Posts Tagged ‘Buddhists’

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

September 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘I’ Report on Walkout by Left-Wing Labour NEC Members

November 27, 2020

Starmer’s attack on the Labour left and his drive to centralise authority around himself and the Blairites continues. On Tuesday the left-wing members of the party’s NEC staged a Virtual walkout at an online meeting in protest against Starmer’s imposition of Margaret Beckett as chair. Starmer’s action had breached party rules stating that the position was elected. The I published a piece about this, ‘Left-wingers ‘walk out’ after Beckett wins NEC chair’ by Harriet Line and Alan Jones in its edition for Wednesday 25th November 2020. This ran

Members on the left of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee staged a digital walkout in protest at the election of veteran MP Dame Margaret Beckett as chairwoman.

In a letter to the party’s general secretary, David Evans, a dozen NEC members said the “longstanding protocol” of the vice-chair being elected as chair was not being followed.

They said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had lobbied for Dame Margaret to be elected to the position, and accused him of “promoting factional division within Labour”.

The members staged a Virtual walkout from the NEC’s “away day”, which was being conducted via Zoom, yesterday morning.

In the letter, they said: “We believe the true reason for the leader lobbying for Dame Margaret, and indeed the reason that had been given by senior party MPs in private, is because the vice-chair, Ian Murray, was a signature to the previous correspondence sent to you seeking admonishment of the Leader.”

Signatories to the letter are believed to include the NEC’s outgoing chiar, Andi Fox, Mick Whelan, the Aslef general secretary, former MP Laura Pidcock and youth rep Lara McNeill, as well as Mr Murray. Ms Fox said the “disregard and disrespect for the left is something we could not allow.”

Some in the NEC had already expressed anger at Sir Keir’s decision to withhold the whip from Jeremy Corbyn, despite the body allowing him to return as a party member.

On Monday, Labour’s chief whip Nick Brown asked Mr Corbyn to apologise for claiming that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party was “dramatically overstated for political reasons.” In a letter seen by the PA news agency, Mr Brown said Mr Corbyn’s response to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission report caused “distress and pain” to the Jewish community.

This looks to me like Starmer trying to keep control of the NEC after a large number of people from the party’s left were elected. As for Starmer’s imposition of Beckett as chair, of course it’s not democratic. Starmer’s a Blairite, and Blair hated grassroots democracy in the party along with anything that smacked of traditional Labour values and policies. He did everything he could to centralise power about himself and the New Labour faction.

Corbyn’s comments about the exaggeration of anti-Semitism in the party for political reasons was absolutely correct, and he has nothing to apologise for. The actual incidence of real anti-Semitism in Labour was very, very low. In 2019 the party had the joint lowest level of anti-Semitism of all of them. And contrary to what we’re now being fed, anti-Semitism, like racism generally, comes overwhelmingly from the fascist and populist right. But the right-wing British political and media establishment exaggerated its incidence in Labour in order to smear Corbyn and his supporters. They took their cue from the self-proclaimed Jewish establishment – the Board, Chief Rabbinate and various other malign organisations – who don’t represent all of Britain’s diverse Jewish community by any means. These organisations just represent the United Synagogue and were not concerned with protecting Jews from real anti-Semitism as protecting Israel from criticism for its barbarous, inhuman treatment of the Palestinians.

The left-wingers on the NEC were entirely right to protest, especially as Starmer is continuing his abandonment of Corbyn’s genuinely popular policies. Policies that this country and its working people, Black, White, Asian, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist or pagan, desperately need.

But Starmer doesn’t want to represent them, only the interests of the elite and affluent, and the neoliberalism that enriches them.

The Jewish Labour Movement – Hardly Jewish, Not Really Labour

December 12, 2019

A few days ago the Jewish Labour Movement raised their heads again to have another pop at spreading the anti-Semitism smears. Despite all the glowing publicity they’ve been given and their constant assertions that they, and only they, represent Jews in the Labour party, the truth is the complete opposite. They don’t really represent Labour’s Jews. They’re not even really representative of the Labour party, and shouldn’t really be affiliated with it. But they do represent aggressive ultra-Zionism.

Let’s start with their membership. They are hardly a mass organisation. They’ve got at most 200 members, though it’s probably that the active membership is probably less than that. You don’t have to be Jewish to join. As a result, it’s been estimated that about 2/3 of their members are as Jewish as myself. You also don’t have to be a member of the Labour party, and some of them definitely aren’t, like arch-Conservative and Zionist activist Jonathan Hoffman.

The organisation is basically just Paole Zion – the old Zionist Jewish organisation refounded. This was moribund until 2012, when it suddenly received a massive injection of cash. The project to found the JLM was started in a coffee shop in Golders Green by a Zionist activist, who wanted to do so in order to protect Israel from criticism from Labour after the public outrage against the bombardment of Gaza. It’s a Zionist entryist organisation, which somehow claims that it represents all of Labour’s Jews, rather than a very small number.

There are other Jewish organisations that back Corbyn. Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewdas – with whom the Labour leader spent a Passove Seder the other year, to the outrage of the Board of Deputies. and the Jewish Socialist Group. But none of these are going to be interviewed by the Conservative, lamestream media, because they refute the story the media wants to push that Labour is institutionally anti-Semitic. Just like the media does not want to print the letters Corbyn has received from supportive rabbis and Haredi Jews, who appreciate the efforts he has put in on behalf of Britain’s Jewish community.

Corbyn isn’t an anti-Semite. The Jewish Labour Movement is almost a complete contradiction in terms. It is completely unrepresentative of the Labour party and its Jewish members. The media is lying to you to keep Corbyn out by any means possible.

Ignore the lies and smears. Corbyn is fighting for a country that works for all its people, whether they’re Jewish, non-Jewish, Black, White, Asia, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever. The Tories are only fighting for themselves and their extremely rich corporate donors and bosses.

Vote for Corbyn and genuine anti-racism.

 

Vox Political on the Workers’ Rights at Risk if Britain Leaves Europe

June 22, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political put up an interesting piece today, reporting the findings of an employment silk, Michael Ford, QC, to the TUC on the employees’ rights that could be lost if Britain leaves the European Union. These include regulations on working time, the rights that can be transferred from one employer to another if an organisation is taken over or outsourced; protection for agency workers; the current levels of compensation paid to the victims of discrimination; and the rights of the workers’ representatives to be consulted in the case of major changes to a company, such as in the recent negotiations over the fate of British steel.

And these are not the only rights that are at risk. Other rights are also, and that those that remain may only be enforced by British courts if Britain decides to leave.

Mike also points out that depending on the British courts to help you in a legal battle over your rights with an employer won’t be much help, as Michael Gove has cut legal aid.

#EUref: Forty years of progress on rights at risk for workers if Britain Brexits

Let’s be clear about this: while many people are worried about immigration, it’s employment rights that are really at the heart of this move. The Conservatives have always hated Brussels primarily because of the social charter and the protection it gives European workers, not just because, or even necessarily primarily because they consider it a threat to British sovereignty, as expressed in books like ‘The Abolition of Britain’ and similar scaremongering nonsense. Dennis Skinner in his autobiography makes the point that there isn’t any real freedom of movement within the EU. This is shown by the imprisonment of the refugees and other unfortunates in the migrant camp at Calais. Those foreign workers, who come to Britain are brought in by the big companies through gang masters. This is an important point. Skinner makes no secret in his book that he would like Britain to leave the EU, but not because of UKIP, whom he aptly describes as ‘turbo-charged Tories’. Skinner makes a good point. However, at the moment the only people behind the campaign to take Britain out of the EU are extreme right-wing Tories like Boris, Gove and Priti Patel. All of them wish to strip British workers of the rights to have them labouring like their counterparts in the sweatshops of the Developing World. All for the profits of big business. Patel and her fellow Tories made that very clear in the book Britannia Unchained.

Don’t be taken in. Immigration is actually an irrelevant diversion to the real issues driving the Tory Brexit campaign. It’s what Farage and the rest of this gang want people to think it’s all about, while the real reason they’re promoting Brexit is to deprive us all, whether we’re Black, White, Asian, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish or whatever, of our employment rights under European law.

Libertarian Socialist Rants on the Top 10 US-backed Atrocities and Brutal Regimes

April 30, 2016

Libertarian Socialist Rants is an Anarchist vlog on Youtube. Why I don’t agree with his variety of Socialism, the Libertarian Socialist has made some excellent videos making extremely incisive points about capitalism, state-committed atrocities and the vile state of politics and individual politicians in this country. In the video below, he goes through a list of what he considers to be the top ten atrocities and most brutal regimes supported by America. These are, in reverse order:

10: Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. This is interesting because it shows you what is rarely discussed, which is how awful the regime was against whom the Viet Cong were rebelling. And he’s fairly typical of many of the dictators on this list, with massive nepotism, brutal suppression of internal dissidents, including labour organisations, and persecution of Buddhists.

9. Agha Yahya Khan of Pakistan for his regime’s brutal war against Bangladesh.

8. The Shah of Iran.

7. Fulgencio Batista of Cuba, the dictator, who was overthrown by Castro.

6. Apartheid South Africa. This is also interesting for showing how far White South Africa was supported by Britain and a certain Margaret Thatcher, because it was a bulwark against the ANC, who were Communists. The pictures in this section show Thatcher stating that she wouldn’t impose sanctions, and the infamous right-wing song, ‘Hang Nelson Mandela’. Thatcher justified her refusal to impose sanctions by stating that the ANC were terrorists. However, what this video does not say, is that they were driven to terrorism only after repeated attempts to change the situation by legal means had failed. They started out in the 1950s by simply writing letters to the South African parliament urging change, the dismantlement of Apartheid and the enfranchisement of the Black population. It was only after these were repeatedly rejected, that they did what others do when the road of peaceful protest is closed to them, and turn to violence.

5. The Chilean coup which overthrew Salvador Allende and replaced him with General Pinochet. The video also shows how Thatcher’s favourite South American thug was supported by the economists of the Chicago school. These, explains, were all Chileans taught at the University of Chicago by Milton Friedman, the founder of Monetarism. When Pinochet came to power, Friedman paid the Nazi a visit to supervise the privatisation of Chile’s nationalised industries.

4. General Suharto of Indonesia, who massacred hundreds of thousands and committed crimes against humanity in a military crackdown against Communism. He received substantial support from the US, including Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Suharto then went on to invade East Timor, during the occupation of which 1/3 of the population were murdered. This part of the video shows a discomfited Clinton being asked about his support for Indonesia’s dictatorship by a gentleman of the press. Clinton comes towards the journo, repeatedly asking him when he’s going to get to the point. Slick Willy’s demeanour is smooth, but the hack clearly has got under his skin.

3. El Salvador. This starts off with the murder of the Roman Catholic Cardinal Oscar Romero, who committed the heinous and unforgivable crime of writing to the US authorities about what was being done to the people of this country by the Fascist dictatorship. This piece also includes accounts from the teenage kids, who were forcibly recruited into the regime’s death squads, and indoctrinated and brutalised using methods copied from the Nazis’ SS. None of this video is easy watching, but this section is particularly harrowing. Among other atrocities, the regime used to decapitate whole families, including babies.

2. Pol Pot in Cambodia. He’s on the list, because Kissinger helped them into power through a bombing campaign of the country. Intended to destroy Communism, it actually increased support. And once in power, the regime received covert assistance from the US and Britain.

1. Guatemala and the United Fruit Company. This describes the long history of the country’s domination by the American United Fruit Company, which was supported by various dictators. The UFC owned extensive banana plantations and had the concession of the entire east coast railway, forming a feudal ‘state within a state’. Liberal movements demanding reform, labour unions and pro-peasant organisations were banned and brutally attacked. And when Arbenz in the 1950s dared to extend the franchise and nationalised the UFC’s plantations, the American government organised a coup and overthrew him, all with the pretext that he was a Communist, who was going to turn Guatemala into a puppet state of the USSR to attack the US.

What I found particularly interesting in this segment was the piece from a US propaganda newsreel celebrating the coup with the headline title ‘Freedom Comes to Guatemala’. The announcers voice and accent are very much the same as that of the fake Internet newsreel messages in Paul Verhoeven’s 1990s version of Starship Troopers. Verhoeven grew up in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation, and the film is supposed to be a satire on militarism and Fascism, using as its vehicle the most militaristic of Heinlein’s SF books.

The section on Guatemala also covers the long war in the 1980s that was waged against the country’s indigenous peoples, and the brutalising effect this had on the country’s children.

And finally, there’s a section at the end where the Libertarian Socialist lists a few ‘honourable’ mentions. It’s so long that it has to be skimmed through at speed. He also quotes Team America: World Police, and concludes at the end that states and corporations are not moral actors and have colluding in committing the most appalling atrocities.

It’s a very, very good video, done pretty much in the style of Adam Curtis’ brilliant documentaries, but with the use of black humour in place of Curtis’ montage effects. Be aware, though, that this is a very grim piece. It describes the various tortures these regimes have inflicted on their opponents. As the standard warning goes, some viewers may find it upsetting.

Vox Political: Tory MP Calling for Britain to Support Saudi Troops Is Saudi Employee

April 21, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has put up a very interesting piece from The Canary, reporting that the Tory MP calling for Britain to provide air cover for a possible Saudi invasion of Syria, Mr Rehman Chishti, is also an employee of the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies. King Faisal, the Canary article points out, is the former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki bin al-Faisal, who bankrolled jihadist groups in Afghanistan. Chishti is also a channel for Saudi propaganda, such as their claim that the executed Shi’a leader, Shaikh Ali al-Nimr, was closely linked to Hezbollah. His only source for this claim was another person with close links to the Saudi government.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/21/tory-mp-calling-for-british-troops-to-risk-death-for-saudi-arabia-is-on-the-kingdoms-payroll-the-canary/

In fact, the terrorist links of the Saudis goes far beyond and is much worse than support for the Mujahidin in Afghanistan. The Saudis also provided extensive aid to ISIS, before Daesh turned on them and started issuing diatribes urging the desert kingdom’s subjects to rise up in revolt. There is a 28 page section of the official report into 9/11 that has been suppressed and remains classified. There is considerable grounds for speculating that this is because it points to the Saudis as being at least partly responsible for the biggest peace time attack on American soil. Not ‘the Jews’, not Saddam Hussein and Iraq, not Iran or anyone else, but the Saudis.

They are not our friends.

And we have absolutely no business giving them military assistance. They have been criticised for deliberately targeting civilians in their attacks on Yemen. They have bombed mosques, schools, workplaces and hospitals, seemingly simply to kill Shi’a, rather than because these have any military value. In Saudi Arabia itself, the Shi’a are heavily discriminated against. They live in villages without running water or electricity, with high unemployment. As with other non-Wahhabi religions, they may not have their own religious literature or build their own places of worship, in this cases, mosques. Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and other non-Muslims are also banned for practising their religion or bringing into the country their religious books.

Atheism is punishable by death. A little while ago, the Saudis declared that atheism constituted ‘terrorism’ under their criminal code. Simply being an atheist and discussing or seeking spread your non- or anti-religious beliefs is considered an act of terrorism, even if the atheist uses only argument and eschews violence. The secularist/ atheist news site on Youtube, Secular Talk, discussed this in one of their videos. They showed a clip of the Saudi foreign minister squirming uncomfortably while trying to justify this horrendous intolerance to a sceptical western journalist. His argument was simply that Saudi Arabia was an Islamic country, and anyone who challenged the Islamic basis of its government and society was therefore a threat.

This is truly a grotesque abuse of the term ‘terrorism’. Atheists, as well as other religious groups or philosophies, may challenge the Islamic nature of Saudi government and society, but they do not constitute ‘terrorism’ in and of themselves. Not unless they seek to spread their views through fear and violence. As Secular Talk’s host, Kyle Kulinski, pointed out, it’s the Saudi state that is the terrorist in this instance, as it’s using violence to suppress their religious and non-religious views of others.

And then there’s the Saudi’s attitude towards women. This is disgraceful. It’s illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, and various Saudi legal authorities have attempted to justify this by claiming that it’s somehow a threat to Saudi womanhood on some very peculiar grounds. Like saying that it’ll somehow damage women’s ovaries and make them sterile. Or that simply by driving unaccompanied, they’ll make themselves vulnerable to rape. That might be true, but if so, it’s an indictment of the misogynistic attitudes to women among some Saudi men, not an argument against women driving.

And apart from all this, there’s the issue of the virtual enslavement of the migrant workers, who provide the labour and domestic servants. The sponsorship system that the kingdom operates means that they have their passports taken away by their employers the moment they entire the country. They are forced to work for long hours, for low pay, in appalling conditions. Anti-slavery groups have also criticised western governments, like our own, for forcing domestic servants from Saudi Arabia to travel here on their masters’ passports, thus allowing them to keep them as virtual slaves. There’s a whole chapter on this, including the appalling case of one female servant kept by a Saudi family in London, in the book Disposable People. Published way back in the 1990s, this is a discussion of the re-emergence of slavery in the modern world. But be advised – it is not easy reading. Some of the accounts in it are very harrowing.

No British squaddie – no serviceman or woman should be asked to risk their lives and die for a state that doesn’t recognise democracy, nor tolerate their religious/ anti-religious views, or accept the basic freedoms taken for granted for women in western society. Saudi Arabia has accepted precisely zero refugees from Syria. You can see why not. Syria was a secular, ostensibly pluralist state, although the Sunnis were at the bottom of its society. It had large numbers of Shi’a, Christians and Druze, and the Saudis probably regard even the Salafi Sunni fundamentalists of being dangerously liberal. It was due to Saudi influence – not bin Laden’s, who opposed the policy – that al-Qaeda started massacring the Shi’a in Iraq. I am very much afraid that if the Saudis do invade, it will simply lead to an ever greater blood bath in that most ancient and historic state.

Never mind not giving the Saudis air cover. We should not be giving them armaments to fight the people of Yemen.

Republican Senators Attempt to Scupper Peace Deal with Letter to Ayatollah of Iran

March 12, 2015

This is another piece from The Young Turks that I found on Youtube. I’ve blogged recently about how the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Republicans in America have been criticising Obama because of his negotiations with Iran in order to stop them developing nuclear weapons. Netanyahu and the Repugs have been attempting to scare the American public by lying to them about how the Iranians are on the verge of developing nuclear weapons that can be launched at Tel Aviv, New York or Los Angeles.

It’s all lies. According to the international atomic energy authorities, Iran is not developing nuclear arms. Their nuclear research programme is doing exactly what the Iranians claim: it’s purely for domestic power production.

This, however, has not been good enough for the Repugs. A few days ago a group of 47 Republican senators, under the leadership of Tom Cotton, wrote a letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, stating that they intended making sure that any treaty between their nation and the Iranians would have no congressional ratification. Without this, it would merely be a presidential agreement, which they were also determined to modify or disregard completely in subsequent administrations.

Here’s the video giving The Young Turks’ take on the letter.

The Turks’ anchor, Cenk Uyghur, is absolutely right on this. It is outrageous, and borderline treasonous for the Republican to undermine the leader of their own nation simply on behalf of another country, regardless of whether that nation is Israel, Canada, Germany or Siam. Worse, these people actually seem to be campaigning for another war.

And Uyghur here makes another good point: the Neo-Con Repug leadership are all chickenhawks. None of them have ever fought in a war, and in fact most of them actively dodged the draft. Dick Cheney is a case in point. He had it deferred seven or eight times because he ‘had better things to do.’ There’s a long list in the book, Confronting the New Conservatism, of Dubya and the other Repugs who similarly squirmed out of serving in Vietnam. The book quotes Conservative critics of the Neo-Cons, including high-ranking military personnel, to show that they don’t understand the Middle East and deeply resent the diplomats, generals and senior officers that do.

And these people won’t be sending their sons and daughters to die out in the desert. The people who’ll do the dying will be spouses and children of Mr and Mrs regular American.

A few years ago there may have been an argument for a pre-emptive strike on Iran. Ahmedinijad was a millennialist, who believed that the End Times were upon us. He was part of a group of Twelver Shi’ah, who believed that the return of the Mahdi, the ‘Rightly-Guided’ Twelfth Imam, was imminent. The Shi’ah differ from Sunni Muslims in that they believe that Mohammed’s son-in-law, Ali, was the true successor to the prophet. Ali’s descendants were the Imams, who were the true spiritual guides and rulers of the Muslim community. The precise number of Imams venerated differs from Shi’ah sect to sect. Some believe that there were only seven. The majority of Iranians are Twelver Shi’ah, who believe that there were twelve rightly guided imams. The last imam went into occultation – that is, vanished from the world, after going to a well in the ninth century. Twelver Shi’ah believe that he will reappear to fight the forces of evil just before the end of the world.

Ahmedinijad was one of those, who believed that the twelfth imam’s return was imminent. He renovated the well at which the imam is believed to have vanished. Before then it was quite neglected, although it was a site of pilgrimage for some Shi’ah. It’s now been extensively restored and is the centre of a complex of religious buildings devoted to spreading the faith. Even liberal papers over here, like the Independent, were afraid that Ahmedinijad’s religious convictions would lead him to start another war in the mistaken belief that he was hastening the way for the return of the imam.

Ahmedinijad is not the only political leader to have dangerous millennial beliefs. Similar concerns were expressed in the 1980s about Ronald Reagan because of the way he surrounded himself with extreme right-wing Christians, who also believed that the End Times were upon, following Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth. They saw the millennial conflict as between America and the Soviet Union, representing the forces of Satan. And there was a similar fear that Reagan would start a nuclear war as part of a programme to hasten Armageddon and the return of Christ.

Ahmedinijad and Reagan are both gone, and the current elected Iranian leader rather more liberal. As I’ve also blogged, any attempt to avoid further war in the Middle East is well worth pursuing, given the bloody chaos that has resulted from the invasion of Iraq. Apart from the massive general bloodshed and loss of life that has resulted from the West’s invasion of Iraq, it has resulted in the religious cleansing and attempted extermination of Christians and other religious minorities, like the Yezidis, from their ancient homes by ISIS. Iran is already the eighth worse country in the world for its persecution of Christians. I don’t want it joining the North Korea, Somalia and Iraq as the very worst, just as I don’t want any more people, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Yezidi, Buddhist or whatever, to die just to enrich the multinationals and boost Netanyahu’s election chances.

America and Iran have a real chance of making the Middle East just a little bit more stable, and pushing the forces of death and war back just that little bit. It’s monstrous that it’s being scuppered by Repugs and their attempt to join forces with the hardliners in the Islamic Republic.