Posts Tagged ‘Bristol’

The CAA and the JLM are the Israel Lobby’s Version of the ‘Anti-Paki League’

February 24, 2018

The Anti-Paki League were another bunch of extreme right-wing racists, who goose-stepped up and down our green and pleasant land in the 1970s campaigning against coloured immigration, and terrorising Blacks and Asians. They had an ugly name, which exactly expressed the ugliness of the organisation. I first became aware of the Leagues existence when I saw a book on them in the former Midland Educational bookshop in Bristol’s Broadmead in the ’70s or early ’80s. The cover showed a crowd in Klan robes about to behead a prone and screaming Black man.

I’ve chosen the Anti-Paki League to focus on here, rather than other, larger anti-immigrant and racist organisation, like the National Front or BNP, because their name also carries with it undertones of Islamophobia. Pakistan is a Muslim state. It was explicitly set up to be the country where Muslims, who felt excluded by the dominant Hindus in India, could live in according with Qu’ran and the Sunna. Not all Pakistani immigrants are Muslim, however. Many of them have been Christians, who have left their homeland because of the increasing violence and intolerance of their Muslim compatriots.

And Islamophobia and connections to other, nakedly Fascistic British anti-Muslim organisations, run right through the Israel lobby and its organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Labour Movement. The racism and Islamophobia at the heart of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is very clear in its statement that Muslims are more likely than the rest of the British population to be anti-Semitic, whom they also smear as sharing the same Jew hatred.

As for the JLM, their head, Jonathan Newmark, an unconvicted embezzler from Jewish charities, if the allegations against him are true, turned up to disrupt a film on the sufferings of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, held at the SOAS university. They did so in the company of the Jewish Defence League, the Jewish branch of the Fascist English Defence League, screaming, hurling abuse and waving flags.

Mike’s been unfairly accused of being an anti-Semite, because the uncomfortable facts he covered about Shai Masot’s attempts to plot the removal and replacement of prominent cabinet ministers, which he rightly described as a conspiracy, was held to be an ‘anti-Semitic trope’.

Well, turning up to a screening of film to disrupt it by flag-waving racial nationalists is a Fascist trope. Since the time of Mosley’s BUF, the stormtroopers of the British Nazi right have used appropriated the Union Flag and other emblems of Britishness for their insignia and rallies. The National Front despised Mosley, but they adopted the same tactic to try to win over members.

And Fascists also aggressively disrupt anti-racist and left-wing gatherings, including films. The parallel to their JDL’s disruption of the film on the Palestinians that comes to my mind is the attack Christian Fascists in France in the 1920s made on the screening of Bunuel’s and Dali’s Surrealist film, L’Age d’Or. As Marxists, the Surrealists were extremely anti-religious with a bitter hatred of Christianity. The French Christian far right objected to the film because it showed a monstrance being thrown into a river, and ended with a group of skeletons lying on a rock wearing clerical vestments such as bishop’s mitres.

And the Israel lobby’s connection to mainstream British Islamphobic Fascism don’t end there. A few months ago Jonathan Hoffman, another prominent member of the Israel lobby was photographed getting very chummy with Paul Besser, the intelligence officer of Britain First, if ‘Intelligence officer’ in this context isn’t a contradiction in terms.

These are fake anti-racist organisations. They don’t exist to protect Jews from real anti-Semitism. They exist to defend Israel and its racist oppression of the Palestinians by pretending to defend Jews from anti-Semitism. And they do this by smearing Israel’s critics, including self-respecting secular and Torah-observant Jews, as anti-Semites.

They are Fascists. The CAA should lose its charitable status, and the Jewish Labour Movement, as a Fascist organisation, should be closed down. Real socialists and anti-racist activists should not be tolerating any racist organisation, no matter what it’s ethnicity is, in their party.

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CAA Chief Stephen Pollard Defends Tory Thug, Who Punched Girl Anti-Fascist Protestor at UWE

February 21, 2018

I’ve been watching Dick Coughlan’s video on YouTube, ‘Daily Mail Readers = Bonkers Mental Nazi Rapists’, in which Coughlan goes through the comments section on the on-line version of the Daily Heil, and shows you precisely why it’s got that nickname. Coughlan himself is very anti-racist and anti-Nazi, as well as pro-feminist and supports LGBT and trans rights. He’s put up a number of videos about the historical reality of the Holocaust, refuting the assertions of the various Nazis out there that it never happened. I’ve reblogged some of these here. And so it’s no surprise that the comments he reads out here are from Mail readers with extreme right-wing views ranting on about immigrants.

And one of them is Stephen Pollard, the head of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the foul group of liars that have libelled Mike as an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier.

Remember the fracas that occurred a few weeks ago when the Young Master, Jacob Rees-Moog – whom Coughlan says looks like Lord Snooty from the Beano – turned up to give a talk at the University of the West of England here in Bristol? A group of antifa were present to protest. Snooty, sorry, Mogg in 2014 attended a dinner of the far right Traditional Britain Group, which is very anti-immigrant, viciously anti-Muslim, and at least one of its members does have a fascination with the Nazis. They also want to sell off the NHS. When news of this was published in the Independent, Mogg issued a statement that he went ’cause he didn’t really know who were they were. They just issued him an invite, and so he went along. Well, that’s his excuse. I find it unconvincing. As other people have pointed out, you hardly go to a formal dinner of an organisation without knowing at least something about them. But the incident explains why the antifa were protesting him.

One of them, a young woman, shouted ‘Racist! Nazi!’ at Mogg as he walked past. One of Mogg’s Tory fanboys then stood in front of her and punched her in the mouth. He also tried to hit her again. Coughlan also makes the point that this character was also photographed wearing a Nazi uniform. This was at a fancy dress party, admittedly. However, you can’t hire Nazi uniforms from costume shops. You have to buy them online. This is another point Coughlan makes, which leaves it a good question about how much sympathy this thug really does have with the Nazis.

Amidst all the controversy, Pollard had a piece commenting on it published in the Heil. And guess what? He declared that the real Nazis were the left-wingers making accusations of racism.

This tells you all you need to know about Pollard and his grubby crew in the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Pollard and his comrades have zero interest in tackling real anti-Semitism. As has been pointed out by Tony Greenstein, he’s true-blue Tory Jewish establishment. The CAA’s website has little to say about real Nazis and anti-Semites, like the BNP and National Action. Nor is there much criticism of the Tories. There is far more criticism of the Labour party for alleged anti-Semitism. And it’s the CAA and its counterpart in the Labour party, the Jewish Labour Movement, who are responsible for pushing the anti-Semitism smears and libels.

And their metric for deciding who is an anti-Semite is risibly simple: it’s support for Israel. It doesn’t matter how right-wing someone is, if they support Israel, Pollard will appear and defend them as not anti-Semitic at all. Like he did the Polish government, despite the anti-Semitic character of several pieces of legislation criminalising blaming Poles for the crimes of the Nazis. Among those the Israel lobby has smeared as anti-Semites are self-respecting Jewish people, who have, or whose families have, suffered real anti-Semitic abuse and racially motivated assault. But because they have been critical of Israel and its seven decades long campaign of persecution of the indigenous Palestinians, Pollard and his cronies have libelled them as anti-Semitic.

And so this squalid, amoral liar defends the Tory thug, who punched an anti-racist protester, and smears her, and people like her, as Nazis. Because she and they are left-wing, and so a threat to the Tories and his own organisation. The CAA desperately needs to position itself as the leading organisation tackling anti-Semitism. They aren’t, not by a very long chalk. They’re only interested in anti-Semitism in so far as accusations of it can be weaponised against Jeremy Corbyn, Momentum and the true Labour moderates, to defend Thatcherism domestically and Israel abroad. And they are afraid of Antifa as these people challenge their appropriation of anti-racism and anti-Fascism.

As for Antifa themselves, the Christian minister, Harvard lecturer and left-wing activist Cornell West stated that it was them who saved him and the other people from across the faith and ethnic spectrum, including Jews, from being killed by the Alt-Right and Nazi stormtroopers in Charlotteville as they attended an interfaith service.

Pollard and the Jewish Labour Movement couldn’t care less for real victims of anti-Semitism. They just wish to stamp out criticism of Israel, and so will smear decent non- and anti-racists, including Jewish victims of racist assault, and defend right-wing thugs, in order to do so.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at Pollard defending a right-wing thug and attacking left-wing anti-racist activists. Jonathan Hoffman, a former president of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain, was photographed in the company of Paul Besser, Britain First’s intelligence office, when they were both out protesting against a Palestinian convention and expo in London.

Stephen Hawking to Play The Book in New Series of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

February 18, 2018

The I newspaper yesterday reported that the physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, is set to play the Book in a new radio series of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Entitled ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Hexagonal Edition’ the series will commemorate the original show on Radio 4 back in 1978, featuring the original cast.

I loved the original series of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the first two books based on the show, the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. However, I lost interest in it after the third book. I tried reading the fourth, only to give up. I think by that time Douglas Adams himself was growing tired of writing them. I’ve heard someone say on an interview that he was only lured back to write his last Hitch-Hiker book by the publisher’s promise that in it he could destroy every possible Earth in every possible universe. So I’m not sure I’ll listen to it, especially as the series is being carried on by other writers.

I also wasn’t impressed by Adams’ expressed contempt for the genre he wrote in. Back in the 1990s he was interviewed on the radio by Paxo, who said his book was Science Fiction, but different. It was good. Adams replied by saying that he didn’t write Science Fiction. Which is odd, because that’s what Hitch-Hiker is. But I guess Adams wanted to avoid being pigeonholed as a genre writer.

At that time the prejudice of the literary establishment towards Science Fiction and Fantasy was much stronger than it is now. I can remember seeing Terry Pratchett speaking at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, saying how the organisers looked on him as if he was going to talk to people about fixing motorcycles. There’s a clip of the BBC arts programme, The Late Review, in which the Oxford lecturer and poet, Tom Paulin, and a female litterateur are asked to review one of Pratchett’s books, where they both make very disparaging remarks. The woman states that she felt like writing across it in big lines ‘I cannot read any more’. Paulin compared it to lifting up a stone to find all these weird people doing weird things underneath it. And going further back to the 1950s Brian Aldiss commented in The Trillion Year Spree that at that time, despite being championed by Kingsley Amis, pornography had a better reputation than Science Fiction amongst the literary elite.

Pratchett had to fight against that literary snobbishness throughout his life, but is now being taken very seriously by critics. I think Adams avoided it. Back in the ’90s he and Hitch-Hiker were the subjects of one edition of the South Bank Show with Melvin Bragg. But perhaps the price of that critical acclaim was his denial that he wrote Science Fiction at all.

But other people are different, and so I’ve no doubt that there are millions of Hitch-Hiker fans out there, who will be delighted to hear the news. They know who they are. They’re the people, who bought merchandising, like the Hitch-Hiker bath towels. This was a large, white bath towel with the text from the HHGG talking about how every Hitch-Hiker really needed to know where their towel was on it. I found one of those in Forever People, the comics/ SF shop in Bristol. The show’s fans are also the people, who organised conventions with dubious names like ‘Slartibartday’, after one of the creators of the Earth, Slartibartfast.

Hawking is in many ways an ideal choice for The Book after the death of Peter Jones, who was its original voice on Radio 4 and then in the BBC 2 TV series. He already has an electronic voice to fit the character of an electronic book, and is a world famous space scientist and advocate of space colonisation. But you wonder how massive his ego will be after playing a publication, which the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy describes as, amongst some people, having displaced the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom.

Chunky Mark on the Tory Supporter Who Punched Female Protester at UWE

February 7, 2018

One of the big stories this weekend, apart from the Sunset Times and Robert Peston libelling Mike as a Holocaust denier, was about the violence at a meeting held by Jacob Rees-Mogg at the University of the West of England in Bristol. The story, as reported by the mainstream news, was that the Antifa assembled there had attacked and hit Rees-Mogg. In fact, as Rees-Mogg himself stated later, he hadn’t been attacked.

But there was violence. And the Skwawkbox revealed that later footage of the incident showed it started with one of Mogg’s own Tory supporters. This thug stood in front of a young woman holding a placard, and struck her in the face. He then continued to stand there menacingly, and I think may have tried to hit her again.

And it also appears that this same man has also on occasion thought it would be jolly good fun to dress up in Nazi uniform.

In this clip from Chunky Mark, the Artist Taxi Driver, he expresses his own anger and disgust at the incident, and the thug’s predilection for Nazi dress. He also criticises the Tories’ hypocrisy over the incident. They’ve made much of the violence by the Antifa in order to discredit the left, as it shows them as intolerant. In the meantime, none of the mainstream media have covered the attack by this character. It was done by the Skwawkbox as a piece of citizen journalism. And Brandon Lewis, David Gauke and other Tories have actually defended the thug, who hit the young woman. Chunky Mark also attacks the way they want to take this round the universities.

He states very clearly and loudly that the Tories have no policies, and are attacking those who do. This is the people, who fight for higher wages, against homelessness, for the NHS and against people dying in corridors. People who believe that another world is possible.

I’m not surprised that the Tories supporter, who punched the protester liked to dress up in Nazi uniform. A number of them were caught doing this several years ago in a series of scandals. And Private Eye reported several times that the late Conservative cabinet minister, Alan Clarke, used to describe himself as a ‘Nazi’. He probably wasn’t, but it shows the fascination the Third Reich and the Nazis have for a certain type of right-wing Conservative.

As for Brandon Lewis wanting to tour this round the universities, and pass legislation so that it’s impossible to criticise it, this refers to the government’s concerns about democracy on campus. The Tories are afraid that some of the groups at university threaten free speech. By which I think they mean the anti-racist, feminist and gay rights groups. I think they’re afraid of the strong position such groups hold on campuses throughout Britain, and want to attack them as part of a campaign to promote approved Tory values. It’s just part of their programme to change educational system to indoctrinate children and young people with Conservative views. Like Michael Gove tried to do when he was head of education a few years ago, and complained about schoolchildren getting the ‘Blackadder’ view of the First World War.

They’ve clearly realised that actually admitting that they want to promote Conservativism amongst students would sound bad, and so they’ve been trying to pass this off as a defence of free speech. But the only speech they’re interested in defending is for themselves. They really want to close down everyone else’s. And so they and their supporters in the press were busy promoting this story about Rees-Mogg and his supporters being attacked, and very carefully ignoring the fact that the violence was started by the Conservatives.

Vox Political Points Out that the Advisory Boards of the Samaritans and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism Are Stuffed Full of Tories

February 2, 2018

Mike published this very important article today, which throws the witch-hunt against the critics of Israel and the Israel lobby in the Labour party in a very harsh light. The Disability News Service revealed over a month ago in December that the Department of Health had refused to recognise that disabled benefit claimants were one of the groups at high risk of committing suicide. When this was pointed out to the Samaritans, the charity flatly refused to condemn the government.

Now the charity is facing controversy, not only for its failure to do so, but because of the probable reason why. Its board of management is stuffed full of Tories. Seven of its eleven members belong to the wretched party.
And it’s very likely the board of the faux anti-racist organisation, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, is the same. He hasn’t been able to find out who their board members are, but their patrons include the following true blue members of the corporate elite anti-working class hate squad: Eric Pickles, Matthew Offord, Mike Freer, Bob Blackman and Baron Ahmad. The others include a couple of Labour members and a crossbench peer.

This explains, no doubt, why the woefully misnamed organisation has attacked 40 Labour MPs, and only two Tories.

And Mike goes on to ask the question how many other charities have been similarly infiltrated by the Nasty Party. This is going to be a problem, as for an organisation to have charitable status, it has to be apolitical. And the Samaritans and the Campaign Against Anti-Israelism, sorry, Anti-Semitism, are all too political with the make-up of their governing organs.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/02/02/samaritans-advisory-board-crammed-with-tories-so-is-the-campaign-against-antisemitism-who-else/

This issue – of Tory, or corporate domination of charities, has been raised before. A few years ago Johnny Void posted on his blog how one mental health charity was vigorously promoting the mendacious, unscientific rubbish that work is good for those with psychological problems – take the advice of someone who’s been there: it ain’t – not least because their directors included a corporate shill, who was behind the policy and who looked forward to the charity getting lots of government contracts to administer their scheme.

It doesn’t surprise me one iota that the Tories dominate the Samaritans. I dare say that the gentlemen involved genuinely wish to stop people taking their own lives. As do very many others not connected with the Tory party. But they get on the board, because they’re the establishment, and establishment contacts are always good for private organisations, whether industry or charities.

Way back in the 1990s I worked for a few weeks for a charity for elderly in Bristol as a voluntary worker. I walked out one Wednesday evening and handed in my resignation because I didn’t like the way my supervisor spoke to me as if I was a mere underling and incompetent. I was later told by a friend that a lot of ordinary charity workers were doing exactly what I did. The charities have a policy of recruiting their management from industry. And these managers are used to kicking around paid staff. They don’t know how to treat ordinary people, who are devoting their time and energy gratis. And so they have a high staff turnover, because people are sick of getting abuse from management for work they’re doing literally out of the kindness of their hearts.

As for the Campaign Against Anti-Israelism, sorry, Ant-Semitism, this has never been against anti-Semitism per se. As Mike’s pointed out very many times on his blog, citing Jewish academic experts on anti-Semitism, that it is about hatred of Jews as Jews. That’s how the ant-Semites, who coined the word themselves defined it in the 19th century. The word was invented by Wilhelm Marr, the founder of the Bund Antisemiten in late 19th century Germany. And he made it clear it was hatred of Jews for biological, racial reasons. It didn’t matter to him whether they were observant, religious Jews, or members of another faith, or whatever. What mattered to these proto-Nazis was that they were racially Jews.

But it does matter to the Israelis and their supporters and puppets in fake organisations against anti-Semitism, like the Campaign and the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion. They’ve tried to expand the definition of anti-Semitism so that it specifically includes criticism of Israel. In the case of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, it’s because the charity was set up in 2014 after its founder was shocked to discover that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza was reviled and condemned by the majority of severely normal Brits. The standard Israeli response ever since the 1970s and no doubt many decades before that, is to smear any critic of Israel as an anti-Semite. They have to be, ’cause it’s the only Jewish state. Thus very decent gentiles have been smeared, who have campaign ardently against racism, including the abuse and maltreatment of Jews. And Jews have been particularly singled out for such smears, in terms which would be anti-Semitic themselves if they were uttered by non-Jews. It’s because Zionism was always a minority position amongst most Jews, and the last thing these bigots and race hucksters want is for more people to wake up and see that an increasing number of Jews, including young people, who’ve suffered anti-Semitic abuse and violence themselves, despise Israel for its maltreatment and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

The Blairites were keen to make those accusations, because Tony Blair received much of his funding from the Israel lobby through Lord Levy. They’re now worried because Momentum and the real Labour moderates are in the ascendant, and so are trying to use any stick to beat them. And the Tories have been madly pro-Israel since Thatcher.

Lurking somewhere in the Tory support for Israel there’s a nasty whiff of bog-standard British imperialism. Whatever the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, AIPAC or the other pro-Israel groups say to the contrary, Israel is a White settler society. Its leader stated very clearly that this was the case, before decolonisation made imperialism unacceptable. Then they started lying about how it was movement of national liberation against the occupying Arabs. The vast majority of Zionist settlers were Jews from Europe and America. Ashkenazi Jews are still the dominant class in Israel today. And they despised the Mizrahim, Jewish Arabs, or Arab Jews, as racially and culturally inferior. They were segregated in different schools, in case their oriental manners and attitudes contaminated respectable White settlers, and given the dirtiest, poorest paid work to do. Discrimination against them was and is widespread.

While the British Empire is very much a thing of the past, some Tories seem to hanker for the days when Britain could and did conquer and colonise other nations. Way back when the war in Afghanistan was just starting, there was an article by right-wing historian Niall Ferguson in the Heil which made this very clear. It started reasonably enough by defending the Allied invasion as a response to 9/11, but ended with Ferguson looking forward to the Americans settling the country. It was, at least to this reader, a naked apologia for imperialism. Sheer undisguised imperialism, not dressed up as nation building, or the neo-colonialism of the trade tariffs and IMF recommendations to struggling developing nations. But real colonialism.

Mike’s right. It’s time to bring the curtain down on the Tory domination of charities. The Tory connection to the Samaritans has done disabled people immense harm and injustice by preventing the organisation recognising and condemning the way Tory welfare policies are driving disabled people to suicide.

And the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is strongly political. As well as not condemning the Tories, it also has little to say about the real Fascist groups, who do want to exterminate or harm Jewish Brits. But that’s not why it was set up. It was set up to defend Israel from criticism. And it’s frightened of Corbyn because he’s pro-Palestinian. But not, as I understand, anti-Israel, though you will never hear that from this pack of liars, bigots and frauds. They’re part of the true-blue, official, Conservative Jewish establishment.

And woe betide anyone one, no matter how anti-racist, whether Jew or non-Jew, who dares to break their party line. It won’t matter how many scars their victims have had fighting the storm troopers of the BNP or National Action. It doesn’t matter if the Jews they pick on are Torah-observant or secular, but self-respecting. Nor if they themselves have been abused and beaten by the real anti-Semitic thugs. Simply for condemning Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians automatically means that they’re all anti-Semites in the twisted thinking of these frauds and their political allies.

It’s time to end this charade. Get the Tories out of charities, and get the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’s charitable status revoked. They aren’t a charity: they’re a party-political pressure group, and should be condemned as such.

Radio Programme on Sylvia Pankhurst’s Support for Ethiopia against the Fascist Invasion

February 1, 2018

There are a number of programmes next week marking the centenary of the passage of the Representation of the People Act, which gave some women the right to vote. One of the most interesting of these looks like a programme on Radio 4 on Monday, 5th February 2018, at 8.00 pm, Sylvia Pankhurst: Honorary Ethiopian. The brief description of it in the Radio Times runs

Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst got involved in the Ethiopian cause following its invasion by Italy in 1935 , and would later be recognised as an honorary citizen and given a state funeral. Here, Helen Pankhurst explores her grandmother’s role in the fight for Ethiopian independence.

Bristol and Bath have a connection to Ethiopia’s struggle for independence, as those cities were the home of Haile Selassie’s children during the War. They used to go to Victoria Park, though I think this was the one in Bath rather than Bristol.

There were some western intellectuals, who sided with the Italians during their invasion. One of these was Lady Kathleen Simon, who wrote a book on slavery. The Ethiopian emperor, Menelik II, had formally ended slavery in the country, but slaving still went on. British officers like Major Darnley, the author of Slaves and Ivory, complained that Ethiopian slavers were crossing the border to abduct the indigenous peoples of Uganda, then very much part of the British empire. His book was an account of his undercover mission into Ethiopia and a description of the way various provinces had been devastated by slave raiding by the Ethiopian aristocracy. It was partly written as a piece of polemic. Darnley was incensed that the authorities were taking no action against the slavers, and that in fact an area in Uganda around the border with Ethiopia had been declared a ‘no-go zone’ to British personnel. At the end of his book he argued that we should invade and conquer Ethiopia in order to halt their raiding into British territory, as well as the horrors of slavery and the slave trade in Ethiopia itself.

I don’t think Darnley supported the Italians, but Simon certainly did. At the end of her book, entitled simply Slavery, she also discusses Ethiopian slavery and slave raiding, and praises the Italian invasion as she believed that it would put a halt to it. I don’t think Mussolini had much of an interest in slavery, if any. He was far more keen to build a mighty new Roman empire. And issues like personal freedom certainly were very much not the concern of the man, who invented totalitarianism. Still, Simon’s book shows how some members of the British aristocracy supported Italian Fascist imperialism for ostensibly liberal motives.

Virgin Trains Bans the Daily Mail – Right-Wing Heads Explode!

January 15, 2018

Last week Virgin Trains announced that at least on one of the lines they operated, they would no longer carry the Daily Mail due to customer complaints. Immediately the Mail and its legions of followers started frothing at the mouth and complaining of censorship. But they don’t really have any basis for complaint, as the ban by Virgin is part of the very capitalism and privatisation that their heroine, Maggie Thatcher, promoted.

As a private firm, Virgin is under no obligation to anyone except to turn a profit for its shareholders and bloated paychecks for its board members. Thatcher deluded herself into believing that privatisation would lead to better services, due to the action of market forces and competition. But this didn’t happen. We’re paying more now in subsidies, for a worse service, than we did under British rail. But this hasn’t bother the Tories, whose ideological commitment is for private industry to run everything, even when this would produce a manifestly worse service, as it would if and when they decide to go all out and privatise the Health Service completely.

But as a private firm, ‘Beardie’ Branson can do whatever he likes with it. It’s his property. And so, by the nature of property rights, the Tories can’t argue against what he’s done. It is censorship, yes, but it hasn’t been done by the state. It’s been done by a private individual, whose right to do what he likes with his property has always been regarded by the Tories and the Republicans in America as absolutely inviolable. Branson is free to decide whatever magazines his trains will, or will not carry, in the same way that newsagents can decide which papers to stock. Way back in the 1980s I tried to order the English version of Pravda, which was then coming out, from my local newsagents in my part of Bristol. No such luck. I was told that Bristol had been divided up between the two national distributors. One operated to supply the newsagents in one half, while the other operated in my area. And the distributor that supplied the newsagents in my area wouldn’t carry it. So I had absolutely no choice whatsoever. Private enterprise had decided that where I was, I couldn’t obtain Pravda. Just as Branson has now decided that the Heil will be unavailable on his trains.

Yes, the decision makes a mockery of Thatcher’s constant mantra that privatisation and private industry would bring more ‘choice’. It hasn’t. But this has been the result of privatisation generally. People have been left with a plethora of companies, all actually providing a worse service than when the utilities were nationalised, and for many people choice is actually an illusion. It doesn’t matter who you go to, you’re still paying very large amounts for services that arguably aren’t worth it. If you want an example, think of the privatised dentists. Thanks to Thatcher’s decimation of the dental service back in the 1980s, there are now few dentists taking NHS patients. The dentists that have gone private charge fees that, for many, make going to them unaffordable. Yes, you can change dentists, looking around for a cheaper service, but unless you find an NHS dentist, you’re still going to be charge very high fees. So from that perspective, you don’t have a choice. And the same applies to the railways and other public services taken over by private contractors.

Secondly, Branson was responding to ‘market forces’. This was the other buzzword of the Thatcherites. The operation of the market was held to be good, just and a guarantee of commercial efficiency and success. Capitalism won over socialism, because socialism took no account of market forces. There’s some truth in that when it’s applied to completely socialised economies such as those of the Communist bloc. But as we’ve seen, various capitalist firms have since failed, and then had to be bailed out by the taxpayer. If you just have market forces as your guide, then these firms, which now include Carillion, should be allowed to go under because of their failure to respond to what the market wants. But instead the right demands that we bail them out, because it’s private enterprise and so can’t be allowed to fail. It’s why the corporatist capitalism ushered in by Reagan and Thatcher has been called ‘socialism for the rich’, as the state is always required to support them, while denying welfare services and healthcare to those genuinely in need.

As for Branson’s ban on the Heil, he was responding to market forces. People had complained about the Heil, and as the service provider, he responded to what his customers wanted. The Mail, which has vociferously and consistently fallen over itself praising Thatcher to the rafters, cannot complain. Thatcher stood for market forces, and market forces have dictated that Virgin’s customers don’t want the Daily Mail. So it’s just too bad for them that Virgin trains will no longer be carrying it. There’s also an element of hypocrisy here. If Virgin had said that they wouldn’t carry what remains of the left-wing press in Britain – the Mirror, the Groaniad or the I, the right-wing press, including the Heil, would be delighted. This shows that the great British public despise the left and its journalism, they would announce proudly. But now that the great British public, or at least that section of it that travels by train, have decided that they don’t want the Mail and its hate and bigotry travelling with them, the Tory press has been screaming ‘censorship’.

Yes, Virgin’s ban on the Daily Mail is censorship, but it’s been done because of the nature of capitalism, Thatcherite ‘choice’ and ‘market forces’. Except that in this case, they haven’t acted to empower the right, but attack it.

Books on Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean Archaeology

December 30, 2017

A few months ago I got through the post the 2017 archaeology catalogue for Eurospan University Presses. Amongst some of the fascinating books listed were several on the archaeology of Black communities in America and the Caribbean. As you’ll see, they’re at prices well beyond what ordinary readers can afford. They’re really available only to the rich and academic libraries. If you’ve got access to one near you, then I recommend you try to borrow it from there. Some universities do lend to members of the public in the summer holidays when most of the students have gone home. It might also be possible to get it on interlibrary loan, although this can also mean a long wait and isn’t cheap either. The last time I enquired about it at Bristol, I was told the price was £5 per book. Which means that if you want to borrow more than one, it can become very expensive very quickly. Dam’ Tories and their cuts! I don’t know, but it may also be that some of these books may be available in PDF form over the Net at a cheaper rate. This isn’t mentioned in the catalogue, but it might be so. Alternatively, you could see if there are secondhand copies on Amazon. On the other hand, it might be worth waiting to see if a paperback edition comes out, which may be cheaper.

Here are the books I found interesting, and the blurbs for them in the catalogue.

Archaeologies of African American Life in the Upper Mid-Atlantic, edited by Michael J. Gall & Richard F. Veit
9780817319656 Hardback £74.50

Provides insights into the archaeology and cultural history of African-American life from a collection of sites in the northeastern US. This volume explores the archaeology of African-American life and cultures in the Upper Mid-Atlantic region, suing sites dating from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries.

University of Alabama Press.

Before the Pioneers: Indians, Settlers, Slaves and the Founding of Miami, Andre F. Krank, 9780813054513, hardback £18.50

Formed seemingly out of steel, glass, and concrete with millions of residents from around the globe, Miami has ancient roots that can be hard to imagine today. This work takes readers back through forgotten eras to the stories of the people who shaped the land along the Miami River long before most modern histories of the city begin.

University of Florida Press.

Honoring Ancestors in Sacred Space: The Archaeology of an Eighteenth Century African Bahamian Cemetery, Grace Turner, 9781683400202, hardback £79.50.

Throughout life, black Africans in the Bahamas possessed material items of various degrees of importance to them and within their culture. St. Matthews was a cemetery in Nassau at the water’s edge – or sometimes slightly below. This project emerged from archaeological excavations at this site to identify and recover materials associated with the interned before the area was completely redeveloped.

University Press of Florida.

The Rosewood Massacre: An archaeology and History of Intersectional Violence, Edward Gonzalez Tennant. 9780813056784, £84.95.

Investigates the 1923 massacre that devastated the predominantly African American community of Rosewood, Florida. The author draws on cutting edge GIS technology, census data, artefacts from excavations, and archaeological theory to explore the local circumstances and broader socio-political power structures that led to the massacre.

University Press of Florida.

Simplicity, Equality and Slavery: An Archaeology of Quakerism in the British Virgin Islands, 1740-1780, John M. Chenoweth, 9781683400110 hardback, £79.50.

Inspired by the Quaker ideals of simplicity, equality, and peace, a group of White planters formed a community in the British Virgin Islands during the eighteenth century. Here, the author examines how the community navigated the contradictions of Quakerism and plantation ownership.

University Press of Florida.

These books sound very interesting. There have been a lot of research into the homes and communities of Black Americans over the past couple of decades. They’ve been excavated in New York, and also the slave communities owned by the Founding Fathers, like Benjamin Franklin. In the case of excavating cemeteries, it’s obviously a particularly sensitive area, and the archaeologists involved have obviously had to be particularly careful in their negotiations of the host Black community and the surviving relatives of the deceased. As you should when excavating any human remains.

From what I gather from reading elsewhere, cemeteries and burial grounds are of particular importance in Afro-Caribbean culture, where it’s associated not only with personal heritage and family history and identity but also occupation of the land.

I remember correctly, the 1923 Rosewood massacre was White supremacist pogrom against the Black community in Rosewood, their politicians and their White supporters and allies. This was before McCarthyism, when the American Left was still very strong, and the Republican party the more left-wing of the two main political parties. The town’s mayor was Black, and the town council included Socialists. Even the Republicans issued a statement condemning the treatment of the poor, the corrupt corporate politics keeping them there, and declaring healthcare and education a right. Obviously the Conservatives and the Klan really couldn’t tolerate that, and stirred up resentment until it boiled over into organised violence.

As for the Quaker plantation in the British Virgin Islands, the Quakers very early denounced and condemned slavery as fundamentally opposed to their principles. John Fox, the sect’s founder, denounced and by their laws no member could own slaves. Nevertheless, the acceptance of slavery was so deeply ingrained in European society, that its rejection was not easy for many to accept. And although they were condemned from owning or dealing in slaves, some Quakers did make their cash through supplying the slave ships. If you want to know more about the Quakers, their ideals in this period, then I recommend you read David Dabydeen’s history of the Quakers in the 17th and 18th centuries, Sugar and Slaves.

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

December 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a few panels.

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

Care UK in Bristol Offer Private Operations for those Wanting to Jump NHS Queues

December 5, 2017

This piece of news was reported in the Bristol Post yesterday. Care UK, the private healthcare provider, which runs some services on behalf of the NHS in Emerson’s Green in Bristol, was sending out material to GPs, including price lists of operations up to £9,000. The company was hoping to encourage them to get people to go private for a number of simple operations, so that they could jump NHS waiting lists. The paper noted that there was a long waiting time at Emerson’s Green for operations.

This naturally outraged GPs and organisations dedicated to preserving our embattled NHS, and much of the article was comments from them attacking this latest attempt by private enterprise to run down the Health Service. Those defending the NHS and protesting against Care UK’s actions made the point that this was very much part of the general ‘direction of travel’ that the government has been following in its policy of privatising the NHS.

Mike put up an article a few days ago reporting on the latest Tory wheeze to privatise GP services, using much the same trick. This involves a special line you can use, where, for £40, you can jump the queue to be seen by a GP. Mike stated, very clearly and entirely accurately, that this was against the principles of the NHS, and was about setting up a two-tier health service.

Of course it is. All these private services violate the founding principles of the NHS that healthcare should be universal and free at the point of service. Maggie Thatcher wanted to privatise the NHS completely, but was prevented by a cabinet rebellion. She did, however, have the goal of making 25 per cent of the British population take out private health insurance. Peter Lilley and John Major introduced the Private Finance Initiative, because they wanted to open up the NHS to private investment. Meaning they wanted private enterprise to run hospitals, clinics and so on.

As did Tony Blair and New Labour – the right-wingers in the Labour party, who are now telling you that Jeremy Corbyn is too left-wing and unelectable. And David Cameron and Theresa May have been just as determined to privatise the NHS. Under the terms of Andrew Lansley’s 2012 healthcare act, the secretary of state for health is no longer responsible for making sure that everyone has access to state healthcare. And the Tories have deliberately arranged the reforms to allow healthcare providers to charge for services. Again, this is a violation of the fundamental principles of the NHS.

Enough’s enough. It’s time the Tories were thrown out of government, and parasites and profiteers like Care UK out of the NHS. Jeremy Corbyn has promised to renationalise the NHS. If there was only one reason why Britain needs him and Labour in government, this is it.