Posts Tagged ‘Immigrants’

French Academic Olivier Roy on the Nihilistic Psychology of Suicide Bombers

June 15, 2017

Hope Not Hate, the anti-racist, anti-religious extremism website put up a very interesting interview last week with Olivier Roy, a French academic and expert in terrorism at the European University Institute in Florence, by Safya Khan-Ruf. Roy has published a book, Jihad and Death, about the motivations of Islamist terrorists, based on his own research. He states he first became interested in the topic while working in Afghanistan, and from his own experience growing up in Dreaux, a French town where immigrants constitute 30 per cent of the population.

Olivier states that from his sample of youths, who had belonged to a terrorist network, 65 per cent were second generation immigrants, 25 per cent converts. 50 per cent were juvenile delinquents, and none of them had been religious, belonged to a mosque or tried to spread Islam through preaching.

He also makes the point that ISIS’ terrorist methods differ strongly from those of Islamic terrorist groups in the 1970s and ’80s. These groups did not intend to die during their atrocities, and made every effort to escape.

Now the situation is reversed. The suicide bombers actively intend to die. He also argues that it isn’t racism or marginalisation that motivates the bombers either, and points to the fact that British Libyans are actually well integrated.

He argues instead that they have a powerful need for very rigorous, extreme forms of religion, coupled with a violent nihilism that is ultimately drawn from western individualism and the idea of the solitary hero. They use selected teachings from Islam to justify their atrocities like the KKK and other extremist groups in the west used Christianity as the justification for their attacks and terrorisation of others, such as Blacks in America. He states

Despite what many people say, these youth are not the products of unemployment, of racism, or a lack of integration. It’s just not true. For Abedi for example, Libyans are pretty well integrated and while he had a chaotic past, it wasn’t because of his family life.

And then people are ‘stuck’.

My thesis is that these are youth in revolt: nihilists that are suicidal and will ascribe their revolt into the narrative provided by IS. For those that have a Muslim background, it’s easy to adopt the narrative because the keys are already there.

But we also see hundreds of converts that adopt this. IS placed a very sophisticated narrative in play that combines references from Islam at the time of the Prophet with a modern type of extreme individualism – the image of the solitary hero – and a modern aesthetic of violence and death. That is what is working.

So we first need to attack the narrative of IS and the fascination it causes.

In these youths there is a demand for spirituality and mysticism. We’ve known since the anarchists and Dostoyevsky that there is a spiritual dimension to terrorists. The problem is, we fight this demand of spirituality by secularising and using our rational thought. I think our society has a problem with the religious – it doesn’t understand the religious anymore.

He then goes on to argue that people of faith should be allowed to express their religious beliefs freely, without being forced to adapt them to the demands of the secular state. For example, secular society should not demand that religious people alter their traditional hostile view of homosexuality.

He also states that we should be very careful not to overreact to these atrocities. He makes the point that similar killings occur regularly, such as the German pilot who committed suicide, killing all his passengers with him when he crashed the plane. These murders don’t have the same effect as Islamist or White Fascist killings.

http://hopenothate.org.uk/2017/06/05/nihilist-youths-turn-islamic-state-terrorists/

It’s an interesting viewpoint into the murderous, self-destructive psychology of suicide bombers. He’s right in that there is a similarity between their attitudes and the figure of the great, destructive, supremely individual hero that emerged in European Romanticism.

While I don’t dismiss the idea that the ‘great, bad man’ of Romantic literature hasn’t exerted some influence on their psychology, I also think it’s a mistake to downplay their links to organised Middle Eastern terrorism in favour of ascribing their motives to their own, individual psychology. A week or so ago Counterpunch published an article making the point that many Islamist terrorists were imported by Western secret services, who wished to use them for their own neocolonial schemes against secular leaders and regimes in the Middle East. Salman Abedi’s family was part of one such militant Islamist group, set up to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi.

The Counterpunch article further argues that ignoring these connections in favour of pursuing policies based on supposed radicalisation through the internet or in the Muslim community generally are misguided and ultimately harmful. Very few terrorists are recruited through online propaganda, and the ‘Prevent’ strategy of scrutinising all Muslims to check against radicalisation risks alienating British Muslims further. Far from being deterred from joining terrorist networks, they may feel that they are being unfairly suspected of being a terrorist or terrorist sympathiser, simply because of their faith.

And the emphasis on looking for indications of terrorist sympathies in the particular psychology of individual Muslims can lead instead to the mistaken condemnation or suspicion of the victims of violence from the Middle East. The article cites the case of a young boy, whose family had sought asylum in Britain from one of the war-torn countries in the Middle East. In his drawings in class, the lad depicted the planes and violence he had witnessed in his country of origin. Unfortunately, his teachers became alarmed as they thought this showed he had terrorist sympathies, and the poor lad was packed off to be investigated by the authorities and psychologists.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/06/12/britain-refuses-to-accept-how-terrorists-really-work/

Foul-Mouthed Tories Curse and Swear at the Public

May 16, 2017

In the last piece, I noted how Jeremy Hunt and Theresa May both tend to have little to say unless it’s been programmed into them by Linton Crosby and the other PR spin doctors at Tory central office. Having no answers to opposition questions themselves, they wisely decide to keep silent. Or else simply recite the soundbites they’ve memorised.

Unfortunately, not all Tory politicos have the sense to realise when saying nothing is better than saying what they’d like to say.

Mike on Sunday put up a piece about two such idiots. One was Tory councillor Nick Harrington of Warwick, and the other was James Heappey, the Tory MP for Wells in Somerset.

After Ireland gave Britain ‘nul points’ in the Eurovision on Saturday, Harrington felt moved to tweet that the Irish could keep their f’king gypsies, and they were going to have a hard border imposed.

Heappey was visiting Millfield school in Somerset, an independent school that charges parents £12,000 a year to educate their sons and daughters. He asked the young citizens of the future what they thought of Scots independence. When one girl, who was Scots, said she’d vote for it, he told her to ‘f*** off back to Scotland’.

Charming!

Mike commented

Will the people of Wells be keen for James Heappey to represent them, after his foul-mouthed outburst at a schoolgirl? Are the people of Warwick happy to have Nick Harrington as a councillor after his racist tweet about Ireland?

Perhaps this is why Theresa May keeps telling us the General Election is about voting for her, and not the Conservative Party – the Conservative Party is an absolute, contemptible scandal.

He also notes that these idiots think they can carry on like that without suffering the consequences. Unless we throw them out on their backsides and vote in people who do match up to the requirements of the job.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/14/tories-disgrace-politics-with-foul-mouthed-outbursts-both-online-and-in-real-life/

I’m shocked that the two behaved as they did. I’m particularly disgusted by Heappey. Swearing at a child, who gives a perfectly reasonable, polite response to a question as a visitor to her school is absolutely unacceptable.

But I’m not surprised by all this. The Tories have a lot of previous. Of course, there’s a hatred of Eire running through the Tory party. I can remember the comments of one Tory MP as reported in the Heil in the 1980s, when the Irish Republic were demanding a role in the government of Northern Ireland. Instead of issuing a polite but firm refusal, as he could, he told them they could ‘stick their noses in their own trough’.

And there have been endless scandals where one of the old guard, who clearly fancies himself as someone who talks straight in disregard of ‘political correctness’ shows himself to be another racist in comments about immigrants, Blacks, Asians or foreigners in general.

You can also read similar tales in the ‘Rotten Boroughs’ column in Private Eye, about local councillors making disparaging remarks about their constituents, along with reports on local corruption.

David Cameron tried to weed out the racists in order to market the party as entirely respectable and comfortable with multicultural Britain. But as these comments show, the embittered Little Englander section of the party is still going strong. And it’s ready against all opposition from the Celtic fringe, whether it be in petulant, racist sneers brought on by the Eurovision Song Contest, or insulting schoolchildren.

Scottish Economist Mark Blyth’s on Neoliberal Economic Cause of Trump and Global Fascism

December 3, 2016

Mike early today put up a piece about a speech by Jeremy Corbyn, in which the Labour leader correctly described the extreme right-wing parties and their leaders as ‘parasites’, feeding off the despair and poverty that had been created through Conservative economic policies. They blamed their economic problems on immigrants, racial minorities and the poorest and weakest members of society. What was needed was for centre-left parties to reject the political establishment, and devise policies that would help people take power for themselves.

The report cited by Mike quoted Corbyn as saying:

“They are political parasites feeding off people’s concerns and worsening conditions, blaming the most vulnerable for society’s ills instead of offering a way for taking back real control of our lives [from] the elites who serve their own interests.

“But unless progressive parties and movements break with a failed economic and political establishment, it is the siren voices of the populist far right that will fill the gap.””

Mike makes the point that this effectively damns New Labour and its legacy. Blair’s espousal of neoliberal, Thatcherite economics allowed the country’s remaining state assets to be sold off by the Tories and Lib Dems, and made the country ready for the rise of far right politicians such as Theresa May and Nigel Farage.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/12/03/far-right-politicians-and-their-supporters-are-parasites-says-corbyn-calling-for-rejection-of-the-establishment/

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t the only person making this point. Over a week ago Michael Brooks, filling in for Sam Seder as the anchor on the left-wing internet news show The Majority Report, discusses the economic causes behind the rise of racist authoritarianism around the world. And it is global. Trump has been elected the next president of the United State, Marine Le Pen’s Front National is leading the polls in France, the neo-Fascist Fidesz party is in power in Hungary, and Brexit in England is part of this pattern.

Mark Blyth, a Scottish political economist and professor of international political economy at Brown University gave a speech at the university’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs which laid bare the roots of the origins of these illiberal, Fascistic movements in the massive poverty and social inequality created by neoliberal economics. Brooks plays a clip from his speech, and then adds his own comments afterwards.

Blyth states that from 1945 to 1975, the world’s governments were concentrating on full employment. He states that there is an economic law called the Lucas Critique, which states that in any economic policy, someone will try to game it to serve their ends. And in the case of the strategy of creating full employment, both unions and employers tried to game the system, with the result that inflation increased massively. This principally hurt the creditor class – the financial sector – who decided to hit back by liberating the banks from government control and creating an integrated global economy. This included globalising labour, so that they could not demand fair wages. If they did so, their jobs could be closed down and moved overseas. He also makes the point that the international trade agreements concluded during this period have been made with little regard for the interests of ordinary people themselves. You can see this in the Trans-Pacific trade agreement. If you look this up on the web, you will find a 700 page document negotiated between governments and major corporations, but with little input from civil society. Ditto for the treaties of the European Union. People have realised that for the past thirty years from 1985 onwards, massive amounts of money has been made, but these have all been passed upwards to an infinitesimally small number of people.

The result is massive poverty. He makes the point to his audience at the uni that they don’t have to go very far to see the consequences. All they have to do is go to north-west Providence, in Rhode Island. There they can see the stores offering to cash cheques on demand, or selling or fixing goods cheaply. People are fed up, and use every opportunity to show it. This was demonstrated with Brexit in England and Wales, and in the Constitutional Referendum in Italy.

And there is also a macro-economic underpinning to these movements here. Successive governments have targeted inflation, and Blyth states that he can see no reason why the Lucas Critique should not also apply here. We now have a situation in which 3 trillion euros have been dumped into the money supply through quantitative easing, and it has not caused inflation. This has caused other problems. When banks have been bailed out and taken over by governments, so that they have been dumped on the public, the creditors fight even harder to get their money back. This can be seen in the case of Germany versus the rest of the Eurozone. This has set up a conflict between creditors versus debtors. On the left, it’s produced Podemos in Spain. On the right, it’s created the Front National in France. Trump’s part of this trend. Misogyny and racism are part of the mixture that has thrust him to power, but if you look at areas like America’s rust belt, you also see that part of it is also economic.

Brooks adds that this is true, and like Corbyn, he makes the point that if there is no serious left-wing response which deals with an economic system that has been created to serve a tiny elite, it will open the door to the ugly things that are also present in the system.

In America, this is White Supremacism. He states that it’s in America’s DNA. The country was founded on genocide, slavery, apartheid and racism, of which there are different kinds, including discrimination against Asians and Hispanics. It is a profoundly racist country. The situation has also been made worse through the misalignment in the Democrat Party. There is a split between those who want social liberation, and those who want to reign in the corporate interests and break up the big cartels. This wasn’t quite so pronounced twenty years ago under Bill Clinton, who was willing to use racial demagoguery. Brooks states that the only way to tackle the rise of racism in America is to combine the two goals of creating greater opportunities for women and minorities, and attacking the power of the big corporations. The Third Way, neoliberal nonsense is unable to do this. The age of neoliberalism is over. The reign of neo-Fascism is now in.

Blyth, Brooks and Jeremy Corbyn are all exactly right. But you won’t hear it from the establishment press, or the Beeb, or any of the mainstream news outlets, which are there to serve corporate interests. And those interests want to prop up neoliberalism as long as possible. Hence we have the supposedly liberal press – the Guardian and Independent, viciously attacking Jeremy Corbyn and demanding his removal in favour of a safe Blairite leader. There’s a piece in today’s I newspaper by Janet Street-Porter asking why Ed Balls can’t be leader of the Labour party. She makes the point that he’s a fellow of Harvard University, and so intelligent. Balls academic qualifications aren’t in question here. All of the New Labour clique were well educated men and women, and the majority of them had spent periods studying in America. That’s the problem. They are the products of the British-American Project For the Successor Generation, a Reaganite programme set up to influence rising politicians in the 1980s so that they followed the Atlanticist line. And you can see the effects in the case of Tony Blair. When he started out, he was for unilateral nuclear disarmament. They he spent four weeks in America as a guest of the think tanks involved in the programme, and came back a convinced supporter of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. And Balls was an integral part of New Labour, and the Thatcherite/ Reaganite policies it pursued.

And that’s exactly what Janet Street-Porter and the other, supposedly left-wing hacks want: Thatcherism, but under a left-wing guise, which is essentially no different from that of the Tories.

It’s why Tony Blair has also returned, and is talking about his plans to set up an institute to promote ‘centrist’ politics next year. His politics aren’t centrist, as Mike’s pointed out: they’re far right, neo-liberal. They punish the poor, the ill, the unemployed and disabled for the profit and big businessmen like David Sainsbury. I’ve no doubt Blair is genuinely afraid of the rise in racism across the Continent. But he’s also terrified of the re-emergence of genuine socialism and of ordinary citizens taking back power from the corporations and the bankers. Hence his stupid and misguided plans for the institute. He hasn’t realised that his policies are part of the long chain of causes of the present political crisis, going all the way back to Thatcher. His institute isn’t going to solve the problem of racism and authoritarianism across Europe. It’s going to make it worse. If it ever gets going, of course.

Jimmy Dore on Pensioner Attacking Hillary Clinton’s Opposition to Universal Healthcare

September 7, 2016

This is another video from Jimmy Dore, an American comedian and political commentators, whose been a regular guest on The Young Turks. In this video, he discusses an interview The Turks’ roving reporter, Jordan Cheriton, had with an elderly lady, who described her experience of being denied medical cover until she finally got Medicare. Medicare is the American system, in which the state pays for the healthcare of those too poor to have private medical insurance. This lady was denied private health insurance because she had a pre-existing condition: asthma. She only got medical cover through Medicare after thirty years or so without it.

Cheriton met her at a meeting of the supporters of Grayson, the progressive Democrat candidate for Florida, who’s one of those following in the footsteps of Bernie Sanders. Sanders was the self-described ‘Democratic Socialist’, who wanted to introduce universal healthcare in America, and whose bid for the presidency was blocked by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democrat party machine. This lady and Dore attack the opponents of state healthcare, who accuse its supporters amongst the younger generation of ‘having it too easy’ and not knowing anything about the real world. One of those is Shrillary. Dore has a clip of her from earlier this year, voicing her opinion that state medicine is impractical, and ranting that ‘it will never happen’. One of Dore’s producers points out that back in the 1990s, she was in favour of universal state-paid healthcare, until the cheques from private enterprise came in. Dore is also suitably scathing about the charge that universal single-payer healthcare is ‘utopian’ in Hillary’s words, when the rest of the world has it. The lady at the meeting, and in the later interview with Cheriton, states that she’s glad the young people support state healthcare, and wants the old politicians who oppose it to move aside so they can come through.

Here’s the video:

I’m putting this up because this is the reality of the American healthcare system. Robin Cook in his pamphlet on the NHS for the Fabian Society nearly thirty years ago pointed out that private medicine discriminates against people with long-standing illness, because of the greater expense of treating them. They concentrate on covering relatively healthy people, who they can make a profit from, as they don’t need to pay out so often. And, of course, private insurance only works if you can afford, which 20 per cent of Americans can’t due to escalating medical bills.

This is the system which Thatcher, Blair, Brown, Cameron and now Theresa May want to introduce in Britain. This is why Jeremy Hunt has described the NHS as ‘an abomination’, and the Tories are manufacturing a funding crisis in the NHS. They’re doing so because they’ve also got connections to private healthcare firms, and the American healthcare companies are seeking to expand because of growing dissatisfaction over that side of the Pond with private healthcare. Over half of Americans now want a state healthcare system, like Canada and the rest of the world.

Don’t have any illusions on this score about New Labour wishing to support the NHS. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown laid much of the foundations for the continuing Tory privatisation of the health service, but were determined not to let anyone know, as, like Thatcher before them, they realised that it would lose them the election. This is the healthcare system that New Labour – Progress, Tomorrow’s Labour, Saving Labour and the other Blairite shills support. It’s why the Conservative media have put so much into attacking Corbyn, as he threatens to undermine it and their corporate masters by renationalising the NHS.

Don’t give your vote to them or the Tories. Defend the NHS, and support Corbyn, while there’s still time.

On a different issue, I notice one of the guys listening to her speak is a young Asian bloke wearing an ‘Islamic Relief’ T-shirt. He’s obviously a religious Muslim, who takes serious the obligation under Islam to provide alms to the poor. Many British Muslims also do. My parents met one young Muslim lady doing the same when giving to the local food bank. I guess she and he must be the horrendous Muslims coming to destroy British society in advance of ISIS. (Sarcasm). It’s been pointed out again and again that immigrants are actually net contributors to society, as they actually pay more in taxes than they take out. But this gets forgotten in the racist hysteria.

Corbyn Will Re-Introduce Collective Bargaining and End Zero-Hours Contracts

July 31, 2016

This looks like a piece of very good news. According to Mike, Jeremy Corbyn plans to repeal the laws passed by Blair’s government in 1999 limiting workers’ rights to have a recognised trade union, and end zero-hours contracts.

Corbyn wrote a piece in the Observer stating that he felt the changes were necessary due to the scandals over Sports Direct, Philip Green and BHS, and the Byron Hamburger chain to help immigration officials arrest 35 illegal immigrants, who were working for them.

At the moment, current legislation stipulates that a union wishing to be recognised at a workplace must show that 10 per cent of employees are members, and 50% want them to lead in pay bargaining. If that isn’t the case, then a secret ballot must be held, at which at least 40% of those able to vote do so, and the majority vote in favour of union recognition.

Corbyn, however, wants to introduce a French-style system, in which firms with over 250 members would have to recognise a specific trade union, and bargain with them over pay. He states

“Even Theresa May understands she has to pay lip service to change in the workplace and the boardroom …,” writes Corbyn.

“But the best way to guarantee fair pay is through strengthening unions’ ability to bargain collectively – giving employees the right to organise through a union and negotiate their pay, terms and conditions at work,” he writes.

“That’s why it should be mandatory for all large employers, with over 250 staff, to bargain collectively with recognised trade unions.”

Corbyn also states that he wants all workers to be given specified hours, that are written into their contracts. If an employer wants them to work beyond these hours, they are to specify the length of time and give them a reason. They will also have to give workers additional compensation, similar to an on-call payment, for being willing to work beyond their usual contracted hours, whether the workers in fact do so or not.

Mike is unsure about the wisdom of the reforms on union recognition, and would like comments on this matter from experts on trade union matters and employment law. However, he welcomes the proposal to end zero-hours contracts.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/31/corbyn-pledges-to-scrap-blair-union-laws-in-favour-of-collective-bargaining-and-an-end-to-zero-hours-contracts/

The decision to end zero-hours contracts is an excellent policy. Guy Standing devotes several pages in his book, A Precariat Charter, to attacking them. They are widely recognised as a highly exploitative and pernicious system of employment for those trapped in them.

Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack make clear that the assault on collective bargaining and the trade unions was a deliberate policy of Maggie Thatcher, and has resulted in the contraction of wages, high unemployment, and the impoverishment of the working class in their book, Breadline Britain: The Rise of Mass Poverty(London: OneWorld 2015). They write

Deteriorating opportunities are also the direct product of an about-turn in the country’s political economy. At the end of the 1970s, fighting the rising rate of inflation became the number-one economic goal, displacing the former priority given to maintaining full employment. The instruments used – tight monetary and fiscal policies and a strong pound – accelerated long-term de-industrialisation, while triggering mass unemployment. The critical decision in the 1980s to adopt a more aggressive, market-oriented model of capitalism led to the sweeping away of regulations, the favouring of finance over manufacturing, the outsourcing of public sector jobs, relentless pressure on companies to cut labour costs and, critically, an assault on labour’s bargaining power.

Cabinet papers for 1983 reveal that Mrs Thatcher admonished Norman Tebbit for being too timid on trade union reform, telling him we ‘should neglect no opportunity to erode union membership’. In Britain the proportion of the workforce covered by collective bargaining has fallen from around eighty percent in 1979 to below twenty-five percent today (fifteen percent in the case of private sector workers). This is one of the lowest levels of coverage among rich nations, adding to the heavily skewed and economically unhealthy concentration of corporate power. The UK stands at twenty-first place out of twenty-seven countries in the European Union in terms of workplace representation, though parts of the European continent are also seeing more recent falls in the level of coverage, though from a much higher base.

Britain’s much vaunted ‘flexible labour market’, engineered during the 1980s to give business greater freedom to hire and fire, was necessary, it was claimed, to enable domestic firms to compete in an increasingly globalised economy. Such freedom for employers has continued to be championed by subsequent governments. Yet, just as over-restrictive labour laws can be bad news for dynamism, so can under-restrictive laws.

Britain’s low-wage, high-unemployment economy is as much the product of these internal, political forces as of external, economic ones. Indeed, it was later admitted by one of Mrs Thatcher’s top economic advisers that one of the government’s central aims was the taming of labour. ‘The nightmare I sometimes have about this whole experience runs as follows … there may have been people making the actual policy decisions … who never believed for a moment that this was the correct way to bring down inflation. They did, however, see that it would be a very, very good way to raise unemployment.’ This was how Sir Alan Budd, chief economic adviser at the Treasury in the 1980s, summed up – in 1992 – the multilayered assault on inflation and the unions. He continued: ‘And raising unemployment was an extremely desirable way of reducing the strength of the working classes…what was engineered there, in Marxist terms, was a crisis of capitalism which created a reserve army of labour and has allowed the capitalists to make high profits ever since.’ (pp.101-3, emphasis mine).

They further write on page 242

Perhaps the most effective, and radical, measure for boosting the total wage pool at the bottom would be a rebalancing of bargaining power in favour of the workforce. Another would be a more concerted attempt to reduce the significant pay gap between men and women by raising women’s wages. Both measures would raise the share of national income going in pay and would be critical elements of an effective strategy for cutting poverty levels among the workforce.

Far from being a strength, the sustained decline in workforce bargaining power in the UK is an economic and democratic weakness. Because of the ‘wage premium’ associated with collective bargaining, this erosion of labour’s bargaining power has played a big role in wage contraction. Evidence across sixteen rich countries has shown that the higher the level of trade union membership, the lower the degree of inequality. Further, it is likely that the erosion may have encouraged British employers to move down a low-pay and productivity road. By being able to minimise pay and rely on casualised labour, British employers – unlike say their German counterparts – have had few incentives to improve skills and introduce more productive processes.

Phased in over time, such a policy mix – a boost to the minimum wage, a reduction
in the numbers on less than the living wage, wider collective bargaining coverage and lower unemployment – would put the thirty-year long trend of a shrinking wage share into reverse, and make an important contribution to reducing poverty among the low-paid, while taking some of the strain off the benefit system.

Corbyn’s decision to expand and strengthen collective bargaining therefore appears from this to be an excellent measure. It will also doubtless be attacked by the Confederation of British Industry and the right-wing press and Blairites with just about every ounce of abuse they can muster. We’ll hear once more about how this will threaten British businesses with bankruptcy, and how this will lead us all back to the strike-torn 1970s, the Winter of Discontent, and all the old Thatcherite rubbish. The reality is that Britain was no more strike-prone in the 1970s than many other countries, and much less so than America. And the Winter of Discontent was, in the views of at least one historian I’ve read, the response to the system of wage restraint buckling under the weight of political pressure it was not designed to deal with, and which the unions should not have been expected to shoulder.

Of course, the real reason for the rage at the reinstatement of collective bargaining and the ending of zero-hour contracts will be that it attacks the nearly forty years of exploitative Tory employment policies that Maggie introduced. These employment practices have caused real misery, just as Thatcher and the economists she followed, von Hayek and Milton Friedman, intended them to. They should end now.

Hope Not Hate Petitions Tory Leadership to Allow EU Immigrants to Stay

July 4, 2016

The anti-racist, anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate, is supporting the campaign of the think tank, British Future, of writing to the Tory leadership candidates requesting them to grant EU immigrants, who are already here, the right to remain. They are requesting people to support their campaign by signing copies of the letter, in the same people sign internet petitions. The letter reads:

To the Conservative leadership candidates

The British public’s decision to leave the EU will bring many changes, most likely including changes to immigration and free movement rules.

There is considerable anxiety for the 3 million EU citizens who have made their homes in the UK, and the 1.2 million British citizens living in other EU countries. The Prime Minister’s post-referendum statement that there would be ‘no immediate changes’ to their status will have been less than fully reassuring.

This is also a vital concern for many British businesses and public services employing EU nationals, who do not want retrospective disruption to their existing workforce at a time of economic uncertainty.

We would urge you to make a clear and unequivocal statement that EU migrants currently living in the UK are welcome to stay here.

A clear, public commitment to protect the status of EU migrants was made by the official Vote Leave campaign – and it is important that is honoured.

By adopting this policy, the UK puts itself in a strong position to seek a clear reciprocal commitment from other EU members that EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in other EU countries should be able to continue to live and work in those countries.

We believe there are principled, practical and legal reasons why this would be the only sensible and decent policy now that Britain has voted to Leave the EU. Research from ICM for British Future finds that 84% of the British public supports letting EU migrants stay – including three-quarters (77%) of Leave voters.

It would also send a clear statement to the extreme minority, who now appear to believe they have licence to attack and harass migrants and minorities, that the British public finds their views repugnant and unwelcome in our society.

Thanks

I’ve signed it, because I’m concerned about the stress and insecurity it has already given migrants, who have contributed to this country’s welfare by working and paying tax over here.

If you want to sign it also, you can find it over at the Hope Not Hate site at
http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/

The letter is contained in the moving banner, along with many of the organisation’s other campaigns, at the top of the page.

The Independent on Wearing a Safety Pin to Show Support for Immigrants

June 30, 2016

I’ve put up a couple of posts today about the massive growth in racist incidents after the Brexit vote. Unfortunately, some of the Nazis lurking in British society have decided that the vote to leave the EU now means that it’s permissible and accessible to intimidate immigrants to our great nation. One of the pieces I put up was sent by Michelle, one of the commenters here, who posted a link to a pamphlet from a Peace Studies prof at Bradford University on personally challenging and standing up to racist incidents.

Joanna, one of the other commenters to this blog, has also sent in her comment on the piece, which links to an article published on Tuesday in the Independent. It’s another great piece on how people can show their support for immigrants against rising racism. An American woman in London, Allison, has started a campaign to encourage people to wear a safety pin to show their solidarity. It’s inspired by the ‘I’ll ride with you’ campaign in Australia, which was launched last year after the Sydney Café killings. Here’s the comment and the link:

hi beast have you seen this?

http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/safetypin-the-simple-way-to-show-solidarity-with-the-uks-immigrant-population–ZJzeRPz6kHW

She also assures us that she’s going to wear one!

Of course, to some of us of a certain, wearing safety pins as jewelry brings us back to the heady days of 1977, when the Sex Pistols were in charts scandalising everyone, and in addition to brightly coloured hair and mohicans, punks were also sporting safety pins through their noses. This was when Johnny Rotten, now John Lydon, was intoning ‘No future! No future!’ I think it’s a great idea that the safety pin has come back as a fashion item to show no future for their racists after Brexit.

Hatewatch on the Links between the American National Alliance and British Neo-Nazis

June 26, 2016

Thomas Mair, the suspect for the murder of the Labour politician Jo Cox, was a long-time members of the extreme Right, who had ordered about $600 worth of books on how to build home-made guns and ammunition from National Vanguard Books, the publishing arm of the National Alliance, the main American neo-Nazi organisation.

Michelle, one of the many great contributors to this blog, sent me this link to an article on Hatewatch, the magazine of the Southern Poverty Law Centre that documents the activities of right-wing extremists: https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/06/21/thomas-mair-brexit-and-us-uk-neo-nazi-connection. The Southern Poverty Law Centre has been around for decades. In the 1990s its leader, Maurice Dees, published a book on the threat of the Militias, independent, private armies of right-wing survivalists, bitterly alienated from the federal government, entitled Gathering Storm. The above article by Heidi Beirich, their intelligence director, describes the links to the National Alliance and other American Nazi organisations not just of Thomas Mair, but also Zack Davies, who carried out a brutal attack on a Sikh doctor in Mold in North Wales; Mark Cotterill, a former BNP member, who recruits for the National Alliance in Britain through his Heritage and Destiny website, Andrew Lovie, a former member of UKIP, and BNP stormtrooper, who has posted on the neo-Nazi website, Stormfront, in America. Among merchandising Lovie ordered from the National Alliance was a video game, ‘Ethnic Cleansing’, where the player goes around shooting Blacks and Jews. As grotesque and incredible as this sounds, it is all too plausible. When I was at College thirty years ago, the German Republican Party had got into the news and very hot water because of a computer game they launched, in which the player took the part of a the commandant of a concentration camp and had to prevent Jews, gays and leftists escaping. The article also describes the activities of two Brexit advocates, Andrew Tait and Matthew Tait, and Arthur Kemp. Andrew Tait ran a pro-Brexit website, ‘Vote Leave Take Control’, while Matthew Tait was a former BNP activist, who has spoken several times at conferences by American Renaissance, a racist outfit on the other side of the Pond. Tait also has his own website, Western Spring, in which he posted a pro-Brexit piece arguing that the EU was a Communist organisation to destroy the White race. Kemp’s a racist South African, who was a former officer of the BNP, and was at one time the media director of the National Alliance. Kemp also has a racist website, the New Observer Online, in which he calls immigrants ‘invaders’ and ‘rapefugees’.

Other Nazi assassins elsewhere in Europe also have contacts with American Nazi organisations. These include Anders Breivik, who was a member of Stormfront, Peter Mangs, another National Alliance member, who killed three people in Sweden, and Maxime Brunerie, a French Fascist, who tried to kill the-then president, Jacques Chirac. David Copeland, the infamous Nazi, who killed a number of people in a bombing campaign in London targeting gays, Blacks and Asians, was partly inspired by the Turner Diaries, a work of fiction describing a future extreme-right coup in America, sold by the National Alliance. And then there’s Frank S., a German skinhead, who stabbed Henriette Reker, a mayoral candidate for Cologne. He also was active online. The current Chairman of the National Alliance, Will Williams, is also living on welfare due to psychological problems, and has a history of victimising women. He celebrated the death of Jo Cox, stating that she had placed a target on her back.

Politically, the membership of extreme right-wing organisations in Britain is very low, but they are extremely violent, and as this article shows, several of the most vicious have transatlantic contacts. And there is a real danger that this violence will be spread and encouraged by Brexit. As one of my brother’s foreign friends has found, the amount of racism has increased and become very personal.

After the Brexit Vote, More Racism

June 25, 2016

I had an email come through yesterday from the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate, expressing their sadness at the venomous racism and xenophobia that had been deliberately stirred up by the ‘Leave’ campaign. They made it very clear that they were resolved, more than ever, to do everything they could to combat this renewed threat, and urged everyone to join them in doing so.

The amount of sheer, bitter, vindictive racism for certain parts of the ‘Leave’ campaign has been absolutely appalling. Mike put up late on Thursday night some of the poisonous tweets he’d seen on social media from the ‘Leave’ camp, and they were extremely shocking. One poster said that after the vote, they could start deporting these ‘smelly, troublesome immigrants’. Another said that any woman, who voted ‘Remain’ should be raped, because that’s what these immigrants do. Somebody called ‘Mac’ tweeted that they should be sent ‘f***ing packing’, describing them as ‘scumbags’, ‘rapists’ and ‘traffickers’ which he didn’t want in his country. And somebody else poured out a pile of invective against someone – a woman – who was clearly in favour of Remaining that it cannot be repeated in a family blog.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/06/23/if-youve-votedare-about-to-vote-leave-look-at-the-company-youre-keeping-strong-language/

And talking to Mike today, it seems that this hatred has been personally experienced by one of his friends. This particular person is a foreigner, and they were personally abused and insulted following the ‘Leave’ referendum.

Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.

And Mike and Hope Not Hate are undoubtedly right when they say that this hatred will increase. This has to be resisted with all the strength we have.

!No Pasaran!, as the Spanish Anti-Fascists said.

Vox Political: Thomas Mair due to be Tried for Terrorism in November

June 23, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has also put up this piece, reporting that Thomas Mair has appeared before Mr Justice Saunders at the Old Bailey via video link. Mair is accused of murdering the MP, Jo Cox, last Thursday. The date of his trial is set as 14th November, and he has been charged with terrorism. At least this time he has had the decency to give a proper answer when asked what his name was. When he appeared before the beak last week, he claimed it was ‘Death to Traitors, Freedom for Britain’.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/06/23/terrorist-trial-of-thomas-mair-to-take-place-in-november/

Now it’s important to remember that Mair is innocent until proven guilty. But the evidence against him seems very conclusive. That hasn’t stopped the Kippers, Brexiters and other members of the racist right from trying to claim that he is somehow innocent. Hope Not Hate and other bloggers and organisations, include Vox Political, have reported and commented on the stupid conspiracy theories that sprung up like poisonous mushrooms after Cox’s murder. According to these, it wasn’t Mair, but a false flag operation to muster support from the Remain camp. This was according to Francois Asselineau, a conspiracy theorist with form for this kind of stupid, right-wing pronouncements over in La Patrie across the Channel. The man, who actually saw him carrying out the attack has an Arab name, and so was derided as a ‘lying Muslim’. Actually, in his clothes, demeanour and accent the witness looked as Yorkshire and British as anybody else. Not that it should have made any difference if he had worn a kaftan, skull cap and traditional Asian trousers.

I’ve also been amazed at the attempts to blame the attack on Mair’s poor mental health, rather than his membership of extreme right-wing organisations, like the pro-Apartheid Springbok club, the London Swinton Circle, and contacts with the National Alliance, the main American Nazi organisation. Instead it’s because he suffered from depression, or OCD -Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s not a convincing excuse, and neither of those conditions, on their own, will provoke someone to murder.

Let’s take depression. I think Mike put up a piece yesterday from a neuroscientist, who said that in her medical experience, depressives don’t have the energy to murder anyone. The unfortunates who suffer from the condition have all the energy drained out of them. That’s true. I’ve come across people with the condition, who have done nothing but lie in a darkened room when they’ve been suffering from an attack. Many depressives, and obsessive-compulsives, for that matter, simply take to sleep to try and get away from the thoughts and ruminations that are troubling them. They neither have the energy nor inclination for violence.

As for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, many of those who suffer from it, don’t do anything but feel forced to carry out repetitive rituals, such as washing themselves over and over again, in case something terrible might happen. At their most severe, these rituals can take up someone’s entire day, and affect not just their lives, but the lives of their families. But people, who spend hours checking to make sure they’ve properly locked the doors and windows, despite knowing that they have, don’t usually entertain thoughts of killing anyone.

Of course, part of the illness is that thoughts that cause anxiety may be dwelt upon, and for those hostile to immigration, that will include thoughts about the threat posed by immigrants. Now I think it’s fair to say that there is a danger of this, not just because of the emotive nature of the immigration debate, but also because of the genuine threat of Islamist terrorism. But again, having those thoughts doesn’t necessarily mean you have to act them out. If someone is so ill with depression and anxiety, that they seek medical help, then they know they’re ill. Which means that they can also recognise that their anxieties and the terrible ideas and fears running through their minds don’t necessarily correspond to reality. One antidote to fears about immigrants and immigration is simply thinking about the many decent people, who’ve come to this country over its history. Simply taking a trip on the bus, where you can see ordinary people of all races and backgrounds talking about banal, everyday matters like the weather, problems with the car and the awful track, what a prat the boss is, the cost of living and the footie, should help to allay any fears that Blacks or Asians are terrible monsters threatening the White race.

And backing this up is the knowledge of how vile the real Nazis are. As shown by the Holocaust, which is enough to depress and strike fear into anybody. But you don’t even have to go that far. Just the ordinary thuggery of the NF is sufficient for most people. Some of the Conservative politicians, who initially supported the National Front in the 1970s dropped them when they realised just what a violent outfit the NF was, and especially its policy of recruiting football hooligans and bootboys to attack non-Whites and left-wingers.

Mair doesn’t seem to have done any of this. He doesn’t seem to have tried to challenge his own racism by dwelling on the horrors of the concentration camps, or the unremarkable decency of ordinary folk. Nor was he determined by the far-right’s violence. In fact, his purchase of $600 worth of books on how manufacture home-made guns and ammunition from the publishing branch of the National Alliance, shows he was all too prepared to be involved with it.

Mental illness alone didn’t motivate Mair to kill Jo Cox, if indeed it was him. Sheer, vicious racism and a bitter hatred of those he considered ‘race traitors’ did.