Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Reagan’

Peter Hitchens on Tony Blair’s Stupidity

January 16, 2023

Yeah, I know this ad hominem, but it is funny. Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani interviewed Tory iconoclast Peter Hitchens the other day. The two don’t really have much in common, but Bastani justified the interview saying that if you want to be certain in your political views, you should test them by talking to people who hold the opposite. Hitchen’s is very much a man of the right, and some of his views are odd, if not barking. He believes, for example, that we shouldn’t have gone to war with Germany as it was not in our interests. Perhaps it wasn’t, but we had signed the defence pacts with France and Poland, And if we hadn’t gone to war, I think we would have still lost the empire sooner or later. Plus we would have been excluded from a continent under Nazi domination. And this is not to mention the carnage that would have been perpetrated by the Nazis, with the Jews and Gypsies becoming extinct in Europe, followed by the Czechs and the Slav populations enslaved as peasant farmers supplying produce to their German overlords.

On the other hand, Hitchens has said that he never supported Thatcher’s sale of the council houses or the privatisation of the prison system, because justice, as a principle, should be in the hands of the state. He also states in one of his books that he was shocked into an awareness of how fragile civilisation was after visiting one of the failed African countries as a journalist in the 1980s. The country had descended into vicious gang violence, but walking through its capital Hitchens saw everywhere grand architecture and all the signs of modern corporate development. I think this gives an insight into the basis of his own Tory views. I remember reading in the Spectator years ago that the right-wing philosopher Roger Scruton abandoned the left when he witnessed the rioting in Paris during the 1968 student and workers’ protests. He was alarmed by their ‘anti-civilisational rage’.

Back to the interview, Hitchens described Blair’s spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, as being frightening intelligent. He mentioned people, who really thought for the first few months of Blair’s regime that it was Campbell running the country. He joked that it was probably because of Campbell’s mighty intellect that he was kept away from voters, as he would probably frighten them all away.

But Blair, on the other hand, wasn’t terribly bright and Hitchens doubted that he could have run the country without Campbell. To illustrate his point, he told the story of how he briefly met Blair just before the 1997 election. Blair was in Oxford, travelling in his motorcade. Hitchens was following him by bike, but as the traffic was bad, he got to Blair’s destination before him. After Blair had arrived, he was immediately surrounded by a crowd taking pictures. Hitchens wanted to talk to Blair, and so, after the crowd had finished and dispersed, he walked up to the future Prime Minister. He decided to open the conversation by asking who the crowd were. Blair replied, ‘They’re Brazilians. I’m very popular down there.’

‘Oh, you should learn Portuguese then,’ replied Hitch.

‘What?’

It turned out that Blair thought they spoke Brazilian in Brazil. Hitchens concluded that what Blair really wanted to be was a pop star, and you didn’t need to ascribe any deep ideological motives to him.

There was, nevertheless, an ideological basis to his policies. He was a product of BAP, the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, which was set up by Reagan to influence the rising generation of British politicians from both the Conservatives and Labour. Blair had started out as a supporter of nuclear disarmament, but after going on a BAP-sponsored trip to America and hearing the views of various right-wing think tanks, he came back as an opponent. He was fervently Thatcherite, believing in the superiority of private industry and strongly influenced by the American political system. Private Eye ran several pieces about the American private healthcare and prison companies lining up to donate to New Labour in the hope of getting some of that nationalised action. He took over advisers and staff from private healthcare companies as well as other businesses, and pushed the privatisation of the NHS further than the Tories would have dared. As stupid as he may have been, he set the course for right-wing Labour, and Starmer shows every indication of returning to it.

Hatey Katie Goes Tinfoil Hat over Lockdown and NHS Totalitarianism

December 28, 2022

Katie Hopkins has raised her head again. There was a video posted on YouTube last night of her talking to an ‘entrepreneur’ of some sort, which promised its viewers that she would reveal who was really controlling the world. Yes! We’re back to raving conspiracy theory paranoia of the time John Ronson explored a decade or so ago in his Channel 4 series, Secret Rulers of the World and accompanying book, Them! Adventures with Extremists. So, who did Katie think was secretly pulling the strings to establish the One World Satanic Communist superstate? Was it Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum at Davos? The Bilderberg group? The Trilateral Commission? International finance capital, in other words, the Jewish banking conspiracy? Reptoid aliens? I’m afraid I can’t tell you, because I didn’t get that far into the video before I’d had enough.

Hopkins started off by attacking the Covid lockdown, claiming that it was an opportunistic exercise in totalitarian social control using the Wuhan virus as a pretext. It was a test to see if they really could isolate people in their own homes. The NHS and socialised medicine was part of this conspiracy, because everyone’s concerned with their health. And this is why Joe Biden is so keen on introducing it in America. Really? I had no idea. It always struck me that Biden was a bog-standard American corporatist. The only trace of radicalism I’ve seen in the old boy is his support for the trans ideology through the appointment of Rachel Levine, a transwoman, as Surgeon General and a non-binary chap as head of the programme to dispose of nuclear waste. That’s it. I’ve seen no evidence he wants socialised medicine in the US. I’d have more respect for him if he did.

As for the NHS as an instrument of totalitarianism, this is pure Reaganite, libertarian twaddle. Way back in the 1970s Reagan gave a stirring speech about the need to defend freedom against state totalitarianism. This sounds all very well, but it was an attack on Medicaid, the state programme that provides medical care to elderly citizens that can’t afford it. I’ve also had American commenters state that the NHS must be against human freedom, because doctors are employed by the state, therefore they must have the same power as other state officials like the police or the government, and so you have to do exactly as they say. Um, no, you don’t. They don’t have that power. You don’t have to take their advice, and for serious treatment, like long term cancer care, you have to sign consent forms. Of course, you’d be daft if you ignored their advice, especially when it comes to serious illnesses like cancer. But you’re still a free individual.

This is, of course, the kind of crass stupidity Alex Jones peddles with his rants against the globalists, when he isn’t maligning bereaved parents of the victims of school shootings as crisis actors, screaming that the government is about to take away Americans’ guns, and that the government is about to call an environmental emergency and force everyone into refugee camps in order to establish a totalitarian state. Despite having been dumped by various media companies for her toxic views, particularly about race, Hopkins is still going the rounds. She was doing shows with Alex Belfield, the ‘Voice of Reason’, now doing time for internet stalking.

Despite her poisonous views, I don’t want to see her banned. There’s too much internet censorship, particularly of those on the left. I just want people to realise for themselves how nasty and toxic she is. I think she’s still making a nice living for herself, because she reflects some peoples’ fears of immigration and, like Belfield, attacks the bonkers part of the woke ideology. But beyond that there’s a general contempt for working people, regardless of colour. And it doesn’t matter how much they might agree with her about the threat of illegal immigrants, gay policemen and the transgender ideology, if she had her way the people, who go to see would be deprived of proper medical care. It would all be privatised and they’d be unable to afford it. Just as they wouldn’t have any employment rights or unemployment benefits, because she’d remove all the welfare legislation that they think is being exploited by chavs and benefit scroungers. If enough people realised that, hopefully stop supporting her and she might have to do a real job for once.

Poul Anderson and Ideas about Terraforming Venus Before Carl Sagan

December 21, 2022

This might appeal to readers of this blog, who aren’t fans of the late astronomer, Sceptic and presenter of the blockbusting TV science series, Cosmos. I put up a drawing I’d done of Sagan a week or so ago along with a piece explaining why I thought he was a great TV personality. While Sagan was a brilliant astronomer and space scientist, some of the readers of this blog were less impressed by his attitude towards the UFO crowd. Sagan was a fervent rationalist, who saw it as his mission to attack ideas he thought were irrational, and particularly the paranormal. He was one of the founders of the Sceptical organisation, CSICOP, or the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, along with the stage magician James Randi and the mathematician Martin Gardner. One of Sagan’s last works was The Demon-Haunted World in which he worried about the tide of irrationality creeping over America and the world and foresaw a time in which the New Age would have taken over completely, leading to a new Dark Age and people earnestly consulting their horoscopes each morning.

Some commenters remembered how Sagan had been wheeled on TV in the 1960s to debunk UFO encounters. They didn’t like his superior and condescending attitude towards the experiencers. Now I’ll admit that I don’t regard UFOs as nuts and bolts alien spacecraft. Much of the imagery and the basic plot of UFO encounters seems to come from science fiction and supernatural encounters with gods, demons and fairies before then. One of the alternative views of the UFO phenomenon is the psycho-social hypothesis, which sees it as an internal psychological experience which uses the imagery of contemporary culture. In previous centuries this was of fairies. Now, as belief in the supernatural has declined in the West, the imagery is from science fiction. But both the imagery of fairies and alien spacecraft represent the same theme of encounter with a cosmic other. Some UFO writers and researchers like John Keel and Jacques Vallee believe that there is a genuine paranormal phenomenon at work, and that the force that was previously responsible for encounters with fairies and so on has simply now changed to using that of space craft as society has changed. See Keel’s Operation Trojan Horse, for example. Many UFO encounters can be explained as misidentification, hoaxes, and sightings of top secret military aircraft. I’m also convinced that some are due to the intelligence community deliberately messing with people for their own purposes. In one of his books, Vallee suggests that the Cergy-Pontoise abduction in France may have been faked by French intelligence as an experiment to see how people would react to a real alien encounter. And then there’s the case of Paul Bennewitz, a defence contractor in the US who was driven out of his mind by a pair of intelligence agents at a nearby USAF base. Bennewitz thought he had got in touch with an alien held captive at the base. The pair claimed to be whistleblowers and fed Bennewitz a whole load of spurious documents apparently confirming it, and then told him that it was all fake. It’s a tactic apparently known as the ‘double-bubble’ used by the intelligence services to destabilise their enemies. It worked on Bennewitz, who I think was driven to a nervous breakdown.

Even with the hoaxers, the top secret aircraft and the misidentified objects, there are still some UFO encounters that are very difficult to explain. I think the best explanations are probably the paranormal and psycho-social rather than the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re any the less puzzling nor that genuine people, who have had a truly inexplicable experience, should be sneered or condescended to.

But back to Sagan. One of Sagan’s achievements was to suggest a way Venus could be terraformed. This involved planting genetically-engineered bacteria in the Venusian atmosphere. These would consume the carbon dioxide and exhale breathable oxygen. But Sagan wasn’t the first person to suggest ways of terraforming the planet, and he didn’t invent the concept of terraforming. You can find the idea, but not the name, in the Martian books of Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which the Martians have built giant machines to replenish the atmosphere on their dying world. The great SF writer Poul Anderson wrote a story in which a similar technology is used to terraform the Venusian atmosphere.

This is mentioned by Mike Ashley, the editor of the anthology of classic SF stories about the worlds of the solar system, Born of the Sun, published by the British Library. In the introduction to the story about Venus, Ashley writes

‘The 1950s saw some authors taking note of recent research which suggested Venus was far from a watery world. Leading the way was Poul Anderson. In ‘The Big Rain’ (1954) he describes a harsh, sweltering Venus that, when it does rain, rains formaldehyde. The story considers how Venus might be terraformed, using the formaldehyde locked in Venus’ clouds. Airmaker machines, spread all over Venus, accelerate a reaction with the formaldehyde, ammonia and methane to produce hydrocarbons and oxygen, whilst bombs reinvigorate volcanos so that in time it starts to rain – and rains for over a hundred years, by which time Venus starts to be more Earth–like’. (p. 93).

To me, this is an example of one the instances where informed Science Fiction, even if wrong in the details, has advanced scientific thinking. And there are plenty of other examples in some of the other stories Ashley discusses in some of the other books in the same series.

Sagan, for all his faults, was a brilliant scientist and he did much to make people aware of the environmental crisis and opposed the threat of nuclear war and the New Cold War Reagan and Thatcher started ramping up in the 1980s. But in this case, while his ideas about terraforming Venus are most likely to be correct, he wasn’t the first to invent the idea.

Sometimes SF writers get there first.

2000AD and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Artist Kevin O’Neill Dies Aged 69

November 9, 2022

I was saddened to learn of the death on Monday of Kevin O’Neill, one of the great British comics artists behind many of the favourite strips in 2000AD over here and DC Comics and other publishers in America. O’Neill was the co-creator, with writer Pat Mills, of the Robusters, ABC Warriors and Nemesis the Warlock strips in 2000 AD, the galaxy’s greatest comic. Robusters was about a robot disaster squad, led by Hammerstein, an old war droid, and Rojaws, a foul-mouthed sewer robot, who formed a kind of double act. The squad was owned by the dictatorial Howard Quartz, alias ‘Mr 10 Per Cent’, because after some kind of disaster, only ten per cent of him – his brain – was still human, housed in a robot body. The penalty for failure or simply upsetting the boss was destruction, and the pair were always on the verge of being pulled apart by the sadistic but thick robot bulldozer, Mekquake. ABC Warriors was a continuation of Hammerstein’s adventures, first in a world war against the Volgan Republic, and then on Mars and a far future Earth, as the leader of an elite squad of robots dedicated to fighting evil. Nemesis the Warlock was a weird sword and sorcery strip set in the far future. The surface of the Earth had become a devastated wasteland and humanity had retreated underground. Renamed Termight, short for ‘Mighty Terra’, it was a medieval society ruled by an evil order of warriors, the Terminators, that hated and feared intelligent alien. Led by their Grand Master, Torquemada, Earth regarded such aliens as demonic and waged a war of extermination against them. O’Neill’s art, which is angular and geometric, was suitably Gothic and horrific, creating a nightmare variety of alien creatures. His art was so horrific, in fact, that later, when he was working on the Green Lantern Corps, a superhero comic for DC, it put the wind up the Comics Code Authority. This had been founded in the 1950s during the moral panic over comics. It was supposed to judge whether or not a comic was suitable to be read by children. Although it was supposedly voluntary, in fact all children’s comics had to be submitted to the Authority as otherwise the mainstream newsagents over there wouldn’t carry them. The writer, Alan Moore, who also created the cult strip about a future Fascist Britain, V For Vendetta, took the unusual step of contacting the Authority. Would the comic get approved if various changes were made? No, they replied. It wasn’t the strip’s story; it was the artwork. It was totally unsuitable for children. This became something of a source of pride and amusement to O’Neill and the other creators at 2000 AD. So grim was his art that rumours started circulating that he had an occult temple in his basement and drew only at night. These were completely false. On the other hand, a fan once told his fellow 2000 AD artist, Dave Gibbons, that O’Neill’s art gave him nightmares which he could only cure by looking a Gibbons. When O’Neill wasn’t traumatising people with his serious strips, he made them laugh with Dash Descent, a parody of the old Flash Gordon serials. He also drew the Tharg’s Future Shocks strip which a court later ruled had been plagiarised by the film maker Richard Stanley for the film Hardware. This was set in a decaying city in which a scavenger in the radiation deserts finds and brings back the remains of an experimental war robot, the B.A.A.L. His artist girlfriends reassembles it and it then goes off on a frenzy of killing. Hardware is a cult film, which stands up even now, three decades after it was made. Highlights include cameo appearances by Lemmy, as a water taxi driver, and the voice of Iggy Pop as a radio announcer. It’s just a pity Stanley didn’t work out a deal with 2000 AD first. He also contributed in other, minor ways to the comic. He created the look of Tharg, the comic’s alien editor from the star Betelgeuse, and introduced the credit cards telling readers who the writer, artist and letterer were, quite against the publisher’s policy. But this allowed the people, who actually created the strips, to gain the proper recognition and respect for their work.

O’Neill left 2000 AD for work with the American comics companies. He and writer Pat Mills created Metalzoic for DC. This was another robot strip, set on a far future Earth where an ecology of robot animals had developed and taken over, and followed the adventures of a tribe of robot ape men and the human woman they had rescued. It still is one of my favourite strips, but sadly flopped, though it was later reprinted in 2000 AD. O’Neill was far more successful with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, written by Alan Moore. This had the idea that the great figures of 19th and early 20th century SF, Fantasy and Horror – Alan Quatermaine, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde, Captain Nemo and Dorian Grey – had formed a kind of superhero group. It was filmed with Sean Connery as Quatermaine. Back to causing gleeful mayhem, O’Neill and Mills created the violent, nihilistic Marshal Law. This was an adult comic set in a near future San Francisco. Devastated by an earthquake, the city was renamed San Futuro, and plagued by warring superhero gangs. The superheroes had been created to fight in a war in South America. As a result, many of the survivors had returned to America mentally and physically scarred, some turning to violent crime. Law was the member of a small anti-superhero squad, moved by a deep hatred of superheroes. He uttered phrases like ‘They say I hate superheroes. They’re wrong. Hatred is far too bland a word for the way I feel about them’ and ‘I’m hunting heroes. I haven’t found any yet’. Mills hates superheroes and has very left-wing politics and poured that into the strip. It commented on recent developments in genetic engineering and the patenting of GMOs, insane CIA plans to overthrow Fidel Castro and other South American left-wing regimes and how America trained the sadistic torturers for the continent’s Fascist dictators. There was also an overt feminist critique of the genre and the fictional glamorisation of the real horrors of war. The Marshal’s opponents were vicious parodies of various superheroes. Despite its grim premise, it was a hilarious strip, although the humour was pitch-black. It was too much for one publisher, however, and moved from one to another. It has now been collected into a single album, although sadly without the crossover strip featuring the Marshal fighting Pinhead from Hellraiser.

Outside of comics, O’Neill apparently published his own fanzine, Just Imagine: The Journal of Film and Television Special Effects. I also remember him being credited in Starlog for designing the aliens in the Disney film, Return to Witch Mountain.

I met O’Neill extremely briefly at the UKCAC 90 comics convention, 32 years ago. From what I can remember, he was a short, slightly built chap in a T-shirt championing solidarity with Nicaragua, whose left-wing regime was under attack by the brutal Contras funded by Reagan and Thatcher. He was drawing people’s favourite characters for them on badges supplied by the convention’s organisers. But he was an amazing artist, producing very high-quality drawings in a blur of speed. There are a series of videos of him speaking at various comics conventions about Nemesis, Marshal Law and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where he appears as short, jolly fellow with a great sense of humour, chortling over the daft incidents he’s experienced during his career.

In a separate interview, also on YouTube, Alan Moore commented on his art, praising him as one of the greatest British artists of all time. Moore remarks that O’Neill’s celebrated for his robots and aliens, but not for his humans. But Moore considers that he is brilliant depicter of humans as grotesques, and in that sense is one of the best artists since Hogarth. It sounds like something that should go in Private Eye’s ‘Pseud’s Corner’, but in my opinion it’s absolutely correct. Particularly as Hogarth produced sequential art himself as the kind of precursor of comics. I strongly believe that comics artists, or at least the very best, are insufficiently appreciated. I think they can be as good as serious fine artists. Way back in the 90s I submitted a piece to one of the art magazines arguing that comics artists like O’Neill and Jack Kirby were artists, whose styles meant that they should receive the same appreciation as those of the Soviet austere style, Francis Bacon and H.R. Giger. The Nemesis the Warlock strip had scenes of pure body horror. In one of the two precursor strips that launched the character, Killerwatt, Nemesis and Torquemada chase each other down the teleport wires, in which people are transported electrically similar to the telephone. At one point they have to cross the Sea of Dead Souls, a nightmare morass caused when a gooney bird, a massive mechanical bird, sat on the wires. Those unfortunate enough to be there when it happened are turned into a mass of hugely distorted body parts, such as giant feet with eyes. It resembles the scene of the ‘shunt’ in the 80s horror movie, Society, where members of America’s elite class are portrayed as predators who can twist and distort their bodies into any shape whatsoever. The Shunt is an orgy in which they melt down into a similar morass of bodies to feed off tramps and other members of the lower orders. Society’s a great film if you like that kind of ‘orror, but came out a few years after Mills and O’Neill got there first.

There have been a number of great obituaries for him at Bleedingcool and on 2000 AD’s website. These give the reactions and messages of grief and appreciation from the other comics creators. The 2000 AD page gives a full potted biography and examples of his truly amazing artwork.

RIP great man. May your art continue to shock, amaze, amuse and inspire.

Kevin O’Neill 1953 – 2022

https://bleedingcool.com/comics/kevin-oneill-the-man-the-comics-code-tried-to-ban-has-died-at-69/

In Memoriam: Comic Artist Kevin O’Neill 1953 – 2022

Thomas Sowell Attacks British NHS Because Scared of Rise of Socialism in America

October 23, 2022

I thought so as soon as I saw his wretched video attacking the NHS yesterday. It struck me then as the act of a frightened man trying to discredit a rival political and medical institution. Yesterday Black American conservative Thomas Sowell put out a short video, just under five minutes, urging Americans to choose the American healthcare system over the British because it was better. Er, no. On so many levels. The American healthcare system is so dire that when Thatcher sent her personal private secretary Patrick Jenkin to America to see how it worked so she could do it to Britain, he joined the full-on cabinet rebellion against her when she tried to privatise the NHS. Yes, private American hospitals don’t have the crowding, and I dare say have more choice, than the NHS but that comes at a price. And more and more Americans are unable to afford it. As a result, good, hardworking, severely normal Americans have to say up years before they can afford the hospital care for American mothers to give birth. There is also a much higher infant mortality rate than Europe. Our NHS is no longer the world’s best because it has been comprehensively run down by the Tories and Blairite Labour for decades. But it’s still better than the American system. And the private American system is in crisis. Robert Reich put up a post on YouTube about how it’s falling apart. I’ll try to find it. A friend of mine trained as a doctor, and according to him, American private hospitals are being kept afloat by American public subsidies. As for the utilities, a number of American states have state-owned electricity companies that produce power more cheaply than private firms. In that sense, Reaganite capitalism is failing.

Now Sowell has put out another video with the title that more Americans are falling for socialism. ‘And it’s bad’. Naah. America has a very respectable socialist tradition going all the way back to the Knights of Labor in the 19th century. From what I can see, socialism may even have been stronger in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It seems that former president Barack Obama has also stirred things up a little by saying that America needs single-payer healthcare. Of course, it’s a bit rich that he says that now, when he refused to implement it in office and went for Obamacare instead, which is based on a Republican plan from Newt Gingrich. What the west needs is a return to the social democratic consensus of a strong welfare state, properly funded public healthcare, nationalised utilities and strong unions. The consensus that gave Britain a rising standard of living up to the 70s. A form of politics that could and should stop the movement to the far right as immigrants get blamed for the poverty caused by neoliberalism. But obviously even this mild form of socialism is anathema to someone like Sowell, who’s a fan of the discredited economics of Milton Friedman.

Monetarism died in the late 1980s. Reaganomics and Thatcherism have run their course. And the Tories have run out of candidates for prime minister so they’re recycling old ones like Johnson and Rishi Sunak.

Hurrah for socialism and down with neoliberalism!

Jewish Left-Wing Song – March of the Jobless Corps/ Arbetslozer Marsh

May 4, 2022

More Jewish music from the left. This comes from the Klezmer group of Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, one the Oriente Musik YouTube channel. It bitterly attacks the corporate rich and the culpability for mass unemployment in America. It talks about how the factories have been closed down, ‘there’s no manufacturing in the land’, workers are being made made hungry and homeless, living in tents and subsisting on bread and water while lazy CEOs guzzle fine wine. It also attacks useless unions, for taking the dues from the workers but not standing up for them, so all their work goes in making goods for the rich. This is repeated in Yiddish, and the final verse ends with an optimistic look for a new, just land where everyone has work.

The video shows the band marching and dancing through abandoned factories, meeting solitary workers doing carpentry or working at a sewing machine, before people finally come together for a stately traditional Jewish dance.

It’s an excellent riposte to the racist nonsense that Jews are all rich businessmen, somehow responsible for the evils of modern capitalism. This is the real, murderous anti-Semitic conspiracy theory pushed by Hitler and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Unfortunately, the Blairites in the Labour party didn’t get the message. Remember a few years back when Jezza was leading the party, and one of the female MPs appeared on Radio 4 to blithely declare that socialism was anti-Semitic because it attacked capitalism, which was somehow synonymous with Judaism? That was torn to shreds by the Corbynist left, as it should have been by any decent person who knows their history. Because Hitler and the wretched Protocols also claimed that ‘Marxist socialism’ was also controlled by Jews to enslave Aryans. And Corbyn was supported in the party by a strong Jewish contingent, like Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and Jewish Voice for Labour, who stood for Jewish working people, who like their gentile comrades were worried about deteriorating working conditions, the destruction of the welfare state, cuts to public services and the privatisation of the NHS. Who wondered how they would pay for the social care their elderly parents and relatives needed, and support their families with the wage freeze.

But there also was in Britain are real ‘Jobless Corps’ – the National Union of the Unemployed, which I think was set up by the Communist Party. As part of their protest, they staged a kind of invasion of the Ritz hotel in London. They went in and ordered a meal. Of course, as working people they weren’t welcome in such an exclusive establishment. They replied by pointing out that plenty of the rich also went down and had their meals in cafes in the working class parts of the capital. They called this ‘slumming it’, but the protesters said they were perfectly welcome there, just as they should be in the Ritz.

We’re supposed to have the lowest unemployment rate for years, but I don’t trust official figures. They’ve been fiddle too often. One of the problems is that they only count people receiving benefit. This obviously doesn’t include the masses who’ve been thrown off thanks to the sanctions system. And it doesn’t count the underemployed, like the poor souls on zero hours contracts, who are effectively unemployed when their employers don’t need ’em.

Perhaps we need a revival of the idea of unemployed workers’ unions, that will attack current neoliberal capitalism and the Thatcherites and Reaganites who are doing their best to prop it up to deprive ordinary people of properly paying work for their own profits.

Mark Steyn also Misses the Point about David Amess’ Assassination

April 19, 2022

Ali Harbi Ali, the assassin responsible for the murder of Tory MP David Amess, was tried last week and duly found guilty. There really couldn’t be any doubt, as the thug didn’t try to run away or deny his crime. He was caught bang to rights. His sentencing elicited due comment from various politicos and members of the media class, one of whom was Mark Steyn. Steyn’s a right-winger with a strong hatred of Islam. He has been on various far right news media, giving viewers the benefit of his opinion on Islam. I don’t know if he was ever on Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media, a Canadian internet broadcaster with miniscule rating and a very anti-Islam attitude, but it wouldn’t surprise me. He was, however, out in New Hampshire sharing the airwaves with Reaganite blowhard Rush Limbaugh on his station. That was before Limbaugh finally gave up the ghost and left this Earth. Now he appears occasionally on GB News. As he did a few days ago, to criticise mainly Labour politicians for failing to mention the elephant in the room: that the motivation behind Amess’ murder was Islam and its hatred of the west.

The Labour politicos had put the blame on a number of factors. These included a generally increasingly confrontational and violent attitude towards politicians and intolerance towards anybody who doesn’t share the same points of view. The evidence for this is the abusive messages, including threats of death, rape and violence, sent to MPs. Others also tried to put it into some kind of context by placing it with the various other assassination and assassination attempts that have occurred. The most notable of these was Jo Cox’s murder by a White nationalist, but there was also the attempt on the life of Lib Dem MP a few years ago by a maniac with a samurai sword, which claimed the life of one of his staff. But Steyn considered that all this missed the point, and dishonoured Amess’ memory because the motive behind his killer was abundantly clear: he was a Muslim seeking to kill an infidel. He’d marched up and down looking for victims before finally deciding on Amess.

But Steyn’s analysis of his motives also misses the point. Harbi Ali wasn’t simply motivated by the bigot’s hatred of the unbeliever. No, he said that he was moved to do what he did in order to protect Muslims from being killed by the west. And this supports William Blum’s observations behind the animosity towards the West in the Dar al-Islam. Blum was a long-term, bitter critic of American imperialism and its many wars. He states in one of his books that the world’s Muslims don’t hate us because they envy our freedoms or any of the other explanations offered by the right. He states that the reason they hate us is simply because we keep invading their countries. And he supports this with polling stats and comments from various authorities and Muslim spokespeople.

I don’t doubt he’s right. Bush and Blair’s wars have devastated Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, all of which seem to have been waged partly for geopolitical purposes, as well as the benefit of the oil industry and western multinationals. Hundreds of thousands have been killed in the Middle East, and millions displaced. Such aggression is going to leave much hatred behind it amongst those on the receiving end.

But a left Labour party Zoom event against imperialism remarked about a year ago that the people and forces behind these imperialist wars seem to be trying to stage a comeback. And these invasions were all sold to the British and American public as a response to an imminent threat – true in the case of Afghanistan after 9/11, a complete lie in the case of Iraq and the imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction – and as liberating these benighted nations from evil tyrants. We were going to give them freedom and democracy. But this hasn’t worked. In the case of Afghanistan, it created the massively corrupt government of Hamid Karzai, who was determined to screw as much as he could out of his countrymen before scarpering to America when it all came tumbling down.

There are real problems with Islam. I’ve recently blogged about the appearance of bigoted, reactionary mullahs appearing on Islamic networks preaching jihad and the enslavement of unbelievers, despite two centuries or so of abolitionist preaching and legislation by Muslim anti-slavery activists. Fanatical imams have preached intolerance towards non-Muslims and gays in British and western mosques to the serious concern of many bog-standard, ordinary British Muslims. Several times worshippers at these mosques tried to alert the authorities, only to find themselves ignored. But that obviously doesn’t mean that there is a problem with the religion as a whole. As we’ve been reminded, the actions of terrorists don’t represent Muslims as a whole.

But the motive behind Amess’ murder wasn’t simply ‘Islam’. It was outrage at the deaths in the Muslim world that resulted from the west’s wars and invasions. Amess didn’t deserve to be killed, and Ali Harbi Ali certainly deserves to be sent to prison and not get out. But it needs to be realised what his motives were. And by simply blaming Islam, Steyn very definitely misses the point. Some of this is almost certainly because of his own deep hostility to Islam. But another reason may be that if he mentions it and gives it the discussion it deserves, it would cast serious doubt on the wisdom and effectiveness of further such actions and wars in the future.

And we can’t have that. Not when the west’s ability to put fear and awe into the rest of the world, and the interests of the oil industry and multinationals like Haliburton are at stake.

Leaked Applebee’s Memo about Using the Cost of Living Crisis to Exploit Employees

March 25, 2022

A few days ago the Chris Hedge’s Fan Club posted a leaked memo from Applebee’s which definitely shows that in the current economic crisis, we are definitely not ‘all in it together’. Chris Hedges is a powerful left-wing American journalist and broadcaster. I think he might be an ordained Presbyterian minister. Certainly his father was, before he was thrown out by his congregation for backing gay rights. This was obviously at a time when the gay rights movement was just beginning and still massively controversial. Hedge’s himself was one of the few journalists to cover the wars in Central America in the 1980s from the front line, and he has talked about the atrocities committed by Fascist groups like the Contras in Nicaragua. This were the same Fascist death squads and torturers to whom Reagan sold arms and provided other aid, while allowing them to finance their campaigns of terror by exporting cocaine to America. Where it helped further devastate desperately poor Black Americans. The same butchers Reagan declared were the ‘moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers’. Some patriotic Americans could feel their country was being insulted. Other left-wingers might be more worried that it’s true.

A few days ago the YouTube channel devoted to him and his analysis of capitalism and contemporary politics got hold of a leaked memo from Applebee’s. We don’t have it in this country, but I gather that it’s a chain of restaurants across the Pond. The memo talked about using the current crisis, with petrol prices rising and inflation expected to explode generally, as an opportunity for treating people badly. ‘Because their desperate’.

This is grubby, and I realise that not all businesses are like it. But this is the predatory face of capitalism, and unfortunately it’s companies like this that are bankrolling the political parties on both sides of the Atlantic. The right regard capitalism as patriotic, but there is nothing patriotic about this. It’s anti-social profiteering, pure and simple.

We need to end corporate donations in politics, and drive through legislation to protect workers and consumers from such cynical exploitation.

Sting Reprises 80s Anti-Nuclear Song against War in Ukraine

March 14, 2022

A few days ago I put up the YouTube video of Punk legends Toyah Wilcox’s and Robert Fripp’s song of support for Ukraine against Putin’s invasion. Sting has also posted on YouTube a version of his 80s hit ‘Russians’ as a protest against Putin’s bloody invasion of ‘a peaceful and unthreatening neighbour’. It’s dedicated not just to the Ukrainians but also to the many Russians protesting against the war, and is once again a plea for our children and our common humanity.

Sting released ‘Russians’ right in the middle of the new Cold War under Thatcher and Reagan, when it seemed all too possible that a nuclear war would erupt to end humanity and destroy our lovely and beautiful planet. It was partly based on a theme from Prokofiev and urged everyone to protect their children against the nuclear threat. One of its lines is ‘How can I protect my little boy/ From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?’ with the refrain ‘Believe me when I say to you, do the Russians love their children too?’ It also reminded both sides that ‘We share the same biology regardless of ideology’. It was a powerful, heartfelt song that reflected the deep fears and hopes of millions across the world at the time.

Sting states that he hasn’t really played it since because it wasn’t really relevant. Horrifically, it is now, with Putin threatening to launch nukes if NATO gets involved. I find Sting’s piece profoundly moving, but I’m also furious with the way geopolitics has gone in eastern Europe in the forty or so years since this was written. Reagan was an arch-reactionary who supported every bloody Fascist dictator that disgraced Latin America in his campaign against Communism. But together he and Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Cold War. Communism fell and the former Soviet satellites went their own way. And in the former Soviet Union, Gorbachev did his best to transform the Stalinist Communism of the Soviet state into something genuinely good and progressive. He wanted to introduce democracy and multiparty elections, ended the persecution of religion, and wished to create a mixed economy in which state and private enterprise existed alongside each other. But he also wished to create a new class of genuine cooperatives, where the workers would hire and fire management. He wanted Russia to join the rest of the world in the Green movement and tackling environmental issues as well fully support human rights. And as the Berlin Wall came down, thousands of people from the former eastern bloc came over here to work and run businesses.

Terrible things were still being done across the world, including the first Gulf War, which was also really about oil rather than freeing Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. But the Fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War made it that bit better. For all the claims that socialism was dead and that free market capitalism would now reign unchallenged at the ‘end of history’, it was still an optimistic time. It looked like the world had finally put that part of the nuclear threat behind us and that we could look forward to a future without any more fears of another Cuban missile crisis or similar armaggeddon.

And now I feel that all that hope and promise has been squandered through great power interference and Putin’s warmongering. Well, damn this! I want the world to go back to how it was before all this erupted.

Bring back Gorbachev!

Love and peace to everyone protesting against the war, and especially to those in Russia. May peace come soon.

Children’s Literature and Non-Binary Indoctrination

January 19, 2022

One of the issues that concerns the opponents of the trans ideology is the massive expansion of the number of people identifying as trans or non-binary. Before the emergence of the trans craze a few years ago, there were relatively few trans people coming forward each year for treatment and these were mainly men. Now the number has dramatically increased and the majority of those now identifying as members of the opposite sex are young women. For writers and researchers like Abigail Shrier, this indicates that this is not a natural development but a social phenomenon, comparable to the growth of anorexia amongst girls and young women in the 1970s.

At the same time the number of young Americans declaring themselves to be gay has also expanded. Whereas the number of gay people in a population across the world was about 6 per cent, 3 per cent gay men, 3 per cent lesbian women, it’s now increased in the younger generation to 30 per cent. The gay American Conservative YouTuber, Matt Walsh, and Arielle Scarcella, a lesbian critic of the trans ideology on YouTube, have made videos about this. Walsh put it down to the ideological promotion of gayness by the woke, while Scarcella in her video considered that it was due to a massive mental health crisis amongst America’s kids. I think this is quite likely. The present generation of young people are facing worse lives and lower living conditions than their parents due to the Thatcherism and Reaganomics the previous generations embraced. The welfare net is being destroyed, right to work legislation in America has decimated the unions as has similar legislation over here, wages have stagnated while the cost of living is rising. Youngsters are encouraged to go for a college education, but the fees and costs are now exorbitant so that many will be saddled with debt for life. When I was at Bristol uni doing the Ph.D. ten years ago, i heard of American students saying that because of the money they were spending on their education, they would never be able to own property. Thatcher sold Brits the dream of owning their own homes when she sold off the council houses. That dream has turned sour, so that there is a massive housing crisis, not least due to the prohibition on building further council housing and a lack of genuine affordable housing. The pressures of the Covid lockdown, the isolation it has caused as well as job insecurity and further poverty, as the furlough cut incomes to 80 per cent of what they were and people are naturally worried about whether their jobs and businesses will survive, has increased this pressure. It’s no surprise that the medical authorities in Britain are reporting an alarming increase in anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.

It also seems to me to be quite likely that these pressures might lead some people to obsess over their sexuality, especially if gayness is presented as a positive, attractive identity. One of the gay critics of the trans movement a while ago commented on the adoption of the ‘queer’ identity by straight people. He felt that it was being taken up by them, even though they weren’t really gay, because they were allies and wanted to be part of the LGBTQ community. I wonder if something similar is going on with the people, who now identify of gay. In some parts of contemporary popular culture, gay people are depicted as virtuous victims of straight persecution. See the Batwoman tv series, for example, and the type of ‘SJW’ comics denounced by right-wingers like Ethan van Sciver of Comicsgate infamy. The positive depiction of gays in comics and popular culture in itself isn’t unreasonable. It’s no doubt much better now, but I remember the vicious homophobia of the 1980s. I am also not suggesting that people can choose the sexuality. What I am suggesting is that, in the absence of other ways to express their pain and distress, some young people may become convinced they’re gay as that’s the only way to respond to the terrible pressures put on them. It’s the only way they feel they can respond to their sense of persecution by a hostile, social and economic environment.

But I also believe that ideological indoctrination also plays a part. James Lindsay has shown that the Queer Theory underpinning the modern trans movement is not about helping gay and trans people deal with their problems or find a place in existing bourgeois capitalist society. Rather it’s about increasing their mental problems in order to create unstable, angry personalities susceptible to radical Marxist indoctrination. And even if this is not the aim, popular culture does seem to be playing a part.

Clive Simpson is a gay, anti-trans YouTuber. He posted a disturbing video a few days ago about a little American girl, Chloe, who has now decided that she’s non-binary and wishes to be known as Clarke, with the corresponding changes in gender expression. This came after her mother was reading a book to her, which was intended to explain non-binary people. It said that some people are boys, some are girls, and some don’t believe they’re either boys or girls. The child said that was her, and that was how she felt.

Simpson cites a medical paper on the development of children’s sexual identities. It states that they usually develop it by age three, but it may not become fixed until they are seven. So some children’s gender identity is rather fluid until it naturally settles down. The book the mother was reading from was aimed at 4-8 year olds.

If the paper is correct, then the mother may have intentionally done immense harm to her daughter’s psycho-sexual development. What might have been merely a passing phase that many children go through has now been turned into a permanent identity, with the sense of alienation from society and one’s own biology this may bring.

I can understand the mother wishing to teach her daughter the same liberal values she holds, but it appears from this that teaching children about such issues so young may harm the child’s own psychology.

It would be much better if this was left later to an age when the child could understand it without it undermining their own gender identity.