Posts Tagged ‘Quebec’

English History through the Broadside Ballad

December 24, 2019

A Ballad History of England: From 1588 to the Present Day, by Roy Palmer (London: BT Batsford 1979).

From the 16th century to the 20th, the broadside ballad was part of the popular music of British working people. They were written on important topics of the day, and printed and published for ordinary people. They would be sung by the ballad sellers themselves while hawking their wares. This book is a collection of popular ballads, assembled and with introductory notes by the folklorist Roy Palmer. It begins with the song ‘A Ioyful New Ballad’ from 1588 about the Armada, and ends with ‘The Men Who Make The Steel’ from 1973 about the steelworkers’ strike. Unlike the earlier songs, it was issued as a record with three other songs in 1975. The ballads’ texts are accompanied by sheet music of the tunes to which they were sung. Quite often the tunes used were well-known existing melodies, so the audience were already familiar with the music, though not the new words which had been fitted to them.

The ballads cover such important events in English and wider British history as a Lincolnshire witch trial; the draining of the fens; the Diggers, a Communist sect in the British Civil War; Oak Apple Day, celebrating the narrow escape of Charles II from the Parliamentarians in 1660; the defeat of the Monmouth Rebellion; the execution of Jacobite rebels in 1715; the South Sea Bubble; Dick Turpin, the highwayman; the Scots defeat at Culloden; emigration to Nova Scotia in Canada; Wolfe’s capture of Quebec; the enclosures; the Birmingham and Worcester Canal; the 18th century radical and advocate for democracy, Tom Paine; the mechanisation of the silk industry; the establishment of income tax; the death of Nelson; the introduction of the treadmill in prison; the Peterloo Massacre and bitter polemical attacks against Lord Castlereagh; Peel’s establishment of the police; body snatching; the 1834 New Poor Law, which introduced the workhouse system; poaching; the 1839 Chartist meeting at Newport; Queen Victoria’s marriage to Albert; Richard Oastler and the factory acts; the repeal of the Corn Laws; Bloomers; the construction of the Oxford railway; Charles Dickens¬†visit to Coketown; the Liverpool Master Builders’ strike of 1866; agitating for the National Agricultural Union of farmworkers; the introduction of the Plimsoll line on ships; an explosion at Trimdon Grange colliery in County Durham; a 19th century socialist song by John Bruce Glasier, a member of the William Morris’ Socialist League and then the ILP; the Suffragettes; soldiers’ songs from the Boer War and the First World War; unemployed ex-servicemen after the War; the defeat of the General Strike; the Blitz; Ban the Bomb from 1958; and the Great Train Robbery.¬†

It also includes many other songs from servicemen down the centuries commemorating the deaths of great heroes and victories; and by soldiers, sailors and working people on land protesting against working conditions, tax, and economic recessions and exorbitant speculation on the stock markets. Some are just on the changes to roads, as well as local disasters.

This is a kind of social history, a history of England from below, apart from the conventional point of view of the upper or upper middle class historians, and shows how these events were viewed by tradesmen and working people. Not all the songs by any means are from a radical or socialist viewpoint. The ballad about Tom Paine is written against him, though he was a popular hero and there were also tunes, like the ‘Rights of Man’ named after his most famous book, celebrating him. But nevertheless, these songs show history as it was seen by England’s ordinary people, the people who fought in the navy and army, and toiled in the fields and workshops. These songs are a balance to the kind of history Michael Gove wished to bring in a few years ago when he railed against children being taught the ‘Blackadder’ view of the First World War. He’d like people to be taught a suitably Tory version of history, a kind of ‘merrie England’ in which Britain is always great and the British people content with their lot under the benign rule of people like David Cameron, Tweezer and Boris. The ballads collected here offer a different, complementary view.

Global Research on US and EU Sponsored Fascist Regime in Ukraine

April 10, 2016

Okay, I’m afraid I haven’t done much blogging this week. That’s partly due to my having picked up some kind of germ that was going round. It left you feeling completely drained of energy, and feeling that you were almost going to come down with a bout of diarrhoea and sickness. Mercifully, I didn’t. A lot of people in our area have had it, and all except one or two have managed to have avoid getting diarrhoea. It’s nasty, but it also seems to be over in a couple of days.

This is about something else that’s nasty, but unfortunately hasn’t been over in a couple of days. I’ve been blogging a lot about the resurgence of Fascism in eastern Europe, including Ukraine. One of the pieces I put up was about the Pravy Sektor – the infamous ‘Right Sector’ group of Ukrainian extreme Right-wing groups, including ‘Svoboda’, whose name means ‘Freedom’, but are probably more accurately described by their old monicker, the Social Nationalist Movement. Yep, they’re a bunch of Nazis. And the current Ukrainian regime includes them as one of its coalition partners, and seems very happy indeed with the extreme violence, intimidation and brutality it metes out, especially to ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians.

This is another video presenting the case that the regime change, the ‘Orange Revolution’ in Maidan Square in 2013, which overthrew President Yanukovych, wasn’t entirely a popular revolution, but a carefully orchestrated piece of geopolitics by the US and EU to install a client regime as the Ukrainian government. Yanukovych had committed the cardinal sin of signing a treaty providing for closer relations, both political and commercial, with Putin’s Russia. This could not be tolerated by the governments in Washington and Brussels, and so Yanukovych was toppled, fleeing to Russia with Putin.

This is at times a very hard video to watch. It’s not short, at about 1 hour 25 minutes long, and shows scenes of very graphic violence. Many of these will be familiar from some of the other videos I’ve posted up, such as the masked, uniformed figures of Svoboda and their Nazi regalia – the Wolfsangel SS Rune on their sleeves for example – marching amongst the crowd. It shows them holding torchlight marches – almost exactly like those staged in the Third Reich by the Nazis – chanting the names of Stepan Bandera and another Nationalist hero, along with cries of ‘Death to the Communists’ and ‘Death to the Russians’. At one point the marchers are shown chanting a slogan about sticking Russian heads on spikes.

There’s also footage of the snipers from Svoboda shooting and killing unarmed demonstrators in Maidan Square, in an atrocity that was falsely ascribed by Obama and the Western media to Yanukovych. It also shows the attack on the trade union headquarters by Svoboda thugs, in which something like 45 people were burned alive, while others were beaten, and thrown out of the building’s windows. As they fell, their attackers joked about how ‘Negroes are falling!’ The documentary also includes an interview from Russian television, RT, with a young woman, who was one of the survivors of the attack. She was part of a peace camp, and she and the others were chased into the building by the storm troopers. Other victims included people in unarmed demonstrations, shot and killed by retreating state security forces.

Some of the victims were dissenting journalists and politicians. There’s a clip of one of the senior journos in one of the Ukrainian papers being roughed up by the minister for looking after the country’s ethnic minorities, at the head of another mob of thugs. He was angry as the newsman had published photos of the stormtroopers beating up civilians. One opposition politician was pelted with eggs, and savagely beaten. His attackers even attacked the ambulance crew that came to help him. There are also scenes from inside the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament. An opposition politico takes the chair to voice extremely trenchant criticism of the government and its policies. Immediately, other politicos and officials start running to the lectern to force him.

In many of these attacks, the police either do nothing, or are actively involved. There are scenes showing senior police officers in very chummy conversation with the masked and uniformed Nazis surrounding them about beating and murdering protestors.

This is also a regime, which doesn’t even bother to hide its Nazi sympathies. Another piece of footage shows members of the government at one of the national monuments making speeches praising Bandera, the Nazis and Hitler himself. They’re greeted in their turn by angry shouts and chants from a pro-Soviet crowd just behind the barrier. There’s also a leaked phone conversation from the Ukrainian politicians and Oligarch’s wife, Yulia Timoshenko, to another government official describing what she’d like to do ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians: nuke them, and then kill them all.

So what’s the US and EU’s response to the beatings, mass murder and repression? Active collusion with the regime, and smooth denials to the international press and Congress that there is any kind of ethnic cleansing being done by the regime. Or that if there is, is all the fault of the Russkies under Putin. There’s that notorious phone call between Victoria Nuland and another state department official, effectively fixing who she wants in the Ukrainian cabinet. One of the members she explicitly mentions, Oleh Tiahnybok, is the head of Svoboda. There’s also the phone call between the Estonian minister, Urmas Paet to Baroness Ashcroft about the shooting of unarmed civilians by Svoboda snipers, in which Ashcroft sounds distinctly uncomfortable. This is not stuff she really wanted to hear. And the lies go all the way to the top. It’s not just Nuland in the state department, nor Psaki, a Whitehouse spokeswoman, but also John Kerry and Obama. All of whom tell the press, and some critical US congressmen, that Ukraine is a free, democratic country that’s not oppressing anyone.

This is demonstrably untrue. The video also shows footage of Ukrainian troops entering Russian-speaking towns in the east of the country, firing on and killing unarmed civilians. There are also shown occupying a polling station to prevent the local people voting for independence. Again, when the local people march to claim their right to vote, they open fire. One young lad is horribly shot in the leg. This scene is cut with Kerry telling the ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate that no-one was being prevented from voting, the elections were completely fair, and that the reason why turn-out was so low is that nobody turned out to vote. Again, that’s another lie, as the video shows a massive turn out of Russian-Ukrainians of all ages, taking the opportunity to vote for a federal Ukrainian. This is something else that’s anathema to the Ukrainian puppet regime and its masters in Washington. Obama and Kerry stand in front of the microphones and cameras claiming that the polls by the people in the eastern part of the country demanding their own separatist, autonomous enclave, lack democratic support. Of course, the video argues that the opposite is the case. It is the American-installed regime that lacks the democratic mandate.

The Fascist regime and Obama also try to claim that the demands for a separate Russian-speaking enclave in the Donbas region is due to the machinations of Putin. It isn’t. They claim that these were only made after the Ukrainian government sent the troops into the Russian-speaking areas to intimidate them. Obama, Kerry and Nuland also claim that the reason Crimea voted to join with Russia was due to the intimidation of the Russian forces there. In fact, the voting in the Crimea was much fairer and far less rigged, due to the presence of the Russians as observers.

One of the other tactics the Ukrainian regime has also tried to use to smear its enemies is accusations of anti-Semitism. The Donbas separatists were supposed to be going to pass a law demanding Jews register with the authorities. There is, horrifically, much anti-Semitism in Russia, just as there is in the rest of the former eastern bloc. But this was a lie, and soon had to be dropped as too many people knew it was.

As for the Russians, Putin is, it seems, this time the maligned one. Rather than seeking to overthrow a democratic regime or dismember a rival, and disobedient nation, the opposite is true. He’s been forced to act because a democratically elected regime was overthrown at the behest of an outside power – Washington, and the oppression of his own ethnic group by the resulting Fascist regime. And Putin has every right to do so under international law. Putin’s a nasty piece of work himself, but this time, he’s the victim, not the aggressor.

And it’s not just Russians, who are the victims. some of the groups beaten and shot at by the goose-steppers are, it is claimed, just severely normal Ukrainians. And one fact both Washington and Kiev want to cover up is that many of the original Maidan protestors don’t want the ruling president. They wanted to throw out Yanukovych, but they are very definitely not supporters of his successors.

The video lastly claims the reason Washington has set up this puppet regime, and is attempting to demonise Putin, is because Putin has defied America’s attempts to become the only world super-power, and is successfully competing with the Land of the Free in what it sees as a ‘multi-polar’ world – one in which there are various competing powers, not all subject to American domination. And so here there are shots of Putin with other world leaders, including those of Iran.

Here’s the video:

The video is by a group calling itself Global Research, based in Quebec, Canada. It’s an interesting video which presents a compelling case. I think some scepticism is necessary in the way it presents Putin. He’s not ‘whiter-than-white’ innocent. His regime itself is extremely authoritarian, and it has also responded to critics and dissenting journalists with violence and murder. The same for many of the regimes with whom he is shown doing business. But this time, it really does seem that he is not responsible for the current outbreak of ethnic violence and repression. It’s the fault of the governing elites in Washington and Brussels, safe and comfortable thousands of miles away from the horror they’ve unleashed further east.