Posts Tagged ‘Gangs’

Missionaries Samuel Crowther and Frederick Schon on the Equal Intelligence of African Schoolchildren

August 14, 2021

I’ve reblogged on here several videos from Simon Webb’s History Debunked channel, in which Webb, an author, has disputed some of the false history being promoted by Black and anti-racist activists. He’s definitely a Telegraph-reading Tory, but much of his material, when he backs it up with relevant sources, appears sound. One issue which I’m not happy about, however, is his embrace of the ‘Bell Curve’ theory of a racial intellectual hierarchy. This was proposed by an American academic a few years ago, and caused a storm of controversy and outrage. It proposes that the various races differ in their intellectual capabilities. The Chinese and east Asians are the most intelligent, Blacks the least. Whites are somewhere in the middle. Now I remember being told when I was a child that the Japanese had the highest IQs of any people in the world. While 100 was the European average, theirs was 120. And it was considered to be an established biological fact among many mainstream biologists that Blacks were intellectually inferior. This was used as the rationale for limiting Black immigration to the US and was a major part of the eugenics movement. It has also kept Blacks from achieving their full educational potential. Akala in his book Natives, states that some of the teachers who taught him – not all, but some – believed it and so thought that he too must be more stupid than his White classmates.

But while many anthropologists and biologists did believe Blacks were intellectually inferior, others made it very plain they thought the reverse was true. The missionaries Samuel Crowther and Frederick Schon were two of them. Crowther was a ‘man of colour’, a man of mixed African and White European heritage, who went to bring Christianity to Africa, for which he became the first Anglican bishop of Africa outside the British empire. He held this post until racists in the Anglican church had it taken away from him. His fellow missionary, Frederick Schon, was a Swiss Protestant pastor. During the 19th century they were called up to testify about slavery and the Christian mission to Africa before the parliamentary commission of inquiry tasked with overseeing Britain’s attempt to exterminate slavery and the slave trade. The gentlemen of the committee asked them if the African pupils in the schools they set up were intellectually inferior to White, British children. They responded that they weren’t. Indeed, they felt they were actually rather more intelligent than White Brits. That is until they hit 14 or 15, when they became dull and uninterested. To prove that Black Africans were intellectually equal, they submitted various essays on Divinity, as RE was called back then, discussing God and Christianity, which had been written by these pupils. The good reverend gentlemen’s experience of teaching in Africa does rebut the claims by the supporters of the Bell Curve that Blacks are somehow less intelligent than Whites.

I admit, however, that their statement that the children lose interest and appear to become less intelligent when the hit their mid-teens is a problem. But this could well be due to cultural factors. Nigel Barley’s book anthropological novel, The Coast, certainly suggests this is the case. Set in the 19th century, this about a British Christian missionary to west Africa, who utterly fails to convert the locals. In one episode, the missionary sets up a school for the local children, who are utterly uninterested in what he tries to teach them, until he starts talking about money. The African state in which the missionary is attempting to spread the Gospel, Akwa, is a very mercantile culture and its people are keenly interested in trade, including the local schoolchildren. Barley states in his introduction that Akwa is based on a number of historical states in that region of Africa. He’s a professional anthropologist, who has written a number of books, including his hilarious account of trying to do research among the Dowayo people of Cameroon, The Innocent Anthropologist. I’ve no doubt that, although fiction, The Coast is based on historical and anthropological fact. And it may have been similar cultural forces that resulted in Crowther’s and Schon’s school pupils similarly losing interest in the European schooling they were receiving when they entered puberty.

There is a problem with Black educational underachievement in the UK, for which a number of explanations have been suggested, including institutional racism in British society and the school system. Other factors may also include the breakdown of the Black family in particular, and the growth of urban gang culture.

Crowther’s and Schon’s experience of actually teaching in Africa, as well as Barley’s book, suggests that Black academic underperformance is almost certainly due to cultural and social factors, rather than biology.

Cartoon Kayfabe Reviews Book on the Art of Jack Kirby

July 5, 2021

This is one for all the comics fans. Jack Kirby is one of the truly great figures in American comics. With Stan Lee he created some of Marvel’s best known and most beloved comics characters, like Captain America. Kirby grew up when the immigrant Jewish community in New York was still poor and rough, and like many other similar communities, riddled with gangs. Kirby said he came from the type of background where the best job a man could aspire to was being a mechanic, and I think he was seen as being a bit odd for wanting to be an artist. Nevertheless, he managed to realise his ambition and get away from the gangs, although he also said that part of him enjoyed running with them. 5′ 2” and pugnacious, he wasn’t averse to stepping up to the challenge if someone threatened him. The famous cover of Captain America beating up Hitler was published before America entered the War and upset the American Nazi party. One of the Hitlerites came into the hotel where Kirby was staying at the time, demanding a word with him. To the consternation of his workmates, Kirby got up and went down ready to sort the man. But by the time he got down to the lobby, the Nazi had departed. Probably luckily for the Nazi. Nevertheless, the fear of Nazi reprisal was so strong that Stan Lee and Kirby were both given FBI protection for a time.

One of the book’s editors/producers is Eastman, of Mutant Ninja Turtles fame, and the book is an overview of Kirby’s long artistic career, from when he was just starting out as an aspiring artist to his retirement. I was never a great fan of Kirby, as although he could do cosmic like no one else could, drawing huge, awesome machines and men and women like gods, I didn’t think he could draw the ordinary human form very well. But the book shows that he was actually a very good naturalistic artists with fine sketches of the major figures and celebrities of his time. One of whom was Adolf Hitler.

Kirby seems to have worked at anything and everything to pay the rent. At one time he was an artist on the Disney cartoons, drawing the figures for the moments between the main action. But he was learning all the time and ambitious, looking for new and better jobs and taking with him the skills he learnt. During his comics career he not only worked on superheroes, but also cowboy, commando and romance comics, turning to these parts of the industry when the superhero genre was decimated by the moral panic of the 1950s. He also did his patriotic duty and served in the army during the Second World War, and this fed into the war strips he drew afterwards. The self-portraits Kirby drew of himself before and during his army years show the immense change armed combat had wrought on him. Before he enters the army he’s clean cut, but afterwards he becomes more lined and grizzled. He shows the same effect on soldiers on the cover of one of his war comics. This features a man writing a letter home to his mother, saying that the invasion of Europe was just like a day at the beach. The man’s face betrays otherwise, and Kayfabe and his companion note the 1,000 yard stare. Apparently when the servicemen wrote home, they really did describe the War in those terms as they obviously really didn’t want to cause their families to worry about them.

Kirby’s final years were overshadowed by a quarrel with Stan Lee over who created the Marvel characters, with Kirby claiming that he was the real creator of some. He left Marvel and carried on working long after he should have retired on strips like Devil Dinosaur. Towards the end of his career it looks like this amazing artist was being helped by others in the studio. But in his prime Kirby was extremely prolific. At his height in the 40s-50s he was producing a hundred pages a month. I think that’s why his human forms are so sketchy – he was churning them out and an incredible rate, too fast for very naturalistic art, simply to put food on the table for himself and his family. He also incorporated many of the latest developments in popular art into his comics, like pop art and black light, in order to connect with readers and appeal to their changing tastes.

One of the most remarkable episodes in his career was the use of his concept art for an abandoned film project as cover for a CIA operation to rescue the hostages in Iran. Kirby had been hired to work on a film version of Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. Although the film wasn’t made, the CIA used the art as part of the cover for their operation, which was that they were film makers seeking to make an SF film in the country.

Kirby was indeed one of the giants of the comics industry, and Kayfabe’s review of the book, which I think came out in the ’80s or 90s, is an excellent review of his long and amazing productive career. The characters he and Lee created still continue to enthral readers across the world, and, I hope, to inspire future generations of comics artists and creators.

History Debunked Asks if Black lives Matter to Black People

June 28, 2021

It’s a provocative, controversial question to be sure, but it does need to be asked. In this video History Debunked’s Simon Webb raises it in connection with the shooting of Black activist Sasha Johnson. Johnson was shot a month ago by a Black gang while dancing the night away at a party in Peckham. According to the police officer in charge of the investigation, none of the thirty people, who were present at the shooting have offered any evidence. It seems that Black lives only matter when the killer is White. When this occurs, the slogan ‘White silence is violence’ is trotted out to castigate any White that doesn’t condemn the killing or offer evidence. But when it comes to Black on Black violence, Blacks cover it up. Hence the various claims made after the shooting that a White supremacist was responsible as demonstrated in Diane Abbott’s noxious tweet about it. But the four men accused of the shooting – Prince Dickson, Cameron Derigg, Troy Reed and Demontay Brown, are all Black. There’s a certain irony that they were caught because of Stop and Search, which Sasha Johnson condemned as racist against young Black men. The cops stopped one during such a search, he ran away, was arrested, and so led them to the others. But the thirty people at the party aren’t giving evidence because of a belief in the Black community that it’s wrong to cooperate with the police. Any Black person who does is a Judas. But more Black lives are lost to Black gangs than to White racists, and if Blacks really want to stop Black people being killed, then they should tell their boyfriends and sons not to stab and shoot other Black men. As for the 30 people at the party, their silence really is violence. By not coming forward to give evidence against Johnson’s shooters, they are all complicit in her shooting.

A few years ago, Black on Black violence really was an issue that was being discussed in the mainstream media. This was in the 1990s or early 2000s. There was even an edition of the Ali G show in which Sasha Baron Cohen’s wigger alter ego did a mock interview with the senior police officer supposedly about Black on Black violence. G was particularly interested in the weapons that ‘brothers were using against brothers’. The police chief had brought along a selection of knives, swords and other weapons that had been taken from Black gang members. Then Cohen decided to turn the interview into farce, and started drooling over how cool these weapons were, to the obvious horror of the policeman. The fact that even Ali G was discussing the subject showed very clearly that it was definitely not a taboo subject. But now it’s vanished. The Black Lives Matter movement is only concerned with Black lives if their taken by Whites. And its fair to say that many Black are very unhappy about this.

One Black Conservative American youtuber last year put up a long video about why many Black Americans hated Black Lives Matter. This consisted of clips of Black people, including business people as well as ordinary peeps, stating very clearly that in their experience, all the abuse and violence had come from other Blacks, not Whites. This included a man, who’d been physically threatened as well as people, who’d seen their shops and businesses trashed by the rioters.

There is indeed a widespread, deep distrust of the police amongst the Black community in both America and Britain. It’s doubtless due to the real racism Blacks have experienced at the hands of White cops. Since the race riots in Britain of 1981/2 there have been efforts to recruit more Black and ethnic minority officer into the police as a way of countering this. Cressida Dick, the Met’s police chief, has announced that she wishes to recruit a further 20,000 police officer. To Alex Belfield’s horror, she is also trying to change the law to give preference to Black applicants. She’s almost certainly doing this, or wants to do it, because of the long-standing campaign to get more Blacks into the rozzers as a way of gaining the community’s trust.

As for the reluctance of the people at the party to give evidence against the shooters, my guess is that there are other factors at work quite apart from simple racial solidarity. It’s been suggested that it was a gang shooting, and they accused were really trying to kill Johnson’s partner. Johnson was simply unlucky enough to get in the way. In this case, the silence of the other partygoers probably is due to fear for their lives. A Black resident of Bristol’s St. Paul’s area said much the same after the riots of 1981/2. She was on the side of the police against the rioters, as she wrote in an article in the Bristol Evening Post that the area was being terrorised by criminal gangs, and people were afraid of speaking out against them.

But there’s also a marked hostility amongst Black anti-racist activists to media reporting of Black on Black violence. Remember the murder of Demilola Taylor? He was a 12 year old Black lad, who was stabbed by a gang on his way home from school, finally bleeding to death in the stairwell of the block of flats where he lived. A vile, horrific murder that shocked the nation and was extensively reported in the press. I’ve mentioned before the many vile attitudes held by the Black and Asian Studies Association that thoroughly disgusted me when I read their wretched newsletter. One of the worst was their accusation that the Beeb was being ‘racist’ for reporting it. In issue 32/33 of their newsletter they complained about its reporting and stated that the media should instead have carried stories about all the Blacks murdered by Whites. They were showing their prejudices here. They’d obviously concluded that Taylor was murdered by a Black gang, but their ethnicity hadn’t been mentioned on the national news and it was later revealed that it was made up of people of different races. It’s an attitude based, no doubt, on the extensive reporting of Black criminality by the right-wing press, which certainly was racially biased. I’ve no doubt that the Black activists, who oppose the reporting of Black on Black assault and murder do so from a genuine belief that this somehow supports anti-Black racism and ‘negative stereotypes’ of Black people.

But most of the Black people stabbed and shot are attacked by other Blacks. And I’ve no doubt that there are many British Blacks, like those in America, who would like this to become an issue. They want their neighbourhoods to be safe, and to be able to raise families and run businesses without fear of being robbed, looted or murdered by anyone, whether White supremacists or Black criminals.

It’s just Black Lives Matter and similar organisations, like the Black and Asian Studies Association, who want to silence any discussion of Black on Black violence.

And their determination to silence its reporting is both an indictment and makes them complicit in the killings they ignore.

Book on How to Resist and Campaign for Change

November 4, 2018

Matthew Bolton, How To Resist: Turn Protest to Power (London: Bloomsbury 2017)

About this time last week, hundreds of thousands of people were out on the streets marching to demand a second referendum on Brexit. It was the biggest demonstration since 2 million or so people marched against Blair’s invasion of Iraq. And as Mike commented in his blog post about it, as likely to do as much good. Blair and his corrupt gang ignored the manifest will of the people, and went ahead anyway, determined to prosecute a war whose real reasons were western imperialism and multinational corporate greed. The march failed to stop the war and the chaos it caused is still ongoing. Just as last week’s march will also fail to prevent the Tories doing whatever they want.

It’s a disgusting situation, and this book is addressed to everyone who’s fed up with it. The author, Matthew Bolton, is an organizer with the campaigning group Citizens UK and their Living Wage campaign. And the book is addressed to people, who have been on the march, and are sick and tired of being ignored. Right at the very beginning of the book, he writes

This book is for people who are angry with the way things are and want to do something about it; for people who are frustrated with the system, or worried about the direction the country is going in. For people who are upset about a particular issue, or want a greater say in the changes happening in their neighbourhood. They’ve posted their opinions on social media and they’ve shouted at something they’ve seen on the news. They’ve been on the big march and they’ve been to the ballot box, but what more can be done? This is for people who want to make a change, but they’re not sure how. (p.1)

A few pages later he describes the dangers to democracy and the increasing sense of powerlessness people now feel when decisions are taken out of their hands by politicians.

What’s at stake here is more important than simply helping people who care about particular issues to run effective campaigns. It’s about democracy. In the past, people who wanted to make a difference, and believed in change fought for democracy with sweat, blood and courage. The Chartists, the Suffragettes and other endured prison and faced death in their struggle for the chance to have a say in the governance of the country. They organized and campaigned to force the ruling elites to open up our political system to influence by the majority of the people. It is a great misunderstanding to think that they were fighting for the chance to put a cross in a box once every few years. They were fighting – week in, week out – for power. Fighting for more people to have more influence.

Over time, we have become confused. Now we have the vote, we have mistaken politics for Parliament and have come to see democracy as something to watch on television or follow on Twitter, like spectators at a football game – or worse, to switch off from it completely, losing trust in politicians, losing trust in the media, losing trust in the system. Democracy doesn’t just mean ‘to vote’, it means people power. It means embedding political action into our day-to-day lives, in our communities and workplaces. It is a vision of a society where power is distributed amongst the people, not concentrated in the hands of the few. It’s not an end state, but a constant struggle for people to fight for a seat around the decision-making table.

But it doesn’t feel like we are at the table. It feels like we are on the menu. Power is being concentrated in the hands of an increasingly small circle of people. We have a revolving door of Cabinet ministers becoming bankers, becoming newspaper editors, becoming chief executives. We have been lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that our democratic system would create a better future for us all. But it doesn’t look that way. By lunchtime on the first Wednesday in January, after just two-and-a-half days’ work, FTSE 100 bosses will have earned more than the average person will earn that entire year. The generation now in their twenties will be the first in modern times to be worse off than their parents. What we want for ourselves and our children – a decent job, a home, a health service, a community – is under threat. (pp. 4-5).

He then discusses how the political terrain has shifted immensely recently, with people demanding change, giving as examples the vote to Leave in the Brexit referendum and the election of Jeremy Corbyn. But he also makes the point that you need a strategy and that winning campaigns are very well planned and organized. And he gives two examples: Rosa Parks and Abdul Durrant. While the action that sparked off the bus boycott that began the Civil Rights movement in earnest was presented as spontaneous in Dr. Who, in reality it was very carefully planned. The Montgomery chapter of the NAACP had been planning a boycott for a year before she refused to give up her seat. They had already tried this with three other Black passengers, but had failed to light the fuse of public indignation. This time, they found the right person with Rosa. Durrant was a leader in the East London Communities Organisation, part of Citizens UK, who worked nights as a cleaner in HSBC in Canary Wharf. He led a campaign to get better pay for workers like him, and then organized a media and mass protest to get it.

As for Bolton himself, he comes from a working/ middle class family. His father’s family were working class, his mother’s solidly middle class. He attended Cambridge university, but went to the state primary in his part of London. The local area was very rough, and his mother wanted him privately educated, and he was lucky enough to get a scholarship to a private school in Dulwich. He says that it was at this time that the stark difference between conditions in south London and the bubble of privilege in Dulwich began to grate on him. He was mugged twice in his neighbourhood, once at the point of a knife, punched several times in the face, and violently carjacked. After private secondary school, he went to sixth form at a state school that also had its fair share of problems. He describes how some of his friends from private school went on to work with a family friend in the City, which he describes as a conveyor belt to a decent university and a great career. Others had to avoid gang trouble on their way home, looked after their young siblings in the evening because their mother was working nights, scrimped and saved to pay the gas meter, and then tried to do their homework. He continues

It wasn’t just the unfairness that made me angry: it was the fact that as a society we say success is determined by how clever you are and how hard you work. If you fail, it’s your fault. That convenient lie made me angry then and it makes me angry now. (p. 21).

The book describes the strategy he has devised over years of campaigning to affect change. It starts off by identifying the issue you are particularly angry about – it could be anything – and identifying the people in authority who may be able to do something about it. He rejects the idea that powerlessness is somehow noble, and recommends instead that protestors concentrate on developing their power, as well as appealing to those that already have it to help them through their self-interest. The book also talks about the correct strategy to adopt in meetings and talks with those in authority and so on. It is all about mobilizing popular protest for peaceful change. After the introduction, pieces of which I’ve quoted above, it has the following chapters:

1. If You Want Change, You Need Power

2. Appreciating Self-Interest

3. Practical Tools to Build Power

4. Turning Problems Into Issues

5. The Action is in the Reaction

6. Practical Tools to Build a Campaign

7. Unusual Allies and Creative Tactics

8. Finding the Time.

9. The Iron Rule.

I’m afraid I didn’t finish reading the book, and have no experience of campaigning myself, so I can’t really judge how useful and applicable it is. But just reading it, it seems to be a very useful guide with sensible, badly needed advice for people wanting to mount effective campaigns on the issues that matter to them. And Bolton is absolutely right about the rising, obscene inequalities in our society and the crisis of democracy that has developed through the emergence of a corrupt, self-interest and interlinked media-political-banking complex.

The Young Turks Condemn Comments Celebrating Persecution of Palestinians

May 16, 2018

This is a video from the American left-wing news show, The Young Turks, in which main man Cenk Uygur comments on the appalling views of American Conservatives on the Israeli state’s persecution of the Palestinians. One of them remarked on American television about how wonderful and transparent Israeli democracy was. He thought it was the most democratic country in the world. He also praised Israeli walls. These were great too, unless you believed that Palestinians were people.

He was referring to the wall built by the Israelis, to keep the Palestinians the Israelis expelled from their ancestral homes out. The Israelis have been trying to expel all of the Palestinians from Israel and the occupied territories ever since the Nakba at the birth of Israel. They have also refused to readmit Palestinians, who fled the massacres committed by the Israel forces at the time, for purely racist reasons. They have said quite openly that they weren’t going to allow them to return as this would upset the ethnic composition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Uygur then comes to the comment of Ben Shapiro, a very young Republican political commentator, who for some reason they revere as some kind of great intellectual. Shapiro tweeted that Israelis like to build, while Palestinians prefer to bomb and live in sewage. Uygur makes the point that the reason the Palestinians live in squalor is because they don’t control their economy and the Israeli state is forcing these conditions upon them. He also point out that with this, the Republicans are demonising the Palestinians, just as the Nazis demonised the Jews. And it’s done for the same reason: to make their genocide easier.

He also acknowledges that Arabs and Palestinians also demonise Jews and Israelis, and he’s very firmly against that as well. They’re all human beings, and the only proper solution to this is a two-state solution. He also praises the ‘If Not Now’ movement, which demonstrated against the murder of the protesters yesterday. This is made up of young Jews and rabbinical college students.

But there was one person, who was pleased with the murder of the protesters: Anne Coulter. She tweeted that Israeli soldiers had killed 28 protesters (the total number is 59), before asking ‘Can we do that?’

She was referring to Trump’s plans to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out. Uygur argues passionately that if the Israelis get away with shooting the Palestinian protesters caged in Gaza, then it’ll encourage Trump to believe he can shoot Mexicans trying to enter the US. Because just as the Israeli state demonises the Palestinians as terrorists, so the Trump and the Republicans claim that Mexicans are rapists, drug abusers and members of criminal gangs like MS-13.

And if that happens, you can also bet it’ll have a knock-on effect over this said of the pond. We’ll have the islamopobes and anti-immigration lobby over here claiming that we need to have the right to shoot illegal immigrants for the same reason.

John Kampfner on the Growth of the Surveillance State in France under Sarkozy

March 7, 2016

It isn’t just in Britain where the powers of the state to monitor and imprison its citizens have been massively expanded. John Kampfner in his book, Freedom for Sale describes not only the growth of authoritarian government not just in Britain, and in the traditionally closed societies of China and Russia, but also in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, India, Berlusconi’s Italy and France under Sarkozy.

He states that in France Sarko introduced a series of measures expanding the surveillance and intelligence gathering powers of the secret police and authorising the preventative arrest of terrorist or criminal suspects. His Socialist opponents have compiled a ‘black book’ of attacks on liberty by Sarko’s government since 2007.

For example, in November 2008 anti-terrorist police arrested twenty people in the small village of Tarnac. There was little real evidence against them. They were arrested because they were suspected of writing a book, The Coming Insurrection, and of being members of the ‘ultra-left’.

In June 2008, Sarko created EDVIGE, a feminine-sounding acronym that stands for Exploitation documentaire et valorisation de l’information generale. It’s a database of groups, organisations and individuals, which the state considers a threat, or possible threat. The database includes not just known criminals, or criminal suspects, but also the people, who associate with them. The EDVIGE database also includes information on their jobs, marriage status and family history; their former and present addresses, phone numbers and email addresses; their physical appearance, including photographs, and descriptions of how they behave. It also includes their identity papers, car number plates, tax records and legal history.

Gay organisations have been worried and criticised the database because it will also store information on people’s sexual orientation and health, as a means of keeping track of AIDS. It has also been condemned by the French magistrates’ union, which declared that it was ‘undemocratic’ and would ‘inform the government on politically active people’. Even the establishment newspaper, le Monde criticised it, commenting ‘A state governed by the rule of law cannot accept the penalisation of supposed intentions’.

Sarkozy’s government stated that much of the database’s function is to keep track on teenage gangs in the suburbs of the major cities. As part of this, the database will include information on children as young as thirteen. This followed the declaration of the Interior Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, that there had been an increase in teenage delinquency. The French public responded by making her the winner of the tenth Big Brother Awards. The judges decided she deserved the award based on her distinguished contributions to violations of privacy, her love of video surveillance, and ‘immoderate taste for putting French citizens on file’.

The government has also set up a drone programme, ELSA, or Engins legers de surveillance aerienne, creating and testing robot aircraft equipped with night vision cameras to observe criminal and anti-social behaviour from above.

Sarko also used his personal influence to get troublesome journalists either to fall into line. If they didn’t, he got them sacked. When he was Interior Minister, he had the veteran prime-time newsreader, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor sacked from the private station, TFI, after he described Sarko at the G8 summit as ‘looking like a little boy in the big boy’s club’. Alain Genestar was sacked as editor in chief of Paris Match, after he published pictures of his then wife, Cecilie Sarkozy in New York with the man, who later became her husband. He also had another story spiked in Le Journal du Dimanche about Cecilie not voting during the presidential election. When he married his next wife, Carla Bruni, the two were hailed by the newspaper as ‘the Star Couple’.

He also passed a series of legislation strengthening government control over television. In 2009, parliament approved a set of laws gradually phasing out advertising on the state television stations. Instead, the stations would be funded by the state. Furthermore, the Chief Executive of France Televisions would be nominated directly by the president, not by the broadcast regulator.
He was also called ‘le telepresident’ because of the way he orchestrated political events like a reality TV show.

Le Monde describe Sarko as having created ‘a new model of media control’, which fell somewhere between Berlusconi’s and Putin’s style of autocratic government. The newspaper noted that much of Sarko’s control of the press was informal. It observed that unlike Berlusconi, he didn’t have to own newspapers and the media in order to censor and control them. His friends in charge of them did that. (pp. 179-82).

All over Europe and the world, government are becoming increasingly dictatorial and autocratic. This has to be stopped before freedom dies and is replaced across the globe with the jackboot and the fist of the police state.

The Young Turks Critique Trump’s Political Ads

January 7, 2016

Okay, it’s started. Donald Trump has bought $2 million of campaign ads, which he’s screening in Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the most critical states in the presidential primaries. Apparently it was screened over 60 times this week in once of those states already.

It sets out Trump’s policies – put a temporary stop to Muslim immigration into the US, build a wall with Mexico, and make the Mexicans pay for it, cut the head off ISIS and take their oil. I know that Trump has already said all of this stuff, but seeing him actually campaign on it on film as a set election pledge makes it all the more chilling. It’s no longer a piece of random rhetoric he’s spouted out at his town hall meetings just to sound good or see which buttons in the American psyche he can press.

In this video, The Young Turks analyse the ads, and show up the glaring falsehoods and misrepresentations he makes. Just on a point of imagery, the ad’s offensive as when it mentions his declaration to decapitate ISIS, it goes straight from pictures of Obama and Hillary to the San Bernadino shooters, as if Obama and Mrs Clinton are somehow connected to or responsible for those terrorists. Let’s have no illusion about what Trump is doing here. This isn’t just coincidence. There are Americans, unfortunately, who really do think that Obama is a secret Muslim installed in the White House, who is part of a clandestine Muslim Brotherhood plot to undermine American democracy. There’s a whole conspiracy literature about this on the Counter-Jihad net, if you want to look.

And the claims about Mexico are also misleading. For the first time in decades, there is a net loss in the number of Mexicans coming to the US. More Mexicans are leaving than coming to America. And the image Trump uses to illustrate his factoid is also mendacious. This shows crowds of people swarming towards a border post. But the footage isn’t actually from the Mexican border. It’s from Morocco, and was taken by an Italian news agency. Trump got hold of it, removed the identifying marks, and then put it in his ad to mislead the American public. And when he was caught out with the lie, his people simply admitted it, and tried to excuse themselves by saying that they did so to make people think about the scale of immigration, if this was to the US. They’re blatant, and unapologetic about lying.

And what is really worrying is the complete silence of American journalism about these lies, with a few honourable exceptions. They just run these ads, and what comment there is, is simply about how effective they are. No critique of the factual content of the ads, or its lies and deceptive imagery.

Hispanic immigration to the US has been a highly contentious topic for about three decades now. I can remember in the 1980s the Republicans ran one ad, rhetorically asking Americans what language their children would be learning in the future. It was clearly aimed at stirring up racial fears about being swamped by Spanish-speaking immigrants.

It’s hard not to feel sympathy for some of them, at least. Earlier this year, British TV screened a series in which the Irish comedians Dara O’Brien and Ed Byrne travelled from American into Central and South America along the Pan-American Highway, marking the journey made in the 1930s by the American entrepreneur, who created the road, as he set off to interest the American and Central American governments in this venture. O’Brien and Byrne touched on the subject of the migrants heading north when they stopped at a border post next to a railway, full of hopeful emigrants. They stated that these migrants are travelling to avoid terrible war, poverty and persecution in the homelands. They are also desperately vulnerable, literally risking everything to get into the US. O’Brien and Byrne pointed out that the maras, the Latin American gangs, would also get onto the trains and buses, and rob the migrants of everything, including literally the clothes of their backs, leaving them naked and penniless in a foreign country. Always assuming, they didn’t simply kill them.

If the US wanted to do something about the mass immigration from the south, then it could start by tackling some of the causes. Many, perhaps most, of South and Central Americas problems are beyond direct American control, but US diplomacy certainly hasn’t helped. From the 1950s to the ’70s and ’80s America overthrow genuinely progressive regimes in Guatemala, Chile and Brazil, backing a string of Right-wing dictators and guerrilla movements in Nicaragua and El Salvador in order to protect American business interests and stop the spread of Communism. Well, that’s how it was sold to the American public. Except that the Brazilian regime they overthrew was actually Liberal, and Benz’s government in Guatemala was democratic Socialist. After Benz was overthrown, the CIA carefully arranged a photoshoot with American journalists and politicians, including Richard Nixon, in which they displayed the Communist literature they’d carefully planted around Benz’s office.

And the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Mexico joined, along with Canada, has also harmed the Mexican economy. Lobster has stated that about 200,000 or so Mexican jobs have been lost through the deal. Over the border in the North, jobs have also been lost in the US, as manufacturers and firms have moved south to take advantage of cheap labour. So both sides have actually lost. But everything’s okay, as for the first time Coca-Cola has managed to make inroads into the land of the Aztecs. Before then, Mexico was one of the few places on Earth, where Coca-Cola didn’t sell. The Mexicans preferred their own soft drink, a kind of fizzy apple juice.

America could therefore do much to help cut down on immigration to the US by sponsoring genuinely democratic governments devoted social justice and raising their people’s quality of life and standard of living. But this would mean radically altering the whole orientation of American politics away from laissez-faire individualism and government for the benefit of the corporations rather than the citizens. It’s what Bernie Sanders, one of the Democrat contenders, would like to do. It’s also what the right-wing of the Democrats and the Republican party as a whole hate and fear.

Promoting genuine prosperity abroad and at home doesn’t sell well to the American public, it seems. Too wishy-washy liberal. Best to just show images of rampaging immigrants and terrorists and clamp down on immigrants, while doing nothing about the causes pushing them north and west into America.

Letwin and Alienated Inner City Youths

January 4, 2016

Nye Bevan pic

Nye Bevan – Miner, Statesman, Founder of the Welfare State

Yesterday, Mike over at Vox Political put up another piece about Oliver Letwin, and his racist, bigoted views on Blacks and inner city youths. In his 1999 book, The Purpose of Politics, Letwin held forth about the underclass, and specifically drug riddled gang members, who were more alienated than the medieval serfs. See the article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/03/oliver-letwin-inner-city-youth-more-alien-than-the-serfs/. Letwin claims that these comments show his commitment to equality of opportunity. As everyone else but him has already realised, they don’t. They show the complete opposite.

They are actually bog-standard Tory views about ‘the democracy’, as the upper classes used to refer to us proles back in the 19th century, and they could have come from any time from the 17th century right into the 19th and beyond. The upper classes feared and hated the urban working classes as immoral, criminal and potentially subversive. Hence the harsh legislation enacted against trade unions and other potentially seditious assemblies and organisations. What eventually disproved this image was the Great Exhibition of 1854, when large numbers of working class people turned up at Crystal Palace showing themselves to be well-behaved, and generally not rioting, or trying to overthrow the government.

And youth culture has been particularly viewed with alarm and suspicion by the authorities since the 17th century, when the Mohocks ran wild in the streets of London. These were a group of thugs, who got their name from their Mohawk hairstyles taken from the Amerindian people. There’s even a book written about the historic distrust of working class popular culture Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears. Thatcher, of course, hated the working class with a passion. She saw them as treacherous and subversive. Letwin is basically following the views of his leader, Maggie Thatcher, in that respect. Except that Thatcher was careful to craft an image of herself as somehow working class, with all that rubbish about living above the family shop.

And Letwin’s comments about alienation ignores the fact that such an attitude may be completely justified by the nature of society and the way it treats its least fortunate members. One of the clearest statements of political alienation in modern literature came from the pen of Aneurin Bevan, the architect of the welfare state and NHS. In his 1952 book, In Place of Fear (London: William Heinemann Ltd) Bevan describes his feelings as a member of the working class and the feeling he experienced when he entered parliament, the bastion of ruling class privilege and power.

“The past lies like an Alp upon the human mind.” The House of Commons is a whole range of mountains. If the new Member gets there too late in life he is already trailing a pretty considerable past of his own, making him heavy-footed and cautious. When to this is added the visible penumbra of sic centuries of receding legislator, he feels weighed to the ground. Often he never gets to his feet again.

His first impression is that he is in church. The vaulted roofs and stained-glass windows, the rows of statues of great statesmen of the past, the echoing halls, the soft-footed attendants and the whispered conversation, contrast depressingly with the crowded meetings and the clang and clash of hot opinions he has just left behind in his election campaign. Here he is, a tribune of the people, coming to make his voice heard in the seats of power. Instead, it seems he is expected to worship; and the most conservative of all religions – ancestor worship.

The first thing he should bear in mind is that these were not his ancestors. His forebears had no part in the past, the accumulated dust of which now muffles his own footfalls. His forefathers were tending sheep or ploughing the land, or serving the statesmen whose names he sees written on the walls around him, or whose portraits look down upon him in the long corridors. it is not the past of his people that extends in colourful pageantry before his eyes. They were shut out from all this; were forbidden to take part in the dramatic scenes depicted in these frescoes. In him his people are there for the first time, and the history he will make will not be merely an episode in the story he is now reading. It must be wholly different; as different as is the social status which he now brings with him.

To preserve the keen edge of his critical judgement he will find that he must adopt an attitude of scepticism amounting almost to cynicism, for the Parliamentary procedure neglects nothing which might soften the acerbities of his class feelings. In one sense the House of Commons is the most unrepresentative of representative assemblies. It is an elaborate conspiracy to prevent the real clash of opinion which exists outside from finding an appropriate echo within its walls. It is a social shock absorber placed between privilege and the pressure of popular discontent.

That’s a very strong statement of acute alienation from parliament, with all its ceremony, and the pomp and iconography of the ruling class. And Bevan is exactly right: for centuries the working class were excluded from any kind of power, and expected to serve and show due difference to their social superiors, if not betters. And despite all the slogans Cameron mouths about expanding opportunity, parliament is still the seat of privilege. Something like 90 % of MPs are millionaires. And the Tory party has always boasted of being the party of the ruling class.

Bevan was perfectly in his rights to be alienated. Just as contemporary working and lower middle class people are entirely within their rights to be cynical about a system and a party that is reducing them to desperate poverty. All while the Letwins of the British politics mouth off about how they are committed to equality of opportunity.