Democracy

Book Review: Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World by William Davies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 24/09/2018 - 8:19pm in

In Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World, William Davies examines how feeling has come to reshape our world today, displacing the role historically afforded to reason and dissolving longstanding distinctions between the mind and body, between war and peace. The book provides a timely diagnosis of the contemporary social and political dominance of feelings over facts, writes Lilly Markaki, while locating hope in the discovery of a shared world inhabited by ‘feeling and thinking’ beings. 

Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World. William Davies. Jonathan Cape. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

The modern world endeavoured to build itself upon what it perceived to be the most solid and admirable of materials: truth and progress. From the seventeenth century onwards, and in accordance with this programme, philosophers and scientists alike sought to regulate and transcend human feeling in order to provide an objective description of the world, so as to generate ‘a basis for peaceful consensus’ (35). This was the case with Thomas Hobbes, for instance, whose 1651 celebrated political treatise, Leviathan, concludes with the words: ‘Truth, as opposeth no man’s profit, nor pleasure, is to all men welcome’ (45). Yet, in our own time, science and expertise more broadly seem to have lost their capacity to unite us on a common ground, with facts themselves often leading not to peace but to conflict. If it was once king, reason is now overthrown by feeling.

This is the central premise of William Davies’s new book, Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World, and the process, the history of which it seeks to unfold. That facts no longer are what they used to be is one of the few things that most of us – having witnessed Donald Trump’s administration especially – can still agree upon today. And yet the idea that feeling has somehow now taken over the world might at first seem a little strange to some, for reality indeed appears to be a place where emotion has almost completely disappeared – the world, it is often observed, is a cold, dark place.

Feeling, however, as Davies’s main title conveys, is not always a positive thing: it does not always mean ‘love’ and ‘empathy’. There are also those ‘nervous states’ – fear, pain and anxiety – which, for Davies, ‘have greater political potency than others’ (xiv), and which he successfully shows to play a leading role in shaping our reality.

Image Credit: (Pixabay CCO)

Issuing forth by recounting last November’s Black Friday incident at Oxford Circus, the opening section of the book does a great job of revealing fear’s capacity to mobilise people, even when the threat is not actually real: ‘Around an hour after the initial evacuation of Oxford Circus […] the emergency services were formally stood down. There were no guns and no terrorists’ (x). Blown out of proportion ‘thanks to a combination of paranoid imagination and social media’ (x), the event turned out to be, as Davies aptly puts it, a ‘ghost disturbance’ (x). But if feeling can make people flee, it is also what motivates people to organise and to form what is known as a ‘crowd’:

If crowds matter at all, it is because of the depth of feeling that brought so many people into one place at one time. As in the wars that dominate the nationalist imagination, crowds allow every individual to become (and feel) part of something much larger than themselves (7).

The discovery that human emotion can be a powerful force and a tool for mobilisation is, of course, not new, but something that, as Davies shows, was already understood by those such as Napoleon, whose conscripted army, introduced in 1793, gained its strength and numbers by converting the population’s revolutionary sentiment into a military resource (126-30). This harnessing of feeling is a strategy that continues to lie at the heart of populist politics everywhere today, although its main targets are now more often pain and anxiety:

People who are suffering, emotionally and physically, will go in search of explanations for their feelings. But they will also go in search of recognition for them. One of the greatest political assets of populist leaders, spanning both left and right, has been their ability to visit economically depressed regions and convey empathy with people who were others ignored or dismissed. This is not something that more mainstream or professional political figures are able to do with the same perceived authenticity (118).

The division between mind and body, on which the modern world came to rely since the seventeenth century – together, for Davies, with the distinction between war and peace – can no longer be sustained. As the author compellingly argues in the chapter titled ‘The Body Politic’, human bodies, and especially those in bad health, express themselves in ways that are extremely significant for politics today. According to a report published by The Economist magazine and which Davies cites here: ‘if diabetes were just 7% less prevalent in Michigan, Mr Trump would have gained 0.3 fewer percentage points there, enough to swing the state back to the Democrats’ (99). And this is only one of many examples presented in this section, proving the author’s earlier point that:

The nervous system, which produces pain, arousal, stress, excitement, becomes the main organ of political activity. It is as feeling creatures that we become susceptible to contagions of sentiment, and not as intellectuals, critics, scientists or even as citizens (16).

Even reactions against expertise, a phenomenon that is becoming more and more prominent, tie in with this bodily dimension of politics, for what fosters the gap between experts and those whose livelihoods their data attempts to represent is the knowledge and feeling that ‘experts and policy makers can talk about things like unemployment […] but they will never know how it feels to be unemployed’ (61). These reactions, Davies observes, ‘may seem like an irrational rejection of truth itself, yet are more often a rejection of the broader political edifice from which society is governed’ (28).

As it happens, underlying the technocratic state and its mathematical approach to governance – a historical source for which Davies discovers in William Petty’s 1672 Political Arithmetick – is progressively found a quest not for peace, but for power. ‘The need to create a picture of the world can also be born out of a desire to own it’ (59): this is a truth that the historical realities emerging out of colonisation now more than confirm, but which Davies links to contemporary approaches to warfare as well. One example here is Valery Gerasimov’s article from 2013, ‘The Value of Science is in the Foresight’, where the Russian general argues for a military strategy that openly employs information as its main weapon. The proposition – now known as the Gerasimov Doctrine – ‘carries dramatic implications for the status of knowledge and emotion in society’, writes Davies in ‘Knowledge for War’. ‘Ultimately it challenges the ideal of expert knowledge, as something that sits outside the sphere of conflict, putting in its place a different ideal in which knowledge is used as a weapon’ (125).

Contributing to the changing status of knowledge has, of course, also been its progressive marketisation – something Davies explores near the end of his book. ‘Once knowledge is treated primarily as a business instrument’, the author observes here, ‘the instinct is to develop ever faster and better-tailored means of acquiring and controlling it […] Military techniques stray into the business world […] producing a culture of economic combat’(152), and leaving us, producers and consumers alike, in a state of perpetual anxiety. How closely this field resembles a battle for world domination becomes particularly evident during Davies’s engaging analysis of Silicon Valley, a global centre for high-tech corporations of which ‘the real goal’, according to the author, ‘is to provide the infrastructure through which humans encounter the world’ (186).

If Nervous States succeeds, finally, in making a case for the social and political significance of feelings, it is here, in its final sections, that it begins to serve also as a stepping stone from which to approach the future. Entrepreneurs like Peter Thiel, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, Davies reminds us, all have their own visions for progress. And, while these can appear far-fetched – as is the case with Zuckerberg’s dream to achieve telepathic communication – they should still be taken seriously, given these men have already transformed the fabric of reality in tangible ways.

The new generation of Napoleonic high-tech entrepreneurs may attain their dreams of living to 150 or 200 or longer. These ‘‘founders’’ may build empires that outlive them. Some may manage to colonise Mars, as Elon Musk insists they must. If this is the future of progress, then it cannot be something that includes most people, and much of its impetus is to escape the fate that awaits the rest of us (226).

How should we, ‘the rest of us’, proceed then? ‘The challenge facing us today’, Davies writes, ‘is how to establish and discover a shared world in the future, inhabited by beings who are feeling and thinking’ (223; emphasis added). For the author then, the answer is not to be found in some sort of return to the past or even to reason, for ‘the facts alone won’t save us’ (207) now. A way forward might instead involve acknowledging our feelings, but focusing and coordinating our responses and efforts towards the suffering we share. ‘Especially as the inhabitable territories of the planet shrink’ (225) – a geological destiny common to all and which Davies acknowledges –  a politics based on the recognition ‘of common and equal humanity’ (225) might, indeed, be our only hope.

Lilly Markaki is a PhD researcher in Media Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London. In 2014, she graduated from the University of Glasgow’s ‘Art; Politics; Transgression: 20th Century Avant-Gardes’ MLitt programme, having previously received a BA in Art History from the same institution. Her research project examines French-American artist Marcel Duchamp in an attempt to renegotiate his position in relation to movements such as Dada and Surrealism and to rethink canonical understandings of the figure, arguing, finally, for an ethical and political dimension in his work. Read more by Lilly Markaki.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


Jim Lobe on Who Funds AIPAC

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 23/09/2018 - 6:52pm in

This is a short, five minute clip from The Real News, based in Boston, put on YouTube ten years ago in 2008. It’s an extract from a longer interview with Jim Lobe, the bureau chief of the Inter press Service in Washington, about the Neocons, the Israel lobby and their power in the US. In this clip, they ask Lobe who’s funding AIPAC, one of the main organisations in the Israel lobby in America.

Lobe replies that one of them is Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate. Adelson owns the Las Vegas Sands in Las Vegas, has opened casinos in Macao, and is the third wealthiest America with a fortune worth between $12 and $30 billion. He offered to be the major donor for AIPAC’s new building. He’s very close to Benjamin Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky, who is part of the Shalem Centre, a Natanyahu/Likud front thinktank in Israel. Adelson founded his own institute, the Adelson institute in Israel, which is headed by Sharansky. He’s also the biggest contributor to the Republican Jewish Coalition, a very Neoconservative, pro-Likudist group, and was also a founder and by far the biggest contributor to another lobby group, Freedomswatch, which was aiming to influence the Congressional races in November 2009.

Lobe says that there are also other, very wealthy contributors, and recommends that the interviewer talks to Michael Massing, who has written quite a bit on the Israel lobby as a kind of corrective to the Walt Mearsheimer thesis first published in the London Review of Books. Asked about Mearsheimer’s views, Lobe replies that they’re putting the issue of the influence of the Israel lobby – that is the confluence of American presidents, AIPAC, the really big organisations, on US policy into the debate – is absolutely critical, particularly under this Bush administration. What we’ve seen is things go seriously, seriously bad in the Middle East, and that a lot of that is due to the policies that these large, very influential American Jewish organisations have first endorsed, then pushed.

Their ( Mearsheimer’s) idea of Israel is something along the two-state solution and getting it done. And they see Israel without such a solution still holding onto Arab lands and so on, as a serious drag on US foreign policy success, as a detriment in the region. They took a realist position, but not one Lobe feels compromises or would compromise Israel’s security so long as it defines its borders more modestly than it does at the present time. Lobe thinks that they were saying that support for Israel should not be unconditional, that there should be clear conditions put on that support, which Israel can either accept or reject. But their main point was that the influence of the Israel lobby, particularly organisations such as this, on Congress, was distorting American interests because the support for Israel in Congress is essentially unconditional, and that’s not getting the US anywhere. It’s also undermining Israel’s security in the long-term. Lobe says that there isn’t much to disagree with in that assessment, or at least Lobe himself says he doesn’t disagree with it much.

Of course, the Israel lobby isn’t confined to American Jews. It also includes Christians, like Ted Hagee’s Christians United For Israel, while many American Jews are becoming increasingly alienated and critical of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.

George Galloway on the Israeli Conspiracy Exposed by Al-Jazeera

This video is George Galloway’s take on the plot exposed by Al-Jazeera in their documentary ‘The Lobby’, and published in the press by the Mail on Sunday, of Shai Masot and various Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel to ‘take down’ various politicians the Israelis found inconvenient.

One of the politicos they discussed doing this to was the Conservative minister, Alan Duncan. Galloway notes that Duncan is one of the first openly gay Tory MPs, so you don’t have to be Einstein to imagine what kind of scandal they would invent to bring him down. Galloway states that this should have been enough for Duncan’s boss, Boris Johnson, who Masot described as ‘an idiot’ to summon the Israeli ambassador, Mark Regev, to London and give him his marching orders. Another MP they also discussed bringing down in a scandal was Sir Crispin Blunt, the chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, who is also gay. Again, you don’t have to spend much time wondering what that scandal might have been. He speculates whether they would have tried to bring Duncan and Blunt together as sexual partners.

But Boris immediately declared the matter closed, leading Galloway to ask this question: if that had been a Russian or Iranian embassy official doing the plotting, would the affair then have been closed? Or would the ambassadors have been brought into the Foreign Office and then expelled from the country? If this had been any other state, we would now be in the middle of a state to state crisis because of it.

Galloway then leaves Duncan and Blunt, as they can look after themselves. He’s far more interested in the Labour aspects of the scandal. Galloway recalls how he and Corbyn have marched together in support of the Palestinians for over 30 years. Which is why, the moment Corbyn was elected, and even before, when it seemed he would win the leadership of the Labour party, the Israel lobby went ‘bananas’. They persecuted him every step of the way to the leadership, and once he had, they conspired to have him overthrown. They concocted the fake anti-Semitism scare within the Labour party, making it seem that it was a nest of racism, when in fact there was nothing to these allegations whatsoever. He states that the only thing the mass of Labour members have in common with Jeremy Corbyn in this is their support for the Palestinian people, and their opposition to Israel’s crimes.

Galloway then moves on to talk about Joan Ryan, the Labour MP for Enfield North, who was also at the lunch with Masot. But you wouldn’t know represented Enfield; she’s better described as the MP for Tel Aviv, and is the chair of Labour Friends of Israel. Ryan was filmed grinning all over her face when Masot told her the good news that he had secured a million pound slush fund to secure Labour politicians to come to Israel’s aid. This was dressed up as a fund to fly Labour MPs to Israel for ‘fact-finding missions’, a pretext which Galloway describes as entirely bogus. He points out that most of them have already been on several ‘fact-finding’ missions to Israel. You can also fly to Israel for well under a thousand pounds. So if half of all Labour MPs have taken the Shekel, that only means an expenditure of 100,000 pounds. What’s the other 900,000 quid for?

He answers that it was a slush fund to destabilise Jeremy Corbyn, to remove him as the leader of the Labour party, by Labour MPs themselves, on behalf of a foreign power. And Israel isn’t just any foreign power, but the biggest violator of international law, and one which has just been condemned by the entire Security Council of the United Nations for its crimes against the Palestinians. He asks what kind of Labour MP is not only in bed with a state like that, but is covertly receiving money from a foreign embassy, for the defence of that country, when it stands in public disapproval amongst all Labour members and most people in Britain, and most countries in the world?

He then goes on to discuss the Conservative official’s remark at the lunch that almost all Conservative MPs are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel. Galloway says that he can tell you himself that at least half of Labour MPs are members of the Labour Friends of Israel. He states ‘Isn’t it about time that you demanded that your MP’s first allegiance was to Britain? That their first responsibility should be to debate and decide what Britain’s foreign policy should be, rather than be agents for a somebody’s else’s country?’ He then goes on to say, ‘And when that somebody else’s country is a country of gangsters that murder people, including British people, and for a very long time’.

He states that the Israel lobby has been in Westminster and Whitehall before, they tried to murder Churchill when he was leading the country in the epic battle against Fascism, the perpetrators of the Holocaust which murdered six million Jews. They planted bombs in the Foreign Office and Whitehall, which killed British officials. Talking about the Stern Gang in Israel, he describes how they hanged two British sergeants in an orange grove and took pictures of it so that it could be used as propaganda around the world. The blew up more than 90 British civil servants in a hotel in Jerusalem. He goes on to say that Israel invented terrorism, or at least, modern terrorism. Yet it now calls its victims, the Palestinians, terrorists and themselves the victims of terror. Before we sort out the Middle East and its problems, we have to sort out our own parliament and democratic system. He states

We must not tolerate its subversion by a foreign power. We cannot tolerate members of Parliament being bought and paid for by a foreign power. Because we can never know, when they say, when they ask, when they do what they do in parliament, we can never know if its in our interests or it’s in the interests of someone else.

He states that he hasn’t seen the Al-Jazeera documentary yet, but when he does, he’s sure he’ll have the chance to come to talk to us about it again.

The Israelis didn’t invent modern terrorism. It first seems to have appeared in the wave of assassinations carried out by nationalists and radicals, including anarchists and socialists/ Communists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, like the various plots in Russia to kill the tsar. But certainly the founders of Israel used terror in their attempt to overthrow British rule in Palestine. The Stern Gang not only killed the two sergeants, they also booby-trapped the bodies to kill the British squaddies come to retrieve their remains. The bombing of the hotel in Jerusalem was the King David, and the attack is notorious. However, I was not aware that Zionist terrorists had planted a bomb in Whitehall, though I don’t doubt it occurred. Galloway is also clearly speculating when he describes the slush fund procured by Masot as mainly for the overthrow of Jeremy Corbyn, but I have no doubt that here he’s also right.

And he’s right about the threat they pose to British politics and democracy, no matter how much they may try to pose as victims and whine about anti-Semitic tropes.

Clip from ‘The Lobby’ Showing Shai Masot Conspiring to Remove UK Politicians

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 23/09/2018 - 4:26am in

This is the promotional trailer for the shocking Al-Jazeera documentary, ‘The Lobby’.

I’ve no doubt you’ve seen this before. Mike’s put it up on some of the articles attacking the Israel lobby and their smears against the opponents and critics of Israel. But I’m putting it up now just to remind everyone what the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party are all about. Those making the smears know very well that well Corbyn is not at all anti-Semitic and is one of the most committed anti-racists in parliament. However, he is pro-Palestinian, and thus is a threat to the racist structure and identity of the Israeli state. And so the Israel lobby both within and outside the Labour party are trying to destroy him, just as this notorious clip showed Shai Masot conspiring with a British civil servant and pro-Israel activists to bring down various British politicians and prevent them getting into the cabinet.

The clip begins with the civil servant Maria Strizzoli, a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, and long term confidante of Conservative Minister Robert Halfont. At dinner with Shai Masot of the Israeli embassy in London, he talks about how he’s applied to be head of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Israeli Intelligence Department. The meeting also included one of Al-Jazeera’s undercover reporters, who filmed Masot asking Strizzoli if he could give her a list of MPs he’d like her to ‘take down’. She replied that if you looked hard enough, there was sure to be something they were trying to hide. The first politician mentioned was the Deputy Foreign Minister, Sir Alan Duncan, who was opposed to the construction of further Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

The clip then goes into a comment by the former Telegraph journo and critic of the Israeli lobby, Peter Oborne, stating that this conversation about taking down Alan Duncan is shocking.

The video then returns to Strizzoli and Masot discussing whether or not they had Duncan neutralized. They then comment that ‘Boris is good’. Johnson was Duncan’s boss, the Foreign Minister. Strizzoli likes him because he is ‘solid on Israel’. Masot says that he is an idiot but so far he’s without any responsibilities as Foreign Minister, so that if ‘something real happens’, it wouldn’t be his fault.

The video then states that Masot features prominently in the programme ‘The Lobby’, and ends with the director, Clayton Swisher, stating that the removal of a minister like Alan Duncan would be a line few foreign embassies would cross. It’s a scandal that Netanyahu’s government must now answer for, as well as the British civil servant.

The Israel lobby and Blairites in the Labour party attempted to support their smear against Mike, that he was an anti-Semite, partly by seizing on his description of Masot’s plotting with Strizzoli as a conspiracy. This, they arrogantly declared, was anti-Semitic, because it used the trope of Jews being evil conspirators going back to notorious anti-Semitic myths and forgeries like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This is complete rubbish, as the clip shows that Masot and Strizzoli were indeed conspiring, and even called what they were doing by that term.

Despite the Israeli government’s embarrassment over the documentary, the Israel lobby and the Israeli authorities continue to interfere covertly in the affairs of foreign countries – the UK and America. And the campaign against critics of Israel, including Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, is run by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

This is the Israeli department ultimately behind the smears against Corbyn and the Labour party by the Blairites and the Zionist organisations in the Labour party, and the Tory Jewish establishment – the Board of Deputies and Chief Rabbis Jonathan Sacks and Ephraim Mirvis. Who have shown the same lack of morals as their Israeli co-conspirators. Just as the Board’s President, Marie van der Zyle, Mirvis and the Blairite MPs Lucy Powell, Beverley Hughes and Louise Ellman graced a demonstration organized by friends of the intensely islamophobic EDL in Manchester last Sunday, so the Israeli state has welcomed White supremacists and Nazis like Steve Bannon, Richard Spencer, the current fuhrer of the Alt Right, and even Tommy Robinson himself, the former founder of the EDL.

The Israel lobby is a threat to proper democracy and open government in Britain and America, and, in its alliance with the Far Right, an existential threat to Jews in these nations.

‘I’ Newspaper: ‘Have I Got News For You More Trusted than News’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/09/2018 - 8:58pm in

Yesterday, Friday 21st September 2018, the I carried a story by Adam Sherwin, which reported that according to its two stars, Paul Merton and Ian Hislop, people see the satirical panel game as more reliable than the news itself. The article said

Have I Got News For You is a more trusted source of news for viewers than official bulletins, the show’s stars have claimed.

Team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton said the long-running satirical series now plays a vital role in challenging “fake news”.

Hislop said: “One of the most cheering things about Have I Got News For You is quite a lot of people get their information from us, which should be terrifying in a properly functioning society.

“I walked in through the door of this hotel today and a man came up and said, ‘I absolutely love Have I Got News For You’ and I said, ‘That’s really nice of you’. He said, ‘I’m from Israel… It’s the only sensible news we get’. And you just think, ‘Oh’.

The Private Eye editor added: “We’ve a very big fan base among immigrants and people from backgrounds where they can’t believe you’re allowed to be this rude, which is a thrill compared to the countries they come from.”

Meron said: “That’s certainly part of the element of its longevity is thatpeople come to it for the news.” (p. 5).

Now I prefer to watch Have I Got News For You rather than the news because I get so irritated with the Beeb and its very strong bias against the Labour party and particularly Jeremy Corbyn. And Hislop’s right that in a properly functioning society it would be alarming that more people are tuning into a comedy show for the news rather than the news itself.

But we don’t live in a properly functioning society. We live in a society dominated by very right-wing politics, almost uniformly promoted by the media. And it’s very much because of this that alternative news sources, particularly on the internet, have been growing at the expense of the mainstream broadcasters and print publishers.

But Private Eye and Have I Got News For You have also not been averse to spreading ‘fake news’. I stopped watching Have I Got News For You and reading the Eye a little while ago because I got sick and tired of their anti-Labour, anti-Corbyn bias and their promotion of the lies justifying current British foreign policy: that Putin is going to take over the whole of Ukraine and is a threat to NATO, and that we should stand solidly behind the rebels in Syria. Even though those same rebels are Islamists, of the same stripe that launched 9/11 and have been campaigning against every secular, nationalist or socialist regimes in the Middle East. And have been aided in this by the West, which saw them as a useful force against Communism and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And now that they’ve shown themselves to be a real threat to peace in the region, they’re being supported again for simple reasons of global geopolitics and the greed of western multinationals and the oil industry.

But you don’t read about this in Private Eye, or see it on Have I Got News For You.

I’ve gone back to reading the Eye and watching HIGNFY, because they’re funny, interesting and do provide an oppositional voice. But they are still themselves unreliable, and have their own, hidden biases, which need to be guarded against. This goes beyond the simple attitude that HIGNFY is a comedy show, and so shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Both the show and the Eye are still part of the media establishment, and so share some of their assumptions and prejudices.

Blairites and Jewish Establishment Join Racist Hate Fest Organised by Friends of the EDL

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/09/2018 - 8:04pm in

This is absolutely disgusting. Last Sunday, the Labour MPs Lucy Powell, Beverley Hughes and Louise Ellman, along with the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and current President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyle (below) attended a demonstration organized by the North-West Friends of Israel. The demonstration was ostensibly against anti-Semitism, but in reality it was another attack on the Labour party for not fanatically supporting Israel. And the organisers, the NWFOI, are also friends and supporters of the EDL and its former leader, Tommy Robinson, AKA Stephen Yaxley Lennon.

No, this is Dr. Who’s Sil, but he’s far more interesting and entertaining than the President of the Board of Deputies.

Tony Greenstein has an excellent piece about the demonstration on his blog, as has Mike over at Vox Political. Greenstein states that

The EDL, formed by Tommy Robinson aka Steven Yaxley-Lennon, was an organisation of Islamaphobic and racist bigots which managed to combine support for Israel with Hitler salutes. Tommy Robinson himself is popular with Zionists these days and completed a tour of Israel with his Zionist fan Dr Brian.

He continued, describing the NWFOI’s relationship with the EDL

In its opposition to Palestine solidarity demonstrations outside the Israeli Kedem shop protest in Manchester in 2014, NWFOI worked with the EDL… As a report at the time observed: ‘NWFOI warmly welcome the English Defence League to their demonstrations.’ The accompanying commentary by Natan Levinson of NWFOI, explained that: ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’

And his article goes on to give further details of the close relationship between the two.

Zyle’s attendance at the event marks a notable reversal of the Board’s attitude towards Robinson and his supporters. Previously they wouldn’t have had anything to do with them. The Board issued a statement against the EDL a little while ago, which said that

Tommy Robinson’s record of anti-Muslim provocation means that he could never be a partner of a respectable or mainstream Jewish organisation.

Mike stated that

This should signal the end of any credibility held by the people named at the top of this article, and the organisations they represent. The reaction on the social media has been damning.

He then goes on to give some of the comments on twitter by people, like John Clarke and Ms. G. Richards, who feel that their attendance discredited the anti-Semitism smears and those making them, and that it was inappropriate for Labour MPs to attend.

Absolutely. And Jewish Voice for Labour, who organized their own counterprotest at the event, and who represent British Jews as much as Mirvis and van der Zyle, issued the following statement

For the last three years there has been a concerted effort to discredit and unseat Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition, a man who is quite possibly the most consistent anti-racist leader the Labour Party has ever known.

This campaign has been led by a coalition of groups which are deeply opposed to Jeremy’s championing of Palestinian rights together with political opponents many of whom have shown little previous interest in combating antisemitism.

Rather than seeking to oppose genuine anti-Jewish hatred, they have cynically sought to amplify and manipulate the anxieties of British Jews in order to further their political aims.

Many of those organisations and individuals taking part this Sunday, including Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and the Board of Deputies, are the same instigators of the campaign against Jeremy.

That progressive Jewish organisations, including those supporting Palestinian human rights, were excluded from participating suggests that the organisers and speakers are not acting in good faith.

For some of the headline speakers, however, the demonstration is not just about antisemitism. Rather it concerns the uncritical defence of some of the actions of the Israeli government whilst giving voice to those who want to remove Jeremy Corbyn, a consistent and principled supporter of Palestinian rights, as leader of the Labour party. We cannot emphasise enough that they do not speak for us.

What is also very bizarre and grotesque is that members of Jewish Voice for Labour have both been accused of not being really Jewish, as well as sneered at by other Jews for being Jewish! Mike reproduces a tweet from Revolution Breeze containing a tweet from Ben Goren saying that an American rabbi called him a ‘Jew Boy’, while a British rabbi said he wasn’t a Jew!

Mike states that the demonstration was a racist event, organized by people using the banner of opposition to anti-Semitism to hide their own racism. In normal circumstances, those Labour MPs and activists, like Ellman and Powell, would get away scot-free with this, and would continue their activities conspiring against and trying to undermine and overthrow their leader. They would continue lying and smearing him, with their comments picked up and repeated by the right-wing press.

He concludes

But their appearance at this event shows that the current situation cannot be allowed to continue. MPs must support the leader, and the will of the party – or they must be replaced by those who will.

By appearing at this appalling event, Lucy Powell and the others have done the Labour Party a huge service.

Precisely what that service is, is shown very clearly in the title of Mike’s article: ‘Lucy Powell’s speech at festival of ‘racial hatred’ makes the case for mandatory reselection’.

And Mike’s right: it is absolutely unacceptable that these Labour rebels should support racist, islamophobic organisations against their own, democratically elected leader.

See Mike’s article
https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/09/18/lucy-powells-speech-at-festival-of-racial-hatred-makes-the-case-for-mandatory-reselection/

and Tony Greenstein’s at
http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/09/nw-friends-of-israel-tommy-robinson-and.html

Greenstein and the Electronic Intifada have published a number of articles exposing the connections between the Zionist British Jewish establishment and the EDL, which has a Jewish division, as well as the Jewish Defence League and the British branch of the Israeli far-right party, Herut. And these links with the EDL should utterly discredit everyone, who turned up to support this disgusting event.

Robinson claims that the EDL is not racist. It is just against Islam, which it presents as aggressive, exploitative and aimed ultimately at overthrowing democracy, secularism and the non-Muslim faiths here in the UK and elsewhere. But the ‘counterjihad’ movement, of which the EDL is a part, is very racist and intolerant. There are elements, which do believe that a war will come in the next decade between far-right European ‘patriots’ and Islam and the left. And I’ve also seen videos on YouTube by anti-Islam activists in the US which not only demonise Muslims, they also demand their expulsion from the US if not the West.

This is chillingly similar to the expulsion of the Jews from Britain in the Middle Ages by Edward I, which was then followed by a wave of other European nations.

The Zionist establishment clearly believe that supporting and collaborating with far-right movements which covertly support ethnic cleansing is acceptable, and does not present any danger to British Jews.

It does. You don’t give Fascists an entrance into mainstream politics. If they are seen to be supported by prominent, respected, if not respectable people, they will naturally exploit this as much as they can. Because as the example of the Nazis shows, they don’t stop with the persecution of only one group. They go on rounding up and killing others. And it wouldn’t surprise me if some members of the EDL, as well as hating Muslims, aren’t also bitter anti-Semites themselves. But perhaps Mirvis, van der Zyle only feel that, once the EDL and its allies expel Muslims, they only Jews they’ll persecute will be left-wing and anti-Zionist, you know, the people they regard as ‘the wrong sort of Jews’.

The event is also a slap in the face to organisations working to overcome prejudice between communities, and especially to bring to Jews and Muslims together.

This demonstration was a dangerous, racist farce, and the Blairites and members of the Jewish establishment – Mirvis and van der Zyle – who attended have betrayed the very people they claim to represent.

Behind Your Back: How the new “anti-stalking” bill could silence online dissent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/09/2018 - 12:00am in

John Ward MP Sarah Wollaston quite rightly wants the police to do more about (and tighten up the prosecution of) potentially dangerous stalkers. But now the crime includes “Cyber abuse”, her Private Member’s Bill is too lax in its definitions about what stalking is, and police guidelines on priorities. Equally worrying, a majority of those sponsoring the legislation have dubious elements in their pasts. In a special investigation, The Slog raises the alarm. Viewed in the round, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Tory MP Sarah Wollaston is a good egg. She isn’t Party voting fodder, she had a real job as a doctor before entering Parliament, she is suspicious of private sector health rip-offs, and she’s enormously popular in her Totnes constituency, where her ability to double and then treble majorities seems immune from the whimsical winds of electoral change as a whole. She espouses radical reform (in favour of the citizen) in how UK politics operate, and rebelled against the Government to vote against setting up a Royal Charter to regulate …

Eisenhower’s Speech Warning about the Military Industry Complex

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/09/2018 - 2:58am in

This short video from RT, posted on YouTube, was under the title ‘Speeches that Still Matter’. It’s American president Dwight D. Eisenhower’s speech of January 17th, 1961, warning America about the threat posed by an unrestrained military-industrial complex.

After a few words about the structure of society at the beginning of the snippet, Eisenhower declares

We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

It has become one of the classic speeches in modern American history, and is referred to whenever activists and politicians criticize the military-industrial complex. Because since Eisenhower’s time, it has grown and seized power. The American military machine and armaments industry sponsors American politicians, and generals, senior civil servants and politicians frequently take up positions on the boards of armaments firms after their military or political career has ended. And the American government gives billions, if not trillions to its weapons manufacturers and armed forces.

I’ve read left-wing analyses of this situation which suggest that this is a deliberate policy of the American government to stimulate the economy. It’s a form of Keynsianism, but as the right-wing ideology of free trade and laissez-faire prevents the government from openly stimulating the economy through public works projects and a proper welfare support network that allows the poor enough to purchase the goods and services they need, which will also stimulate production and industrial growth, the only way the government can actually do so is by giving more and more money to the arms industry.

And all those planes, tanks, ships, missiles, guns and bombs have to be used.

The result is endless war in which small countries in the Developing World are invaded and their leaders toppled, their industries and economies plundered and seized by American multinationals, and Fascist dictators or sham democracies are installed instead. All in the name of giving more profits to the military machine. If you want an example, think of the close connections between the Bush family and the massive industrial conglomerate Haliburton.

When Martin Luther King said in one of his speeches that America was the chief exporter of violence in the world today, he had a point. And our government under the Tories and Blair has been no better. Blair lied to us to get the support of the British public for the Iraq invasion. Maggie Thatcher promoted British arms exports, as did Blair, as did Cameron, drooling all over the ‘wonderful kit’ produced in that BAE factory in Lancashire.

And all the while ordinary people have seen services cut and the infrastructure of countries – roads, railways and so on – left to decay by the profiteering firms that should be maintaining and building them. There are cuts to public services and even more attacks on welfare payments, all in the name of ‘austerity’, ‘making work pay’ and the other lies and buzzwords used by the right to justify their impoverishment and victimization of the poor. And this is done to give massive tax cuts to the already bloated rich.

It’s high time this was stopped, the military-industrial complex reigned in, the wars for their profits ended, and the government invested instead in proper economic growth, domestic industries, infrastructure, public services, a proper welfare state and medical care, and giving working people a proper, living wage.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Anti-Semitism and the Aristocracy

Last night I put up a piece debunking the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, based on the chapter about this vile book in Jon E. Lewis’ The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups (London: Constable & Robinson 2007), pp. 433-50. The Protocols are a notorious anti-Semitic forgery, probably concocted by Matvei Golovinski of the Tsarist secret police, the Okhrana, to make his master, Nicholas II, even more anti-Semitic and to intensify the persecution of the Jews.

The Protocols purport to be the minutes of a secret meeting of a group of elite Jews, intent on destroying all non-Jewish religions and conquering and enslaving Christians and gentiles. They claimed that the Jews were at the centre of a massive conspiracy controlling the banks and were encouraging the downfall of Christian civilization by promoting liberalism, democracy, socialism and anarchism. At the same time they were distracting gentiles from uncovering this plot through using alcohol, gambling, games and other amusements.

There is absolutely no truth in any of this whatsoever. But the book became an immense success and was read and influenced many Fascists and anti-Semites. These included Adolf Hitler, who made the book a compulsory part of the German school syllabus.

Like much of Fascism, it’s a rejection of modernity – the mass society of modern politics that emerged in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Modern politics and secular ideologies were attacked. At one point, the Protocols claim that Darwinism, Marxism and Nietzscheanism have been successful because they have been promoted by the conspiracy. (Lewis, Mammoth Book of Covers-Ups, p. 444). The forger’s own view of what constitutes the best society is revealed very clearly in another passage, in which the conspirators celebrate their destruction of the aristocracy.

The people, under our guidance, have annihilated the aristocracy, who were their one and only defence and foster-mother for the sake of their own advantage, which is inseparably bound up with the well-being of the people. Nowadays, with the destruction of the aristocracy, the people have fallen into the grips of merciless money-grinding scoundrels who have laid a pitiless and cruel yoke upon the necks of the workers. (p.446).

Historically, some of the persecution of the Jews in the later Middle Ages was due to the fact that a large number of the aristocracy had become seriously in debt to Jewish bankers, and tried to get out of their obligation to pay it back by urging for their persecution and expulsion.

A significant number of aristocrats and the upper middle class were supporters of Nazism before the Second World War. The leader of the British Union of Fascists, Oswald Mosley, was a baronet. Aristocrats and landlords joined pro-Nazi and appeasement organisations like the Anglo-German Fellowship. Martin Pugh on his book on British Fascism between the Wars describes how the aristos welcomed members of the Nazi elite at dinner parties on their estates, when the swastika was discreetly flown from the flagpoles.

And there still seems to be a fascination and dangerous sympathy with Nazism even today. Way back in the 1990s and early part of this century, Private Eye published a number of stories about one Cotswold aristocrat, who had very strong anti-Semitic, racist and anti-immigrant opinions.

And then there’s the Traditional Britain Group on the far right of the Tory party. These also have the same, genuinely Fascist attitudes, and one of their leaders is fascinated with the Nazis and the Third Reich. It was the Traditional Britain Group, who invited Jacob Rees-Mogg to their annual dinner, which Mogg accepted. When the Observer published the story, Mogg claimed that at the time he hadn’t known anything about them. If he had, he wouldn’t have gone. Which doesn’t really sound convincing, as people don’t normally accept dinner invitations from organisations and people they know nothing about. But perhaps Mogg, as well as being viciously right-wing, is also very naïve.

As for the Tories being good friends of the Jews, as the current head of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyle claimed in a speech, David Rosenberg posted up in response a series of incidents across the decades which put the lie to it. These showed very clearly how anti-Semitic the Tories had been, and which parts of it may very well still be.

And one of the attractions of anti-Semitism, apart from sheer racism, is that, in the form of conspiracy theories like the Protocols, they blame the Jews for all the forces of modernity that threaten the aristocracy and the upper middle class, and celebrate the aristocracy itself as the people’s saviours, and so appealing very strongly to certain types of Tories.

Private Eye on Frank Field Undermining His Labour Colleagues

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/09/2018 - 10:04pm in

At the end of last month, Mike ran a story about the resignation of Frank Field from the Labour whip. Field claimed he was resigning the party whip because of the party’s supposed anti-Semitism problem and what he called ‘a culture of nastiness’.

In fact, as Mike pointed out, Field’s decision had nothing to do with any of that, and was actually spurred by him losing a no confidence vote held by his constituency party. They were angered by his decision to prop up May’s and her Tory government over Brexit.

Under party laws, Field had fourteen days to resign from the party completely or be thrown out. As for him standing as an independent, that’s an empty threat. Without the backing of the major parties, independent candidates stand little chance of getting elected. So the statement that his departure from the party could result in more right-wing Labour MPs leaving is an empty threat. They know perfectly well that if they do this, they too will vanish politically.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/08/31/dont-be-fooled-by-fake-news-frank-field-left-labour-rather-than-be-kicked-out/

As for Field’s allegation that the ‘culture of nastiness’ was being “driven, in part, by members who in previous years would never have been able to claim Labour Party membership”, this is less a description of his opponents and far more accurate as a description of him. Nearly twenty years ago, Field got into the pages of Private Eye’s ‘HP Sauce’ column because of his intriguing against colleagues in the Labour party, including urging voters to support a Liberal candidate instead.

the article was in the Eye’s edition for Friday, 21st August 1998, and ran

Frank Field’s apparent desire to speak the unspeakable on welfare reform is not the first time he has kicked against the pricks in his party.

Back in 1980 the Eye welcomed him into parliament (New Boys, 483) recalling his nickname of “Judas”. This was earned in Labour circles for his outspoken attacks on the Wilson government when he was director of the Child Poverty Action Group. This was nothing compared to the bizarre events associated with him during the Euro elections in north Wales in 1984, however.

Labour candidate Ian Campbell found himself discredited in a series of quarter-page advertisements in the local papers, which claimed that Frank Field MP urged Labour party supporters to support Tom Ellis, the candidate for the SDP/Liberal Alliance, who was then standing on a straightforward Liberal ticket.

Pleas from Campbell to Field to retract these reported views, and to canvas with him to disprove such presumably false claims, found no response. Neither did the diehards of the labour party’s general secretary for a retraction; he was forced in a conversation with Campbell to admit that Field was simply a “maverick” over whom the party had no control.

Labour lost the seat by a small margin and Field never denied the views attributed to him – views which, according to the rules, should have led to his expulsion from the party. (p. 8).

I realise the events are over thirty years ago, but they do seem to reflect very well what kind of character Field had. I could never work out why he remained in the Labour party, as he believed that life should be made even tougher for the unemployed. The Conservative Anglican blog, Cranmer, thoroughly supported him, and openly stated that Field would be welcome in the Conservative ranks if he crossed the floor.

Field’s resignation thus is no loss to the party. And as Mike points out, it leaves his constituency party free to elect a real Labour party worker to be their prospective MP.

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