Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 24/03/2018 - 8:56am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

March 22, 2018 Jennifer Berkshire, host of Have You Heard?, on teachers’ strikes, WV and beyond • Stan Collender on fiscal follies in DC

Lobster on Real Conspiracies Versus Conspiracy Theories: Part Two

Bale then goes to contrast the non-existent groups of the bogus conspiracy theories, with real conspiratorial groups, which have exerted a genuine influence, such as the Afrikaner Broederbond, the extremist Afrikaner nationalist group that was ultimately responsible for the adoption of apartheid. He writes

No Monolithic Conspiracy
There has never been, to be sure, a single, monolithic Communist Conspiracy of the sort postulated by the American John Birch Society in the 1950s and 1960s. Nor has there ever been an all-encompassing International Capitalist Conspiracy, a Jewish World Conspiracy, a Masonic Conspiracy, or a Universal Vatican Conspiracy. And nowadays, contrary to the apparent belief of millions, neither a vast Underground Satanist Conspiracy nor an Alien Abduction Conspiracy exists. This reassuring knowledge should not, however, prompt anyone to throw out the baby with the bath water, as many academics have been wont to do. For just as surely as none of the above mentioned Grand Conspiracies has ever existed, diverse groups of Communists, capitalists, Zionists, masons and Catholics have in fact secretly plotted, often against one another, to accomplish various specific but limited political objectives.

No sensible person would claim, for example, that the Soviet secret police has not been involved in a vast array of covert operations since the establishment of the Soviet Union, or that international front groups controlled by the Russian Communist Party have not systematically engage in worldwide penetration and propaganda campaigns. it is nonetheless true that scholars have often hastened to deny the existence of genuine conspiratorial plots, without making any effort to investigate them, simply because such schemes fall outside their own realm of knowledge and experience or – even worse – directly challenge their sometimes naïve conceptions about how the world functions.

They Do Exist
If someone were to say, for example, that a secret masonic lodge in Italy had infiltrated all of the state’s security agencies and was involved in promoting or exploiting acts of neo-fascist terrorism in order to condition the political system and strengthen its own hold over the levers of government, most newspaper readers would probably assume that they were joking or accuse them of having taken leave of their senses. Ten years ago I might have had the same reaction myself. Nevertheless, although the above statement oversimplifies a far more complex pattern of interaction between the public and private spheres, such a lodge in fact existed. It was known as Loggia Massonica Propaganda Due (P2), was affiliated with the Grand Orient branch of Italian masonry, and was headed by a former fascist militiaman named Licio Gelli. In all probability something like P2 still exists today in an altered form, even though the lodge was officially outlawed in 1982. Likewise, with the claim that an Afrikaner secret society, founded in the second decade of this century [the 20th], had played a key role in establishing the system of apartheid in South Africa, and in the process helped to ensure the preservation of ultra-conservative Afrikaner cultural values and Afrikaner political dominance until 199. (sic). Yet this organisation also existed. It was known as the Afrikaner Broederbond (AB), and it formed a powerful ‘state within a state’ in that country by virtue, among other things, of its unchallenged control over the security services. There is no doubt that specialists on contemporary Italian politics who fail to take account of the activities of P2, like experts on South Africa who ignore the AB, are missing an important dimension of political life there. Nevertheless, neither of these to important organisations has been thoroughly investigated by academics. In these instances, as is so often the case, investigative journalists have done most of the truly groundbreaking preliminary research. (pp. 21-2).

He then goes on criticise the attitude of historians like David Hackett Fischer, who have identified those theories that attribute too much power to secret organisations as part of the ‘furtive fallacy’, but then go too far the other way in insisting that the only significant influences are those that are above board and public, and that nothing of any significance has ever been by clandestine groups. He writes

To accept these unstated proposition uncritically could induce a person, among other things, to overlook the bitter nineteenth century struggle between political secret societies for, at least, between revolutionaries using non-political secret societies as a ‘cover’ and the political police of powerful states like Austria and Russia, to minimise the role played by revolutionary vanguard parties in the Russian and communist Chinese revolutions, or to deny that powerful intelligence services like the CIA and the KGB have fomented coups and intervened massively in the internal affairs of other sovereign states since the end of World War II. In short, it might well lead to the misinterpretation or falsification of history on a grand scale.

It is easier to recognise such dangers when relatively well-known historical development like these are used as illustrative examples, but problems often arise when the possible role played by conspiratorial groups in more obscure event is brought up. It is above all in these cases, as well as in high-profile cases where a comforting ‘official’ version of events has been widely diffused, that commonplace academic prejudices against taking covert politics seriously come into play and can exert a potentially detrimental effect on historical judgements. (p. 21-2, my emphasis).

He concludes

There is probably no way to prevent this sort of unconscious reaction in the current intellectual climate, but the least that can be expected of serious scholars is that they carefully examine the available evidence before dismissing matters out of hand.

The proposals by YouTube, the Beeb and the Tory Party to set up monitoring groups to rebut ‘fake news’ go far beyond normal academic prejudice against taking real secret politics seriously. They are an attempt to present a very comforting official version of politics, which in the case of the Tory party means suppressing and falsifying the horrific assault their policies have had on British institutions, industry, and people since Maggie Thatcher. They are trying to shore up the decaying economic edifice of neoliberalism by presenting its opponents as wild-eyed radicals in the grip of loony conspiracies, producing ‘fake news’.

And the same is true of Israel lobby, which tries to hide its attempts to pervert British and American politics through lobbying and the sponsorship of leading politicians. It also uses the existence of malign, anti-Semitic conspiracies as a weapon to smear genuine historians and activists, who support the Palestinians in their struggle for dignity and equality, or simply want to correct their lies, as anti-Semites. People like Mike, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and so many, many others. They need to be stopped. Now.

The article is available at the magazine’s website. However, early issues, like 29 are behind a paywall. The editor, Robin Ramsay, has also written a book on conspiracies, where he makes the same distinction.

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/03/2018 - 8:21am in


Radio, China

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

March 15, 2018 John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty on what’s wrong with a Universal Basic Income • Isabel Hilton on Xi Jinping’s becoming China’s president for life

Radio 3 Programme on Internet Threat to Democracy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/03/2018 - 8:06pm in

Next Tuesday at 10.00 pm Radio 3 is broadcasting a programme about the threat to democracy in the age of the internet. It’s part of the Free Thinking Festival, and is entitled ‘People Power’. The blurb for it in the Radio Times reads

Democracy was the most successful political idea of the last century but can it survive the digital age? Anne McElvoy chairs a discussion with Rod Liddle, associate editor of the Spectator, David Runciman, author of How Democracy Exists, Caroline MacFarland, the head of a think tank promoting the interest of “millennials”, and geographer Danny Dorling. Recorded in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival. (p. 130).

McElvoy recently presented the excellent short history of British Socialism on Radio 4. Now, I might be prejudging the programme, but it looks like very establishment thinkers once again trying to tell us that the Net, bonkers conspiracy theories and electoral interference from the Russians are a threat to western democracy as a way of protecting entrenched media, political and business interests.

The Net isn’t a threat to democracy. What is destroying it, and has caused Harvard University to downgrade America from a democracy to an oligarchy, in the corporate sponsorship of politicians. Because politicos are having their electoral funds paid by donors in business, they ignore what their constituents want and instead represent the interests of big business. Which means that in Congress they support the Koch and the oil industry, and the arms companies against 97 per cent of Americans, who want greater legislation over guns to prevent any further school shootings.

As for the press, they’re aiding the collapse of democracy because they’ve become part of massive media and industrial conglomerates, and represent the interests of their corporate bosses. They are most definitely not representing ‘truth to power’, but are instead another layer of power and ideological control. They promote the policies their bosses in big business want, even when it is actively and obviously impoverishing ordinary people. Like the way the right-wing press is constantly pushing neoliberalism, even though this as a doctrine is so dead it’s been described as ‘Zombie Economics’.

In this case, the internet really isn’t a threat to democracy, but the opposite. People can check the lies their governments and media are telling them, and disseminate real information to correct it, as well as go further and identify the people and organisations distorting and corrupting our politics from behind the scenes.

And this is obviously scaring the political and media elite. Otherwise they wouldn’t be transmitting programme like this.

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/03/2018 - 12:52pm in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

March 8, 2018 Jason Wilson on dwindling numbers on the far right • Tim Shorrock on the relations among the two Koreas and the U.S.

Secretary of Jewish Voices for Labour Libelled as Anti-Semite

Another day, another smear by the Israel lobby and their collaborators in the Labour party against another decent, anti-racist individual. This time the victim is Glyn Secker, the secretary of Jewish Voices for Labour. He’s been suspended from the Labour party because of allegations that he posted anti-Semitic comments on social media.

Mike posted up a piece about it, including the condemnation of Mr. Secker’s suspension by his colleagues in Jewish Voices for Labour on Wednesday. He pointed out that, whoever Secker’s accusers are, they waited a long time before accusing him because he hasn’t posted on Twitter since mid-2016. Mike believes it has more to do with alleged anti-Semitic comments Secker made at demonstrations and gatherings at which he spoke. One of these was at Grosvenor Square, London, on the 6th January of this year. Euan Philips in the Huffington Post, claimed that his speech was full of ‘anti-Semitic slurs’. But a recording of the speech, cited by Mike, shows instead just criticism of Israel.

Which is probably what this is all about. Mr. Secker is the Director and a member of the Executive Committee of the organisation, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, and captained the Jewish boat to Gaza in 2009. So this looks very much like another smear by the Israel lobby and the Blairites against someone, who is very definitely not an anti-Semite, and whose only crime is supporting the Palestinians.

His fellows in Jewish Voices for Labour point out the unfair nature of the accusation. There is no accuser, the charges are vague, but nevertheless the head of Disputes, Glyn Matthews, is taking it so seriously that Secker has been suspended. Jewish Voices for Labour rightly state that these false allegations are bringing Labour into disrepute.

They state further

This is an absurd, politically-motivated attack on our Secretary and our organisation. We call on our supporters to move motions of censure in their branches and CLPs. To use allegations of antisemitism in this way is an abuse of power, and a degrading of the seriousness of actual antisemitism and other forms of racism. While antisemitism is monstrous – and, like all forms of racism, should be vigorously dealt with – false accusations of antisemitism are monstrous too. We call for the immediate lifting of these charges.

Mike in his article also wonders if the attack is motivated by the problems now facing the Jewish Labour Movement, who have finally called in the cops to investigate their head honcho, Jonathan Newmark. No Morals Newmark has been credibly accused of embezzling money from Jewish charities when he was head of the Jewish Leadership Council, although the Council didn’t call the rozzers in because of a desire to avoid a scandal. No Morals denies the charges, of course, claiming that he left the organisation due to health reasons.

This looks like an attempt by the Israel lobby to close down a rival organisation in the Labour party, and allow the Jewish Labour Movement to monopolise its position, casting itself as the only organisation speaking for Jews in the Labour party. Which means Jews joining such an organisation automatically have to support its policy of supporting Israel, and covering up the Israeli state’s 7 decades long campaign of massacre, ethnic cleansing and apartheid against the Palestinians.

Glyn Secker and Jewish Voices for Labour clearly present a threat to their attempts to establish this monopoly, by providing an alternative political outlet and view of Jewish identity regarding the treatment of the Palestinians. The Israel lobby can’t allow that, and so we have the fake allegations of anti-Semitism and the Kafka-esque perversion of justice. Just like Mike’s case, there’s no accuser, and the charges are vague. It’s another kangaroo court.

Mike’s article is at:
Please read it.

I am heartily, heartily sick and tired of these smears and libels. To accuse decent people of anti-Semitism, and, in Mike’s case, Holocaust Denial, is to cast them as monsters of the same type as real Nazis like the banned terrorist group, National Action, and their grotesque conspiracy theories about Jews and vociferous demands for their persecution and extermination. And if it’s bad enough for gentiles to be labelled as such, I can only think how much worse it must be for those of Jewish heritage, because of the long history of their people’s persecution.

And I despise the skulking anonymity which protects the accusers’ identities. I dare say that if you challenged these organisations on it, they’d give you some glib twaddle about how it was needed to protect them, considering the work they do infiltrating and exposing anti-Semitism. This just looks like nonsense to me, as they seem not remotely interested in anti-Semitism per se, but just trying to silence criticism of Israel. And dictatorial regimes have always used anonymous spies and accusers to stifle dissent, ever since the Roman Empire.

Now’s the time to end this charade, beginning with the anonymity. If the people making these accusations aren’t prepared to do so openly, revealing their identity, then the accusation should be automatically thrown out as vexatious and mischievous. Also, definite charges should be made. Vague accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ should not be allowed to pass unquestioned. If they cannot produce substantial charges, then the accusation should be thrown out as an another smear.

I also believe this attack on Mr Secker was connected to another accusation of anti-Semitism, this time by the misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. They claimed that Labour MPs were posting on a pro-Palestinian website that was making anti-Semitic accusations about the Jews, and in particular about the Rothschild’s banking family. I think there was also some accusation that the site also denied the Holocaust. It looks like the Israel lobby was going in for a coordinated attack on pro-Palestinian groups, and that the smears against Mr. Secker were part of this.

I’ve had enough of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. They’ve done nothing but smear decent people for the benefit of the Israeli state and its friends in the British media. They’re a corrupt, sham organisation, who should have their charitable status rescinded.

It’s time to close down this witch-hunt. Anyone making further smears should be booted out of the party as a mischief-maker seeking to undermine party democracy, and a libeller.

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 04/03/2018 - 2:54am in


Radio, marketing

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

March 1, 2018 Liza Featherstone, author of Divining Desire, on the history and meaning of focus groups [disclosure alert: Featherstone is the host’s wife]

Short Book on William Morris

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 03/03/2018 - 10:40pm in

One of the programmes on the BBC Radio 4 series on the history of British Socialism Present by Anne McElvoy was, naturally, on William Morris, the great British artist, writer – he translated a number of Icelandic sagas, and is regarded as one of the founder of modern genre Fantasy – and social activist and revolutionary Socialist, William Morris.

If you don’t have the time or patience for a full scale biography of Morris, but want to know a bit more about him, I can recommend Peter Stansky’s William Morris (Oxford: OUP 1983). It was published as part of OUP’s ‘Past Masters’ series of short biographies of the great figures of the past, like Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Darwin, and so on. It’s only 96 pages, including index. The chapters are as follows:

1. Youth
2. Oxford
3. Red House and the Firm
4. Poetry and Early Politics
5 The 1880s
6 Last Years

There’s also a section for further reading. The blurb for it on the back cover runs

William Morris was one of the great figures of the Victorian age; an artist and craftsman and a successful writer of romances. He was also an ardent socialist and leader of the labour movement. His concern for the place of art in society, and his analysis of that society’s discontent, place Morris as a thinker in the company of Marx and Ruskin. Peter Stansky presents, in the context of his age, and in all his engaging multiplicity, the life and personality of a man whom a contemporary perceptively described as ‘The Earthly Paradox’.

Gabriel Rockhill on the Myth of American Democracy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/03/2018 - 9:51pm in

A few months ago, the Franco-American philosopher Gabriel Rockhill published a very interesting piece in Counterpunch arguing that, contrary to how the country sees itself, America isn’t and has never been a democracy. He notes that the British imperialists, who founded the Thirteen Colonies, weren’t interested in spreading rights or democracy, and that the Founding Fathers were also anti-democratic. They were like most of the other Enlightenment thinkers in that they were keen to defend to property from the mass of the propertyless, whom they associated with misrule and the mob. He points out that at the time the suffrage only extended to men of property, and excluded the poor, women, First Nations and slaves. The notion that the country was a democracy first appeared with Andrew Jackson, who styled himself as a democrat purely as an electoral pose without doing anything to extend the franchise. He writes

Second, when the elite colonial ruling class decided to sever ties from their homeland and establish an independent state for themselves, they did not found it as a democracy. On the contrary, they were fervently and explicitly opposed to democracy, like the vast majority of European Enlightenment thinkers. They understood it to be a dangerous and chaotic form of uneducated mob rule. For the so-called “founding fathers,” the masses were not only incapable of ruling, but they were considered a threat to the hierarchical social structures purportedly necessary for good governance. In the words of John Adams, to take but one telling example, if the majority were given real power, they would redistribute wealth and dissolve the “subordination” so necessary for politics. When the eminent members of the landowning class met in 1787 to draw up a constitution, they regularly insisted in their debates on the need to establish a republic that kept at bay vile democracy, which was judged worse than “the filth of the common sewers” by the pro-Federalist editor William Cobbett. The new constitution provided for popular elections only in the House of Representatives, but in most states the right to vote was based on being a property owner, and women, the indigenous and slaves—meaning the overwhelming majority of the population—were simply excluded from the franchise. Senators were elected by state legislators, the President by electors chosen by the state legislators, and the Supreme Court was appointed by the President. It is in this context that Patrick Henry flatly proclaimed the most lucid of judgments: “it is not a democracy.” George Mason further clarified the situation by describing the newly independent country as “a despotic aristocracy.”

When the American republic slowly came to be relabeled as a “democracy,” there were no significant institutional modifications to justify the change in name. In other words, and this is the third point, the use of the term “democracy” to refer to an oligarchic republic simply meant that a different word was being used to describe the same basic phenomenon. This began around the time of “Indian killer” Andrew Jackson’s presidential campaign in the 1830s. Presenting himself as a ‘democrat,’ he put forth an image of himself as an average man of the people who was going to put a halt to the long reign of patricians from Virginia and Massachusetts. Slowly but surely, the term “democracy” came to be used as a public relations term to re-brand a plutocratic oligarchy as an electoral regime that serves the interest of the people or demos. Meanwhile, the American holocaust continued unabated, along with chattel slavery, colonial expansion and top-down class warfare.

He then goes to argue that America today is also not a democracy. It has elections, but in fact the American people aren’t governing themselves, but merely choosing which members of a plutocratic ruling class they want to govern them. And his last point is that the anti-democratic nature of American politics is shown very clearly in how often America has interfered in the elections of foreign nations – either through manipulation, or by invasion – when those countries haven’t elected the leaders America wants.

The article’s well worth reading, and is at

Douglas Adams made a similar point in his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. On one of the fictional worlds described by the Guide, there are two races. The planet’s society is stratified, so that one of the races is the ruling class, and the other their subordinates. But it is a democracy. Ever so often, elections are held, in which the subordinate race goes off to vote for whichever members of the dominant race they want in power. But the position of the dominant race and their right to rule is never questioned.

I don’t know whether this is one of the other Hitchhiker books, or if it was just in the radio series. But it’s a good satirical description of the way western class politics works. It’s probably more true now than it was in Adams’ time, as the Blairites and the Tories come from the same middle class, and promote the same free market, neoliberal policies, which the rest of us are expected to support uncritically. It’s time to break this class monopoly on power.

Tony Greenstein Interviewed by George Galloway

The very anti-racist, anti-Fascist Jewish critic of Israel, Tony Greenstein, put up a piece on his blog on Sunday about his interview on RT’s ‘Sputnik’ programme with George Galloway and his cohost, Gayatri. Greenstein is another, who has been expelled from the Labour party and smeared as an anti-Semite, because he has dared to step out of line and criticise Israel for its maltreatment of the Palestinians.

In the interview, Galloway asks how it is that Greenstein, who is not only Jewish, but the son of a rabbi, could ever be accused of anti-Semitism. Greenstein replies by telling him how he first became aware of the Palestinians’ conditions, and that they, not the Israelis, were right. It was while he was at school in Liverpool. He went to the King David Jewish school, and one day the school decided it was going to stage a debate on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. No-one else wanted to argue the Palestinians’ case, so Greenstein decided to do it to play devil’s advocate. It was while he was researching it that he came to conclude that the Palestinians were entirely justified in their cause.

As for being smeared as an anti-Semite, Greenstein makes the point that those making these smears – the CAA and the Jewish Labour Movement – aren’t interested in genuine anti-Semitism. They are people completely without any morals, cynically using the accusation to silence decent people and their criticism of Israeli racism and apartheid. This is the only way they can defend Israel, as the facts themselves demonstrate how the Palestinians are oppressed and being ethnically cleansed from the ancestral lands.

Mr Greenstein’s article is at
The piece doesn’t just contain his own account and remarks about the interview, but also a video of the interview itself.

This piece also demonstrates why I’m very happy to get much of my news from YouTube. Mike posted up a piece last week asking his readers if they were happy getting their news from YouTube instead of the mainstream broadcasters, because of the issue of bias on the latter. I do watch the mainstream news, but I prefer to get my information from the various alternative news networks on YouTube and the Net, because I heartily dislike the pro-Tory bias of the Beeb and the rest of the mainstream media. And also because the programmes on these alternative channels, like RT, have more interesting things to say than the mainstream. They have a different, deeper analysis into free market capitalism as the cause of poverty, criticise the imperialism which is now being disguised as humanitarianism in the ‘War on Terror’. And in the case of Greenstein, actually allow somebody onto TV to refute the smears against him by Ian McNicol’s corrupt apparatchiks and the Israel lobby.

Somehow I doubt Mike or anyone else libelled as an anti-Semite is going to enjoy the same courtesy from Andrew Marr, just as they will very definitely not be invited to appear in the pages of the Sunday Times, Torygraph, Heil or Scum to argue their cases.

I realise that Galloway is not everyone’s favourite politico, but his interview with Greenstein shows very clearly why we need alternative media sources like RT, while the mainstream media do nothing but pump out right-wing lies and smears.