Posts Tagged ‘Business’

History Debunked Questions Johnson’s Britishness

January 12, 2022

Oh ho! This is very amusing. The Tory party has always positioned itself, at least since the 19th century, as the party of Britishness. If you listen to its supporters and propaganda, it’s the party of the British constitution and the union, protecting our ancient liberties and defending our great nation from plots and attacks by evil foreigners. Historically this largely meant the French, but today means the EU and Scots Nationalists. Under Maggie Thatcher this nationalism became particularly shrill. The 1987 Tory election broadcast showed Spitfires zooming about the sky while an excited voice told us that ‘We were born free. It’s our fundamental right’ and ended with ‘It’s great, to be great again!’ Political theorists who’ve read, or at least heard of Rousseau could correct the first statement. At the beginning of his book, The Social Contract, which became one of the founding texts of the French Revolution, Rousseau said: ‘Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains.’ Which is probably not something Thatcher wanted said about her government. As for being ‘great again’, this was the period when Thatcher was selling our state industries off to foreign investors, destroying trade unions, cutting unemployment and other welfare benefits and trying to find ways to get people to take out private medical insurance instead of relying on the NHS. She would have liked to have privatised that, but was prevented by a massive cabinet rebellion. At the same time she was using her ‘strong state’ against striking miners and anyone else she thought was an evil Commie subversive while at the same time propping up truly evil Fascist dictators abroad. Like the brute General Pinochet, responsible for the murder and torture of 30,000 people in his native Chile. The country’s present grinding poverty and crumbling infrastructure are all a result of her policies. The identification of the Conservative party with Britishness was so loud and crass that, reviewing the election broadcast on Radio 4’s The News Quiz, the late, much-missed humourist Alan Coren referred to the planes as ‘the Royal Conservative Airforce’. I also remember one of the Observer’s columnists referring to the Tories as ‘the patriotic party’.

But now aspersions have been cast on the Britishness of the Tories’ leader and current head of the country, Boris Johnson. Simon Webb of the History Debunked YouTube channel put up a piece yesterday asking ‘How British Is Boris Johnson?’ This speculated that Johnson carries on the way does because, quite simply, he isn’t really British. He was born in New York, and is of mixed Turkish and American ancestry. He is also part Jewish, which is one reason why I’m not going to put the video up here. One of the elements of the genuine anti-Semitic conspiracies is the allegation that Jews aren’t really patriotic citizens because of their international connections and foreign ancestry and relatives. They have frequently been accused of being ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ with no real connection or loyalty to the gentile peoples among which they settle. It’s a poisonous allegation that has resulted in the murder of countless innocents and encouraged the formation and growth of Fascist organisations and parties like the Nazis. The vast majority of British Jews are as British as everyone else. And before the Second World War, the vast majority of Jews wished to remain in the countries of their birth, to be accepted as patriotic fellow citizens by their gentile countrymen. It’s why the leaders of the British Jewish community during the First World War actually opposed the Balfour Declaration. They did not want the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine nor anywhere else, as it could lead to the accusation that their loyalties were divided. And they weren’t. They were, and wanted to be seen as, patriotic Brits.

But there is a kind of irony in Boris Johnson, a pukka old Etonian, and true-blue Tory being accused of not being British enough.

And I think Webb has a point, though not in the sense he means. At the heart of the right-wing ranting and suspicion about the ‘globalists’, supposedly plotting to create an evil, Satanic one-world Communist state, there’s an element of truth. Regardless of their nationality or ancestry, it appears to me that the global superrich really are forming a separate international class whose loyalty is primarily to themselves and not to the people below them, even if these people are of the same nationality. You can see that in the way the Tory grandees and those like them move their capital around the world, investing in countries on the other side of the world while making pay and conditions worse over here and cutting benefits. As far as I know, Jacob Rees-Mogg is thoroughly British in his ancestry. He also projects a caricatured, right-wing image of Britishness very much like his nickname of ‘Lord Snooty’. He also backed Brexit, which was supposed to be another patriotic gesture in which Britain took back her sovereignty.

In fact Brexit has wreaked massive harm to our economy, disastrously cutting British firms off from continental markets and suppliers. The deals we’ve made, or are trying to make, with the Americans, Australians and New Zealanders are to our disadvantage, whatever the Tory mouthpieces say to the contrary. And the response of Rees-Mogg and the superrich like him amply demonstrate where their loyalties lie. Even before Brexit, Mogg had invested in companies in the far east. And when he was urging everyone to vote to leave the EU, he was moving his own financial interests to Eire. This was to pick up on all the EU business he would otherwise have lost if they’d remained centred in Britain. Which is, to me, another example of Tory hypocrisy.

Back in the 19th century Disraeli declared in his books Coningsby and Sybil that Britain was divided into two nations, the rich and poor, who had no knowledge or connection with each other, and demanded that this should be remedied. They’ve been talking about ‘One Nation’ Toryism every since. This is done by leaders like John Major, Michael Howard, David Cameron and so on, and is supposed to show that they are from that branch of the party that still has some paternalistic regard for those below them. The same people talk, or used to talk, about ‘caring Conservativism’. This is all the while doing what Tories always do – cut benefits, wages, and employment conditions and make it easier to sack people. All while manipulating the stats to persuade people that this is actually working and that they’re somehow better off.

Tony Benn in one of his books said something about the British ruling class regarding the lower orders as indeed like a foreign nation. Thinking about the Britannia Unchained mob, he had a point. This was the book written by a group of Tory MPs, including the smirking insult to decency, Priti Patel, that said that for Britain to compete in the global market, British workers must endure the same terrible conditions and wages as those elsewhere in the world, like India. A similar view was put forward by a former Lib Dem MP for Taunton Deane in Somerset. I’ve forgotten who he was, but I do remember his appearance on the local news. Introducing him, the interviewer stated that he came from a family of colonial administrators and governors. This strongly suggests to me that, deep down, he regarded British people of all colours in the same way his family had regarded the Africans and other indigenous peoples they governed.

And going back back to the 1920s, George Bernard Shaw attacked the Tory claim that they and the rich represented Britain and her interests in his book The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism by pointing out that the rich spent much of their time and money abroad, and preferred to invest in firms in the colonies using cheap indigenous labour. And this still remains absolutely true. One of the problems with Britain’s banking system is that its investment banks are geared to putting money into commonwealth rather than domestic industries.

At a fundamental level, Boris Johnson and the rest of the Tory elite really don’t have any connection to the Brits below them. It’s not because of their ancestry. In my view, they’re the same whether they’re completely British by descent. It’s because they are part, and see themselves as part of an international industrial and political class, who move their businesses and investments from one country to another without concern for how this affects their fellow countrymen. All the while trying to deceive the rest of us by yelling about their Britishness and British values.

Johnson and the Tories aren’t British patriots, except at the crude level of repeating nationalist slogan and anti-immigrant attitudes. Ordinary Brits are foreigners to them, like the low-waged workers in other countries they also seek to exploit.

Local Bristol MP Karen Smyth’s Reply to Concerns about Privatisation of Channel 4

January 10, 2022

Just before Christmas there was the news that the Conservatives, as part of their war on state broadcasting and any network that didn’t follow their line and serve as their propaganda outlets, were going to privatise Channel 4. I wrote to my local MP for south Bristol, Karen Smyth, and received the following kind reply.

‘Thank you for contacting me about proposals to change the ownership model of Channel 4.

I am also concerned about this proposal, and have written a joint letter to the Secretary of State, along with the three other Bristol Labour MPs, to ask that the Government urgently reconsider these proposals. Great British TV belongs in the UK, and I do not wish to see Channel 4 lost to the highest bidder.

For nearly four decades, Channel 4 has created an endless list of brilliant, progressive and world-leading programmes. I believe it is a British success story which was established to provide distinctive output and to drive forward growth in the independent TV production sector, and it has far exceeded these goals. In addition, its sharp, challenging, diverse and entertaining programming does very well in appealing to a wider and younger audience.

The Government has said that now is the time to strengthen public service broadcasters, and that the consultation is to ensure that Channel 4 has a viable and sustainable future. It argues that changes in advertising will put its funding under pressure, as Channel 4 is paid for by advertising, and that it needs to adapt because of competition from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

I believe that this misses the point, as Channel 4 was created to be different, diverse and daring, and to champion the under-represented voices of this country. It does not need to spend millions of pounds to compete, it needs to do what it does best and create fundamentally British content that speaks to and represents British audiences.

In my view, these proposals would also be catastrophic for the creative industry, particularly here in Bristol, because of Channel 4’s investment in the sector and in regional television and production. The investment in regional creative industries – which Bristol fought hard to secure – is supporting local businesses and independent production companies and must not be jeopardised by an ill-considered change of ownership or model.

Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue. I can assure you I will continue to call for Channel 4 to be protected. 

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth MP
Labour MP for Bristol South’

I am very glad indeed that she shares my concerns and wishes to oppose the privatisation. I think she’ll do it, as she does come across as a woman of principle and integrity, even if she is on the Labour right. But I don’t trust the bureaucracy or the inept, vindictive, factionalist leadership of Keef Stalin to do the same, however.

Scab Starmer Refuses to Fill Employment Rights Shadow Post

December 1, 2021

This is very telling. Mike’s put up a piece this morning reporting that Keef Stalin has effectively abolished the post of Secretary of State for Employment Rights. The post was created in 2018 by Jeremy Corbyn, who appointed Laura Pidcock to it. Andy McDonald has been removed from it and so the post is now vacant. The peeps on Twitter weren’t slow to condemn the move and point out what it means. Damian Willey tweeted

Starmer hasn’t filled the vacant position of Shadow Minister for employment rights. The ‘party of the workers’ doesn’t represent workers rights on its own frontbench anymore. Perhaps he’ll appoint a shadow minister for donors, its what Keith prefers.

Which is fair comment – Stalin is ignoring ordinary, subscription-paying Labour members in order to appeal to the corporate donors he hopes will welcome the return of a New Labour government. And Steve Howell commented

It sums up Starmer’s politics that he’s cancelled the post of shadow secretary of state for employment rights. Presumably, it’s not needed because ‘when business profits, we all do’.

Actually, I think it’s significant that Starmer hasn’t abolished the post. It’s just kept vacant and ignored. My guess is that if someone actually raises it, he’ll try and justify himself by saying that no, it hasn’t been abolished, they’re just looking for the right person to fill, or some nonsense like that.

With the position now vacant, Mike asks what the Labour party now stands for. Good question. The party was founded as a federation of trade unions and socialist societies to fight for trade union rights and decent pay and conditions for working people. During the last four decades of Thatcherism, these have been decimated, including by Starmer’s molten idol, Tony Blair. Workers don’t need less rights – not when so many are caught and exploited in the gig economy with zero hours contracts and so on. But Starmer is clearly trying to appeal to that party of the Tory electorate that blames the unions and bureaucracy for stifling business and demands workers rights are cut even more in order to free business. Brown had the same attitude. He believed the labour market should be more fluid – by which he meant that business should be more able to hire and fire people. Well, we’ve had four decades of this assault on workers’ rights, and all it’s created is a cowed, poor, starving workforce, many of whom have to use food banks to support themselves because their pay is so rubbish.

These are the policies Starmer supports. He’s a Tory through and through, trying to transform Labour into another Tory party.

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Priti ‘Vacant’ Patel Plans Nazi Defence for Officials Causing Deaths of Migrants

October 14, 2021

Okay, my last piece was against anti-White racism and how the media really doesn’t like covering race-hate crimes against Whites. Which means that supposed comedienne Sophie Druker is able to get away with a stupid joke about Blacks wanting to kill Whites on a show last year hosted by Frankie Boyle, and has even won the Comedy Award because of it.

But now I have to cover the opposite racism against Blacks, Asians and other ethnic minorities. Mike’s put up a piece warning that our wonderful, loathsome foreign secretary, Priti ‘Vacant’ Patel, wishes to pass legislation making any official causing death to a migrant immune from prosecution. According to the Groan, this specifically means anyone pushing the migrant boats crossing the channel back out to sea. Mike’s called this abomination what it is: Nazism. It’s the defence used by the monsters who carried out the Holocaust and other atrocities committed by Hitler’s Third Reich: ‘We wuz only following orders!’

Mind you, what really, really seems to get right up the nose of right-wingers like Patel is when you call them ‘Communists’. Well, despite the obvious difference that Stalin had everything nationalised and the Tories would like to privatise everything they can, you can make the same comparison. Stalin killed 30 million Soviet citizens during his purges. This included the deportation of whole nations, such as the Chechens, and Russian minorities like the Cossacks to Siberia. He was a vicious anti-Semite and would have liked to have deported the Jews there as well. He set up a Jewish autonomous oblast (district) out there, but only a small number of Jews actually went. I remember watching a documentary on the deportation of the Cossacks in the 1990s. This was filmed by members of Leningrad University’s anthropology department, and simply consisted in a large part of the students and researchers sitting down and talking to the old folks who’d survived. It was understated but harrowing. People described cannibalism during the famine, boys running away from Hannibal Lecter’s all too real predecessors. School children dying of starvation en masse. One woman tearfully describes how she was gang-raped by prison camp guards. It was horrific stuff, told in simple conversation over glasses of tea in Soviet peasant homes.

Stalin also used the purges to industrialise the former Soviet Union. Business managers sent the KGB lists of the types of workers, manual and intellectual, they wanted to the KGB, who obliged by rounding them up on false charges of anti-Soviet activity. They were then sent to the gulags, around which whole prison cities grew up with populations of hundreds of thousands.

But no-one responsible for the mass arrests have been charged for their crimes against humanity.

Yes, Khrushchev in his secret speech attached and dismantled Stalin’s ‘cult of personality’, and Lavrenti Beria, the rapist in charge of the KGB responsible for enacting the purges, was arrested by the Soviet army and shot. But other, lesser officials got away with the mass murder of millions. Their membership of the Communist party gave them a ‘get out of jail’ free card.

Just as it seems, membership of the DWP and the Tory party do the same in 21st century Britain.

Samuel Miller, one of the excellent folks on Twitter Mike quotes in his article, has said that the Tories have already made DWP officials responsible for the deaths of benefit claims immune to similar prosecution for years.

And Mike has also published a long article about the ways Priti Patel intends to pass legislation breaking international laws on refugees. He has also pointed out that such laws don’t just affect non-white immigrants. They affect traditional White Brits. Because, as the late, great Tony Benn observed, what the Tories do to native Whites, they start by doing to immigrants. Food banks first appeared under Tony Blair, when he made illegal immigrants illegible for benefit. Then the Tories decided it could also be used to support -just barely-all the indigenous Brits, by which I also include Blacks and Asians, who’ve been here for generations, who got thrown off benefits due to their genocidal sanction system.

The moral of all this: Don’t get pulled in to supporting to this by all the rhetoric against ‘dinghy divers’ and so on by people like Alex Belfield. ‘Cause after PolPotPatel (copyright ‘Cleckylad’) she and the other walking moral imbeciles will come for you.

Because they have the same contempt and hatred for the White poor, as they have for Black and Asian immigrants.

Daniel Haqiqatjou – The American Muslim Propagandist Who Wants to Kill Gays, Apostates and Bring Back Slavery

August 18, 2021

This is another piece from the anti-Islamic YouTuber, the Apostate Prophet. I said yesterday when I posted another piece up by his that I don’t share his atheism nor his wholesale dismissal of all of Islam, although it very definitely isn’t my religion. Not all Muslims are the same, and I got the impression that there is a wide variety of belief and practice within global Islam. It’s therefore wrong and dangerous to give the impression that all Muslims are somehow militant hardliners wishing to impose the sharia and subjugate the unbelievers.

But there certainly are some very unpleasant individuals in the western Islamic community, who would like to impose an extremely strict, repressive version of Islam and who have a bitter hatred of gays, non-Muslims and apostates from Islam. These people, like White Fascists, deserve to be exposed and condemned for their vile views. One of these is Daniel Haqiqatjou. Haqiqatjou is an American Muslim apologist of Iranian extraction. In this post from June last year, 2020, the Apostate Prophet discusses Haqiqatjou’s squalid views and his connections to the Yaqeen Institute, a hard-line Islamic organisation whose leader, Omar Suleiman, attended some kind of public gathering with Joe Biden.

Haqiqatjou would like the death penalty for homosexuality. On LGBTQ Remembrance Day last year, he joked about remembering them through Muslim base jumping. It’s a tasteless joke about the method used by some Muslim countries of executing gays by throwing them off tall buildings. When AP called him a vile piece of sh*t, Haqiqatjou made it clear that people like him wouldn’t be forgotten either. Which is a reference to the traditional Muslim penalty for apostasy, death. The video contains a clip of Haqiqatjou explaining this to one of his callers. He also wrote a piece for the website of Muslim Jurists of America hailing the Sultan of Brunei’s introduction of Islamic law against homosexuals and fornicators, and urged western Muslims to come to Brunei to watch a public caning to see Islamic law in action. Thanks, but I’d rather stay in Britain and watch Gardener’s World. He also whined about how the West looks down on child marriage, but western children are sexually active at 13, 14, 15. The Apostate Prophet points out that this is 14 year old kids having sex with other 14 year olds. It is not a case of thirty year old men marrying 13 year old girls.

Haqiqatjou did, however, have some criticism for his posts from the American Muslim community. This was from an American convert, Justin Parrott, who objected to them, not because he found them to be wrong or offensive, but because he and other Muslim authorities didn’t want him to make Islam look bad. Haqiqatjou dismissed this by saying it is exactly what Jews and Christians have done to their religion, and they won’t look well on Islam unless Muslims convert to their religions. And so he blithely carries on spreading his backward views.

The Apostate Prophet also makes point in this video that there is something wrong in western society. If a westerner expresses hatred of homosexuality, like the baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple, or if they express concerns about Islamic grooming gangs and immigration, then they are met with immediate howls of disapproval and cancellation. But the worst thing that happened to Haqiqatjou when he posted his obnoxious views online was that the post was taken down, something he found to be terribly tyrannical. Which is especially rich coming from him, as if left to him he’d end freedom of speech. All in the name of Islam, of course.

And in July last year, Apostate Prophet put up this video in which he questions Haqiqatjou on his attitude to slavery. Guess what! Haqiqatjou doesn’t condemn it. Indeed, he tries to defend it by saying that where it exists, the slaves may be better treated than free workers. He accuses AP of comparing slavery to an idealised form of freedom that has never existed, and may not make people happy. It seems to me to be very clear from this that Haqiqatjou would like to bring back slavery.

Now Haqiqatjou is correct when he says that in countries where slavery still persists, the slaves may be well treated. I can remember one book on modern slavery stating that the lot of slaves in those cultures that still practise traditional slavery is much better than modern from of enslavement, disguised as long-term work contracts, for example. I also suspect that Haqiqatjou has a very romanticised view of Islamic slavery. It could be different from western chattel slavery, in that slaves could serve as soldiers, scribes and arrange their masters’ business affairs. The Mamlukes, the Muslim warriors who ruled Egypt prior to Napoleon’s invasion, were originally such a corps of slave soldiers. Their name actually means ‘White slaves’. And ostensibly free labour, as we’ve seen, can be highly exploitative. The abolitionists’ opponents in the 19th century argued that it was hypocritical of William Wilberforce and the others to demand freedom for enslaved Blacks, when their White ‘factory slaves’ endured such grinding poverty and poor conditions. I suspect Haqiqatjou looks back on Islamic slavery as a time, that actually didn’t exist, when loyal slaves worked for caring, paternalistic masters. One of the British ambassadors to Zanzibar and Pemba in the later 19th century argued that the British government should not bother about demanding the abolition of slavery there because it was so benign and gradually dying out. But it didn’t, and the resentments of the enslaved Africans grew until there was a rebellion in the 1920s in which the ruling Arab class was massacred.

As for Haqiqatjou’s bizarre statement that ‘owning a person is better than renting a person’, this shows his ignorance about the issue. In free labour, the employer rents the worker’s labour. He does not rent the worker. It’s a fine, but important point.

Now I believe that genuine freedom comes with true democratic rights – the right to elect one’s rulers, serve on juries and negotiate with employers over wages and conditions. Which means the right to form trade unions and other professional associations, which Conservatives and Libertarians hate, because their interpretation of freedom is just freedom for the bosses, not the workers. But freedom begins with personal freedom – the freedom to do exactly as one wishes away from work, regardless of the views of one’s master, and not to be tied to one employer. Haqiqatjou, it seems, would like to end that, just as he would like to end secular law and government.

Now I think Haqiqatjou is almost certainly an extreme case. I doubt many western Muslims would want to see the return of slavery. Even the Saudis officially ended it in 1964 or so, although it still goes on in private and foreign workers are treated as slaves under the sponsorship system. I read somewhere that the Mullahs in Iran briefly considered bringing it back after the Islamic Revolution, but they decided against it. And there are certainly Muslims in the West who very strongly oppose views like his.

Unfortunately, liberal, modern Muslims are given no support in their struggles against the hardliners, and there certainly does seem to be a double standard amongst western liberals towards intolerant, repressive Islam. At the moment the west is going through paroxysms of guilt about its historic involvement in the slave trade. I realise that there are a few extremists out there, who would like to have it brought back. They are tiny minority who are rightly marginalised and attacked for their views. But it seems that their Muslim counterparts with deeply unpleasant views, like Haqiqatjou, are free to express similar views and no-one says anything against them.

This has to change. Fighting Islamic intolerance does not equal Islamophobia or fighting Islam. It is defending democracy and freedom, not all of whose enemies are White or somehow virtuous because they’re people of colour.

Tory Flag-Waving Now Reaching Reaganite Proportions

April 6, 2021

Patriotism, someone once said, is the last refuge of the scoundrel. And the Tories have done their best to show how true this is, especially last week when it seemed that they wasted no opportunity to wave the flag. This also led them to generate more synthetic outrage towards the BBC. Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty raised Tory ire when Stayt joked about the relatively small size of the union flag on display during an interview with Matt Hancock or one of the other Tory ministers. This led to howls from the Tory press that the Beeb was sneering at the flag. They weren’t. They were laughing about the Tory’s sheer opportunistic use of it.

It’s no accident that they’ve started waving the flag in the weeks running up to the local elections. Their performance on health, the economy, Brexit and just about everything else has been dire. They’re still trying to privatise the health service by stealth, they insulted the nurses with a 2 per cent pay rise, which is in real terms a cut in their salaries, wages are still frozen, more people are being forced into real, grinding poverty, the queues at the food banks are as long as ever, or longer. The Brexit that Boris has been so desperate to ‘get done’ is spelling disaster for Britain’s manufacturing industry, and businesses dealing with the continent and ordinary Brits wishing to travel abroad are now faced with mountains of paperwork and bureaucracy. Bureaucracy which the Brexiteers blithely assured us wouldn’t happen. Hopefully this year will see us coming out of lockdown and the Coronavirus crisis. We’ve a far higher rate of peeps receiving the vaccine than the EU, but that shouldn’t distract attention from the colossal way the Tories have mismanaged the Covid crisis as a whole. As Mike’s pointed out in one of his articles, Tory bungling and corruption – they gave vital medical contracts to companies owned and run by their friends and supporters, rather than to firms that could actually deliver – that over 100,000 people have died of the disease. One of the good peeps on Twitter has shown how this compares to the numbers killed in some of the genocides and ethnic massacres that have plagued recent decades. And the report, which was supposed to show that Britain isn’t institutionally racist, has been torn to shreds with some of the academics cited claiming they were not properly consulted and seeking to distance themselves from it. And then there are the mass demonstrations up and down the land against their attempts to outlaw any demonstration or protest they don’t like under the guise that it would be a nuisance.

And so, with all this discontent, they’ve fallen back to Thatcher’s tactics of waving the flag at every opportunity. One of the hacks at the Absurder in the 1980s said that Britain had three parties – the patriotic party, who were the Tories, the loony party, which was Labour, and the sensible party, which was the SDP/Liberals. Which showed you the paper’s liberal bias even then. The SDP, Liberals and their successors, the Lib Dems. have sold out utterly, while after four decades of Thatcherism Michael Foot’s Labour party looks far less than loony. But the hack was right about the Tories and patriotism. Thatcher waved the flag as frantically as she could and constantly invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill and World War II. One particularly memorable example of this was the Tory 1987 election broadcast, which featured Spitfires zipping about the sky while an overexcited voice told the world ‘Man was born free’ and concluded ‘It’s great to be great again’.

Here’s another feature of Fascism that’s been adopted by the Tories to add to those on Mike’s checklist. Fascism is an ideology of national rebirth and revival. Thatcher was claiming she was making us great again, just as Donald Trump claimed he was doing for America. Just as Oswald Mosley called one of his wretched books The Greater Britain. And unfortunately, as Zelo Street has also pointed out, Fascists like the Nazis have also used people’s natural loyalty to their flag as a means of generating support for their repulsive regimes. British Fascism was no different. Mosley also made great use of the flag at his rallies, and this tactic was taken over by his successors in the National Front and BNP. This has been an embarrassment to ordinary, non-racist Brits, who simply like the flag. One of my friends at school was a mod. At the time, the union flag and British bulldog formed a large part of mod imagery without meaning that the person was a racist or White supremacist. During one of the art lessons my friend started painting a picture with those two elements – the union flag and bulldog. The teacher came over and politely asked him not to do so, as he was afraid people would like at it and come to the wrong conclusion. This was just after the 1981/2 race riots, so you can understand why. But it is frustrating and infuriating that ordinary expressions of reasonable patriotism or simple pop culture iconography have become suspect due to their appropriation by the Far Right.

But the real excesses of flag-waving were to be seen over the other side of the Pond in Reagan’s America. Reagan was wrecking his country with privatisation and an assault on what the country had in the way of a welfare state, while murdering the people of countries like El Salvador and Nicaragua by supporting Fascist dictators and their death squads. But, like Thatcher, he did everything he could to use the symbols of American nationhood. Like the Stars and Stripes. A Republican party political broadcast in 1984 or thereabouts showed the American flag being raised no less than 37 times. This was so bizarrely excessive that one of the Beeb’s foreign correspondents commented on it. As far as I am aware, no-one took him to task for sneering at it.

This flag-waving is part of the Tories attempts to present themselves as the preservers of British national identity, tradition and pride against the assaults of the left, particularly Black Lives Matter and their attacks on statues. I’m not impressed with the attacks on some of the monuments, like that of Winston Churchill, even though he was a racist. But in Bristol the only statue attacked was that of the slavery and philanthropist Edward Colston. None of the other statues in and around Bristol’s town centre of Edmund Burke, Queen Victoria, Neptune and the sailors who made my city a great port, were touched. And then there was the protest last week against the new school uniform policy at Pimlico Academy in London. This ruled out the wearing of large afro hair styles. So the students started protesting it was racist. The headmaster also raised the union flag, which led the statement from one of the students, Amna Mukhtar, that it weirdly felt like they were being colonised. And then some idiot burnt the flag in protest. The headmaster has now rescinded the school’s uniform code and taken the flag down. Now I gather that one of the Tories is now calling for every school to fly the union flag.

It all reminds me of the comments the late, great comedian Bill Hicks made when Reagan and his supporters were flying the flag and their outrage when a young member of the Communist party burned it. After making jokes about the Reaganite rage and hysteria, Hicks said that he didn’t want anyone to burn the flag, but burning wouldn’t take away freedom, because it’s freedom. Including the freedom to burn the flag.

Quite. And the Tories are wrecking our country and taking away our freedoms while cynically waving the flag.

So when they start spouting about it, use your scepticism and think of Hick’s comment instead. And vote for someone else.

No, It Is Not Anti-Semitic To Question Whether Jews Are An Ethnic Minority

March 3, 2021

Ever keen to bash the Beep, the Torygraph printed another story yesterday accusing the Corporation of anti-Semitism. Benjamin Cohen, the CEO of Pink News, had been invited on to Politics Live to debate whether Jews should be included as an ethnic minority in the national census. Coming out of the show, Cohen tweeted how offended he was by the question, and that he was the only Jewish person facing a panel of four gentiles. He was absolutely sure that Jews should be treated as an ethnic minority, and asked rhetorically if the Beeb would have asked that question of a Black or Asian guests.

Actually, it’s a very good question whether Jews are an ethnic minority, and colour is a part of the issue. Before the rise of biological racism, Jews were largely persecuted in Christian Europe because of their religion. The persecution generally ceased if they converted. Before the outbreak of Nazism and the horrors of the Third Reich, the majority of Jews in Europe did not wish to be seen as a separate people from those the countries in which they lived. The British Jewish establishment opposed the Balfour Declaration because they believed that Jews were ‘Englishmen of the Jewish religion’. The British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, they feared, would lead to Jews being viewed as foreigners, whose ultimately loyalty was to the new state, rather than loyal British citizens.

Even now there is a healthy debate within Judaism about whether it is a ethnic group, a religion or a descent group. Not all Jews are happy with being considered an ethnic minority. The comedian, opera director and broadcaster, Dr Jonathan Miller, is one of them. One of the team of satirists in Beyond the Fringe, along with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett, Miller was once introduced as a Jew on a programme covering the jolly funsters. Miller responded by stating that he was a ‘Jewish’. He had not interest in being an ethnic minority.

Jews also differ from the other groups regarded as ethnic minorities in terms of race, and socio-economic status. Traditional, indigenous European Jews are White, as the founder of modern scientific racial classification, Ludwig Blumenbach, maintained. Some of them, like Tracy-Anne Oberman, are more ‘Aryan’ in appearance than the Nazi scumbags, who abuse them. Which shows how wrong scientifically Nazism is, as well as evil. Where there has been anti-Semitic abuse and violence, it has been generally directed against Orthodox Jews, no doubt because of their characteristic dress and appearance.

The British Jewish community is also largely more prosperous than other ethnic groups. The mighty Tony Greenstein has cited sociological studies that have shown that 60 per cent of British Jews are upper middle class. Furthermore, while there is still anti-Semitic persecution and hostility, Jews don’t suffer from the same level of prejudice as Blacks and Asians. Tony again has quoted statistics showing that 77 per cent of Brits have positive views of Jews. Those that don’t generally regard them as no better or worse than anyone else. The number of people with negative views of Jews has risen from 5 to 7 per cent, but they’re far outweighed by the mass of the Brits who don’t share their opinions. This is no doubt one of the reasons the NF decided to stop goose stepping about in Nazi uniforms in the 1970s. When National Action turned up in Liverpool a couple of years ago screaming their hatred, the good peeps of that fair city, including socialists and trade unionists, chased them out of town. Literally. They had to retreat to the train station to await the next train out of there.

While the persecution of the Jews has been particularly vicious, it’s reasonable to compare it to the persecution of dissident Christian groups in Europe. Such as the Manichaean heretics in the Middle Ages, and Protestants in Roman Catholic countries. In Britain before Roman Catholic emancipation and the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, Catholicism was banned. It had to go underground in Ireland, and worship was carried out at secret locations in the countryside. British Protestant nonconformists, such as Quakers, Baptists and Methodists, were barred from serving on juries or in local and national government. By law their chapels had to be built five miles away from towns. You can also compare the British Jewish community’s current prosperity with the Quakers. The actual membership of the Society of Friends was small, but they became influential and prosperous businessmen because of their exacting standards of commercial conduct. You could trust them. A book I read a few years ago on the history of the Jewish people, written by an Anglican clergyman, made the same claim about them. The Jewish laws governing food purity meant that, if you bought a wheaten loaf from a Jew, that’s exactly what you got. Instead of being full of cheats determined to defraud gentiles, Jewish businessmen could be trusted. As for the traditional Jewish prohibition against marrying outside the religion, there are also Christian sects, such as the Exclusive Brethren and Particular Baptists, who also reject marriage with those outside the sect.

In short, Jews are integrated and accepted into British society to a far greater extent than Blacks and Asians, who are obviously different because of their colouring, dress and religion. Muslims are particularly subject to suspicion and abuse following 9/11, and are, with Blacks, generally poorer and more marginalised than the rest of British society.

I suspect the issue here isn’t so much about the question of whether Jews constitute an ethnic group in themselves, but over the benefits membership of an ethnic minority confers. Ethnic minorities are specifically protected by law against persecution, and in the case of Blacks and Asians may be assisted by affirmative action programmes. Even though Jews don’t suffer the level of violence and prejudice that Blacks and Asians do, they are still regarded as particularly vulnerable. As a result, they enjoy a degree of protection far greater than other ethnic minorities. For example, there’s the Community Security Trust, a paramilitary vigilante set up to protect Jews, synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other Jewish sites and monuments from attack. The group is supposedly trained in self-defence by members of the Israeli security services. This is, as far as I know, unique. I am not aware of any other ethnic group or religion being permitted their own private police force. Far from it. When the Islamofascists in London launched their Muslim Patrols harassing non-Muslims outside their mosques, they were rightly pounced upon by the authorities and arrested. But the CST is allowed to continue, stewarding Zionist and pro-Israel rallies despite reacting violently to counterdemonstrators. At several of these rallies, Muslim and Jews marching together in protest against Israel were forcibly separated and beaten. The victims included elderly Jewish women and rabbis.

The Zionist Jewish establishment were also able to exploit the general high regard and acceptance of Jews in British society by mobilising it to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his followers as anti-Semites. This is part of the general ultra-Zionist campaign to suppress criticism of Israel and its monstrous persecution of the Palestinians. Mass rallies and protests were arranged, and the lies and mendacious denunciations repeated in the national news and press.

Other ethnic groups have not nearly received such sympathy and support. For example, while the Labour party actively complied in the witch-hunt against suspected anti-Semites in the party, it has been extremely reluctant to investigate and punish those responsible for the racist bullying of Black and Asian MPs and activists. Probably because the racist bullies were the Blairite plotters and saboteurs, who collaborated with the anti-Semitism smear campaign as part of their own attempts to oust Corbyn. The affirmative action programme designed to assist Blacks and Asians achieve the same level of prosperity and acceptance as Whites are still extremely controversial. And rather than support allegations of racism by members of those ethnic groups, the reaction of the right-wing press has largely been to denounce them.

It therefore seems to me to be a good question whether Jews should be treated as an ethnic group, rather than simply a religion practised or not by some Brits, not so very different from various traditional Christian sects, which were also persecuted by which are now accepted as integral parts of British culture. I think that the determination by Jews like Cohen to retain their demarcation as an ethnic minority is doubtless partly motivated by a quite understandable fear of the return of the biological racism which led to the monstrous horrors of the Holocaust.

But I also wonder how much also comes from Zionist ideology. The IHRA definition of Zionism claims that it is anti-Semitic to deny Jews their national aspirations. Jews are a nation, and so it is supposedly anti-Semitic to deny them the right to their own state, Israel. But these national aspirations become highly questionable if Jews are not seen as a nation or ethnic group, but as a religion. Zionism becomes spiritual, not political. Jerusalem and Israel become the spiritual centres of the Jewish faith, just as Christians regard them as the spiritual centres of their religion. But this does not necessarily translate to a desire to return to the Promised Land. Some Jewish denominations removed the traditional Passover toast, ‘Next year in Jerusalem’. Many other Jews simply repeated it as part of the revered ritual celebrating their deliverance from Pharaoh’s persecution in Egypt without actually meaning it.

All this makes me wonder whether the Torygraph’s article isn’t really about whether British Jews really constitute a separate ethnic group or not, but whether it’s was just a way of exploiting the anti-Semitism witch hunt to attack the Beeb, a favourite Tory target, on the one hand, while subtly trying to reinforce support for Israel on the other.

Are Starmer and the NEC Plotting to Sabotage Labour’s Chances in the May Council Elections?

February 24, 2021

This is a question I’m forced to ask after reading Zelo Street’s article about the NEC interfering in the local Labour party’s election for candidates for mayor of Liverpool and the NEC’s interference in the selection meeting for my local Labour party, Bristol South. According to the Street, Liverpool’s Labour party had decided on an all-female shortlist to replace Joe Anderson. The probable favourite was Anna Rothery, who had the support of several MPs, one other mayor, three trades unions, as well as activists, academics and business people. This shortlist was then cast aside by the NEC and the three candidates on it told they couldn’t reapply. No reason was given for their decision. Zelo Street observes that nominations close tomorrow, which means that the NEC has probably decided on a favoured candidate. It’s a political stitch-up, with Starmer and the NEC parachuting a favoured candidate in over the heads of the local party and community. This has left quite conundrum about what should have been done instead. The Street writes

With party membership in freefall, many activists disenchanted, and Liverpool one of the few parts of the country to remain a Labour stronghold, what would have been the sensible thing to do? What would the Keir Starmer of February last year have done? What would Nietzsche have done?

I wonder if something similar is also being done to Bristol South for the local elections. We were to have an election meeting earlier this month, but were told we couldn’t. The party secretary has asked for another date at the end of the month or perhaps early in March, but has not received an answer. Meanwhile the Lib Dems have got out of the starting blocks early. We got a load of their bumf through the post this morning.

So what kind of game is Starmer and the Blairites playing? If they’re planning to parachute in their own candidates, then Starmer’s broken another of his election promises. This was something he said he would end. The Street quotes him as saying at the Labour leadership elections last year

The selections for Labour candidates needs to be more democratic and we should end NEC impositions of candidates. Local Party members should select their candidates for every election”.

As Mike’s pointed out many times on his blog, Starmer has very quickly broken his promise to stick by the policies and promises laid out in last year’s election manifesto, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise if this is another promise the slimy turncoat is going to break.

But I also wonder if he and the NEC aren’t plotting to wreck Labour’s chances at the May election with such interference in order to push through a further purge of the left. The Blairites in the party bureaucracy did their best to sabotage the party’s chances in 2017 and then last year as part of their long-term campaign to oust Corbyn. Discussing the catastrophic decline in party membership and finances, Novara Media considered that it might be a deliberate plot to engineer a crisis that would allow Starmer to purge the party further, and push it even further to the right to solidify the Blairites’ hold on it.

Unfortunately, this is all too possible. Liverpool and Bristol are cities where Labour has traditionally been strong. A few weeks ago the NEC intervened to suspend three local Labour officials and activists in Bristol, prompting a letter of complaint signed by local Labour party politicos, officials and activists. My guess is that Starmer’s treacherous faction aiming to lose the elections in these cities and blame it on the lingering influence of Corbyn. This would give them a pretext for further restructuring and moves that would turn it into Conservative party MK 2.

Of course, I could be a little paranoid here. But with the Blairites’ record of plotting against their own party, as well as Tony Blair’s active strategy of imposing the candidates he wanted on local communities, this seems all too possible.

See: Zelo Street: Labour’s Liverpool Louse-Up (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Disaster Predicted for Labour in May Elections – Will They Blame the Left?

January 29, 2021

As if this question needs to be asked. Mike this morning put up a piece commenting on recent forecasts that Labour under Starmer’s leadership will actually lose seats in the local elections in May. Only 4 per cent of Tory voters are predicted to switch to Labour. This will be a disaster for Labour, and should be a catastrophe for Starmer as it shows that his policy of turning Labour into the alternative Tory party isn’t working. Starmer isn’t winning support for Labour because he has violated the first rule of an opposition party: this is to oppose. Instead, Starmer has offered support and ‘cautious criticism’. This has often come after Tory policies have been proven to be failures, so that Johnson ridiculed him from the Dispatch Box as ‘Captain Hindsight’. And his lack of any decisive alternative alternative vision to the wretched Tories also allowed Johnson to sneer at him as ‘General Indecision’.

Worse, Labour is losing its core voters thanks to Starmer’s own war on the left. He has scrapped Corbyn’s manifesto policies, which were genuinely popular despite the media’s and political establishment’s successful vilification of Corbyn himself. Starmer has carried on purging the left under the pretext of cracking down on anti-Semitism. He has alienated Labour’s traditional supporters in the Black and Asian communities by his half-hearted gestures of support for Black Lives Matter and his refusal to punish the real racists in the Labour Party, who bullied Diane Abbott and other Black MPs and activists. And it’s fairly obvious why. These racists are all from the right, the section of the party that supports him. He also has not punished the various conspirators who deliberately plotted to sabotage the party’s election campaign in 2017 and 2019. Again, these are all right-wingers, so safe from punishment for their misdeeds. And to make his and his faction’s grip on the party secure, David Evans has suspended members and constituency parties that have dared to criticise the Dear Leader and passed fresh regulations stipulating that electoral candidates must meet with his approval as suitable prospective MPs. Which means, as Mike’s pointed out, that no-one from the left will be accepted, even if they have the full backing of their local parties.

If the predicted electoral disaster does occur – and I’ve no doubt it will – then it should rightly be the end of Starmer and the Blairites. The Blairite tactic of triangulation – finding out what will appeal to Tory voters, donors and the media, and then doing it – isn’t working. The public has seen through the New Labour tactic of copying Tory policies while claiming that, once in power, Labour will be better at them. Tory voters are going to stick with the Tories, because why should they accept a pale imitation under Starmer? Johnson’s defeat should be an open goal. This week the number of people, who’ve died from the Coronavirus hit 100,000. This truly horrendous death toll is a direct result of Johnson’s selfish, inept and half-hearted policies, the corruption that has led him to award vital medical contracts to firms owned by his friends, which then catastrophically can’t fulfil them. And instead of the great, radiant victory for British independence, business and entrepreneurialism, Brexit is rapidly showing itself to be another disaster. It is hitting British business hard with extra bureaucracy and tariffs for trading with the EU. It is expected to decimate our already severely stricken manufacturing industry.

The fact that Starmer is losing to Johnson should mean that Starmer should vacate the Labour leadership following the May elections, assuming that Labour does as poorly as predicted. By I predict that won’t happen. That would leave the leadership open to someone from the real Labour centre. Someone determined to support Corbyn’s policies of a nationalised National Health Service, publicly owned utilities, a proper, functioning welfare state that the gives the support the poor, the unemployed, the long-term sick and disabled they really need, protects working people with proper employment rights and strong trade unions, and ends the wretched pay freezes and exploitative gig economy. These were all genuinely popular. But they frighten big business and the Tory and New Labour media. Hence the determination to bring down Labour by any means possible. Hence the smears of Corbyn and his supporters as Communists, Trotskyites and Jew-haters. And they’ll do it again.

The Blairites have shown through their electoral sabotage and their attempted coups that they mean to hang on to power whatever the cost. Even if it destroys the party. Thus I predict that if Labour does fail miserably in May’s elections, Starmer will stay. He and the media will claim that this was because the stain of anti-Semitism is still hanging over the party. More purges of the Corbynite left will be demanded and follow. And it won’t do a bit of good. The party will remain unpopular, possibly even more so.

But Starmer won’t care how unpopular it is, so long as he and the Blair have a secure grip on it. And at some point he’ll even be rewarded with a peerage just like the turncoats and plotters.

For further information, see: Labour isn’t winning back Tory voters by trying to be Tory. What will Starmer try next? | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Book on Revolutionary Trade Unionism, Fascism and the Corporative State

October 20, 2020

David D. Roberts, Syndicalist Tradition & Italian Fascism (University of North Carolina Press, 1979).

Syndicalism is a form of revolutionary socialism that seeks to overthrow the liberal state and replace it with a society based on the trade unions in which they run industry. It was particularly strong in France, and played a major role in Catalonia and the struggle against Franco during the Spanish Civil War. It has also been a strand in the British labour movement, and produced a peculiar British form, Guild Socialism, whose leaders included the great socialist writer and former Fabian, G.D.H. Cole.

Fascism Mixture of Different Groups

Fascism was a strange, heterogenous mixture of different, and often conflicting groups. These included former syndicalists, radicalised veterans from the First World War, ultra-conservative Nationalists and the Futurists, an aggressive modern artistic movement that celebrated war, speed, violence, masculinity, airplanes, cars and the new machine age. Some of these groups shared roughly the same ideas. The war veterans were deeply impressed with the corporative constitution drafted by Alceste de Ambris for D’Annunzio’s brief regime in Fiume, the Carta de Carnaro. Superficially, the Fascist syndicalists shared the same goal of creating a corporate state to govern industrial relations and run industry. However, they approached this from very different directions. The Nationalists, led by Alfredo Rocco, were ultra-Conservative businessmen, who attacked liberal democracy because of the corruption involved in Italian politics. At the same time they feared the power of the organised working class. As Italy modernised, it underwent a wave of strikes. In response, Rocco recommended that the state should take over the trade unions, using them as its organ to discipline the workers, keep the masses in their place while training them to perform their functions efficiently in the new, industrial Italy. The syndicalists, on the other hand, wanted the trade unions to play a role in industrial management and at the same time draw the working class into a fuller participation in politics. The working class had been excluded from the liberal state, but through their economic organisations, the unions, they could play a much fuller role as these governed their everyday lives. They saw the corporations and the corporate state as a means of increasing democracy and popular participation, not limiting it.

Fascist Corporativism

The corporations themselves are industrial organisations rather like the medieval guilds or trade unions. However, they included both the trade unions and employers organisations. There were already nine of them, but by the end of the regime in 1943 there were 27. Under Rocco’s Labour Charter, the Carta del Lavoro, strikes and lockouts were forbidden in the name of industrial peace and class collaboration. The corporation were required to settle labour disputes. However, if management and the unions were unable to reach agreement, then the dispute was to be referred to labour magistracy for settlement in special labour courts. Mussolini also reformed the Italian parliament, transforming the Chamber of Deputies into a Chamber of Fasces and Corporations. In practice the corporate state never amounted to very much. It never won over real working class support, and the corporations were never given real legislative power. It merely added another layer of bureaucracy and acted as nothing more than a rubber stamp to pass the policies Mussolini had already made. And he seems to have used it as ideological window dressing to give the impression that here was more to Fascism than his personal dictatorship.

The Unification of Italy and Political Alienation

The book argues that the corporate state was a genuine attempt to solve the deep problems of Italian unification left over from the Risorgimento. At the same time, it was also a radical response to the crisis, breakdown and revision of Marxist socialism and the failure of Marxist syndicalism in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The process of unification has produced an attitude of deep alienation from the state and politics amongst Italians, and Fascism was partly a response to this. This alienation isn’t confined to Italians, but it is particularly acute. Social studies in the 1970s showed that Italians are less likely than Americans, Brits or Germans to become politically involved. They regard the state as distant with little interest in them. At the same time, there is also an expectation that the bureaucrats in Rome will help them.

Like Germany, Italy was unified by military force and the invasion of the other, constituent states. However, for reasons of speed and a determination to preserve the new nation’s fragile unity, the other Italian states were simply annexed by Piedmont to be governed from there. There was supposed to be a constituent assembly in which the other states were to have their say in the creation of the new Italy, but this simply didn’t happen. At the same time, the industrialisation promoted by Italian liberals was concentrated in the north, so that the south remained backward and agricultural. The franchise was extremely restricted. It excluded illiterates, so that originally only 2 per cent of the population could vote. This was later extended to 7 per cent. At the same time, Italy’s leaders prevented the formation of proper political parties by taking over individuals from different parliamentary factions in order to form workable governing majorities. At the same time there was discontent and widespread criticism of the protectionism imposed to help the development of Italian heavy industry. Middle class critics believed that this unfairly benefited it at the expense of more dynamic and productive sectors of the economy. This led to the belief that Italy was being held back by class of political parasites.

This backwardness also led to an acute sense of pessimism amongst the elite over the character of the Italian people themselves. The Americans, British and Germans were disciplined with proper business values. Italians, on the other hand, were lazy, too individualistic and defied authority through lawlessness. This meant that liberalism was inadequate to deal with the problems of Italian society. ‘This English suit doesn’t fit us’, as one Fascist said. But this would change with the adoption of Fascism. One of Mussolini’s minions once declared that, thanks to Fascism, hard work and punctuality were no longer American, German and British values.

Syndicalism, Marxism and the Revision of Socialism

By the 1890s there was a crisis throughout Europe in Marxist socialism. Marx believed that the contradictions in capitalism and the continuing impoverishment of working people would lead to eventual revolution. But at this stage it was evident that capitalism was not collapsing. It was expanding, wages were rising and the working class becoming better off. This led to the reformist controversy, in which socialist ideologues such as Bernstein in Germany recommended instead that socialist parties should commit themselves to reforming capitalism gradually in order to create a socialist society. The syndicalists were originally Marxists, who looked forward to the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. However, they became increasingly disenchanted with Marxism and critical of the leading role of the working class. They originally believed, as with the French syndicalist Georges Sorel, that the class-conscious workers would be a new source of values. But they weren’t. They also believed that this would only be achieved through a long process of education through general strikes. They were horrified by the biennio rosso, the two years of strikes and industrial unrest that came after the end of the war, when it seemed that the Italian labour movement was going to follow the Russian Bolsheviks and create a revolution for which Italy and it working class were not ready.

At the same time, they came to reject Marxism’s doctrine that the political was determined by the economic sphere. They believed that Italy’s political problems could not be reduced to capitalism. Hence they believed that capitalism and private industry should be protected, but made subordinate to the state. Work was a social duty, and any industrial who did not run his company properly could, in theory, be removed and replaced. They also sought to give the workers a greater role in industrial management. This led them to go beyond the working class. They found a new revolutionary group in the Italian war veterans, who were radicalised by their experiences. These would have joined the socialists, but the latter had been strongly neutralist and as a result rejected and ridiculed the former soldiers for their patriotism. These found their ideological and political home with the syndicalists. At the same time, the syndicalists rejection of Marxist socialism led to their rediscovery of other, non-Marxist socialist writers like Mazzini, who also rejected liberalism in favour of a tightly knit Italian nation. Their bitter hatred of the corruption in Italian politics and its parasites led them to join forces with anarchists and other sectors of the Italian radical tradition. They believed that for Italy truly to unite and modernise, the workers should join forces with properly modernising industrialists in an alliance of producers.

Syndicalist Opposition to Mussolini’s Rapprochement to the Socialists

Looking at the development of Italian Fascism, it can seem that there was a certain inevitability to the emergence of Mussolini’s dictatorship and the totalitarian Fascist state. But this argues that there was nothing inevitable about it, and that it was forced on Mussolini in order to stop his movement falling apart. When Mussolini entered parliament and took over as prime minister, he seemed to be transforming what was originally a movement into the very type of party that the Fascist rank and file were in revolt against. Fascism was reconstituted as a party, and when the future Duce met the kind, he wore the top hat and frock coat of an establishment politician. Worse, Mussolini had started out as a radical socialist, and still seemed determined to work with them and other working class and left-wing parties. He signed a pacification pact with the Socialists and Populists, the Roman Catholic party, stopping the Fascist attacks on them, the trade unions and workers’ and peasants’ cooperatives. This horrified the syndicalists, who saw it as a threat to their own programme of winning over the workers and creating the new, corporatist order. As a result they pressurised Mussolini into rescinding that pacts, Mussolini and Fascism moved right-ward to ally with the capitalists and industry in the destruction of working class organisations.

Syndicalists and the Promotion of the Working Class

But it seems that the syndicalists were serious about defending the working class and giving it a proper role through the corporations in the management of industry and through that, political participation in the Italian state. Left Fascists like Olivetti and Ugo Spirito believed that the Italian state should operate a mixed economy, with the state running certain companies where appropriate, and the trade unions owning and managing cooperatives. Some went further, and recommended that the corporations should take over the ownership of firms, which would be operated jointly by management and the workers. This never got anywhere, and was denounced by other left syndicalists, like Sergio Pannunzio, one of their leaders.

From Internationalism to Imperialism

The book also raises grim astonishment in the way it reveals how the Syndicalists, who were initially quite internationalist in outlook, came to support Fascist imperialism. They shared the general Fascist view that Italy was being prevented from developing its industry through British and French imperialism. The two powers blocked Italy from access to trading with their colonies. They were therefore also critical of the League of Nations when it was set up, which they saw as an attempt by the great powers to maintain the international status quo. The Nationalists, who were formally merged with the Fascists, went further and demanded that Italy too should have an empire to benefit its industry, but also to provide land for colonisation by the surplus Italian population. Without it, they would continue to be forced to emigrate to countries like America and Britain, where they would become the lowest and most despised part of their working class. The syndicalists were also acutely aware of how low Italians were regarded and exploited in these countries, even by other members of the working class.

The syndicalists during the war and early post-war years criticised the Nationalists for their militarism and imperialism. Instead of looking forward to perpetual war, as the Nationalists did, they wanted to see instead the emergence of a new, federal European order in which nations would cooperate. This new federal state would eventually cover the world. They also looked forward to a new, equitable arrangement over access to the colonies. Pannunzio did support colonialism, which he believed was bringing civilisation to backward areas. But he also believed that colonies that were unable to become nations in their own right should be taken over by the League of Nations. Pannunzio declared ‘Egotism among nations is a material and moral absurdity; nations … cannot lived closed and isolated by must interact and cooperate’. This changed as time went on and Mussolini established the corporate state. This was always fragile and tentative, and accompanied by concessions to other sectors of Fascism on the right. In order to defend their fragile gains, the syndicalists gave their full backing to the Second World War and its imperialism, which they saw as a crusade to bring the corporate state, the great Italian achievement, but a backward world.

Workers Should Have a Role In Government, But Not Through Totalitarianism

I have to say I like certain aspects of the corporate state. I like the idea of trade unionists actively involved in the management of industry and in a special department of parliament, although as Sidney and Beatrice Webb point out in their Constitution for the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain, there are severe drawbacks with it. But any such corporatist chamber would have to be an expansion of liberal democracy, not a replacement for it. And I utterly reject and despise Fascism for its vicious intolerance, especially towards socialism and the working class, its rejection of democracy, and especially the militarism, imperialism and racism. Like Nazism it needs to be fought everywhere, in whatever guise it arises.

And the book makes very clear that the corporate state was an exaggerated response to genuine Italian problems, problems that could be solved within liberal, democratic politics.

Perhaps one day we shall see the return of trade unionists to parliaments reformed to allow them to play their proper role in government and industry. I make this recommendation in my booklet, For A Worker’s Chamber. But it should never be through any kind of autocratic, totalitarian regime.