Posts Tagged ‘basic law’

The Protests at the LSE Against the Israeli Ambassador Weren’t Anti-Semitic – They Were Against a Racist, Anti-Semitic Fascist

November 11, 2021

That’s the only way I think Tzipi Hotovely can fairly be described. She’s the Israeli ambassador who was hurried off the campus at LSE by the cops and her security guards as protestors against the genocidal brutality of the Israeli state made their feelings extremely clear. Needless to say, the government and the Blairite Labour leadership have metaphorically clutched their pearl in horror at what a terrible deed has been done to her. The protests have been condemned by Priti Patel and Starmerite rentagob Lisa Nandy. Mike has put up a couple of pieces about the incident, pointing out that Hotovely was never in any danger because of the police protection she enjoyed. And today he’s posted another article quoting a number of well-informed Twitterers and commenters, including Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada; the Groaniad journo Owen Jones, Natalie Strecker; Another Angry Voice and a Palestinian gent, Omar Ghraeib, which showed exactly how deeply unpleasant her extreme Israeli nationalist views are.

The Nakba, the forced expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians to create the nascent Israeli state in 1948 is well-documented. Historians have uncovered that it was achieved through massacres of thousands of Palestinians. People were gunned down hiding in mosques for sanctuary. A group of women tried to appease the Israeli troops through bringing them baskets of rice. They were shot in the stomach. All documented fact, covered in histories of the reality of the creation of Israeli on videos available on the internet. I think a few of them were put up by Abi Martin of The Empire Files on Tele-Sur. But Hotovely has declared this all ‘a lie’. This is, to me, as deplorable as the Nazis and anti-Semites peddling their lies that the Holocaust never happened, or the Turkish state covering up the Armenian genocide. But it’s also not just the Nadba she denies. She claims there’s no Palestinian people – a common trope of the Israeli state and its supporters over here. It started with Gold Meir and the Zionist pioneers claiming that the Palestinians were really recent settlers from Syria and other Arab nations because the landlords were absentees in those countries. It comes from the old Zionist slogan ‘A people without a land for a land without a people’ – except the land already had a people. Hence all the lies that the Palestinians don’t really exist, which I’ve seen repeated on extreme right-wing American and Canadian websites.

As an Israeli far-right nationalist, she wants Arab villages razed to be replaced by Jewish settlements. In May she was one of the main speakers at a Zionist demonstration in support of the Israeli embassy. During which the demonstrators showed just what kind of disgusting human beings they were by chanting in favour of burning down Palestinian villages and supporting Rabbi Mei Kahane, the founder of Kach. This is a group so extreme that even the Israelis call it a terrorist organisation. She so right-wing that she’s even called for Israel to invade Jordan and Syria. This is bonkers, but it would be supported by Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, which would also like Israel to invade and annexe parts of Egypt and Iraq. Technically I think Syria is still at war with Israel due to the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. A madman or -woman calling for real, renewed armed war is obviously a threat to peace in the Middle East. Which, incidentally she’s never given her explanation of how it can be achieved. A war-hungry maniac like her should not be let anywhere near power or international relations.

But let’s be fair, it’s not just Palestinians she hates. She also despises Jews, who protest against the Israeli state’s atrocities. In one of her wretched tweets she sneered at German Jewish critics, claiming in very anti-Semitic language that they were only doing it for the money. ‘Oy vey my German Euros!’, she tweeted. The mad right-wing Zionists trying to shut down any criticism of Israel do so by screeching that any critical remark must be an anti-Semitic trope. But this is a real one: that of the money-grubbing Jew. And right-wing Zionists also accuse their critics of being ‘offensive’! Well, I can only imagine how offensive her remarks must be to Jewish Germans, because the myth that Jews are materialistic, greedy and exploitative was at the heart of Nazi Jew-hatred and persecution. I’m also at a loss to know quite where she thinks these ‘German Euros’ that she claims were somehow being paid to her country’s Jewish German critics come from. They aren’t going to come from the German state, which supports Israel, nor its people, who are generally very friendly and well-disposed towards Jews. Germany is so welcoming towards Jews that many Israelis go there for their holidays. Nazism is banned under the Basic Law and Mutti Merkel’s government tried over and over to show that Germany was now a pluralist, anti-racist society that welcomed ethnic minorities. I dare say that there are individual Nazis ensconced in parts of the German state. But the German state as a whole is very, very definitely not going to give any kind of support to real anti-Semites.

The German-Jewish critics of Israel seem to me to be determinedly anti-racist generally. There’s a video on the web somewhere of the awesome Jackie Walker speaking at one of their meetings, and being given a warm welcome. This was after she was expelled from the Labour party on a trumped-up charge of anti-Semitism. She’s been subject to a torrent of horrendous abuse ever since, some of it viciously racist. She’s Black, and so her racist attackers have claimed she can’t be Jewish. There’s a vicious anti-Black racism in Israel. Abi Martin made a documentary a few years ago about the abuse and physical assaults made against Black Israelis. This included a maniac stabbing a baby in the head. The German Jews, who welcomed Walker and gave her a platform are far better people than Israel’s White supremacist defenders.

And just to show us what the state Hotovely so enthusiastically represents is actually like, Omar Ghraeib have tweeted about the shooting of a 13-year old Palestinian boy by an Israeli soldier, and Agent Rachel Swindon has also tweeted about the Israeli army’s destruction of water pipes serving four Palestinian villages. This is quite common, and is a method of squeezing the Palestinians in an attempt to force them off their land. Israeli soldiers also throw chemicals into Palestinian wells to make the water undrinkable. And the tweeters also rightly point out that the UN has condemned Israel as practicing apartheid.

Nandy was yelling that the demonstration was terrible attack on free speech. Which also shows what a revolting hypocrite Nandy is. As Daniel Finn points out, Nandy will not breathe a word in defence of the Palestinians. Her commitment to anti-Palestinian racism is ‘quite extraordinary’.

Of course, Patel and Nandy have also screamed that the demonstration was ‘anti-Semitic’. No. Definitely no! Many of Israel’s most ardent critics are themselves decent, Torah-observant and secular Jews. They’re severely normal, self-respecting people, who aren’t ‘anti-Semitic’ or ‘self-hating’ or any of the other wretched, vile smears that have been thrown at them. Some of them are Haredi Jews, who believe they are to remain in galut – exile – until the coming of the Messiah, as commanded in the Hebrew Bible and Torah. Others do so because they believe Israel violates the fundamental principles of the liberal Judaism they were raised in. You know, the type of Judaism that takes as its watchword ‘Jews should always be for the oppressed, never the oppressor’. And many are socialists following the ideas of the pre-War Bund, the Jewish socialist party that wanted Jews to stay in their ancestral homelands, fighting to be accepted as equals and friends by their gentile compatriots. Over here the British Jewish community before the First World War held exactly the same attitude. They wanted to be seen as patriotic Brits and Englishmen and women, not foreigners. The British Jewish establishment actually condemned the Balfour Declaration because they were afraid it would make gentile Brits see them as foreigners. It would create anti-Semitism. Philip Gould has posted a tweet from a Jewish group over here critical of Israel, Na’amod: British Jews Against Occupation. Now I don’t claim to be any kind of expert of Judaism, but I think it’s clear from their Hebrew name that they aren’t self-haters and anti-Semites. Natalie Strecker has also posted a tweet showing that, in contrast to Israeli nationalist propaganda, it is far-rightists like Hotovely who are unrepresentative of the Jewish community: “Imagine being so racist that you think a white supremacist who believes Palestinians should be subject to genocide represents Jews!!!” This was in response to someone called Caolan, who claimed that the protests were all anti-Semitic.

Way back in the early part of this century, Blair got into terrible trouble when he arrested the Chilean Fascist dictator, General Pinochet. Pinochet was responsible for horrific torture and massacres, which included the murder of a Spanish lad. Spain had put out an extradition for his arrest. Pinochet had arrived in Britain and was visiting his old friend, Maggie Thatcher. Blair pounced and had him arrested for crimes against humanity pending extradition to Spain. Thatcher and the right screeched in protest because, well, Thatcher and a large section of the Tory party support right-wing Fascist thugs like Pinochet, and he had given us aid during the Falkland’s conflict. It was all horribly bungled, as Pinochet should have been officially told first that he was not welcome over here. Blair’s regime was also guilty of human rights violations because of its grubby illegal invasion of Iraq. But in this instance it was trying to act in accordance with international law and humanity.

Hotovely is not the head of her state, but Israel is still guilty of many of the crimes for which Pinochet’s regime is abominated and reviled. I think it can be fairly said that rather than being defended and protected, the British state should be demanding her withdrawal because her racism is so much opposed to genuine, liberal British values.

In my opinion, she’s a Fascist of the same stripe as Pinochet, who should be facing tough questions from the International Court of Human Rights. But the British establishment just loves foreign Fascists if they’re on our side. And so we could expect nothing but smears and condemnation of the LSE protesters by Patel and Nandy.

Private Eye on SF Book with Hero Called Boris Johnson

October 26, 2021

I found this rather amusing little piece in Private Eye’s literary column for 28th October 2011. It notes that the hero of an SF book by Norman Spinrad from 1967 is one Boris Johnson, and the book’s title is strangely appropriate: Agent of Chaos. The article runs

LIFE IMITATES ART

Sonia Purnell’s new book about the mayor of London, Just Boris, has been treated with disdain by those of Boris’s chums who have been asked to write the majority of the reviews. But it’s not the only book out there starring a man named Bojo.

The 1967 sci-fi novel, Agent of Chaos, by Norman Spinrad, stars as its hero a man named Boris Johnson. He is described as follows by his enemies: “The man is a bumbler; he stumbles in the dark ignorant of even the Democracy he professes to champion… Yet still he stumbles on. Blind courage is, after all, a Random Factor. So is heroism. So too, for that matter, is sheer stupidity – and Johnson, paradoxically, is a course of all three.”

Well, I see absolutely nothing heroic about Johnson. Quite the reverse – he’s a villain, who’s ruining this country and its great people purely for the profit of himself and his super-rich friends. But he is certainly a bumbler and agent of chaos.

I also recall that back in the 1980s, Spinrad caused a bit of controversy with his book, The Iron Dream, which speculated on what would have happened if Hitler had instead migrated to the US and wrote SF pulp fiction. It was banned in West Germany for violating the Basic Law against glorifying Nazism, though I don’t believe that Spinrad himself was a Nazi. Given how right-wing Boris’ politics are, perhaps there should be an SF novel in which Adolf Hitler writes a novel, whose hero is called Boris Johnson.

Mark Felton Demolishes the Claims for Die Glocke, Hitler’s Anti-Gravity Time/Space Machine

June 21, 2021

Yesterday I posted up a piece by the military historian, Dr Mark Felton, considering the evidence for Nazi flying discs. Felton’s an expert on World War II and the military technology of that time. He came to the conclusion that if the Nazis were experimenting with flying discs, then they were almost certainly failures given the spectacular failures of later, post-War experimental disc-shaped aircraft like the Avrocar. In this video he casts a similarly bleak, withering gaze over claims that the Nazis were working on a secret antigravity craft, called Die Glocke, or ‘the Bell’ because of its resemblance to the musical instrument installed in church towers. Not only is it claimed that the Glocke used antigravity, but it was also apparently a time/space machine. I thought immediately of Dr Who’s TARDIS. Did the Nazis really possess such a device, or have the people who are pushing this watched too many episodes of Dr Who, Time Tunnel and so on?

Felton begins in his usual dry manner. ‘Did’, he asks, ‘the Nazis possess antigravity? Could they flip between dimensions? And did Adolf Hitler escape to the Moon using such a craft? No, I haven’t been self-medicating,’, he says, and goes on to explain he’s only considering the claims made in ‘certain documentaries’. He wants to know if they contain any truth or are just ‘bovine excrement’. I think after watching this the answer lies far more on the side of bovine excrement, but I’ve never been persuaded by the Nazi saucer myth. But Felton states that the Americans and their Allies were astounded by how advanced German aerospace engineering was. The Nazi regime produced a number of highly advanced air- and spacecraft, like the Messerschmitt 262 jet plane, the Bachem Natter rocket interceptor, the V1 Flying Bomb, the V2 rocket. It was a secretive regime, operating from underground bases using slave labour, and so it was ideal for distortion of historical truth. Much of that distorted history was created by the Nazis themselves, and by their successors since then.

The video states that the Glocke entered public consciousness in a book published in 2000. This, followed by others, claimed that the project was under the control of Hans Kammler, the head of the V2 project. Kammler was the stereotypical Nazi leader, straight out of a comic book. He disappeared at the end of the War and was never seen again. It was supposedly powered by a highly volatile substance, red mercury. But Felton eschews discussing how it worked because it’s all theoretical. He just gives a physical description of the putative machine, stating it was 12-14 feet tall, shaped like a Bell, and had a swastika on its side, just so’s people knew where it came from. Is there any documentary evidence for this? No. The only evidence comes from an interview between an author and a Polish intelligence officer, who claimed access to a dossier produced by the SS personnel working on the project. Various names have been suggested for the scientists and officers in charge. One of them is Werner Heisenberg, due to a close similarity between his name and one of the scientists supposedly involved. Heisenberg was the German physicist in charge of the Nazis’ atomic programme. He produced a nuclear reactor, which partially worked, and an atomic bomb which didn’t. Mercifully. But everything is known about what he did during the War, and he was captured and thoroughly interrogated by the Americans afterwards. He didn’t mention the Glocke. Which in my view means that he very definitely wasn’t involved.

The video goes back further, stating that claims of the Glocke actually go back even further, to 1960 and the publication of the French author’s Bergier and Pauwels’ Le Matin des Magiciens, translated into English in 1963 as The Morning of the Magicians. This made a series of claims about the Nazis, including UFOs and occultism, that were roughly based on fact. The Horten brothers had designed flying wing aircraft, which resemble UFOs. After the War their plane ended up in America. Felton says that it clearly influenced later American planes, like the Stealth aircraft. He suggests the Horten flying wing plane contributed to the flying saucer craze of the late 1940s. It has been suggested that what Kenneth Arnold saw in his 1947 flight over the Rockies, which produced the term ‘flying saucer’, was in fact the Hortens flying wings being secretly flown. As for Nazi occultism, Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, was an occultist. He intended Wewelsburg castle to be a pseudo-pagan temple, but claims of Nazi involvement in the occult have been greatly exaggerated. Indeed they have. Nicholas Goodricke-Clarke, in his book on Nazi paganism, states that Hitler drew on the bizarre evolutionary ideas of the neo-Pagan cults in Germany and Vienna, like the Ariosophists, whose ideas really were bizarre and quite barking. He also had some contact with the Thule society. However, the pagan sects were banned during the Third Reich because Adolf was afraid they’d divide Germans. He concludes that real Nazi paganism was slight, except in the case of Himmler and the SS, who really did believe in it and wanted his vile organisation to be a new pagan order. Pauwels and Bergier’s book fed into the nascent 60s counterculture and then into the later New Age. Their book is notorious, and has certainly been credited as a source for much New Age speculation and pseudo-history by magazines like the Fortean Times. I think there was a split between the two authors. Bergier was an anti-Nazi, who had spent time in a concentration camp. I think he may even have been Jewish. Pauwels, on the other hand, gravitated towards the far right.

Villainous Nazi super-scientists also became part of SF pulp fiction of the 1960s and 70s. The Nazis were supposed to have discovered the secrets of space and even time travel. One of the books flashed up in this part of the video is Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream. This came out in the 1980s, and pondered what would have happened if Hitler had emigrated to America and become a pulp SF writer. The West German authorities weren’t impressed, and it was banned in Germany under the Basic Law outlawing the glorification of the Nazis. I found it in a secondhand bookshop in Cheltenham. It proudly boasted that it contained the SF/Fantasy novel Hitler would have written. Well, Hitler didn’t go to America, and never wrote any SF or Fantasy novels, and the book actually looked really dull. So I saved my money and didn’t buy it. This type of literature flourished because the Americans had been so impressed by genuine German scientific achievements. And the post-War atomic age and UFO craze allowed imaginations to run riot. So Nazi scientists also turned up as the villains in various SF film and TV shows. One prize example of that is the X-Files, in which the secret programme to breed human-alien hybrids at the heart of the UFO mystery is done by Nazi biologists, who came to America under Operation Paperclip.

The video then asks whether the Nazis really did experiment with antigravity. Well, they experimented with everything else, including occultism. NASA was also experimenting with antigravity from the 1990s onwards, as were the Russians and major aerospace corporations like Boeing in the US and BAe Systems in Britain. The Russians even published a scientific paper on it. But despite their deep pockets, these were all failures. And it seems that Operation Paperclip, which successfully collected German rocket scientists, chemical and biological weapons experts, and aerospace engineers, somehow failed to get their antigravity experts. We don’t have the names of any of the scientists and engineers, where they worked or even any credible documents about them. If the Glocke really had been built and its scientists captured by the US and USSR, why were the Americans and Russians trying to build it all from scratch. And if Hitler did have antigravity and UFOs, then how the hell did he lose the War?

Some sources claim that the project was also run by SS Gruppenfuhrers Emil Mazuw and Jakob Sporrenberg, both deeply noxious individuals. Mazuw was the governor of Pomerania, one of the former German territories later given to Poland after the War along with Silesia. He was the head of the SS and high police in Pomerania, and was deeply involved in the Holocaust. Before the War he was a factory worker. What use would he have been to a secret scientific project at the cutting edge of physics? Ditto Sporrenberg. He was also deeply involved in the Shoah, and had zero scientific or engineering background.

The video then considers the 1965 Kecksburg UFO crash, which is also cited as the evidence for the Glocke’s existence. That year a bright fireball was seen in the sky over six US states and Ontario in Canada, coming down in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania. The US army was mobilised, cordoning the area off and taking something away. In 2005 NASA revealed that the object was a capture Russian satellite, the Cosmos 96, which had re-entered the atmosphere and broken up. But this has provided much material for certain TV documentaries from the 90s to the present.

Felton concludes that if the Glocke ever existed, it was probably part of the German nuclear programme, and not a time machine. That’s if it ever existed at all. Echoing the X-Files‘ Fox Mulder, he finishes with ‘The truth is out there, as they say’.

Well, yes, the truth is out there. But as Scully was also fond of reminding Mulder, so are lies. And the Glocke is almost certainly one of these. The UFO world is riddled with fantasists and liars, some of whom are government agents apparently on a mission to spread misinformation. I think this is to destabilise the UFO milieu and stop them getting too close to real secret military aircraft. There’s the case of a civilian contractor working near one of the US secret bases, who became convinced that it really did contain a captured alien, with whom he was communicating over the internet. It seems he was being deliberately led up the garden path and pushed into madness by two air intelligence operatives, who first fed him information apparently supporting his views, and then told him it was all rubbish. It’s a technique known in the intelligence world as ‘the double-bubble’. They lead the target first one way, pretending to be whistleblowers, and then tell them it’s all lies, leaving them confused and not knowing what to believe.

Some UFO sightings are almost certainly of secret spy aircraft, including balloons. The Russians also encouraged belief in UFOs as a spurious explanation for secret space launches from Kapustin Yar, their main rocket complex. I also think that some of the stories about crashed UFOs, secret Nazi research were disinformation spread by the superpowers to put the others off the scent. The extraterrestrial hypothesis was only one explanation for UFOs after the War. It’s been suggested that when Major Quintillana said that the US had captured a flying disc at Roswell, he was deliberately trying to mislead the Russians and hide what had really come down, which was a Project Mogul spy balloon. Friends of mine are convinced that the Russians were similarly running a disinformation campaign about Soviet official psychical research in the 1970s. A number of western journos were given tours of secret Russian bases where experiments were being conducted into telepathy, telekinesis and so on. Some of the more excitable American generals were talking about a ‘psychic cold War’. One of the most bonkers stories I’ve heard was that the Russians were supposed to have developed hyperspace nuclear missiles. Instead of passing through normal space, these rockets were to be teleported to their destinations by trained psychics, rather like the mutated navigators folding space in the David Lynch film of Frank Herbert’s Dune. The hacks who followed up these stories found the secret bases were actually bog-standard factories. Workers told them that their places of work had been briefly taken over by the government, new rooms constructed, and a lot of strange equipment put in which was subsequently taken out. It looks very much like the Russian government believed it psychic research was all nonsense – hardly surprising for an officially atheist regime committed to philosophical materialism. The whole point of the exercise was to convince the Americans it worked, so they’d waste their money going down a technological and military blind alley. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Polish intelligence agent at the heart of this claim had been engaged on a similar project. Or perhaps he was just lying on his own time.

As for fantasists and yarn-spinners, well, I believe the Montauk project is one prize example. This was the subject of a series of books published in the 90s by two Americans. They claimed there had also been a secret time travel project based on, you guessed it, Nazi research. I think it also involved evil aliens and whatever else was going round the UFO world at the time. Kevin McClure and the Magonians were highly suspicious of it, not just because it was bullsh*t, but because it also seemed to glorify the Third Reich. They suspected the authors of writing far-right propaganda.

The Montauk project also appears to be partly based on the Philadelphia Experiment. This was the claim that during the War the Americans had conducted an experiment to render warships invisible to radar using magnetism, following Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. This had gone seriously wrong. The crew of the ship under test suffered terrible effects. Some burst into flame, another walked straight through a bulkhead before the ship itself vanished. The story was later turned into a time travel movie of the same name in the 1980s.

Was it true? Naaah. Although I’ve seen it in various UFO books, the claims seem to come down to one man. I’ve forgotten his name, but someone who knew him wrote in about him to the Fortean Times. The man had been his uncle, an alcoholic and spinner of tall tales, who had precious little, if anything, to do with science or the military.

It looks to me very much like the Glocke antigravity time/space machine is yet another of this myths or pieces of disinformation. I don’t think it was ever built, and the Polish intelligence officer who claimed it was, was a liar. As for the authors of the subsequent books and articles claiming its all true, no doubt many of them are sincerely genuine. But it doesn’t mean they’re right.

And some of the people pushing the Nazi saucer myths are real Nazis, seeking glorify the regime through sensational claims of secret technology and bases in the Canadian far north, Antarctica and the Moon. They do it to enthral people with the glamour of Nazi technology to divert attention away from the real horrors it perpetrated.

I’m sure most of the people, who believe in Nazi UFOs are decent people, who are genuinely appalled at the atrocities committed by Hitler and his minions. But there are Nazis out there trying to manipulate people, and that’s the danger.

Nazism and Fascism need to be fought and any claims of Nazi superscience or occult power critically examined, even if it seems to be harmless nonsense.

Vox Political on Farage’s Insult to Jo Cox’s Husband and Smear of Hope Not Hate

December 20, 2016

Mike’s put up a post commenting on Nigel Farage’s bigoted, insulting and possibly libellous comments about Brendan Cox, the widowed husband of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, and the anti-racist, anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate, on Twitter and LBC radio this morning. The former generalissimo of UKIP was talking about the murder this morning of 12 shoppers and the wounding of another 48 in Berlin’s Christmas Market, when they were deliberately mown down by a truck. This is being treated as a terrorist attack, and a Pakistani immigrant to Germany has been arrested.

Farage commented that this was ‘no surprise’ and that ‘events like these will be Merkel’s legacy’.

Brendan Cox tweeted back that blaming politicians for the actions of extremists was a slippery slope.

To which the Fuhrage gracelessly responded on LBC that Mr Cox ‘would know more about extremism than me.’

He also said of Hope Not Hate and similar organisations that they “masquerade as being lovely and peaceful but actually pursue violent and very undemocratic means”.

Hope Not Hate has responded:

“We are aware of a serious and potentially libellous statement made about HOPE not hate by Nigel Farage on LBC radio this morning. We have no idea on what Mr Farage bases his outrageous comments. HOPE not hate has a proud history of campaigning against extremism and hatred. We will not be making any further comment until we have had the opportunity to consult with our lawyers.”

Mr Cox simply replied with the commenter ‘Haters gonna hate.’

Mike makes the point that Jo Cox was killed due to the bitter political divisions created by the Brexit referendum, which no-one wanted except a few Tory backbenchers, who threatened to block David Cameron’s programme of legislation. Mike also states that Brendan Cox’s comment on Farage blaming Merkel could be interpreted as warning that this blamed the victims, including his own wife, Jo, for their murders.

He also makes the point that Farage’s attack on Hope Not Hate is probably not at all coincidental, given that the organisation has been attacking UKIP for its perceived racism.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/12/20/nigel-farages-comment-about-jo-coxs-widower-shames-us-all/

Hope Not Hate have also issued this statement, and are appealing for donations.

This morning, on LBC radio, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage launched an outrageous attack on us, on Brendan Cox, husband of murdered MP Jo Cox, and by association on everyone who believes in HOPE not hate. Our lawyer has just sent Farage a letter demanding he retracts and publicly apologises or we will begin legal proceedings against him.

https://donate.hopenothate.org.uk/page/contribute/farage-to-court

Farage’s comments are disgraceful, as Mike points out. Brendan Cox certainly does have more personal experience of political extremism than most people, simply through losing his wife in a savage act of assassination carried out by one, Thomas Mair. Even though he disagreed with Cox’s views on immigration, simple human decency should have led Farage to choose his words with far more tact, rather than indulge in what could be construed as a dismissive sneer.

I am not surprised by Farage’s sneers directed at Angela Merkel. From my own experience, many UKIP supporters despise Merkel passionately because of her decision to give the million or so immigrants from Syria and North Africa, who broke into the EU last year, sanctuary in Germany. It’s part of the bitter anti-immigrant stance and rhetoric that has led Hope Not Hate to target UKIP as an extremist party, despite the efforts of its leaders, including Farage, to distance themselves and play down its connections to the blatantly Fascist parties.

As for his comments about Hope Not Hate being violent and undemocratic, it is fair to say that some anti-Fascist activists and organisations are violent. Some of the clashes between Fascists and anti-Fascists were caused by the anti-Fascists attacking first. I have not, however, seen any evidence that Hope Not Hate has ever encouraged or been responsible for physical violence. My impression has been that it uses legal, constitutional means to combat racism and Fascism. This includes the democratic right to express one’s political views through peaceful marches and demonstrations. It has shown itself willing to use legislation to combat Fascist and racist organisations. This can be controversial, as many people do feel that legislation against hate speech contradicts the right to express political opinions, no matter how vile. On the other hand, such legislation is designed to stop the hatred and vilification of minorities, that leads to more serious, violent crimes such as the assassination of Jo Cox and the organised persecution of ethnic minorities, such as the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. It’s why the German Basic Law forbids anti-democratic parties and organisation, and the country has very strict legislation banning the display of Nazi insignia. I also think that Merkel’s grant of asylum in Germany to so many of the refugees last year was also part of her country’s genuine attempts to show that it has put the Nazi era firmly behind it, and is now a pluralist, multicultural democracy like other western nations.

This is an attitude that many Kippers don’t share. And Farage’s comment about Merkel shows that he shares the same bigotry towards Muslims as Donald Trump, viewing them simply as potential terrorists.

The mass murder and malicious injury of 60 people in Berlin this morning is an horrific crime. But it is also disgusting that Farage should use it both to sneer at the victims and spread his own hateful intolerance.

Newt Gingrich Wants to Introduce Thought Crime for Muslims

July 17, 2016

Here’s another video from The Young Turks, discussing another step in the downward path of American politics towards authoritarianism and repression. After the horrific terror attack in Nice on Friday, Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representative under George Bush senior and Clinton, and Trump’s possible Vice President, has finally decided that the First Amendment shouldn’t apply to Muslims. He made a speech declaring that Muslims, who believe in sharia law should not be allowed into the country. Those who do, madrassas that teach it, and Muslims, who look up jihadist websites, should be expelled.

John Iadarola, Bill Mankiewicz and Jimmy Dore talk about how undemocratic this is. They point out that this is thought-crime, like the absolute control by the state of people’s opinions and ideas in Orwell’s 1984. Gingrich also stated that this should apply not only to Muslims, but to people with Muslim backgrounds. They also point out he want to criminalise people, who go to hardline Islamic websites no matter how much time they spend there. Cenk Uygur, one of the other anchors, is from a Turkish Muslim background, and they have all looked at hardline Islamist websites while doing research for news stories. Therefore, Cenk and they would be expelled under Gingrich’s legislation. They also point out that America is should be in no danger of having a theocratic government, as the Constitution stipulates that America is a secular state. Furthermore, that looseness with which that part of the legislation is framed would permit anyone, to have someone they disliked deported simply by hacking into their computer or sending them a link on their email. If someone wanted to get rid of a noisy neighbour, they could rickroll them with a link to an Islamist website, and whoa! The next thing that person’s on the plane.

Muslims themselves constitute less than three per cent of the American population. They also point out that if you ask immigrating Muslims if they believe in sharia government, they will deny it simply to get in, even if they do believe it. Furthermore, he points out that many American Christians also want a Christian theocratic government. They also state that a Muslim spokesman for one of the American thinktanks has stated that there are too many people, who know nothing about Islam, telling Muslims what their faith should be. Dore compares the Islamic sharia to Roman Catholic canon law, the body of religious law that governs the Roman Catholic church and its believers faith and practice. He claims that canon law in effect sanctions the abuse of children, because the church claimed that all the priests guilty of the crime would be punished according to canon law, when they were let off. Dore also wonders how many Muslims know about sharia law, considering very few Roman Catholics in practice know about canon law. The Turks also cite an unnamed atheist, who said that he considered American Muslims westernised, and so not the threat that the Right believes they are.

After coming out with this very hardline attack on American Muslims’ civil rights, Gingrich gave another interview backtracking somewhat, and claiming that he had a been misrepresented in the media storm that followed. He then claimed that devout Muslims, who were loyal to America, should have their rights absolutely protected, along with those of their children and other relatives.

Here’s the video.

In fairness to those, who do fear the imposition of sharia law, there have been instances in recent American history where a cult has tried to take over a community and turn it into a theocracy. The last time this occurred was in the 70’s and 80s, when one of the Indian gurus tried to take over a town in Oregon and turn it into a theocracy, ruled by his cult and followers. It failed, because the traditional townspeople resisted and invoked the Constitution. This was, however, one of the New Religious Movements based on Hinduism, rather than Islam, and I haven’t heard of Muslims, or mainstream Hindus either, for that matter, trying to anything like that.

The German counter-terrorism legislation did provide for the immigration authorities to question Muslim migrants if they believed in theocratic government. This is because the German system has government as the Basic Law as its fundamental article of state. This was introduced as part of the denazification programme after the War, and bans any party or organisation that does not recognise democracy. It was invoked in the 1970s to ban the National Democrats, a Neo-Nazi outfit, and then in the 1990s to ban an Anarchist review and a range of Anarchist organisations. However, a few years ago, the Week reported that the Germans were considering removing questions about support for sharia government from the immigration forms, because Muslim immigrants would lie about their support. Quite simply, it didn’t stop terrorists entering the country. I also think they were going to drop it because the question was itself anti-democratic, and they were afraid that heavy-handed policing tactics like this were alienating German Muslims, and driving them towards the Islamists.

As for the question of Roman Catholic canon law and Islamic sharia law, this has been an issue in parts of Canada. I think there was a movement up there in certain provinces, which recognised Roman Catholic canon law and Jewish Beth Din courts as legally recognised authorities governing the faith and practice of those religious communities. This became intensely controversial when a Canadian Muslim wanted sharia law and courts also recognised. He was challenged by a number of organisations, including associations of female former Muslims, who were deeply concerned about the treatment of women under Islamic religious law. I don’t know, but I think the situation may have ended with the Canadian government repealing the legislation granting secular legal authority to all religious courts, regardless of which religion, they belonged to.

I have to say that Gingrich’s comments simply look to me like another embittered, racist Republican trying to compete with Trump, whom The Turks point out is the master of stupid racism. They point out that the Republicans now appear to be a stupid, cartoonish party, and that the only thing they have going for them is that they are competing against Shrillary. All this is true, but displays of prejudice like Gingrich’s and Trump’s are serving to chip away further at the American traditions of free speech and tolerance. They are acting as an endorsement to the increasing racism, and there is a real danger that such intolerance will turn more Muslims towards militant, intolerant forms of Islam as a response to the hostility shown to them by mainstream society.

Germany, the Rise of the Nazis and the Commemoration of the

March 30, 2016

Terror Topography

I think yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day, when the world, or at least, Europe gathers to remember Hitler’s extermination of the Jews in the hope that the commemoration of this most appalling of atrocities will never be repeated. There was a piece about on the radio today, in which one woman pointed out that Hitler felt he could go ahead with it with impunity because the Allies in the First World War had made no move to prevent or protest against the genocide of the Armenians by the Turks. Hitler himself asked, ‘Who remembers the Armenians?’ And so the world remembers the Holocaust in order to prevent it ever recurring.

I’ve blogged a lot about Nazi crimes and atrocities in eastern Europe in the past few days. As I said, I’m not trying to stir up resentment against the Germans, but to show how authoritarian Britain and the other countries are going as our constitutional freedoms are sacrificed in the interests of national security and the surveillance state. I’ve also blogged about the Nazi persecution and mass-murder of the Slav peoples of eastern Europe, particularly because Fascism and the Far Right is also growing over there. No-one with any self-respect should have anything to do with any Fascist or Nazi party, and especially not the Slav peoples, such as Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Belorussians, Ukrainians and Russians. After the Nazis had conquered their countries, the Nazis intended to deport them from an area extending from part of Poland into the Ukraine and Russia. 30 million Slavs were to be slaughtered, and the rest were to work as slave labourers cultivating agricultural produce for their German masters. About seven million people were rounded up to work as slave labourers in Germany, while another seven were forced to work for the occupying Nazis in their countries. Himmler compared the process to the Western European occupation and colonisation of Africa. He declared that eastern Europe ‘was our Africa, and the Slavs are our negroes’.

I don’t believe that the rise of the Nazis was inevitable, or that it was the natural culmination of German history. Indeed, in the 19th century there was less anti-Semitism in Germany than in France or England, and some of the pseudo-scientific elements of Nazism – the perverted racial theory and eugenics, were part of the general intellectual climate in the West at the time. The Nazis boasted that they had invented nothing. They based their own eugenics legislation on contemporary American laws intended to prevent the biologically unfit from breeding, while their 19th century predecessors in the various anti-Semitic organisations also based their demands for legislation separating Jews and gentiles on American laws governing Chinese immigrant workers.

Nor did all Germans quietly acquiesce as the Nazis seized power. In the last democratic elections held before the Nazi seizure of power, the Nazis themselves only won 44% of the vote. They only gained a bare majority through their alliance with the Nationalists, who only polled 8%. And this was after a campaign of intimidation throughout Germany and the banning of the German Communist Party, the KPD. The mainstream German Socialist party, the SPD, continued to resist the Nazis until the very end. They only lost a single seat, and ended up with 120 in the German parliament. The Catholic Centre Party, another of the major pillars of the Weimar coalition governments, actually increased the number of seats they held by three to 73. In the end, however, it was only the SPD, which voted against the Enabling Act. Otto Wels read out the SPD’s gave the party’s farewells to the previous era of Human Rights and humanity and gave its good wishes to political prisoners and the enemies of the regime, who even then were being rounded up and put in the camps. The address’ conclusion ran:

At this historic hour, we German Social Democrats pledge ourselves to the principles of humanity and justice, of freedom and Socialism. No Enabling Law can give you the power to destroy ideas which are eternal and indestructible. You yourself have declared your commitment to Socialism. The Socialist Law [of 1878] did not succeed in destroying Social Democracy. From this new persecution too German Social Democracy can draw new strength. We send greetings to the persecuted and oppressed. We greet our friends in the Reich. their steadfastness and loyalty deserve admiration. The courage with which they maintain their convictions and their unbroken confidence guarantee a brighter future.

There have been problems after the War with the persistence of Neo-Nazi groups, like the National Democratic Party and the German Republican Party. There has also been the injustice that many Nazis did escape and were not prosecuted for their crimes against humanity. And one of the complaints by some foreign writers was that the collective guilt about the Nazi past made many Germans unwilling to discuss it with their children, leaving some unprepared when they encountered it and its legacy.

On the other hand, the Germans have enacted legislation to protect democracy against the rise of totalitarianism. Under the terms of the Basic Law, the Grundgesetz, the only parties and political movements which are permitted are those which recognise the basic principles of democracy. And it has been invoked to ban neo-Nazi movements, most notably in the 1970s when it was used to outlaw the National Democrats. And there have been exhibitions and books discussing the Third Reich, its rule through fear and intimidation, and commemorating its victims.

One such is the book at the top of the page, Topographie des Terrors: Gestapo, SS und Reichssicherheitshauptamt auf dem >>Prinz-Albrecht-Gelaende<< Eine Dokumentation, ‘Topography of Terror: Gestapo, SS and Reich Security Main Office at the >>Prinz-Albrech-Site<< A Documentation (Berlin: Verlag Wilmuth Arenhoevel 1988)'. This was published as part of an exhibition following negotiations about the redevelopment of the site and the commemoration of its past as the headquarters of the Nazi security organisations in 1979/80. Mike brought my copy of the book back with him when he went there with his old college.

The book has the following chapters:

Introduction.
1. Headquarters of the SS State: Addresses and Institutions.
2. History of that party of the City and the Building.
2.1 A quite district on the City’s Edge (1732-1880)
2.2 The Quarter’s Career.
2.3 Departure and Crisis

3. Institutions of Terror
3.1. The Reichsfuhrer of the SS and his Reich
3.2. Seizure of Power and Early Terror
3.3 The Secret State Police
3.4 The Reichfuhrer-SS’ Security Service
3.5 Reich Security’s Main Office
3.6 ‘House Prison’ and Political Prisoners (1933-39)
3.7 ‘Protection’.
3.8. Concentration Camps.

4. Persecution, Annihilation, Resistance
4.1 The Fate of the German Jews 1933-38.
4.2 The Fate of the German Jews 1939-45
4.3 The Fate of the Gypsies.
4.4. Nazi Rule in Europe – Poland
4.5 Nazi Rule in Europe – the Soviet Union
4.6 Nazi Rule in Europe – Other Countries
4.7 Political Resistance and ‘House Prison’ (193945)

5. From Destruction to Rediscovery
5.1 Bombs and Rubble
5.2 The First Year after the War.
5.3 History Made Invisible.
5.4 The Return of the Repressed.

6. Appendix
6.1 Bibliography
6.2. Abbreviations
6.3 Lists of Texts
6.4 Lists of Illustrations
6.5 Register of Names.

Among the illustrations are the following pictures of the Reich’s atrocities.

Concentration Camp Labour

Forced labour at Neugamme Concentration Camp

Roll Call Sachsenhausen

Roll-call at Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

Deportation of Gypsies

Gypsies being deported.

Kaunas Pogrom

Pogrom initiated by members of Einsatzgruppe A in Kaunas/ Kowno.

In addition to the well-known opponents of the regime, many ordinary Germans also risked their lives to rescue the Jews. Some 5,000 Jews survived in Berlin after being hidden by gentile friends and neighbours. One Jewish woman left this memoir of how she was hidden by a Germany lawyer.

I was constantly sent for by the Gestapo. In 1942 these interrogation sessions became even more threatening and therefore went underground. In the middle of May 1942 I went to Silesia and stayed in several places without officially registering myself. I lived in Breslau, Gleiwitz, Hindenburg, in the countryside and Spahlitz (in the district of Oels). It was here that I remained hidden for months at the house of a German lawyer … (Later after I was arrested this brave amn had another Jewish woman hidden in his house)…

(Wiener Library, Eye Witness Accounts, PIIc, no. 153. In D.G. Williamson, The Third Reich (Harlow: Longman 1982) p. 95.

The horrors of the Third Reich need to be remembered, but so too does the heroism of the people, who did their level best to stop, and at least save those they could from its barbarism.

Co-determination and Workers in the Boardroom in Germany

April 18, 2014

Factory Elections

Elections for the Factory Council in Germany

I’ve posted up a few pieces about industrial democracy and worker’s control in Yugoslavia and in the former Soviet Union under Lenin. Capitalist West Germany also has a similar system of co-determination in which members of the workforce are represented in the boardroom in a system of factory councils, thus creating the ‘constitutional factory’.

The system is described in the book, Tatsachen Uber Deutschland: Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Facts about Germany – The Federal Republic of Germany’) (Munich: Bertelsmann 1985). This is my translation of some of the relevant passages.

…..

Human self-determination is indisputably valid as the foundation of our social order. It results from the constitutional guarantee of the right to the free development of the personality. It would contradict this image of self-determined people, to regard the worker merely as a component of a system of production, who is solely determined by the interests of capital. Starting from this basic thought, he far-reaching unity exists today that that the aims of the enterprise must be stamped with the interests of the working people, and that the workers’ democratic say in the matter must be heard, when the entrepreneur’s decisions, touch on their vital interests. It has been attempted to do justice to these demands and concede to the workers, legally secured, a considerable measure of co-determination in the factory.

The factory council law of 1920, that first created this possibility of setting up elected representatives of workers and employee in all factories, stood at the beginning of this development. The young Federal Germany made a great step in the direction of employee co-determination in 1951, when it set in force the so-called ‘Coal, Iron and Steel Co-Determination Law’, which granted employees in the large enterprises of the coal, iron and steel industries considerable rights to co-determination, as well as the co-staffing of the organs of management. The Factory Constitutional Law of 1952 provided the employees of nearly all industries co-determination rights in nearly all factories in social and personal matters, and a hearing with in economic decisions. The second factory constitutional law of 1972 brought substantial improvements, above all for the employees’ representatives. This was considerably reformed in the comprehensive co-determination law of 1976. With all these laws the idea of the ‘constitutional factory’, which still appeared as a utopian dream a few decades ago, becomes a reality in the Federal Republic of Germany. The Basic Law’s principle of the social state is filled with life in an important area.

The Factory Council

the most important arrangement for the representation of the employees’ interests in the factory is the factory council. It is elected by all employees over 18 years old. Foreign employees are also entitled to vote and be elected. Everyone entitled to vote can equally stand as a candidate, whether or not they belong to a union. In practice, however, and above all in the larger factories, the unions have a considerable influence in the composition of the candidate lists. The number of members of the factory council is determined by the size of the enterprise. Its term of office lasts three years. As an employer could be tempted to dismiss an ‘uncomfortable’ member of the factory council, the members of the factory councils enjoy a stronger level of protection from dismissal during their time in office and for a year afterwards. The members of the factory council normally practice their office outside of their professional work. Only in the larger factories must a member or several members of a factory council be exempted from their professional activities.

The officials, employees and workers of the Civil Service equally have a representation of their interests, the personal council, whose tasks and powers resemble those of the factory council.

The Rights of the Factory Council

The factory council has multiple rights, above all in social and personal matters. In some things it must be heard, in others it can co-operate, and in some particular matters it finally has a real right of co-determination. ‘Real’ co-determination means that the employer cannot make decisions without the agreement of the factory council. If they cannot come to terms, an agreement office makes the decision, put together from equal numbers of the representatives of employers and the factory council as well as an impartial president.

Without the agreement of the factory council, the firm’s management are not allowed, for example, to arrange any overtime, short-time work, control clocks or introduce other control equipment, issue contract or premium rules, and give notice to vacate company accommodation. The factory council can even compel vacated or newly created positions to be first advertised within the factory.

The factory council cannot stop the dismissal of a fellow worker. They must be heard before every dismissal, and have a right to reply within certain limits. If they reply and themselves make a complaint, they are to be employed until the tribunal’s decision. If the employer plans the dismissal of a large number of workers, they must inform the factory council in time. This then has the right to demand the drawing up a ‘social plan’, that ameliorates the negative aspects for those affected. For example, a settlement, or the costs of removal, would be paid to them.

Also, where the factory council only has a right to a hearing, it can very frequently achieve improvements for the workers through skilful negotiation. In practice the factory council and the employer only rarely stand opposed as irreconcilable opponents, but work together, as the law expressly demands – and strive for sensible compromise.

The individual employee, apart from their electoral rights to the factory council, has rights, which could be called the ‘Innerfactory Basic Rights’. They have the right above all to be informed of the type of job and the arrangements for the termination of work; to demand information on the remuneration of work and the calculation of wages; to inspect their personal acts; and to complain if they feel discriminated against or unjustly treated. In most cases the employee is allowed to draw on a member of the factory council.

Co-determination in Large Factories

The factory council has no influence on the economic management of the enterprise. It is above them only in having a certain compass to inform, and only that in factories with over 100 employees.

There is, however, economic co-determination in various forms in almost all big factories. In the German Federal Republic more than half of large enterprises are joint-stock companies. German joint-stock companies have two management premiums: the supervisory board as supervisory organ and the board of directors, which conducts current business. From 1951 onwards a third of the members of the supervisory board in every joint-stock company must be elected representatives of workers and employees. This rule is valid for small and medium joint-stock companies (up to 2,000 employees), and also today in certain other legal forms for enterprises with 500-2000 employees.

There are, however, two special co-determination regulations for big businesses. In the large enterprises of mining, iron and steel production, with over 1,000 employees the so-called Iron, Steel and Coal Co-determination Law has been applied since 1951. According to this law, one half of the supervisory board is occupied by representatives of the investors and the other by those of the employees respectively. Both sides must then agree on a further, neutral member. A work director must be a member of the board of directors as a fully-qualified member, who cannot be elected against the voices of the employees representatives in the supervisory board.

For the big businesses of the remaining industries, which have more than 2,000 employees, the general co-determination law of 1976 is valid. In this law, which encompasses around 500 enterprises in all branches of the economy with the exception of the coal, iron and steel industries, and the press, the regulations are more complicated. According to this, there is complete parity per capita between the sides of the shareholders and the employees. But in cases of a tied vote, the voice of the chairman decides, who cannot be elected against the wishes of the investors. Furthermore, at least one representative of the ‘managing employees’, meaning an employee with management functions, must belong to the supervisory board on the side of the workers. The unions would have preferred it, if the co-determination law for the coal, iron and steel industries, which has stood the test of time over three decades, would have been extended to the remaining large factories. But the same have succeeded with legislation, which sees it as a too sweeping limitation of the basic constitutional right to property. The employers’ federations are of the opinion, that in this form the law places too strongly places narrow limits on property rights, and raised a constitutional complaint. The Federal Constitutional Court referred the complaint back and declared that the Co-determination Law is consistent with the Basic Law. The co-determination of workers has proved to be a stabilising element for the economic and social order of Germany. This order depends not least on the readiness of all parties to working together more fairly. The possibility of active co-creation increases the workers’ and employees’ motivation to work and thereby strengthens the efficiency of German industry.

______________________

Composition of the Supervisory Board according to the Factory Constitutional Law

10:4 Investors to workers.

In the coal, iron and steel industry the proportion is 7:7 investors to workers with a neutral member.

According to the Co-determination Law of 1976

Investors to workers – 7:7 + 1 president with a deciding vote and 1 managing employee.

Forms of Co-determination and its Area of Validity

Co-determination after the law of 1976 – 4.5 million employees, large, joint-stock companies.

Coal, Iron and Steel Co-determination law – 0.6 million employees.

3rd Partnerships – 0.6 million, small joint-stock companies.

Interfactory Co-determination (Factory Constitution Law) 9.3 million, the remaining economy.

Interfactory Co-determination (Personal Representation Law) – 3.6 million, the Civil Service.

No co-determination – 3.4 million – small factories with less than 5 employees.

Rights of the Factory Council

Co-operation

Personal planning, dismissals, termination of employment, work arrangements, factory organisation, factory alterations, work protection.

Co-determination

Working time, principles of pay, holidays, social facilities, professional education, factory regulations, recruitment and promotion.

…..

This isn’t workers’ control, but it is a type of industrial democracy, giving the workers a voice in some of the decisions made by management concerning their pay and conditions. I don’t know if this legislation survived the administrations of Franz-Josef Strauss, Helmut Kohl or Gerhard Schroder, Germany’s answer to Tony Blair. Some of the functions of the factory council could be performed through a good trade union, if such things were still permitted in post-Thatcherite Britain. Nevertheless, it seems that German workers, at least the period from 1975 to the book’s publication a decade later, enjoyed a degree of legal protection and a presence in the boardroom that their British counterparts lacked. This is one lesson from our friends on the Continent, which we should learn, no matter what the narrow chauvinists in UKIP may shout to the contrary.