Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Does Sargon Really Think That Only Whites Can Be ‘Far Right’?

September 22, 2022

I haven’t criticised Sargon of Gasbag, otherwise known as Carl Benjamin, the man who broke UKIP, for a little while, so I’m doing so, now that the opportunity has presented itself. And it definitely has! Like Simon Webb of History Debunked, Sargon and the Lotus Eaters decided to put up a video about the Hindu-Muslim riots in Leicester. The title claimed that the ‘right’ had started it. Which the right definitely has, but not in the sense Sargon thought. East Leicester’s MP, Claudia Webbe, had tried to calm things down with a message to the people of Leicester that it was a great multicultural city where traditionally different peoples had lived peacefully together. Sargon obviously couldn’t resist sneering at that, now that the peace and harmony had been broken. But I understand from the great commenters on this blog that, whether relations between Hindus and Muslims are like now, this was certainly true in the past. But Sargon really showed his ignorance when he sneered at something else Webbe said. Webbe said that the hate and violence was caused by far-right influences from outside. To Sargon and his viewers, this meant that Webbe believed that the tension was being stirred up by White supremacists.

Except Webbe didn’t say that. She said, ‘far-right’. Various television news reports on the riots by the Indian news agencies and British broadcasters like GB News have suggested that the violence was provoked by Hindu far right extremists supporting Modi and his militant Hindu nationalism on the one hand and militant Muslim Pakistanis on the other. Modi’s BJP and its concept of Hindutva, Hindu Nationalism, is considered far right and a form of fascism. I’ve seen it mentioned in a recent textbook on fascism as an example of the mystical trend in fascism. The same textbook also included Marcus Garvey and his Negro Improvement Association because when Garvey was in New York, he and his organisation used to give each other military ranks and hold paramilitary style rallies, very much like Hitler and Mussolini. In fact, Garvey said in an interview that he taught it to those two dictators. He didn’t, but it shows a certain similarity in attitude to them.

Sargon stated in his video that Webbe is now an independent after she was thrown out of Labour party after being convicted of threatening to throw acid in the face of a love rival. It’s a disgusting crime, and a pity Webbe did this. She was a member of the Corbynite left, and the Labour party needs MPs like her who stand up for the working class against neoliberalism. Despite her crime, she’s not stupid. My guess is that Webbe knows very well that other nations and races have their own far right. And so, when she talks about the far right causing the tension and violence in Leicester, she’s talking about Hindutva nationalists and Islamists. She isn’t talking about the NF, BNP, National Action or whoever.

Sargon’s sneer about her assessment of the situation, which is entirely accurate, shows he’s not as clever as he thinks he is.

Or it could be that he knows perfectly well that Webbe did not mean White fascists, but has carried on with the smear because he knows it’ll stick with his viewers, who won’t know any better.

Which is really nasty and cynical. And worthy of a true Tory like Truss or Rees-Mogg.

Saudi Arabia Plans 500 Metre Tall, 170 Km Long Mega-Skyscraper. Where’s Judge Dredd

July 27, 2022

Here’s a bit of light relief. Just this evening the internet news page put up a piece from Sky News, reporting that the Saudis are planning a massive megastructure called the Line. It’s going to be 170 km long by 1/2 km tall, for 9 million residents, all occupying separate communities. And their needs will be catered to by autonomous services, run by AI. The article begins

‘Revolution in civilisation’: Saudi Arabia previews 170km mirrored skyscraper offering ‘autonomous’ services

If it was the opening sequence of a science fiction movie, few would be surprised.

In a glossy video narrated by an American voiceover artist, Saudi Arabia has previewed The Line, a 170km long skyscraper standing 500m tall – higher than New York’s Empire State Building.

It is designed for nine million residents living in a “series of unique communities”.

Residents will have access to “all their daily needs” in “five-minute walk neighbourhoods”.

“Autonomous” services are being promised through the use of artificial intelligence, in what is being described as a “revolution in civilisation”.

The 200m wide linear structure, to be clad in mirrored glass, is the desert kingdom’s attempt to create a “healthier, more sustainable quality of life” with communities “organised in three dimensions” – as opposed to traditional cities which it says are “dysfunctional and polluted” and “ignore nature”.

Another video shows the resident of a grey urban jungle escaping to The Line, which is portrayed as an oasis.

To be built in the country’s northwest, it is planned to cover 34 square kilometres and travel from end to end is expected to take just 20 minutes.

There will be “no need for cars” and carbon emissions will be zero, the country said.

Energy and water supplies are described as “100% renewable”.

Inside, there will be a “year-round temperate micro climate with natural ventilation”.

The futuristic project is part of NEOM, a $500bn economic zone expected to be partly financed through a flotation expected in 2024.

NEOM was announced in 2017 as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform plan which is intended to help diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy away from oil.’

See the article by Andy Hayes athttps://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/revolution-in-civilisation-saudi-arabia-previews-170km-mirrored-skyscraper-offering-autonomous-services/ar-AAZZFXB?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=b5213d7d2e414ce0b7e4564c3eadcbb4

Okay, we’ve heard this stuff before Way back in the ’50s or 60s there were plans to construct a similar habitat, 50 miles or so long, stretching across America. There were also plans to enclose New York, or at least Manhattan beneath a giant geodesic dome. There have also been plans by the Japanese to build similar megastructures right out in Tokyo bay. These would also be ultra-high tech, and be built by robots, as shown in documentary about it on Channel 4 some time either in the ’90s or the early part of this century. And there were even plans to create an enclosed city in the Canadian arctic. This would shelter from the elements under a protective dome, in which its citizens would enjoy a mild climate despite the snow and ice floes outside. It would even have a moving artificial sun to give the illusion of daylight at temperate latitudes during the long, arctic winter.

The Lower Manhattan Expressway Project: a predecessor to Saudi Arabia’s the Line? From Reyner Banham, Megastructures: Urban Futures of the Recent Past (New York: Monacelli Press 2020) 19.

None of this was every built. They were far too ambitious, both financially and technologically. And I foresee that this will go the same way.

Which may not be a bad thing, as it really does remind me of various pieces of SF literature: Judge Dredd and J.G. Ballard’s dystopias, particularly High Rise.

In the long running 2000AD strip, Dredd is a member of the autocratic police force, the judges, trying to enforce law and order in Mega City 1. This is a gigantic city of massive tower blocks stretching across the entire east coast of America from the Canadian border down to Florida. On the other side of the continent is Mega City 2, while down south is Texas City. This hasn’t quite reached mega city status as it doesn’t have a billion inhabitants. Between them are the Cursed Earth, a radiation desert full of lawlessness, inhabited by mutants, created by the nuclear that destroyed America and democracy and which led to the rise of the judges. The city has a 95 per cent plus unemployment rate caused by massive automation. Crime is rampant with the judges trying to keep a lid on things.

It’s grim vision of the future but one with a sharp, satirical sense of humour. One of the strip’s writers and creators described Mega City One as a gigantic black comedy. Which it is, as the strip sent up contemporary pop music with inane rock bands like New Juves on the Block (a slight resemblance to New Kids on the Block, an ’80s band?), weird fashions, and totally bonkers game shows. In one of the very early Dredd strips, contestants were literally betting their lives. It’s satire, but the Russians nearly got there for real. After Communism fell, one of the Russian TV stations ran a game show in which contestants had to steal a car. For real. There were real cops chasing them. If the contestant escaped, the car was his. if they caught him, he really did go to the slammer. In another Dredd strip, they sent up World of Sport on ITV and some of the adverts then running on British television. The good lawman had landed on a planet inhabited by 12 different alien races, all of whom were at war, which was broadcast on their television as a form of entertainment. Among the adverts spoofed was one for the chocolate bar, Bounty. The real advert featured a group of young people running on to a desert isle while the voiceover announced ‘They came in search of paradise’. The parody advert had the same scene, but with aliens, followed by the line ‘they found – landmines’, accompanied by explosions and the slogan ‘protect your waterhole with Brax. Brax wipes them out – dead’. It was this sharp, satirical edge that has made Dredd and 2000AD one of the great British comics for nearly the last 50 years.

And added to all this mayhem and criminality, the occupants of the various mega blocks would develop block mania, a fanatical devotion to their own block, and start a war with the neighbouring blocks. Saudi Arabia’s the Line sounds like something of a trial run for all that craziness.

The future of urban civilisation? Dredd out looking for perps and muties from the cover of 2000AD Prog 409.

It also reminds me more than a little of Ballard’s works. Ballard was a member of Michael Moorcock’s team on the British SF magazine, New Worlds. This deliberately set out to break the established conventions of science fiction at the time. It was highly controversial, spurring a debate about its obscenity or otherwise in parliament in the 1970s. And Ballard was one of the writers shocking and provoking. His novellas were published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson, but Weidenfeld didn’t read them and so had no idea of just what kind of a literary monster he was publishing. That is, he didn’t, until one day he was in New York and went browsing on one of the news stands. Flicking through one of the magazines he found a piece by Ballard entitled ‘I Want To F**k Ronald Reagan’. This was in the 60s, nearly two decades before the former actor became president. A shocked Weidenfeld then sent a telegram to his secretary and staff in London saying ‘Do not publish!’

Ballard was also responsible for the novel Crash, about a secret society of perverts who get their jollies from car accidents. This was filmed in the ’90s by the Canadian film director, David Cronenberg, to the massive outrage of the Heil, which immediately started a campaign to have it banned. In the end it flopped, but nevertheless did get critical acclaim from some parts of the SF community.

Much of Ballard’s fiction takes place in enclosed, ultra-modern communities. There, life has become so anodyne and boring that the corporate powers running these communities deliberately stage murders, violent crime and rape in order to stimulate their bored drones and give them something to live for. One of these dystopian novellas was High Rise, about a cutting edge skyscraper. In it, the rich lived at the top, and the poor lower down at the bottom. However, civilisation begins to break down so that society in the tower block takes on the class antagonism of outside society. This leads to real, physical class conflict and violence. It was filmed a few years ago, but I’m not sure how many people saw it.

Trailer for the film High Rise, starring Tom Hiddleston with Jeremy Irons and based on the novel by J.G. Ballard. From the StudioCanal channel on YouTube.

In real life, Ballard was boringly normal. He stayed at home, writing and caring for his wife, while taking his children to school. Despite his grim fiction, he was horrified by the war in Bosnia and the dangerous way the conflict promoted psychopathic violence as people struggled to survive. Visitors were often surprised by the fact that he wasn’t what Private Eye used to call ‘a wild-eyed dement’ straight from one of his novels.

Ballard, unfortunately, is no longer with us, having passed away a few years ago. He gained critical acclaim for his novel Empire of the Sun, based on his experiences as a child growing up in a Japanese POW camp following their capture of Shanghai. It was filmed by Steven Spielberg. and garnered a number of Oscars, just as the previous film adaptation of his work, Crash, didn’t.

But I’ve got a feeling that if the Line is ever built, it’s going to be far more like Mega City 1 and High Rise than any other SF utopia.

And the desert in which the Line is set even looks a bit like Dredd’s Cursed Earth.

So, can we expect crime, violence, mutants, block wars and perps getting thirty years in an iso-cube? And will Saudi Arabia suffer the attentions of the Dark Judges – Fear, Fire, Death and Mortis – come to kill everyone on Earth. Because all crime is committed by the living.

Toby Young on the Free Speech Union and Legislation Needed to Protect Free Speech

July 26, 2022

I am very definitely not a fan of Toby Young. He’s a very right-wing Tory with nasty eugenicist views. I think he’s part of the Spectator crew and something of a sleazeball, as Hill Street Blues’ officer Mick Belcher would describe him. If memory serves me right, he was one of the people behind a proposed free university, which collapsed a few years ago. Tweezer appointed him to the body that’s supposed to represent Britain’s students, despite the fact that it’s been at least a couple of decades since he was one. He got into Private Eye a few years ago for attending a eugenics conference at one of the London universities. Along with him were members of various American far right groups, who believed that race really did define intelligence and Blacks were biologically less bright than the rest of us. They also weren’t in favour of the welfare state, for the old, old reason that it’s a waste a money supporting people who can’t fend for themselves. In other words, some of the people there could be reasonably described as Nazis.

And his attitude to women leaves much to be desired. A few years ago he managed to cause mass disgust on Twitter or one of the social media platforms by describing how he watched female MPs on TV, commenting on their busts. Back in the 90s he wrote a piece for GQ about how he had been a ‘lesbian for a day’. He then revealed in the article that he’d dressed up in drag and then decided to go trolling through New York’s lesbian bars looking for a snog. He had successfully passed himself off as gay woman in two of them, before he was discovered in a third and had to beat a hasty retreat. Or been thrown out. Whatever. This is the kind of antics many lesbians are complaining about from trans-identified men, or possibly straight men claiming to be trans. They object to clearly biological men demanding romance or sex from them because they claim to be trans. There have been transwomen giving presentations on ‘Breaking the cotton ceiling’, which means getting into lesbians’ cotton underwear. Graham Linehan, formerly the writer behind Father Ted and now an anti-Trans activist, has remarked that one of the lesbian dating sites is actually full of bearded men, who are about as feminine as he is, all claiming to be trans. Well, Tobes tried this trick decades ago. But I wouldn’t like to see him as any kind of trans pioneer.

But his Free Speech Union does have a point.

Young and the others set this up to protect people from persecution because of their views. These are mostly individuals, whose views or comments are deemed offensive because of racism, sexism, homophobia or anti-trans. He appeared on a video on GB News talking about the work the Free Speech Union had done defending two such individuals. One was a railway worker, who’d been sacked because of a comment he’d posted on social media. He lived in one of the towns up north with a large Muslim community. After the lockdown was lifted, he posted that it was a relief no longer having to live in an alcohol-free Muslim caliphate. Someone complained to the company, and he was sacked. The Free Speech Union, however, took up his case, and an industrial tribunal declared in his favour that he was a victim of unfair dismissal and awarded him damages. The second case was a Christian woman, who offended woke sensibilities by stating that the Christian ideal of marriage should be the heterosexual one of a man and woman. Now I’d say that this was perfectly correct and normal, and that holding such a view doesn’t mean that you automatically hate gays or people in same-sex marriages. I’m absolutely sure you can hold such a traditional view of marriage, while recognising that gays also have the right to marry and for their marriages to be respected. But this traditional view was too much for someone, and she suffered because of it.

Now I realise that many people do disagree with these views, and particularly with the railway worker’s comments. It is islamophobic. But that’s the point. For free speech to mean anything, it has to include offensive or unpleasant speech. Free speech that only permits approved speech whether by the authorities or the populace, is no such thing. I’m not a free speech absolutist. There have to be limits, which in my opinion includes holocaust denial, the promotion of paedophilia or which urges people to commit other crimes, like incitement to riot. I’d also include real incitement to racial hatred, though my fear is that such reasonable legislation has been broadened too far to include comments which someone simply finds offensive, rather than which genuinely threatens the safety of Blacks and other people of colour. The guy’s remark is offensive and tasteless but not, I think, really worth his job.

Young explained that the Union would like to pass legislation protecting people from being sacked for their views, if they expressed them as private individuals and not as work or representatives of a company or organisation. He also talked about getting the trade unions to back such legislation, considering that the trade unions were founded to protect workers talking about their companies’ pay and conditions. Well, it was a bit more than that. They were founded to fight for workers’ pay and conditions, but yes, opposing victimisation for one’s views is part of that.

He also proposed having a two-year limit on what could be used to attack someone from their web history. Here I definitely agree with him. There have been a number of cases where politicos, celebrities and ordinary mortals have been embroiled in scandals because of something they said online a few years ago, sometimes when they were much younger. Quite often it’s people, who’ve said something unpleasant or bigoted about people from ethnic minorities and gays, sometimes when they were very young. Private Eye has done this several times. Quite often they’ve printed pieces showing that whatever such a politician, industrialist or media figure thinks now, back in the day he or she had very different views. Sometimes very far back, like in the ’80s or ’90s. People change, and don’t necessarily hold the same views they had when they were in their teens or twenties.

But another reason I’m prepared to give such legislation my approval is because it might stop some of the persecution by the witch hunters. The stock in trade of persecutory groups like the woefully misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and David Collier and the GnasherJew troll farm is going through their targets’ internet history looking for anything they can misrepresent as anti-Semitism. They’ve done it to a lot of people, many of them Jews and firm opponents of anti-Semitism. They did it to the great Jackie Walker, a self-respecting Jew by faith and blood and a very committed anti-racist activist. Jackie had been discussing the involvement of Jewish financiers – who she explicitly stated were members of her own people – in the slave trade. This is historic fact, and Jackie, as a proper historian and academic, has produced an enormous amount of mainstream scholarship by respected and respectable historians to support it. She has also made the obvious point that these financiers were working for Christian, European kings and states, with whom the ultimate responsibility lies. Again, perfectly correct. But she left out a word, which allowed the CAAS to misrepresent her grotesquely as an anti-Semite. That, and the Jewish Labour Movement secretly recording some of her perfectly reasonable comments about commemorating other groups’ holocausts, like the slave trade, during a workshop on commemorating the Holocaust, has led to her being expelled from the Labour party and receiving the most horrific abuse.

Another victim of the witch hunters was a perfectly innocent Jewish lady in Devon. She was mentioned in an online film Mike and other Corbyn-supporting peeps appeared on promoting a documentary refuting the accusation that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite. That film opened with a group of venerable rabbis in long beards, dark coats and broad-brimmed hats stating very clearly that Corbyn was no such thing. Many of the speakers, including Mike himself, were victims of the witch hunt and what looks to yours truly as gross libel. One of these wretched witch hunting groups had posted a map of the locations of anti-Semites, and this lady and her address were on it. As a result, she not only received abuse but her car was firebombed.

This is what is called ‘stochastic terrorism’.

This is the name given to the type of online activism when someone deliberately posts comments that will rile people up against a particular group or individual to the point where they may physically attack them. But the remarks that provoke and encourage the assault are carefully phrased so that the person making them can always disavow responsibility: ‘T’wasn’t anything I said, your honour. It’s nothing to do with me and I didn’t intend anything like it should happen.’ Except, of course, they did. As in my view was the case with this lady.

Toby Young is a Tory with deeply unpleasant views. But I do think the Free Speech Union has a point and deserves support.

Especially if it prevents malign witch hunters doxing innocent people, leading to attacks on them and their property.

Decoy Voice Asks: Why Are the Chinese Making a Robot that Eats People?

July 12, 2022

And now for something a bit lighter, if by ‘lighter’ you mean people designing and building the type of machines that really could bring about the robot revolt. Decoy Voice is, I think, a Chinese-American YouTuber. In the video below, he comments on the way the Chinese seem to have revived their old EATER robot programme. This was an attempt to build a robot that could go on powering itself through consuming biomass. It was cancelled a few years ago, presumably because it worried too many people by designing machines that would eat plants and presumably animals instead of running on electricity. But now the Chinese have released footage of some kind of robot vehicle with a scoop at the front, appearing to scoop up a bewildered looking chap lying just in front of it. This looks like they’ve revived the EATER programme, and this poor fellow was intended to show how it could also consume biomass. Or, as they are more usually known, people.

Decoy Voice compares this with Boston Dynamics Spot robot dog, seen in multiple videos doing everything from press-ups to dancing. Except that it was designed for military use and can carry a proper military gun turret, as well as the robotic arm it can also be equipped with. The Chinese have used it to police the Covid lockdown. The Hawaiian cops were using to keep an eye on vagrants and the rozzers in New York also used them to patrol certain districts. Except one of these American forces had to stop using them as they made the residents nervous.

Along the way, Decoy Voice comments on how his channel seems to be followed by any number of Chinese bots. He’s suddenly acquired a following of young and beautiful Chinese ladies, all with their own personal trainers, glamorous lifestyle and internet monickers ending in the numbers 12345. Oh yes, and despite clearly being young, attractive and rich, they only have five internet followers each. Decoy Voice jokes that this would be more credible if he was also stunningly handsome, and demonstrates how he would have to use various photoshop-style picture techniques to make himself look like a Hollywood hunk.

It’s a great video, but there’s a very serious point to this. Scientists are worried about the development of sentient AI operated war machines. Kevin Warwick, the head of cybernetics at Reading University, was so worried because he was genuinely afraid that the machines really would take over. By 2050, he predicted in his book, March of the Machines, most of humanity will have been killed off. Only a tiny remnant would remain as the neutered slaves of the robots, or as scattered free people living in terrain to hostile for machines. Both Ukraine and Russia are using military robots, those are, they say, under human control and will be only be used to transport military equipment to human troops. The British army has launched a recruiting video with the slogan that only human squaddies can do things that robots can’t. Well, part of his is that robots don’t have the moral judgement of humans. Warwick gives the example in his book how a robot fire extinguisher in his department could be turned into such a war machine. All you have to do is change the fire extinguisher the robot carries for a gun, teach its computer network to target people with blue eyes and blond hair, and set it loose. It would then carry on shooting people with that complexion and eye colour until it ran out of bullets, not distinguishing between soldier and civilian, those who have surrendered and active combatants.

There’s a very old science fiction story I remember reading when I was 13. It was called ‘Flying Dutchman’ and it was about a robot bomber plane, that is automatically reloaded and refuelled to carry on its mission. But no humans are mentioned in the story, either as operators, soldiers, civilians or victims. None at all. I think the story’s implied message is that all the humans have been killed, but the machines don’t realise it. They just keep following their programmes and carry on fighting a war that has effectively ended long ago with the death of the human race.

I like robots. I’m fascinated by them. But I also recognise that there are dangers and moral and social problems connected with them. And that some of the people manufacturing the military robots should have read and watched a few good Science Fiction stories. Dr Who’s ‘The War Machines’ and ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ would have been a good start. or The Terminator, and Karel Capek’s Rossum’s Universal Robots.

Or the grandmother of them all, Mary Shelley and Frankenstein.

Bigots Now Blaming Trans People for Uvalde School Shooting

May 31, 2022

I feel I’ve got to put this up. I’ve said in my videos and blogs about trans issues that I don’t hate trans people, and utterly condemn persecution, discrimination, abuse and violence against anyone because of their sexuality and gender presentation. I criticise and attack the trans ideology because of the dangers it poses in falsely persuading vulnerable people, including children, especially autistic individuals and the mentally ill, that they are really members of the opposite sex, who need to be placed on the pathway towards medical transition involving drugs and surgery which can damage their health. I also attack the trans ideology because of the dangers it poses to women’s safety and dignity by allowing biological men into women’s spaces, such as changing room and prisons, simply because they claim to be female. I am also concerned about the attack on language and the attempt to separate ‘men’ and ‘women’ from biological reality. But I also recognise that there are people who really are alienated from their biological sex and for whom transition is an entirely appropriate and necessary treatment. And I also agree with the great commenters on this blog, who have pointed out that the transpeople they’ve known are otherwise normal, decent people who want to live their lives in peace.

Last week there was the shocking news that there’d been another school shooting in America, and immediately everyone put in their own take on it. It’s reignited the debate about gun control in US. Liberals, including Joe Biden, are recommending once again the outlawing of at least certain types of weapons. Meanwhile the gun lobby and the Republicans have circled the wagon to defend them. Well, I realise that in some areas of America gun crime actually went down when they legalised firearms and that there are areas where guns are very widely owned, but have a low rate of offending. I’ve also heard that the greatest drop in the incidence of such crimes was the passage of legislation back in the ’90s mandating a three-day cooling off period for people purchasing guns. That meant people had to wait three days between buying their gun and picking it up. It cut down on shootings because, by the time the purchaser could legally take possession of his gun, he’d calmed down enough not to want to blow away whoever it was who’d annoyed him. I’m aware that over here despite the ban on the public ownership of certain firearms and gun licensing, people are still being shot by criminals with guns. I’m also aware that culture may also play a part in these shootings. Michael Moore in his documentary Bowling For Columbine, which took its title from the Columbine school shooting, remarked on the colossal difference between the US and Canada on shootings. America’s a much larger country than Canada, with 350 or so million people compared to Canada’s c. 22 million. But Canada’s a much less violent society. At one point Moore looked across the Great Lakes from one American town to the Canadian city just across the water. The American town had been hit by several hundred shootings. Over in Canada, there were hardly any. This is despite Canada having much the same gun laws as the US and watching the same kind of violent action movies. People have been puzzling over this difference for a long time. Some have put it down to differences in the countries’ history. The expansion of Canada across the continent and its absorption of the Indian territories was largely peaceful in contrast to the violent displacement of the Indians in the US, although there were wars and Indian uprisings in Canada, such as that of the French-Indian metis Riel. And the treatment of the Amerindians in the boarding schools was every bit as horrific and genocidal as the comparative treatment of the First Nations in those in the US.

And the Republicans have also fallen back on the refrain that the root cause of such shootings is the mental health of the perp. The American leftist Robert Reich destroyed that argument. While the Republicans are now calling for more and better mental healthcare, nationally and locally they’ve cut mental health services when they’ve been in power.

As for the National Rifle Association, they first appeared as a pro-gun control group, co-operating with the US government to make certain types of weapons illegal. 85 per cent of the Association’s grassroots members also want certain types of firearms banned. But the leadership is dead against it, not least because they receive funding and subsidies from the gun manufacturers. This was graphically shown a year ago when NRA leader Wayne LaPierra and his several other leading figures in the Association were banged up for corruption and receiving kickbacks from the gun companies.

And now the racist and other bigots have started spouting nonsense. Today a Black woman has claimed that the police didn’t act, because the ten year old kids targeted by the gunman were illegal immigrants. I doubt this is true, not least because a number of the kids and the teacher gunned down were White. The Black YouTuber, RuinedLeon, put up a video attacking other bigots. One set had decided that there needs to be more vigilance on the Mexican border, because the shooter was an illegal immigrant. In fact the shooter, although Hispanic, was born in the US and from what I’ve seen of his victims, most of them were also Latino. RL also attacked other prejudiced voices, who claimed that the shooter was transgender. This was based on nothing more than their seeing a similarity between the shooter and a photograph of a transwoman or a crossdressing bloke in a dress. A casual glance showed that they were certainly not identical. For one thing, it looked like the transwoman was White. Several of my commenters are afraid that the current attacks on the trans ideology and trans activism from right-wing politicians, YouTubers and broadcasters like Matt Walsh and GB News are being done to stir up hatred against a sexual minority. I don’t think this is entirely the case, as I believe that some of the Conservatives like Walsh oppose it out of conviction. That said, GB News is struggling with the viewing figures, and so I don’t think that it does them any harm to put up anti-trans stories to appeal to their intended audience of right-wingers. And unfortunately this shows that some people have got so caught up in the trans controversy, that they are falsely blaming transpeople for atrocities that have nothing to do with them.

RL recommended instead that people shouldn’t jump to conclusions, although he freely admitted he’d done so about certain issues. As for his own attitude to guns, he wasn’t in favour of gun control. Instead, teachers should have firearms to protect their classes. I’m not sure that’s a good idea, as people like Maximilien Robespierre said in his video attack Donald Trump when he weighed in on this subject, that there would be nothing stopping an aggrieved teacher from blowing away their class. I’ve heard that this has supposedly happened. The Boomtown Rats’ song, ‘Tell Me Why I Don’t Like Mondays’ was supposedly based on a real incident when a teacher did open fire on her class. When asked why she did, she replied ‘I don’t like Mondays’. Schools should be for learning. No-one should have guns in them. As for Trump’s other suggestion, that they should have armoured doors, Robespierre wonder what would happen in the case of a fire when people had to leave quickly. And besides, schools are too much like prisons already, at least in Britain. The gates are our local schools are locked and remote controlled, so that you have to buzz in to request to be admitted. It no doubt keeps children safe, but it’s a sad reflection of the way our society has degenerated.

And the chilling part of these massacres it that there have been so many of them. Reich produced a list of the various school and other mass shootings since 1970. It’s as long as your arm. It’s all too often, almost like a regular event, that some maniac walks into a school, mosque, church, synagogue, nightclub or wherever and starts shooting. Only a few weeks ago a Black man went off and shot the people on a New York subway. I’ve also heard that this year there’s been 200 mass shootings according to the FBI. They definite a mass shooting as one in which there were three or more deceased.

Changing the culture so that it becomes more peaceful takes time and intelligence. It may not even be possible, and would no doubt be controversial. And expanding mental health services would probably be opposed in practice by the type of people who hate big government and anything that looks like a welfare state, no matter how much it’s needed. Really, it seems the only sensible solution is a ban on at least certain types of guns.

So that murderously angry 18 year old kids can’t get their mitts on military grade weapons, at least.

Here’s RuinedLeon’s video:

And this is Maximilien Robespierre:

A Black Conservative Call for Racial Uplift Based on Entrepreneurship not Political Power

March 3, 2022

Jason L. Riley, False Black Power (West Conshoshocken: Templeton Press 2017).

This is another book analysing the plight of Black America from a Black conservative perspective. According to the book, Riley’s a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, writes for the Wall Street Journal and contributes to Fox News. But the book does quote statistics and sources, which means it’s almost certainly more trustworthy than that news network. When academics from the American universities reviewed Fox’s content, they found that people who took no news at all were better informed about the world than the people who watched Fox. America is indeed being ‘dumbed’ and Murdoch’s part of it. But this book is absolutely fascinating and, if accurate, is a much needed refutation of some of the myths about Black American history.

The introduction starts with an attack on the idea that the decline of the Black American family was caused by slavery. It’s true that slavery did destroy Black family life, as slave families were frequently split up, with fathers separated from their wives and children, children separated from the parents and so on. This, so the argument goes, has made it difficult for Black men to develop the necessary feelings of attachment to form permanent, two-parent families. As a result, most Black American families are single-parent, headed by the mothers. But Riley cites Herbert Gutman’s 1976 book, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925, examined a variety of sources to the show that the disruption of the slave family did not persist into emancipation. Looking at Confederate plantation records, the testimony of former slaves and the records of Black families in Buffalo and New York City, showed that from the second half of the 19th century to the 1920s, these communities were predominantly two-parent. In Buffalo between 1850 and 1920, the figure was 82 to 92 per cent. In New York in 1925 the figure was 85 per cent. (p. 5).

Riley’s argument is that the present poverty and misery experienced by many Black American communities cannot be blamed solely on racism and the legacy of enslavement. He and the authors he cites don’t deny that racism and discrimination exist, rather that the main cause of the present troubles of family breakdown, crime, unemployment and welfare dependency are due to the misplaced social programmes of the 1970s. Like Shelby Steele, he believes that Black Americans have taken the wrong road to uplift. Since the civil rights movement, they have concentrated on acquiring political power, resulting in the election across America of Black politicos, mayor and other officials. But these have not helped ordinary Blacks. He states at one point that Black politicians will ignore the underclass just to stay elected just as White politicos will, and cites a couple of scandals were Black politicians on their constituencies’ education boards were caught fiddling the exam results. He argues instead that Blacks should have followed the example of other impoverished communities, like the Chinese and Pennsylvania Germans, who eschewed acquiring political power in favour of economic uplift. He contrasts these groups with the 19th century Irish. These had political power, but nevertheless the Irish community itself remained poor and marginal.

Riley cites a number of other authors that show the explosion of Black entrepreneurialism after the end of slavery, as Blacks took over and entered a wide variety of professions. These scholars have argued that by the end of the 19th century Black communities also had their own business districts like White communities, as well as excellent schools. The 1913 Negro Almanac boasted of this achievement, comparing the capital accumulated by Blacks with that of the former Russian serfs. The former serfs had collectively $500 million in capital and a literacy rate of 30 per cent. Black Americans had $700 million and 70 per cent ‘had some education in books’. (74). In Chicago in 1885 there were 200 Black-owned businesses operating in 27 different fields. (75). And this trend continued, with the emergence in other areas of a small, but significant Black clerical class. At the same time, the number of Black Americans owning their own homes increased massively. Black prosperity increased during the years of the two World Wars,, when Blacks took on White jobs. They were still below that of Whites, but were catching up. As were Blacks in education. Blacks typically left school four years before Whites. But as the 20th century went on, this fell to two. Between 1950 and 1960 the number of Black doctors, lawyers and social workers expanded so that in 1953 a real estate journal called Blacks ‘the newest middle class’. (77). But this professional, educational and economic rise and expansion somehow came to an end in the 1970s.

At the same time, Riley cites the statistics to show that the American cops are not gun-happy racists bent on shooting Blacks. Rather, a study by Roland Fryer, a Harvard economist, found that Blacks are 23.8 per cent less like than Whites to be shot by the police. (63). As for New York’s stop and frisk policy, that was shown to stop Blacks 20-30 per cent below the appearance of Blacks in the description of suspects.(64). As for police shootings, these fell massively in New York from 1971 to 2015. In the former year, the cops shot 314 people, killing 93. In 2015 they shot 23 people, of whom 8 were killed. (65). He also notes instances where there was still friction between the Black community and police even when the town’s leaders and senior police officers were Black.

On a less serious note, he talks about the Barbershop films and their unsparing, humorous look into the condition of Black America. Set in a Black barbershop and with a majority Black cast, these films showed Blacks making jokes at the expense of revered leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, decrying their kids’ fashion sense – trousers being worn low on the hips to expose the buttocks – and worrying about gangster culture and Black on Black violence. This upset Black activists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, but Riley maintains that they nevertheless accurately reflected the way Blacks talk when Whites aren’t around. The same concerns are held by many other Blacks, including one mayor, Nutter, who gave a similar speech at a Black church. He advised people not to dress in a threatening manner if they wanted anyone, of any race, respect them, and called for the kids to work hard at school and pull their trousers up. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, chanting ‘Buy a belt! But a belt!’ But his speech was angrily attacked by Black liberals because it didn’t reflect their priorities of blaming everything on racism. Riley also described the way Obama was often pilloried for his outspoken comments about poor standards in the Black community, while playing the race card himself. Riley also argues that the decline in Black educational standards also has its roots in dysfunctional attitudes among Black youth. If you’re too nerdy or bookish in these communities, you’re going to pilloried for ‘acting White’. This is a controversial position, but, Riley argues, the evidence for it is convincing and solid.

Despite being written from a conservative viewpoint, there are aspects of the book that can also be embraced by those on the left. Firstly, the expansion of Black businesses, jobs, and professions after slavery demonstrate that Black America is as talented as every other racial group in America. I found it a convincing refutation of the genetic argument that states that Black poverty and lack of achievement is somehow because Blacks are, on average, biologically intellectually inferior to Whites and Asians. And the argument that Blacks achieved more when they had stable, two-parent families, would have strongly appealed to a section of the British Labour party. British socialism was influenced, it has been said, more by Protestant, Methodist nonconformity than Karl Marx. Years ago the Spectator reviewed a book on the reading habits of the British working class. They found that the favourite reading matter of a solid working class Welsh community in the teens or twenties of the last century was the Bible.

Much more questionable is the apparent link between the affirmative action programmes of the 1970s and the persistence of Black poverty. Riley doesn’t anywhere show why or how they failed, and correlation is not causation. Just because their introduction was in a period of economic decay and impoverishment for Blacks doesn’t mean that they caused it. And I wondered how much of the decline was due to general, structural changes in the American economy that have also badly affected Whites. For example, Bristol used to have a flourishing print industry. There still are printers in the city, but the industry has declined considerably from what it was and many of those skilled jobs have been lost, along with those in other industries. Many Brits and Americans were hit hard by the oil crisis of the 1970s and the consequent recession and unrest. Thatcher, and then Blair, favoured the financial sector over manufacturing, which destroyed many working class jobs. And then there’s the whole nasty complex of welfare cuts, outsourcing, zero-hours contracts and wage freezes that have kept working people in Britain poor. And the same situation is true in America. This impoverishment and economic restructuring is going to hit Blacks especially hard as the Black community is poorer and less affluent. And I don’t doubt for a single minute that there are problems causes unique to the Black community, of which racism is going to be one.

But this is nevertheless a fascinating and important book, and I think it should have its place in schools if they’re teaching Critical Race Theory. That pernicious doctrine holds that Blacks are being held back solely by White privilege, in which all Whites benefit. The government recently stated that teachers must present controversial ideas impartially and was duly denounced by activist groups and the left for doing so. But I believe the truth in this issue lies somewhere between both sides, and that, if these ideas are being taught, children should be exposed to both sets or arguments. And then make their minds up.

And then, after hearing a variety of viewpoints, we might be more successful in creating a more equal society and truly enabling Black achievement.

Mike and Friends Tear Apart the Blairites’ Anti-Semitism Smears

December 23, 2021

Last week, Mike from Vox Political was on a net gathering on YouTube discussing Is Labour Anti-Semitic? Reaching Over the Noise, a documentary made with the express purpose of refuting the monstrous lies and smears made by John Ware’s wretched Panorama documentary, ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ If you watched this nasty piece of very yellow journalism, you’d be convinced that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party certainly was, and the individuals identified as anti-Semites were the most utterly contemptible Nazis. Reaching Over The Noise, however, shows the opposite: Ware’s film was one long tissue of egregious lies from start to finish, which smeared and vilified thoroughly decent people.

Panorama Lies Refuted by Corbyn’s Jewish Supporters

The internet gathering Mike attended was to publicise the film. It was hosted by Lizzie, of Unity News Network, and apart from Mike the other guests were Jason Cridland of Dorset Eye and former Labour party member and activist Sian Bloor. They were there because they had helped raise the £2,000 needed to make the movie. The meeting began with clips from the film, including a little talk introducing it by Chris Williamson, the former Labour MP who was forced out and smeared as an anti-Semite because he dared question the witch hunt. This was followed by various Orthodox Jews in broad-brimmed hats, long coats, beards and side ringlets. One of these men appeared to me to be a rabbi, as he was elderly with a white beard, which suggested the sage wisdom of a man of God. All of them said that the accusation that Jeremy Corbyn was anti-Semitic was pure nonsense. This was followed by a Jewish woman, who described the effect the smears had had on her. She was made to feel she wasn’t really Jewish. But she was, just ‘the wrong type of Jew’. This is how these smear merchants work. Judaism has never been a monolithic religion or community. There’s the old Jewish adage, ‘Two Jews, three opinions’. The Talmud, Judaism’s second holy book after the Bible, contains the debates about theology and the correct interpretation of the written and oral Law of the great rabbis. Frequently these discussions simply conclude with ‘and so they disagreed’. Zionism, as the peeps in this meeting pointed out, was originally only a minority opinion amongst Jews. Most of them wished to remain in the countries of their birth, to be accepted as fellow citizens with equal rights as their gentile compatriots. But the Israel lobby wishes to recast Judaism into a single community rigidly behind Israel. Anyone who challenges this is immediately denounced as an anti-Semite. If they’re Jewish, they’re accused of self-hatred and being a ‘traitor’.

All of the people at the gathering had been smeared as anti-Semites, either because they supported the Palestinians, Jeremy Corbyn, or simply for standing up for historical truth and refuting the lies about some of those smeared. And they each described how the Blairites in the party, Zionist activists like GnasherJew and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism had smeared them with the active collaboration of the press and media. Like alleged Times journalist Gabriel Pogrund.

Labour Activist Sian Bloor Smeared by Sam Matthews and Gabriel Pogrund

The discussion started with Sian Bloor. Bloor was smeared after someone mistakenly sent information about her supporting Jewish Voice for Labour and its main woman, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, to Sam Matthews. Despite appeals not to, scumbag Sammy then passed it on to Pogrund. Who promptly did to her what he did to Mike: publish an utterly mendacious article claiming that she was in trouble with Labour because she was an anti-Semite. In fact Bloor had been under investigation, but for an entirely different reason, and been exonerated. But after Poggy’s smears the party went into proceedings against her as a Jew-hater. When she tried to clear herself, she got a letter from Schillings, the Labour party’s highly expensive libel lawyers, telling her that what she’d written was libellous. The stress of all this has shattered Bloor’s nerves and left her unable to work. What she found particularly disgusting was that Scumbag Sammy appeared on Panorama claiming that the anti-Semitic attacks on him had made him feel suicidal. A case of the bully posing as victim.

Mike, Ken Livingstone and the Nazis’ Real Support for Zionism

Mike then came on to recount his experience. He’d been targeted and smeared as an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier by Poggy because he’d written a long piece defending Ken Livingstone’s remark that Hitler initially supported the Nazis. Mike admits that Leninspart has said some genuinely questionable comments later. He doesn’t defend them, only the mad newt-fancier’s statement about Hitler and Zionism. Which is absolutely correct. The Nazis and the main German Zionist organisation signed a pact, the Ha’avara Agreement, in which Nazi Germany pledged to smuggle German Jews into Palestine, then under the British Mandate. This is all historical fact. It’s mentioned on the Jewish Virtual Library and in the works on the Holocaust by Zionist Jewish historian David Cesarani. But like Trump, these fanatics live in a world of ‘alternative facts’. Mike was particularly interested in Bloor’s identification of Sam ‘Scumbags’ Matthews, as I think he should be referred to, as he had never been able to get the identity of the snitch in the Labour party who passed on his details to the press. But from this is looks like it could well be him. Mike was able to get the press regulator to rule against the articles smearing him which appeared in the Times, Scum, Jewish Chronicle and so on. Bloor had also been successful in getting some of the papers to retract the articles. But not the Times, because they had expensive lawyers which ordinary peeps can’t afford to challenge. Speaking in a completely different context, the veteran British ufologist Jenny Randles once said that under British justice you were ‘guilty until proven rich’. Absolutely.

Jason Cridland Smeared and Doxed by GnasherJew and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

Cridland then came next, to tell how he’d been doxed by the odious GnasherJew and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. He’d been contacted by a reader, who’d been falsely accused of anti-Semitism. The two Zionist organisations had gone further. They’d produced a map showing where supposed anti-Semites lived, complete with their names and addresses. The woman was on this map. And so, she revealed, was Cridland. This had left them extremely worried for their safety. One woman, who had been so smeared, who was in fact Jewish, had had her car torched as a result.

Posting people’s personal details on the net so that others can attack or harass them is despicable. It’s completely out of order. It’s been one of the tactics used by real anti-Semitic, Nazi organisations. Way back in the ’90s the NF or BNP in Brighton decided to publish in their vile rag the names and addresses of local ‘reds’. They were stopped when local trade unionists published theirs in turn. I suppose doxing might be justified in cases like it with real Nazis, like the banned National Action, who really do believe all that vile nonsense about secret Jewish conspiracies against the White race and who are dangerous and violent. But not for ordinary, decent people.

In addition to this, litigious Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley raised her metaphorical head. Cridland had a couple of cops appear at his house to talk to him, as Riley had complained that he was anti-Semitic. In fact after talking to him they decided he wasn’t, and the conversation moved to how she could be prosecuted for wasting police time.

Political Context

The meeting then moved onto a general discussion about official attempts to silence campaigns for Palestinian rights. The Tories wish to ban the BDS campaign as anti-Semitic, as has been done in America. But the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction campaign isn’t anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli. It does not seek to prevent people purchasing from Jewish or Israeli businesses, only those that are in the Occupied Territories. And many of its supporters and activists are Jews. They also talked about Keef Stalin’s campaign of purging socialists from the Labour party. Many of those purged as anti-Semites had been so demoralised by the direction the party was taking under his misgovernment that, rather than being upset over their expulsion, they were glad to leave. They also made the point that what stopped Labour getting elected wasn’t the anti-Semitism witch hunt, but Brexit. As for the people themselves and their political views, Lizzie and Jason Cridland made the point that they weren’t party political. They didn’t support the Labour party, but supported Jeremy Corbyn because of his policies. Sian Bloor was targeted because she was particularly close politically to the Labour leader. She had been part of the original group, JC4PM, which became Momentum. The smears were about silencing and purging Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party, who wished to return it to genuine socialism after Blair as much as attacking support for the Palestinians.

The Psychology that Smears Innocent Anti-Racists

During the talk Bloor commented that the witch-hunters and smear merchants really didn’t care about the harm they were doing to ordinary people. This raises the whole issue of their mentality, as people have been harmed and even taken their lives. I think it’s worse than that. Not only do they not care, but they actively see their opponents as enemies to be destroyed. I’ve got the impression that they really believe, whether they are religious or atheist, that the modern state of Israel is the culmination of Jewish history and that anyone who opposes it really is a Nazi. They really do seem to view themselves as the modern successors to Judas Maccabaeus, the great Jewish hero who fought against the pagan forces of the Greek general Antiochus IV Epiphanes. That general really was an enemy of the Jewish people. He banned the Torah, forbade circumcision and the observance of the Law, and desecrated the temple in Jerusalem. He was a genuine anti-Semitic tyrant. Unlike the people they now smear and vilify, who simply want justice and equality for the Palestinians.

Just to show you how utterly insane this attitude is, you think of some of the people, who have been smeared as threats to Israel by these nutters. Four-fifths of them are Jewish, and they include convinced anti-racist activists, like Marc Wadsworth, and victims of genuine racism and anti-Semitism. Jackie Walker is a respectable Jewish granny and academic, whose demeanour, at least from what I’ve seen online, is more that of the lecture hall and seminar room than any kind of violent confrontation. Much the same can be said about Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. None of the people accused and smeared, including those in the meeting, remotely resemble any real, fanatically genocidal anti-Semites. But this is, I fear, how GnasherJew, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and Starmer’s coterie sees them.

Toby Young, Hack, Eugenicist and Anti-Semitism Tsar

Real Nazis are horrific, but they’re also so grotesque they can be easily lampooned. P.G. Wodehouse sent up Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists as Spode, the leader of the Black Shorts, who stood to defend the British knee against the Asiatic immigrant horde. The ranting and raving of Hitler has provided endless comic material for anti-Nazi satirists and comedians ever since the War. In a saner, more just society the smears and lies told by the Ware, the Israel lobby and the Blairites would similarly be laughed out of court. But unfortunately it isn’t. And so we have the grotesque judicial travesty of decent people being tarred as racist by those who really are. Like the right-wing Labour politico, who published anti-Roma material as part of his election campaign. I think he may have been made one of the Tories’ anti-Semitism tsars. The other, and this is not a joke, is Toby Young.

Yes, that Toby Young. The Toby Young who wrote a creepy piece in the ’90s for GQ in which he described how he’d been a ‘lesbian for a day’. Tobes had decided he wanted a bit of hot lesbian action, and so dressed in drag to see if he could get off with any of the ladies in New York’s lesbian bars. As bad as it was at the time, it’s arguably worse now. Part of the controversy over the transgender issue is the propositioning of lesbian women for sex by biological men who identify as women . Lesbians aren’t attracted to the male body, but queer theory erases biological sex in favour of gender, social sex. And so when these women turn the men down because of their biological sex, they’re accused of transphobia. But there’s worse than Young’s dated, dodgy article from the ’90s. Private Eye caught him attending a eugenics conference. Yup, selective breeding to improve the race. The doctrine the Nazis believed in. And while Tobes isn’t a racist, many of the people he was mixing with were.

But we’re expected to believe that Jeremy Corbyn, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Chris Williamson and the above folks are the Nazis.

Cartoonist Kayfabe Look at the Art and Career of ‘American Hero’ Steve Ditko

December 10, 2021

More comics stuff, and a rather longer video than usual at 1hr 9minutes, but the subject deserves it. Steve Ditko is one of the great, legendary figures of American comics. He’s probably best known for creating Spiderman and the occult hero Dr. Strange with Stan ‘the Man’ Lee for Marvel. But as this video shows, Ditko worked for many other American comics companies – DC, Charlton, Dale and EC among them as well as self-publishing his personal works. In the video, the Kayfabers Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg go through the volume Ditko Unleashed: An American Hero, which accompanied an exhibition of the great man’s work. The book’s bilingual in English and Spanish, which suggests that the exhibition may have been in Spain. The volume not only describes Ditko’s career, but gives plentiful illustrations of his art.

Ditko, like Kirby, came from a blue-collar, working class background. He went into art school to study cartooning, as he wanted to be a comics artist. His career was uneven, working for a number of different publishers and in a variety of different genres – monster, science fiction, horror as well as the superheroes for which is he is best known. He also worked with some of the great names in American comics. At times he inked the awesome Jack Kirby, at other times he was inked by Frank Miller, the artist and writer chiefly responsible for turning Daredevil into one of Marvel’s leading heroes. I think he may also have been inked by John Byrne, one of the major artists behind the New X-Men. He was admired by many of these new artists. The epic Jim Starlin, in one edition of his Warlock comic, ‘One Thousand Clowns’, dedicated it to Ditko for showing us a new reality. Starlin’s art was rather more naturalistic, but he also used the same floating paths and mystic portals in his work. He also went through several hard times in his career. At one point he moved away to New York to recover from tuberculosis, then, as in Britain, a major killer. There were also years when he struggled, as many others did, to get work. He also worked on a number of merchandising tie-ins, like Micronauts and Rom: the SpaceKnight, which were intended to promote toy figures. I read the comics, which were excellent without having any interest in buying the toys, which might indicate they were too successful. Like the adverts for Cinzano Bianco wine with Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins. Everyone enjoyed them and they’re still fondly remembered by peeps of a certain vintage, but the people watching the ads couldn’t remember the brand of booze and so didn’t buy it. Ditko, like Kirby, broke off from Marvel for a time, before he returned, working on the above tie-ins along with the robotic superhero Machine Man.

Ditko, Politics and Morality

Unlike Stan Lee, who was a liberal, Ditko was very Conservative, a follower of Objectivism, the philosophy of supercapitalist ideologue Ayn Rand. He also had very black and white views on morality, which were expressed in his personal creations, Mr. A and The Question. He believed that heroes should be heroes, their morals pure and uncompromised. True to his ideals, he turned down work when the characters he was being asked to depict didn’t live up to them. A few years ago Jonathan Ross made a documentary for BBC 4 or one of the other channels searching for Ditko. One of those interviewed was Brit comics titan Alan Moore, who described meeting Ditko at Ditko’s home. He says that Ditko had a very narrow, inflexible view of morality, telling Moore, like one of his characters, that there were only two ways, a right way and a wrong way. Ditko’s politics are very definitely not mine, and I’m very much aware that in the real world, things are very often never a case of black and white but more shades or grey and motives can be less pure than we’d like. But after the comics industry went through a phase in which they tried to make their heroes darker – Batman: The Killing Joke is one of the foremost – and it was difficult telling the heroes from the villains, it’s refreshing to have someone who believes in old fashioned heroics.

The Kayfabers believe that if he were working today, Ditko would be cancelled or at least severely annoy and alienate 50 per cent of his audience. I think the first is certainly true. There has always been a left-wing message in American comics and an awareness of social issues. In the late 1960s into the 1970s both Marvel and DC tackled issues like racism and the rise of the feminist movement. As a response to the latter, Marvel created the Valkyrie, original a woman scientist who revolted against the patriarchy after having the credit for her discoveries stolen by her male colleagues. The Hulk comic also questioned American militarism, while Captain America, in disgust at Watergate and the contemporary corruption of American politics, renounced his patriotic monicker to become Nomad. Of course it wasn’t long before he rediscovered his faith in the rightness of the American way and put his uniform back on. However, Lee has also said in an interview that he was careful not to make the message too shrill so that it alienated readers that didn’t share his politics. Now many Conservative and moderate left comics creators and fans believe that in many strips, the political message has become too overt at the expense of traditional qualities like plotting, characterisation, dialogue and sheer fantasy. This was the motive behind Comicsgate a few years ago, when a number of comics creators, like Ethan van Sciver, broke away from the main comics companies of DC and Marvel to set up on their own.

Heroism and Its Absence in Modern Genre Film and Literature

One of the problems Az of Heels vs. Babyface and The Critical Drinker is that many of today’s pop culture heroes actually don’t act like heroes. For example, in one episode of Batwoman reviewed by Az, he comments critically on the way Batwoman treats the villain, a woman who has murdered several innocents. When Batwoman confronts her, she tells Batwoman that she’s killed so many people out of rage at her persecution as a lesbian. As a result, Batwoman, a lesbian herself, lets her go. This is simply immoral. The persecution of otherwise perfectly decent people because they’re attracted to the opposite sex is wrong, but it doesn’t justify the murder of innocents. Whatever political views real policemen and women have, they still have to act impartially and arrest those, who break the law and especially those who commit terrible crimes like mass murder.

The Critical Drinker put up a whole video about the failure of contemporary SF heroes to live up to the standards of true heroism with the latest Star Trek iterations as a case in point. He contrasted these were the high standards of professionalism demanded of the captain and crew in the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation. In that series, the characters knew the importance of duty and respecting the command hierarchy even if they disagreed with it. At the same time, Picard and the other senior officers demanded and got the best from their crew. Several of the episodes involved leading characters learning the difficulties of command. There is one episode where one of the characters is training for promotion. Part this training involves trying to find ways to prevent a warp core breach that will destroy the Enterprise. The problem is insolvable until nearly every option has been tried except the one the prospective leader has been consciously trying to avoid: they have to send Jordi into the warp core to fix it, a command which will result in his death. But it’s unavoidable, and both characters know their duty is to their ship. The would-be commander has to give the order, which Jordi calmly accepts. And a hard lesson is learned. Instead, the crew of the new Trek franchises are grossly unprofessional. They bicker over there personal relationships in front of a superior officer, react badly to the stressful conditions they should, as crew aboard a quasi-military spacecraft, be trained to deal with and try to undermine their superior officers. Case in point: one sequence where Kirk and Spock attempt to beat the living daylights out of each other. Yeah, I’m aware that it happened in an episode or two of the original Trek, like the classic ‘Amok Time’, but there were extenuating circumstances. I like Star Trek and have got a couple of the recent Trek films on DVD. But I think the Drinker has a point, even if it comes from a jaundiced, booze-soaked mind. I think we need a few more heroes who are genuinely heroic in the old fashioned sense, even if the social views they hold may be those of the left.

Stylistic Strong Points

But Ditko’s own career also had its contradictions. At one point he was working on BDSM/ fetish comics, and there were certainly questions raised about the spectacular and surreal effects in several of his strips. Many of his characters, like Dr Strange, enter strange realms in which roads float apparently in mid-air, and doors and portals appear leading to elsewhere, like the mobile holes in many a cartoon strip. Strange shoots beams of light and conjures up strange geometrical figures in his incantations. These effects resemble the entoptic imagery seen when people start to hallucinate after using mind-altering drugs. Which led to the obvious question: was Ditko also on ’em. Ditko was too straitlaced to use recreational chemicals, and answered ‘No’. It all came from within, from his own unaided imagination. Which says to me that Ditko had an awesome imagination on his own, and that the really great, creative people don’t need drugs.

I can’t say that I was ever a fan of Ditko, as his artistic style with Marvel seemed rather too simple. I really admired those artists who were rather less stylised and more detailed and naturalistic. Nevertheless, this video shows that Ditko was a master of his art. The Kayfabers point out that he’s great at cityscapes and portraying fluid action sequences in which the characters are constantly in motion. In some of the strips, Ditko also used colour washes to enhance his line art, and the result is stunning. There are also a couple of strips where Ditko’s inkers were beginning to use computers to add inks and colour to his pencils, which are also very striking.

The Kayfabers also think that some of the pictures come from the private collections of people who acquired them less than legally. There is a black market in comics art, and Ditko was a victim along with many others. They won’t name names, of course, because they don’t want to get writs from m’learned friends. But they also state they’re just glad that someone, somewhere has preserved these pictures that would otherwise have been lost. Ditko also suffered into inadvertently giving people his autograph, thus cheating himself of money. He didn’t give autographs. However, if someone wrote to him asking for his autograph, they’d get a polite reply for Ditko saying ‘No’. Which he’d sign. People cottoned on to this, and exploited it.

Comics and Other Genre Artists True Artistic Innovators Deserving Academic Respect

The Kayfabers also lament that Ditko and that other American comics legend, Jack Kirby, weren’t more articulate. If they had been able to use the kind of language critics and intellectuals use about art, they could easily have been up there with Warhol and the Factory. But they were working artists, who had to grind out their strips to make a buck, and so didn’t have time to mix with people in art galleries. I completely agree. It’s been my opinion for a very long time that the truly great, innovative art exploring new visions, directions and tools is that of the space, science fiction and fantasy artists, including book illustrators and comics artists. And there are others who feel the same. I can remember watching one video about comics, in which one of the speakers said he felt angry seeing the work of artists hung in art galleries, who had based their work on comic artists. He felt that the original comics artists should have got the money and their work hung instead. Way back in the ’90s I tried to get one of the art magazines to accept an article in which I argued this point, and showed the stylistic similarities between respect fine artists like H.R. Giger and those of the Soviet austere school and such comics greats as Kirby and the British master of aliens, robots and the grotesque, Kevin O’Neil. Unfortunately, it was turned down because it would have been too expensive to run. But the point remains. And it'[s shown in Ditko’s art. There’s a panel in which the exhibition shows a clear influence on one of Ditko’s weird geometrical designs in a portal in Dr. Strange with a painting from the Russian avant-garde artist Vassily Kandinsky. The two debate whether there is a genuine influence there, before concluding that their probably is. I can easily believe it. Many comics artists have their own heroes and influences in fine art as well as other great illustrators of the past. Way back at the comics festival UKCAC ’90 I remember going to a talk by Charles Vess, who talked about the great artists and illustrators he admired. I can well believe that Ditko absorbed and incorporated ideas from fine art as well as cartooning and illustration, and that his own work pushed these ideas forward into new directions.

The book goes up to 2016, nearly the end of Ditko’s life. He died only a few years ago. Wossy in his quest to find the great man managed to track him down to an advertising agency in the Big Apple. Ditko agreed to meet Woss and the other host, but it all had to be off-camera. The programme concluded with Wossy stating that when they met Ditko he was very sweet, gave them lots of copies of his work, but they couldn’t repeat what he said to them. And so walked off into the New York crowd.

Well, RIP Steve Ditko, one of the greats of American founders. The book and the video by the Kayfabers are a great overview of one of the creators of some of the most iconic modern American superheroes.

History Debunked on Black Hero, Racist and Crook Marcus Garvey

October 7, 2021

Marcus Garvey is a towering figure in Black history, starting up one of the earliest Black rights organisations, the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Black History Month was launched in Britain in October 1987 to mark the centenary of his birth. There are monuments, streets and parks to him in various towns in the UK and in New York. A few months ago a Black writer published a piece in the Radio Times calling for him to be taught in schools. History Debunked has marked Black History Month with a series of video showing that in reality, many of the heroes being commemorated are actually much less impressive. Garvey was very definitely one of these.

The video states that he was born in 1887 and apprenticed to a printer, but didn’t take to it, and spent some time instead travelling around Central America and Britain. He returned to his homeland, Jamaica, where in 1914 he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, whose aims included inspiring Black brotherhood and the civilisation of the backward peoples of Africa. This ran into trouble, as many Jamaicans dislike the word ‘Negro’ as, in my experience, many West Indians still do. More seriously, he was suspected of using the association’s funds to support himself personally. So he moved to Harlem in New York where he set up his organisation there. This again was massively controversial. Garvey was a racial separatist who hated racial intermixing and Blacks, whose skins were lighter than he is. He became even more unpopular amongst Black New Yorkers by going off to meet the head of the Klan. They got on like a house on fire, as Garvey assured the White racist that they both had the same objective. He wanted Blacks to go back to Africa, while the Klan wanted a White America. But what really brought Garvey down was his attempt to found a Black shipping company, the Black O Line. He was prosecuted for fraud as he was caught selling shares in a ship that didn’t actually exist. Both the judge and the prosecution in the trial were Jewish, as were two members of the jury, or so he claimed. He then made an anti-Semitic rant which blamed the Jews as well as the White authorities for his prosecution. And there the video ends.

I think Webb has been rather selective in the video, choosing some of the worst episodes of Garvey’s career. I understood he was forced out of Jamaica by the authorities, who regarded him as a subversive. Not that it doesn’t mean that he wasn’t also unpopular there for the reasons Webb suggests. Webb does mention that in New York he invented various bizarre uniforms for himself and his followers. The image for the video shows Garvey in one of those uniforms, a hat which makes him look a bit like Napoleon. When I was working at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum one of the boxes of items donated to the Museum contained pamphlets from Garvey’s organisation. And they were weird. One of them seemed to be for some kind of rally and listed a whole series of paramilitary ranks and organisations, such as head of the armoured division. It reminded me of the White British Fascists, who invented grandiose names and titles for themselves but have at most a handful of members. The type of people lampooned in the Jeeves and Wooster books in the shape of Spode and his Blackshorts, who seemed to be always going off to address the Eagle battalion in Minchinhampton. Garvey emigrated to Britain, and certainly wasn’t ashamed of the weird Fascist nature of his organisation. He said in an interview with a British magazine in 1938 that Hitler and Mussolini took everything from him. I don’t think they did, and you would have thought that by that time Garvey would have wanted to keep any similarity between his outfit and Fascism very quiet. But he didn’t.

He also seems to have fancied himself as the self-appointed leader and saviour of Africa. In New York he declared himself to be president of the continent, and he and his lieutenants were the government in exile. This was without any input from the African themselves. He carried on calling for himself to be made the Africans’ leader when he emigrated to England. He made repeated request to the Colonial Department to be made its head. The video doesn’t mention that. Nor does it mention that Garvey also joined the Conservative party after he moved here. As I think Webb himself is a Telegraph-reading Tory, I don’t think he wishes to remind people how Garvey entered the party.

A few months ago I drew this cartoon of Garvey to express what I consider to be real Fascist elements in BLM and some of the other, supposedly anti-racist movements. Here it is.

I don’t think he was ever a supporter of the Nazis, but the parallel between his organisation and White Fascism is so close that he is features in books on Fascism, including Mark Christian Thompson’s Black Fascisms (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press 2007).

Garvey is an important figure in the history of Black Liberation. The Rastafarian religion grew out of his Negro Improvement Association. But it’s questionable whether he should be celebrated. I suspect there are far worthier figures waiting to be discovered and promoted, who people haven’t heard of.

Lobster Review of Book on the CIA’s Massive Covert Activities in Post-Colonial Africa

October 5, 2021

Also in the latest issue of Lobster is main man Robin Ramsay’s fascinating review of Susan Williams’ White Malice: The CIA and the Covert Recolonisation of Africa, (London: C. Hurst & Co 2021). Ramsay begins by quoting Williams’ own summary of the book’s contents, which he says he can’t better. This summary says

‘Nevertheless, pressing on a range of sources has produced some extraordinary findings in relation to the Congo, Ghana and other African territories during their transformation from the status of colony, occupied by a European power, to independence. The best sources have been university archives and individuals who decided to speak about their past involvement with the CIA in Africa, most notably John Stockwell. It appears that the years of finding freedom—between the independence of Ghana in 1957 and the CIA-backed overthrow of Nkrumah in 1966—were also the years of an intense and rapid infiltration into Africa by the CIA. The agency’s operations took place in the territories themselves and at the
UN in New York.

The uncovered information reveals an extent and breadth of CIA activities in Africa that beggars belief. These activities took various forms and were performed by an extensive network that included Americans at agency headquarters in Washington; American agents operating under cover; American agents under non-official cover in the field and at the UN; Africans brought to the US and then recruited for use in various countries and situations, such as the Kenyan Washington Okumu; African assets recruited and used locally; third-country agents such as QJWIN and WIROGUE; and cultural patronage through Paris and elsewhere.

Underpinning the success of these activities were dollars. “Money ran the game”, notes [Lise] Namikas. “Even by 1960 standards the CIA had a reputation for spending”. Estimates of how much the CIA spent, she adds are hard to gauge. In 2014, Stephen Weissman wrote that between 1960 and 1968, CIA activity in the Congo “ranked as the largest covert operation in the agency’s history, costing an estimated $90–$150 million in current dollars”. But this did not include the cost of “the aircraft, weapons, and transportation and maintenance services provided by the Defense Department”.

CIA money was distributed, both within the US and in Africa, through a range of conduits, including dummy organisations and pass-throughs such as the Farfield Foundation. Bribes were handed out to selected politicians, to union leaders and to diplomats at the UN. CIA funds were
used to pay for soldiers’ wages and for weapons. They paid for front organisations, such as Imbrey’s public relations office in New York, Overseas Regional Surveys Associates. The funds were used to set up
airlines under cover and to buy and deliver aircraft, including the Fouga that may have shot down the plane carrying UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld.

Active intervention fostered division between different political groups, such as Holden Roberto’s UPA, heavily backed by the CIA, and the MPLA—both of which were fighting for the freedom of Angola from
Portuguese rule. The consequent strife sowed the seeds for decades of suffering in Angola.
Plans were implemented for assassinations. Governments were overthrown. The UN secretary general’s communications were accessed in real time in Washington, when he was on a flight in any part of the world, courtesy of the cipher CX-52 machine.

Propaganda and covert influence operations formed a thick web, frequently facilitated by CIA fronts dedicated to Africa, which were set up with the collaboration of powerful businessmen with interests in Africa. The fronts included the African-American Institute, with its headquarters conveniently located just minutes from UN headquarters in New York, and the American Society of African Culture. Both organisations published Africa-focused journals, perfect for covers and heavy with propaganda.
Highly respected organisations such as the American Fund for Free Jurists were penetrated by CIA officials using false pretences and were used to funnel funds secretly.

Cultural and educational centres, such as the Mbari Centres in Nigeria and the Institut d’Études Congolaises in Brazzaville, were set up. They organised conferences and events, such as the seminar in Ibadan, Nigeria, attended by an unwitting Lumumba, and the first Congress of African
Writers and Intellectuals at the University of Makerere, Uganda. Underpinning all these activities was the hand of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a CIA front with an Africa programme based in Paris and with
fingers in most parts of the world.’ (pp. 509-11)

This shows just how extensive and nefarious the CIA’s activities were during this period of African history. Not that it was the Americans alone who were engaging in dirty tricks in Africa. Rory Cormac also describes the activities of the British state to manipulate African politics through vote rigging, espionage and propaganda in his book Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy.