Posts Tagged ‘Fall of Communism’

Stop the War Coalition on their Protests Planned for this Saturday

June 21, 2022

I got this email from the Stop the War Coalition about a number of protests they’ve organised for this Saturday, 25th June 2022.

We have groups up and down the country – from Glasgow to Southampton – organising for the International Day of Action this Saturday. 

In London we are holding a protest outside the Ministry of Defence.

We will be there from 2:00-4:00 pm. Do get along if you can.

We have a great line-up of speakers including: Mohammad Asif, Director of Afghan Human Rights Foundation; Alex Gordon, President of RMT; Lindsey German, Convenor StW; Roger McKenzie, Liberation general secretary; Kate Hudson, CND general secretary; George Solomou, former British soldier who resigned over the Iraq War; and musician Sean Taylor.

The war in Ukraine is ongoing and on the brink of escalation. It is fast developing into a proxy war between Russia and NATO and it is the Ukrainian people who are suffering the consequences.

Rather than sending extra missiles to Ukraine, the British government should be urging for a ceasefire and getting both sides around the negotiating table in peace talks. From the beginning of the war we demanded that Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine and that the British government stop fuelling the conflict.

Join the Protest

There are protests organised in DorsetLondonManchester, Sheffield, BrightonGlasgowSouthampton and Cardiff plus other events in NottinghamYork,  Hull and Shrewsbury.

If you’ve got a protest or event organised let us know

I’m Organising An Event on 25 June

I strongly support Ukraine’s right to exist as a free, independent sovereign state and utterly condemn Putin”s invasion. As for Putin, he’s a monster. Since he came to power Putin has demonstrated over and over again that he’s an authoritarian butcher with nothing but contempt for democracy and the rule of law. He’s done everything he can to all but outlaw public protest, has banned those parties that look like beating him in elections, and the journalists that dare to criticise him have had visits from his thugs to show them the error of their ways. And twenty years later, the murder of the Russian dissident Politovskaya, who was a very trenchant critic of the arkhiplut, still looks very suspicious. He started a murderous war in Chechnya at the beginning of this century, which included horrific massacres of the civilian population, such as in the city of Grozny. And his wretched long arm has stretch out over here to assassinate his critics and foes who’ve taken refuge in our great nation.

But Stop the War’s analysis of the situation is right. There is a profound danger of the war escalating. We had a general only the other day telling us that British troops should be prepared to fight in Europe. This is terrifying. I think the Coalition are correct in saying that NATO should not have expanded up to the Russian border, so that the Russians felt threatened. This was the original agreement signed after the Fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War. But it was violated and as a consequence this terrible, evil war has broken out.

We desperately need peace, and far more jaw-jaw not war-war. As John Lennon said, ‘Give peace a chance’.

A Ukrainian/English Dictionary

March 14, 2022

Leonid Hrabovsky, Ukrainian/English, English Ukrainian Dictionary (New York: Hippocrene Books 1993).

I’ve an interest in languages. In addition to doing German for ‘O’ and ‘A’ level at school all those years ago, I also did Russian ‘O’ level as an additional language. Back in the 90s I thought I’d try and teach myself a bit of Ukrainian as well. It’s an east Slavonic language like Russian, and is also written in the Cyrillic alphabet. It’s also somewhat like Polish. For example, the Russian word for town is gorod, but the Ukrainian is misto, similar to the Polish miasto. This isn’t surprising, as for centuries Ukraine, along with Lithuania, was part of the Republic of Poland. It’s doubtless due to those historical ties that Poland has taken in so many Ukrainian refugees.

In the end I never actually got round to teaching myself the language, but I still find it and the history and culture of the nations of eastern Europe fascinating. Since the Berlin Wall fell there have been other books available on Ukrainian in the high street bookstores as well. A few years ago I saw a book on colloquial Ukrainian in the Bristol branch of Waterstones.

I’m sure that the people offering to help with the Ukrainian refugees, including opening up their homes to them, probably have some connection to the country and its people already and may well be more than familiar with the language. But I thought I’d post this anyway to show what is available.

Best wishes to everyone helping those seeking sanctuary in the West.

And no more war!

Sting Reprises 80s Anti-Nuclear Song against War in Ukraine

March 14, 2022

A few days ago I put up the YouTube video of Punk legends Toyah Wilcox’s and Robert Fripp’s song of support for Ukraine against Putin’s invasion. Sting has also posted on YouTube a version of his 80s hit ‘Russians’ as a protest against Putin’s bloody invasion of ‘a peaceful and unthreatening neighbour’. It’s dedicated not just to the Ukrainians but also to the many Russians protesting against the war, and is once again a plea for our children and our common humanity.

Sting released ‘Russians’ right in the middle of the new Cold War under Thatcher and Reagan, when it seemed all too possible that a nuclear war would erupt to end humanity and destroy our lovely and beautiful planet. It was partly based on a theme from Prokofiev and urged everyone to protect their children against the nuclear threat. One of its lines is ‘How can I protect my little boy/ From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?’ with the refrain ‘Believe me when I say to you, do the Russians love their children too?’ It also reminded both sides that ‘We share the same biology regardless of ideology’. It was a powerful, heartfelt song that reflected the deep fears and hopes of millions across the world at the time.

Sting states that he hasn’t really played it since because it wasn’t really relevant. Horrifically, it is now, with Putin threatening to launch nukes if NATO gets involved. I find Sting’s piece profoundly moving, but I’m also furious with the way geopolitics has gone in eastern Europe in the forty or so years since this was written. Reagan was an arch-reactionary who supported every bloody Fascist dictator that disgraced Latin America in his campaign against Communism. But together he and Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Cold War. Communism fell and the former Soviet satellites went their own way. And in the former Soviet Union, Gorbachev did his best to transform the Stalinist Communism of the Soviet state into something genuinely good and progressive. He wanted to introduce democracy and multiparty elections, ended the persecution of religion, and wished to create a mixed economy in which state and private enterprise existed alongside each other. But he also wished to create a new class of genuine cooperatives, where the workers would hire and fire management. He wanted Russia to join the rest of the world in the Green movement and tackling environmental issues as well fully support human rights. And as the Berlin Wall came down, thousands of people from the former eastern bloc came over here to work and run businesses.

Terrible things were still being done across the world, including the first Gulf War, which was also really about oil rather than freeing Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. But the Fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War made it that bit better. For all the claims that socialism was dead and that free market capitalism would now reign unchallenged at the ‘end of history’, it was still an optimistic time. It looked like the world had finally put that part of the nuclear threat behind us and that we could look forward to a future without any more fears of another Cuban missile crisis or similar armaggeddon.

And now I feel that all that hope and promise has been squandered through great power interference and Putin’s warmongering. Well, damn this! I want the world to go back to how it was before all this erupted.

Bring back Gorbachev!

Love and peace to everyone protesting against the war, and especially to those in Russia. May peace come soon.

Left Labour Message on How to Join Them and Speak Up for Peace

February 18, 2022

I got this message early this afternoon from the good peeps at Arise, the left Labour festival of ideas. It details their petitions, internet article and forthcoming protest against a possible war in Ukraine. It’s entitled ‘Speak Up For Peace – What You Can Do’, and it runs

‘Hello David

As much of the world hopes for de-escalation around the Ukrainian crisis, we are joining with the anti-war movement, Young Labour & others to oppose the UK’s Goverment’s sabre-rattling. Here are 3 things you can do:

  1. Sign the Stop the War Coalition statement against the war-mongering Tory Government here.
  2. Read the latest analysis from Kate Hudson (CND) here, Young Labour here and Andrew Murray (Stop the War) here on our media partner Labour Outlook.
  3. Join Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burgon,  Jess Barnard (Young Labour), Sophie Bolt (CND) and Murad Qureshi (Stop the War) to discuss Why Labour Must Speak Up For Peace on March 5 at the Making Another World Possible: an internationalist agenda for the Left & Labour event (1-4.30pm), which will also feature sessions on The Global Struggle for Climate & Vaccine Justice Women for peace, global justice & socialism.

Labour Party Conference passed policies that show a clear alternative of how we can build a world of international justice, equality & peace. But too often the Party leadership is not offering this alternative to the Tories’ reactionary foreign policy agenda. Please support the anti-war movement and join us on March 5, which will be a key point to organise for an international agenda for justice, equality. Be there!

Yours in solidarity,
The Arise Volunteers Team.

Stop The War Coalition’s statement against our government’s warmongering over Ukraine reads:

‘Stop the War opposes any war over Ukraine, and believes the crisis should be settled on a basis which recognises the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination and addresses Russia’s security concerns.

Our focus is on the policies of the British government which have poured oil on the fire throughout this episode. In taking this position we do not endorse the nature or conduct of either the Russian or Ukrainian regimes.

The British government has talked up the threat of war continually, to the point where the Ukraine government has asked it to stop.

Unlike the French and German governments, it has advanced no proposals for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, and has contributed only sabre-rattling.

Indeed, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has even accused those seeking a peaceful settlement of preparing “another Munich.”

Instead, the British government has sent arms to Ukraine and deployed further troops to Eastern Europe, moves which serve no purpose other than inflaming tensions and indicating disdain for Russian concerns.

It has also declared that Ukraine has a “sovereign right” to join NATO, when no such right exists to join it or any other military alliance.

Britain needs to change its policy, and start working for peace, not confrontation.

Stop the War believes that Russia and Ukraine should reach a diplomatic settlement of the tensions between them, on the basis of the Minsk-2 agreement already signed by both states.

It believes NATO should call a halt to its eastward expansion and commit to a new security deal for Europe which meets the needs of all states and peoples.

We refute the idea that NATO is a defensive alliance, and believe its record in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Libya over the last generation, not to mention the US-British attack on Iraq, clearly proves otherwise.

We support all efforts to reach new arms control agreements in Europe and to move towards nuclear disarmament across the continent.’

I’ve added my name to the statement because I am extremely worried about the way our government seems to want to take us to war there, and the Coalition are fundamentally correct in everything they say. NATO made an agreement with Gorbachev after the fall of communism that the former Warsaw pact countries would not join NATO and would remain neutral, with their security guaranteed by both parties. And then as soon as it could, NATO expanded in eastern Europe right up to Russia’s borders, thus stoking Russian fears of encirclement.

The invasion of Afghanistan had less to do with overturning a repressive Islamist despotism and creating a free and democratic state for its people, and far more to do with geopolitics and securing a vital oil pipeline. The overthrow of Colonel Gaddafy by rebels aided by western bombing has resulted in a divided country, one half of which is run by Islamists, who’ve dragged it back into the middle ages. Gaddafy was a dictator, but he believed in Africa as a continent and the equality of all its peoples, Black and White. But the Islamists don’t, and have reopened slave markets selling migrants from further south, who have struggled to reach Libya in their efforts to cross to Europe.

As for the Iraq invasion, that has been an object lesson in how right the British scientist, broadcaster and Fabian Socialist Jacob Bronowski was when he said ‘War is theft by other means’. Again, the war wasn’t about overthrowing a tyrant for the benefit of the Iraqi people. It was done so the American and Saudi oil cartels could steall their oil and western multinationals could still their state industries. I caught a bit of a talk about the invasion and its consequences in a recent Zoom meeting organised by the Labour left by an Iraqi gent. It’s heart-breaking and disgusting what has been done to the country. The American occupation government divided the state industries up into three categories – those that were to be privatised, though that were to be mothballed, and those that were to be simply closed down, thus helping to wreck the country’s domestic economy. And the Iraqi health service has been decimated. According to the gentleman, if you have a relative or friend in hospital now, there are no drugs to treat them. You have to run around outside trying to find someone who will sell them to you. But this was a country under Hussein that had a good healthcare system where treatment was free.

I think there are forces in the military and the Tory party that have been hoping for a confrontation with Russia for over half a decade. I think they were looking forward to a war between NATO and Russia in Lithuania in 2017. That year’s come and gone, and the theatre of war has moved south.

And I really do wonder what we are doing supporting the Ukrainian government when it has strong links with real Nazis. Novara Media put up a video this week discussing the story and photograph on the front page of the times. This was about a 78 year old women, who was undergoing training with some kind of paramilitary outfit in order to defend her homeland. Well, this would all be good if the paramilitaries involved were an ordinary patriotic defence group. But they weren’t. They were the Azov Battalion, a bunch of Nazis who have form for dressing up in the uniform of World War II SS auxiliaries and celebrating Nazi collaborators as national heroes. And it hardly needs to be added that they are definitely anti-Semites.

I don’t want to see a war in Ukraine. I don’t want to see it plundered and robbed, or destabilised for the benefit of big business, like Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. And I am terrified that any confrontation will very swiftly become nuclear.

And so I fully support the demands for peace made by the Coalition, Arise and its multitude of supporters. Including Jeremy Corbyn, the greatest Prime Minister this country has had stolen from it.

Starmer Attacks Corbyn and Stop the War Coalition; The Coalition Hits Back

February 14, 2022

With the threat of a confrontation between NATO and the Russians in Ukraine rising daily, I felt I had to put up this video. It’s from an interesting left-wing YouTube channel, Not The Andrew Marr Show, whose host wears the spangled jackets sported by game show entertainers of a certain vintage and who interviews some very interesting people. In this video he talks to Chris Nineham of Stop the War Coalition about an article Starmer has penned in the Guardian accusing Jeremy Corbyn and the Coalition of siding with NATO’s enemies. Nineham states that this resulted in an article in the New York Times, the most right-wing of Murdoch’s newspapers, praising the Labour leader. He also states that the coalition has received masses of support over the past few days, with new members flooding in and messages backing them piling up. He feels that the majority of British people don’t want war. As for NATO, he dismisses Starmer’s statement that NATO stands for freedom and democracy as illiterate. That isn’t what the invasion of Afghanistan was about, and it wasn’t what the Iraq invasion was all about. He also makes the point that Starmer has scored a point against himself, as Starmer claims that he marched against the Iraq War. Well, I realise that was nearly 20 years ago now, and that people can and do change their opinions. I’ve certainly changed mine, as I initially supported the invasion. But now, having read more about it, I’m convinced that the Coalition were absolutely right to oppose it. Just as they are right to oppose war in Ukraine. But Starmer’s opinions seem particularly flexible. I really wonder if he has any principles at all.

Nineham also makes the point that at the end of the Cold War NATO assured Gorbachev that they wouldn’t expand up to Russia’s borders. Which was immediately broken as a the former vassal states of the Soviet empire joined. Mike’s mentioned this in his blog post about this whole affair. Russia has for a long time had a fear of encirclement, dating back at least to the Communist era. When Communism collapsed in eastern Europe, Russia wanted an agreement whereby the former Communist countries remained neutral, respected by both parties, who would guarantee their independence and security.

And there’s much more that could be said. The Maidan Revolution of ten years ago wasn’t spontaneous, but run by Killary under Barack Obama and the National Endowment for Democracy, the non-governmental organisation the US government has outsourced regime change to after taking such murky affairs out of the hands of the CIA. They wanted the previous, pro-Russian president out, and a pro-western one in. Unfortunately, such covert schemes are only covered by radical YouTube channels like The Jimmy Dore Show and online conspiracy magazines like Lobster, so they’re easy to dismiss as conspiracy theories.

Mike in his blog post has said that there is much about the western arms build up that we haven’t been told. Like the stationing of nuclear-capable weapons. I’m sure he’s absolutely right. And I think some of our generals have been planning a confrontation like this for years. Way back c. 2015/16 a senior British general wrote a book predicting war between the west and Russia in Lithuania in 2017. Mercifully that didn’t happen, but it seems the threat and the theatre of war has simply moved south, away from the Baltic.

Nineham has also said that the Coalition has been inundated by people asking for news of local demonstrations. Well, we need them, even if our leaders look like they’re going to turn a deaf ear. Because all the talk about the use of nuclear weapons in Europe absolutely terrifies me. Putin’s a thug, and I don’t want the Russians to invade Ukraine. But I don’t want to see the world turned into a radioactive cinder just because of stupid geopolitics and the monstrous egotistical desire of Johnson and Biden to be seen as strong men countering the Russian threat.

Macron has got the right idea seeking a diplomatic solution.

At the moment it looks like Johnson and Biden’s sabre-rattling brings nothing but the threat of death and carnage.

Cartoonist Kayfabe on Trashman, 60s Underground Comix Anti-Hero

November 30, 2021

Here’s another video from YouTube comics creators and YouTubers, Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor, in which the two discuss one of ‘Spain’ Rodriguez’s best-known and most notorious characters, Trashman. Rodriguez was one of the major talents in ’60s underground comics. The two state he was first published by Evo and the East Village Other, and was part of a group of underground comix artists and creators called the Berkeley Tribe. Spain was fully part of the ’60s counterculture and Trashman was an explicit expression of that decade’s political radicalism and youth revolt. The Kayfabers remark that stylistically Spain appears influenced by mainstream comic artists, like the legendary Jack Kirby and John Romita at Marvel, he’s far removed from them in politics and content. Because Trashman was an agent of the ‘6th International’, gunning down the enemies of the people. The comic, The Collected Trashman, has the date ‘1969’ on it, but this doesn’t mean it was actually published them. Even so, it deals with the decade’s topics of distrust of the government, Vietnam, drugs, free love and hippies. There’s a lot of sex in it, so be careful about watching it at work. The two also compare Trashman to later heroes like Mad Max and Judge Dredd. Trashman careers about an urban environment in a souped-up car, to which armour and a set of tank tracks have been added, rather like one of the bizarre, demented vehicles in Mad Max: Fury Road. It might also be because of the mixture of automotive mayhem, extreme violence and urban dystopia that’s behind the Kayfaber’s comparison to Judge Dredd.

Rather more problematic to contemporary readers is Spain’s highly sexualised view of women. A number of underground comix creators were accused of sexism and misogyny, such as Robert Crumb, and I think Rodriguez may have been another one. But the Kayfabers argue that Rodriguez was doing it when feminism was emerging, and so was probably trying to get more publicity through notoriety.

It’s an interesting look at one of the best-known and remembered of the decade’s underground heroes. I don’t know if such a comic would be possible now. Certainly the decades of terrorism that followed the 60s from groups like the Baader-Meinhof Gang in Germany, the various radical terrorist groups running amok in Italy, and the IRA and the loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland would probably make such a character deeply unappealing to large sections of the public, quite apart from the Fall of Communism. Trashman was going to be controversial even in the 1960s, with the rise of terrorist groups like the Weathermen and the violence at the Democratic National Convention. There’s even a story in the comic in which Trashman shoots that up.

Nevertheless, there are still students sticking posters of Che Guevara on their walls and the rise of Black Lives Matter and strong initial support for former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Bernie Sanders in the US shows that a sizable section of the British and American electorate want far more radical change than the right-wing cliques that have seized control of the Labour party in Britain and Democrats in the US are prepared to give them. Not that either Corbyn or Sanders ever remotely endorsed terrorism and violence, despite the vilification of the former by the British political and media establishment.

One of the complaints among some comics creators and fans is that Marvel and DC, the two main comics companies in the US, have moved too far leftward. Instead of producing good, enjoyable stories with strong plots and characters, the two are instead concentrating on explicit statements about social issues and promoting characters based solely on their gender, race or sexuality. This is putting readers off, and as a result American comics are in decline as people turn instead to Japanese manga, which eschews these issues. This is the view of Ethan van Sciver and the Comicsgaters. I can see their point of view, although the Guardian pointed out in an article a few years ago that comics have always dealt with political and social issues. That’s quite true. One episode of the Superman radio series in the 1940s was applauded by NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League as the Man of Steel had gone after the Klan. In the 1970s both Marvel and DC dealt with racism and the collapse of American self-esteem following Watergate. There were several issues of Captain America in which the Captain forswore his patriotic identity to call himself ‘Nomad’ following his own, brief loss of faith in his country. There were also a number of Hulk stories which showed a very strong critical attitude to the military, doubtless influenced by the unpopularity of the Vietnam War. However, Stan Lee, the man responsible with artists like Kirby and Ditko, for so many of Marvel’s most iconic heroes, also said in an interview that he was careful not to let the political content alienate those readers who didn’t agree with it.

The Kayfaber’s state that Trashman is a product of its times, though it can also be seen as a period piece set in that decade because of its timeless quality. Back in the 1990s the Heil went berserk at a similar radical, underground comic on sale in the shops. This was an anarchist version of Tintin, in which the boy detective was shown joining the struggle against the cops and the state. Of course, the book had absolutely no connection to anything Herge actually wrote or did. However, the rise of the internet has provided would-be comics creators with an opportunity for launching their own comics without the hindrance of the mainstream comics publishing industry. It’s therefore possible that as Thatcherite neoliberalism continues to collapse and show itself corrupt and bankrupt, underground comix heroes like Trashman may rise to stick it to oppressive capitalist authority once again. And especially if less radical ways of changing the system or expressing dissatisfaction are suppressed by Blairites and Thatcherite Labour leaders like Keir Starmer.

Claire Fox Speech in Parliament Against Housing Predatory Trans Identified Men in Women’s Prisons

November 19, 2021

Heaven help us, I can’t believe I’m actually agreeing with something Claire Fox has done. Fox is a thoroughly loathsome piece of work. She was in one of the Communist sects led by Frank Furedi, which published Living Marxism. As a genuine, paid-up member of the far left, she and the rest of the LM crew were fully behind the IRA’s right to armed struggle and their consequent bombing and murder of civilians. This continued right up to either the Omagh or Warrington bombing in the 1990s, which did much to discredit the IRA. Among the victims of the Warrington bomb were two small boys. While supporters of terrorism would naturally consider soldiers and politicians fair targets, I think severely normal people, British, Irish or whatever, hate the murder of innocent civilians and positively loathe that of children. The bombings were widely condemned, except by Fox, who defended it. She has never retracted or apologised for her comments.

Then, when Communism fell, she and the rest of the Living Marxism crew decided to abandon it as well. They crossed the floor to become right-wing Libertarian Tory contrarians. Living Marxism was rebranded as the Last Magazine, ’cause the Fall of Communism marked the end of history according to Francis Fukuyama. This went down the tubes, but Furedi and the rest went on to found Spiked. Which, as Zelo Street has so wittily put it, is so called because it should be. The other year the ghastly Fox was then taken up by the Tories for her work on their behalf, and is now a peer in the House of Lords. Ugh!

But this time she has done something right. One of the issues facing gender-critical feminists and anyone concerned with women’s safety is the move to house transwomen in women’s prisons. Unfortunately, this does not just mean the kind of people most us would naturally think of as a transwoman. I think most people, when they think of them have in mind gentle souls, whose identification with born women has led them to transition surgically. If this was the case, and all transwomen were like that, then I think there would be much less opposition to transwomen being placed in women’s prisons.

Sadly this is not the case. The trans category has been expanded so that it includes biological men, who identify as women but retain their male anatomy. Furthermore, the traditional rigorous medical examinations to confirm trans status have been, or are planning to be, scrapped in place of self-recognition. A male prisoner may therefore claim to be a really a woman only on his own say-so, and therefore demand to be placed in a women’s prison. This is a real problem for the safety of the women already there, as many of them are violent rapists and sex offenders. There has already been a series of rapes and sexual assaults in California’s women’s prisons, thanks to the legislation demanding that trans identified men be housed in them, to the point where the prison authorities are actually handing out condoms.

I realise this is a controversial issue, and people have been cancelled and thrown off university campuses for stating that there are only two sexes and other challenges to the trans ideology. I will state again that I am not anti-trans, and do not wish to see anyone persecuted, beaten, discriminated against or denied educational or employment opportunities because of their sexuality or gender identification. But I do believe there is an imperative need to keep women safe from dangerous predators.

I’ve blogged about this issue before. Gillyflowerblog, one of the respected commenters on this blog, has said in a previous comment about a post I made on Sargon of Gasbag and Posy Parker on the dangers of radical trans extremists on the dangers of involving the medical profession. She said: “Lastly, if a medical certificate is required to transition then do you expect the same for gay people. After all, the biology suggests heterosexuality. It is a very dangerous step to invole the medical profession”. I take her point. I’ve no doubt it is, and have every sympathy in this regard as once upon a time when homosexuality was a criminal offence people did seek medical intervention to correct it. However, while I recognise the dangers of medical intervention, you can do much to help women’s safety by removing biologically male rapists and predators from them. I understand the British government is doing so by building separate trans wings for them.

Belfield, the mad right-wing internet radio host, put up this video of Fox making her speech on his blog yesterday, with a comment about how loved her. Well, he would, as he’s as right-wing as she is. Nevertheless, Fox makes very good points, though this doesn’t alter the fact that she and her fellow Spiked crowd are still scumbags.

Brexit Britain’s Collapse also Reveals Failure of Free Market Capitalism

September 26, 2021

I wonder sometimes if the Communists and Trotskyites didn’t throw in the towel too soon. They were always looking for the collapse of capitalism, and while that didn’t happen and probably won’t, they would have realised that Thatcherism, at least, isn’t working and made real efforts to make the British public realise it. Communism collapsed with the velvet revolution in eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the countries of the former Soviet bloc threw off their chains and embraced democracy and free market capitalism. Francis Fukuyama declared that it was ‘the end of history’. Liberalism in the broad sense of the mixture of liberal democracy and capitalism, had seen off its rivals and would now reign supreme and unchallenged as the global ideology bringing peace, freedom – both political and economic – and prosperity to everyone.

But it hasn’t worked out like that.

Thatcher’s privatisation of the public utilities here in Britain haven’t brought the necessary investment these sectors needed. As Ken Loach’s superb documentary, The Spirit of 45, makes very clear, the power, water and railway industries are natural monopolies that need national planning and support. This has been particularly shown time and again in the management of the railways. Major’s privatisation of British Rail in the 1990s and its breakup into separate companies resulted in a spate of horrendous train crashes. Insult was added to injury by the rail companies passing the buck and accusing each other of responsibility for the disasters. As a result, the company owning the railway network itself, Railtrack, had to be renationalised in 2002. Privatisation did not work. And it has continued to fail with the private railways companies. Several have had to be taken back into state administration after providing poor service. However, this has always been excused as a temporary measure and the government has insisted on finding some other private company to run those services afterwards. After a series of such failures, this strategy now looks more than a little desperate. It’s an attempt to fend off the obvious: that private enterprise isn’t providing a proper, decent rail service and the only way to run it properly is to renationalise it.

It is very much the same with the government’s part-privatisation of Britain’s schools. Declining standards in state schools led Thatcher to experiment with privately-run schools outside the control of Local Education Authorities. These were then called ‘city academies’. They were another failure, and her education secretary, Norman Fowler, was forced to wind them up quietly. Unfortunately, Tony Blair thought it was a wizard idea and it became a major part of New Labour education policy. Simply called ‘academies’, these schools would be run by private companies. Some of these would specialise in particularly subjects, such as Maths and science. Expertise from private industry would ensure that standards would be high, and they would provide a powerful incentive through their competition for the remaining state schools to improve their performance. Except that didn’t happen either. The academies don’t perform any better than ordinary state schools once the massive difference in funding is taken into account. An academy may receive tens of millions of funding compared to a fraction of million that the Local Education Authority receives to spend on all the schools it runs. Furthermore, many of the academies have only been able to maintain their high standards through being highly selective about their intakes. Pupils that may not reach the marks demanded by the schools, including those with behavioural problems or who come from poorer families, are often excluded and expelled. Educational performance and standards in many academies has been so abysmal that the chains managing them have collapsed and the schools once again taken into public administration. But private enterprise under the Tories cannot be allowed to fail, and so we had the grim spectacle a few years ago of Nicky Morgan, the Tory education secretary, repeatedly not answering the questions on the Andrew Marr show why the government was pushing ahead with turning schools into academies when just a little while ago 25 academies had had to be taken over by the government again.

Now, thanks to a mixture of Brexit and global problems elsewhere, the gas industry is in crisis. There are shortages of gas, a number of the smaller companies have already collapsed and customers are being faced with sharp price rises. Novara Media have even said that the government has admitted that if there are severe problems with the major gas suppliers, then they will have to be nationalised.

Gas, like electricity, should never have been privatised in the first place. When it was initially privatised, the company was not split up into separate, competing companies and so it was able to dominate the market as a private monopoly. Now some of those companies are suffering because they are unable to cope with free market conditions. This says to me very much that Jeremy Corbyn was right – that the public utilities need to be publicly owned and rationally managed as part of an integrated system. This is another point that Ken Loach’s documentary makes very well.

And Brexit has created further problems. The establishment of a customs border with Eire overturns one of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and so threatens to return Northern Ireland to sectarian violence and chaos. There is a shortage of CO2 as a result of which some foods and other goods may suffer shortages. And there may be further shortages, including petrol and other fuels, because Brexit has also resulted in fewer haulage drivers. Some are even now predicting a new ‘Winter of Discontent’, like that in 1979 that resulted in the defeat of the-then Labour government and the election of Maggie Thatcher.

I remember the petrol crisis of the ’70s, when OPEC suddenly raised oil prices and there were queues at petrol pumps. Just as I remember how Ted Heath’s dispute with the coal miners resulted their strike, the three-day week and power cuts. It got to the point that by the middle of the decade the right were expecting a Communist takeover and the end of civilisation as we know it. There were supposedly private militias being formed by bonkers right-wingers while parts of the establishment wanted to overthrow the minority Labour government in a coup to be replaced by a kind of coalition government composed of representatives from all the parties. Well, that was what the Times discussed in its articles. The security services, however, were forming plans to round up trade unionists and left-wing politicians and activists and intern them on a Scottish island somewhere. The editor of the Mirror went to Sandhurst to interest them in overthrowing the government but was met with a no doubt polite refusal. I think he, or one of the other plotters, even went as far as Paris to see if that old Fascist, Oswald Mosley, would be interested in leading the new government.

All that has been used in the Tory myth that socialism doesn’t work, and only creates the economic and political chaos that helped bring Britain to its knees. Chaos that was only ended by the glorious reign of Maggie.

Except that these problems look like they’re coming back, and this time the fault is Brexit and the free market.

I think Boris will be able to find temporary solutions to alleviate, but not cure, some of these problems. He has, for example, introduced new legislation to encourage lorry drivers from the continent to come over here. But the underlying structural problems remain. The only way to solve them is through nationalisation.

The Labour party is in an excellent position to drive this home, at least in the case of gas. Even if it doesn’t go that far, it should still be landing hard blows on Johnson and the Tories because of Brexit’s massive failures. But Starmer isn’t doing that. Instead, as Zelo Street pointed out in a piece published a day or so ago, the Labour leader is more intent instead on destroying democracy in his party as part of his war on the left.

Which is why I’m almost nostalgic for the old Socialist Workers’ Party. They’re still around, rebranded as ‘the Socialist Party’, but they’re nowhere near as active as they were. Whenever there was any kind of crisis or major issue you could count on them turning up with their megaphones and copies of their newspaper to harangue the masses and demand further action against the problem. Unfortunately, in many cases the Socialist Workers’ Party were the problem. They colonised left-wing issues in an attempt to turn protest groups into front organisations, which they could then use to produce further discontent. Rock Against Racism collapsed when the SWP took over the leadership of that organisation, formed to protest against the rise of Fascism. They were also busy infiltrating the Labour party and other left-wing parties here and abroad with the intention of radicalising them. I think the eventual hope was to create some kind of mass revolutionary movement. It didn’t work, and has only resulted in purges, such as that of Militant Tendency by Kinnock in the 1980s. In fact, the policy has helped strengthen the right in the Labour party, as they smeared Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters as Trotskyite infiltrators as the pretext for their continue purge.

The Trotskyites lived, however, in the firm belief that capitalism would eventually fail. Well, it isn’t doing that now, but it should be abundantly clear that Thatcherite free market capitalism isn’t working. The SWP would have realised that and tried to get the message across. The Labour left, which isn’t remotely Trotskyite, realises too that Thatcherism isn’t working. Their solution is simply a return to the mixed economy of the social democratic consensus. This wasn’t perfect, but it operated far better than the free market shambles we have now. And no, mixed economies are not ‘Communist’, ‘Trotskyist’ or ‘far left’. The real Communists and Trotskyists hated it as a form of capitalism, just as they hated reformist socialist parties like Labour.

But Starmer’s leadership is pledged to propping up the same wretched free market capitalism. Which is why I really feel there should be a mass movement driving home the point, again and again, that Thatcherism is ideologically and economically bankrupt. It is doing nothing but producing chaos in the economy and industry, and poverty and starvation to Britain’s working people. And this poverty will get worse. This is why I’m almost nostalgic for the wretched SWP, as they would have been determined to drive this home. And who knows? Perhaps if they behaved like a reasonable party, they might have gained further support and forced the Labour party to rediscover its socialist heritage in order to head off a challenge from real Communists.

Ex-Army Paz Catches Cold War Paranoia

August 9, 2021

Last week I posted a piece about the right-wing YouTuber, Ex-Army Paz 49, posting a video supporting the letter of the French generals and squaddies threatening Macron with dire consequences if he didn’t get tough on Muslims. Paz is a former squaddie, who has swallowed the right-wing lie that Marxism, Communism and socialism are all the same thing, really. They have never worked, and are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions across the globe.

This is pretty much true of Communism under Mao, Stalin and the other dictators, who turned their countries into vast open air prisons and ruled with fear, artificial famines, purges and the gulag. But Communism was only one form of Marxism. Before the Russian Revolution, mainstream European Marxism supported democratic elections and the expansion of the suffrage to include all of the working class. One of its leading ideologues, the Austrian Karl Kautsky, hated the Bolsheviks’ destruction of democracy and their disenfranchisement and enslavement of the former governing class. He was also cautious about nationalisation, feeling that it should only be done when the natural development of an industry had turned it into a monopoly. Then it should be taken over by the state and run for the good of society as a whole, and not just its capitalist owners and shareholders.

The mainstream European socialist parties, such as Labour in Britain, the Social Democrats in Germany and Austria, were reformists. They rejected revolution for evolution, preferring to introduce socialism through parliamentary reform. They fully supported democracy and included some of the most bitter critics of the Communist one party states and totalitarian rule. Regarding nationalisation, there was a spread of views within these parties from those on the left who wished for more nationalisation to Social Democrats like Anthony Crossland, who believed that nationalisation should be rejected in favour of progressive taxation and strong trade unions, which would deliver the same results. The consensus was for a mixed economy. There was a minimum of nationalisation – the public utilities – linked to state planning and industrial investment. The result was a period of continued growth that lasted from the end of the Second World War to the 1970s.

But all this is either ignored or utterly unknown to right-wingers like Paz, who really do seem to think that Jeremy Corbyn was some kind of Marxist subversive because he urged a return to the post-War consensus. But just as Marxism and socialism have revived thanks to the obviously failing state of Reaganomics and Thatcherite free trade capitalism, so the old Cold War paranoia about THEM has come back. Paz posted a video last week claiming that Black Lives Matter and Trans activism were all being encouraged by an unknown foreign power in preparation for taking over the country. This is based on something a Soviet defector, Yuri Bezmenov, said on American TV twenty years ago. Bezmenov said that the Soviet authorities regarded western leftists as ‘useful idiots’ and encouraged them in order to weaken the West ready for a Soviet invasion. Paz was convinced, as are many other rightists, that this going on right now. It’s just that ‘we don’t know who’.

This is just standard Cold War state disinformation. Yes, Black Lives Matter are a Marxist organisation and the Critical Race Theory that underpins it and much other Black activism is a Marxist ideology. The Queer Theory that forms the intellectual basis of transgender activism is also a product of the postmodern extreme left. Lenin and the other Soviet leaders certainly did see western fellow travellers as ‘useful idiots’. But I see absolutely no foreign influence behind either BLM or the Trans lobby. They seem to be natural development in certain strands of anti-racist and gay rights activism. In the case of Black Lives Matter, this has gained considerable urgency because Blacks and people of colour have been particularly hard hit by the poverty caused by forty years of wage restraint and welfare cuts, along with the banking crisis and now Covid. As for trans politics, I think this has partly expanded because it’s now viewed as the new battleground over gay rights. And I don’t think the mainstream gay organisations in Britain are Marxist. One of the founders of Stonewall here in Britain, apparently, was Matthew Paris, who was Maggie Thatcher personal private secretary until he got sacked for writing a rude letter to an old lady, who had written to her.

The paranoia about some shadowy foreign power simply looks like the kind of state propaganda put out over here during the 70s and 80s by MI5 and IRD. They claimed that just about every figure on the radical left was somehow in the pay of Moscow. This included the anarchists, the IRA, the PLO and mainstream Labour politicians like Tony Benn, whom they also smeared as supporters of the IRA. It wasn’t true, and some of its targets, like the anarchists, actually found it so wrong to be hilarious. But it was effective in discrediting decent politicians like Benn to a section of the British electorate.

Well, Communism and the Soviet Union fell in the 1990s, though this didn’t get through to a hard line of the paranoid fringe in America. A certain section of the survivalist milieu believed that the USSR hadn’t really collapsed. They had only made it seem that way. In reality the USSR was alive and well, and had secret bases in Canada and Mexico ready to send tanks over the border when the time was right. However, thirty years after the collapse of the USSR, it’s obvious to just about everyone that Communism, except in China and some other minor countries, really has fallen. Hence the fact that Paz and the other rightists are utterly convinced that some foreign power is behind BLM and the trans movement, but don’t really know who.

My guess is that as capitalism continues to fail and discontent spreads, there’s going to be more deliberate disinformation published in the right-wing media smearing the old, traditional left as Communists and Marxists, like they did with Jeremy Corbyn.

Which means there are going to be a few more ultra-patriots like Paz convinced that it’s all being done ready for a foreign invasion, but can’t tell you who. Welcome to the new Cold War.

Where Are All These Communists the Tories Claim Are Threatening Britain?

February 22, 2021

Okay, I might be a bit slow here, but I am starting to wonder what planet Nigel Farage, Priti Patel and the Tory party and press are on when they start screaming that British society is under threat from a resurgent, but covert Marxism? About a week or so ago now Zelo Street posted a piece about the McCarthyism that now seemed set to grip the nation. The smirking, odious, racist Priti Patel had announced that MI5 were looking into renewed threats from the Fascist far right and the Marxist left. According to her, the Socialist Party, or the Socialist Workers’ Party as it used to be known, might be infiltrating Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion. Yup, as in the days of the Cold War, the Commies and Trots are at it again, trying to infiltrate other left-wing groups and take them over.

In fairness, this was a tactic of the Socialist Workers Party, which practised something called ‘revolutionary entryism’. The idea was to infiltrate other left-wing organisations and try to turn them into front organisations for the party in an attempt to make Trotskyite Marxism something like a popular mass movement. They did it in the 1970s/80s to Rock Against Racism, which had been set up to challenge the rise of the NF, BNP and other Fascist scumbags. All that it achieved, however, was the collapse of the organisation as the majority of its membership left. They weren’t interested in Trotskyite Marxism. They simply wanted to hear some great bands while combating Fascism and racial hatred. It’s because of its antics attempting to infiltrate and take over every vaguely left-wing organisation, or capitalise on every left-wing issue at the expense of other organisations, that many on the left, from the moderate, reformist Labour Party to various anarchist groups, don’t trust the SWP.

Besides this is the fact that Black Lives Matter, or at least its American parent, is already a Marxist organisation. If the Socialist Workers were trying to infiltrate it, it would be a case of one Marxist group trying to take over another. It’s possible, but seems unlikely. It sounds like something from the Illuminatus! books by Robert Anton Wilson and O’Shea, about warring secret societies plotting against and trying to infiltrate each other.

As for Extinction Rebellion, from what little I’ve seen of its broader political content – and this comes from idly looking at one of the organisation’s posters put up on a wall while waiting for a taxi – it does seem to be a radical left organisation. It’s very anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-capitalist. But it seems to me that this comes from the very radical programme adopted by parts of the Green movement. When it first emerged in the 1980s or so, the German Green Party – Die Gruenen – included as one of its leading members the lawyer for the Bader-Meinhof gang. There’s a section of the anarchist movement that is also very ecologically aware. The American anarchist intellectual, Murray Bookchin, was advocating a green, eco-friendly anarchism back in the 1980s and in the 1990s there was a British anarchist mag called Green Anarchist, I believe. You don’t need to invoke the Trotskyites of the SWP to explain Extinction Rebellion’s socially radical, anti-capitalist programme.

Would the SWP be interested in infiltrating Extinction Rebellion? I don’t know. Possibly. But they aren’t nearly as strong as they were. I think Marxism as a whole suffered a loss of credibility with the fall of Communism, which might be why radical anti-capitalists seemed to switch to anarchism or else an undefined ‘anti-capitalism’ that could take in a range of socialist and radical left views. The Socialist Workers, now renamed as the Socialist Party, are still about. You can find their videos on YouTube. But even before the lockdown they didn’t seem to be the visible presence on the streets they used to be.

The Tories and their press need to scare people with a threat from the radical left. I remember that in the late ’80s and ’90s they switched from trying to frighten people with the bogeyman of Communist infiltration – although they’d done that with the Labour Party in the 1987 election – to anarchism with the rise of Class War. Now that Class War has also gone the way of many radical movements and fizzled out, the Tories in Britain and the Republicans in America have turned once again to invoking the spectre of Communism.

And because of the very anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-LGBTQ+ policies adopted by some universities, they’re now trying to claim that western education is under threat from Marxist infiltration. Nigel Farage apparently was in the pages of the Depress a few days ago, writing that the Marxist takeover of our education system was nearly complete. Really? I must have missed all that. There are Marxists in the universities, and have been for a very long time. And some of them are excellent scholars. I got a feeling that Vere Gordon Childe, the Australian archaeologist who first devised the notion of the Neolithic Revolution – the idea that agriculture and the rise of the first settled societies were linked and constituted a radical break with the hunter-gatherer societies of the Paleo- and Mesolithic – was a Communist. He was, however, a brilliant archaeologist and highly influential, even if recent excavations in Turkey have demonstrated that people were settling down into villages before the invention of agriculture. And yes, there are and have always been academics with very pronounced left-wing views. I can think of a number from my own experience as a student. But many others, probably the vast majority, aren’t. And some academics, who privately hold left-wing views, are very careful to keep them separate from their teaching. And whatever their political views, I think the main concern of all teaching staff, from university academics to school teachers, is simply to teach, not to indoctrinate students.

In any case, there are laws against political or religious indoctrination anyway. I think it was introduced by Blair. Teachers are not supposed to teach their political or religious opinions as fact. They are to avoid this as much as possible. If they can’t, then they are supposed to make clear that this is just their opinion. This legislation has been around since at least the middle of the last decade, if not earlier. It should provide sufficient protection already from attempts by the politically motivated to indoctrinate their students.

All these claims of a surreptitious takeover of the education system by Marxists seems to be a return to the days of Maggie Thatcher, when rags like the Depress, the Heil and the local paper for Bristol, the Evening Post, ran stories about Communist teachers indoctrinating their students. The Scum attempted to titillate and scare its readers with a tale about children in various London boroughs – possibly Brent – being taught to sing ‘Ba Ba Green Sheep’ as an anti-racist version of ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’. This is supposed to have been invented by the wretched rag, but I’ve talked to people, who’ve claimed that it was done in their former school, so who knows? At the same time, I’ve heard that Thatcher also introduced legislation with the intention of purging Marxists from the education system. In fact the Marxists got round it by claiming to be ‘Marxian’. They were only Marxists in culture. It was a fine distinction, but it allowed them to retain their jobs.

But apart from this, university is supposed to be a place for the formulation and discussion of a wide range of views. A vital part of the university experience is the exposure to different opinions and encouragement to form their own views. The current scaremongering about the Marxists trying to takeover the education system is the opposite of this. It’s an attempt to limit free speech and discussion, as Zelo Street pointed out, only the approved Tory views will be heard. Hence the appointment of a ‘free speech tsar’.

Now I will concede that some student bodies are intolerant with protests against talks by visiting personalities they believe hold unacceptable views. Gender critical feminists and their allies, for example, have found themselves blocked from speaking at some universities because their views are held to be bigoted against the transgendered. But there’s also a cancel culture on the right. The estimable Tony Greenstein put up a piece last week about attempts by the Board of Deputies and Bristol University’s Union of Jewish Students to have one of the lecturers, David Miller, banned as an anti-Semite. This is not because of anything Miller has said against Jews. His cardinal sin is saying that Zionism must be destroyed. As we’ve seen, the Board and the other, establishment Jewish organisations are fanatically pro-Israel and conflate opposition to that nation, or simply criticism of its barbaric treatment of the indigenous Palestinians, with real Jew hatred. But Zionism has never been synonymous with Judaism. For many Jews, it’s diametrically opposed, as the graffiti on a wall in Jerusalem had it. Zionism is an ideology, not a people. Stating that Zionism needs to be destroyed is a contentious viewpoint, but it does not mean that the speaker wishes harm to the Jewish people.

Who is the free speech tsar, who will defend lecturers like David Miller? I think it would be a very brave politician who would risk damaging his or her career by doing so in the present political climate. Even if they had the inclination to do so, which the political establishment doesn’t.

I do find some of the radical policies now being implemented in some universities alarming, like the reports that students in some places of learning will be required to take compulsory anti-racism training in order to combat anti-Black racism on campus. It’s obviously very well intentioned, but as I’ve said, racism really isn’t simply a case of White on Black, and I am afraid such mandatory courses are based on a very simplistic view of Whites that sees White culture as innately racist, or inclined to racism. But I see absolutely no evidence that Marxists are behind it.

All this nonsense by Patel and the Tory press about Marxist infiltration is just another Red Scare in order to whip up support for legislation designed to purge the universities of anything that contradicts received Tory ideology. They are trying to destroy free speech, not defend it, and the appointment of a ‘free speech tsar’ is in many ways dangerous and hypocritical.

For further information, see:

Zelo Street: Free Speech Champion WON’T BE (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Zelo Street: War On Woke = Government Censorship (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Defend Bristol University’s Professor David Miller – Defend Academic Freedom – Defend Free Speech – Tony Greenstein

If you wish to defend Dr Miller from these outrageous allegations, you can sign a petition at Change.org here, as I have done.

http://chng.it/rTqY9r2FgM