sexism

The Racism of the Tory Party and its Supporters

Yesterday Mike put up a piece commenting on the sheer amount of racism in the Tory party. Evolve Politics had published a piece about the 18 Conservative councillors and council candidates that have been suspended just that month for alleged racism. They gave the name of the councillors and candidates, the towns and areas in which they were standing, and the reasons for their suspension. And it’s a long, ugly list. Most of them were suspended for alleged islamophobia, though there was also accusations of anti-Semitism, general racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia and abuse of transsexuals. One candidate, Darren Harrison of Watford, had been suspended for allegedly having links to Neo-Nazis and the EDL. The Tory Mayor of Wokingham was also suspended for alleged links to the EDL. Two other Tories were suspended for supposedly abusing and assaulting their fellow activists. Another had allegedly been falsely claiming to have served in the army. And Geoff Driver of Sunderland was suspended on charges of corruption and witness intimidation.

Evolve Politics also reported that the largest Islamic organisation in the UK has called for an inquiry, but this has been ignored, as the media ignored the racism in the Tory party.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/11/have-we-already-forgotten-the-huge-number-of-tories-who-were-suspended-amid-allegations-of-racism-and-abuse/

A few days earlier, Mike also posted a very relevant piece from the Turning the Tide blog. The blogger there had been a member of a number of Corbyn-supporting groups on Facebook. He had never once encountered a threatening, racist or anti-Semitic remark on them. But the media are fixated on attacking Corbyn with supposed left-wing racism. This is not questioned, because it is shared by so many of the mainstream media. They have also turned a blind eye to the much more prevalent racism in the Tory party. The blogger therefore compiled a selection of on-line hate, garnered from Twitter and Conservative-affiliated webpages. The blogger then gave an example from the Guido Fawkes site. This contained some very nasty comments about Muslims.

Mike then reminded his readers that the Guido Fawkes site has been the source for many of the anti-Semitism stories used by the Blairites and the right-wing media.

He concludes this article with the words

And nothing from the MSM on this issue, even though it is right in front of them.

Are our news reporters now so poor at their jobs that they can’t do even the slightest investigation? Or is their political bias now so great that they refuse to discuss anything that could harm Conservative political chances, no matter who is harmed as a result?

Let’s have an answer, mainstream journalists. You are avoiding this story because of either ignorance or incompetence.

Which is it?

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/08/blogger-looks-for-right-wing-hate-online-and-finds-it-easily-wheres-the-media-outrage/

We shouldn’t be surprised at this racism and bias in the Tory party. This is the party, after all, which ran posters advising people to vote Labour if they wanted a Coloured neighbour in the 1960s. I also remember the scandals in the 1980s when the Union of Conservative Students adopted racial nationalism – the official ideology of the National Front and BNP – as its own. As for Guido Fawkes, he was a member of Freedom Association, a Libertarian organisation, when it was inviting the leaders of South American death squads to its annual dinners as guests of honour.

So it’s no surprise that the media are keen for the racism in Tory ranks to remain unreported. There have been academic studies of the role and power of the media, that show how important the media is for shaping which issues or considered suitable for discussion and debate. Those issues that aren’t reported, or which they sneer at, generally are held to be outside the circle of proper debate. And this is another case of the mainstream media trying to do this by not reporting the Tories’ racism.

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Katy Balls Writes about ‘Liberal’ Tories, But Do They Really Exist?

Katy Balls, one of the columnists on the I newspaper, wrote a long column on Wednesday claiming that liberal Tories were a dying breed. This branch of the Tory party includes, apparently, Amber Rudd, Justine Greening and Damian Green in England, and ‘Rape Clause’ Ruth Davidson north of the border. With the resignation of Amber Rudd, their ranks are seriously depleted. She then went on describe how the Tories were planning to compensate for their losses in London by attacking weak Labour seats in the north, stressing a social conservative programme.

Social conservatism is the right-wing ideology that stresses traditional western social attitudes against gay rights, immigration and multiculturalism. It’s also very traditional in its attitude to gender roles. Put simply, it’s the attitude of the Daily Mail, which is vehemently racist, and has published no end of pieces arguing that women and society would be better off if they returned to their traditional roles as wives and mothers.

Reading Balls’ article, I wonder who these liberal Tories were, and if they ever really existed. I’ve seen no evidence that Rudd, Davidson, Greening and Green have ever been liberal at all in their treatment of the poor, the disabled and the unemployed. In fact there’s plenty of evidence against it in the Tories’ attacks on these groups through workfare, benefit sanctions, their cuts to vital welfare services and their support of the low wage economy. And while Dave Cameron made a lot of noise about cleaning the racists out of his party, the Tories are still very much against immigration and racist. Rudd’s supposed to be a liberal, but that didn’t stop her presiding over the deportation of the Windrush migrants, though she wasn’t responsible for the policy or the legislation behind it. That was done by Tweezer when she was Dodgy Dave Cameron’s home secretary. As for Ruth Davidson, the only quality she has which might be described as liberal is the fact that she’s a lesbian with a wife, who is now expecting a child. Tolerance of gays is a policy usually associated with the left, and the embrace of gay rights was another, liberal policy adopted by Cameron. But as Private Eye pointed out at the time, the Conservatives always have had slightly more gay MPs than Labour. So it wasn’t much of a break from the Tories’ existing attitudes, at least regarding their own ranks.

The only thing that marks these people out as liberal is they may be less prejudiced against Blacks and ethnic minorities, and far more tolerant of gays than the rest of the party. But they’ve still shown themselves to be viciously persecutory towards working people and the poor. And their supposed anti-racism didn’t stop them from deporting British citizens with a right to stay in this country, simply because they were Black or Asians from the Commonwealth. Or, indeed, that the party as a whole is less racist, although it might be more disguised and expressed less openly. If Balls hadn’t claimed that Rudd, Greening and Green were liberal, it wouldn’t have struck me that they were so. I’ve seen no evidence myself, and I doubt many others have. And despite her sexuality, Ruth Davidson is extremely illiberal, especially when it comes to rape victims and child benefit.

What Balls seems to mean is that if this crew go, then the Tories will become more overtly racist, anti-feminist, Islamophobic and homophobic. This will lead to increased prejudice against gays, Muslims and ethnic minorities, as well as renewed attacks on women and feminism. But it could also show them to be even more out of touch with society and less electable, whether or not they’re campaign in the north.

Kevin Logan on the Far Right’s ‘Day For Freedom’ Video

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 05/05/2018 - 6:25pm in

Tomorrow the far right will be holding a ‘Day for Freedom’ rally in Whitehall in London. Speakers at the rally include racists and xenophobes such as Tommy Robinson, the founder of the EDL, Laura Southern, and ‘virtuous troll’ Milo Yiannopoulos. This is part of the general strategy of the far right in America and Canada to claim that they are defending free speech against the attempts by the left to close it down. They are trying to roll back the left’s attacks on hate speech against minorities, such as ethnic minorities, Muslims, gays, women and the transgendered.

In this video, male feminist and foe of the far right, Kevin Logan, comments on how ridiculous their promotional video for the event is. This shows the various speakers with tape covering their mouths. Then, to funky background music, they take the tape off. Logan first of all comments that the production standards for the Daesh videos have really improved, before making the point that, for people who are supposedly silenced, they’re very vocal. They never shut up.

There is an issue here with the free speech, as I’ve said before. Milo Yiannopoulos did a tour of American campuses ostensibly to promote it and attack the left’s policy of no-platforming extreme rightwing speakers. In fact, this is an pretext for them trying to bring racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and anti-feminism back into the mainstream.

Some of the campus bans on speakers are excessive and, in my view, do severely limit free speech. Germaine Greer, for example, was given a no-platform at one university, because of her attitude that transwomen – male to female transsexuals – aren’t real women. It’s a very controversial position, and other feminists have accused her of bigotry and misogyny. But behind the laws limiting hate speech and the no-platforming policy is are several very good reasons. The demonization of ethnic minorities by the far right is an attempt to whip up hatred against them, hatred that does lead to real, brutal violence, apart from massive social injustice. And it is extremely dangerous, as shown very clearly by the history of apartheid South Africa, Nazi Germany, and other Fascist regimes around the world. And the same is true for gays, and transpeople. Logan himself has also attacked the various members of the anti-feminist far right for their sheer misogyny, which can lead to them defending and validating violence against women and even rape. See his series of vlogs, ‘Descent of the Manosphere’ for far too many examples.

Antifa are also planning to turn up tomorrow, so there will be counterprotests. I’m afraid that there might be violence, so it might be wise for some people to avoid that area tomorrow.

Pat Mills: Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000AD and Judge Dredd: The Secret History: Part One

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 31/03/2018 - 12:41am in

Pat Mills is the creator and founding editor of 2000AD, and this is history of the comic as he remembers it, although he recognises that others’ memories may be different and contradict his. It takes its title from the watchwords of his most popular villain: Torquemada, the ultimate Fascist Grand Master of Termight, in a feudal age of space travel, violence and magic far in the future. The book is divided into three sections, each named after one of Torquemada’s three commands. The slogan even turned up on the Berlin wall, which figures. The East Germans had been living under a dictatorship not too different from Torquemada’s. It was anti-racist and anti-Fascist, but still very much a police state, where the country was watched and dissent ruthlessly crushed. A friend of mine also told me that the slogan was used by Adolf Hitler in a speech he gave to the Bund Deutscher Madel, or German Maids’ League, the female equivalent of the Hitler Youth. Which also figures. Torquemada wanted to exterminate every intelligent alien race in the Galaxy, and was constantly making speeches exhorting humans not to ‘have truck with deviant, dally with the succubus’ and so on. In other words, no racial mixing. Which was definitely what the Nazis were trying to indoctrinate these girls with.

The book tells how Mills and John Wagner got sick of grinding out stories in a garden shed, lit by paraffin lamps, and moved to London to revolutionise British comics with creation of Battle, Action and 2000AD – the Galaxy’s greatest comic. At this stage of their career, Mills and Wagner were so poor that they couldn’t afford new typing paper after they ran out, and so at one point ended typing them up on tracing paper. The economics of writing stories was such that to make ends meet, you had to write several stories very quickly in a matter of days.

It is this attitude, and the British industry’s contemptible treatment of comics creators, that Mills returns to criticise throughout this book, making a very strong and convincing case that it is these attitudes that have caused the decline in comics in Britain in contrast to France, where they are flourishing. In Britain, comics creators do not own the rights to creations. They can be given to other writers and artists, and their creators are not paid royalties for them. In France, the reverse is true, and so comics creators spend years, decades, writing and drawing some of the greatest strips in the world. Think of such comic greats as Moebius, Caza, and Enki Bilal, and the rest of them, who came out of Metal Hurlant and les Humanoides Associes.

He also had to cope with the lack of interest in any reform from the old guard, who were quite simply just content to go on as they always had, until the industry finally collapsed and they were made unemployed or drew their pensions. They were shocked when Mills bought several books on science, because he was writing and editing a science fiction comic. This was too much for company management, who found the idea of doing research for a children’s comic ridiculous. And then there’s the issue of the studied contempt the management treated artists’ work. They used them on dartboards, or to plug drains. Several artists told Mills flatly that they weren’t going to work him as IPC was the company that closed down Frank Bellamy’s studio. Bellamy, along with Frank Hampson, was the awesome artist who worked on the classic Dan Dare. And his artwork was treated in the same contemptible fashion. As a result, much of it has been lost, although its still a massive favourite at fan conventions and when it comes on the market, rightly fetches high sums.

Mills tells the story of how he came to create favourite 2000AD characters like Judge Dredd, Nemesis the Warlock, Slaine and Finn. He champions the work of artists, who he feels have been unfairly neglected, or even vilified. They include Belardinelli for his contribution to the Slaine strip, which he is proud to have had put back into Titan’s reprints of the strip, as well as SMS, David Bircham, and Fay Dalton. SMS is a superb artist, whose work has appeared on the cover of Interzone, amongst others. He drew the ABC Warriors strip when they were trying to save Termight and the universe from destruction from an artificial black hole, created by Terra’s engineers to give them quick access to space and the Galaxy. One of the results was a whole city like the dimension-twisting drawings of the zarjaz Max Escher. Fay Dalton won a £1,000 prize in a competition to get more women into comics. She draws and paints in a retro style, looking back to the glamour of the 50s. She didn’t last long. It was too sexy for the puritanical Thargs. Then there was the sheer abuse some fans meted out to John Hicklenton, another awesome artist best known for his work on Nemesis the Warlock. Hicklenton was stricken with MS, and sadly ended his life in a Dignitas Clinic. His career and struggle with the condition was the subject of Channel 4 documentary a few years ago. His escape from this ‘medieval, terrorist disease’ was his art, and so it was particularly cruel that he should have subjected to often very coarse abuse.

Mills is also unhappy, and understandably so, about the way his then wife, and co-creator of Slaine, Angela Kincaid, was treated by the other writers and artists. She was the artist on the very first Slaine strip. This topped the reader’s polls that week, but she was very much excluded from the boy’s club of the other creators. No-one rang her up to congratulate her and she was ignored by them. This wouldn’t have occurred if she was a bloke.

Mills takes the time to correct a few myths. He was determined that it wouldn’t be a comic dominated by a main strip, which carried the others, like Captain Hurricane in Valiant. Instead, it was to be a comic of all main strips, including the revived Dan Dare, Mach 1, a superpowered secret agent based on The Six Million Dollar Man, and Shako. This was about a polar bear, who was being chased by the American army because it had swallowed a top secret, radioactive satellite that had crashed to Earth. He also talks about the creation of such fave strips as Ro-Busters, which became the ABC Warriors, and, of course, Nemesis the Warlock and the inspiration for Torquemada.

The evil Grand Master and Judge Dredd were based on two, viciously sadistic monks teaching at his old Roman Catholic school, and, he strongly hints, were paedophiles. One of them was yanked from teaching and sent to monastery in the Channel Islands to sort out his sexual appetites. He was later sacked, and returned briefly as a lay teacher, before being kicked again. The schoolboys made jokes about how the other monks on the island must be similarly depraved, and imagined what shipwrecked sailors would do. Coming up the beach to find the Brothers running towards them, they’d turn and head as quickly as possible back to the sea. But neither of the two were prosecuted. Other old boys have found literary outlets to express their pain and trauma at the hands of these monsters. Mills simply states that his is humiliating Torquemada.

Continued in Part Two.

Helpful Remarks Regarding Implicit Bias

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/03/2018 - 3:38am in

Some common criticisms of implicit bias are mistaken, argue John Doris (Washington Univ., St. Louis), Laura Niemi (Duke), and Keith Payne (UNC Chapel Hill) in a recent column at Scientific American.

Increased awareness and study of implicit bias has been accompanied by increased skepticism about it, owing to questions raised about the Implicit Association Test (IAT), an instrument often used to measure implicit bias. This skepticism surfaces sometimes in comments in the philosophical blogosphere, where certain efforts aimed at increasing diversity in philosophy, or projects aimed at studying bias, are criticized for relying on an allegedly”discredited” idea.

Payne, Niemi, and Doris first note that problems with the IAT don’t show that implicit bias doesn’t exist:

The IAT is a measure, and it doesn’t follow from a particular measure being flawed that the phenomenon we’re attempting to measure is not real. Drawing that conclusion is to commit the Divining Rod Fallacy: just because a rod doesn’t find water doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as water. 

They say that issues with the IAT should lead us to ask about what other evidence there is for implicit bias. Apparently, “there is lots of other evidence”:

There are perceptual illusions, for example, in which white subjects perceive black faces as angrier than white faces with the same expression. Race can bias people to see harmless objects as weapons when they are in the hands of black men, and to dislike abstract images that are paired with black faces. And there are dozens of variants of laboratory tasks finding that most participants are faster to identify bad words paired with black faces than white faces. None of these measures is without limitations, but they show the same pattern of reliable bias as the IAT. There is a mountain of evidence—independent of any single test—that implicit bias is real.

Second, the authors warn against expecting too much predictive power from the instruments used to measure implicit bias:

It is frequently complained that an individual’s IAT score doesn’t tell you whether they will discriminate on a particular occasion. This is to commit the Palm Reading Fallacy: unlike palm readers, research psychologists aren’t usually in the business of telling you, as an individual, what your life holds in store. Most measures in psychology, from aptitude tests to personality scales, are useful for predicting how groups will respond on average, not forecasting how particular individuals will behave…

What the IAT does, and does well, is predict average outcomes across larger entities like counties, cities, or states. For example, metro areas with greater average implicit bias have larger racial disparities in police shootings. And counties with greater average implicit bias have larger racial disparities in infant health problems. These correlations are important: the lives of black citizens and newborn black babies depend on them.

The authors note that there is an abundance of evidence for persistent “widespread pattern of discrimination and disparities,” despite widespread disavowals of racism. This “bears a much closer resemblance to the widespread stereotypical thoughts seen on implicit tests than to the survey studies in which most people present themselves as unbiased.”

The column is here.


Kip Omolade, “Diovadiova Chrome”

The post Helpful Remarks Regarding Implicit Bias appeared first on Daily Nous.

Zelda D’Aprano—a fighter for women workers and equal pay

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/03/2018 - 10:17am in

Tags 

sexism

Every great social movement finds individuals who become its symbols—Rosa Parks for the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s; Eddie Mabo for land rights.

Zelda D’Aprano, who died last month at the age of 90, became a symbol of the struggle for Equal Pay in Australia in October 1969 when she chained herself to the doors of the Commonwealth Building in Melbourne. Zelda was protesting against a miserable, limited decision of the Arbitration Commission to only grant equal pay to women who could establish that their work was of equal worth to that of men. Ten days later, she was joined by two teachers who chained themselves to the door of the Arbitration Commission on the day that Victorian teachers went on strike for equal pay.

Zelda was front-page news for the first time in her life, but in reality these imaginative stunts were just two more actions in a life of bitter struggle, against poverty, exploitation, sexism, and the sluggish indifference of too many trade union leaders to the problems faced by women workers.

Her working life in Melbourne started at the age of 13. She moved through a series of dead-end jobs, many in the sweatshops of the clothing industry, before starting work as a dental nurse in a psychiatric hospital.

For 15 years she fought the vicious far-right leadership of the Hospital Employees Federation who did nothing for the wages and conditions of their members because their main concern was the Catholic Church’s campaign to destroy communism.

She campaigned within the union to allow members in her hospital to have their own sub-branch so they could meet and organise for better conditions. She campaigned to get the union to demand higher wages, safer working conditions and was a leader in the union’s first strike action against demoralising rosters. In her autobiography, she recalled that, “For an industry or service where stoppages were almost unheard of, the tension was terrible.”

She argued against those who saw nurses as “professionals” who did not belong in the same union as tradespeople, and stood up against sisters and matrons who routinely humiliated the staff they supervised.

In her personal life, after years living in single bedrooms in other people’s houses, with all the tension and unhappiness that involved, she had threatened to sit in in the Victorian Housing Commission head office unless they stopped delaying and provided a home for her family.

Equal pay case

Exhausted by the demands of nursing, in 1969 she started working in the office of the Meatworkers’ Union (AMIEU). The Meatworkers’ were the test case for the 1969 Arbitration Commission decision on equal pay. The decision was a defeat for the union, and for women, giving just 5 per cent of women the opportunity to gain male rates of pay.

It was that decision that led to her chaining herself to the Commission’s doors in October 1969.

Within the union, her militancy and determination to stand up for herself led to her sacking by its communist leadership. Zelda had been a committed party member for over 20 years and worked tirelessly in her suburb and union for the party. When the party was pressured into an investigation, the result was a bureaucratic whitewash which protected the high-profile union secretary.

Zelda shifted her focus. She was instrumental in setting up Women’s Liberation in Melbourne and the Women’s Action Committee. They organised the first public protest for abortion rights, campaigned against the objectification of women in the Miss Teenage Quest, and refused to pay full fare on Melbourne’s trams because they had been denied equal pay.

Zelda’s story is nowhere better told than in her autobiography, Zelda: the becoming of a woman, first published in 1977.

It was written at a time when the voices of working class women were almost never heard; and indeed a period when activist women were routinely ridiculed in the media.

The book’s greatness also lies in the clarity and honesty of her writing, and in the way that she integrates heart-rending accounts of all aspects of the oppression she experience—the fear of pregnancy, the pain of her abortions, rape and sexual assault, including at the hands of party members, the arrogance of doctors—alongside a love of humanity and a fierce determination to stand up for herself and others. The humiliations of class and poverty are interwoven with the humiliations of being a woman, and the child of immigrants.

Over the past fortnight, I’ve been surprised to find IWD activists and young, radical women trade union organisers who had never heard of Zelda.

That’s a pity, because apart from being an inspiration, her work is unfinished.

For all the gains made by women over the past 40 years, we have a government determined to maintain the gender pay gap (by refusing to fund better pay for childcare workers), to do nothing substantial for women facing violence, and to maintain the family stereotypes that Zelda saw as underpinning it.

By Phil Griffiths

The post Zelda D’Aprano—a fighter for women workers and equal pay appeared first on Solidarity Online.

The gendered impact agenda – how might more female academics’ research be submitted as REF impact case studies?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/03/2018 - 10:00pm in

As the impact agenda increases in importance, appropriate consideration should be given to its effects on female academics. The REF has obviously gendered implications, with a number of different factors combining to exacerbate existing inequalities in the academy. Emily Yarrow and Julie Davies have examined impact case study submissions to the REF2014 business and management studies unit of assessment and […]

Opportunity Doorways For Women (1976)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/03/2018 - 8:24pm in


The Opportunity Doorway scheme for women was launched in 1976. Here's an excerpt from the council's literature:

"Scientific studies conducted by some of the finest minds in the Gentlemen's Science Club of Great Britain clearly show it’s not your fault that you were born female.

But that doesn’t mean you are entirely blameless for your irresponsible birth. Lazing around the house all day looking after infants and cleaning your husband's home is all well and good for a few years. But what happens after that, when you have become redundant?

Enter The Opportunity Doorway scheme, which has been designed specifically for you. It won't dig into your housekeeping allowance and you won’t have to worry about reading anything complicated; however, a head for heights is recommended."

See also: International Women's Day 1970, romance novels, birth, sexual reproduction in females and Bastard Lanes for single mothers.

Tory Chairman Lies about Abuse from Labour Party

Another day, another lie from the Tories. The Tory chairman, Brandon Lewis, was in the papers yesterday because of comments he made on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. Lewis claimed that Tories were afraid to go on the internet because of abuse from the Labour party and Momentum members. Apparently, he mentioned Esther McVile as a victim of this abuse, claiming that John McConnell had made a speech demanding that she be lynched. He then claimed that he was making all the Tories sign a document pledging them not abuse their political opponents, and challenged Jeremy Corbyn to do the same.

This story was then taken up by a number of right-wing papers and magazines, including the Tory rag, the Spectator, and here in the West Country, the Western Daily Press. But the truth wasn’t quite like Lewis claimed. Mike’s written a long piece tearing apart Lewis’ comments to show how false and nasty they are. First of all, the comments made by McConnell were made three years ago, so they’re hardly contemporary. Secondly, he was quoting other people. Ah, replied the Speccie, but he was doing so approvingly. Whether he was or wasn’t clearly depends on a matter of perception, I feel. As for making Tories sign a pledge of good conduct, you can ask a number of questions about this. Like it clearly didn’t apply to Toby Young, when he wrote pieces advocating eugenics, commenting on women’s breasts, saying he had his d*ck up the a**e of one woman, and talking about masturbating over pictures of starving Africans. All of which qualify Young as a truly loathsome human being. But nevertheless, Tweezer wanted him as part of the universities regulatory board. Possibly because he is vociferously against everything modern educationalists stand for, like diversity, anti-racism and anti-sexism. They’re the values most student union bodies very strongly support, and which hardline Tories sneer at as ‘political correctness’ and moan that they are stifling free speech. And Young was almost certainly put in because he’s another Tory who wants to privatise education. Witness his leadership of the ‘free school’ movement.

And most odiously, as Mike points out, Lewis tried to portray McVile as a victim.

McVile isn’t, not by any stretch of the imagination. She’s a very rich woman, who has made a very good living by killing the disabled. She and her husband run a production company, which I believe may have been responsible for the Benefit Street series of programmes on Channel 4. Under her aegis, tens of thousands of disabled people have been unfairly declared ‘fit for work’, and been left to starve to death after having their benefits cut off. Mike has covered these deaths, as have Stilloaks, DPAC, Johnny Void and many, many others. Some of those, who have taken their lives left suicide notes behind stating that it was the removal of their benefits that were driving them to this extremity.

But still the Tories deny it.

McVile presided over this system, for which, as a government minister, she was very handsomely paid compared to the rest of us, and definitely far more than the poor souls, who are forced to rely on state benefits. She carried on with her task of murdering the poor gleefully and without remorse. She’s an evil woman.

Now I don’t believe that there is any abuse from Labour or Momentum. I’ve heard that song before, when the Blairite women were all complaining that they were suffering misogynist abuse from Corbyn’s supporters. They weren’t, and an extensive checking of various posts showed it. But it has set the narrative for the Thatcherite right to tell lies about Corbyn and the Labour left. Whether it is true or not is immaterial. The Tories lie like Goebbels, and Lewis’ comments are yet another smear campaign.

There’s also more than a touch of hypocrisy about the claims, too. Quite apart from the vile comments and writing of Toby Young, you only have to look at Twitter to see frothingly abusive comments from outraged Tories, or look at the comments they leave on left-wing vlogs and videos on YouTube.

If the Tories are scared to go on social media, I can think of a couple of reasons why, which have nothing to do with abuse. Firstly, the Tory front bench are solidly public school boys and girls, who all went to Oxbridge. The ancient Romans didn’t have information technology. The closest they got was the Antikythera Mechanism, a kind of geared computer, which showed the position of the planets. It’s a masterpiece of ancient engineering. However, public school classics are all about generals, emperors and Roman politicians, not the work of the rude mechanics and craftsmen. Aristotle in his politics firmly demanded that these should not be allowed a voice in the political life of his perfect state. That was to be reserved for leisured gentlemen, who should have a forum of their own so that they didn’t mix with the trades- and craftspeople, who actually made things and supplied services.

And one of the complaints I’ve seen of the Oxbridge educated upper classes is that they still have this snobbery towards science. Boris Johnson is possibly the most notable of those public schoolboys and girls advocating the classics, which were used in previous centuries as part of the education system to show the young of the upper classes how to govern. Despite Harold Wilson’s comments in the 1960s about Britain embracing the ‘white heat’ of technology, science and engineering were very much the province of the oiks in secondary moderns, and definitely looked down upon.

And I also think that the real some Tories may be avoiding going on social media, is that they’re all too aware that people know they’re lying, and will correct them. Go see some of Mike’s articles for comments left on social media by very well informed commenters, tearing into Tweezer’s and Jeremy Hunt’s lies over housing and the state of the NHS, for example.

And I also think that if people are making extreme remarks about how vile Esther McVey is on social media, some of them at least have a right. Lewis can afford to act shocked. He’s another, very middle class professional on a very tidy income. He is not poor and desperate, as McVey’s victims are. He can therefore afford to be complacent about their very real fear and despair. He is part of the Tory machine working towards their impoverishment and starvation, and so he has a vested interest in playing down the horrific reality behind their comments. If you go in for an interview at the Job Centre, you will be humiliated by clerks trying to get you off their books as quickly as possible. This will leave you fuming with rage, but there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Especially as they will sanction you without a moment’s hesitation for the most trivial of reasons. This system has been created and is overseen by the Tories, including Esther McVile. She therefore deserves to be an object of anger, hate and loathing by people, who are genuine victims. What Lewis hates and fears is the amount of hatred there is for her, and the fact that it’s expressed, as the Tories demand absolute deference from the rest of us. Remember how the Daily Mail went berserk with rage when Thatcher died, because people in the north had the audacity to celebrate and burn her in effigy?

There must be no clue how much the Tories and the leaders are hated, in any media, ever. And so he demands that people, who have every right to loath McVile, stop talking about how repulsive and murderous the Wicked Witch of the Wirral, responsible for the genocide of the disabled, really is.

And so he falsely accuses Labour of abuse, while defending a woman who is directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of disabled people.

She’s a disgrace. So is he. Get them out.

Book on the Evolution of the Human Brain

The Human Brain Evolving: Paleoneurological Studies in Honor of Ralph L. Holloway, edited by Douglas Broadfield, Michael Yuan, Kathy Schick and Nicholas Toth. Stone Age Institute Press, Gosport Indiana and Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. 2010.

This is another book I got much cheaper than the cover prise through Oxbow Books’ bargain catalogue. The book is a collection of papers from a two day conference by the Stone Age Institute in April 2007 to celebrate the life and work of Ralph Holloway, one of the great founders of the field. Holloway as he explains in the first paper in which he gives his personal perspective, started out studying metallurgy at Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia in the 1950s. He then moved to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he took courses in anthropology and geology. After this, he enrolled in the Ph.D. programme in anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. There he became interested in exploring how evolution had shaped the development of primate brains. His interest in this area led him to do research in the brain casts from australopithecine skulls in South Africa, where his mentor was professor Phillip V. Tobias. In 1969 he settled down to study paleoneurology fulltime. His decision was partly made by the testicular trauma he suffered the previous year by the cops while in a student demonstration in New York. This gave him considerable with Prof. Tobias as the struggles he was having against apartheid and the fuzz in South Africa.

As Holloway himself explains, any study of the evolutionary development of the specialised structure of the human brain was very strongly discouraged when he was a student. The simple assumption was that humans got more intelligent as their brains got bigger. There was no investigation about how the particular areas of the brain, in which specific brain functions are located, developed. Indeed this was actively and vehemently discouraged. He says that his first mentor at Berkeley was Professor Sherwood Washburn, who kindly suggested that he take various courses in anatomy. When Holloway told him that he wanted to take the course in neuroanatomy, however, Washburn was horrified, and said that he would no longer be Holloway’s mentor if he did so, fearing that it would make him too specialised to be a physical anthropologist, an argument Holloway found unconvincing. He goes on to point out the paucity of material in physical anthropological textbooks from the 1950s to the present, pointing out that only one, published in 2008 actually does because its co-author, John Allen, is a neurologist.

The book’s contents include the following papers.

Chapter 1: The Human Brain Evolving: A Personal Retrospective, Ralph L. Holloway.

Chapter 2: The Maternal Energy Hypothesis of Brain Evolution: An Update, Robert D. Martin and Karen Isler.

Chapter 3: The Meaning of Brain Size: The Evolution of Conceptual Complexity, P. Tom Schoeneman.

Chapter 4: Human Brain Endocasts and the LB1 Hobbit Brain, Ralph L. Holloway.

Chapter 5: The Fossil Hominid Brains of Dmanisi: D 2280 and D2282, Dominique Grimaud-Herve and David Lordkipandze.

Chapter 6: The Evolution of the Parietal Cortical Areas in the Human Genus: Between Structure and Cognition, by Emiliano Bruner.

Chapter 8: Study of Human Brain Evolution at the Genetic Level, by Eric J. Vallender and Bruce T. Lahn.

Chapter 9: Brain Reorganisation in Humans and Apes, by Katerina Semendeferi, Nicole Barger and Natalie Schenker.

Chapter 10: Searching for Human Brain Specializations with Structural and Functional Neuroimaging, by James K. Rilling.

Chapter 11: Structural and Diffusion MRI of a Gorilla Brain Performed Ex Vivo at 9.4 Tesla, by Jason A. Kaufman, J. Michael Tyszka, Francine “Penny” Patterson, Joseph M. Erwin, Patrick R. Hof, and John M. Allman.

Chapter 12: The role of Vertical Organisation in the Encephalisation and Reorganisation of the Primate Cortex, Daniel P. Buxhoeveden.

Chapter 13: The Evolution of Cortical Neurotransmitter Systems Among Primates and their Relevance to Cognition, Mary Ann Raghanti, Patrick R. Hof, and Chet C. Sherwood.

Chapter 14: Sex Differences in the Corpus Callosum of Macaca fascicularis and Pan troglodytes, by Douglas C. Broadfield.

Chapter 15: Dental Maturation, Middle Childhood and the Pattern of Growth and Development in Earlier Hominins, by Janet Monge and Alan Mann.

Chapter 16: Perikymata Counts in Two Modern Human Sample Populations, by Michael Sheng-Tien Yuan.

Chapter 17: Mosaic Cognitive Evolution: The case of Imitation Learning, by Francys Subiaul.

Chapter 18: The Foundations of Primate Intelligence and Language Skills, by Duane M. Rumbaugh, E. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, ,James E. King and Jared P. Taglialatella.

Chapter 19: Hominid Brain Reorganisation, Technological Change, and Cognitive Complexity, Nicholas Toth and Kathy Schick.

Clearly this is a written at an advanced, technical level for a specialist academic audience. I’ve done little but skim through it so far, but have found some fascinating facts. For example, Holloway’s paper on the brain of the Flores Hobbit recognises that it does share some features of modern microcephalics, but also others that are very different. This could mean that the creature could have been an archaic hominid suffering from a peculiar form of neurological defects that now no longer exists.

Emiliano Bruner’s paper argues from the study of Neanderthal and Early Modern Humans that modern humans’ parietal lobes are actually larger than would have been predicted by evolutionary theory for hominids of our size.

Anne Weaver’s paper argues that, in contrast to the standard view that this area of the brain has not evolved in the course of the development of modern humans, 30,000 years ago the size of the Cerebellum increased relative to the Cerebrum. The cerebellum is the part of the human brain dedicated to motor coordination and related tasks.

Douglas Broadfield’s paper on sex difference in chimp brains takes further Holloway’s and Kitty Lacoste’s 1982 paper, which controversially showed that that the corpus callosum in women was larger than those of men. His study of this part of the brain in chimps shows that this development is unique to humans.

Paleoneurology is still controversial, and Holloway holds some very controversial opinions. He’s an evolutionary reductionist, who considers culture to be the sole product of evolution, and religion and politics to be intrinsically evil. It’s an opinion he recognises is not held by the vast majority of people.

He also laments how the anthropology course at Columbia has abandoned physical anthropology, and been taken over completely by social anthropology, stating that the majority appear ‘postmodern, post colonialist, feminist and political’. This led to him being marginalised and isolated at the faculty.

He also states that it is stupid, for reasons of ‘political correctness’ not to consider that the same evolutionary processes that have shaped the different physical forms of the various human races, have not also affected their mental capacities and evolution too. He describes this research as intensely political and near-suicidal, and describes how he was accused of being a Nazi because of his investigation into it. He states that one critic described it as the kind of research that got his relatives put into concentration camps.

Professor Holloway is clearly a decent, humane man, who has in his day stood up for liberal values and protested against institutional racism. However, while he states that the neurological differences between male and female brains are ‘more or less accepted’ today, there are still women neurologists, who argue against them. More recently they’ve argued that sex difference in the brain are a continuum between the extremely male and extremely female, with most people lumped somewhere in between. In fact, the sex differences in the brain are so small that you simply can’t tell by looking whether a brain is male or female.

Furthermore, anthropological science was used in the period of full-blown European colonialism to justify White rule over their non-White subject peoples, and certainly has been used by Nazis and Fascists to justify their persecution of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and other ‘subhumans’. After the War, the British Fascist leader Oswald Mosley cited scientific papers on the differences in intelligence between the races to argue for a form of apartheid that would lead to the complete separation of Blacks and Jews from White, gentile Brits. This would affect only those, who were allowed to remain in Britain, because their culture was compatible with White, gentile British civilisation. See the section 13, ‘The Colour Question in Britain, Immigration, the Racial Question’ in his wretched book, Mosley – Right or Wrong, published by Lion Books in 1961. And of course, like all Fascist after the War, Mosley denied that he was actually racist!

Holloway knows from personal experience just how touchy this subject is, and is aware that the lower IQ scores made by Black Americans is still a subject of intense and acrimonious debate. But he thinks it silly to rule out the question of racial differences in human brain structure because of current political dogma.

This is too complacent. My impression here is Prof. Holloway has this rather more tolerant view of the acceptability of this direction of neurological investigation, because he is a White man from a privileged background. After all, in the 1950s very few working or lower middle class Americans could afford to do a university or college degree. It simply has not affected him personally, although he has stood on the barricades to denounce racism and support other liberal causes during the student unrest of the late ’60s. The same applies to women. In the second edition of the BBC popular science programme QED in the ’80s, a female scientist presented a programme on how male scientists down the centuries had tried to argue that women were biologically inferior, before concluding that ‘the tables are turning’.

Racial neurology and the neurology of gender differences is particularly dangerous now with the rise of the Alt Right and real White supremacists and Nazis surrounding Donald Trump, and the whole milieu of the Republican party and Libertarians in America. These are intensely racist, despising Blacks, Asians and Latinos, and using scientific evidence like the highly controversial ‘Bell Curve’ to argue that Blacks are intellectually inferior to Whites. I’ve also seen the islamophobes argue that Muslims also shouldn’t be allowed into Britain from the Middle East and Pakistan, as the average intelligence of the people from those regions is 75! Which to my mind is just ridiculous.

I’ve also heard from a friend, who keeps up with the latest neurological research by talking to some of the scientists involved, that recent studies of neuroplasticity have cast doubt on the amount of specialisation of brain function in specific brain regions. Moreover, everyone’s brain, male and female, is weird up differently. We may in fact know far less about the nature of the human brain, a point made by the neurologist and Humanist Professor Raymond Tallis in his book, Aping Mankind, written against precisely this kind of reductionism, which tries to reduce human cognition and culture by viewing it solely in terms of Darwinian theory in which humans are simply another species of ape.

This is a fascinating book, and offers many insights into the evolution of the human brain. But this is an area that is still developing, and intensely controversial. As such, other scientific opinions are available and should be read as well.

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