Posts Tagged ‘Imperialism’

Gracchus Babeuf and the Calls for a Welfare State in 18th Century France

January 21, 2023

Gracchus Babeuf was a French revolutionary, who tried to overthrow the Directory and establish a communist state during the French Revolution as the leader of the ‘Conspiracy of Equals’. He’s one of the founders of the European socialist and communist traditions. I’ve been reading Ian Birchall’s book on him and his legacy, The Spectre of Babeuf (Haymarket Books 2016), and it’s fascinating. Birchall discusses the influences on Babeuf, which included Morelly, the author of the Code de la Nature, which also advocated a communist system with a centrally planned economy, Nicolas Collignon, who wrote an 8 page pamphlet demanding the same, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In Collignon’s ideal state, the citizens were to be provided with free food and clothing, high quality housing, schools and healthcare. Like the Tories, he also believed in competition, so doctors would be graded according to their performance. Those that cured the most would be consequently paid more and get promotion, while those who cured the least would be struck off. Even before he devised his own communist plans, he was already discussing the need for collective farms. What he meant by this is not collective farms in the soviet sense, but farms run cooperatively by their workers rather than a single farmer with employees. And he was also in favour of creating a welfare state. In a book he authored on correct taxation, he wrote

‘That a national fund for the subsistence of the poor should be established. That doctors, apothecaries and surgeons should be psif wages out of public funds so that they can administer assistance free of charge. That a system of national education be established out of which all citizens may take advantage. That magistrates be also paid wages out of public revenue, so that justice can be done free of charge.’ (p. 29).

Birchall also attacks the view promoted by Talmon in his The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy that Babeuf was an authoritarian who prefigured soviet tyranny. Talmon was an Israeli Conservative writing at the beginning of the Cold War. But Babeuf himself, although a revolutionary, was also keen to preserve and expand democracy. One of his suggestions was that there should be a set of elected officials charged with making sure that delegates to the national assembly were representing their constituents properly. If they weren’t, the people had the right to recall them.

Regarding industrial organisation, he believed that the citizens in each commune should be divided into classes, each class representing a different trade. The members of these classes would appoint governors, who would set the work and carry out the instructions of the municipal government. It’s very much a command economy, and utopian in that money would be abolished.

I can’t say I find Babeuf’s full-blown communist ideas attractive, for the reason I believe in a mixed a economy and the right of people to do what they wish outside of interference from either the authorities or other people. And I really don’t see how such a state could last long without a money economy. Some Russians looked forward to the establishment of such an economy at the beginning of the Russian Revolution when the economy began to break down and trading went back to barter in some areas until the Bolsheviks restored the economy. And there is clearly conflict between violent revolution and democracy. But I respect his calls for a welfare state. He was also an advocate of equality for women and an opponent of imperialism, which he felt corrupted extra-European peoples with European vices. This view is clearly based on the 17th century ideas of the Noble Savage, in which primitive peoples are seen as better and more morally advanced than civilised westerners.

Demands for a welfare state are as old as socialism itself. We cannot allow the British welfare state and NHS to be destroyed by the Tories and Blairite Labour under Starmer.

Simon Webb’s Speech to the Traditional Britain Group: A Critique

December 29, 2022

One of the great commenters on this blog asked me the other day if I’d watched Simon Webb’s speech to the Traditional Britain Group, which has been posted up on YouTube. Webb is the man behind History Debunked, in which he criticises, refutes and comments on various historical myths and distortions. Most of these are against Black history, as well as racial politics. Occasionally he also presents his opinions on gay and gender issues. Like other YouTubers and internet commenters, you need to use your own discretion when watching his material. Sometimes, when he cites his sources, he’s right. At other times he’s more probably wrong. As much of his material is against mass immigration, particularly Black and Asian, and he believes that there is a racial hierarchy when it comes to intelligence, there’s some discussion of the man’s political orientation. He’s definitely right-wing, reading the Torygraph and attacking Labour as ‘high spending’. But it’s a question of how right-wing. Some people have suggested he’s English Democrat or supports a similar extreme right fringe party.

The other day he gave a speech at the Traditional Britain Group, which is a particularly nasty set of rightists within the Conservative party. There was a scandal a few years ago, you’ll recall, when Jacob Rees-Mogg turned up at one of their dinners. Mogg claimed he didn’t know how far right they were, but was shown to be somewhat economical with the actualite when someone showed that he’d actually been warned against associating with them. They are fervently against non-White immigration and some of them have a dubious interest in the Nazis and the Third Reich. I’ve also been told that their members include real Nazis and eugenicists, which is all too credible. They also want to privatise the NHS. I found this out after finding myself looking at their message board a few years ago. They were talking about how they needed to privatise the health service, but it would have to be done gradually and covertly because at the moment the masses were too much in favour of it. Which has been Tory policy for decades.

Webb’s speech is about half and hour long, and takes in slavery, White English identity and how Blacks have taken ownership of the subject so that it’s now part of theirs, White guilt over it and the industrial revolution and how White Brits are being made to feel ashamed of imperialism. He also blamed Tony Blair for mass immigration and claimed that it was due to this that the health service was collapsing.

The British Empire

He started off by saying that when he was young, everyone believed that the British Empire was a good thing and that we had brought civilisation to Africa and other parts of the world. I don’t doubt this. He’s older than me, and so I can believe that the received view of the Empire in his time was largely positive. Even the Labour party broadly supported imperialism. Its official stance was that Britain held these countries in trust until they were mature enough for self-government. This has changed, and there is a general feeling, certainly on the left, that it’s something we should be ashamed of. But this has come from historians and activists discussing and revealing the negative aspects of colonialism, such as the genocide and displacement of indigenous peoples, enslavement, forced labour and massacres. The end of empires tend to be particularly bloody, as shown in the various nationalist wars that ended the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans and the French possession of Algeria. Britain fought similar bloody wars and committed atrocities to defend its empire, as shown in the massive overreaction in Kenya to the Mao Mao rebellion. Jeremy Black, in his history of the British Empire, also argues that support for the empire fell away from the 1970s onwards as British youth became far more interested in America. I think the automatic condemnation of British imperialism is wrong and one-sided. It’s also somewhat hypocritical, as the same people condemning the British Empire don’t condemn other brutal imperial regimes like the Ottomans. It’s also being used by various post-colonial regimes to shift attention and blame for their own failings. But all this doesn’t change the fact that some horrific things were done during the Empire, which politicians and historians have to deal with. Hence the shame, although in my view there should be a space for a middle position which condemns the atrocities and celebrates the positive.

Britain and Slavery

He then talks about how slavery is now identified solely with Black transatlantic servitude. But he argues that the White English can also claim slavery as part of their identity. He talks of the first mention of the English in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, when pope Gregory the Great saw some English children for sale in the slave market in Rome. Asking who such beautiful children were, he was told they were Angles. At which Gregory punned, ‘Non Anglii, sed angeli’ – ‘Not Angles but angels’. At the time of the Domesday Book 10 per cent of the English population were slaves. And the mob that tore down Colston’s statue in Bristol were unaware that the city had been exported English slaves over a millennium before. These were shipped to the Viking colonies in Ireland – Dublin, Wexford and other towns – from whence they were then trafficked internationally. Slavery existed long before Black transatlantic slavery. The first record we have of it is from 4000 years ago in the form of document from the Middle East recording the sale of slaves and pieces of land. While they weren’t aware of transatlantic slavery at school, they knew slavery existed through studying the Bible. The story of Joseph and his brothers, and the Israelites in Egypt. But slavery has now become identified exclusively with Black slavery and is part of the Black identity. It’s because we’re supposed to feel guilty about slavery and feel sorry for Blacks that Black people over overrepresented in adverts, on television dramas and even historical epics, such as the show about the Tudors where half the actors were Black.

Webb is right about slavery existing from ancient times. There are indeed documents from the ancient near eastern city of Mari in Mesopotamia recording the sale of slaves along with land and other property, as I’ve blogged about here. One of the problems the abolitionists faced was that slavery existed right across the world, and so their opponents argued that it was natural institution. They therefore also claimed that it was consequently unfair and disastrous for the government to abolish it in the British empire. He’s right about Pope Gregory and the English slaves, although the word ‘Angli’ refers to the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that settled and colonised England with the Saxons and Jutes after the fall of the Roman Empire. Angles in Anglo-Saxon were Englas, hence Engla-land – England, land of the Angles, and Englisc, English. Bristol did indeed export English slave to Ireland. Archbishop Wulfstan preached against it in the 11th century. We were still doing so in 1140, when visiting clergy from France were warned against going for dinner aboard the Irish ships in the harbour. These would lure people aboard with such promises, then slip anchor and take them to Ireland. The Irish Vikings also imported Black slaves. One chronicle reports the appearance of a consignment of blamenn, blue or black men in Old Norse, in Dublin. David Olasuga has also claimed that they imported 200 Blacks into Cumbria. Bristol’s export of White English slaves is mentioned in a display about it in the city’s M Shed Museum, which also contains the statue of Edward Colston. I do agree with Webb that there is a problem with popular attitudes towards slavery. Its presentation is one-sided, so that I don’t think many people are aware of it and its horrors outside the British Empire, nor how White Europeans were also enslaved by the Muslim Barbary pirates. I very strongly believe that this needs to be corrected.

Black Overrepresentation on TV

I don’t think it’s guilt over slavery alone that’s responsible for the large number of Black actors being cast on television, particularly the adverts. I think this is probably also due to commercial marketing, the need to appeal to international audiences and attempts to integrate Blacks by providing images of multiracial Britain. Many adverts are made for an international audience, and I think the use of Blacks has become a sort of visual shorthand for showing that the company commissioning the advert is a nice, anti-racist organisation, keen to sell to people of different colours across the world without prejudice. At home, it’s part of the promotion of diversity. Blacks are, or are perceived, as acutely alienated and persecuted, and so in order to combat racism the media has been keen to include them and present positive images of Black life and achievement. There are organisations dedicated to this task, such as the Creative Diversity Network, as well as systems that grade companies according to how they invest in multicultural enterprises, such as television and programmes with suitably racially diverse casts. Webb has himself talked about this. He’s also stated that Blacks are disproportionately represented on television, constituting only 6 per cent of the population but a very large proportion of actors in TV programmes and adverts. This might simply be because other, larger ethnic groups, such as Asians, aren’t so concerned with entering the entertainment industry and so aren’t represent to the same extent. Hence, Blacks sort of stand in for people of colour as a whole. As for adverts, I’ve also wondered if some of this might be purely commercial – a concern to sale to an emergent, affluent, Black market, perhaps. It also struck me that it might also be a make work programme. As I understand it, there are too many drama graduates for too few roles. This is particularly going to hit Blacks and other ethnic minorities because Britain at the moment is still a White majority country. There have consequently been demands for colour blind casting, as in Armando Iannucci’s recent film version of Oliver Twist. A year or so ago one Black actor announced that there should be more roles for Blacks or else they would go to America. As for the casting of a Black woman as Anne Boleyn, this seems to follow the theatre, where colour blind casting has existed for years. I think it also follows the tacit demand to create an image of the British past that conforms to modern multicultural society rather than how it really was. And some of it, I think, just comes from the feeling that as modern Blacks are as British as their White compatriots, so they should not be excluded from appearing as historical characters who were White. I think these considerations are just as likely, or more likely, to be the causes of the disproportionate number of Blacks appearing on camera than simply pity for them as the victims of slavery.

Blair Not Responsible for Mass Immigration

Now we come to his assertion that Blair was responsible for mass immigration. When he made this declaration, there were shouts, including one of ‘traitor’. I don’t believe that Blair was responsible for it, at least, not in the sense he means. The belief that he was, which is now widespread on the anti-immigrant right, comes from a single civil servant. This official claimed that Blair did so in order to change the ethnic composition of Britain and undermine the Tories. But did he really? This comes from a single individual, and without further corroboration, you can’t be sure. In fact Blair seems to have tried to cut down on immigration, particularly that of non-Whites. In order to dissuade people from coming here, he stopped immigrants from being able to apply for welfare benefits. The food banks now catering to native Brits were originally set up to feed those immigrants, who were no longer eligible for state aid. I also recall David Blunkett stating that they were going to cut down on immigration. The Guardian also accused Blair of racism over immigration. He had cut down on non-White immigration from outside Europe, while allowing White immigration from the EU and its new members in eastern Europe. The right had also been concerned about rising Black and Asian immigration for decades, and in the 1980s Tory papers like the Depress were publishing articles about unassimilable ethnic minorities. This started before Blair, and I don’t think he was deliberately responsible for it.

But I believe he was responsible for it in the sense that many of the migrants come from the countries Blair, Bush, Obama and Sarco destroyed or helped to destroy in the Middle East, such as Libya, Iraq and Syria. Blair had made some kind of deal with Colonel Gaddafy to keep migrants from further south in Libya, rather than crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. This was destroyed when Gaddafy’s regime was overthrown by Islamists. The result has been the enslavement of Black African migrants, and renewed waves of refugees from North Africa fleeing the country’s collapse.

He also stated that the industrial revolution, which was something else that was traditionally a source of pride, is now considered a cause for shame instead. Britain had been its birthplace and given its innovations to the rest of the world. However, we are now expected to be ashamed of it through its connection to slavery. The cotton woven in the Lancashire mills came from the American slave south, while sugar came from the slave colonies of the Caribbean. We’re also supposed to be ashamed of it because it’s the cause of climate change, for which we should pay reparations.

The Industrial Revolution and Climate Change

Okay, I’ve come across the claim that the industrial revolution was financed by profits from the slave trade and that it was based on the processing of slave produced goods. However, this is slightly different from condemning the industrial revolution as a whole. You can lament the fact that slavery was a part of this industrialisation, while celebrating the immense social, technological and industrial progress itself. After all, Marx states in the Communist Manifesto that it has rescued western society from rural idiocy. The demand that Britain should feel ashamed about the industrial revolution because of climate change comes from Greta Thunberg. It is, in my view, monumentally stupid and actually shows an ignorance of history. It’s based on an idealisation of pre-technological societies and an idealisation of rural communities. It’s a product of European romanticism, mixed with contemporary fears for the future of the planet. But the agrarian past was no rural idyll. People in the agricultural societies before the urbanisation of the 19th century had very utilitarian attitudes to the environment. It was a source of resources that could be used and exploited. The nostalgia for an idealised rural past came with the new generation of urban dwellers, who missed what they and their parents had enjoyed in the countryside. And rural life could be extremely hard. If you read economic histories of the Middle Ages and early modern period, famine is an ever present threat. It still was in the 19th century. The Irish potato famine is the probably the best known example in Ireland and Britain, but there were other instances of poverty, destitution and starvation across the UK and Europe. Industrialisation has allowed a far greater concentration of people to live than would have been possible under subsistence agriculture. Yes, I’m aware that overpopulation is a problem, that industrial pollution is harming the environment and contributing to the alarming declining in animal and plant species. But technological and science hopefully offer solutions to these problems as well. And I really don’t want to go back to a subsistence economy in which communities can be devastated by crop failure.

The call for climate reparations, I think, comes from Ed Miliband, and in my view it shows how out of touch and naive he is. I have no problem the Developed World giving aid to some of those countries threatened by climate change, such as the Pacific islands which are threatened with flooding due to the rise in sea levels. But some countries, I believe, are perfectly capable of doing so without western help. One of these is China, which also contributes massively to carbon emissions and which I believe has also called for the payment of climate reparations. China is an emerging economic superpower, and I see no reason why the west should pay for something that it’s doing and has the ability to tackle. I am also very sceptical whether such monies would be used for the purposes they’re donated. Corruption is a massive problem in the Developing World, and various nations have run scams to part First World donors and aid agencies from their money. When I was at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum one of these was a scheme for a hydroelectric dam in Pakistan. The Pakistani government was calling for western aid to finance the project. Britain refused, sensing a scam, for which we were criticised. Other countries happily gave millions, but the dam was never built. All a fraud. I suspect if climate reparations were paid, something similar would also happen with the aid money disappearing into kleptocrats’ pockets. There’s also the problem of where the tax burden for the payment of these reparations would fall. It probably wouldn’t be the rich, who have enjoyed generous tax cuts, but the British working class through indirect taxes. In short, it seems to me to be a colossally naive idea.

But these ideas don’t seem to be widespread. When he announced them, there were shouts from the audience to which Webb responded that it was coming, and they should wait a few years. Perhaps it will, but I’ve seen no enthusiasm or even much mention of them so far. They were mentioned during the COP 27 meeting, and that’s it. Thunberg’s still around, but after all these years I think she’s somewhat passe. At the moment I don’t think these ideas are issues.

Mass Immigration Not the Cause of NHS Crisis

Now let’s examine his statement that it’s due to immigration that the NHS is in the state it’s in. This is, quite simply, wrong. He correctly states that while Britain’s population has grown – London’s has nearly doubled and Leicester’s grown by 30 per cent – there has been no similar provision of medical services. No new hospitals have been built. As a result, where once you could simply walk into your doctor’s and expect to be seen, now you have to book an appointment. And when it comes to hospitals, it’s all the fault of immigrants. He talks about a specific hospital in London, and how the last time he was in that area, he was the only White Brit in the queue. This was because immigrants don’t have GPs, and so go to the hospital for every problem. We also have the problem of sick and disabled people from the developing world coming to the country for the better services we offer. A woman from the Sudan with a special needs child will therefore come here so that her child can have the treatment it wouldn’t get in the Sudan.

I dare say some of this analysis is correct. Britain’s population has grown largely due to immigration. One statistic released by a right-wing group said that immigration was responsible for 80 per cent of population growth. It’s probably correct, as Chambers Cyclopedia stated in its 1987 edition that British birthrates were falling and that it was immigration that was behind the rise in the UK population. I don’t know London at all, and I dare say that many of the immigrants there may well not have had doctors. I can also quite believe that some immigrants do come here for our medical care. There was a case a few weeks ago of a Nigerian woman, who got on a flight to London specifically so that she could have her children in a British hospital. I think this was a case of simple health tourism, which has gone on for years, rather than immigration.

But this overlooks the fact that the problems of the NHS has been down to successive Thatcherite regimes cutting state medical care in Britain all under the pretext of making savings and not raising taxes. Thatcher closed hospital wards. So did Tony Blair, when he wasn’t launching his PFI initiative. This was supposed to build more hospitals, but led to older hospitals being closed and any new hospitals built were smaller, fewer and more expensive. Cameron started off campaigning against hospital closures, and then, once he got his backside in No. 10, carried on with exactly the same policy. Boris Johnson claimed that he was going to build forty hospitals, which was, like nearly everything else the obese buffoon uttered, a flat lie. And Tweezer, Truss and Sunak are doing the same. Doctors surgeries have also suffered. Many of them have been sold off to private chains, which have maximised profits by closing down those surgeries that aren’t profitable. The result is that people have been and are being left without doctors. If you want an explanation why the NHS is in the state it is, blame Thatcher and her heirs, not immigrants.

Conclusion

While Webb has a point about the social and political manipulation of historical issues like the slave trade and the British Empire, these aren’t the reasons for the greater appearance of Black actors and presenters on television. Blair wasn’t responsible for mass immigration, and it’s underfunding and privatisation, not immigration, that’s responsible for the deplorable state of the health service. But he’s speaking to the wrong people there anyway, as the TBG would like to privatise it.

I am not saying it is wrong to discuss these issues, but it is wrong to support a bunch of Nazis like the TBG, who will exploit them to recreate all the social inequality, poverty and deprivation of pre-modern Britain.

Sketch of American Astronomer, Space Scientist and Activist Carl Sagan

December 3, 2022

I’ve put up this sketch of Carl Sagan began he was one of the major figures in space research as well as a committed Humanist and political activist. He was also a major populariser of astronomy and science, most notably through his blockbusting TV series and its accompanying book, Cosmos. This was also notable for its soundtrack, composed by Vangelis, who also composed the music for Chariots of Fire, Blade Runner and 1492: The Conquest of Paradise. According to the blurb on Cosmos’ back cover, Sagan was

‘(t)he director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies and David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking and Voyager expeditions to the planets, for which he received the NASA medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and for Distinguished Public Service, and the international astronautics prize, the Prix Galabert. He has served as Chairman of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, as chairman of the astronomy section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as a President of the Planetology Section of the American Geophysical Union. For twelve years, he was Editor-in-Chief of Icarus, the leading professional journal devoted to planetary research. In addition to 400 published scientific and popular articles, Dr. Sagan (was) the author, co-author or editor of more than a dozen books, including Intelligent Life in the Universe, The Cosmic Connection, The Dragons of Eden, Murmurs of Earth and Broca’s Brain. In 1975 he received the Joseph Priestly Award “for distinguished contributions to the welfare of mankind,” and in 1978 the Pulitzer Prize for literature.’

It was Sagan who suggested that Black Holes could be used as interstellar subways so that spaceships from one part of the universe could use them to travel faster than light to another part of the cosmos connected by the wormhole passing between the Black Hole and its White Hole. He also suggested that Venus could be terraformed into a living, habitable world through the introduction of genetically engineered bacteria that would consume its toxic carbon dioxide atmosphere and replace it with breathable oxygen. He also noted that Mars had a large instability in its rotation, and that this could have resulted in its current, millions-year long period of lifelessness. But it was possible that in time its rotation would return to a more hospitable position and the planet would once more bloom into life. He was also a staunch advocate of the view that the universe was inhabited by intelligent alien civilisations and that one day we would contact them. He also wrote a later book, Pale Blue Dot, after the view of the Earth from space.

He was also a fierce opponent of what he considered to be superstition. He was one of the founders of CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal along with the stage magician James Randi. They were formed in response to the publication of Gauqelin’s research suggesting there really was a link between the star sign under which people were born and their later careers. He was alarmed by the rise of Creationism and the New Age, and expressed his fears about them in his book, The Demon Haunted World. He was afraid that this would lead to a new Dark Age in which people would wake up every morning to anxiously look through their horoscopes.

He was also greatly concerned with the environment and global warming and the threat of nuclear war. In the 1980s he also proposed the idea of nuclear winter. This was the idea that a nuclear war would send millions of tons of dust into the atmosphere, blocking out the sunlight and causing temperatures to plunge. This has since been rejected by scientists, but I have seen it suggested as one of the causes for the extinction of the dinosaurs. In this case it was the dust thrown up by the asteroid’s impact 65 million years ago that blocked out the sun’s light, after the initial holocaust caused by its impact.

During the inquiry following the Challenger disaster, Sagan claimed that it had occurred because the Shuttle was poorly designed, the result of a compromise between NASA and the military. The Shuttle was originally intended to be fully reusable and smaller. However, the armed forces insisted on it becoming larger so that it could carry military satellites into space. The result was that it was larger, and only partially reusable as it required an external tank to carry the extra fuel it needed to reach orbit. This was jettisoned after its fuel was consumed to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

He also wrote the SF novel, Contact, later filmed with Jodie Foster playing the lead. This was about a female astronomer, who makes contact radio contact with aliens, a method Sagan himself strongly advocated. Following their instructions, she constructs an artificial wormhole portal that transports her across space so she can finally meet them. I remember coming across the book in the Cheltenham branch of Waterstones in the 1980s and was rather put off by its blurb. This boasted about it challenging and refuting racism, sexism and so on. All good stuff, of course, but a bit too PC for me.

Many of these themes appear in Cosmos. This was his personal view of the history of science, and while I loved it at the time, I have serious issues with some of the claims now. One of the problems is that he accepts what we were all told at school, that the Greek philosophers were scientists. He believed that if Greek science had progressed, we would have had space travel by now. The ancient Greeks were certainly responsible for laying the foundations of western science, but they were not quite scientists in the modern sense. They used deduction rather than the scientific method of induction. Deduction meant that they observed a phenomenon and then invented an explanation. In induction, devised by Francis Bacon in the 16th/17th century, the scientist observes a phenomenon, comes up with an explanation, and then devises an experiment to disprove it. If the explanation passes the test, it is tentatively accepted as true until a later observation or experiment disproves it. The ancient Greeks didn’t do much practical experimentation.

Sagan also followed the popular explanation of the evolution of the brain, in which there is a lower, animal brain with the higher faculties evolving later, so there’s a primitive reptile brain and a more advanced mammal brain. But Victorian scientists found that both types of brain structure were present in the earliest, most primitive animals. He also followed the standard, accepted narrative that the Roman Catholic church had suppressed scientific knowledge and experimentation during the Middle Ages. This has since been rejected by historians of science. To many such historians now, the Middle Ages after the 8/9th centuries were an age of innovation and discovery. Jean Gimpel’s book proposing the idea was called The Medieval Machine, after the invention of the clock, to symbolise the period’s belief in a universe governed by law, discoverable by human reason under the light of the divine. And rather than the revival of classical learning in the Renaissance leading to a new enlightened, rational order, it had the potential to do the opposite. The medieval philosophers and theologians were Aristotelians but were very aware of the flaws in Aristotelian science and had modified it over the centuries in order to conform more closely to observed reality. But the Renaissance Humanists would have dumped all this, and so we would have been back to square one with no further scientific advances than what was permitted through a rigid adherence to Aristotle’s thought.

There’s also an anti-Christian element in Cosmos too. He describes how Hypatia, the late Neoplatonist female philosopher was murdered by a group of Christian monks in the 4th century. Hypatia has symbolised for a long time to radical atheists the fundamentally anti-science, and to feminists, the misogyny in Christianity. But by this time Neoplatonism was a mixture of science and mystical speculation, forming what has been called ‘the mind’s road to God’. The real motives for her murder weren’t that she was some kind of pagan threat, but more from a power struggle between the authorities in that part of the Roman world.

Sagan is also critical of western imperialism and describes the horrors the Conquistadors inflicted on the Aztecs and other peoples of the New World. He’s right and this section is clearly a product of its time, with the rise of anti-colonial movements among the world’s indigenous peoples, the Black Civil Rights movement in the US and the horrors of the Vietnam War, as well as Reagan’s new Cold War and the threat of nuclear holocaust. But looking at this 40 years later, it’s also one-sided. Europe wasn’t the only expansionist, brutal, imperialist culture. Islam was also militaristic and expansionist, and at the time the Spaniards conquered South America, the Turkish empire was expanding and subjugating parts of Europe, while Muslim pirates were raiding the continent as far as Iceland for slaves.

It’s also dated from an archaeological standpoint. At one point Sagan discusses the Bronze Age collapse of the societies of the Ancient Near East, showing how it was characterised by a series of crises, similar to the process of the fall of other, later civilisations into Dark Ages, but that these aren’t causes in themselves. It’s Systems Analysis, which was popular at the time, but which I think has also become subsequently passe.

All that said, Sagan was right about global warming, whose devastating effects he illustrated with the example of the planet Venus. This has also suffered catastrophic heating due to its greater nearness to the Sun. This released massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, creating a runaway greenhouse effect so that it is now a hell planet of burning temperatures and sulphuric acid rain. He also wasn’t wrong about the threat of renewed militarism and nuclear war and was a welcome voice against Reagan’s strident belligerence.

As a science populariser, his influence has also been immense. Cosmos was a bestseller, and I think it prepared the way for other bestselling works by astronomers and scientists like Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. And I certainly was not surprised when Brian Cox, the scientist, not the actor, said in an interview in the Radio Times that he was a massive admirer of Sagan. That came across to me very strongly from his numerous TV series about space and the planets.

History Debunked Explores British Asian History in Opposition to Black History Month

October 24, 2022

My favourite internet historian, as some commenters have dubbed him, Simon Webb, has put up a couple of videos yesterday and today on the great, forgotten figures of British Asian history. These were men and women of real achievement, and he uses them to ask an important question: if Britain really was as racist as it has been claimed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, why did these men and women succeed, largely through their own merits? Why, therefore, is it only Blacks who have their own special history month, but not Asians, who seem content not to have one? These are actually good questions, and I think they show much about the difference in situation between Blacks and Asians.

He began yesterday with a video contrasting Mary Seacole, the restauranteur and entrepreneur, who is often claimed to be a Black counterpart of Florence Nightingale, with an Indian female doctor, Annie Wardlaw Jagganadham. This lady was born in 1864 in Adhra Pradesh, India and studied medicine at Madras. She came to Britain to study medicine at Edinburgh university, qualifying as a doctor in 1890. She then became house surgeon at the Edinburgh Hospital for Women and Children. Her brother was also a doctor, as were her nephews.

She was one of a number of other Indian medical students in this country in the 1890s including Gandhi, who qualified in 1891.

Today, Webb has put up another video on Dadabhai Naoroji, an Indian Zoroastrian, who was elected MP in 1892. When taking office, he swore his oath not on the Bible, but on the Zoroastrian holy book, the Zend Avesta. In 1919 another Indian gent, Satyendra Prasanna Sindh, became a member of the British government and simultaneously the House of Lords, becoming the First Baron Sindh. Webb’s a man of the right, and he could have added to this list of Indian MPs Shapurji Saklatvala, a Communist who stood as a Labour party candidate and was elected first Labour MP for Battersea North in 1922 and then Communist MP for the same constituency in 1924. But I suspect that would have been too much for his right-wing principles. But he made a video a few years ago about an Indian raja who became a Tory MP in the 19th century.

Whatever the political point Webb is trying to make, these are really interesting figures. Saklatvala and his White British comrade Newbold, were deeply concerned with imperialism and the oppression of the indigenous peoples, speaking about Ireland, India and Mesopotamia, as Iraq was known at the time.

As for the reason why Chinese and Asian Brits seem uninterested in having their own special history month, I suspect part of this might be because they are culturally more self-confident and economically more self-reliant than Blacks. China, India and Islam have a long history of cultural achievement and scientific invention. If you look through popular books on the history of scientific inventions, you see any number in the ancient and medieval worlds that were discovered or created by Chinese, Indians and Muslim mathematicians, doctors, engineers and scholars. And their descendants are well aware of them. This has found its way into jokes. One of the characters in the Asian comedy show, Goodness Gracious Me, was an Indian father who shouted ‘India!’ at the mention of various inventions and discoveries, whether they were actually made by Indians or not. Then there was an episode of Lovejoy, in which the dodgy antiques trader was trying to procure an ancient Chinese piece of art for a Chinese Hong Kong banker. This businessman spoke only Chinese and was accompanied by his Chinese interpreter. The character was passionately proud about his country’s heritage of invention, announcing at every opportunity that something or other was a Chinese invention, even when it wasn’t. This eventually reached the point where his interpreter had to say to him, ‘Oh no, Mr. – I don’t think we invented motorcycles!’ These are clearly jokes laughing at Indian and Chinese pride, but I don’t recall anyone taking offence.

Both Chinese, Indians and other Asians have been victims of racism over here, and their countries conquered and exploited under imperialism, but it seems to me that they are confident enough in their own achievements that they don’t feel the need for an Asia history month. They also seem much more determined to raise their economic and social position through their own efforts, something the Black American conservative writer, Jason Riley, wishes Black Americans would do rather than concentrate on gaining political power.

Blacks are in a slightly different position. Those of West Indian descent are acutely aware that their ancestors were slaves while the Black community as a whole seems to know little about African history. African civilisations have suffered from the prejudice of White scholars. It’s depressing reading through the book Colour Prejudice, published in the late 1940s, and seeing so many western scholars declaring that Black Africans had made no innovations and their civilisations were worthless. Some of this doubtless was due to racism, but another problem may have been that many African cultures didn’t have a written literature and built with wood a highly perishable material in the Africa climate, and so archaeological evidence of these cultures were easily obscured over time. Also, a lot of Black history necessarily happened overseas and so isn’t taught in British history. Hence the arguments for Black History month to make Blacks aware that they also have a history of achievement in the hope of inspiring them to go and raise their social and economic position to the same level as Whites and mainstream society.

Indian born Communist MP for Battersea North Shapurji Saklatvala. From James Klugman, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Formation and Early Years, Vol. 1 1919-1924 (London: Lawrence & Wishart 1968).

Tariq Ali on His Book on the Times and Crimes of Winston Churchill

October 14, 2022

Here’s a very provocative little video I found on the YouTube channel for left-wing publisher Verso. It’s a 27 minute long talk by 60’s radical Tariq Ali about his book, Winston Churchill, His Times, His Crimes. It’s entitled ‘The Churchill Cult Is Out of Control: Tariq Ali on Winston Churchill’. Ali explains how he was initially reluctant to write about the great war leader, not least because he didn’t want to waste his time reading what Churchill himself wrote, until he was finally persuaded by another historian. He states that the students at Oxford protesting for decolonisation, demanding that Churchill college change its name and who poured paint over his statue were quite right. Churchill, by his own admission, was a racist and White supremacist. He supported Mussolini in Italy and General Franco in Spain. In fact, Franco’s three greatest supporters in Europe were Hitler, Mussolini and Churchill. He talks about Churchill’s imperialist wars around the world against non-Whites, but also his atrocities in Ireland during the Irish revolution when he was Home Secretary. Churchill is also bitterly resented in Wales for sending in the troops during the Tonypandy strike. According to Ali, when there was a collection for him on his death, not one Welsh council contributed. He also states that it is a complete lie that the experience of the Second World War changed him. It didn’t. After the war, in the 1950s, when the Tories were discussing what slogan they should adopt for their election campaign, Churchill responded, unprompted, with ‘Keep Britain White’.

He also hated the Labour movement. He sneered at Clement Attlee for beating him in an election. The only Labour politician he did like was Ernest Bevin, who was a nationalistic, and jingoistic as he was, and anti-Semitic to a certain extent. Churchill was also unpopular in the Conservative party for being very right-wing and changing parties when it suited him. Talking about his crimes, Ali mentions the Bengal Famine but also a very obscure incident that he says is only mentioned in one book. Churchill was behind the British expeditionary force sent in to topple the Bolshevik revolutionaries. But Churchill wanted to go even further and use chemical weapons against Bolshevik villages and territories. There was a mutiny in the force, which resulted in the court martial of a South African officer. Churchill was also proud of the overthrow of the democratic regime of Prime Minister Mossadeq in Iran. He also says that Britain was hampered during the War by the very class-bound nature of the officer corps. He gives the comparison of Rommel, one of the Nazi’s great generals, and quotes one authority who said that if Rommel had been British, he wouldn’t have risen above sergeant. The class-bound nature of the officer corps was recognised by the junior officers.

Churchill was also responsible for the brutal suppression of the Greek resistance movement because it was led by the Communists. One of the tactics of the British forces was to decapitate their enemies, put their heads on poles and carry them around outside prison camps. This was justified with the statement that it was the only thing they would understand.

Ali states that Churchill was not as popular as he is now, when he is the centre of what Ali calls a cult, until the 1980s and the Falklands. He quotes from a 1970s play by a radical British playwright, in which two soldiers carrying his coffin talk about how horrible the great man was. Churchill then bursts out of his coffin waving a union jack and with an unlit cigar, his face a mask. Ali considers that most of South America and the world considered the Falkland Islands to be properly Argentina’s and states that the islands were defended by the alliance between Thatcher and General Pinochet. Churchill’s image was part of the propaganda movement for the war, which the British Labour party under Michael Foot supported.

Ali believes the cult of Churchill has arisen because the British political establishment and ruling class, including Labour, are still fixated on the empire. This has partly been done in order to retain some small independence against the Americans. After the War the European empires fell, or were taken over by the Americans, as in Vietnam. Churchill was saddened, but cheered that they were going to another, White, Christian power. The special relationship was also his creation, because he was half-American. Other countries, such as Scandinavia, have been able to find a role after the War, but Britain is still obsessed with the empire. He states that what emerged after the war was a form of social democratic planning, as well as the NHS and the nationalisation of the mines, which was a particularly sore point. The miners’ leaders wondered why it had been left for so long. This wasn’t particularly socialist, and other countries were doing the same. The ruling class has persisted in Britain because they were able to co-opt Labour and the trade unions. The cult around Winston Churchill is very much an English phenomenon. It doesn’t exist in Wales and hardly exists in Scotland. If Wales leaves, then the Churchill cult will form the heart of an English nationalism. The Churchill myth will continue for some time, but all myths eventually fall, and the British people will eventually turn against this one.

A Few Pictures of the Reality of Fascism

September 16, 2022

Simon Webb today went full Mosley and put up a video asking, ‘What’s wrong with Fascism?’ He wanted to make a distinction between Nazism and Fascism. Fascism, he said, had been tarnished through its association with Nazism. But if you wanted to see a benevolent regime that was Fascist in all but name, he directed you to that of the Portuguese dictator Salazar.

But it isn’t just the association with the Third Reich and its attendant horrors that has turned decent people across the world against Fascism. It’s the fact that Mussolini’s fascists were also militant imperialists responsible for brutal atrocities in the nations they conquered, as well as those committed by the various Fascist juntas in Greece, Latin America and Indonesia.

Yesterday or the day before right-wingers like Paul Joseph Watson were also celebrating the electoral victory of the right-wing coalition in Sweden’s elections over their socialist party. This coalition included with the centre right party the Sweden Democrats, a far-right outfit. They’re obviously anti-immigration, but have a very unpleasant neo-Nazi past. According to Hope Not Hate, they used to wear Nazi uniforms as late as the ’90.

I didn’t watch Webb’s video about the Swedish election, whose title said that the Swedes had turned against immigration, the Italians were waking up and when would Britain follow? Mark Pattie did, and wasn’t impressed. He writes ‘Dear God! I did watch his recent video on the Swedish election result where he said “Why can’t we have a similar party here?”- and the anti-immigration party he mentioned? Ukip, 2015? No, he mentioned the bloody National Front getting 5% of the vote in 1974. Makes me think he would vote for Britain First in the next GE.’

I remember the National Front when they goose-stepping about in the 1970s, as well as the various other Fascist and Nazi outfits like the British Movement. And they were overtly Nazi and extremely violent. Michael Collins in his book Hate describes one of the attacks he took part in on an anti-racist meeting in the local library. This had young Asian women leaping out of upstairs windows to get away from them. Monica Ali gives a fictionalised description of the gang fights between White Fascists and Asian self-defence groups in her book, Brick Lane. Just to remind people what British Fascism looked like in the 1960s and 70s, here are a few pictures from British Fascism, 1919-1985. and the W.H. Smith History of the World.

Colin Jordan, Fuhrer of the World Union of National Socialists, with his wife, the daughter of fashion designer Christian Dior.

Skinhead supporter of the NF in the 1970s

And this is what the Nazis did to the Jews, aided by their collaborators in occupied Europe.

The Survivors of Buchenwald Concentration Camp

I don’t know about Portugal, but Franco only kept out of the Second World War because of poverty. Even so, I think he wanted to send a few token Spanish troops with the Nazis in the invasion of the Soviet Union. Not everyone who wants to cut down on immigration is a racist or Nazi. And despite the rhetoric, the BNP and NF as Fascists have a trouble hanging on to members. Lobster published a piece in the 90s which I think quoted anti-racist researchers of the movement as saying that although they boasted of having 2,000 members or more, they actually had a very high membership turnover. In reality they only had 200 or so core members. The simple reason for this is probably that people aren’t interested or sympathetic to fascist ideology. People joined not because they wanted some kind of new British reich or dictatorship, but probably simply because they wanted an end to non-White immigration. When they were subjected to the Nazi or Fascist ideology, they left. And political scientists have noted that this common in other countries with Fascist parties as well. They do better when they get rid of the jackboots, the right arm salute and the calls for a dictatorship. The Alleanzo Nazionale was formed from the Italian neo-Fascist party, the Movimiento Sociale Italiano or Italian Social Movement. But they jettisoned the Fascist paraphernalia and became instead, so they claimed, a centre-right party. As such they joined Berlusconi’s right-wing coalition with the separatists of the Liga Nord and Berlusconi’s own Forza Italia party.

Whatever people’s feelings about immigration, the majority of normal people despise Fascism and its British parties. There should be absolutely no nostalgia for these brutal thugs.

Simon Webb Asks ‘What’s Wrong with Fascism?’

September 16, 2022

Well, it looks like Simon Webb of History Debunked has finally gone full Mosley. And you never go full Mosley. He’s put up a piece today asking, ‘what’s wrong with fascism?’ He argues that fascism is viewed negatively because it’s confusion with Nazism. But socialism has also committed horrible atrocities and run death camps. In contrast to this, he points to the Portugal of the dictator Salazar in the 1960s, which was prosperous and had kept out of the Second World War. And fascism, he explains, is neither communist nor capitalist.

No, I’m not going to put the video up here. Because he’s arguing for fascism after all. Now he’s got a point in that some political scientists and historians do make a distinction between Nazism and Fascism. Nazism is at its heart a form of biological racism and has its own origins unique to Germany, while Italian Fascism was a form of militaristic nationalism which included elements of both socialism and capitalism. However, Italian Fascism was also imperialistic, calling Italy a ‘proletarian nation’ that had been unjustly deprived of colonies by the great powers of Britain and France. It invaded Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia, as well as Tripolitania in north Africa and Ethiopia. In nearly all these countries the Fascists committed horrendous atrocities. They also developed racial policies similar, but not as harsh as the Nazis, defining Italians as Aryans as contrasted with the Jews, who were expelled from various professions. Both Nazism and Fascism supported and protected private industry, but the economy was centrally planned by the state. Germany was a complete dictatorship under Hitler, in which the Reichstag was only called once a year to sign the act stating that Germany was still in a state of emergency and so Hitler’s dictatorship could legally continue, In Italy Mussolini let the Italian parliament continue for a few years until he replaced it with a chamber of Fasces and corporations. A corporation in this case was an industrial organisation, one for each industry, that contained both management and the unions. By the 1930s there were 27 of these. They were supposed to run the various industries, but in practice they served just to rubber stamp the decisions Mussolini had already taken.

I’ve read some of the comments that have been left on the video. Some of them are rants against Tony Blair’s period in office and complaints that it was supported by a biased media. Well, one paper stood against him – the Daily Heil. And you can wonder who had the real power in Blair’s relationship with the media, as he was always worrying whether his policies would meet the approval of one Rupert Murdoch. And Blair was a Tory in all but name. Thatcher, remember, regarded him as her greatest achievement. I’ve also notice that several of the commenters can’t spell Nazism. They’ve spelled it ‘Natzim’.

Of course, it hasn’t just been the association with the Nazis that has tarnished Italian Fascism. It’s also the various brutal dictatorships that have appeared across the world that committed horrendous atrocities, like the various military dictatorships in Latin America, the most famous of which is General Pinochet’s in Chile, as well as Greece under the Colonels. You can also attack his argument by pointing out he deliberately confuses socialism with communism. Communism is a form of socialism, but it is not the definitive form. For most British Labour supporters and politicians before Blair and his stupid, Thatcherite ‘Third Way’, socialism meant democratic socialism, which supported and included parliamentary democracy, and a mixed economy. This was the type of socialism practised by the reformist socialist parties of western Europe, like the German Social Democrats. And this form of socialism was keen to support human rights and democracy to a greater or lesser extent, as shown in the various people who joined anti-apartheid and anti-racism movement and gave Khrushchev a hard time when he visited the country about the imprisonment of socialist dissidents in the USSR.

I’ve left this comment on Webb’s video. I wonder if anyone will reply.

‘Salazar is probably best viewed as a reactionary Catholic like General Franco, rather than a pure Fascist. His books apparently are pretty much about Roman Catholic dogma, rather the secular ideas which informed Italian Fascism. And Fascism wasn’t just nationalism or dictatorship. Would your readers want definitive features of fascism like a state-directed economy, even if it is done through private industry and the corporate state, in which parliament is replaced by a chamber representing industries, each corporation including management and unions, which is charged with running the economy?’

Matt Walsh on the Celebration of Villains like Alfred Kinsey and the Women Warrior Slavers of Dahomey

September 13, 2022

Yeah, I know, it’s Matt Walsh, one of the major figures in popular Republican propaganda. The great commenters on this blog have warned me about reblogging material from the right, as I shouldn’t let myself become a mouthpiece for them and they never reciprocate. Helen Pluckrose, a left-wing critic of the postmodern ideologies of Queer and Critical Race Theory and Postcolonial Studies wrote a piece for James Lindsay’s New Discourses calling for the right to stop demonising the left and recognise that much of the work refuting these highly damaging ideologies was actually being done by leftists. She’s absolutely right. But yes, Walsh is still using it to take swipes at the left. And the Lotus Eaters have put up a piece about how ‘Socialists Are Terrible People’. The thumbnail to the video shows Hasan Piker, who is an obnoxious pratt. There was a clip of him on one of the right-wing channels raving about the ‘glorious Muslim enslavement of Whites’.

But I feel I have to put up videos like this one from Walsh because they are tackling important issues which I don’t see being done from the left. Or at least, not the mainstream British left. In this video Walsh attacks the way traditional western heroes, who were often people with very serious flaws, are being removed and replaced with people who are villains, but suit the ideology now being pushed. He gives two examples. One is the erection of a statue to sexologist Alfred Kinsey at Indiana University, where already a building or a wing has been named after him. The other is the film The Woman King, about a female general in the corps of women warriors, the Amazons, of Dahomey. This soldier, Nasicka, leads the resistance to the French invasion of her homeland.

Walsh points out that Kinsey was paedophile, who paid child rapists as his informants. He was convinced that children and babies were sexual beings. One of the tables in his Report on Sexuality of the Human Male, or whatever it was called, records the sexual responses of children from 5 months to 15 years old. This was based on information supplied to him, and which he paid for, by child rapists. For Walsh, this utterly invalidates everything Kinsey has ever done, and definitely means he should not be celebrated. I find it hard to disagree with the latter statement.

As for the women warriors of Dahomey, Walsh discusses how the critics are raving about the film because it ticks all the boxes – women warriors and Black Africans, who represented as fighting for their freedom against the evil Whites. He invents two quotes from critics supposedly saying that it made them ashamed to be White and having White children as an example of the excesses the critic’s praises nearly reach. In fact, Dahomey was a state geared to war and the enslavement of other Africans. Captured slaves were either put on plantations to grow food for the army, or were sold to outsiders, including Europeans. The Amazons were part of that slavery war machine, but the film grotesquely portrays them as abolitionists. If the slaves weren’t sold, they were killed. Walsh cites the Encyclopaedia Britannica about Dahomey, but the same facts can be found in any number of other, mainstream, standard histories of Africa. He is also right when he says that the British fought a war against Dahomey to stop them slaving. Again, totally true. Uncovered Editions published a collection of the British government papers about the war in 2001 as King Guezo of Dahomey, 1850-52: The Abolition of Slavery in West Africa. And the Dahomeyans did massacre or hold mass human sacrifices of unsold slaves. Sometime in the 19th century they massacred 300 of them, which shocked Europeans, including seasoned explorers like Captain Denham. Denham told a British parliamentary inquiry that the mass murder was especially shocking, given the advances these civilisations had made in most of the arts of civilisation. Which to me shows that Denham, while seeing western civilisation as superior, did not regard west Africans as uncivilised savages.

Walsh mentions that Hollywood frequently takes liberties with history but regards this glamorisation of an African slave state as particularly grotesque. It is as if a film rewrote history to show the Confederacy as the heroes fighting against slavery. Again, true. I can see why the film is being widely praised coming as it does after BLM and the new denunciations of White supremacy, racism and imperialism. I’m very much aware the reality behind many traditional western heroes is far different from the legend. Folk heroes like Dick Turpin and the western gunfighters were brutal thugs. And I’m also aware of the old newspaper maxim about the heroes of the Old West – if there’s a difference between fact and legend, print the legend. But equally, if there are two choices, two causes or individuals equally as bad, you’re quite entitled to choose neither. Just because Hitler was a monster doesn’t mean that you have to support Stalin.

And so just because western imperialism was responsible for some monstrous evils, you don’t have to glamorise and celebrate Black imperialist, slaving monsters.

Vangelis’ Theme from Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’

September 10, 2022

Here’s something which I hope will be a bit lighter after the last two day’s solemnity. It’s a video of the theme music to the 1980s blockbuster science and space documentary series, Cosmos, presented by Carl Sagan, which I’ve taken from Nedsrubiquitous’ channel on YouTube. Cosmos was one of the great space and science fact shows of the 1980s, and its accompanying book became a bestseller. Sagan himself was a Humanist and an opponent of militarism, imperialism and nuclear weapons, as well as sexism and racism. Later in the decade he presented evidence to the international authorities that a nuclear war would result in a global winter that would destroy life on this planet. Well, whatever survived the nuclear holocaust, I suppose. When NASA was holding its inquiry into the causes of the Challenger disaster, Sagan stated that the design of the Space Shuttle had been severely compromised in the interests of the military. He said that initially the Shuttle was to be smaller and completely reusable, but the armed forces objected as they wanted something big enough to put military spy satellites into space. Hence the Shuttle was only partly reusable through the addition of a fuel tank that was jettisoned and left to burn up. He also wrote a Science Fiction book, Contact, about a female scientist who establishes contact with aliens. It was later filmed with Jodie Foster. I don’t agree with Sagan’s atheism, but he was an inspirational science communicator. I wasn’t surprised when Prof Brian Cox said that he had been inspired by Sagan, because after all the space and science series Cox had done it seemed to be glaringly obvious.

The music for the series was composed and performed by the awesome Vangelis, responsible for the theme to Chariots of Fire, The Conquest of Paradise and Blade Runner. I think the music was an important element in the show’s popularity and was one of a number of themes collected in the album Space Invaded. If I remember correctly, that is. Sagan died a few years ago of prostate cancer, but still remains one of the giants of astronomy and explaining difficult concepts to a mass audience.

The video features pictures and quotes from the man himself and NASA, as well as beautiful photographs of space and the space telescopes that capture them.

Salvador Dali Wanted Materialist Religion to Destroy Christianity and Enslave Non-Whites

September 1, 2022

The Torygraph has published a piece today revealing that a letter has come to light from the Surrealist painter Salvador Dali from the 1930s, in which he reveals just what an anti-Christian, fascist sympathiser he really was. It dates from 1935. Dali had already been suspended from the Surrealists the year before because of comments praising Hitler, amongst other things. In a nasty bit of social snobbery he said that the train crashes he most enjoyed were those in which only third-class passengers were killed. The Torygraph article also states that in another letter in which he claimed that one of the reasons why he was expelled from the Surrealists 1939 was his positive view of the lynchings in America. He loved Hitler, was fascinated by the Swastika and apparently thought the Nazi party were an example of Surrealism in action.

Uggh. Pass the sick bag!

The Torygraph article begins

Salvador Dalí wanted to enslave races he considered inferior and establish a new “sadistic” world religion, a newly-discovered letter has revealed. 

In the letter, which was written by Dalí in 1935, the artist proposed the enslavement of “all the coloured races” as part of a new world order that would be “anti-Christian and materialistic, based on the progress of science”. 

“The domination or submission to slavery of all the coloured races” could be possible, Dalí wrote, “if all whites united fanatically”. He also insisted on the need for “human sacrifices”. 

As Europe was threatened by the fascist regimes of Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy, Dalí’s letter to André Breton, the French writer and co-founder of the surrealist movement, speaks of the need for “new hierarchies, more brutal and strict than ever before” to “annihilate” Christianity. 

“I believe that we surrealists are finally turning into priests,” Dalí wrote.

Scornful of Christianity’s “altruism”, he added: “We don’t want happiness for ‘all’ men, rather the happiness of some to the detriment of others”. 

The letter was recently discovered in the digitalised personal archive of Sebastià Gasch, an art critic from Barcelona who died in 1982. It was published on Thursday by Spain’s El Pais newspaper.’

For the complete article, go to: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/entertainment/music/salvador-dali-wanted-to-enslave-non-white-races-and-create-new-sadistic-religion-letter-reveals/ar-AA11lIAc?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=6310a88ab5f4477185b311aaebce1ed5

Dali scarpered to American during the War, returning afterwards to Spain as a supporter of the Fascist leader, General Franco.

Dali was a great artist but a revolting human being. He was greedy for fame and money, which is why some of the other Spanish Surrealists nicknamed him ‘Avida Dollars’. Malcolm McLaren presented a programme on him on Radio 4 a few years ago, in which he compared the publicity-hungry, media-savvy Dali with contemporary British artists like Damian Hurst and Tracey Emin. Well, Dali did share with Hurst, Emin and the rest of the Young British Artists the urge to shock as well as the pursuit of fame and cash, but YBAs, for all their excesses can never be accused of Nazism. Dali also wasn’t averse to selling his friends out to the authorities. Dali emigrated to America with Luis Bunuel, who also hailed from Catalonia. The two had worked together on the Surrealist films Un Chien Andalou and L’Age d’Or, both now regarded as classics of cinema. Surrealism was a mixture of Freudianism and Marxism, and many of the Surrealists were members of the Communist party. Bunuel was one of them. On arrival in the Land of the Free, Dali snitched that Bunuel was a commie to the FBI, and made little effort to excuse himself for doing so when Bunuel confronted him on his betrayal. Bunuel himself emigrated to Mexico where he continued to make Surrealist, anti-Christian films.

I’m fascinated by the Surrealists and love Dali’s art, but the man himself is quite a different matter. I can well believe, despite his later conversion to the Catholicism, that at heart he was an atheist with a hatred of the religion to which he nominally belonged. I didn’t realise he was so racist, however. This was definitely against the Surrealist ethos, which was firmly against imperialism, but patronised the world’s indigenous peoples as seeing their art and culture based as based on the Freudian unconscious. This was the respectable scientific view at the time, but modern anthropologists have rejected it. Instead they see indigenous art and culture as the products of centuries or millennia of conscious intellectual development and no more based on the irrational or Freudian unconscious than our own.

As one of the best known of the Surrealists, Dali is a fascinating figure and he painted some of the greatest works of 20th century art. But as this letter shows, he was in many ways a squalid human being.