Posts Tagged ‘Tom Pride’

The Euthanasia of the Elderly in Stephen Baxter’s ‘Titan’

July 18, 2017

A few days ago I put up a post about the nightmare, alternative future described by the British SF novelist Stephen Baxter in his novel, Titan. Baxter’s a writer of hard SF, a subgenre in which the fiction is nevertheless grounded in solid, known science fact, though often with an element of artistic license. Titan was written in 1995, and is partly set in the decaying America of the first decades of the 21st century. A militantly anti-science president, Maclachlan, has been elected with the support of the Ku Klux Klan and Christian fundamentalists. Maclachlan shuts down NASA for good after a shuttle disaster. The launch complexes are closed down. Those that aren’t demolished become simply tourist attractions, as do the agency’s headquarters and mission control. One of these, a museum to the Apollo moon landings, is altered so that it promotes instead the spiritual experiences many of the astronauts did have during their missions. Maclachlan also introduces legislation demanding that only the Aristotelian cosmology of Thomas Aquinas, with its crystal spheres, is taught in schools. What is left of the agency is given over to the USAF under the paranoid and nationalistic General Hartle, who is very much like the rogue American General Jack D. Ripper in Stanley Kubrick’s classic nuclear black comedy, Doctor Strangelove.

Against this, the agency attempts to launch one last, great space mission, a crewed voyage to Titan, where the Cassini probe has found evidence of active biological chemistry.

I commented in my post on the remarkable similarity between the policies of the fictional Maclachlan and Donald Trump. Maclachlan is fiercely nationalistic, and withdraws American peacekeepers from their stations around the globe, as well as pulling America out of NAFTA and the various other free trade agreements. America also pulls out of the World Bank and the IMF, and the UN is kicked out of New York. Like the real anti-Semites of the America Far Right, Maclachlan believes that the US is under ‘Israeli occupation’. Maclachlan also dismantles the country’s welfare programmes, especially those benefiting Blacks and other minorities, and starts building a wall with Mexico.

He also devises a policy to deal with America’s increasingly aging society: euthanasia chambers for the unwanted or neglected elderly. These are euphemistically called ‘Happy Booths’. There’s a very touching scene in which the last, fictitious surviving Apollo spaceman, Marcus White, is gassed to death in one of these chambers by a couple of nurses, who are every bit as malign as Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. By this time, however, White is so confused with dementia, that he is lost in the delusion that he is back as a middle-aged man at NASA in his prime, suiting up and breathing the pure oxygen in preparation for another flight to the Moon.

This is interesting, as it completely turns on its head one of the truly despicable pieces of propaganda the Republicans were running ten years ago to make sure the American public didn’t get single-payer healthcare. Instead, we had Sarah Palin and the rest of the maniacs screaming that the introduction of single-payer healthcare, where all Americans would have free medical treatment financed by the state, would lead to ‘death panels’. Palin herself made a speech about how she didn’t want her children facing them. The idea was under a socialist system, medical care would be rationed. Those individuals deemed to be a waste of state money and resources, such as the elderly, would thus be humanely killed.

It was a disgusting piece of propaganda, based partly on the murder of the disabled in Nazi Germany. The Nazis were also pro-euthanasia, producing propaganda forms with titles such as I Don’t Want to Be Born. It was also based partly on the vile views of some of the founders of the Fabian Society, particularly H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw, who were very much in favour of eugenics and the sterilization of the biologically unfit.

Unfortunately, many Americans were taken in by this bilge. There was a BBC report on the truly horrific state of American healthcare, in which a clinic offering free treatment in California immediately attracted 50,000 + prospective patients. These are the 20 per cent of Americans, who couldn’t afford their private healthcare before the introduction of Obamacare. The Beeb’s reported also attracted the attention of Republican supporters, who’d believed all the rubbish they’d been fed by Palin and her stormtroopers. One of these was an elderly man, who rushed up to the Beeb’s crew and shouted ‘Your healthcare system stinks!’ When they politely asked him how so, he looked confused, and began to mutter about ‘death panels’.

There are no death panels in Britain, or anywhere else with a socialized, or state-funded medical system. As for Germany, state financing of medical treatment for the workers was introduced by Bismarck in the 1870s, nearly fifty years before the Nazis seized power. There is a problem, where dying individuals may be refused treatment of expensive and/or experimental drugs or other procedures on the NHS because the costs far exceed any chance of success. This is very much a controversial issue, as we’ve seen the past week with the parents fighting to send their dying son over to America for treatment. However, there are no death panels.

The ‘Happy Booths’ described in the book are a piece of artistic invention by Baxter. Conventional Christian morality rejects euthanasia for the same reasons it has traditionally ruled out abortion, except in certain very restricted circumstances. This is because both judge that there are certain forms of human beings, such as the unborn and the disabled, who are held not to have the same rights to life. If it is permitted to kill the disabled and the unborn, it is argued, there is a danger that the same attitude will spread to other groups also considered inferior, like the Jews and other ‘untermenschen’ in Nazi Germany. And Baxter is aware of this, as elsewhere in the book he describes how the British relative of one of the astronauts, stricken by CJD or ‘Mad Cow Disease’, is going to a euthanasia clinic even though their parents consider it unchristian.

A president dependent on the support of right-wing Christian fundamentalists would alienate a sizable part of his constituency if he did. What happens instead is that, through its hostility to state medicine and the welfare state, Republican politicians of Maclachlan’s type make it impossible for the poor, severely ill to support themselves. Hence Bernie Sanders’ chilling statistic that 50,000 Americans die each year because they cannot afford private medical treatment.

This is basically the same attitude of Tory party under David Cameron and Theresa May. They have extended the sanctions system and the Work Capability Tests to make it as difficult as possible for the unemployed and the disabled to quality for state support. The result of that has been that researchers at Oxford University found that in 2015 alone, 30,000 people died through the Tories’ austerity policies. And Mike over at Vox Political reported yesterday that, according to the Skwawkbox, there’s a nasty clause in Universal Credit, which means that the claimant has to find a job in two years, or they lose their benefit.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/07/17/uc-gives-disabled-people-just-two-years-to-find-a-job-or-lose-everything/

This is a right-wing ‘genocide of the disabled’, as Mike, Johnny Void, Stilloaks, Tom Pride and the Angry Yorkshireman have said on their blogs, and Jeffrey, one of the great commenters here, has said on this. But it’s carefully hidden. The victims aren’t actually killed, they’re simply left to die. And the few politicos, who dare to call it what it is, are denied their ability to sit in parliament.

On Friday Mike commented on a piece in the Disability News Service about Mr. Jared O’Mara, a disabled Lib Dem MP, who has called the Tories’ policies towards the disabled ‘eugenics’, and stated that they want disabled people to ‘suffer and die’. Mr. O’Mara is to be commended for the way he tried to tackle Iain Duncan Smith, the former head of the DWP and therefore the government’s chief minister responsible for implementing this policy. However, Mr. O’Mara finds it impossible to find anywhere in the House of Commons to sit during debates. There is insufficient seating for all 650 MPs, and there is no form available for disabled MPs to fill in stating that they have particular seating needs. As Mike says, this is all very suspicious.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/07/07/disabled-mp-accuses-tories-of-eugenics-is-that-why-they-wont-let-him-take-a-seat/

As a religious person, I can’t say I’m happy about the anti-religious stance of Titan. I went to a Christian college for my undergraduate degree, and some of the students were Creationists. I am not saying that their literalist reading of the creation story in Genesis is correct, but I have to say that they were, by and large, decent people. Those I met weren’t racists or political extremists, and I know that one or two were actually left-wing. I also can’t say that they were anti-science, outside of the very specific field of evolution. Moreover, since the election of Donald Trump there has been the emergence of a religious Left in America, something which couldn’t have been predicted when Baxter wrote the book back in the 1990s. One of the authors of the collection of articles attacking the Neo-Cons, Confronting the New Conservatism, pointed out that the Neo-Cons were not necessarily going to be politically dominant for ever. Kansas, and many of the other mid-western Republican states, had in the 1920s been centres of the Social Gospel movement, which combined Christianity and Socialism. It’s possible that as more Americans recognize how truly disgusting Trump and his party are, Christians over the other side of the Pond may return to it.

However, Trump and his administration are anti-science. The Republican party is strongly opposed to climate change, and so there has been a concerted attack on environmentalism since Trump took office. Legislation protecting America’s glorious natural heritage has been repealed, and federal scientists responsible for monitoring the environment have been effectively gagged. They may not publish any scientific papers supporting climate change, and the federal agency itself has been effectively gutted.

Titan also portrays a future suffering from global warming and catastrophic climate change, as do very many of the SF novels written during the same decade, such as Bruce Sterling’s Heavy Weather. So far Trump hasn’t wound up NASA, though I don’t doubt that the agency is still under considerable pressure to keep expenses under control. But the real harm is being done by Trump’s deliberate rejection of climate change to appease powerful donors from industry, particularly the Kochs in big oil. This denial of climate change, and that of the other world leaders, will lead to the deaths of millions worldwide. If it hasn’t already.

Theresa May Wants Greater Regulation of the Internet after Terror Attacks

June 6, 2017

Here’s another threat to liberty in the UK: the further expansion of the massive surveillance state erected by New Labour and the Tory-Lib Dem coalition.

After the terrible atrocity in Manchester last week, Theresa May and the Tories demanded greater regulation of the internet in order to crack down on terrorism. At first, this doesn’t look too unreasonable. ISIS and al-Qaeda before it have disseminated their propaganda through the Net. Several British converts, including the stupid schoolgirls, who ran off to the Middle East to be jihadi brides, were drawn to the terrorists through the loathsome beheading videos these butchers put out.

However, there are dangers as well. Further regulation means that the state has greater powers to spy on all of us, and presents a danger to free speech and conscience generally.

In this clip from the David Pakman Show, Pakman and his producer, Patrick Ford, point out the dangers of such legislation. They cite the intelligence whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who made the point that despite the massive expansion in the American surveillance state after 9/11, there is no evidence that the increased policing of the net prevented further terrorist attacks. They also ask their audience to imagine what would happen, if a generation arose, who believed climate change did not exist because all references to it had been scrubbed from the Net, or if the government used its regulation of the Web to whip up support for another war.

Pakman and Ford state clearly that they are afraid we Brits are going down the same road America went down after the attack on the Twin Towers.

Pakman and Ford are absolutely right to be very worried about this. Blair stood for the expansion of the surveillance state in Britain before 9/11, as did John Major, the Tory prime minister before him. And privacy and civil liberties groups have been extremely worried about this intrusion into the lives and private matters of innocent citizens and the threat it poses to genuine freedom.

The terror attack in Manchester was just the latest pretext to take more of our freedoms away. A few years ago it was the threat of paedophilia and pornography. Tom Pride, of Pride’s Purge, found that some of his readers were finding it difficult to view him, because their internet provider had decided that his blog was ‘adult’ and so not suitable for children. The blog is indeed adult, but only in the sense that it’s a political blog, dealing with an adult topic. Which sometimes involves very forthright language from Mr Pride. But it certainly ain’t porn, and its blocking – and those of similar left-wing blogs – looked very much like an attempt by the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers to clamp down on left-wing bloggers.

Just as YouTube has taken the campaign against fake news as the opportune to demonetise left-wing vloggers. This will force left-wing news programmes off YouTube by denying them the advertising money they need to support them.

Britain has some of the harshest anti-terror legislation in Europe. Thanks to Blair, Cameron and Clegg, British law now provides for secret courts, where you can be tried without knowing the precise charges, the evidence against you, or who your accuser is, and where the press and the public are excluded, if the government decides that a normal, public trial would be a threat to national security.

As I’ve pointed out time and again, this is the travesty of justice the great Czech writer, Kafka, described in his book The Trial and The Castle, and which became horrific realities in Nazi Germany and Stalinist USSR.

As Pakman and Ford point out, no-one is arguing that governments shouldn’t have the tools they need to prevent terrorism. But this should not mean a further erosion of civil liberties.

I believe we are very much at that point now.

Don’t let May use the terror attacks to create a totalitarian surveillance state, where the only material allowed on the Net is right-wing, Tory propaganda.

Vote Labour on June 8th for a sensible approach to terrorism.

Pride’s Purge Opens Nominations for 2016 Political Hypocrite of the Year Awards

December 26, 2016

Hi folks! I’ve been leaving off blogging for the past day or so as it’s Christmas, and I’d like to give my readers the opportunity of enjoying the spirit of the season – or Hanukah, for those of them, who may be Jewish – without reminding them of how ghastly and miserable life under this present government is.

However, it’s also at this time of year that the media runs its reviews of the year, looking back over the leading events and personalities of the last 12 months. And so that merry funster Tom Pride has launched his own, end of year competition over at Pride’s Purge! Yes, he’s offering you the chance to vote on a selection of the six toxic personalities and organisations most responsible for the brutal death of satire in 2016.

The nominees are:

* Donald Trump and Nigel Farage
* Anti-NHS Tory MP Daniel Hannan
* Theresa May
* The Scum
* Boris Johnson
* The Daily Heil

If you want to vote, go over to https://tompride.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/nominations-for-biggest-political-hypocrite-of-the-year-awards-2016/
where Tom will also give the reasons for the nominations.

The winner will be announced next week.

All I can say is, so many to choose from. It’s a pity there isn’t a choice for ‘all of the above’.

Backlash to Judges’ Brexit Ruling Reveals Right-Wing Racism and Authoritarianism

November 8, 2016

Last week the Guyanese-born investment banker, Gina Miller, succeeded in her legal action to force the government to open up the decision on the start of the Brexit process to the rest of parliament. Three judges ruled in her favour, and the result has been a tide of right-wing hatred and vilification directed against the lady herself and the judges, who made the ruling. And Nigel Farage, the former leader of UKIP, has come out of the woodwork once more promising to lead a march against the decision.

Mike in his article on the original decision reports personal threats Miller received, including rape, and comments that she should ‘f*** off’ back to her own country, and people telling her that Brits were sick of foreigners telling them what to do. She has also been denounced as a traitor to democracy.

Miller herself hit back at her critics and those, who insulted and threatened her. Mike quotes the press report on this incident, in which she told the International Business Times

“Yes there has been a deluge of hatred and anger but this is because people were lied to in respect to the EU referendum, and because (of) irresponsible figures like Farage and tabloid media who lack any understanding of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law that is the bedrock of our civil society”.

See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/11/04/sad-state-of-britain-someone-stands-up-for-democracy-so-she-gets-racist-abuse/

The reaction of part of the Tory right, and the Daily Mail and Express has been hysterical. On the Beeb’s Question Time, Sajid Javid, who Private Eye suggested looks like The Claw, one of the villains from one of Gerry Anderson’s puppet SF series, went over the top, exclaiming that the ruling was an attempt ‘to thwart the will of the British people’.

The Express, never known for anything like statesmanlike restraint and diplomacy, declared that “Today this country faces a crisis as grave as anything since the dark days when Churchill vowed we would fight them on the beaches.”

See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/11/04/irrational-responses-to-brexit-high-court-ruling/

Not to be outdone in the ultra-patriotism stakes, the Daily Mail put photos of the three judges on its front page along with the screaming headline ‘Enemies of the People’. As Mike, Tom Pride and many others have pointed out, the Heil is never very far from Nazism, and this was another instance where the rag’s headline almost exactly reproduced the propaganda and stance of the Nazi party. The cartoonist Gary Barker put up the image of the Heil’s front page, along with a similar page from one the Nazis’ newspapers, denouncing a line of judges as ‘Volksverrater’. Barker translates this as ‘Enemies of the People: Get Out of the Way of the German People’s Will’. This isn’t quite right. A more literal translation would be ‘Betrayers of the People’ or ‘Race Traitors’ – the German word volk has an ethnic connotation, which the word ‘people’ doesn’t have. The sentence underneath reads something like ‘shoved out of the German racial community’. That’s roughly what the German Volksgemeinschaft means, rather than ‘common people’s will’. Volksgemeinschaft was obviously one of the key planks of Nazi domestic ideology. I don’t know where Barker got the page from, but it looks very much like the Nazi newspaper, Der Sturmer. On its own, Sturmer just means an impetuous fellow. The Nazi newspaper of the same name is infamous as the vehicle through which the Nazis, under the rag’s editor, Julius Streicher, demonised the Jews. Back in the 1980s the goose-steppers in the BNP or NF decided to launch their own version, The Stormer, which was similarly intended to spread hate against Jews and non-Whites. Mike in the title of his article on this appalling headline asks if it is proof that the UK is shifting towards Nazism. I’d say that it was. English doesn’t quite have a word for ‘racial community’ like the Nazis’ Volksgemeinschaft, but the ideology is certainly there on the Tory xenophobic right. Daniel Hannan, the Tory MEP for Devon, who’d like to privatise the NHS, has raved in his column on the Telegraph blogs about ‘the Anglosphere’, meaning the English-speaking world, and there certainly is a tendency in the American Libertarian Right to view this in racial terms. White Anglo-Saxons are inclined towards free trade and small government, according to them, while the Irish and Continental peoples are genetically determined to be the enemies of freedom favouring Socialism and big government. This is despite the fact that Adam Smith based his views on free trade as the foundation of the ‘Wealth of Nations’ on those of the French physiocrats. And the hostility of the Heil and Express to non-White immigration is notorious.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/11/06/is-this-proof-that-uk-politics-is-shifting-towards-nazism/

As for the Fuhrage’s declared intention to lead a mass demonstration of 100,000 outside the high court to protest against the judges’ ruling, Mike states in the title of his piece on it that ‘someone should tell Nigel Farage this is the UK, not Nuremberg’.

A mass rally to oppose democracy? Someone should tell Nigel Farage this is the UK, not Nuremberg

Mike has defended the democratic basis of the judges’ decision, pointing out that far from being traitors to democracy, the judges have upheld it. Their decision does not affect the Brexit decision, which has been settled by the referendum. It does, however, prevent Theresa May and her cabinet from deciding how it is to be implemented solely by herself, and then presenting it to the rest of us as a fait accompli. This, Mike quite rightly points out, would be despotic. He rebuts the Javid’s stupid comment by making the point that the judges merely upheld the sovereignty of parliament, which is enshrined by law. He shows how ridiculous it is to compare their lordships’ decision with the threat of Nazi invasion, as well as the homophobia in the Express’s article, which attacked one of the judges for being ‘openly gay’. As if the man’s sexuality had anything to do with the judicial soundness of his decision. And he rightly quotes the Angry Yorkshireman on the ridiculous bigotry and hypocrisy of the Heil’s attitude, who wrote:

“Thus anyone who doesn’t agree that Theresa May should be allowed to behave like a dictator by bypassing democratic accountability and making up the law as she goes along is an ‘enemy of the people’ (as decided by a bunch of right-wing hacks working for a billionaire sociopath who lives in Monaco to avoid paying British taxes!).”

The ranting of the Tory ‘Leave’ campaign on this shows the fundamental racism and authoritarianism which runs all the way through them. The Tory right are deeply undemocratic. They would far prefer that the issues were settled by a small coteries of elite, moneyed individuals in their favour. Parliament is grossly unrepresentative of the economic background of British society. Most MPs are millionaires, as Mike has shown again and again in the meme showing this fact. Even so, they represent a wider and more diverse circle than May and her cabinet. As for Gina Miller not being ‘British’, Guyana is a former British colony, and before Thatcher altered the immigration law in the 1970s, citizenship of a British colony or member of the commonwealth automatically granted the right to immigrate to this country and be considered a British citizen. This principle was held by an older generation of imperialists, including Winston Churchill. By their standards, she’s as British as the rest of us. You could even argue that as someone born in Guyana, she also has a perfectly reasonable right to bring her court action. One of the arguments of the ‘Leave’ campaign has been that if Britain leaves the EU, we will have greater freedom to develop trade links with our Commonwealth partners. As a lady born in one of those former colonies, she therefore has every right to make sure she and the other prospective trading partners are properly represented in these decisions.

The Tory attitude also contradicts one of the fundamental principles of democratic freedom articulate by John Stuart Mill. Mill was concerned that the views of the minority should always be protected and represented, even to the extent of being over-represented. He stated that if everyone in the country held the same political opinion, with the exception of one man, that one man should still be allowed to hold and express his views without suppression. But the Tories behind all this hysterical ranting clearly don’t believe that the views of the general public should be represented in the ability of parliament to vote and decide on this issue, rather than just May and her privileged cronies.

It’s also highly hypocritical. Remember when the Tories were complaining at how ‘presidential’ Tony Blair was, and how he was sidelining parliament? They were right – Blair was presidential. But this shows that their objections to a presidential style of British politics, in which power is concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister in a manner more suitable to the American political system, was purely tactical. Once presidential power is in the hands of a Tory PM, all objections mysteriously disappear, and it is the defenders of the sovereignty of the British people and parliament, who are vilified as ‘enemies of the people.’ Perhaps, like the judges denounced by the Nazis, they’d like to see them shoved out of a British volksgemeinschaft.

This has to be stopped. Mike is quite right to recommend that people stop buying these dreadful right-wing rags, and vote out the Tories. They’re the real enemies of democracy and popular sovereignty here. Not the EU, and not the judges.

Pride’s Purge on the Racist Abuse of Diane Abbott

October 10, 2016

After the false accusations of misogynistic and anti-Semitic abuse made by the Blairites and Israel lobby in their campaign to unseat Jeremy Corbyn, last Friday saw the real thing launched against Britain’s first Black female MP, Diane Abbott. Jeremy Corbyn had just made her shadow home secretary. This brought out the various racists and xenophobes, who’ve been encouraged in their abuse by Brexit, to heap one load of vile filth after another on her. Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge has posted a sample of it. And it isn’t really isn’t pretty. He also makes the serious point that, if you believe the Right, it’s only the Left that are bullies and racists.

I can’t reblog it, but here’s the link: https://tompride.wordpress.com/2016/10/07/uk-today-disgusting-torrent-of-racist-and-sexist-abuse-unleashed-at-uks-first-black-woman-mp/

Be warned: the language used by these morons is extremely coarse and highly offensive. As well as being racist and obscene, one or two also speculates on her sexuality. Many of them make sneering comments about the Labour party, saying this is the reason why they won’t win, and at least one person urges everyone to vote UKIP. Which shows the gutter racism there is in that party.

It shows the real, visceral racism that exists on the Right, but which is not being commented so much on, because it does not suit the Establishment’s desperate desire to discredit Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters anyway it can. And so entirely false allegations are endlessly recycled and commented upon, ad nauseam, with constant demands for Corbyn to stop what doesn’t exist, and what he is not responsible for, while the real racism poisoning politics goes unremarked.

Pride’s Purge: Same Production Company Behind BBC and Channel 4 Anti-Corbyn Documentaries

September 20, 2016

Yesterday, Tom Pride at Pride’s Purge put up a piece pointing out that the same production company was behind two documentaries attacking Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party, one made for the BBC last year for Panorama, and the other broadcast this week on Channel 4’s Dispatches. The company behind both is Films of Record, whose managing director and executive producer is Neil Grant. Grant is a former chair of Brent East Labour party, who has had a feud going back twenty years with Ken Livingstone.

Mr Pride also concludes this piece with the news that it is cases like this

which have prompted the idea for a new investigative organisation – TORCHLIGHT UK – which will be shining a light into the dark corners of the UK establishment, revealing hidden connections between UK politicians, the media and big business. Keep an eye out in the next few weeks on how you can help. We will be naming names.

See: https://tompride.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/hidden-britain-same-private-production-company-behind-both-bbc-and-ch4-anti-corbyn-programmes/

Of course, none of this exonerates either the Beeb or Channel 4 of breaking rules on broadcasting impartiality. The commissioning editors at both broadcasters presumably knew the company, and who Neil Grant was and his political history. They would also have made the decision whether or not to broadcast the programmes when they were finally made and submitted. The fact that they did, despite these films’ bias, shows that they are fully complicit. They wanted the programme to smear Corbyn and his supporters, and that’s precisely what they got.

I look forward to hearing more from Tom about TORCHLIGHT UK. This sounds like the kind of thing Lobster has been doing in the field of parapolitics for years now, connecting the dots between big business, the spooks and their influence on the parties and the trade unions. Robin Ramsay’s complaint was that there wasn’t enough of this kind of research being done by the Left any more. This was because the far right had started doing it, and so the Left had dropped it in order to avoid becoming discredited by association. The announcement of the forthcoming appearance of TORCHLIGHT looks like reversing that, and so shining some light into some very murky, grubby little places.

The Young Turks on 7 Million Teens Turning to Crime and Prostitution because of Starvation

September 20, 2016

This is truly an outrage. In this video from The Young Turks, they report on an academic study which shows that 7 million teenagers in America are turning to crime, prostitution and selling drugs to get money for food. The report cites one of the study’s authors, Popkin, who says that what they found surprising wasn’t that kids were doing it – it’s been done on a smaller scale for a very long time – but the sheer scale of the problem. When the researchers inquired why these children didn’t use the state welfare system instead, like the SNAP and food stamp programmes, they were told by their young informants that they were too ashamed. The Turks’ anchors are naturally angry at this, pointing out what a disgusting scandal that 7 million children should be forced to become prostitutes or starve in the richest country in the world.

I’ve reblogged a number of videos about American politics in the past where they’ve had direct relevance to similar political situations here in Blighty. This is another of these. The Tories’ ‘welfare reforms’ – their euphemism for cutting benefits and letting people starve – is copied very much from America, although attacks on the welfare state have always been part of Tory policy. Maggie Thatcher, John Major and the rest took their view, hawked by the Tory press, that there were large pockets of intergenerational poverty in Britain, where some families had never had a job for three generations, from the Republicans in America. It was rubbish over there, and it’s rubbish over here. But that hasn’t stopped it being repeated by Iain Duncan-Smith, the former Minister for Killing the Disabled.

About a year ago I found a pamphlet put out by Duncan-Smith’s wretched Centre for Social Justice – a complete oxymoron coming from the Tories – arguing for welfare cuts based precisely on this stupid, spurious view of poverty. It raved about how changes to welfare legislation in America had wiped millions off the welfare budget.

At the same time, the Tories have been very impressed by the Victorian doctrine of ‘less eligibility’. As many bloggers have stated, including Another Angry Voice, Johnny Void and myself, this was the Victorian principle behind the workhouse. The idea was that you make conditions as harsh and humiliating as possible so that people don’t go to the state for aid. There are even quotes from Thatcher herself talking about how she admired the Victorians for it. It’s why, despite the Tories keenness to show the staff at the Jobcentre as helpful, with smiling, grateful claimants, the opposite is true: you are frequently treated with grave discourtesy and contempt by staff, who are themselves treated like dirty by their superiors. All with the deliberate intention of making the whole experience of signing on as unpleasant as possible.

And that’s the result. 7 million children are forced to steal, peddle drugs, or sell their bodies to get enough to keep body and soul together.

There are 4.7 million people in ‘food poverty’ in this country. Hundreds of thousands are being kept from starvation by food banks. Stilloaks in his blog, Johnny Void, Tom Pride, and so many, many others, including Vox Political, have put up the figures of the number of disabled people, who have starved to death through benefit cuts. It was something like 590 last time I checked. It’s probably many, many more now. And if you go to Stilloak’s blog, you can see the names and biographies of those, who have died. Be warned: it’s a harrowing read. It’s why Mike has referred to this policy by the Tories as ‘chequebook genocide’.

And it’s a cert the same thing is happening over here.

I can remember back in the 1980s, when Thatcher was throwing everyone out of work, the media woke up to the existence of rent boys. I don’t think they could really do anything else, as a number of MPs, mostly Tories, had been caught using them, like Harvey Proctor. I can remember reading an article on them at the time, which said that the majority were actually heterosexual. They were doing it to make money to buy consumer goods. Quite apart from the poor kids, who have been forced into it by the monsters running the care homes and social services in corrupt local authorities, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a spike in it now, of teenage boys forced into it along with their sisters for exactly the same reasons – to buy enough food.

Reagan and Thatcher have led us down a social, political and economic dead end. It is neoliberalism that is the threat to western civilisation, not liberalism, socialism or Islam. It is Reagan’s and Thatcher’s policies that are seeing millions of people in debt and grinding poverty. The time’s long, long past when their heirs in both the parties of the Right and nominal Left should have been kicked out long ago.

The Tories, New Labour, Workfare and Forced Labour: Who Are the True Trotskyites?

September 18, 2016

As Mike’s been pointing out, there’s a concerted attempt by the Blairites to present Jeremy Corbyn and his supporting movement, Momentum, as Trotskyite infiltrators. Mike yesterday put up a piece about an article by Paul Mason, which effectively demolishes such claims. George Galloway a little while pointed out that Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t a Trotskyite, and the claim that they had infiltrated the party was sheer lunacy, considering there were probably less than 10,000 in the country. And in terms of practical politics, it’s actually New Labour that has the greatest similarity to some of Trotskyite’s views in its support for workfare. Mike, Another Angry Voice, Johnny Void, Tom Pride, myself and very many others have attacked workfare as a form of forced labour verging on, and indeed in some cases, in actual fact, slavery. In the 1920s Trotsky was also in favour of using labour conscription and forced labour, similar to the mobilisation of the Red Army during the Civil War, to help reconstruct Russian industry.

The Solidarity pamphlet, The Bolsheviks & Workers’ Control 1917-1921: The State and Counter-Revolution, by Maurice Brinton (London: 1970), describes how Lenin and the Bolsheviks set out to destroy the system of workers’ councils, which had allowed the working class to seize power in the first stages of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Lenin and Trotsky hated workers’ industrial management, and the pamphlet shows how they gradually destroyed the councils, and replaced them with capitalist-style ‘one-man management’, using the American Taylorist system, and reinstating the same proprietors, managers and technicians that the workers had rebelled against.

The pamphlet gives a series of quotes showing Trotsky’s views of forced and slave labour on page 64. He declared that

‘the militarisation of labour … is the indispensable basic method for the organisation of our labour forces’…’Is it true that compulsory labour is always unproductive? … this is the most wretched and miserable liberal prejudice: chattel slavery too was productive’…’Compulsory slave labour…was in its time a progressive phenomenon’. ‘Labour… obligatory for the whole country, compulsory for every worker, is the basis of socialism’. (p. 64)

Trotsky stressed that coercion, regimentation and militarisation of labour were no mere emergency measures. The workers’ state normally had the right to coerce any citizen to perform any work, at the time of its choosing. 64-5.

At this Congress [Third All-Russian Congress of Trade Unions] Lenin publicly boasted that he had stood for one-man management from the beginning. He claimed that in 1918 he ‘pointed out the necessity of recognising the dictatorial authority of single individuals for the purpose of carrying out the Soviet idea’. and claimed that at that stage ‘there were no disputes in connection with the question (of one-man management.’ (p. 65).

Forced labour and the absolute rights of management are far more the attitude of Blairite New Labour than Old, which stood for proper unemployment benefit, real jobs rather than similar schemes, and collective bargaining and union consultation. It’s the Blairites with their support for the Tory workfare scheme, who are the real Trotskyites in this instance, not Corbyn and Momentum.

Vox Political on the Return of Anti-Semitism Smears against Corbyn in the Graun and the Heil

September 11, 2016

Mike today has written another piece about the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. This time they’ve been regurgitated by pieces in the Grauniad and the Heil.

The first piece Mike deals with is entitled ‘Why Jews in Labour Place Little Trust in Jeremy Corbyn’ on the paper’s website by Joshua Simons. Simons is a former policy adviser to Corbyn, who used the usual rhetorical smears of the Israel lobby against the Labour leader. He identified Israel with the Jewish people throughout the world, stating that Israel’s very existence has been used by the far Left to stir up anti-Semitism against Jews in Israel in the wider world. Mike points out that this statement would exonerate Corbyn from the anti-Semitism charge, as he’s centre-left, not far left. Simons then brings in the stereotype of the Jews as bankers and financiers, which Mike also criticises as strange, as the various debates about anti-Semitism in the Labour party haven’t mentioned them. He states that anti-Semitism isn’t rampant in the Labour party, only to go on to contradict himself by saying that Jews are let down by a leader, ‘who some believe traded a peerage for a favourable report into anti-Semitism’. Again, Mike points out how contradictory this statement is, as he has already admitted that anti-Semitism isn’t rampant in the party. If it isn’t, there would be no need for Corbyn to bribe Chakrabarti to get a positive report. He concludes that Labour is only thought to be anti-Semitic because it is led by someone who has a visceral contempt for America and Israel. Mike responds to this assertion with the comments

But ill-feeling about Israel’s political decisions is not anti-Semitic, no matter how often or how loudly the more strident Zionists claim it is. Again he contradicts himself by adding: “It is not at all true that antisemitism exists because of the Jewish state” and “Young Jewish people in Britain should not give up their criticisms of Israel’s policies.”

More interesting, to me, was the fact that he is a former policy advisor. Why did he quit? Does he have an ulterior motive in resurrecting these claims?

The Heil on Sunday article is about Corbyn supposedly re-igniting the race row by purging the party of Michael Foster, the Jewish donor who criticised his leadership. Mike begins by pointing out that the very title is inaccurate, as Corbyn can’t and doesn’t purge anyone. Johanna Baxter, the NEC members behind the purge of many of the Corbynites, has stated that the decision to expel members is taken by three member panels. Corbyn doesn’t sit on any of them. The appearance of the two articles in their respective papers at the same time suggests to Mike that they’re part of an orchestrated campaign against Corbyn. Foster isn’t a financier – he’s a show business agent, but he did donate £400,000 to the Labour party. This might explain why Simons in the Graun felt he had to rant about Jews being equated with banking. The article then goes on to make more allegations of anti-Semitism against the Labour leader.

This story, complaining about the purge of a right-wing candidate, has been published at the same time as the Blairites are carrying out a mass purge of low-ranking left-wingers within the party, most notably the leader of Broxstowe council this weekend. This suggests to Mike that these articles are to mask and obscure the purge of low-ranking members by playing up the purge of a single, high-ranking member of the party. And Mike also points out the irony of a Jewish man complaining about anti-Semitism in the Labour party in a paper that explicitly supported Adolf Hitler and the BUF before the Second World War. Other bloggers, like Tom Pride, have also produced headlines from the Heil attacking Jews and Jewish immigration during the same period.

Mike discusses a comment on Twitter by Eoin Clarke, remarking on the large number of people, who have been purged, who were also going to be delegates at the Labour party conference. Mike adds that Labour First, another Blairite body, has been contacting like-minded Labour members to attend the conference, in the hope of replacing the Labour leaders’ policies with their own. This is being done in the hope that this will force him to leave, either by making it impossible for him to do his job as leader, or to make him vulnerable to criticism. This is being done as they realise that he’ll probably win the leadership election on Wednesday.

Mike concludes

This is the real dichotomy in the Labour Party at the moment.

Mr Corbyn may be accused of the most vile behaviour – falsely. Meanwhile, just look at the underhand tactics employed against him.

It isn’t what This Writer calls democracy.

See his article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/09/11/new-angle-on-an-old-lie-the-return-of-jeremy-the-jew-hater/

There are a couple more things that can be said about these articles. Let’s deal with Joshua Simons’ article first. Part of his resentment against Corbyn and Momentum is that he believes they have a ‘visceral contempt for America and Israel’. This marks Simon out as Blairite Neocon. The Blairites were strongly in favour of the Atlantic alliance, and were partly the products of the Reaganite political initiative, the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, which wanted to guide suitable British politicians and media leaders – one of BAP’s other alumni was an editor of the Times – into a suitably pro-American stance. Reagan’s America was strongly pro-Israel, partly as psychological compensation for the America’s signal failure to win the Vietnam War. To make up for their country failing to quash the Vietnamese Communists, the American Right turned to celebrating Israel’s victories against the Arabs. And there are good reasons for despising the foreign policies of both countries. Having contempt for America’s long history of overthrowing democratic, left-wing regimes and installing brutal Fascist dictators, and Israel for its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians does not automatically make someone either anti-American or anti-Semitic. Many of the people, who despise America’s politics, admire other aspects of the country, such as its popular culture and music. And very many of Israel’s critics have been Jews. These include Harold Pinter, who was a bitter and outspoken critic of the barbarity of America’s foreign policy. The great playwright also was certainly not reticent about robustly expressing his opinions about anti-Semitism. I heard from a friend that he once decked a man in queue he was in, after this fellow said something monstrous in favour of the Holocaust.

As for the automatic connection between Israel and Jews around the world, this has been repeated a number of times by the Zionists, including Netanyahu. But it’s not true, and the ties between Israel and the Jewish community in America are becoming weaker. Norman Finkelstein has talked about how there was very little support, or even interest amongst Jewish Americans for Israel until the 1970s, and a growing number of young Jewish Americans are increasingly indifferent and critical towards it. As for his complaint that opposition to Israel leads automatically to hatred of Jews in Israel, that’s a very careful way of trying to avoid the reality that Israel was set up as the Jewish state. In this case, it is easy for Simons to claim that hostility to Israel equals hostility to Jews in Israel, as Israelis are Jews. But talking about Jews in Israel is away of trying to avoid Israel’s own self-image and identity as the Jewish state, and present it as another pluralist nation, of whom Jews are only one section of the population, and not the dominant population for whom the state itself was founded. George Galloway has pointed out that it’s difficult to avoid criticising the Israeli people for the atrocities committed by their country, as unfortunately Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition have the support of the majority of Israeli citizens.

I am also very much aware that it is unfair to hold the whole nation accountable for what Netanyahu and his supporters are doing. There are many Israelis, who have shown great courage in supporting the Palestinians. These people are also under by Netanyahu and his cronies. There was a recent poll of Israelis, which found that a majority agreed with the statement that Israelis, who sided with Arabs, should deprived of their citizenship and civil rights. Such a finding should chill anyone, who believes in democracy, pluralism and tolerance. This also adds another twist to Simons’ contention that hatred of Israel is also leading to hatred of Jews abroad. If that poll is to be believed, a fair number of Israelis also hate Jews in Israel – the Jews that protest against nearly seven decades of injustice against the Palestinians, as well as the Mizrahim, the Arab Jews, who were recruited by the Israelis as a cheap labour force, and then rigorously segregated and discriminated against in order to make them discard their Arab culture.

As for Simons’ rant about bankers, I’ve seen that used by the Republicans in America to try and rule out of bounds the entirely justified criticisms of the bankers and financiers responsible for the global financial collapse. The argument runs that as much anti-Semitism centres around the perceived Jewish control of the financial sector, then criticism of the financial sector is anti-Semitic. It’s a false syllogism. The people, who despite the financial sector, do so regardless of the particular ethnic or religious origin of its members. They’re outraged because the current financial system has destroyed the world’s economy, forced billions around the world into poverty, including destroying the economies of whole nations, like Greece, and then have the temerity afterwards to continue demanding the same bloated bonuses and pay rises for its chief executives, while shifting the burden for clearing up their mess onto the poor. But Wall Street, along with the other major corporations, heavily donate to the political parties in expectation that the politicos will enact legislation favourable to them. Shrillary Clinton is a case in point. She’s taken millions from Wall Street in fees for speeches, and is a firm proponent of the ‘light touch’ regulation that resulted in the financial collapse. Here in Britain, New Labour launched its ‘prawn cocktail offensive’ in the 1990s, aimed at gaining financial sector support, again by promising a ‘light touch’ on regulation. With exactly the same results as occurred in America. Part of Simon’s rant may also reflect Lord Levy’s role in funding the rise of New Labour. He was the link for the supply of money to Blair and his crew from the Zionist lobby.

In short, Simons’ rant is an attempt to prevent criticism of the Neocons and corporatists of New Labour. It is not a genuine response to anti-Semitism, however hard Simon tries to insinuate that there is still rampant Jew hatred in the party. His rhetorical introduction to the accusation that Corbyn corruptly traded a peerage with Shami Chakrabarti in return for her clearing the party with the words, ‘some believe’, is an age-old Fleet Street device to get round a possible libel claim. It’s not being asserted as fact, merely as a belief, which is protected under law.

As For Foster’s hit piece in the Heil, I think Mike and Eoin Clarke are exactly right. And underlying it is the same fear that New Labour and its corporate and Zionist backers are losing their grip on the party. And so Foster is doing everything he can to smear their opponents – Corbyn and his supporters – as anti-Semites, even though they aren’t, and include many Jews and activists with a long history of combating racism and anti-Semitism.

Jimmy Dore Discusses Advertising and Censorship on YouTube

September 3, 2016

In this video, Jimmy Dore, an American comedian, who’s been a regular guest on The Young Turks, discusses the guidelines YouTube decided to impose on its users, who generate an income from the advertising that accompanies their videos. Jimmy Dore’s show is one of them, so is Secular Talk with Kyle Kulinski, along with many, many others. Dore here discusses how there was a firewall between advertisers and himself. YouTube looked after the advertising, leaving him and his show’s producers and creators to concentrate on making the show itself.

This has changed. Now YouTube has issued a set of guidelines stating that they will not allow advertising on certain videos. This includes, but ‘is not limited to’

* Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humour.
* Violence, including displays of serious injury and events related to violent extremism.
* Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language.
* Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use and abuse of such items.
* Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflict, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic images are not shown.

If your video violates any of these, they will take the adverts away from it, so that you won’t make money. If you persist in violating their guidelines, they’ll pull your channel.

Using their customary ribald humour, Dore and his producers talk about how the ban on sexually suggestive material means that nearly every pop video would be banned, and how they violated the ban on the use of vulgar language themselves. As for the use of controlled substances, they make the point of asking if this includes the beer adverts that have appeared alongside their videos. What if they don’t want the beer commercials next to their material? As for war and violence, they make the point that this should affect General Electrics, which makes its money as a ‘war profiteer’. Will they still be allowed to post? And the final clause effectively forbids the news. Just as the guidelines on violence also automatically mean that 90 per cent of the content on YouTube is banned because it contains violence or people harming themselves, like in all the blooper or ‘fails’ videos.

The Young Turks has already suffered, as 10 per cent of their videos has been judged unsuitable for advertising and so demonetised. As they’ve posted up 30,000 videos, this is a significant loss. Kulinski has suffered the same over at Secular Talk. He found a fifth of his material had been retrospectively judged unsuitable. He stated in his video on the subject that he was up to 3 AM the previous night going through the videos one by one to appeal against the ban.
His show also has the problem in that he has the libertarian belief that all drugs should be legalised and taxed, and says so, though he does not recommend breaking the law. He’s also adamant that despite what YouTube says, they won’t stop him from posting controversial material, or make him post bland statements about how wonderful the world is.

Kulinski makes the point that YouTube tried something like this twice before, and each time had to back down, as people will simply go elsewhere to post their material. Dore states here that it looks like YouTube are trying to censor anything that might upset their advertisers. He drily observes that it’s not ‘YouTube’ but ‘TheirTube’. He and his team then demand that it should ‘OurTube’.

And here’s Secular Talk on the issue.

I’m posting this here, because some of the bloggers I’ve reposted over here have had trouble with what looks very much like censorship. Tom Pride had a couple of his pieces censored, or a threat to close down his blog, because he was posting ‘adult material’. He was, but only in the sense that politics is a serious, adult matter. He also uses the occasional coarse language and earthy wit to satirise some of the politicos, who really deserve it, like David Cameron. This looked very much like political censorship, as it came when the Tories were launching their campaign to clean up cyberspace to stop it containing anything that was a menace to children. Policing the internet to protect children from paedophiles is a good idea, and unfortunately all too necessary. But this looked very much like using the threat of paedophilia and internet pornography to censor anything that Cameron and the rest of the Tories don’t like.

So we have to be careful. YouTube, it seems, are now trying the same trick. My guess is that Kulinski’s right, and the ban’s unenforceable. It’s the nature of the internet that if you try to shut something down, it’ll simply go elsewhere. This could lead to the company taking a serious hit itself from a fall in business as people move away from it. But it won’t be before a lot of Vlogs and programmes are hurt as part of this campaign to censor and intimidate posters.