Posts Tagged ‘IBM’

Anti-Semitism and the Criticism of Corbyn for Meeting Jewdas

April 11, 2018

Last Monday, Jeremy Corbyn attended a Passover seder with Jewdas, a left-wing Jewish organisation. Jewdas’ members are religious, observant Jews, who combine their faith with left-wing politics and activism. They were glad of the Labour leader’s presence, and the opportunity it gave them to discuss with him topics of importance to them and Britain’s Jewish community.

This was, however, too much for the Tory press, and the very Tory Jewish establishment. The Board of Deputies of British Jews and one of the other organisations repeating the same smears of anti-Semitism against Corbyn and his supporters, immediately went berserk along with the Blairites and started making renewed accusations of anti-Semitism. According to John Woodcock, Corbyn was being anti-Semitic again because this was an insult to Britain’s mainstream Jews, who were being sidelined. This did not go down at all well with Corbyn’s Jewish supporters, who thought that Woodcock had a cheek as a non-Jew telling Jews what was, and what wasn’t, anti-Semitic.

Corbyn’s attendance at the meeting was a private affair, until it was leaked to the press. Corbyn’s left-wing, but not far left, and so it makes perfect sense for him to seek the company and opinions of those with whom he already is in broad agreement. The Board’s complaint that he was sidelining mainstream Jews is another piece of camouflage, designed to disguise their real complaint. They have been trying to undermine Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party almost from the day he took office, repeating the lie that he and his supporters are anti-Semitic. He and they aren’t. But he is pro-Palestinian. And as the Board and the other parts of the Israel lobby have decided that criticism of Israel equals anti-Semitism, they use the accusation to smear him and his supporters.

It’s questionable who the Board represents. The Board is very Tory in composition. Jonathan Arkush, its president, is a member of the Tory party. He sent a message of congratulation to Donald Trump on Trump’s election as US president. This is despite the vocal support for the Orange Fascist from real White supremacists, anti-Semites, Nazis and the Alt Right. But this doesn’t faze the Israel lobby. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former aide and another member of the Alt Right, has been invited to Israel to attend major state events. Richard Spencer, the founder of the Alt Right, has also appeared on Israeli TV. Spencer declares himself to be a ‘White Zionist’, and looks to Israel as the model of the kind of ethno-state he wants to create in America exclusively for Whites, just as Israel is the Jewish state. For members of the Israel lobby to accuse Corbyn of anti-Semitism after this is not only false, it’s also grotesquely hypocritical.

There are a number of Jewish groups and individuals, who have come out in support of Corbyn, who has a proud record of campaigning against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. Which is in sharp contrast to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which made a racist statement that Muslims were more likely to be anti-Semites than the rest of the British population. As for the Board’s claim that ‘mainstream’ Jews were being sidelined, this seems to me to mean the Conservative-voting, establishment, business types they represent, rather than the ‘mainstream’ in the sense of the vast majority of ordinary Jewish people.

And Mike has also pointed out how the Blairite’s and the press’ attack on Corbyn for meeting Jewdas is based on a distinction between ‘good’ Jews and ‘bad’ Jews, something which is itself anti-Semitic.

Mike’s not wrong there. Several of the works of the conspiracy theorists I’ve come across make this distinction. Since the 1980s there have been a stream of books from the American conspiracy fringe arguing that the global corporate elite are active trying to set up a world-wide, one world Communist state. This will remove all our freedoms and effectively reduce everyone to slavery. It’s the classic stuff of the nonsense Alex Jones spouts on Infowars about the evil globalists. The main villains in this pernicious fantasy are the elite bankers, like the Rothschilds, who set up, or helped to set up, international organisations like the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank. You can see the similarities to the vile Nazi fantasies about the Jewish banking conspiracy.

Many of these books also draw a distinction between ‘good’ Jews and ‘bad’ Jews. Rothschilds did lend money to Nazi Germany, even when they were persecuting the Jews. It’s a genuine crime, and the books have a point in this criticism of the Rothschilds and the other bankers, who also gave financial support and aid to Hitler and his murderers. They also make the point that millions of Jews weren’t involved in these schemes, and were murdered by the Nazis. Which is also true. They carefully make a distinction between ‘good’ Jews – the ordinary folks persecuted and murdered by the Nazis – and the ‘bad’ Jews – the Rothschilds and other bankers – who financed the Nazis. And the same kind of distinction is also made by others on the conspiracy fringe, who also promote these conspiracy theories. I believe there have been accusations of this kind aimed very squarely at David Icke.

In fact, the Rothschilds’ Jewishness is irrelevant to their dealings with Nazi Germany. They were bankers acting purely in self-interest, just like the various other big American corporations, like IBM, who also dealt with them. At the same time, there is much to criticise the IMF and World Bank for. They do act as the international representatives and enforcers of American corporate interests. Whenever a failing state in the Developing World is forced to go to them for a loan, they nearly always advise a programme of benefit cuts and privatisation, in which the companies being sold off are given to American multinationals. But this is a reflection of American capitalism, and does not come from some kind of secret Jewish conspiracy like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And the same is true of the bankers’ support for the UN and so on. This definitely isn’t part of a plot to create the one-world global dictatorship that keeps Alex Jones hollering into his microphone.

I’ve given these examples to show how the real conspiracy theorists do make the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Jews, just as Mike stated in his articles about this. It’s a distinction the Board and similar organisations are also making when they attack Corbyn for meeting Jewdas. Such distinctions have their basis in anti-Semitism, and show how the Board, the Tories and the press are quite prepared to ignore such concerns when it suits them.

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Radio 4 Programme on 50th Anniversary of Kubrick’s 2001

April 3, 2018

Radio 4 on Saturday, 7th April, at 8.00 pm are putting on an edition of Archive on 4 marking the 50th anniversary of the release of Stanley Kubrick’s SF masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. The programme’s entitled ‘Archive on 4: The Ultimate Trip: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey’. The blurb for it in the Radio Times runs

Fifty years after the US release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, cultural historian and writer Christopher Frayling travels back in time to explore the making of the co-written by British author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke and directed by Stanley Kubrick. He learns how organisations like Nasa and IBM were enlisted to help Kubrick craft his vision and speaks to scientists, critics and film=makers to examine the film’s legacy. (p. 119).

there’s also a two-page feature about the movie on pages 114-5.

Mike Smeared as Anti-Semite by Campaigners against Nazism

May 6, 2017

Mike over at Vox Political has suffered another smear, this time from Gareth Davies of Anti-Nazis United. His article purports to be a rebuttal of Mike’s own refutation of the original smears and libels published by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Actually, I think their name is somewhat of a misnomer. From what I’ve seen of them, they don’t seem to have any real interest in combatting genuine anti-Semitism, only in using it as a tool to smear decent critics of Israel, and in scaring European Jews to emigrate there. Perhaps a better name would be the Campaign for Anti-Semitic Libel? That would seem to be a far better description of this organisation’s real aims and methods.

I’ve blogged before about how Mike is very definitely anti-racist and most definitely not anti-Semitic. He talks with obvious pride about the invitation by one of his Jewish friends to be one of the readers in a Holocaust memorial event she was staging when he was at college. Mike was one of those, who read out a few of the names of the millions murdered by the Nazis. The young lady told him afterwards that she found his performance deeply moving. He’s had friends of all races, and doesn’t judge people according to their ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Nor, as I said, has he ever denied or tried to falsify the numbers of the Nazis’ victims in the Holocaust. I’ve described in a previous article how he gave me a book on the Nazis’ bureaucracy of terror which accompanied an exhibition about it in Berlin. The exhibition was also put on by the federal government, and gave the facts and figures of the Holocaust and the associated pogroms carried out by the Nazis. It also had a gallery and brief biography of a few of the Nazis’ victims.

Mike has always had a horror of Nazism. It’s part of his strong feelings for justice and deep hatred of other forms racism and prejudice.

Mr Davies has been unable to rebut Mike’s refutation of the smears against himself through anything Mike has written, and so has tried to smear Mike based on some of the comments left by his readers. Mike has written a robust rebuttal of this latest smear in turn, going point by point through Davies’ article, tackling and refuting each in turn.

His article stands by itself, but there are a few more things that could be added to a couple of his points. The only criticism of Mike Davies makes based on Mike’s own writings, is about Mike’s remark about Liam Byrne’s suitability as a Labour politicians, based on his previous employment with Accenture and Rothschild’s. Mike writes

Next complaint: This indicates that Mr Davies has trawled back through my articles, looking for anti-Semitic language he can use against me. It appears he found only one example that comes even remotely close, in 8,705 published pieces. This was in a reference to Liam Byrne’s employment history: “Work for a multinational consulting firm (Accenture) and then the Rothschild merchant bankers(!)” commenting on my “strange use of an exclamation mark”.

Of course the point I was making was that it seemed odd for a Labour politician to be working for a firm as closely associated with capitalism as the Rothschild company, and that I doubted it was what many people would call a “proper job” – contrast with Alan Johnson, for example, who was a postman, or Dennis Skinner, who was a miner. My guess is that the accusation is about the Rothschilds being Jewish but that had nothing to do with the point I was making.

The Rothschilds do loom large in the demonology of the Nazi right. They’re at the centre of various stupid and potentially murderous conspiracy theories about international Jewish bankers that have been around since the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. However, there are very good reasons why genuinely anti-racist Socialists should also be suspicious of this firm and the others in financial sector, regardless of the racial origins of their founders.

The working people of Britain and America have been sacrificed to the interests of the financial sector. One of the tenets of neoliberal policy has been to let manufacturing industry decline as the West was supposed to be moving into a post-industrial society. Furthermore, the Pound was kept high by Maggie Thatcher, who was unable to realise that this made British exports uncompetitive through increasing their prices on the international market. The financial sector also insisted on the loosening of regulations that resulted in the massive crash of 2008, brought about by extremely reckless speculation by Goldman Sachs, Lehmann Brothers and others in Wall Street.

In fact, manufacturing industry is still vital for Britain and America’s prosperity, as Ha-Joon Chang shows in his books. And the bankers that caused the crash have rightly earned the contempt and disgust given them by the rest of the public. Even after wrecking the global economy and encouraging right-wing governments to pursue austerity policies that have caused immense suffering to ordinary men and women, these people have insisted on billion dollar bail-outs, and are continuing to award grossly inflated pay increases and bonuses to each other.

The reaction of the Republicans in America was to try to equate criticism of bankers as Nazi anti-Semitic attacks, on the basis that the Nazis ranted about Jewish bankers, and so banker = Jew. But these criticisms weren’t being made on the basis of the bankers’ race or religious beliefs. They were simply about avaricious, destructive bankers, full stop. Race had nothing to do with it. And the banking elite attacked also includes gentiles.

And Rothschilds also has an unpleasant history of collaboration with the Nazis. They were one of the American banks, who gave credit and financial support to the Nazi regime in the 1930s. This when the Nazis were carrying out their horrific persecution of German and then Austrian Jews after the Anschluss. This was reported in the western press at the time. Certainly, this fact has also been incorporated into some of the stupid anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to make them seem less racist. I’ve come across books that have distinguished between ‘good’ Jews, the victims of the Nazis, and the ‘Zionist’ Jews, like the Rothschilds and others, who were determined to enslave Whites. Despite these careful revisions, they’re still dangerous, racist nonsense.

But that doesn’t change what the Rothschilds did. And it has understandably a legacy of bitterness. I came across an entirely respectable history book in the 1990s on the shelves of Waterstone’s in Bath about Wall Streets murky dealings with Hitler and his squad of butchers.

And the Rothschilds sadly weren’t the only company to provide material aid and assistance to the Nazi tyranny. So did American companies like IBM, a fact that provided the inspiration for one of the bitterly funny episodes of the anti-superhero comic, Marshal Law, a comic with a clear social conscience that attacked right-wing American politics through very dark, violent satire.

Earlier in his article, Mike rebuts the claim that he’s anti-Semitic, because he liked a Tweet urging him to ‘stay strong against the cabal’. Mike writes

He writes

Look up “cabal” in a dictionary and it is described as “a secret political clique or faction”. Perhaps that does not quite describe the CAA, because its political motive in trying to stop me from being elected to Powys County Council is clear and not secret, but the intention of the person who made that tweet was clearly to support me in resisting the CAA’s lies. Why should I not be grateful?

This criticism might be partly based on one of the etymologies constructed for the word, which is supposedly derived from Qabbala/ cabbala and other versions of the word spelt with a single ‘B’. This is a form of Jewish mysticism, which also became popular amongst Christian occultists in the 17th century as Aristotelian natural philosophy crumbled. There was so much demand for it, that one Italian rabbi complained that he and other savants couldn’t go anywhere without a Christian clutching them by the sleeve and saying, ‘Be my master in this!’

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable mentions this origin of the term, but states that it came to be applied to English politics from the machinations of one of Charles II’s court factions. It says

A JUNTO, a council of intriguers. The famous cabal (1687-1673) of Charles II’s reign, the group of five ministers, the initial letters of whose name (Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, Lauderdale) by coincidence spelt this word, did not give rise to the usage. It was often applied in the 17th century to the king’s inner group of advisers. See CABBALA.

This was the sense in which it was being used by the Tweeter, which doesn’t seem to have mentioned the bizarre conspiracy theories about supposed Jewish occultism.

For the rest of the article, see: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/04/another-week-another-attack-by-the-anti-semitism-smear-campaigners/#comments

Now I don’t know anything about Mr Davies or the group, Anti-Nazis United. There is a need to be vigilant against Nazism, as the real thing has returned in force since Brexit. This Wednesday, the I columnist, Yasmin Alibhai-Browne, wrote an op-ed piece about the disastrous effect this was having on the lives of the new immigrants from eastern Europe, as well as the native-born children and grandchildren of earlier migrants to this country. This came after the suicide a week or so ago, of a Polish girl because of the bullying she’d experienced at her school in Cornwall. Browne herself has suffered racist abuse, despite the fact that she’s married to a White British husband, and has been here since her family arrived from Uganda in the 1970s.

And real anti-Semitism has come back, most nakedly in the form of the banned Nazi youth group, National Action, who openly goose-stepped in the streets in cod-Nazi uniforms. Their speeches were vile rants about the supposed international Jewish conspiracy to enslave and destroy the White race through encouraging non-White immigration and racial intermixing. The classic Nazi bilge you can find amongst some of the Alt-Right maniacs infesting Trump’s cabinet.

We do need to combat this. But I see absolutely no desire by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism to do that. Rather, they seem determined to exaggerate the real threat of Nazism and racism in this country simply as a way to smear genuinely principled critics of Israel. As I’ve said, time and again, the people Mike’s defended are genuinely anti-racist Jews and gentiles, many of whom have suffered genuine persecution for their ethnicity and anti-racist activism. I have felt myself moved when reading about how they, or close members of their families, have been assaulted, or how their parents or grandparents were driven out of their homelands in Germany or eastern Europe.

It is, quite simply, utterly monstrous that these people should feel afraid once again because of their race, and vilified as the very people, who have persecuted them, because they see the same hate that motivated the Nazis in the Likudniks persecution of the Palestinians.

And I am afraid that Mr Davies and his fellow activists are being manipulated in this, to serve as the useful fools for bigots and racists, who hide behind the Jewish people’s history of terrible persecution in order to smear critics of their own, decades-long campaign of massacre and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Arab people of Palestine.

Private Eye from 1995 on Private Health Firms in the NHS and Computer Chaos

April 13, 2015

Private Eye in their edition for Friday, 6th October 1995 also published another piece by Paul Foot in his ‘Footnotes’ column about a consortium of drug companies pushing for the privatisation of the NHS under the chairmanship of Sir Duncan Nichol, the director of BUPA, the private health insurer. Nichol was also head of the NHS when £20 million was wasted on a failed computer project, in which they were advised by Anderson Consulting.

Put Another Nichol In

So crass, discursive, vacillating and shoddily presented was the first report of Health Care 2000 that even the health secretary Stephen Dorrell attacked it.

Health Care 2000 was set up in 1993 by Britain’s 30 top drug companies “to encourage the development of partnership and programmes with others involved in health care”. It report suggests that private money should be encouraged into the National Health Service by allowing people to buy better NHS treatment – for instance by paying a fee for more convenient appointment times to avoid all those nasty hours with the plebs in the doctors’ waiting rooms. The only certain result of this would be that more money would be spent on drugs.

The chair of the committee which produced the report is Sir Duncan Nichol, who is described as director of the health service management unit at Manchester University. Shyly, the report does not boast of Sir Duncan’s other important job: as a director of BUPA, the private health insurance group.

From 1989 to 1993 Sir Duncan was also head of the National Health Service, of course, and in 1993 he gave evidence to the Commons public accounts committee about an interesting example of private money in the National Health Service: the waste of at least £20 million of NHS money on a disgraceful computer cock-up in t6he Wessex region. At the centre of the cock-up was a giant (and disastrous) IBM computer, recommended by a consultant to the regional health authority who, by astonishing coincidence, sat on the board of IBM (when this was discovered, the IBM man was “asked to leave” and given a pay-off of £111,940).

Asked by a Tory MP if the Wessex saga was “a litany of slapdash, improper and quite unacceptable intromissions with public funds”, Nichol replied: “There is no doubt that that would be an appropriate description.” He also agreed that between 1987 and 1990 the statutory auditor had sent five reports to Nichol’s NHS management6 executive outlining “improprieties” in Wessex. Asked what he had done about them, Nichol insisted his department had “doggedly pursued a whole series of points about the management and mismanagement of this project”. But alas, he confessed, all that dogged pursuit turned out to be “a hopeless chase”.

Nichol was asked about the role of Andersen Consulting, a firm which had set out to advise the regional health authority on which computer firm to hire, and ended up getting the contract itself. An auditor reported: “Although several officers took exception at the time to the apparent conflict of interest, no remedial action was taken.” Nichol could not explain convincingly why he and his executive had done nothing about it. Soon after this outstanding performance, Mr Nichol was knighted.

Sir Duncan came across Andersen again in a more congenial atmosphere during his recent Health Care 2000 Inquiry. His deputy on the committee was Patricia Hewitt, director of research at Andersen Consulting. She became famous as policy coordinator to Neil Kinnock during his days as leader of the Labour Party when he campaigned with tremendous vigour against any dilution by private money of the National Health Service. She joined Andersen’s last year.

I’ve already blogged about how Patricia Hewitt became part of the New Labour project to destroy anything resembling Socialism in the Labour party. What’s interesting is the evidence from this article how far back the Tory plans to part privatise the NHS are. The idea that people should have to pay for extra NHS services appeared last year with the recommendation by the Labour, Lord Warner, that the NHS should start making charges for its services.

As for Andersen Consulting, they were perpetually in Private Eye because of repeated bungling and conflicts of interest. The effective destruction of the Benefits Agency and Inland Revenue was on their recommendations. Following the global recession created partly by the sub-prime mortgages fiasco, Andersen decided that they could only clean up their act by changing their name. Well, this shows how deeply the corruption, venality and incompetence went. They should never have been allowed anywhere near government.

From 2012: Private Eye on the Massive Contracts for the Workfare Firms

January 20, 2015

This article was also in Private Eye for the 10th – 23rd February 2012.

Benefits Bonanza

Even before the government has got its controversial welfare reforms through parliament, it’s signing fat cheques to its friends in the private sector to implement them.

Accenture has already secured a seven-year contract worth up to roughly £500m to manage provision of the IT systems for the new universal credit benefits scheme, which is supposed to simplify the benefits process. The outsourcing giant will bring in subcontractors to build the “customer-facing component” of the scheme, which presumably means online applications. And the principal subcontractor is … none other than Atos, the old favourite of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Eye.

IBM has already been given a £525m contract to provide various DWP system, including customer information and “a fraud referral and intervention service”, and a further £100m contract has gone to HP for software.

Ministers have clearly decided to ignore the Commons public accounts committee, which warned that nearly a third of the UK’s poorest citizens – and those therefore who are most likely to depend on benefits – never use computers.

These are the companies that are profiting from the exploitation of unemployed, the disabled and most vulnerable.

The same piece has this to say about Unum, the big American insurance fraudster demanding the effective privatisation of the NHS and the dismantling of the welfare state. And Mike over at Vox Political has also attacked the government’s assumption that everyone on benefits should now have access to a computer to receive them.

Meanwhile, well-informed readers tell us that when we outlined disgraced American insurance giant’s Unum’s unhealthy influence on successive governments’ efforts to slash benefits for the sick and disabled, we omitted a very important meeting held at Westminster’s Portcullis House last March under Chatham House rules.

Billed as a new progressive conservatism project report on welfare reform, the guest speakers lined up included Lord Freud, the minister for welfare reform, Labour’s Frank Field and … Jack McGarry, CEO of Unum UK, which has been pushing its employment protection insurance on the back of welfare reform ever since. The title of the event? “Of Mutual Benefit”.

It’s interesting that the two other figures, besides McGarry, were Freud and Frank Field. Field is of course another advocated of slashing benefits in the belief that it will force the poor and unemployed to find work. As Johnny Void has pointed out in his article, he was one of the people involved in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s report urging the establishment of national network of food banks. As for Freud, he is notorious for having no sympathy for the poor whatsoever.