Posts Tagged ‘Victor Orban’

Establishment Media Bias and the Cheltenham Literary Festival

September 23, 2019

Someone really ought to do a study of the way the big literary festivals – Haye-on-Wye, Cheltenham and the others – select the books and media celebs they want to push and the way they try to manipulate public opinion towards the establishment consensus. Because, believe me, it is there.

In a couple of weeks’ time, right at the beginning of October, it’ll be the Cheltenham Literary Festival. As it’s booklet of coming events tells you, it’s been proudly going for 70 years. I think it was set up, or given a great deal of assistance when it was set up, by Alan Hancock, who owned a secondhand bookshop on Cheltenham’s Promenade. It was a fascinating place, where you could acquire some really fascinating, valuable academic books cheaply. But it had the same internal layout as the fictional setting of the 1990’s Channel 4 comedy, Black Books, but without Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey or Tamsin Grieg.

The festival’s overall literary stance is, very roughly, broadsheet papers + BBC, especially Radio 4. It pretty much shows what’s captured the attention of the newspaper literary pages and the BBC news team, several of whom naturally have books coming out, and who are appearing. In past years I’ve seen John Simpson, Simon Hoggart, Quentin Letts, Giles Brandreth and John Humphreys talk or appear on panels. This year they’ve got, amongst others, Emily Maitlis and Humphrey’s again.

Much of the Festival’s content is innocuous enough, even praiseworthy from a left-wing perspective. For example, there are a number of authors talking about their books about empowering women and ethnic minorities. These include Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene talking about their book, Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, which is what it says: a guide for Black girls. Other topics and books discussed are on how empowered Black men are, and various feminist works about how gynaecological problems should be discussed openly, and the changing nature of the female muse. Rather than being passive creatures, modern muses are active, liberated women conquering business, sports, the arts and science. There’s also a piece on the future of masculinity, titled ‘Will Boys Still Be Boys’, which asks what will happen to boys now that the idea that there is a natural realm of masculinity, such as superiority and aggression, has been disproved. The concern with ethnic minority authors has always been there, or at least since the 1990s. Then, and in the early part of this century, a frequent theme of the Festival was ‘crossing continents’, which gave a platform to prominent literary authors from outside Europe and the West. It also gave space to Black and Asian literature from the UK. I can remember too, how one of the events staged at the Festival was a celebration of Black British poetry, much of it in Caribbean Patois.

The Festival also caters for more popular tastes. In the past it had speaking the Fantasy author, Terry Pratchett, along with the approved, heavyweight literary types. It has events for children’s books, and this year features such media celebrities as Francis Rossi from Status Quo and Paul Merton. So, something for everyone, or so it seems.

But nevertheless, the Establishment bias is there, especially as so many of the speakers, like Maitlis and Humphreys, are drawn from the mainstream media. Back in the 1990s the Festival was sponsored by the Independent. Now it’s sponsored by the Times, the Murdoch rag whose sister paper, the Sunset Times, has spent so much time smearing Corbyn and his supporters as Communist infiltrators or vicious anti-Semites.┬áMaitlis and Humphreys are BBC news team, and so, almost by definition, they’re Conservative propagandists. Especially as Humphreys is retiring, and has given interviews and written pieces for the Heil. Any chance of hearing something from the Cheltenham Festival about the current political situation that doesn’t conform to what the Establishment wants you to hear, or is prepared to tolerate? Answers on a postcard, please. Here’s a couple of examples. One of the topics under discussion is ‘Populism’. I don’t know what they’re planning to include in it, but from previous discussions of this in the media, I’m prepared to bet that they’ll talk about Trump, possibly Boris Johnson, the rise of extreme right-wing movements in Europe and elsewhere in the world, like Marine Le Pen former Front National in France, the AfD in Germany, Orban and so on in Hungary, Bolsonaro in Brazil and the Five Star Movement in Italy. All of whom are definitely populists. But they’ll also probably include Corbyn and Momentum, because Corbyn is genuinely left-wing, challenges the Thatcherite neoliberal consensus and will empower the masses. All of which threatens the Establishment. There are also individual politicians speaking this year, but the only one I found from the Left was Jess Philips. Who isn’t remotely left-wing in the traditional sense, though she is an outspoken feminist.

The other topic is about what should be done with Putin. Now let’s not delude ourselves, Putin is a corrupt thug, and under him Russia has become once again a very autocratic state. Political and religious dissidents, including journalists, are being attacked, jailed and in some cases murdered. Among the religious groups he’s decided are a threat to Mother Russia are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m not a member of the denomination, and find their doorstep campaigning as irritating as everyone else. But they are certainly not a dangerous cult or terrorist organisation. And they have stood up to tyrants. They were persecuted by the Nazis during the Third Reich, with their members imprisoned in the concentration camps, including a 17 year old boy, because they wouldn’t accept Hitler as a secular messiah. For which I respect for them. The Arkhiplut has enriched himself, and rewarded his cronies with company directorships, while assassinating the oligarchs, who haven’t toed his line. And I still remember the genocidal butchery he unleashed in Chechnya nearly two decades ago, because they had the temerity to break away.

But geopolitically, I don’t regard Putin as a military threat. In terms of foreign policy it seems that Putin is interested solely in preserving the safety of his country from western encirclement. Hence the invasion of the Ukraine to protect the Russian minority there. If he really wanted to conquer the country, rather than the Donbass, his tanks would be in Kiev by now. I’ve blogged before about how Gorbachev was promised by the West that in return for allowing the former eastern European satellites to break away from the USSR, they would remain neutral and not become members of NATO. That’s been violated. They’ve all become members, and there are NATO military bases now on Russia’s doorstep. The Maidan Revolution of 2012 which overthrew the previous, pro-Russian president of Ukraine was stage managed by the American state department and the National Endowment for Democracy under Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland. There’s evidence that the antagonism against Putin’s regime comes from western multinationals, who feel aggrieved at not being able to seize Russian companies as promised by Putin’s predecessor, the corrupt, drunken buffoon Boris Yeltsin. Putin also seems to be quite genuine in his belief in a multipolar world, in which his country, as well as others like China, are also superpowers. But the Americans are interested only in maintaining their position as the world’s only superpower through ‘full spectrum dominance’: that is, absolute military superiority. The US’ military budget supersedes both the Russian and that of the four other major global countries combined. Arguably, Russia ain’t the global threat. America and NATO are.

Festivals like that of Cheltenham are important. They’re business arrangements, of course. They exist to sell books. But they also encourage literacy, and allow the public to come face to face with the people, who inform and entertain them through the written word. Although here the books’ pages of Private Eye complained years ago that the Festival and others like it gave more space to celebrities from television, sport, music and other areas, rather than people, whose primary living was from writing. But the information we are given is shaped by the media – by the papers and broadcasters, who give the public the news, and the publishers, who decide which books on which subjects to publish. And then there’s the bias of the individual festivals themselves. And in the case of Cheltenham, it is very establishment. It’s liberal in terms of feminism and multiculturalism, but other conservative, and increasing Conservative, in others. It’s through events like Cheltenham that the media tries to create and support the establishment consensus.

But that consensus is rightly breaking down, as increasingly more people become aware that it is only creating mass poverty. The Establishment’s refusal to tolerate other, competing opinions – their demonisation of Corbyn and his supporters as Communists, Trotskyites and Nazis, for example – is leading to further alienation and disaffection. Working people don’t find their voices and concerns reflected in the media. Which is why they’re turning to the online alternatives. But Festivals like Cheltenham carry on promoting the same establishment agenda, with the odd voice from the opposition, just like the Beeb’s Question Time. And this is going to change any time soon, not with lyingt rags like the Times sponsoring it.

The Number of German Jews Who Fought and Died for their Country in WW I

December 19, 2018

I found the figures for the number of German Jews, who did their patriotic duty and served and died fighting for their homeland during the carnage of the First World War in a German edition of Hinkemann by the playwright Ernst Toller (Stuttgart: Philip Reclam 1985). The book’s afterword notes that Toller’s own history is closely linked with that of the Jews during this period. Toller’s mother was German, and like very many assimilated Jews he wanted to be considered ‘German, nothing but German’. And like many others, he showed his patriotism by joining up when war broke out. The book states that 100,000 German Jews like him joined the army in a wave of patriotism, and that 12,000 of them fell during the War. The book states that ‘no section of the population paid a higher blood sacrifice.’ (p. 73). After the War, Toller became an Anarchist, who also paid for his political ideals with his death. He was one of the founders and leaders of the Bavarian soviet republic during the revolution of 1919, along with the philosopher Gustav Landauer and the theatre critic Kurt Eisner. And like them, he was killed when the Freikorps retook the land’s capital, Munich.

I’m putting this up because it’s often been stated that Jewish Germans formed the single largest group that joined the army, but I hadn’t seen the precise figures. Despite the fact that these statistics demolish the anti-Semitic claims that promoted the formation of the Nazi party, that Germany was defeated because of a ‘stab in the back’ by the Jews, anti-Semitism in Europe is rising. The Alternative Fuer Deutschland have managed to goose-step their way into the Bundestag, and their leaders are people, who can only be described as Nazis. One made a speech demanding that Germany’s Holocaust memorial should be demolished as a ‘badge of shame’. Another chillingly said that when they get into power, they’ll open an underground railway to Auschwitz.

Over in Hungary, the president, Victor Orban, is using the same old anti-Semitic tropes against the American financier George Soros. Soros is of Jewish Hungarian heritage, and Orban’s denunciations of him are precisely the same claims that the Nazis made about the Jews: that they are using their control of the banks and financial sector to destroy the country in an evil conspiracy. Orban’s Fidesz party is far right, bitterly racist and anti-immigrant, and particular anti-Muslim. According to today’s I, demonstrators have started calling Orban ‘Victator’, a portmanteau of his name Victor and ‘dictator’ to mock his authoritarian government. I don’t know how many Jews joined the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was similar proportion. I read in a history of the Jewish people years ago that the majority of Hungarian Jews were likewise assimilated, and considered themselves to be Magyars ‘of the Israelitish religion’, rather than a separate ethnic group. When Hungary gained its independence, many of them changed their surnames to Hungarian monickers. One of the families that did this were that of the Hungarian avantgarde composer, Gyorgi Ligeti.

And there are similar right-wing, anti-Semitic parties on the rise elsewhere in eastern Europe, like the Baltic states and the Ukraine, where SS auxiliaries are marching about in patriotic parades, and real Nazis form part of the ruling coalition in the latter country.

I felt therefore that I had to put up the figures for the numbers of Jewish servicemen who joined the army and their sacrifice to refute yet again any idea that the Jews aren’t patriotic citizens of their European homelands or that they’re somehow part of some weird global conspiracy to enslave non-Jews or destroy the White race.

These are just malicious lies and myths that have resulted in the horrific murder of 6 million innocents in the Nazi Holocaust. And, unless fought, will again result in more persecution and mass murder.