Posts Tagged ‘Stalinism’

Arbitrary Detention in Fascist Italy and the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition’s Secret Courts

March 17, 2019

Fascism was, from its very origins in 1919 an aggressive, violent movement that sought to destroy and suppress its opponents. But the creation of the Fascist police state was only really created in November 1926 with the passage of the legge di pubblica sicurezza, or Public Safety Law. This was introduced by the former Nationalist politician Alfredo Rocco, who declared

The function of public security is no longer to be considered as something exceptional, in conflict with the dogma of individual liberty as the foundation and aim of society. It is, on the contrary, to be judged as one of the primary functions of the activity of the state…. It is therefore an activity whose exercise cannot be obstructed by absurd preconceptions.

This allowed the Fascist parties to arrest and send into internal exile and confinement people who were only suspected of subversion without legal representation or redress. And it followed legislation originally passed by the liberal Italian state, which Mussolini and his thugs had overthrown.

I found this description of the law, its effects and its liberal origins in Adrian Lyttelton’s The Seizure of Power: Fascism in Italy 1919-1929 (London: George Weidenfeld and Nicolson Lt: 2nd Edition 1987). pp. 298-9. After the above quotation from Rocco, Lyttelton writes

With this flat repudiation of all doctrines of natural law or individual rights went the abolition of all distinctions between the State as a permanent entity and the Government of the moment. The safety of Fascism and the safety of the State were treated as identical.

In accordance with these premises, all vestiges of the responsibility of the executive for its actions were annulled. The citizen was left without redress; the police were no longer required to produce reasons to justify the imposition of restrictions on liberty. The police authority, for example, enjoyed absolute discretion in granting authorization to form associations or to exercise certain professions: ‘consequently the citizen has no right to obtain authorization, or – having obtained it – to keep it.

The institution of confino made possible the internal exile and confinement to an enforced domicile, for a period of up to five years, of those suspected of the intention of engaging in subversive activity. The procedures governing the operation of the confino were especially arbitrary. the decision to commit suspects to the confino was taken by a provincial committee presided over by the Prefect; the only appeal was to a committee headed by the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior. The accused could be arrested at once, before their appeal was heard, and they were not allowed either to employ a lawyer or to summon witnesses in their defence. The jurisdiction of the magistracy was entirely excluded. Moreover these unpredictable and arbitrary procedures gave an opportunity for the party to interfere. It was usually the party which denounced suspects, and on occasion local leaders, like Carlo Scorza in Lucca, used the mechanism of confino to deal with their personal enemies. it is true that regular imprisonment could not be inflicted by administrative order, as in some totalitarian regimes. The Special Tribunal set up to judge ‘crimes against the State’, which had the power to inflict the death penalty, preserved legal forms, even if the composition of the court made these a very slight safeguard.

Unfortunately the creation of the Police state in Italy was much assisted by the inadequacy of the guarantees for liberty provided under the parliamentary system. The Fascist regime was able to build upon established institutions and precedents. Confino itself was an inheritance from the Liberal State: though domicilio coatto, as it was then known, was originally intended for use against the Mafia, the camorra and brigandage, governments soon gave way to the temptation to use the weapon against political suspects. However under Giolitti the application of domicilio coatto had been confined to professional criminals. In other respects, too, the procedures of the Liberal state had left much room for arbitrary police action. The sweeping emergency measures of January 1925 were legitimized by the vague and undefined powers given to the Prefects under article 3 of the existing communal and provincial law. The power of fermo, or preventative arrest, had always been much abused, and the attempt of the 1912 penal code to introduce the rule of habeas corpus had not been a success; the police and other officials were in practice almost entirely immune from prosecution for excess or abuse of their powers. Even the sanctions of public opinion and parliamentary discussion, though effective in securing new political liberties after 1900, were usually powerless to check the more humdrum abuse of official authority. Nor can the trouble be traced exclusively to official attitudes, the truth is that to a vast number of the Italian people, especially in the backward rural areas, the informal exercise of power to keep the peace, based on tradition or practical intuition, appeared more comprehensible than the workings of the law, which were slow, cumbersome, and bore little relation to real needs.

This is very much, however, the kind of situation that may arise through the legislation the Tory -Lib Dem coalition signed in, which introduces secret courts. Similar legislation was also introduced, or mooted, by that famous Labour moderate and Centrist politician, Tony Blair. Under this legislation in the interests of national security you may be arrested without know the charges against you, and tried in a court from which the press and public have been excluded. You may not know who the witnesses are, and evidence may be withheld from you and your lawyers. It’s the kind of kangaroo court like the perverted judicial systems of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. And very similar to the quasi-judicial proceedings the Labour party has been using to throw out those accused of anti-Semitism. That passage describing the operation of a similar judicial system in Fascist Italy shows the immense dangers in giving such vast, arbitrary power to the police and the State.

We haven’t got to that stage quite yet, but the Fascist system’s precedents in the domicilio coatto of the liberal Italian state and its acceptance by a large section of the Italian public also shows how such repressive measures can be easily introduced to a public, which has been prepared for it by a relatively free state. Just as the introduction of the secret court legislation and the hysteria whipped up by the press about the threat of terrorism could easily prepare the British public for something much closer to the police states of Fascist Italy, Nazi German and Stalinist communism later.

By introducing and supporting secret courts, Blair, the Tories and the Lib Dems have shown that they are enemies of democracy. They have to be thoroughly rejected. If we want a genuinely free and democratic Britain, the only choice is to vote for a socialist Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn. 

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Glen Beck and Weird Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories

March 11, 2019

Tony Greenstein has today, 11th March 2019, put up a piece on his blog about the stupid, right-wing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories surrounding the billionaire financier George Soros. Soros is the man, who caused the collapse of the Pound in Black Wednesday in the 1990s back when John Major was running the country. He’s now a hate figure of both the anti-Semitic right and Israel and its supporters because he sponsors liberal organisations and pro-democracy groups through his Open Society Foundation. Viktor Orban and his vehemently anti-Semitic and racist Fidesz party hate him with a passion because he funds generally liberal organisations in Hungary. And Netanyahu and the Israelis also despise him, because he hates Zionism. Soros is a Jewish Hungarian, and Hungarian Jews were sold out during the Second World War by Rudolf Kasztner, the leader of the Hungarian Zionist organisation. Kasztner made a deal with the Nazis to have tens of thousands of Jews sent to the death camps, in exchange for some going to Israel. Soros, as part of his commitment to democracy, also funds liberal organisations in Israel, like the Human Rights organisation B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. The latter is a organisation of Israeli veterans, who testify to the atrocities they’ve participated in and witnessed. Both the Israelis and the American and European Far Right demonise Soros using the old, anti-Semitic trope of the Jewish capitalist puppet master. Greenstein’s article describes the links between Orban and Netanyahu’s regimes, which are united in their hatred of the financier, and how the anti-Semitic trope used against Soros has been repeated in the British right-wing press, like the Scum and the Torygraph. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which is fanatical in its attempt to find any signs of anti-Semitism amongst Corbyn and his supporters, defends these articles, stating that they’re not anti-Semitic, they’re just poorly-worded. It’s a massive piece of hypocrisy, as they would not have extended the same grace to anyone from the Left. Of course, the difference is that the Torygraph, unlike Corbyn, doesn’t support the Palestinians.

But some of the most interesting material in the article isn’t about Soros, but about the former Fox News presenter Glenn Beck. Beck’s a small-government Conservative, whose views are so right-wing that he seemed to see any kind of collectivism or state intervention as the thin end of Nazism or Stalinism. He was also so highly emotional, that in his broadcasts he’d become increasingly hysterical, until in some of them he’d start crying because ‘they’ would be coming for him when they finally set up their Communist, anti-Christ, one-world dictatorship. Greenstein’s article is interesting as it describes how Beck was eventually sacked by Fox because he made several programmes promoting anti-Semitic conspiracies theories about George Soros and Jewish international bankers. But this didn’t stop him being given a rapturous greeting when he visited Israel, including by vehemently anti-Christian Kahanist – Israeli Fascist – politicos. Greenstein writes

The same was true of Glenn Beck a Fox News presenter. Beck devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about bankers, including the Rothschilds and he hosted  G. Edward Griffin, a conspiracy theorist who believes that the Protocols “accurately describes much of what is happening in our world today.”

Beck was eventually sacked from his job at Fox because of his increasingly crazy anti-Semitic conspiracy theories but not however before he had broadcast two programmes about Soros the puppet master‘.

On the June 4 Glenn Beck Program, Beck praised Elizabeth Dilling whose 1936 book, The Red Network: A “Who’s Who”and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots, declared that ‘the problem of the large number of revolutionary Russian Jews in Germany doubtless contributed toward making Fascist Germany anti-Semitic.” Her belief that Talmudic Judaism is the progenitor of modem Communism and Marxist collectivism’is a classic Nazi theme. Dilling’s third book,The Octopus, published in 1940, emphasized the Jewish-communist conspiracy, the key component of the Nazi world outlook.

Dilling, spoke of Ike the kike and Kennedy’s New Frontier as the “Jew Frontier.” None of this prevented Beck being given the rare privilege of being invited to address Israel’s Knesset. Beck’s reception was akin to a “rock concert.” MK Michael ben-Ari, a Kahanist (who had previously torn up a copy of the New Testament) said after Beck had addressed the Knesset, “I think Glenn Beck should take my seat in the Knesset.”  Like most anti-Semites Beck combined support for Zionism and Israel with hatred of Jews. 

This is new to me, as while I was aware that Beck had some very right-wing views, I didn’t realise he had strayed into genuine anti-Semitic conspiracy theories or was promoting some of the most influential writers pushing them. This is more evidence that while the Israel lobby screams ‘anti-Semitism!’ at any liberal, who dares to criticise Israel, even if they’re actually supporters of the country, the real anti-Semites are all on the right, and particularly the Far Right.

Another fascinating piece of information in the article, which show how topsy-turvy the views of the Israel lobby are, is this little bit about how Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, came to suspect that Trump’s aide, Steve Bannon, was an anti-Semite. He complained that Kushner wasn’t tough enough in his defence of Israel.

See: http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/03/george-soros-spider-at-centre-of-world.html

For Netanyahu, the Likudniks and the other viciously racist parties in his coalition, you’re only racist if you don’t support Israel. And they appeal so much to genuine anti-Semites, that members of the Israel lobby in America – Kushner has extensive business interests in the Occupied Territories – that they secretly believe that Israel’s most passionate defenders have to be anti-Semites.

And this is the skewed mindset of the people vilifying genuine anti-racists like Jeremy Corbyn, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Mike, Martin Odoni, Tony Greenstein and others as anti-Semites!

RT Footage of Workers’ Protests against Trump and Japanese Prime Minister

November 6, 2017

RT has put up this short clip of less than a minute in length, showing workers demonstrating in Tokyo against Donald Trump, who has gone on an official visit of their country, and their Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

The brief description for the video runs

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tokyo on Sunday in occasion of the 20th National Worker’s Meeting, to protest against the policies of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the visit of US President Donald Trump.
Protesters contested Abe’s economic plans in the realm of company privatisation, the country’s nuclear power policies and the US troops’ presence in Japan among other things.

The marchers bang drum, and as well as carrying placards, many of them also wear headbands bearing slogan. Some of the placards have the slogans in English ‘No War’, ‘No Poverty’, ‘No Trump’. Trump and Abe are hanged in effigy, and there’s a performance in which a man, masked and dressed as Trump, is attacked and buried under cardboard boxes, bearing the words ‘War’, ‘Poverty’, ‘Kairoshi’. I’ve no idea what the last means, except it’s probably a very Japanese concept describing some godawful aspect of the present administration.

I am really not at all surprised that Japanese working people are protesting. As is notorious, they work extremely hard, but the continuing problems of the Japanese economy mean that people are being laid off, and there is very little in the way of a state welfare system to support them. A few years ago the BBC did a piece on the current state of the Japanese economy, and showed some of the victims living in tents under a bridge. One of these poor homeless souls came up to explain a few things to the programme’s host. According to the presenter, it was a bitter complaint about the government and the economy.

I am also not at all surprised at their anger against Trump. The orange buffoon’s aggressive stance towards North Korea, threatening to go to nuclear war with the Stalinist thug, is obviously going to frighten a nation that stands pretty much in the firing line. The last missile North Korea lobbed in America’s direction overflew them. The Japanese people probably remember only too well the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and are all too horrified by the prospect of a repeat.

The presence of American troops in Japan, where there’s a base on the island of Okinawa, is another major source of irritation. You may remember that there were also massive demonstrations against it a few years ago. I think that while the Cold War was on and Communism remained a threat, real or perceived, the Japanese were prepared to accept it. But now the Japanese, or at least a sizable part of them, see it as American occupation.

RT Video of South Korean Anti-Trump Peace Protest

November 5, 2017

This is a short video from RT of a peace rally that is going on in South Korea ahead of Donald Trump’s visit to that country. It’s quite a colourful occasion. The demonstrators hold up placards in both English and Korean. The slogans in English include ‘No Trump, No War’, ‘Trump, Shut Up’, ‘No Trump, No Racism’ and ‘Peace Please’. There’s a group of drummers there, and at one point there’s also a group of young women wearing candle costumes with their heads enfolded in hats representing flames. There’s also a big screen, which shows footage of Trump threatening to destroy North Korea utterly, with subtitles, which gets a gasp of very strong disapproval from the crowd.

I really am not at all surprised that the people of South Korea are demonstrating against Trump and his threats of starting a war with Kim Jong-Un. North and South Korea used to be parts of the same country, after all, even if the North is under a brutal, Stalinist dictatorship. And if Trump does start a war with North Korea, it’ll be the South and Japan which stand the most chance of being incinerated in the ensuing holocaust.

Vox Political: Jackie Walker’s Response to Anti-Semitism Smears on ‘Free Speech on Israel’

October 4, 2016

Mike has put up another important piece about the anti-Semitism smears against Jackie Walker. Mrs Walker has written a long piece explaining her attitude and comments on the website Free Speech on Israel, to which Mike’s attention was directed by one of the people he was talking to on Twitter.

In the pieces Mike has reposed, Mrs Walker explains her comments linking the Jews to the transatlantic slave trade. She states that she was trying to make the point that there are no hierarchies of genocide, and that her people were involved in both sides of the slave trade. She is Black and Jewish, and noted that the Jews also played a role in financing the slave trade, hence the number of early synagogues in the Caribbean. She also makes the point that it was the Christian rulers of Spain and Portugal, who massacred and expelled the Jews from their kingdoms, and that it was overwhelmingly Christian kingdoms and empires that profited from the kidnap, enslavement and murder of Africans. She states that she is perfectly happy to correct the different impression her Facebook comments made. She also makes the important statement

“The shame is, at a time when antisemitism has been weaponised and used against certain sections of the Labour Party, nobody asked me before rushing to pin the racist and antisemitic label on me.”

She says that she is perfectly willing to change her views if they are shown to be wrong in future. But she did not state, as the Jewish Chronicle claims she did, that Jews played a disproportionate part in the slave trade. She makes the point instead, quoting the historian Arnold Wiznitzer, that at that time and place the Jews were also involved in financing the sugar and slave trade. She also quotes the historians Kagan and Morgan as describing the Jews as a stateless minority within the European empires, but who also played a key role in expanding them. She also cites Jonathan Israel on the peculiar position of the Jews as both the victims and agents of empire.

Mike’s quotes from her conclude with this paragraph:

“This was the point I was attempting to make on Facebook, in a comic-strip, abbreviated, inadequate, deficient sort of conversational way. This was my point, as the Israel Advocacy Movement could see even as they decided to weaponise my words. No peoples have a monopoly of suffering or virtue. No peoples are special or free of the complexity of history. That is as true in the Middle East now as it ever was anywhere, in all places, with all peoples, across the diversity of our globe and so it will remain until, and unless, we achieve the goal of all internationalists – the liberation of humanity.”

Mike states in his comments that ‘certain…elements’ have tried to claim that Mrs Walker’s comments on the Jews and slave trade came from those of the head of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan made speeches in the 1990s claiming that the slave trade was basically the fault of the Jews. Mike has challenged those claiming that Walker’s views are the same as Farrakhan’s to show him how they are linked. Mike notes that they have not done so.

The article’s at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/10/03/jackie-walker-responds-to-accusations-of-antisemitism-free-speech-on-israel/

Please go and read this article. Mrs Walker clearly is very well-informed about the slave trade and Jewish involvement in it, as well as the complex nature of European imperialism, and the historiography of both. It is a fact that the global European empires also frequently used subaltern peoples as part of the mechanism of imperial expansion and exploitation. The slave trade was immensely profitable, and so it not only involved White Europeans, but Muslim Arabs and Black Africans. Recognising this should not be considered anti-African, anti-Arab or islamophobic, any more than noting that some Jews were involved in the transatlantic slave trade, should make one an anti-Semite, provided that this is kept within the bounds of historical fact. And Jackie Walker has done just that. She has not done what Louis Farrakhan, and which some White Nazis and members of the At Right do, and made Jews, or Africans, or Muslims solely responsible for the slave trade, or accused them of playing the major role in it.

She is clearly not an anti-Semite. Rather, she has shown that she possesses a critical intelligence, which is not satisfied with facile simplifications of complex issues. And that makes her a danger. She has been targeted, in my view, because she is like the very many Jews and people of Jewish heritage, who do not accept the simplistic message promoted by the Israel lobby that the immense suffering of the Jewish people in the Holocaust and throughout history justifies their brutalisation and oppression, in turn, of the Palestinians. Authoritarian regimes of all shades, from Fascists and Nazis to the Stalinist Communists, cannot stand people, who dare to think for themselves. This is why free speech, and the ability to say things that others might consider offensive, is so vital for genuinely humane, democratic societies. The Right likes to attack politically correct speech codes, saying ‘No-one has the right not to be offended.’ They will also quote Orwell on the importance of telling truths people don’t want to hear. Both of these statements are correct, if you’re telling the truth. They trivialise both of these aphorisms, because they take them as giving them licence to sneer at women and ethnic minorities, and insist on traditional hierarchies of race and gender. But those two comments go much further than that. Orwell, for all his hatred of totalitarianism and Communism, was an anti-imperialist and Socialist. During the Spanish Civil War he fought for the non-Marxist Socialist faction, POUM, and was strongly impressed by the achievements of the anarchist movement, which he described in Homage to Catalonia. The Young Turks have pointed out time and again that for all their sneering at political correctness and ‘safe spaces’, it is the Right, who are the worst at invoking political correctness to silence speech that is offensive to them.

And this is what the Likudniks of the Jewish Labour Movement and the Israel lobby have tried to do to Mrs Walker. Like the American Right with its shouts of ‘Political correctness’ and denunciations of laws against ‘hate speech’, they are hypocritically using perceived offensiveness to try to silence and stifle genuine historical and political debate, in order to present a simplistic, carefully sanitised and politically useful view of history.

This is to be resisted, and resisted to the utmost. The distorters of history, who use carefully crafted falsifications to justify their own brutality, cannot be allowed to win, regardless of who they are and who they claim to represent. We need to be supporting Jackie Walker, and those like her, who are not satisfied with the easy answers of totalitarian propaganda, and who stand for genuine Socialist internationalism against militaristic nationalism posing as its opposite.