religion or ideology. Marr was the founder of the German League of Anti-Semites. Are you telling me that the definition of anti-Semitism, used by the anti-Semites themselves, is somehow anti-Semitic? If so, you are depriving historians of the means to judge and understand the actions and motives of real anti-Semites, people responsible for the most horrendous crimes.
  2. Are you stating that there are certain states and ideologies that are beyond criticism? Does this attitude apply to highly repressive regimes such as North Korea, the Islamic State and the Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan? Does this principle mean that I may not criticise other, viciously racist, murderous regimes like Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia? Or, come to think of it, Idi Amin’s Uganda and Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe or even apartheid South Africa. By adopting this attitude, you appear to be siding with monstrously oppressive regimes rather than the grand, democratic socialist tradition of universalism and human rights.
  3. You seem to believe that Israel and Zionism should be exempt from debate and criticism. But where a state violates human rights and engages in systematic persecution, it should be criticised, as should the underlying ideology. The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which has been foisted on the party, only says that criticism of Israel may be considered anti-Semitic, if similar criticisms are not applied to other countries. But I do apply them to other countries on my blog. You just have selected a single blog post, and decided that it is representative a general attitude of particular hostility to Israel because of the religion of its founders and government. This is not the case.

The accusers seem to mistakenly conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and opposition to or criticism of the state of Israel. But as I have said above, Wilhelm Marr, the founder of the League of Anti-Semites, viewed anti-Semitism as hatred of Jews as Jews, regardless of religion or ideology. Georg von Schoenerer, an Austrian nationalist, stated ‘Religion is only a mask- the foulness is in the blood’. See Peter Vansittart, Voices 1870-1914 (London: Jonathan Cape 1984) XV. Also ‘Anti-Semitism’ in Taylor, James, and Shaw, Warren, A Dictionary of the Third Reich (London: Grafton Books 1988) 37, ‘Der Politischen Antisemitismus’ in Ritter, G.A., Das Deutsche Kaisserreich 1871-1914: Ein Historisches Lesebuch (Goettingen: Vandenoeck & Ruprecht1981)131.. This excludes Zionism. Judge Sedley has also expressed and promoted a similar definition of anti-Semitism as a particular attitude towards Jews as Jews. The racial basis of anti-Semitism was also demonstrated by the Nazis in their persecution of the Jews. Talmudic Jews were persecuted and sent to the death camps because of their race, not their religion. The Karaites were allowed to go unmolested because they are held by some to be descended from gentile converts to Judaism, such as the Khazars.

Zionism cannot be equated with Judaism. Zionism is an ideology, not a religion. Nor can it be viewed as uniquely Jewish phenomenon. The first individuals to argue for the resettlement of Jews in Palestine were fundamentalist Christians. This has continued, to that the largest Zionist organisation in America today is Pastor Ted Hagee’s ‘Christians United for Israel’. And anti-Semites have also supported Zionism.  Witness the scheme of anti-Semites around the time of the Second World War to depart Jews to Madagascar, for example. See ‘Madagascar’ in Taylor and Shaw, ibid, 225. Or the brief agreement Adolf Hitler signed with the Zionists, the Ha’avara Agreement, to support German Jewish emigration to the nascent Jewish colonies.

I have also taken care not to smear all Zionists. You will note that I refer to ‘ultra-Zionist fanatics’. While I condemn utterly and absolutely the Israeli state’s persecution of the Palestinians, I have every respect for those Israelis, who are working for a genuine and just peace between Israel and the Palestinians. My objections are not to the Israeli people, but to their right-wing politicians and military. I respect left-wing Zionists, such as those Israelis who received vile personal abuse for praying the kaddish over dying Palestinian civilians, who had been shot by the IDF.

I also consider Tony Greenstein and the other victims of the witch hunt to be decent people, and do not find anything anti-Semitic in my declaration of support for them or the views and actions of these people themselves. I have seen absolutely nothing to suggest Mr Greenstein has ever been a self-hating anti-Semite. He has rightly shown great pride in the way the anti-Fascists from his home town of Brighton and Hove gave Oswald Mosley and the BUF a damn good hiding when they tried to recruit there. He has also written with pride about the group of former Jewish servicemen, including the hairdresser, Vidal Sassoon, who took the fight against the Fascists to the streets after the War when groups like Mosley’s BUF and the Britons, and others sought to come back. I have also made it very clear that I particularly condemn the victimisation of Jews in this current witch hunt, Many of these, have personally experienced anti-Semitic abuse and assault. I am very much aware that very many Jewish Brits have lost relatives in the Holocaust. Indeed, I personally know Jewish people who have. Which is why I regard the way Jews have been singled out for what I consider to be baseless smears to be especially vile and abhorrent.

And there is abundant and undeniable evidence that Israel is a racist state. It practices apartheid between Jews and Arabs. Intermarriage between the two is discouraged, there are separate roads for Jews and Palestinians, Palestinian farmers and businesses suffer strangling regulations which do not apply to Israelis and their homes, which have been there for millennia, have been and are being demolished to make way for Jewish settlements. This is established fact. Am I to assume that my accusers have decided that I must be anti-Semitic on the grounds that I am repeating facts about a state’s treatment of its indigenous population? In which case, my accusers have shown themselves hostile to objective truth.

Now there is the question of the various statements I cite in the essay that express anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist attitudes. But these come from the historical figures, who uttered them. Are you saying, for example, that the Nazi ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg, did not write in his notorious Myth of the 20th Century that Jewish emigration to Palestine must be encourage?

Are you telling me that Francis Nicosia made up his statement that the Nazis wished to encourage Jewish emigration to Palestine? I understand Mr Nicosia is an entirely respectable, mainstream historian. Please let me know if you do believe that he has falsely represented Nazi policy in this regard, and that you therefore regard him as a possible anti-Semite, so I may inform him and his lawyers.

As you should be aware from reading my blog post and Tony’s article, each quote and extract from a historical text is properly supported with the source from which it is taken clearly cited You therefore seem to be upset that I am discussing aspects of Zionist history that you would clearly prefer kept quiet. But in a properly democratic society and organisation, issues such as this should be open to discussion, even if they are uncomfortable for those who hold them. My accusers seem to wish to sanitise the history of the Zionist movement. Perhaps I should contact the Historical Association and inform them that the Labour party is now engaged in historical censorship and that if they come to power, orthodox, respectable mainstream historians will be accused of anti-Semitism simply for mentioning these uncomfortable truths about Zionism?

The Quotations

You have presented me with a list of quotes, but, as with the article itself, if you have not provided me with any arguments informing me what, if anything, is offensive or anti-Semitic about them. And many of them, if correctly read, are clearly the reverse.

“Zionism was until recent decades very much a minority position among European Jews.”  
This is as I understand it, based on my reading of Jewish history and Jewish socialists. I understand that the Bund, the main Jewish party in pre-War Poland, explicitly rejected Zionism and its members sought to be seen as fellow Poles of the Jewish faith. As did Jewish Brits, Frenchmen, Germans and so on.  See Ilan Pappe’s Ten Myths About Israel, pp. 249, for example, as well as the other historians and historical figures I quote in my article. .The description of Zionism as a minority position is therefore neither a distortion of history nor anti-Semitic. There is nothing anti-Semitic in rejecting Zionism when one also supports the Jewish people’s struggle for dignity and equality at home, in contrast to the attitude of the Nazis, for example. Far from it. It shows that one values Jews as vital fellow citizens.

“it is an internalisation of gentile anti-Semitism, with which it has collaborated, including in the mass murder of Jews, such as in the Holocaust, by real anti-Semites.”  
I consider this statement also to be fair and justified. Anti-Semitism has at its heart the belief that Jews and gentiles are racially distinct and incompatible. This was the attitude of the founders of Zionism, such as Theodor Herzl and Ben Gurion. It was also the attitude of that most notorious of 19th century anti-Semites, Wagner. Wagner had Jewish friends, but hated them as a people and wanted them deported to Palestine. See the book The German Dictatorship by Karl-Dietrich Bracher. And the Zionists did collaborate with the Nazis. The Judischer Rundschau, the main German Jewish Zionist newspaper, praised the vile Nuremberg laws and urged Jewish Germans to wear the magen Dawids forced upon them with pride. The nadir came in the case of Rudolf Kasztner, who willingly collaborated with the Nazis in sending Hungarian Jews to the death camps just so that some could be sent to Israel instead. This is documented fact, not an anti-Semitic slur. Again, the accusation here seems to be another assault on historical truth.

“he had previously not come forward to add his support because he didn’t want people to think that he was a Jew-hater.”  

Again, this is historically true. Pappe explicitly mentions the case of a German aristocrat in his book. Again, documented fact which my accusers seek to deny.


“These quotes clearly show that the criticisms of Israel and the Zionist movement by people like Tony Greenstein and the others are historically justified,”  

Not an anti-Semitic statement – Israel is a state, like any other, and so deserves to be criticised like any other repressive or persecutory state. And I believe by criticisms of Zionism are also historically and politically justified, based on the scholarship Mr Greenstein has cited and which I have personally read. As I have said, Zionism is not Judaism. It is an ideology that has been shared by many gentiles, including anti-Semites, and rejected by many Jews. Any attempt to claim that Zionism = Judaism is a gross distortion of history, and religious and political identity.

“My own preferred view is that anti-Semitism is simply hatred of Jews as Jews, and that no state or ideology should be beyond debate and criticism. This includes Israel and Zionism.”  

There is no anti-Semitism in this statement. Quite the contrary – I have made it clear that no state or ideology should be beyond debate and criticism. The operative words are ‘state’ and ‘ideology’. I have not said ‘religion’ or ‘people’. I have made it clear that my criticisms and condemnation are against the state of Israel and its right-wing leaders and military. I am not against Jews, Judaism or the Israel people qua Jews, Judaism or the Israeli people. I have said that anti-Semitism, in the words of its founder, was about hatred of Jews as Jews, regardless of their religion or the ideologies they may hold. I realise that this is rejected by the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, but this states that criticism of Israel may be anti-Semitic, if Israel is singled out for criticism while other states aren’t. If you read my blog, you will be aware that I condemn all persecution and ethnic cleansing everywhere, including the Holocaust, the slave trade, the Turkish persecution of the Kurds, and the current Chinese genocide against the Uighurs. I comprehensively reject the claim that I am anti-Semite, based on this highly selective reading of this quote.

“I’ve come across the adage, ‘Two Jews, three opinions’.  

No anti-Semitism here, either, from what I can see. The saying is actually Jewish, not something that has been applied to Jews by gentiles. It is also the title of a book by Barbara Davis, published in 2019 by Resource Publications. Its ISBN number is 1532673329. This was about the Jewish Community School Network, founded in 1980, which was based on klal Yisrael, the unity of the Jewish people, and intended to unite Jews of different religious views. Hence the title. See the Amazon page here: Two Jews, Three Opinions: Amazon.co.uk: Davis, Barbara Sheklin: 9781532673320: Books

 I believe I encountered the saying in an essay written by two rabbis as part of a two-day symposium called by the American president to combat the rise of Fascism in Europe. Their argument was that Jews are an innately democratic people, who have always valued debate and discussion against enforced political and religious conformity. I make the point that it supports the idea that the Jewish community is not monolithic, but diverse and pluralist – admirable qualities that multiculturalism seeks to promote against anti-Semitism and Fascism. I have also used the quote to demonstrate the admirable pluralism of the contemporary British Jewish community, and the attempts by British Zionists to present British Jewry as some kind of monolithic community is the type of misrepresentation used by totalitarian regimes, such as the Nazis against their opponents.

Furthermore, Jews aren’t the only people, who religious disputatiousness became proverbial. During the Reformation in the Netherlands, it was said that if there were three Dutchmen, two would form their own sects and accuse the third of being a heretic. And yet the Netherlands has a noble tradition of religious tolerance. It was one of the few nations, for example, which didn’t expel the Jews, one of the more famous members of its community being the 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. I believe it to be this tradition of religious debate and pluralism that has made Dutch society, like British Judaism, a solid bedrock of democratic values.

“people, who hold entirely reasonable opinions critical of Israel are being vilified, harassed and purged as the very things they are not, racists and anti-Semites.”  

This is my opinion, based on the published writing of many of the victims of the witch-hunt and my personal relationships with some of them. I have seen nothing in the writings of Tony Greenstein, as I have said, that is, in my opinion, remotely anti-Semitic. Indeed, Mr Greenstein, like so many of the people I personally know, has suffered abuse and vilification for his Jewishness. I also know other Jews and gentiles, who have had the same experience, including real anti-Semitic assault. Or if gentile, they have been abused and vilified for supporting Jews and attacking anti-Semitism. This is my personal experience. I therefore reject the accusation, and regard it in itself as supporting anti-Semitism.

Now let’s go through some of the other accusations levelled against me.

  1. may reasonably be seen to involve antisemitic actions, stereotypes and sentiments;  

Baseless. As I’ve said, I am not an anti-Semite and will not publish genuinely anti-Semitic material. My argument is against the state of Israel and the ultra-Zionists that support it, not Jews or the Jewish religion. If the arguments are used do involve anti-Semitic actions, stereotypes and sentiments, it is most often when I have refuted them, as I have done so in posts against the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, for example. I have also noted the use of ‘anti-Semitic tropes’ as a way of denying political reality. The IDF has a practice of poisoning the wells of Palestinian villages with a noxious substance to make the water undrinkable. This is similar to the medieval anti-Semitic accusation that the Black Death was spread by the Jews poisoning the wells. But the medieval lie should not be used to stop the reportage of current IDF practice. One is fact, the other malign falsehood. What matters is fact and truth. Anti-Semitic Jewish stereotypes should not be invoked to suppress current reality.

  1. Engages in stereotypical allegations of Jewish control in the media, economy, government or other societal institutions;  

In the words of the Comic Book Guy in the Android’s Dungeon in the cartoon, The Simpsons, ‘Hah! You jest!’ This is the only way I can see this accusation, so far is it from reality. I have repeatedly condemned the classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish capitalists and control of the media, government and economy in my blog, as expressed in the Nazis’ vile lies about Jewish bankers, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the current Fascist fear that the Jews are importing non-Whites to replace the White population. I have very specific criticisms of the way parts of Britain’s Zionist milieu has sought to mobilise the media and exerted control of the political parties. This is based on my observation of the way the accusations of anti-Semitism were enthusiastically adopted by the wider British political and media establishment in order to discredit Mr Corbyn and his supporters. I have not suggested that Jews control the media, economy or government. I have said that the allegations mobilised by right-wing Zionists were taken up by the British state and press. This was not done through coercion or any form of covert Jewish control, and the quote makes that clear.

  1. Accuses the Jews as people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust;  

I have never said that the Jews or Israel have invented the Holocaust. Far from it, I have always bitterly opposed Holocaust denial. Nor have I accused the Jews or Israel of exaggerating the Holocaust, which is something else that Nazis have done and which I wholeheartedly reject. And I am at a loss to know how this accusation applies to me regarding the above article. The article does not state that the Holocaust was invented or exaggerated. This accusation is therefore inapplicable, and I can only regard as a grotesque smear.

Repeats stereotypical and negative physical descriptions/descriptions or character traits of Jewish people, such as references to wealth or avarice and equating Jews with capitalists or the ruling class;  

My piece was about historical anti-Semitism and its links to Zionism. No discussion of real anti-Semitism can be made without repeating the smears and allegations of anti-Semites themselves. As you should be able to discern for yourself, repeating and discussing the views of anti-Semites does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of them. And the article should, I hope, make it clear that I do not endorse the real anti-Semitic views of the individuals I cite, such as Alfred Rosenberg.

Now let’s turn to the questions you have for me personally. Many of these are innocuous and reasonable, but others are much more sinister. Certain of them remind me of forced confessions of guilt of the accused in the show trials of Stalin’s Russia and the ‘self-criticism’ of dissenters and non-conformists in Mao’s China. The objective seems to secure admissions of guilt, followed by due repentance and contrition following the pattern of inquisitions and ideological persecution down the centuries.

Here are my replies.

  1. Please see the evidence attached overleaf. The Party has reason to believe that this is your Word Press web blog account. Can you confirm this is the case?  

A. Yes, that’s true.

 2)      The Party further has reason to believe that you posted, shared or endorsed these statements yourself. Can you confirm this is the case? If not, each individual piece of evidence is numbered so please specify which of the pieces of evidence you are disputing posting, sharing or endorsing?  

A. This is also true.
 

3)      Taking each item in turn, please explain your reasons for posting, sharing or endorsing each numbered item of evidence included in this pack?  

4)      Chapter 2, Clause I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book provides:  

“No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. The NEC and NCC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party. The disclosure of confidential information relating to the Party or to any other member, unless the disclosure is duly authorised or made pursuant to a legal obligation, shall also be considered conduct prejudicial to the Party.”  


What is your response to the allegation that your conduct may be or have been in breach of this rule?

A. I deny that I have breached this rule. At no point do I support or endorse anything in the above article that may be considered bigoted or prejudicial against the above people and groups. As I have made clear, the post is a criticism of Zionism’s historic links to anti-Semitism. It is certainly not an endorsement of anti-Semitism. As for Zionism, I have made it clear that it is an ideology, and ideologies should be open for debate and criticism. 

5)      The Code of Conduct: Social Media Policy states that members should “treat all people with dignity and respect” and that “this applies offline and online.” Do you think your conduct has been consistent with this policy?  

A. The Labour party has a tradition of robust debate and criticism. I consider my post to be entirely within this. Furthermore, I consider the question hypocritical. At the time of writing, members of the party’s right-wing, including prominent supporters of Mr Starmer, have uttered vile comments and smears on social media. I refer particular to Neil Coyle’s tweet vilifying Jewish Voice for Labour as ‘communists’ who should be expelled. I also note that the accusations and expulsions of innocent, decent people smeared by the party as anti-Semites has resulted in them being deluged with the vilest criticism. Jackie Walker, for example, has received messages stating that she cannot be Jewish, because she is Black, and that she should be lynched, set on fire, killed and her body dumped in bin bags. It seems here that the party has a policy of making such contrived accusations, publicising them, but leaving it to others to do the actual dirty work of vilification and harassment.
 

6)      Looking back at the evidence supplied with this letter, do you regret posting, sharing or endorsing any of this content?  

  1. No, because I believe it to be truthful, warranted and necessary.

7)      Do you intend to post, share or endorse content of this nature again in the future?  

  1. So long as innocent people are being so smeared and vilified and Israel’s history is being falsified, then yes, I do.

8)      Are there any further matters you wish to raise in your defence?

  1. I find this attitude to be repulsively partisan, hypocritical and a diversion from the rising prejudice against Muslims, left-wing Jews and people of colour in the party.  I utterly condemn this mercenary use of the accusation of anti-Semitism. As they accuse me of anti-Semitism, real hatred against the Jews is rising in the Labour party, as well as other forms of racism. I note that many of the victims of this scummy witch hunt are decent Jews, like Mr. Greenstein. I note that the Jews and their gentile supporters, who have been accused, also have a proud record of standing up not just against Zionism, but also against other forms of racism. They have demonstrated and denounced apartheid South Africa abroad, and the NF, BNP and domestic Fascists over here. Muslim brothers and sisters in the Labour party are also subject to rising abuse and harassment. One third of our Islamic kin have said that they have experienced such prejudice and maltreatment in the party.

Keir Starmer has also taken no action against the Labour apparatchiks who have abused and bullied Black MPs and activists, like Diane Abbott. This is despite his opportune and cavalier embrace of Black Lives Matter. As a result, Labour is haemorrhaging Muslim and Black members, party workers and supporters. There is a wide belief that Labour cannot be trusted to tackle racism, and has nothing but contempt for its Muslim and Black members. As it has for its left-wing, Jewish members.

9)      Is there any evidence you wish to submit in your defence?  

  1. Please see the personal statement below.

Personal Information

I come from an Anglican Christian family that has always rejected Jew hatred. My grandmother, who was an active trade unionist and member of the Labour party, had a deep respect for the high degree of learning of the Jewish rabbis. One of my uncles, with whose family we used to go on holiday before his sad death in the 1980s, was Jewish, with the almost stereotypical surname of Hyman. I remember him and his wife, my aunt, with warm affection.

From an early age, I was very much aware of the horrors of the Holocaust. I particularly remember a strip in the boy’s war comic, Battle. This was about a group of squaddies fighting their way through Nazi lines until the reached a concentration camp. This strip showed a glimpse of the horrific conditions the inmates were kept in, as the last panel showed the troopers shocked and horrified by the sight of the emaciated inmates.

My father did his national service in Bielefeld in Germany. His best friend while in the army was Jewish, who remarked on Dad’s lack of any animus against Jews. My father is justly very proud of the respect and friendship he earned through his lack of prejudice, an attitude that he has passed on to me. During his time in Bielefeld, Dad visited the remains of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He photographed the memorial set up to its victims, the legend of which bilingual in English and Hebrew. When I was a child Dad showed me the photographs of the graves and the remains of the camp and told me how the Jews had been murdered there. This has obviously left a very strong impression on me.

I was a junior schoolboy in 1977 when Punk exploded on the British pop scene. Unfortunately, some idiots at the time took it upon themselves to wear swastikas and other Nazi regalia. This was also at a time when war films were popular at the cinema and on British television, along with war comics such as Battle, Warlord, Commando Picture Library and so on. I remember asking my mother about the Nazis and the Swastika. She told me that they were a group of very evil men, and that if she caught me wearing one, she’d spank my bottom. It’s the kind of comment I’ve no doubt was made by many decent parents up and down the country. In my mother’s case, she had a personal reason to detest the Nazis. One of her school friends had a Jewish surname, and during the War the girl and her family had been very much afraid of Nazi invasion and the child’s consequent murder.

I was educated at a Christian, Anglican comprehensive school, St. Mary Redcliffe, by Christian teachers, clergy and support staff. All of whom had a hatred of racism and sectarian bigotry. I can remember a number of sermons preached in assembly that particularly condemned the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland as well as anti-Black racism, referring to the colour bar in Rhodesia. The school taught the Holocaust long before it became part of the school syllabus. At the same time the school was active in trying to dispel prejudice against non-Christian religions. I particularly remember the RE teacher, a vicar’s wife, showing a gentleman from the city’s Jewish community up the stairs as he carried a number of the holy artifacts of his faith, such as the menorah.

I took my first degree at another Christian institution, the College of St. Paul and St. Mary, which I believe has now expanded and gained university status as the University of Gloucestershire. My major was in History, which included a course on the rise of Communist and Fascist Regimes in Europe. This has given me an extensive knowledge of the nature and history of these dictatorial, persecutory regimes and the scholarship behind it. It also gave me considerable insight into the political mobilisation of antisemitism, and the nature of political antisemitism as formulated by its founders and activists, like Wilhelm Marr, the founder of the Bund Antisemiten, the League of Anti-Semites, one of the odious precursors of the Nazi party. I therefore feel justified in some of the definitions of anti-Semitism, which you have chosen to interpret as evidence in themselves that I am a Jew-hater. This, in my opinion, is an ignorant and intellectually dishonest assault on historical fact.

My minor subject was in Religious Studies. One of the mandatory courses in my first year was on the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible. As with my secondary school, I was taught by Christian lecturers, who had a deep hatred of Fascism and Communist totalitarianism. I understand that the mother of one of my lecturers, a man who had a deep respect for China and its people, had died in a Maoist concentration camp. The theology lecturer also told us that he had such a deep repugnance to Friedrich Nietzsche, whose philosophy was pillaged by the Nazis to support their vile doctrines, that he was not going to teach it.

Our Old Testament lecturer was a renowned authority in his field who had a very warm affection for the Jewish people. The Holocaust was taught as part of the Judaism course, one of the elective courses in that part of the degree. This particular gentleman was powerfully moved by the sufferings of the Jewish people in this most terrible of anti-Jewish persecution, a feeling he passed on to his students. The lecturer I studied under for this part of the course shared his colleague’s profound respect for the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish people. One of the essays we were set was to explain the Psalmist’s delight in the Pentateuch. At the same time, he was keen for his students to experience modern varieties of Jewish faith and tradition. At the time I was taking the course, there was a pop musician on tour, whose pieces included the Kaddish as played on a synthesiser: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.” This particular musician was playing in Cheltenham. He described the piece as deeply moving, and urged us all to listen to it. I should also say here that I also took the College’s course on Islam, which was taught by an excellent Indian lecturer who believed in interfaith dialogue and harmonious coexistence. I have Muslim friends, and am particularly worried about the resurgence of islamophobia in British society, of which the accusations against me seem to be a part.

I have had many Jewish friends, and readers of my blog will know that I have repeatedly condemned and attacked real antisemitism. I do not publish articles or comments that are genuinely anti-Semitic, such as those that preach noxious, murderous lies such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the conspiracy theories about Jewish bankers. For an example of this, please see my comments about a video on YouTube by the Irish Nationalists of Eire, whose leader talks about international financial capitalism. This man states he wants Jewish financial involvement in the ‘Irish slave trade’ investigated, which more than suggests he is a supporter of such noxious conspiracy theories. I make it very clear that I condemn it and them.

I have also written for a number of fringe magazines, in which I have also done my best to attack the resurgence of Fascism in fringe western culture. One of these was the return of the Nazi saucer myth, the belief that the Nazis successfully constructed flying saucers.  See, for example, my article ’Gazumrah’s Sons: The Pyschopathology of the Nazi Saucer Myth’ in Magonia, 63, May 1998, 11 -14. Many perfectly decent people have been taken in by this, but among its supporters and propagandists are real Nazis such as Wilhelm Landig and Ernst Zundl. Much of this material is so ludicrous as to make you wonder how anyone could believe it. For example, the conspiracy theories about Jews running the world has been promoted by Hatonn, who purports to be a 9/12 foot tall reptilian alien from the Pleiades, as channelled back in the ‘90s by an elderly American lady. This is noxious and bonkers, but the channeler was not without influence on the American right. Colonel Bo Gritz, one of the leaders of the Militia movement, was among those visiting her to listen to her messages. See the relevant chapter in Adam Parfrey’s Cult Rapture for further information. For my condemnation of this and other forms of Nazism, racism and anti-Semitism, I refer you to issues of the sceptical UFO magazine, Magonia.

Since graduating, I have sought to expand my own knowledge of Jewish faith and the history of Bristol’s Jewish community. I have tried to each myself Biblical Hebrew, for example. I also discuss the archaeology of Bristol’s medieval Jewish community in my 2004 book, Anglo-Saxon and Norman Bristol. I discuss the construction of the houses in Norman Bristol’s Jewish quarter, and the remains of a miqveh, a Jewish ritual bath, which was discovered on Hotwells Road. I am pleased that my city also has a very fine synagogue on Park Row and that one of the neighbouring hotels is named after King David, which surely suggests ties between Bristol’s Jewish community and Israel.

I have also voiced my opposition to the Tories’ persecution of the poor and unemployed by comparing them to other victims of the Nazis. During the Third Reich, the habitual unemployed, amongst others, were denounced as ‘asocial’ and sent to the camps. They were forced to wear a badge, just as our Jewish brothers and sisters were made to wear theirs, on their prison uniform. In the case of the unemployed and arbeitschau, the badge was a black triangle containing a white ‘A’, for ‘asoziale’. I am also greatly concerned with the persecution of religious minorities in Putin’s Russia. Pentecostal Christians were particularly persecuted during the Soviet dictatorship, and now the Arkhiplut has raised similar accusations and persecution against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Dissenting Christians, such as the followers of Pastor Bonhoeffer and particularly the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists were also martyred in the camps for their refusal to conform to the Reich’s anti-Semitism and disloyalty in rejecting Hitler as a secular messiah. I have no right to wear the Magen Dawid, as I’m not Jewish an don’t wish to be seen to be ‘Jewsplaining’ or cynically exploiting the Shoah.. But I am religious and I have been unemployed, so to show my solidarity with the victims of those persecutions, I made cardboard copies of the badges they were forced to wear in the Nazi camps and posted up a video about is on YouTube. This is at This was my attack on totalitarianism and the persecution that has directly affected people like me. See my video at Protesting Against Benefits Sanctions with Nazi Unemployment Badge – YouTube

I do not expect you to know about my life history or be aware of fringe publications like Magonia. This is why it is dangerous to the accused and the party to make such accusations of anti-Semitism based on a highly selective, prejudicial reading of a single article. I have been also been accused of bringing the Labour party into disrepute. I have not done so. I am simply airing my opinions on what I consider to be a particularly odious campaign of smear and lies against innocent people according to the party’s century old tradition of internal democracy and robust debate. I contend instead that it is my anonymous accusers, who have brought the party into disrepute by their false accusations against fine, anti-racist Jewish and gentile women and men. This is amply shown by the Labour party haemorrhaging members, trembling on the verge of bankruptcy, the failures and bare victories in the local and by-elections and the plummeting popularity of the party’s leader, Keir Starmer.

Blog Posts Attacking Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories

As I have said, I have also published several pieces on my blog attacking real anti-Semitism and noxious anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. These are at the heart of modern Fascism and Nazism, and constitute a real, existential threat to Jews. Here is a selection of such posts.

History Debunked Tears to Shreds the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Simon Webb, the man behind the YouTube channel History Debunked seems to me to be a man of the right. The channel’s devoted to refuting fake history, but much of the myths it debunks are false claims made in the name of anti-racism by Black activists. He also believes that there are racial differences in intelligence, with Blacks on average less intelligent than Whites, and Whites also on average less bright than Asians. In other words, the Bell Curve stuff that has been loudly denounced and refuted over the past decade or so. That said, his videos are always based on solid fact and well argued, and I don’t believe that he is personally racist. Indeed, he has put up a video about home schooling, in which he states very clearly that not only has he done it himself, but he is also helping and giving advice to a group of Black British parents, who wish to do it.

In this video History Debunked takes on the infamous Tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Webb states that he’s doing this after some of his previous videos were taken down by YouTube, or he was warned that they may be taken down because of their controversial content. But this video is not only historically right, no-one should be able to accuse him of racism or hate speech because of it. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a notorious anti-Semitic forgery, which is at the heart of the various stupid conspiracy theories about the Jews secretly trying to take over the world through controlling the media, banks, business and so on. It was concocted in the very early 20th century by the Russian monk, Nilus, for the Tsar’s secret police, the Okhrana, in order to make Nicholas II persecute the Jews even more harshly. As Nicholas II believed in the Blood Libel, the myth that Jews murder Christians to use their blood in the matzo bread at Passover, it’s hard to see how Nicholas could be even more anti-Semitic. Especially as his attempts to prosecute one Jewish man, Beilis, for this, was worrying his ministers who viewed it as a serious embarrassment to the autocracy.

In the video, Webb shows how the Protocols was based on an earlier book, a Dialogue between Machiavelli and Montesquieu in Hell. This was an attack on the government of Napoleon III of France, who French liberals feared was trying to take over and control everything, including the press and business. He illustrates this through pointing to some of the metaphors that Nilus took from the earlier book. The Dialogue describes Napoleon as having a hundred arms, like the Hindu god Vishnu, each arm extended into some part of society. And here it appears again in the Protocols, which describes the Jewish conspiracy as like the Hindu deity with hundreds of arms extending through society.

Apart from the Dialogue, Nilus also plagiarised Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland Herzl was the founder of modern Zionism, and the Altneuland was his attempt to depict and popularise a Jewish state. In my view, Zionism has caused immense suffering and conflict in the Middle East, and led to the persecution and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians. I’d say they were entirely justified in despising Herzl’s book. But it isn’t about a global conspiracy or a programme for the mass enslavement of non-Jews, as the Protocols purports to be.

Webb jokes that if there is a Jewish conspiracy as the Protocols claims, then it can’t be much of one if they’ve had to take their ideas from a satire published decades earlier about Napoleon III, and Herzl’s Altneuland. He also states that the other daft conspiracy theories about Jews are ultimately based on the Protocols. One of these is the Kalergi Plan. From what little I know of it, the Kalergi Plan is supposed to be a secret plot by a cabal of European leaders to import non-Whites into the continent and the west in order to destroy the White race. Yep, it’s another permutation of that heap of bilge.

Here’s History Debunked thoroughly refuting the Protocols.

An old French political satire which has, indirectly, had an immense effect upon the world – YouTube

The Protocols are notorious as a forgery, but have been massively influential in spreading real Fascism and Jew-hatred. They inspired many of the Fascist movements that arose after the First World War. At least one of the British papers serialised them, until they saw sense and realized that they were a forgery. Then they published criticisms and refutations. However, even when readers of the wretched book have had it shown to them that they’re a forgery, such is their power that some of them continue to believe that they’re ‘symbolically true’.

The Protocols have been responsible for some of the most horrific anti-Semitic persecution and violence. And unfortunately they’re still being published. Apparently you can’t pick up copies on street corner kiosks in Putin’s Russia, and they were turned into a major television series on Egyptian TV. Way back in the 1990s a branch of Waterstone’s in this country stocked them because they were cited by various UFO conspiracy theorists that Reptoid aliens really were running the world or some such nonsense. One of these books claimed that the ‘Jews’ referred to in the Protocols were really the Illuminati of much contemporary American conspiracy theorising. No, the authors of the Protocols meant to attack the Jews, and whether someone chooses to believe that it’s really about the Illuminati or not, the Protocols are still vile, dangerous, murderous rubbish.

There’s a large body of literature debunking the Protocols. One of the classics is Norman Cohn’s Warrant for Genocide. And this video is also an excellent short but acute refutation of them.

History Debunked Tears to Shreds the Protocols of the Elders of Zion | Beastrabban\’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Conspiracy Book’s Debunking of Anti-Semitic Forgery ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’

A week or so ago I put up a post about The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups by Jon E. Lewis, and its chapter roundly debunking Holocaust denial. The book is a popular volume on conspiracy theories, describing and frequently debunking 100 such conspiratorial beliefs about the death of Princess Diana, the Men In Black, the assassination of J.F.K., and Martin Luther King, Area 51, Ronald Reagan, the Priory of Zion of Holy Blood, Holy Grail infamy and many more, including Holocaust denial.

Another infamous anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, that also gets thoroughly disproven, is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which the book gives in its full title, the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, and deals with on pages 433 to 450. The Protocols are a notorious forgery, concocted by the tsar’s secret police, the Okhrana, to encourage Nicholas II to be even more anti-Semitic and persecute the Jews even worse than he already was. It is one of the leading sources of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and was read and influenced many Fascists. It was proven to be a forgery as long ago as the 1920, but even after this was revealed, some of those, who had read it continued to be maintain that it was symbolically true, even if it wasn’t factually. Unfortunately, the book continues to have a very wide circulation, particularly in the Middle East and in eastern Europe.

The history of this vile book is briefly described on pages 433-5. The chapter states that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was first published in 1897 as an appendix to the book, The Antichrist Is Near At Hand by the Russian writer, Sergei Nilus. It claims to be an instruction manual for a cabal of anonymous Jews planning to conquer and subdue the Christian world.

It states that the chief points of the Protocols are that the plot will remain invisible until it is so strong it cannot be overcome; government is to be increasingly centralized; press freedoms shall be restricted; gentile are to be distracted by games and amusements; and all non-Jewish religions will be swept away.

The book was immensely popular in Russia and the rest of the world. One enthusiast was the industrialist Henry Ford, of motor industry fame, who printed sections in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. He believed it exactly described the world situation as it was in his time, and used them to try to influence the US senate to stop America joining the League of Nations.

The first person to show that the Protocols were a forgery was Lucien Wolf. In his The Jewish Bogey and the Forged Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion of 1920 showed that sections of the Protocols had been lifted with only very minor changes from a satire written by a French lawyer, Maurice Joly, Dialogue aux Enfers entre Montesquieu et Machiavelli (“Dialogue in Hell between Montesquieu and Machiavelli”). This was itself influenced by Eugene Sue’s 1843 conspiracy novel, The Mysteries of Paris. The Protocols was also based on the 1868 novel, Biarritz, by the German spy Hermann Goedsche, written under the pseudonym Sir John Retcliffe. This had a chapter describing how a fictitious group of rabbis met at midnight every century in a cemetery to plan the further progress of Jewish world domination.

Lewis suggests the Protocols were probably forged by Matvei Golovinski, one of the agents of the Okhrana. He hoped to justify the tsarist regime’s persecution of the Jews by whipping up a scare about revolutionaries in the pay of the Jews planning the downfall of the monarchy. As a result, pogroms were launched against the Jews in 1905-6. And the truth of the conspiracy described by the Protocols was seen by all too many people as confirmed by the Russian Revolution of 1917, some of whose leaders happened to be Jews.

After the Nazi seizure of power in Germany, Adolf Hitler made the Protocols compulsory reading in schools. Lewis goes to describe how, despite or because of their influence in causing the Holocaust, the Protocols continue to be held as ‘fact’. Egyptian television broadcast a series in 2000 that claimed there was a connection between the Protocols and the foundation of Israel. The Protocols could also been found in al-Qaeda training camps. They’re also popular with Hamas, and in America they’re distributed by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. That section of the chapter ends

In fact, wherever anti-Semites gather you’ll find well-thumbed copies of the Protocols. That any of these organisations or their adherents could not discover within at most thirty seconds’ worth of research that the Protocols are, as a Swiss court described them as long ago as 1935, “ridiculous nonsense”, forgeries and plagiarism, beggars belief.

The book gives each conspiracy a threat level, according to how apparently plausible they are. You won’t be surprised to find that the threat level of the Protocols is zero.

The chapter also lists for further reading the following:

Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, 1996.

Daniel Pipes, The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy, 1998.

Lucien Wolf, The Jewish Bogey and the Forged Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, 1920.

The book provides extracts from the main documents behind or about the various conspiracies, so that readers can make up their own minds. This includes the Protocols, extracts from which are reproduced on pages 436-50. Lewis obviously trusts his readers to follow his entirely correct judgement of the Protocols, and similarly realise that they are a forgery. This is also useful, because opponents of anti-Semitism, racism and Fascism can read them without having to give money to Nazis, anti-Semites and Islamists.

I wondered if they’re shouldn’t be a proper, scholarly edition of the Protocols, written by orthodox historians and opponents of anti-Semitism, aimed not just at debunking the Protocols, but also for decent people interested in its noxious influence on Nazism and other anti-Semitic ideologies. The Bavarian government did something like this a little while ago to Mein Kampf after it came out of copyright. The government had used its ownership of the book’s copyright to prevent its publication in Germany. When this expired, they decided that the best way to combat its adoption once again by neo-Nazis would be to prepare a properly annotated version by mainstream historian of the Third Reich.

The problem with suppressed literature is that it acquires a glamour simply by being forbidden. I doubt very many people in Britain have even heard of the Protocols, but they are published and read by Nazis, and briefly appeared on the shelves of one bookshop in the north of England during the conspiracy craze of the 1990s because they were cited by one of the UFO conspiracy theorists, Bill English, in his book, Behold a Pale Horse. In this situation, it is very good that apart from general books on Fascism and Nazism, there are works specifically dedicated to exposing and debunking this vile, murderous hoax.

Conspiracy Book’s Debunking of Anti-Semitic Forgery ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ | Beastrabban\’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Hope Not Hate: Fascist and Holocaust Denial Literature on Sale at Mainstream Bookshops

I got this disturbing email today from the good peeps at the anti-racism/anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate, reporting that some very nasty and notorious pieces of Fascist, anti-Semitic and Holocaust Denial material are being sold by this country’s big booksellers. They’d like this scandalous situation to be brought to more people’s attention on Facebook and Twitter. The email went

David,

I’m not sure you’re going to believe this… these antisemitic, Holocaust-denying, and fascist books are listed right now for sale online at Waterstones, Foyles, WHSmith, and Amazon.co.uk:

Do you think huge, reputable booksellers should profit from hate content — not to mention lend credibility to hardcore racist views? We don’t.

Last week, we contacted these retailers to bring it to their attention. Only Foyles and Waterstones even responded and neither made any commitment to pulling down these extreme materials. So we’re going to take action.

If you agree that major booksellers should stop making hate readily available, let them know. Join us in kicking up a storm on social media now:

These booksellers are acting dangerously. Despite our queries, Waterstones and Amazon’s sites continue to list The Turner Diaries, a book explicitly credited with inspiring the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people.

It looks like our pressure is already working – over the weekend, a number of these titles, including famous Holocaust denial book Did Six Million Really Die?, disappeared from Foyles’ website. If we can make some noise, they’ll listen, and ultimately, act.

Let’s make it clear these booksellers can’t ride this out. Join together to create public outcry at this very urgent concern.

If the images are too small for you to see clearly, they include pictures of the covers of David Irving’s The War Path, with a picture of Adolf on the front, the notorious Tsarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, two notorious pieces of Holocaust Denial, Did Six Million Really Die? and Curated Lies – The Auschwitz Museum’s Misrepresentations, as well as the Turner Diaries and Oswald Mosley’s Fascism for the Million.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a very notorious piece of the type of bogus conspiracy theories I was talking about yesterday. They were forged by the Tsarist secret police to encourage the already anti-Semitic Nicholas II to persecuted the Jews even harder. It purports to be the minutes of secret meeting of global Jewish leaders discussing their plans to rule the world and enslave gentiles. It successfully deceived many people in the 1920s, before it was very clearly shown to be a fake, with articles demonstrating that this was so in the Times and other parts of the press. Even so, some of the people, who were convinced by it still continued to protest that if it wasn’t factually true, then it was still somehow symbolically true. It’s been a significant influence promoting anti-Semitism and Fascism.

This isn’t the first time there’s been an outcry at it being on sale in a mainstream bookshop. It was quoted at length by Bill English, an American conspiracy theorist, who believed the Illuminati were running things secretly behind the scenes, and aliens were really coming down to abduct and experiment on us. English claimed, however, that where the passages he included referred to the Jews, they were really referring to the Illuminati. This led to a branch of Waterstones in one of the northern cities stocking it. It was also quoted by David Icke in his book, The Robots’ Rebellion. This is why there have been protests and accusations that Icke is an anti-Semite, although Jon Ronson in his Secret Rulers of the World, where he covered one such demonstration in Canada, said that he believes Icke isn’t anti-Semitic, but really does believe the world is being run by evil reptoid aliens.

David Irving is the notorious Holocaust Denier, who ended up losing a libel case against an American academic, who showed up page by page how his book on Hitler and the Holocaust misquoted and distorted the works it cited and falsified history. The last I heard of him, he was serving a jail sentence in Austria, one of the countries where Holocaust Denial is a crime.

The Turner Diaries is a bizarre piece of SF that also became notorious in the 1990s, after it was revealed that it influenced Timothy McVeigh, the America militiaman, who blew up the Federal building in Oklahoma City. It’s written as a series of diary entries by a White race warrior, who is part of violent uprising against ZOG – that’s the Zionist Occupation Government, not Ahmed Zogu, the former king of Albania. The hero and his fellow Nazis are also determined to stop the ‘Zionists” planned destruction of the White race through racial intermixture. There’s an infamous passage in there, where he talks about hanging a whole load of college girls for this ‘crime’, as well as making sure that America becomes a pure White homeland, and Blacks and other non-Whites are either cleansed or put firmly in their place.

Mosley was, of course, the leader of the British Union of Fascists during the Second World War, who then tried briefly to come back into politics as the leader of the Union Movement in the 50s and early 60s. Despite his best efforts, we’re very lucky that his Fascism very definitely did not appeal to millions.

I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, but I’m very happy to publicise this noxious state of affairs.

None of these books should be sold by any reputable booksellers. They are evil and very dangerous, and should be taken off their on-line shelves now.

Hope Not Hate: Fascist and Holocaust Denial Literature on Sale at Mainstream Bookshops | Beastrabban\’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Isaac Levinsohn, Refuter of the Blood Libel

Levinsohn was a 19th century eastern European rabbi, whose book, whose title translates into English as ‘No Blood’ refuted the Blood Libel.

I found this entry on him while flicking through The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, edited by John Bowker, (Oxford: OUP 1997). This states

Levinsohn, Isaac Baer, or Ribal (1788-1860).
Hebrew author. Levinsohn’s literary output was mainly polemical. He was one of the founders of the Haskalah movement in Russia, and he was concerned with the position of the Jews in eastern Europe. His best-known work, 
Te’udah be-Yisrael, (Testimony in Israel, 1828), described the Hebrew language as ‘the bond of religion and national survival’, and he argued against the use of Yiddish. His book considerable influence on Jewish life in Russia, although it was banned by the Hasidim. He also wrote Beit Yehudah (House of Judah, 1838) which was an attempt to answer Christian questions about Judaism, and Efes Damim (No Blood, 1838) which was written to refute the blood libel. (p. 575).

I really don’t know anything about him apart from this article. However, I thought people here might want to know about him because of the way the Blood Libel – the medieval myth that Jews used the blood of Christian children in the matzo bread at Passover – has been a central part of much anti-Semitism. It’s included in the grotesque tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which has been instrumental in promoting anti-Semitism and Nazism ever since it was cooked up by the tsar’s secret police, the Okhrana, to encourage him to persecute the Jews even more.

There has been a resurgence of Fascism and Nazism across the western world. In America we’ve seen the rise of the Alt-Right and various other White supremacists around Donald Trump, while in eastern Europe there are a number of anti-Semitic and vehemently islamaphobic parties, like Fidesz in Hungary. There has been particular concern this week over Poland, because the present government has just passed a law making it a criminal offence to attribute guilt to Poles for the crimes of the Nazis. And in Germany the very anti-Semitic and islamaphobic Alternative Fuer Deutschland has entered the Bundestag for the first time. This party contains some real Nazis, including one character, who denounced the Holocaust Memorial in Germany as ‘a badge of shame’, and declared he wanted to set up an underground railway to Auschwitz. These are horrifying, vile people, who need to be fought.

Thus, while I don’t really know anything about Isaac Levinsohn, I thought it might be useful to know about him, because he wrote one of the most important refutations of the Blood Libel myth. Just in case there’s anyone out there trying to promote that stupid and murderous lie.

Isaac Levinsohn, Refuter of the Blood Libel | Beastrabban\’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

George Soros and Genuine Neo-Nazi Conspiracy Theories

Left-wing and anti-racism bloggers, commenters and campaigners have pointed out again and again how right-wing conspiracy theories about the supposedly nefarious activities of the financier George Soros, such as those promoted by the far-right Fidesz government in Hungary, conform to the poisonous Nazi conspiracy theories about evil Jewish bankers. Mainstream Conservatives have also blamed Soros’s influence for opposition to their policies in Britain. For example, Jacob Rees-Mogg, apart from accusing John Bercow and another Jewish politico of being ‘Illuminati’ – which has its own anti-Semitic overtones – also claimed that George Soros was financing the Remain campaign.

But the conspiracy theories about George Soros don’t just resemble Nazi mythology. They are a part of it, at least in some of the material that arose from the neo-Nazi fringe in the 1990s. In his book on contemporary Nazi paganism, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity (New York: New York University Press 2002) Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke discusses the work of Jan van Helsing, real name Jan Udo Holey, and his 1993 Geheimgesellschaften und ihre macht im 20. Jahrhundert (Secret Societies and their Power in the 20th Century). Two years later, in 1995, Helsing published Geheimgesellschaften 2. This consisted of his extended responses to interview questions. As you can imagine, despite Helsing’s avowed denials, it is a deeply anti-Semitic book. Goodrick-Clarke writes

Here he denies the charge of anti-Semitism, claiming Jewish friends and colleagues, before making the disingenuous distinction between Semitic Hebrews and Ashkenazi Jews or Khazars, who are his real antagonists in the persons of Rothschilds, Warburgs, the English royal family (!), Marx, Lenin, Stalin, etc. This ploy recapitulates the progressive disqualification of Jews from their Israelite heritage in Christian Identity doctrine. He then reprints several pages of Dr. Johannes Pohl’s vicious translation of the Talmud that was published by the Nazi Party in 1943 as anti-Semitic propaganda. On the Protocols, Helsing simply denies that their authenticity is an important issue: they exist and they are being applied. To complete his anti-Jewish rotomontade, he reveals that former Chancellor Helmut Kohl was born Henoch Koch and shows how George Soros is ruining East European economies through his liberal economic writ. Helsing’s dubious sources, his constant repetition of Jewish names as members of private and public organisations, and above all his emphasis on the assets and powerbroking influence of the Rothschilds as the top Illuminati family leave no doubt that his conspiracy theories are aimed at Jewish targets. (P. 296, my emphasis).

In case any of this sounds remotely credible, it’s worth noting that the royal family aren’t Jewish and neither were Lenin or Stalin. Stalin definitely not – he was a bitter anti-Semite. Helmut Kohl, the former German chancellor, wasn’t Jewish either. Van Helsing also believed that there’s a secret Nazi underground base in Antarctica, as well as colonies of other Reich Germans in the Canaries, the San Carlos area of Argentina, the Bermuda Triangle and the Himalayas. They also have a standing army of 6 million soldiers, including immigrants from Aldebaran. Yes, van Helsing believes the Nazi saucer mythology, in which Adolf and his band of thugs were helped by aliens from the star Aldebaran, who told them how to build flying saucers. Of which the Reich Nazis have an armada of 22,000.

When Jacob Rees-Mogg or the other Tories rant about George Soros, they are repeating an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory and should be criticised for it. But Conservative anti-Semitism has received nowhere near the amount of attention as the anti-Semitic smears against Corbyn and the Labour party. This is despite anti-Semitism being far lower in Labour. John Mann, the Tories’ anti-Semitism tsar, has shown himself completely uninterested in investigating it in the Tories, and blocked and called the children’s poet, Holocaust educator and broadcaster Michael Rosen a troll when he tried to draws Mann’s attention to some examples.

This shows how fake the Tories’ concern about anti-Semitism really is, just as the inclusion of George Soros in van Helsing’s wretched, vile anti-Semitic conspiracy theories show the real Fascism in similar fears about the financier in Tories like Rees-Mogg.

George Soros and Genuine Neo-Nazi Conspiracy Theories | Beastrabban\’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

These are a selection of some of the posts about this subject I have published on my blog. I could list many more, but I hope these will be sufficient to show that I am definitely no anti-Semite, and that the charges against me have no validity.

The Casual Criminalist Tackles the Weird Deaths of Brazilian Ufologists

July 4, 2021

Here’s a bit of high weirdness which sounds like something straight from The X-Files. In this video, host Simon Whistler discusses the strange events surrounding the deaths of two Brazilian men c. 1967. The two men were electronics technicians and were found dead on a mountain, their eyes covered by lead masks. Although described as masks, these were eye protectors or sunglasses, but made of solid lead. What killed them, and why were they wearing these weird face coverings? One suggestion is that the men had been smuggling electronics equipment into Brazil. They had gone to the mountain to meet the smugglers, who had killed them. Another explanation is that they were smuggling plutonium and had been killed by the smugglers. The problem with that is that although they had the equivalent of $10,000 in today’s money, it still wouldn’t be enough to buy a bit of plutonium.

The real explanation seems to be that they were members of a secret society, the Scientific Spiritualists, many of whose members were electronics technicians. The Scientific Spiritualists were dedicated to making contact with extraterrestrial and astral beings using electronics and drugs. The lead glasses were supposedly to protect their eyes from the brilliance given off by the angel they expected to call down. It has been suggested that they were killed by extraterrestrials after one of their jury-rigged gadgets destroyed an alien spaceship. This seems extremely unlikely, not least because it seems impossible that an alien race capable of sending a spacecraft across countless light years to Earth would make it so flimsy that a home-made device built by a couple of humans could destroy it.

Another explanation is that they were murdered by a hitman on behalf of the medium running the men’s spiritualist church. A prisoner already in jail for one crime confessed to killing them, saying that the medium was aware of the cash the two had on them and wanted the money for herself. However, the likeliest explanation, as put forward by Charles Bowen of Flying Saucer Review, and you know you’re in trouble, according to Whistler, when the most rational explanation comes from that magazine, is that the two went to the mountain seeking a UFO encounter and overdosed on the drugs they’d taken.

The case is one of the great, unsolved cases of ufology and a genuinely intriguing mystery, although it looks like Bowen had solved it. I think Whistler and his team have been behind a number of YouTube channels, mainly about science and engineering, if I recall correctly, and have now turned to crime. Whistler clearly struggles with the Brazilian names and bits of Portuguese, and finds the weird milieu of which they were a part hysterically funny. Which it is, although some people who take ufology more seriously might find this annoying.

Mr H Reviews the Concept Art for Neil Blomkamp’s Aborted Alien 5

June 18, 2021

Mr H Reviews is a YouTube channel devoted to SF, Fantasy and Horror TV, film and comics, and particularly Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, which is one of Mr H’s favourites. Over the past months and weeks he’s posted a number of pieces about the concept art for Alien 5 which is just being released. Alien 5 would have been directed by Neil Blomkamp, the director of the awesome District 9. This was an SF film in which alien refugees arrive in South Africa, and are isolated in shanty towns, where they’re oppressed by a government determined to stop them breeding, and preyed on by criminal gangs who want to use their body parts for muti sorcery. The hero was a government official in one of the government anti-breeding teams, who starts to mutate into one of the aliens after an accident destroying one of their makeshift hatcheries. He is then sought and has to fight in his turn government agents, who wish to use him to unlock the secrets of the military technology the aliens have brought with them.

Alien 5 would have followed on directly from James Cameron’s Aliens, making Alien 3 and Alien 4 elseworlds stories set in an alternative timeline. In the universe of Alien 5, corporal Hicks and Newt would both be alive, as would Ellen Ripley, and ready to fight H.R. Giger’s most infamous brainchild yet again. The film was apparently all set and ready to go into production with Cameron scouting out locations for filming. It was stopped because Ridley Scott, Alien’s director, didn’t want it interfering with his Alien films. Scott claimed that Alien 5 didn’t have a script, which has been contradicted by the concept artist, Geoffroy Thoorens, who said his paintings were based on a preliminary treatment. Apparently the real reason Alien 5 was cancelled was Scott’s ego. He was jealous because Cameron’s Aliens was more popular than his, the film which launched the franchise.

Whatever the personal politics and clash of egos behind the decision, it’s a pit that Alien 5 wasn’t made because it would have been awesome. The art shows Hicks as a combat vet, scarred from the acidic blood with which he was sprayed during his battle with the evil critters in Aliens, but ready to put on that combat armour. From the art, Mr H. surmises that the plot is about Ripley and her team coming aboard a facility somewhere – there are paintings of a space station and a oil-rig like structure on a storm-tossed ocean. This facility may not be run by Wayland-Yutani, the evil company in the Alien movies. There are no Wayland-Yutani logos or markings. However, it seems the facility has got a Leviathan spacecraft, which is covered in the resin secreted by the Aliens. This also seems to be taken apart in an attempt to back engineer it. The company are also harvesting the eggs, and it seems that the company has actually won. They’re farming the Aliens to use them as bioweapons. A queen alien escapes, and all hell breaks loose.

The film adds a new stage to the Alien lifecycle. This is the trematode, a wormlike creature with pincers and proboscis, which eats its way into its victim’s guts and lays tiny facehuggers. The art shows one marine pulling one of these little bastards of his stomach, while another character is attacked while pinned under a door. There’s also a nod to the cityscape of Blade Runner, in that one of the paintings shows a futuristic city very much like Scott’s depiction of the LA of 2019. But this has a gigantic tower, which may be a space elevator or space bridge, and which contains a hollow running its length, possibly to throw something up into orbit. The company appears to have produced biomechanical armoured suits, resembling the Alien exoskeletons. Ripley dons one of these to fight the queen, who is killed by fire from a railgun or something similar. Another painting shows the space bridge or whatever it is on fire. This suggests that it’s the corporate head office, and that not only has Ripley or her successor defeated the Aliens, but she’s also taken down the company that thinks it can cultivate and control them. Here are the videos.

I’m afraid I’ve posted these videos out of chronological sequence, as I haven’t watched them in order. I hope you can still follow the progress through them, however.

Mr. H speculates that the art may be released because there is renewed interest in the movie. However, he eventually settles on the explanation that the Non-Disclosure Agreements that have prevented release of the art have finally lapsed, as Disney is on the point of buying Fox. I find this a particularly grim prospect. I don’t think it’s at all healthy for a sizable portion of Hollywood and western film entertainment to be part of a giant, global monopoly. I also don’t think Disney are the corporation that’s best suited to real, innovative Horror or dark SF. They’re based on family-friendly entertainment, and while they have considerably diversified, especially with the acquisition of Lucasfilm and Star Wars, I really don’t think they’re suited to managing darker films and concepts.

It’s a pity that Alien 5 wasn’t made. It would have been far better than Alien: Covenant, which I found disappointing and uninspired. It got rid of the interesting ideas and sole remaining character in Prometheus. The Engineers are all wiped out by the evil robot David, who has also murdered Shaw, and is now just keen on breeding more of the proto-Alien creatures, until one finally appears at the end. This threatens the new heroes, is defeated, but not before the heroine finds out right at the end as she’s going into hypersleep that the robot she has trusted up to now isn’t the ship’s good android, but David, who has smuggled the Alien eggs and embryos on board.

I think part of the problem is that Scott simply has lost interest in the Xenomorphs. He’s said that they’re not scary anymore, and that robots are more frightening. Hence the appearance of the evil robot, David. But I think he’s misunderstood the situation. People still want to see the Xenomorph. A year or so ago there were a series of short films released on YouTube by various directors set in the Alien universe and where different characters have to fight or deal with the Aliens. These generally speaking weren’t long – about 15 minutes or so, more or less. But they were well done with some interesting ideas. They showed that directors could still make an entertaining and original story with the creatures, and that there were more than enough fans willing to watch them.

It also seems that Scott’s role in the original movie has been overhyped. Some of the creative decisions that built the franchise were not his, but came from the two producers, Hill and Giler. These included the appearance of an android and the hiring of H.R. Giger as concept artist for the creature. Scott was brought on as director at the very last minute. It’s an excellent movie, and Scott is a brilliant director – I rate Alien and Blade Runner as masterpieces of 20th century cinema – but he isn’t the be-all and end-all of the Alien franchise. I agree with Mr H that the studio shouldn’t have bowed to him and cancelled Blomkamp’s flick.

One of the commenters on one of these videos suggests that, if the film isn’t going to be made, then a comic or graphic novel should appear to tell the story. Apparently this has been done with the alternative Alien 3s that were submitted and scripted. I think it would be an excellent idea. I’d also like another Alien movie to appear, though I’m not sure I’d like it to be the final episode of the trilogy Scott set up with Prometheus. Not after Covenant, unless there’s far more interest in the Aliens. Scott’s a great director, and part of me thinks that it would be good to see how his trilogy ends, but I also think that it’s time the franchise was perhaps handed over to someone younger and with a greater appreciation of the Xenomorph’s popularity.

But the release of this concept artist shows not only the imagination and skill of Thoorens, the artist behind it, but also that there is still considerable interest in Alien movies and that they haven’t been exhausted of ideas. Not just yet. They just need the right director.

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.

Couple of Videos on the Model Work on the BBC SF Comedy, Red Dwarf

February 24, 2021

These are another couple of videos I found on YouTube. In the first, model makers and special effects technicians Bill Pearson and Steve Howarth talk about their work on series 10 of the show. It’s a deleted scene from the film Sense of Scale, which appears to be a movie about the work of model makers like the two. It’s one of a number of videos about the creation of model effects for films and TV series like Red Dwarf, Space: 1999, Alien, Aliens, Outland, Flash Gordon, the 1990’s version of Total Recall, Coneheads, The Fifth Element and The Empire Strikes Back by piercefilm productions.

RED DWARF X miniature effects – YouTube

The second video comes from the channel of someone styling themselves Duane Dibley (the Duke of Dork). As fans of the series will know, this is the stylistically challenged alter ego of the Cat. In it, Bill Pearson talks about his work on series 4 of the show when production was moved to Shepperton. He talks about how some of the props and effects ended up in skips, including one that was damaged by Craig Charles. Money was tight, and so instead of building the scutters from scratch, as they had in the first series, they used parts from radio controlled cars and electric screwdrivers instead. They also recycled props and bits of set from other shows, including a Science Fiction film Ridley Scott had completed filming there. It was only after the series ended that Patterson realised he had never made one of the major vehicles in the show. But his chance finally came when he asked to make one to be given as a prize in a quiz show.

Super Models (Featurette With Red Dwarf Model Maker Bill Pearson) – YouTube

Red Dwarf is one of my favourite SF shows, and one which, in my view, deserves its longevity and cult status. It’s really fascinating to hear from one of the team of talented artists, model makers and technicians which gave this show its great SFX. These still stand up today when miniature work has largely been superseded by CGI. Pearson mentions this in the first video, saying that he’s proud of their work on Red Dwarf, but thinks that he’ll now spend the rest of his life working in low budget projects, because the major films and TV series have gone over to CGI instead. This is a pit, as I’ve a great deal of nostalgia and respect for the practical special effects used in the Science Fiction and Horror movies I grew up with. As spectacular as the CGI graphics can be, there’s still a popular demand for old style practical effects. Harbinger Down, a horror film that came out a couple of years ago, was made using these traditional special effects techniques to cater to audience keen to relive the pleasure of the type of effects they’d enjoyed in Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing.

Pearson, Howarth and the others, who worked on shows like Red Dwarf are immensely talented artists, and I hope their skills will continue to be in demand by producers and directors, who appreciate the value of good, practical special effects.

Dido Harding Didn’t Realise Viruses Mutate – How Did She Get Her Job Again?

February 7, 2021

I realise that it’s an old story, but it’s worth repeating as it shows the level of corruption and plain incompetence surrounding Boris Johnson and his appointments to official post. Mike posted up a piece a little while ago commenting on a statement by Dido Harding, the head of NHS Test and Trace, that no-one could have predicted that the virus would mutate. Really? Doctors and scientists have known for a very long time that viruses mutate. It’s why there are different varieties of the flu vaccine and they haven’t yet been able to find one that will absolutely eradicate it, as they have with smallpox. The disease mutates too rapidly, so that as soon as an effective vaccine against one strain is found, a new variety, immune to it, emerges. It’s also why the world’s scientists are worried about the declining effectiveness of penicillin, as new strains of bacteria are emerging that are immune to it. I also believe that malaria is also changing so that quinine is becoming less effective.

This isn’t some deep medical secret, hidden by the scientific establishment for some nefarious purpose of its own, along with alien bases on the Moon, the Greys, the Face on Mars and the location of Atlantis. It’s widely known, well-publicised fact. One of the peeps on Twitter, Kit Yates, showed that it was actually taught in his seven year old’s science textbook. Which looks a lot more fun and exciting than some of the textbooks we used when I was at school. And scientific concerns about viral immunity to penicillin and quinine has been discussed on several programmes on Radio 4. This is the public service broadcaster the Tories want to defund and abolish in favour of something far more right-wing and owned by Rupert Murdoch or another millionaire like him. The fact that Tory official Harding doesn’t know a fairly basic fact about disease clearly demonstrates that if the Tories have their way, the abolition of the Beeb will leave Britain dumber and much less informed. But that’s obviously the only way the Tories feel they can win in the long term.

Fortunately for Britain, as Dr Julia Grace Patterson pointed out, doctors had been tracking different strains of Covid since last Spring. She also pointed out that viruses mutate, which was why the flu vaccine changed annually, and concluded that Harding’s remark was ‘awful’. This shows that we can count on our scientists diligently researching and doing everything they can to combat the disease. We just can’t count on their bosses knowing much about it.

If Harding was an ordinary member of the public, her ignorance would be excusable. You don’t expect ordinary people to know everything. They don’t have the time, the energy nor often the education. But Harding’s different. She’s in charge of the government body set to monitor and combat the spread of the disease from person to person. Her ignorance says much not just about her suitability for her position, but also about the cavalier attitude Boris’ government seemingly has to putting the right people in charge of such vital work. It has always looked as though Harding got the job, not through any real skill, knowledge or ability on her part, but because she was a friend of Boris and his wretched coterie. She was put in purely because of personal loyalty, as well as an attitude on Johnson’s part that no particular expertise was needed in this area. Anyone could do it, so it was important that that anyone was a personal friend or supporter of his.

This attitude seems to go back to the 90s. Private Eye in its literary column lamented the emergence of an attitude to bookselling and libraries, which saw them as just another product to be marketed. Managing directors were being appointed to publishers, booksellers and libraries, who had no experience of that sector, from industries like catering. One of them was the head of a sandwich firm. The attitude seemed to be that in the new commercial environment, industries, no matter how different, were somehow at some basic level identical. A man, who knew nothing about books or literature but made great sandwiches was just as good a choice as someone who had been in the book trade all his or her life, and appreciated that books were a social good with a distinct ethos and societal and ethical function far beyond their value as a material ‘product’.

And the same cavalier ignorance pertains here. BoJo and his fellow morons clearly regard NHS Test and Trace as just another business. Anyone from any business can therefore run it. They don’t have to have any personal expertise themselves, as they’ve got scientists below them to do that. But virology is not any kind of business, and while you wouldn’t expect Harding to have the same level of expertise as the scientists underneath, you do want her to have a basic understand of the nature of disease and the way its fought. Even if that comes from seven year old’s science text books.

Harding’s ignorance is amusing at one level, as the jokes about her on Twitter have shown. But it’s also dangerous. The Tories have absolute contempt for experts. Boris, Cummings and the rest of the ratbags supported ‘herd immunity’ against the advice of the overwhelming majority of doctors and scientists, because it fitted their prejudices of letting the poor die to protect the rich. I think it was one of them, rather than an American Republican, who said that people are sick of experts. Even if it was a Conservative from across the Pond rather than our own, homegrown rightists, the Tories certainly share that determined, anti-intellectual attitude.

Tory medical ignorance and negligence has cost something like 50,000 lives. And it’s still going on. Harding’s lack of a basic fact about viruses is symptomatic of a wider cavalier attitude to science and protecting people’s health and lives. They’re a disgrace. It’s time Harding was sacked and Johnson and his fellow cronies also forced out of office in favour of people better qualified to run the country and preserve its people.

Anyone got any ideas who that might be, as it surely isn’t Tory Starmer!

For further information, see: ANYBODY could have predicted that Dido Harding would be wrong on Covid-19 mutation. Here are some of the funniest responses | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Trailer for HBO Series on Heaven’s Gate Suicide Cult

January 12, 2021

The ’90s were a decade marred by the mass deaths of cult members. There was the Order of the Solar Temple, the horrific immolation of the Branch Davidians in their conflict with the FBI and Heaven’s Gate. HBO Max started screening a documentary series about the latter on December 3rd last year. I found this trailer for it on YouTube. Although it’s just over 2 minutes long, it shows the cult’s main beliefs and the background to the tragedy.

The cult was led by a man and woman, here identified as ‘Do’ and ‘Ti’. They died wearing badges announcing that they were an ‘away team’, and believed that after they left their bodies, they would ascend to become aliens of a superior species and take their seats in a spacecraft in or following a visiting comment. Several of the men had been castrated. Their bodies were discovered covered in purple sheets.

The blurb for the series on its YouTube page gives a bit more information. It says

“Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults” is a thorough examination of the infamous UFO cult through the eyes of its former members and loved ones. What started in 1975 with the disappearance of 20 people from a small town in Oregon ended in 1997 with the largest suicide on US soil and changed the face of modern new age religion forever. This four-part docuseries uses never-before-seen footage and first-person accounts to explore the infamous UFO cult that shocked the nation with their out-of-this-world beliefs.

“Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults” is a Max Original produced by CNN and Campfire. Directed and executive produced by Clay Tweel (“Gleason”), the docuseries is also executive produced by Campfire CEO Ross Dinerstein (“The Innocent Man”) and Shannon Riggs, with Chris Bannon, Eric Spiegelman, Peter Clowney and Erik Diehn executive producing for the digital media company Stitcher (“Heaven’s Gate” podcast, “Sold in America” podcast).

Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults | Official Trailer | HBO Max – YouTube

The Fortean Times did a piece about the cult. As the TV series’ blurb says, the two cult leaders had been knocking around the UFO world for years. I can’t remember their real names, except that they had a couple of nicknames. Apart from ‘Do’ and ‘Ti’, they were also called ‘Him’ and ‘Her’. I think their message had started off claiming that they end was nigh, but that the Space Brothers were coming to help us. It’s a message shared by several UFO religions and Contactees. In the 1950s a Chicago psychic had claimed she had received similar messages telepathically from alien telling her that the world was going to end, but she was to assemble as many followers as she could. These would then be saved by the aliens, who would take them aboard their spacecraft. The psychic and her followers duly assembled on the date of the predicted arrival of the aliens, but the world didn’t end and the aliens didn’t show up. The group had, however, been joined by a group of sociologists from Chicago University, who were studying them. They were particularly interested in how the cult’s members continued to believe in its central message even after it had failed to come true. One of the sociologist’s published a book about it, entitled, When Prophecy Fails, which I think is now a classic of academic studies on UFOs and their believers. The psychic’s group differed from Heaven’s Gate in that none of them, I believe, committed suicide.

The aliens in which Heaven’s Gate believed were bald and asexual, and look very much like one of the stereotypes of UFO aliens taken from SF ‘B’ movies. The bald heads and large craniums show that the aliens are super-intelligent. It ultimately comes from a 19th century evolutionary theory, which held that as humanity evolved, the brain would expand at the expense of the body, and the sensual aspects of humanity would similarly wither. As a result, humans would become smaller, with larger heads and brains. The ultimate endpoint of this evolution are H.G. Wells’ Martians from The War of the Worlds. Astronomers at the time believed that Mars was an older world than Earth, and so Wells’ Martians are similarly far more advanced in their evolution than terrestrial humanity. They consist of large heads with tentacles. As their brains have expanded, their digestive systems have atrophied so that they feed by injecting themselves with blood.

It’s because their supposed aliens were asexual that some of the men in the group had travelled to Mexico to be castrated. It’s also been suggested that it may also have been because the group’s male leader was gay. If he was, and the group’s rejection of gender and sexuality stemmed from his failure to come to terms with his sexuality, then it’s a powerful argument for the acceptance of homosexuality. It’s far better for a gay person to be comfortable with their sexuality than to feel such shame and confusion that they mutilate themselves. This aspect of the Heaven’s Gate ideology also seems to me to be similar to the reason for some families referring their children for treatment as transgender. Opponents of the contemporary transgender movement have claimed that the majority of children referred to clinics like the Tavistock Clinic come from extremely homophobic backgrounds. They’ve argued that they’re seen as transgender by their parents, who have convinced the children of this, because it’s the only way the parents can cope with the child’s sexuality. They can’t accept that their son or daughter is gay, and prefer to believe that they have instead been born in the wrong body. Gay critics of the trans movement and their allies thus see the transitioning of such vulnerable children as a form of gay conversion therapy. That’s certainly how Iran views it. Homosexuality is illegal there, carrying the death penalty. However, gender reassignment surgery is paid for by the state. I got the impression that Iranians gays were offered the choice between death and having a sex change.

The cult’s description of themselves as an ‘Away Team’ was taken from the Star Trek series, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space 9 then on television. The ‘Away Team’ were what had been called in the Original Series the ‘landing party’ – the group that would beam down from the Enterprise to explore that episode’s planet. One of the cult’s members and victims was the brother of actress Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura in the Original Series and subsequent films.

Their belief that the world was about to be visited by an alien spaceship was the unfortunate consequence of a misidentification of a known star by a pair of German amateur astronomers. They had been out looking for a comet that was due to come close to Earth. They found it, but with it was an object they couldn’t find on their star maps. They therefore went on the web to inquire what it might be, and the myth developed that it was some kind of alien spacecraft many times bigger than Earth, which was following said comet. Of course, it was no such thing. It was a star that didn’t appear on the maps the pair were using because it was too dim to be visible to the naked eye. It was, however, bright enough for them to see it using binoculars. The Cult’s leaders took the appearance of this supposed alien spacecraft to be the spaceship they had long expected to take them all to a higher plane with tragic consequences. Although the world was shocked by this disaster and the cult’s apparently weird beliefs, folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand pointed out that their idea of being taken to heaven in a ship actually came from a strand of American Christianity. There have been a number of hymns written describing Christian believers going to heaven in just such a vessel.

The trailer for the series also says that the cult’s members were intelligent and came from good families. I don’t doubt this. I’ve heard that members of new religious movements are often of above average intelligence. Perhaps it’s because such people are more intellectually curious and less satisfied with conventional religion. However, it also seems, at least according to the Fortean Times article, that many of the cult’s members also had problems functioning independently. They apparently were always contacting somebody to help them solve ordinary, every day problems like how to peel an apple correctly. I wonder if they suffered from a psychological or neurological condition like autism, which left them unable to cope with ordinary life and so vulnerable to being dominated by a charismatic personality with a message that appeared to solve all their problems.

The series looks like a fascinating insight into one of the decade’s apocalyptic, extreme religions with its roots in the UFO milieu. However, the series will be over by now, and if it was on HBO Max, it’s doubtful that very many people will have seen it. But perhaps it’ll be repeated sometime on one of the more popular TV channels. And I hope that events and the landscape of religious and paranormal belief have changed in the meantime, so that there will never be another tragedy like it.

Book of Photographs of the Paranormal

October 31, 2020

Photographs of the Unknown, by Robert Rickard and Richard Kelly (London: New English Library 1980).

I thought this book would be a suitably spooky subject for Hallowe’en. Bob Rickard is one of the founders and editors of the Fortean Times, the magazine of the weird that’s been going since the 1970s. A little note on the last page underneath the picture credits gives instruction to readers how they can submit their photographs of the paranormal to the Fortean Times. The blurb on the back cover runs

SEA MONSTERS

ALIENS

LEVITATION

POLTERGEISTS

ECTOPLASM

PHANTOMS

UFOS …. all photographed!

The largest, most complete, most amazing collection of photographs of the Unknown and the Unexplained ever published.

Many have never been published before, others are presented for the first time in their original full colour. They have been researched and collected from all over the world.

If you believe and want to convince other people, if you don’t know for sure but have an open mind, if you’ve ever been inclined to believe but want to see the evidence, you will need this unique archive that covers the whole range of unexplained phenomena.

The book has the following chapters, each containing these individual sections

Introduction

Strange Life, Loch Ness, Water Monsters, Sea Monsters, The Yeti, Bigfoot.

Unusual Natural Phenomena, Living rocks, Falls, Atmospheric magic, Natural ‘UFOs’, ghost lights.

UFOs, Flying Cigars, UFOs and Planes, UFOS over Water, UFO Shapes, UFOs Above Us, UFOs in Motion, UFO Beings Among Us? Optical UFOs, Computer Analysis, UFOs from the Sea.

Psychic Phenomena, Possession, Stigmata, Bleeding Images, Ectoplasm, Mediumship, A Modern Medium, Thoughtography, Kirlian Photography.

Paranormal Persons, BVM and Angels, Portraits of Christ, Aliens, Phantoms, Materializations.

Mind over Matter, Yoga, Pain Immunity, Psychic Surgery, Fire Immunity, Firewalking, Spoonbenders, Table Turning, Levitation of Objects, Apports, Levitation, Poltergeists.

This is another book I ordered from Amazon in order to give myself something to read during the lockdown. I think I remember it from the time it first came out, and if so, then the book really scared me. I was at secondary school, and the books publication was featured on breakfast TV. I remember one of the presenters of the Beeb’s breakfast show introducing a piece on it by saying something about the unknown being photographed and asking ‘but what are they photographing?’ Which is a very good question. The book I remember had a different cover. This was a monotone/ black and white photo of a medium producing ectoplasm from their mouth, in which there were faces. This doesn’t seem to have this image, which may well have come from the hardback edition. Or it may be that I’m confusing it with a completely different book. There is, however, a photo of ectoplasm coming out of a medium’s left nostril, in which there’s the face of a young soldier killed in World War I. It was these ectoplasmic faces which scared me, and I can remember the fear I felt passing the book on a display table in George’s, the big local bookshop in Bristol on a trip there.

Some of the photos are very well known, like Patterson-Gimlin pic of Bigfoot, a still taken from film footage of the creature walking in the American woods made a few years before. To many people, the film and photo are proof that Sasquatch is a real, paws and pelt animal. The film’s been shown on any number of TV documentaries about Bigfoot and the Yeti. Some of the experts called on in these programmes to give their opinion have said that it’s unlikely to be a fake because the fur is of different lengths. You’d see this in a real animal, but not in a costume. On the negative side, other experts have said that it can’t be real, as the creature seems to have both male and female genitalia. But perhaps it’s just got manboobs.

The debate about this photo still goes on today, but others are hoaxes or almost certainly hoaxes. A few years ago it was revealed that the ‘surgeon’s photograph’ of the Loch Ness monster, which has appeared in countless documentaries, newspapers and magazine articles about the cryptid, was very definitely a fake. It was created by adding a plesiosaurus-style neck to a toy submarine, which was then sent sailing in the Loch.

The same goes for some, at least, of the UFO photographs. There’s a photo of a UFO bearing the Ummo symbol. The Ummo messages were a series of letters sent to various people in Franco’s claim, which claimed they came from aliens, who had travelled to Earth from the planet Ummo. They contained a wealth of detail about their spacecraft, language, home world and so on. Most, if not all UFO investigators now believe they were a hoax. As are the photos of the Venusian spaceships taken by George Adamski. One of the photographs Adamski claimed was of an alien spacecraft was actually of his chicken coop. A few weeks ago I went to an online lecture hosted by the paranormal investigation group, ASSAP, in which the speaker suggested that Adamski’s Venusian spacecraft was actually a photograph of a type of gas lantern then available. And yes, they do look exactly the same.

The ‘thoughtographs’ are the images Ted Serios, an alcoholic bellboy, claimed to produce on film using the power of his mind. This was after he’d drunk enough to start his gums and anus bleeding. I don’t know if Serios was ever caught in fraud, but I’ve watched documentaries where sceptics have shown how it could have been faked. The same goes for the piccie of Soviet psychic Nina Kulagina showing off her telekinesis skills. This was debunked back in the ’90s or so in the Channel 4 programme Secrets of the Psychics.

Sceptics have also argued that psychic surgery is also a fraud. The psychics who claim to be able to perform such miracles don’t actually cut into the body of their unfortunate dupes, and the disease organs they remove aren’t human but chicken guts. This particular paranormal field was the subject of an episode of Jonathan Creek, the BBC detective drama about a crime-busting stage magician. That particular episode involved the murder of someone, who was dying and desperate to have similar treatment, or who had actually undergone it. It was some years ago, and I can’t really remember. It doesn’t matter, as the show came down very much on the side of the sceptics.

Sceptics have also presented a strong argument that firewalking isn’t supernatural either. From what I remember, flesh burns at quite a high temperature, higher than the coals and embers on which people walk, and so anyone can do it. Well, that’s what they claim. I wouldn’t like to test it, and don’t advise anyone else to do either unless they know exactly what they’re doing.

The Fortean Times also carried an article a few years ago, which also claimed that the photograph showing a group of men in broadbrimmed hats and raincoats surrounding a diminutive alien was also a hoax. It was published in a German newspaper as an April Fool’s or Hallowe’en prank, or the German equivalents thereof. As for spoon-bending, made notorious by Uri Geller, there’s a trick to fake that which goes all the way back to the 18th century and the book, Rational Recreations. It’s possible that Geller, if he is a fake, is using that trick or similar.

It’s also entirely possible that some of the spirit photos are also fakes. They’ve been taken since the 19th century and the American photographer Hans Mumler. I have a feeling that Mumler was sued by people, who believed he’d deceived them. They noticed that the dead relatives and other people, who appeared in Mumler’s photos, did so in the same poses, expressions and attitudes as they had in other photographs. There were several ways such photographs could be faked with the plates exposed twice, once for the image of the sitter, and again for the supposed spirit. However, I think Mumler, or perhaps one of his competitors, was found not guilty because the prosecution couldn’t prove which method, if any, he’d used.

There are also problems with the photos of mediums producing ectoplasm. I think some fakes used to swallow cheesecloth, which they’d then regurgitate during seances. It was also noted that the female spirit one of the 19th century mediums used to materialise looked remarkably like her, but the two did appear side by side. It’s probably fraud but this argues against it.

Several of the poltergeist photos seem to be of the Enfield polt that was investigated by the SPR and Guy Lyon Playfair in the 1970s. This is a notorious British case which Playfair seemed to believe was genuinely paranormal, and which he publicised. The sceptical UFO magazine Magonia has suggested instead that it was fraud within an unhealthy family situation.

Other paranormal phenomena are almost certainly camera artefacts, such as the mysterious balls of light in one set of photographs, as the book itself suggests. Others include the mysterious tendrils of light captured by a female photographer. I came across the same effect on photos taken by a visitor to Derby jail, which is now open to ghost hunters as a haunted location. A few quick experiments showed that this did seem to be a trick of the light as it was caught in the camera lens.

I’ve also come across an explanation, which I’m afraid I can’t remember, for the Kirlian photographs that were also all the rage at one time. This showed that, as dramatic as they appear, they definitely aren’t of any aura surrounding living things. But they do look really beautiful, however.

I doubt if any of these photographs would convince a sceptic like the late James Randi or mentalist like Derren Brown. On the other hand, it may be that some are genuine, and that there really are paranormal forces out there that some have been able to capture on film.