Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

William Blum on the Police Bombing of Black Americans

February 9, 2017

I found this passage in William Blum’s America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy absolutely mind-blowing as it says so much about Reaganite and post-Reaganite America’s willingness to use deadly force, regardless of who gets killed, and the militarisation of the police.

In the chapter on human rights and torture, Blum discusses the continuing misuse of American drone strikes to assassinate terrorist leaders. These are notorious, as most of the victims so far have been civilians, including women and children. Blum mentions that Amnesty International has protested several times against their use. He makes the point that drones are only ever used against poor countries, like Yemen and Pakistan, and would never be used against America’s allies in the Developed world, like Britain. But bomb strikes have been used by the police in America against terrorists in poor Black neighbourhoods, with the resulting massive loss of innocent lives and destruction of people’s homes. He writes

Can it be imagined that American officials would fire a missile into a house in Paris or London or Ottawa because they suspected that high-ranking al-Qaeda members were present there? Even if the US knew of their presence for an absolute fact, and was not just acting on speculation, as in the Predator cases mentioned above? Well, they most likely would not attack, but can we put anything past Swaggering-Superarrogant-Superpower-Cowboys-on-steroids? After all, they’ve already done it to their own – US drone attack killed two American citizens in Yemen in 2011, and on May 13, 1985, a bomb dropped by a police helicopter over Philadelphia, Pennsylvania burned down an entire block, some sixty homes destroyed, eleven dead, including several small children.. The police, the mayor’s office, and the FBI were all involved in this operation to evict an organization called MOVE from the house they lived in.

The victims in Philadelphia were all black of course. So let’s rephrase the question: can it be imagined that American officials would fire a missile into a residential area of Beverly Hills or the Upper East Side of Manhattan? Stay tuned. (p. 127).

No, of course they wouldn’t.

But what in the name of Heaven is a police force doing with bombs? This whole affair reads like something from a dystopian SF novel. You know, something like Stephen King’s The Running Man, which was set in a Fascist America where the cops shoot people rioting to get bread. That one was filmed in the 1980s with Arnie. Or The Hunger Games. It does not sound like the actions of a responsible democracy based on ‘justice for all’.

I’m not disputing that sometimes it is necessary to use force against armed, violent criminals and terrorists. But I am absolutely amazed that the US police was militarised to the extent that the used bombs. As for the victims being Black, that explains so much about why so many Blacks in America hate the police, and the entire point behind the Black Lives Matter movement.

The French Astronomer Who Gave His Name to the Captain of the Enterprise?

December 28, 2016

More space/ SF stuff.

Looking through the 1982 Yearbook of Astronomy, edited by Patrick Moore, I found on the chapter for July a very brief biography of the 17th century French astronomer, Jean Picard. The piece ran

1982 is the anniversary of the death of Jean Picard, a celebrated French astronomer. He was born at La Fleche, in Anjou, on 21 July 1620; he studied for the priesthood, and was ordained, but his main interest was in astronomy. In 1645 he was appointed Professor at the College de France, and took a leading part in the establishment of the Paris Observatory. His most famous piece of research was undertaken in 1669-70, when he made a new and more accurate determination of the radius of the Earth. it has been said that it was this which allowed Isaac Newton to complete his work on the theory of gravitation, though in fact Newton’s earlier hesitation was due to the fact that one link in his chain of argument was incomplete. Jean Picard died as the result of an accident on 12 July 1682. (pp. 103-4).

Reading that, I wonder if he was the inspiration for Patrick Stewart’s character in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard. I’ve also got a feeling that another Francophone space scientist may also have inspired the name and character. Professor Calculus in the Tintin books by Herge is based on a real French scientist, who ascended to the edge of space in a high altitude balloon in the last century. I can’t remember the scientist’s name, but I’ve got a feeling it was also Picard.

Of course, it could all be coincidence. But considering the high standard of TV drama set by the series, it really wouldn’t surprise me if the creators and producers had done their historical research, and decided to create the Picard character partly as a tribute to these scientists.

Marine Le Pen Wants to End Free Education for Immigrant Children

December 10, 2016

Padraic Flanagan also wrote a story in yesterday’s I reporting that Marine Le Pen, the head of the French Front National, had recommended that immigrant children should not automatically qualify for free education. The report ran

The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has called for an end to automatic free education for foreign children. She has said foreigners in France should go through a “waiting period” before benefiting from the country’s social services and that children whose parents are in France illegally should not be allowed access to free schooling.

Ms Le Pen, a candidate in France’s spring presidential election, took the subject in front of reporters yesterday during a stroll through the Paris Christmas market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

The National Front leader also wants to stop what she calls “massive” immigration and is urging an exit from the European Union and its common euro currency. (p.13).

Mike’s covered similar issues in several of his blog posts. There have been demands from Tory and Kipper politicos to stop immigrants and immigrant children from qualifying for certain welfare benefits in this country. Mike has pointed out how this is not only grossly unjust, but also risks increasing the spread of disease, in the case of denying illegal immigrants medical care. He has also most recently stated that it is immoral to punish children for the crimes of their parents.

Much the same arguments apply here. This policy also risks pushing up immigrant crime. If immigrant children are denied the right to an education, this effectively blocks them from entering the jobs market. They will thus either have to rely on the welfare state, or turn to crime. And it will further radicalise them, by forcing them to turn inward to their own communities for support.

It’s a vile idea. But unfortunately, such ideas are becoming increasingly common in the post-Brexit, post-Trump world.

Thomas Sowell on Marx and Engels’ Support for Democratic Socialism

July 6, 2016

Sowell Marx Cover

For just about everyone born after the Russian Revolution, and particularly after the horrors of Stalin, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot and a myriad other dictators, who have claimed to govern on behalf of the workers and peasants, Marxism has appeared quite contrary to democracy. Marx and Engels stood for violent revolution, and their theories provided the basis for oppressive, oligarchies ruling through mass arrests, terror and murder.

Marx on Democracy

Thomas Sowell in his brief book on Marx and his theories, Marxism: Philosophy and Economics (London: George Allen & Unwin 1985) shows that while Marx and Engels certainly did not disavow violent revolution, and despite his sneers about it, like his quip that democratic capitalism was merely a case of ‘deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in parliament’, took democracy very seriously, and believed that Socialism could be achieved mainly through the victory of Socialist parties at the ballot box. He writes

To the French workers in 1870, on the eve of the uprising that produced the Paris Commune, Marx advised against an uprising as a “desperate folly” and urged instead: “Let them calmly and resolutely improve the opportunities of Republican Liberty.” He closed with the motto: ” Vive la Republique.” A quarter of a century later, Engels wrote in a similar vein that “the government came to be much more afraid of the legal than of the illegal actions of the workers’ party, of the results of election than those of rebellion.” In Britain, according to Marx, “the gradually surging revolt of the working class compelled Parliament to shorten compulsorily the hours of labour.”

Democracy was seen as a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for freedom. (p. 142).

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat Does Not Justify Dictatorship

He warns the reader not to read back into Marx’s discussion about the dictatorship of the proletariat – the period in which the working class will govern society before the achievement of true Communism – the all too real dictatorships of Stalin and its counterparts in eastern Europe and Asia. Sowell writes further

The Communist Manifesto described “the first step in the revolution” as being “to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy.” In a preliminary draft for the Manifesto, Engels declared that a Communist revolution “will inaugurate a democratic constitution and thereby, directly or indirectly, the political rule of the proletariat.” the use of the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat” – in Marx’s sense – is little more than a paraphrase of these statements

Between capitalists and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

In his correspondence, Marx asserted that “the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, which in turn represents a “transition” to a classless society. How is this compatible with “winning the battle of democracy,” as mentioned in the Communist Manifesto? Because “the democratic republic,” as Engels explained, is “the specific form of the dictatorship of the proletariat.” Just as in a capitalist state “wealth exercises its power indirectly, but all the more surely”, so in a workers’ state the numerical superiority of the proletariat turns democracy in form to a class dictatorship. Marx’s contemporary, John Stuart Mill, agonised over precisely this point. The democratic republic under capitalism becomes the arena in which workers struggle to wrest political control from the capitalists. Once this is accomplished, then under socialism it is the workers’ state that exists as long as any state is necessary -i.e. until the “withering away of the state”. (p. 143).

The Revolution Could Be Peaceful

He notes that Marx admired the Paris Commune, because he believed it had universal suffrage, an open society, freedom of religion and separation of church and state, and a non-militaristic viewpoint. (p. 144).

On revolution, he quotes Engels as saying ‘the abolition of capital is itself the social revolution’, and later, at the end of his life, that ‘the bourgeoisie and the government came to be more afraid of the legal than of the illegal action of the workers’ party, of the results of lections than of those of rebellion.’ (p.148). Engels was also aware that it was extremely rare for civilian rebels to overcome an army in street fighting. (p.149). He also believed that violence was more likely to be started by the capitalists than by the workers.

The irony of world history turns everything upside down. We, the “revolutionists”, the “over-throwers”, – we are thriving far better on legal methods than on illegal methods and overthrow. The parties of Order, as they call themselves, are perishing under the legal conditions created by themselves … And if we are not so crazy as to let ourselves be driven to street fighting in order to please them, then in the end there is nothing left for them to do but themselves break through this fatal legality. (p. 149)

Democracy Draws the Working Class into Politics

He also quotes Marx as admiring democracy under capitalism for drawing the masses into politics and political discussion:

The parliamentary regime lives [according to Marx] by discussion: how shall it forbid discussion? Every interest, every social institution, is here transformed into general ideas, debated as ideas; how shall any interest, any institution, sustain itself above though and impose itself as an article of faith? The struggle of the orators on the platform evokes the struggle of the scribblers of the press; the debating club in parliament is necessarily supplemented by debating clubs in the salons and the pothouses; the representatives, who constantly appeal to public opinion, give public opinion the right to speak is real mind in petitions. The parliamentary regime leaves everything to the decision of majorities; how shall the great majorities outside parliament not want to decide? When you play the fiddle at the top of the state, what else is to be expected but that those down below dance?

Rejection of Terrorist Conspiracies

Marx and Engels contrasted the democratic nature of the Communist League, which had elective and removable boards, which ‘barred all hankering after conspiracy, which requires dictatorship, with revolutionary secret societies of Louis Blanqui and his followers. He stated that such conspiratorial small groups – such as those which Lenin would later advocate in his book What Is To Be Done? were “the fantasy of overturning an entire society through the action of a small conspiracy.” (pp. 150-1). He also notes that Marx did not see the workers as being automatically paragons of virtue from the very beginning, or would have to be led by a group of elite leaders. (p.151). Again, this is very in contrast to Lenin and his theories in What Is To Be Done? Engels said

The time of surprise attacks, of revolutions carried through by small conscious minorities at the head of unconscious masses, is past. Where it is a question of a complete transformation of the social organisation, the masses themselves must also be in it, must themselves already have grasped what is at stake, what they are going in for with body and soul. (p. 152).

He also notes that Engels did not abandon the possibility of armed revolution where the aims of the ‘workers’ party’ could not be achieved through democracy. And he also notes that Marx was quite happy for terror to be used against ‘hate individuals or public buildings that are associated only with hateful recollections’. Engels, however, had a much more critical attitude. He said

We think of this reign of people who inspire terror on the contrary, it is the reign of people who are themselves terrified. Terror consists of useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves. (p. 153). It’s advice that far too few self-confessed Marxist regimes put into practice.

What makes this particularly interesting is that Margaret Thatcher tried to have legislation passed to ban Marxists from having positions in academia. Furthermore, radicals like Noam Chomsky point out that America did have a tradition of working class, left-wing politics, under this was destroyed by the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War. In all fairness, Thatcher and the Cold Warriors had a point, in that the Communist Party founded by Lenin was based on the monopoly of power by a small, revolutionary coterie, who jailed and persecuted their enemies, with horrific brutality. But many Marxists actively opposed them. Rosa Luxemburg was bitterly critical of the Bolshevik coup and the suppression of political freedom in the USSR. So was Karl Kautsky, one of the leading figures of Austrian Marxism, who occupied the centre of the country’s Social Democratic Party, the main Socialist party, and which today roughly corresponds to the Labour party in Britain. Kautsky wrote pamphlets and articles attacking the Bolshevik coup, and supported the break-away Menshevik regime in Georgia.

There are very many problems with Marxism, ranging from its rejection of eternal, objective moral values, to its conception of history as based on the class struggle and the Hegelian dialectic, as well as its materialism. But it also provides material for a democratic socialism, as against totalitarian tyranny and mass murder.

Omar Mateen: Islamist Warrior, or Just Angry Nutter?

June 14, 2016

Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter, apparently phoned up ISIS and swore allegiance to the murdering scum, before going out to commit his own horrendous atrocity. He had been investigated by the FBI before, as one of his friends had been a suicide bomber. They’d let him go. Now questions are being asked about the investigation and the soundness of their decision.

My guess here is that the FBI probably did have to face a genuinely difficult decision. Many people know someone personally who is a ‘bit dodgy’. For most people, it’s low-grade criminality, nowhere near the level of mass murder. The problem with looking at networks of people is that just because person X knows Y, who might be a known crim, or be a member of an unpleasant political or religious organisation, doesn’t mean that person X is either. Of course, ISIS are bound to claim him proudly as one of their own, because they are, after all, a gang of cut-throats with a twisted sense of morality and a need to kill and maim. But that doesn’t mean that Mateen joined them out of any deep religious or ideological reasons. He could just have joined them because he was an angry, nihilistic thug with a need to take out his rage on innocents, and ISIS gave him a pretext, a rationale for his atrocity.

Way back in 19th century France, Paris was rocked for a time by a series of bombings committed by Ravachol, an anarchist. Yet when Ravachol himself was caught, his self-declared ideological reasons for blowing up cafes and their patrons looked less than sound. He has no connection to other anarchist groups, and far from attacking the ruling classes, his bombings were of working class bars and cafes. He might have been genuinely motivated by the ideas of Bakunin and the other advocates of ‘propaganda of the deed’. Or he might simply have been a maniac with a need to kill and maim, and seized on anarchism for his rationale. Just as Mateen used ISIS.

After all, if Mateen was a dedicated Islamist, it looks like he left it rather late. Rather than phone them up before going out and shooting people, you’d have thought he’d have done it long ago. And then there’s his choice of venue. He had a very specific hatred of gays. I think this is remarkable, because in previous Islamist atrocities, they target the general population indiscriminately. They’re just interested in killing Western unbelievers, which includes those Muslims, who don’t share their warped views. You think of the 7/7 bombers. They targeted public transport. They didn’t target gay pubs. I’m not saying that they didn’t hate gays. It’s highly likely they did. But specifically targeting one particular group wasn’t their aim. They wanted to kill all infidels generally. The same with the Boston bomber. He targeted a marathon in order to kill the maximum number of people in a public place, irrespective of their sexuality.

Now it could be that Mateen was a genuine Islamist, and that from killing the patrons of the nightclub, he would have moved on to other sections of the population, apart from gays. But I wonder. At the moment, it looks to me like he was a nasty homophobe with a specific desire to kill gay people, rather than being a warrior for Islam.

Contemporary Film of Ukrainian Anarchist Nestor Makhno

May 8, 2016

I found this very brief film clip of Nestor Makhno and his anarchist ‘Black Army’ of Ukraine boarding a train. Makhno led an anarchist revolution in Ukraine, which broke away from the Russian Empire at the time of the Russian Revolution. Eventually it was reconquered by the Red Army of the new Soviet Union. Makhno and some of the other leading Ukrainian Revolutionaries fled into exile in Paris. I’ve already put up a piece of contemporary footage of the funeral of Peter Kropotkin, and thought I should put up this little piece of one of the other anarchist revolutionaries against Tsarism for Libertarian Socialism.

Makhno and his Ukrainian revolution were also the subject of a Russian TV series, The Nine Lives of Nestor Makhno. Here’s the trailer for the series. I’ve only got a smattering of Russian, so I can’t tell you what’s being said or if it’s historically accurate. But it’s still interesting, nonetheless.

Dick Coughlan on the Six Greatest UKIP Excuses

April 30, 2016

This is another funny and informative video, courtesy of the internet. In it, Dick Coughlan takes apart UKIP’s six greatest excuses for their blunders and generally foul behaviour. He starts with a general point about the implausibility of Nigel Farrage’s statement about the party’s decline from its supposed massive rise last year being due to establishment opposition. This is clearly disproven by the fact that Farrage was given every opportunity to speak all over the television news, and was given columns in the Independent and Express. Coughlan states that the real reason must have been because Farrage was permanently drunk, as whenever he appeared, he had a pint in his hand.

And then Coughlan moves on to the other excuses UKIP have had to make. These include trying to explain away Kilroy-Silk’s racist rant against Arabs in the Express. His secretary tried telling everyone she had sent it by mistake. It was an earlier, unedited version of an already-published column. Kilroy hadn’t sent it, because he doesn’t know how to operate emails and electronic messaging.

Then there was the case of the Kipper, who took a photograph of himself in blackface with a funny clown nose, and the tried to explain it as a face mask for acne. Nigel Farrage, again, tried excuse himself arriving late for a meeting in Faversham in Kent by complaining that it was all due to immigrants clogging up the roads. Another Kipper, who was photographed making the Nazi salute, and tried to explain that away by telling the world that he was reaching for his phone, which was held by his girlfriend. He wanted to take it off her, ’cause he didn’t want to look like a pot plant. Right. Another Scots Kipper issued a long rant against gays and immigrants tried to explain his comments away as due to the effects of the medical drugs he was taking. A neuropharmacologist explained that was untrue, because sedative drugs merely make the patient more likely to tell the truth by removing inhibitions. It takes more effort to lie than to tell the truth, and so their real feelings are more likely to come out if people start taking sedative tablets. Coughlan draws the obvious conclusion from this is that Trump must be taking thousands of such drugs to come out with his racist bilge.

And finally, there’s the case of the Kipper, who had the horrendous statement that the three year old boy and his brother, whose bodies were washed up in Turkey after falling out of a migrant boat, were the victims of their families’ greed in trying to get to Europe from Turkey in search of a better life. In fairness to the Kipper, he does unfortunately have a point. The migrants had taken refuge in Turkey for safety, but had then the tried to move on to Europe. The Turks, unfortunately, do have their problems with Islamic radicalism. There have been terrorist attacks there, just like those in Paris, London and Brussels, and Erdogan has been giving covert aid to the jihadis. But it’s much safer than Syria. Nevertheless, the children’s death is horrific, and the Kipper’s use of them to make a general point about economic migration appears cynical and tasteless.

I don’t agree with Coughlan’s atheism, but I’ve decided to reblog this as according to Hope Not Hate, there are over 1,500 extreme Right wing candidates standing at the election on Thursday. Most of them are for UKIP. Hope Not Hate makes the point that they’re not as bad as the hard Right, like the NF, BNP, National Action and the other Nazis. Nevertheless, they are promoting racism. This last point has been reinforced by Farrage appearing in the news yesterday whining that the Brexit campaign didn’t include enough about the threat of immigration. I also oppose them as Farrage and the leading lights of the party are Neo-Libs, who want to get rid of the welfare state and privatise the NHS. That alone should be enough to make people want to keep them out of government.

Vox Political Against Islamophobia and the ISIS Terror Attacks You Don’t Hear About

March 25, 2016

Daesh’s Muslim Victims

Mike over at Vox Political has put up a couple of posts keeping the Brussels attacks in perspective. The attacks, as well as those in Paris, were a horrible atrocity committed by fanatics with no conscience or respect for the lives of innocents. But Mike also reminds us that there have also been Muslim victims of Daesh’s terror campaign, that have not received anywhere near the same amount of coverage and outrage. These people too deserve our sympathy, and we should also be outraged and disgusted at their suffering.

Mike has put up a list showing the numbers of people killed by ISIS’ thugs and butchers, not just in Brussels, Paris and San Diego, but also in Yemen, Tunisia, Ankara in Turkey, Afghanistan, Beirut, Libya and Baghdad. The atrocities committed in these places have also killed tens and hundreds of people. And Mike’s article reminds us that globally, ISIS have killed far more Muslims than non-Muslims. But it’s sad and unjust that their deaths haven’t received the same amount of coverage. For many papers, these atrocities aren’t frontline news.
This is needs to change if we are all to stand together to defeat these monsters.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/24/why-concentrate-on-brussels-daesh-killings-of-muslims-far-outnumber-attacks-on-the-west/

Chris Herbert, Anti-Islamophobic Army Vet

Mike has also put up another piece on the disabled ex-squaddie, Chris Herbert. Herbert lost a leg fighting in Iraq. Despite that, he has come very firmly out against hatred of Muslims, citing his experience of the kindness of the Muslim medical professionals and others who treated him for his injury. He states that people have been trying to get him to add his voice attacking Muslims, but he has refused. Go read the article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/25/after-the-brussels-attacks-heres-an-antidote-to-the-anti-muslim-hatred-were-seeing/

Women and Life in Occupied Raqqah

There are also a number of fascinating, but grim documentaries on Youtube on what life is actually like in Raqqah in Syria for those, who are unfortunate enough to be under ISIS’ perverted rule. This includes meting out flogging to women, who are out unaccompanied by a close male relative or another woman, including 13 year old girls; the judicial murders called ‘executions’ held in one of the town’s roundabouts; and throwing gay men off tower blocks. In addition to this, they closed down the local Christian church and turned it into their wretched headquarters, and blew up a beautiful ancient mosque. I’ve no idea why. Possibly the imam was too much of a peacenik, and the puritan hardliners decided that the stunning azure blue tiles covering the onion dome were a distraction, rather than a work of beauty pointing to that of the Divine (Latif – The Beautiful, is, I understand, one of the 99 Names of Allah in Islam).
Whatever, ISIS are an affront to human civilisation, and the dignity of God’s human world.

Abdesalam and Terrorist Ringleaders – Butchers, Manipulators and Cowards

March 22, 2016

The major news story today has been the horrific suicide bombings in Brussels. Apart from the deaths and injuries this has caused, it’s also closed down plane, train, tram and bus communications, leaving thousands of people stranded in the Belgian capital. This has come after the capture at the week of Abdesalam, the ringleader of the Paris bombings last year.

The Young Turks’ anchor, Cenk Uygur, made a particularly acute observation about Abdesalam’s character. When the Paris police raided the terrorist’s headquarters, they found an unused suicide belt. It seems that Abdesalam was also due to blow himself to kingdom come along with the rest of the maniacs. But when it came to the crunch, he decided that he wasn’t quite ready to meet Allah in paradise just yet. No doubt he felt he still had too much good work to do still on Earth killing infidels down here before going to meet his maker.

Abdesalam was the ringleader. He planned the attack. His own brother was one of the fools he brainwashed into spattering his entrails, and, tragically, those of the bombers’ innocent victims all over the street. But not Abdesalam himself. He wasn’t going to kill himself, even if it meant killing the infidel. No way! And that, Uygur concluded, was what the leaders of these suicide bombers and terrorists are like. They’re cowards. They glory in the deaths of innocents, and the bloodthirsty maniacs they dupe into carrying out these mass murders, but they do not, under any circumstances, want to do it themselves. And when you get to the higher levels of the organisation, where it’s funded by rich Saudis, the motivation becomes even more cynical. The Saudi intelligence service was funding al-Qaeda and ISIS partly as a way of killing the Shi’a in Iraq and elsewhere, and as a method for grabbing control of Iraq’s oil. And just in case we forget, let’s pause for a minute to remember the monstrous hotel ISIS built in Mosul, or took over, to hold a bun fight for the organisation’s big wigs to contemplate their glorious conquests. I don’t believe for a single minute that these guys have any intention of joining the ordinary grunts on the front line and blowing themselves up. Not while they can, no doubt, enjoy all manner of delights haram to the rest of the faithful on Earth.

Uygur himself is Turkish, and he also pointed out that ISIS was also responsible for terrorist bombings in Istanbul. The people there deserved every bit as much sympathy and concern as those in Paris. And, as he might have said, Brussels.
Absolutely. Turkey has a lot of problems, but Uygur pointed out that it’s both an Asiatic and European country. It’s a country with a long, and fascinating history going all the way back almost to the very beginnings of Western civilisation in the Ancient Near East. And until recently, it also had very little terrorism.

ISIS are an affront to human civilisation, whether you’re Christian, secular, Jewish, Muslim or whatever. They’re cowards and butchers who delight in getting others to kill and maim, but have absolutely no intention of getting themselves caught doing so. Our prayers and best wishes to the peoples of France, Belgium and Turkey. May it not be too long before the vile creatures behind these atrocities are caught and brought to justice.

A Moroccan Immigrant’s Views on Work and Immigration

March 5, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political put up a couple of pics today from the Brexit campaign, all urging us to leave the EU. They showed the hypocrisy of the ‘Out’ campaign, which had accused their opponents, those who want us to stay, of scaremongering. See Mike’s piece at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/05/the-posters-that-show-how-hypocritical-the-leave-campaign-is/. One of these pictures of a meme about the government supposedly giving all 75 million Turks the right to use the NHS. This follows the standard line that all the immigrants from the Islamic and Developing Worlds are all coming over here to scrounge from European, and particularly the British, welfare states.

Leave Turks

The ‘Out Campaign trying to scare us with the threat of all of Turkey coming to Britain because of the NHS.

They aren’t. They came here to work, and were invited in to supply the labour shortage after the Second World War. Many migrants are acutely aware of this, and consider it hypocritical that Europeans now want to stop immigration. This comes across very strongly in David McMurray’s piece ‘Haddou: A Moroccan Migrant Worker’ in Struggle and Survival in the Modern Middle East, edited by Edmund Burke III (London: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd. 1993). The books a study of the history of the modern Middle East through the biographies of a few of its people, studied by historians and sociologists. Haddou was a Moroccan migrant worker, who came to work first in France, in Paris, before settling down in Dusseldorf, Germany.

McMurray has a couple of pages giving the reasons why Haddou did not wish to return home. He writes

“Why don’t you just go home?” Haddou thought to himself on many occasions. This is what the racists wanted, too. Haddou’s answer was always the same: “To do what?” Most Moroccan men’s answer to this would be to set up a shop and sell something. But Haddou felt himself to be unsuited to the life of a small merchant. They were not involved in productive activity anyway, just buying and selling what others had made. In any case, he needed contacts to make a good profit. Otherwise no one would buy from him, and the Moroccan bureaucracy would slowly bleed him to death without a patron to protect him. Even if he wanted to make some kind of productive investment, the banks were not safe, laws were not enforced, and, besides, in what kind of manufacturing could he invest in Morocco that could possibly compete with foreign manufactures? the government favoured imported goods by keeping import tariffs low. What was worse, the Moroccan consumer was convinced that quality came only from abroad. The only domestic products worth buying consisted mainly of foods and traditional clothing. If he chose to produce them, who would buy his modern shoes, for example, when they could purchase imported Italian shoes? Or who would buy his Moroccan-made shampoo when they could buy it from France or Spain? Even dinner plates imported from Taiwan were preferable to those produced locally. The Moroccan government made matters worse by throwing their support behind commercial activities producing for export. In the region of Nador that meant growing citrus fruit for Europe. But citrus grew locally only on irrigated land, and most of the good, irrigated land had been bought up long ago by wealthy men with contacts. They had been told of the planned irrigation system before everyone else and had bought the land at a cheaper price in order to take advantage of the development. Today that land was too expensive to buy. Equally vexing was the fact that many of the prices for crops grown on unirrigated land were controlled by middlemen and the government in such a restrictive manner that they barely repaid the farmer’s investments – and then only during good years. No subsidies existed to carry the farmers during the bad years, which in recent times had far outnumbered the good.

Given these conditions back home, Haddou never could understand why so many Europeans expected the migrants just to pick up and leave. They acted as if the migrants had come uninvited. On the contrary, he and the millions of other migrants from around the world were in Europe because the European governments, factories, and shop owners originally asked them to come work. The first time Haddou went back on vacation during the early 1960s, his boss gave him hundreds of work contracts to hand out to people in the Moroccan countryside who might want to join him in Europe, so eager was the boss to expand his migrant labour force. No, migrants did not originally knock down the door; it was opened for them. Unlike the better organised and more demanding European workers, migrants could be made to work harder and longer or to do dirtier and more dangerous jobs, thus producing greater profits for their European employers. As Haddou saw it, the real dilemma was that the Moroccans were dependent on Europe no matter what they did. They could stay home and – if they were lucky enough to find a job at all – produce goods for export to Europe, work on assembling and distributing products legally imported from Europe, illegally smuggle products in from Europe, or like himself, they could just pick up and go to work right in Europe. Directly, or indirectly, in Morocco or abroad, they were all working for the Europeans. (pp. 390-2).

Basically Haddou came to Europe partly because of the hostile business environment in Morocco, in which the small entrepreneur is effectively shut out due to the endemic corruption. He also came simply because work was available, and the European business owners and managers were eager to find a cheap labour source to exploit. Whereas the extreme anti-immigrants see themselves as having come to Europe uninvited, Haddou, and probably millions of migrants and former migrants like him, are very aware that this is not the case.

There is no mention in the chapter of immigrants coming to Europe because of our system of welfare benefits, or to exploit the NHS. Which in any case, has been answered already in the piece I put up by Nye Bevan, in which he states that the numbers of migrants using the British Health Service would be small, and it would be morally incumbent on us to give the same welfare benefits to foreigners who were over here, working.

There are legitimate problems and concerns with mass migration, but allegations that they’re just here to steal or sponge off our benefits shouldn’t be one of them.