brexit

Rees-Mogg Hurls Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Insult at Tory MPs, Press Silent

Zelo Street has just put up a cracking story credibly accusing Jacob Rees-Mogg’s anti-Semitism. It seems that during the heated Commons debate on Brexit on the 3rd of this month, September 2019, Rees-Mogg opened his patrician gob to hurl a very loaded insult at his fellow Tory MP, Oliver Letwin, and John Bercow. He called them ‘Illuminati’. John Mann, the Tory’s Anti-Semitism Tsar, and the press seem to have missed all this completely. They have uttered not a word about it. There has been no outraged article by Gabriel Pogrund and Jake Wallis Simons. But one person, who did notice it was Michael Berkowitz, a historian at University College London, who posted a piece about it, on which the Zelo Street article heavily draws.

Berkowitz states that he found it extremely unsettling, as an historian of anti-Semitism, to hear Rees-Mogg use it of two MPs of Jewish background. He states that the Illuminati were originally a late Eighteenth century fraternal organisation, and cites three sources that use the term. He then explains that common to these sources is the view that the Illuminati infiltrated the Jewish bankers during the late 19th century. They follow the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion in regarding the Illuminati/Jews/bankers as behind the Bolshevik Revolution, the creation of the Federal Reserve banking system in the US, the Council on Foreign Relations, and then what the Far Right calls the New World Order, which also includes the United Nations and the European Union.

Berkowitz ends his post with the comment

“There is no other, anodyne usage of this term in current political discourse … With his nod to ‘Illuminati’ – pointed at Letwin and Bercow – Rees-Mogg is knowingly trafficking in the portrayal of Jews as underhanded and sinister … while studiously avoiding the word ‘Jew’, he has exhumed, embellished, and rebroadcast one of the most poisonous antisemitic canards in all of history”.

The Sage of Crewe comments ‘Rees-Mogg bang to rights’, and concludes

‘As he’s entirely consistent, I expect John Mann to be down on Rees Mogg like the proverbial tonne of bricks, camera crew and all. Once someone has explained it to him.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/09/rees-mogg-anti-semitism-exposed.html

It’s not quite that straightforward, unfortunately. The Illuminati were a Bavarian secret society of freethinkers, founded by Adam Weisshaupt, which infiltrated the Freemasons. They were then stamped out by the authorities in Bavaria, Austria and other countries. There is no evidence that the order has survived to today. However, following the French Revolution a number of works were published blaming the Freemasons for the French Revolution and various other conspiracies and revolutionary movements, including the Russian Revolution of October 1917. These conspiracy theories gradually became increasingly anti-Semitic. At first it was claimed that the Freemasons recruited the Jews to help them in their work of overthrowing the traditional western social order. Then the theories changed so that it was the Jews, who were responsible for these conspiracies. The idea that the Illuminati were ultimately behind these movements was put forward in the 20th century by the extreme Right-wing John Birch Society in America. Following them, they are regarded as the force behind a global conspiracy to create an evil, Satanic world government with a single universal, anti-Christian religion. And yes, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, Jewish bankers like the Rothschilds, the EU and the UN certainly are regarded as part of this conspiracy.

To be fair, not everyone who believes in the Illuminati conspiracy is an anti-Semite by any means. Some of the Evangelical Christians, who believe it, are genuinely philo-Semitic. When they talk about the Illuminati, they mean a giant conspiracy which includes the giant banking families, like the Rothschilds, but which is not driven by the Jews. And indeed, Jews may be the Illuminati’s victims, such as the Jews murdered by the Nazis, who were funded during the War by the Rothschilds even when their persecution was known. But there are other versions of the theory in which the Illuminati are viewed as Jewish. During the 1990s these bonkers conspiracy theories expanded to include the alien abduction phenomenon and the tales of secret government collusion with the aliens. Bill English in his book Behold a Pale Horse claimed that the government had made a pact with the aliens in which they were allowed to abduct and experiment on humans in exchange for giving us their technology. This was all part of a nefarious global conspiracy against humanity. To prove the existence of this conspiracy, English quoted passages from the notorious anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. However, he advised his readers that instead of ‘Jews’ they should insert the word ‘Illuminati’. This was fiercely attacked because it seemed to advance and sanitise the real murderous anti-Semitism of the Protocols. Due to English’s book’s malign influence, a branch of Waterstones in one of the northern cities actually stocked copies of the Protocols.

Even if Rees-Mogg was not deliberately being anti-Semitic, when he accused Letwin and Bercow of being ‘Illuminati who are taking the powers to themselves’, he was using a real, genuine anti-Semitic trope. He should have been robustly rebuked for it, and made to explain himself. However, he was not. The comments on this piece are well-worth reading, as they show the immense hypocrisy of the press and John Mann. Neither of them are really interested in questions of genuine racism and anti-Semitism, except as sticks with which to smear and beat Jeremy Corbyn. One commenter describes how he tried to inform Mann of real racism on the part of Stella Creasy after he appealed for people to send him information of such incidents. He didn’t receive any reply, and no action was taken.

Mann’s and the media’s silence is troubling for another reason. They show how the political and media establishment will cover up genuine anti-Semitism, or something very close to it, when it’s done by one of themselves. Left-wing bloggers like Buddy Hell, Zelo Street and Mike have pointed out how Mann and other Labour ‘moderates’, as well as the Tories, are free to attack Romanies and other Travellers in racist terms, despite the Nazi attempts to exterminate them as well as the Jews and the disabled. Despite calls from the Muslim community and genuine anti-racists, the Tory party will not launch an inquiry into the real islamophobia in its ranks. And the media and anti-Semitism witch-hunting organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Community Service Trust seem more interested in attacking and manufacturing accusations of anti-Semitism on the Left than on the Right. And the vast majority of anti-Semitism by far comes from the extreme Right.

Many of the people smeared as anti-Semites are left-wing Jews, who have very often been the victims of real anti-Semitic abuse and assault. But they suffer from anti-Semitism again following the accusations of the media and the witch-hunters against them because they support Jeremy Corbyn and a just deal for the Palestinians. They are the ‘wrong kind of Jews’, another anti-Semitic motif.

This raises the terrible question that if someone in the Tory party did start a genuine campaign of discrimination and terror against this country’s Jewish citizens, would it be reported? The silence surrounding Rees-Mogg’s comments says that it probably wouldn’t, at least not in the initial stages. And according to the media and the witch-hunters, it’s Corbyn who is an existential threat to the Jews!

 

The EU – do we stay or do we go?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/09/2019 - 10:42am in

Philip Roddis For years I’ve called myself a peg-on-nose Remainer. While many fellow Remainers strike me as naive, deluded on the nature of the EU and frequently contemptuous to boot, my bottom line is that until Left Leavers show how Brexit can be a gain in the here and now for British workers,[1] I don’t see …

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/09/2019 - 5:47am in

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

September 12, 2019 Margaret Corvid, city councilor in Plymouth, England, on BoJo and the Brexit madness • John Clegg, author of this article, on slavery’s profound effects on the US political structure

Richard Murphy: Brexit Yellowhammer Is Wrong, but That Doesn’t Mean We Should Ignore It

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/09/2019 - 7:13pm in

The Brexit headlines focused on Yellowhammer when that isn't the biggest development of the day.

Tory crisis as Boris threatens Brexit crash out

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/09/2019 - 5:33pm in

Boris
Johnson’s determination to exit
the EU on 31 October, deal or no deal, has created an enormous political crisis
in the UK.

After he caused outrage through announcing he would
shut down parliament to try to deny MPs any say, 21 Tory MPs voted with Labour
and others in early September to rule out a “no deal” exit.

Rather than be bound by these terms, Johnson wants an
election and will expel the rebels.

Parliament is blocking an election until it is guaranteed
a “no deal” exit is impossible.

Overwhelmingly big business wants to stay in the EU
because it sees access to the European market as key to its profits. If this
can’t be achieved they at least want a negotiated soft exit. They oppose a “no
deal” exit because this would seriously disrupt trade with Europe.

The Tory rebels are doing their bidding. For over 100
years the Tories have fought for the interests of big business. The rebels
accuse Johnson of being a cheap populist, putting his personal ambitions ahead
of the “national interest” (i.e. business interests).

Johnson’s
plan

Johnson
hopes to use the threat of a no deal Brexit as a lever in negotiations with the
EU. A sudden British departure would also damage EU profits. Johnson thinks
this will put pressure on them to cough up better terms. If this fails, his
back-up plan is to copy Trump and whip up racism and nationalism and in the
confusion introduce radical pro-business measures such as a free trade
agreement with the US and tax cuts for the rich.

Johnson has likened Muslim women in burkas to
“letterboxes” and “bank robbers” and has called Africans “piccaninnies” with
“watermelon smiles”.

His cabinet is stacked with arch right wingers
such as home secretary Priti Patel. She echoes Trump, wanting strong borders to
“tackle illegal immigration”, “terrorists” and “criminals”. On the day after
Britain exits she claims the government can immediately end the free movement
of labour. She wants a pro-business immigration program that only welcomes the
“brightest and best”.

Like Trump, Johnson paints himself as an outsider
taking on the establishment. The people who voted for Brexit in 2016’s
referendum “weren’t just voting against Brussels” he claimed, but also London.

Johnson wants to frame the coming election as “the
people vs the politicians”.

For three years the parliament has failed to implement
the result of the 2016 referendum. Johnson—the millionaire Eton educated
toff—will present himself as a people’s champion battling the London elites
determined to subvert the people’s will. He hopes this will win back votes from
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

Jeremy
Corbyn and Labour

The
crisis in the Tories should be a huge opportunity for Labour. Unfortunately
they too are divided and confused.

The majority of Labour MPs are pro-market Blairites
who hate left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was elected by the membership.
They want Labour to position itself as a pro-business party and have pushed
Corbyn closer to a pro-Remain position.

Much of Labour’s rank-and-file who installed Corbyn
are also pro-Remain. They rightly detest the xenophobia coming from the Brexit
camp but are inclined to paint the EU as progressive. But the EU rules are
pro-market and pro-austerity. While there is free movement of people within the
EU, there are high walls against entry from outside.

Immigrants are drowning in their thousands in the
Mediterranean because of EU boat turnback policies.

In the 2017 election Corbyn surprised everyone when he
won 40 per cent of the vote and forced the Tories into minority government. He
was meant to be an “unelectable” socialist.

Corbyn campaigned on a radical program with clear
working class demands, promising to tax the rich, abolish tuition fees,
implement a minimum wage and put more money into health and education. During
the election he called mass rallies and created genuine enthusiasm.

But more recently he has been drawn into parliamentary
manoeuvres around Brexit with rebel Tories and others.

His refusal to support an election until the
parliament has voted to rule out a “no deal” exit is being used by Johnson to
paint him as part of the political elite sabotaging the people’s will.

Many of Labour’s traditional supporters, particularly
in the run down northern industrial areas, voted to leave the EU because its
free market policies did nothing for them. Labour is in danger of losing these
voters to the Brexit Party if they continue to play parliamentary games with
Remainers and former Tories.

The best way to fight Johnson and Farage is with class politics. That means a radical campaign based on the kinds of demands Corbyn’s campaign raised in the last general election—and fighting for a left-wing break from the EU.

By Mark Gillespie

The post Tory crisis as Boris threatens Brexit crash out appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Brexit: Ultra Fracas

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 6:35pm in

Why the Brexit Ultras are down but not out.

There is no Planet ‘B’, so we’d better save this one (and how we do it)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 07/09/2019 - 11:18pm in

Climate protester holding sign with the slogan "We don't have time"Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

While climate chaos continues to make the news, from hurricanes and fires in the Amazon to melting ice in Greenland, politicians, journalists and others are still killing us softly with the vocabulary of economic orthodoxy. John Sauven, an economist and director of Greenpeace, claimed that we will leave our children with a ‘planet sized debt’ if government fails to act now to address climate change. As he quite rightly points out, in the face of the climate emergency government is still acting as if we’ve got plenty of time, but the reality is that if we don’t act now the future cost to our children will not be the financial one he claims; it will be their survival that is at stake.

Everywhere you look, whether it’s spending on public and social infrastructure or saving the planet, in the eyes of politicians, journalists and institutions it all boils down to whether we can afford it and how it will be paid for. Journalists who challenge fiscal stimulus whichever Chancellor is offering it, do so in terms of concerns about ‘damaging the public purse’ and ‘breaking fiscal rules’. Or the suggestion that paying for public services is limited by how fiscally prudent the Chancellor has been or how much he might be able to borrow on fickle international markets.

It is astonishing that planetary and human well-being is reduced to financial costs rather than our very survival. As the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Cristiana Paşca Palmer, noted at the end of last week, without action to stabilise the climate and protect ecosystems, we risk moving towards a tipping point of no return. As she said, we don’t just need to transform the way in which we consume and produce but ‘we need to put biodiversity and natural capital at the centre of the economic paradigm’. Who argues, given the seriousness of the situation, that we need to think about financial affordability? The more important question is what do we do to save ourselves and the planet which sustains us?

However, while Brexit dominates the political show in the UK, commitment to action by politicians around the world seems, as Greta Thunberg recently noted, limited to rhetoric and fine promises but very little else. And time is ticking.

The consequences of climate change which the media brings to us on an almost daily basis and the apocalyptic scenes of flattened buildings in the Bahamas and burning rain forest combined with the increasing scientific evidence put before us should surely emphasise the dire nature of the challenges we face.

The acceleration of the melting of Greenland’s massive ice sheet has caused the average global sea level to rise by more than a millimetre, this year alone. The ice sheet stores huge amounts of water, which if melted would raise sea levels by up to 7m. But even small increases could threaten the lives of millions of people living in low-lying areas like Bangladesh and coastal cities around the world like New York and ones with large tidal rivers like London. As glaciers melt, water flows into the oceans and raises sea levels, which in turn brings storm surges and catastrophic flooding on coastal seaboards across the world.

In hotter climes, Hurricane Dorian has battered the Bahamas this week causing devastation, structural damage, flooding and deaths. It was a category 5 storm, the strongest ever to hit the islands, which then slowly moved northwards to pound Florida with strong winds and heavy rain as it progressed up the east coast. As the seas warm due to climate change, it fuels stronger and stronger hurricanes which in turn suck up more moisture which then finally falls as torrential rain.

A double whammy of destruction.

Agriculture also contributes to the greenhouse effect and climate change and is likely to challenge food security in the future. In a report published this week, the European Environment Agency noted that as heatwaves are revealing the vulnerable nature of agriculture in relation to climate change, crop yields and livestock productivity are already being affected across Europe. This phenomenon is being repeated across the planet.  In a world where more than 10% of people already don’t have enough to eat and yet where sufficient food is produced to feed the current world population, climate change will increasingly contribute to future food insecurity as a result of reduced food production and increasing prices.

As soil erosion and degradation increases, and water becomes scarcer, which in turn combines with extreme weather events, the impact of climate change on populations around the world will result in rising hunger and threatens mass migration. It is a sobering thought.

Since agriculture and food production are already in themselves a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and as more intensive food and meat production have become the norm, then it is clear that we face some pretty stiff challenges for the future. The European Environment agency points out that the potential benefits to some farmers of global warming will be outweighed by the losses.

As humans, we need to grasp the fact that what affects one part of nature as a result of living beyond its means will have knock-on effects elsewhere and this is playing itself out with destructive consequences. Nature is indifferent to humanity and yet we stand before it, ignoring the facts with astonishing hubris.  Earth is the only planet we’ve got, so we should worry less about the public finances and more about ensuring a future for our children – follow the link to find out why.

In other news this week, in his spending review, the Chancellor promised the UK a ‘decade of renewal’ as he set out his plans for spending on education, the NHS, social care, policing, the military and tackling climate change as well as increased funding for local government. The Chancellor said in the House that he was turning the page on the age of austerity, but the reality is that its consequences will continue for some time yet and are painfully in evidence wherever you look. You can’t repair the damage of a decade in one fell swoop just by throwing money at it. The Institute of Public Policy Research commented that ‘The public shouldn’t be taken in by today’s spending review. It does not reverse a decade of austerity and chronic underinvestment in our society and economy’

It is risible that after 10 years of cruel austerity, the Conservatives want to convince us that their financial prudence has paid off which has given them headroom to spend. Without wishing to knock a fiscal stimulus, which is definitely a good thing, the fact that it is couched in terms of household budget economic orthodoxy is disappointing and suggests that the brakes could as easily come on as go off should the government decide to. The question to ask is whether austerity is really over or just on pause? The prospect of a coming election might explain the giveaway and the electorate well knows politicians’ promises don’t always translate into reality.  As the IPPR and many commentators have noted, however welcome this stimulus is one should also question how much it can achieve after 10 years of cuts. The damage it has done to the fabric of society is profound and it is more likely to be a case of trying to play catch-up and will not address the structural and human consequences of 10 years of austerity.

For example, as GIMMS has covered previously, the adult social care system is in a state of collapse. Local authorities have been increasingly firefighting to deliver their statutory obligations which include social care. Worse, the proposal to collect a 2% council tax precept to raise a measly £500m will further depress local communities already suffering the consequences of government cuts, the effects of low wages and insecure employment. It will be a tax burden that local communities can ill afford and overall will do little to create the ‘decade of renewal’ the Chancellor is promising.

Also, this week the BBC Panorama programme asked whether we have reached a crisis point in education funding. Following staff and pupils at a primary school in Great Yarmouth, it gave an insight into the many challenges faced by head teachers across the country in trying to balance their books – from having to take the difficult decision to let teaching assistants go and cutting after school services for pupils whose parents have to work.

A survey carried out by the National Governance Association in 2018 revealed that almost half of schools covered by the survey were providing additional services for families in need, including washing school uniforms, meals outside of term time, food banks and emergency loans. The Chief Executive of the NGA said that ‘School staff have an increased burden of providing welfare services because of chronic underfunding in other areas and particularly cuts to local authority services.’ The leader of the Association of School and College Leaders stated that schools were becoming ‘a fourth emergency service providing clothing, food and pastoral care.’

In a rich country, this is a shameful and totally unnecessary state of affairs. The government, through its austerity policies, has failed a generation of children whose deprivation will likely follow them into adulthood. A well-functioning and cooperative society depends on having well-educated and healthy citizens. Instead of nurturing children to give them the best start possible, the government has perversely done exactly the reverse and the societal cost both today and in the future will be substantial.

And meanwhile with no mention by the Chancellor of welfare, the disastrous reforms and cuts to spending on benefits which are causing serious and indeed life-threatening hardship to many indicates that unless they can serve the government’s electoral agenda, those without power and influence can be disregarded as irrelevant. And let’s not forget the effects of such cuts on the economy. Spending always equals income to someone whether that’s by the government or the private sector and if both are cut then the economy and citizens become the casualty.

A few weeks ago, GIMMS asked what makes a good society?  In the FT this week, in a new series entitled The Corbyn Revolution’, the headline drew attention to the Labour Party’s plans to rewrite the rules of the UK economy which will ‘represent a fundamental redistribution of income and power’. These fighting words are getting the Establishment very hot under the collar since they represent a challenge to the status quo out of which they have done very nicely!

Labour is proposing higher taxes on the rich, nationalisation of rail, water, mail and energy companies. The mission is, as the FT puts it, ‘to shift power from capital to labour, wresting control from shareholders, landlords and other vested interests and putting it in the hands of workers, consumers and tenants.’

Aside from the plan to introduce a Universal Basic Income which GIMMS has covered in previous blogs two issues stand out in these plans by the Labour party which need to be examined more carefully. Firstly, the proposal to bring in a ‘right to buy’ scheme to help tenants buy their homes at a reasonable price. In a reversal of Margaret Thatcher’s policy of selling off council homes in the 80s the scheme it is claimed would help to tackle the proliferation of buy to let and the problem of landlords who fail to maintain their properties adequately. It would also allow for properties to be purchased below the market price.

Whilst clearly the crisis in housing and the problem of bad landlords needs to be addressed, surely the solutions to both these problems are elsewhere? Stringent legislation is needed to ensure that landlords are properly regulated and cannot abuse tenants both on rents and the quality of accommodation. More social housing needs to be built to deal with the crisis which pushes tenants into the private rental sector in the first place because there is no choice. The party has already committed to a radical programme for building a million genuinely affordable new homes in England over 10 years most of which will be for social rent. If Labour truly wants to deal with a decades’ old problem which successive governments have failed to grapple with adequately, then government as the legislator and the keeper of the public purse has a role to play in stricter regulation, implementing a house building programme and bringing the million or so empty homes into productive use.

The second issue is Labour’s plans for ‘inclusive ownership funds’ which would require every company with more than 250 employees, which equates to half Britain’s workforce, to transfer 1% of their shares each year into an ‘Inclusive Ownership Fund owned by its employees.  The shares would be held collectively and entitle the fund to ‘voting rights and decision-making powers in the company – as well as entitling every worker to dividend payments’ (capped at £500 per employee – circa £41.00 a month) with the balance being paid to the government to pay for public services and welfare.  It would, according to James Meadway give a ‘much-needed boost to workers’ earnings.’

It is clear that after decades of reshaping power and wealth towards capital, it is time to reverse the inequalities that lie at the heart of the current economic paradigm. A reordering of both towards labour is vital in achieving that objective. But would an Inclusive Ownership Fund actually achieve this? How would, for example a 1% equity share lend significant voting rights and we need to ask the question whether such a share which would still rely on the market to deliver would make a real difference to working people’s lives?

Rather than offering shareholdings in private companies, why not be bold? Give all people a stake in the economy and greater control over their lives through a government funded Job Guarantee, at a genuine living wage, with benefits and unionisation of roles which currently go unpaid and unrecognised. Labour must seek to genuinely shift the balance of power back towards labour, delivering a just mechanism for ensuring price stability across the economy.  A Left national government with the keys to the public purse as the monopoly currency issuer, is the price setter and legislator and as such it has enormous power that it can wield in favour of working people and our ecology.

One would also have to take issue with the idea that the balance would be paid to government to pay for public services and welfare. With modern monetary realities in mind the government, as currency issuer, can create the money it needs to fund public services and welfare which includes pensions. It doesn’t need to rely on funding from the private sector to do so any more than it does from general taxation or even borrowing on the international markets. The only spending constraint that any such government might face would be resources whether that is labour or other physical resources needed to deliver public services and infrastructure.

Labour needs to be bold. The crisis facing our climate and the working classes is demanding it.  Call out the corporate welfare that arises from a financial sector that manages the faux government ‘debt’ for private pensions. Rein in the casino financial speculation that seeks to privatise its gains and socialise its losses.  In government, Labour would wield the power to set the agenda and create the framework to deliver it. Why not consider abolishing the asset inflating, polluting private pensions sector and replacing it with a guaranteed living state pension?

We must ask ourselves how Inclusive Ownership in corporations that deliver our crucial public services would improve the outcomes for service users? Would an equity share in Southern Health have saved the lives the hundreds of patients with mental illness and learning disabilities that have died in their care in recent years? Or the prisoners who’ve ended their lives while in custody at G4S facilities? Would a 10% equity share have offered sufficient clout to Carillion staff or teaching staff at Academies to protect the equitable education of our nation’s greatest asset… our children? Would the shareholding staff at housebuilding giants be better able to afford a decent home on their wages and salaries?

Labour could choose to be bold, deciding what we allow to be within the scope of the ‘economy’ to genuinely resolve the crisis facing health and social care sectors. Perhaps offer medical staff who work for private providers tax incentives to return to the NHS rather than a shareholding in the private healthcare firms they’ve abandoned the NHS for?  How about abolishing the parasitical private health sector completely? Rather than handing out tax incentives to those who opt for private medical insurance. Nationalise education, health and social care, prisons, rail and water ensure the essential infrastructure in in place to provide our nation with the stability in needs to support future generations, delivering Inclusive Ownership of common goods would be a fight worth winning and educating its electorate for.

It is to be regretted that Labour has yet to embrace modern monetary realities and still looks to the rich and large corporations who’ve hidden their wealth in the Cayman Islands to fund its programme for change and this along with its adherence to fiscal credibility rules could constrain their political agenda. Given the urgency of dealing with the catastrophe of climate change and delivering a fairer, more equitable society, a little bit of window dressing will not cut the mustard.

The country needs politicians who are prepared to embrace modern monetary realities and think boldly. Yes, to a fundamental redistribution of income and power to address the injustices of the last 40 years, that is a given, but it would be best achieved by rejecting a model which has been part of the problem.

 

 

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GIMMS Labour Fringe Event

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Brighton, BN2 1RL

September 23 @ 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm – book your free ticket here

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London, N1 9FB

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The post There is no Planet ‘B’, so we’d better save this one (and how we do it) appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Scientists Demand Outlawing Teaching of Creationism in Wales

Here’s a different issue to Brexit and the Tories, but one which, I think, also raises profound questions and dangers. According to today’s I for 6th September 2019, David Attenborough has joined a number of other scientists backing a campaign to ban the teaching of Creationism as science in Welsh schools. The campaign was started by Humanists UK. The article, titled ‘Attenborough calls for creationism teaching ban’, by Will Hazell, on page 22, runs

Sir David Attenborough is backing a campaign urging the Welsh Government to outlaw the teaching of creationism as science from its new curriculum.

The broadcaster is one of dozens of leading scientists to sign a letter calling for evolution to be taught at primary level as well as an explicit ban on teaching creationism as science.

Humanists UK, which organised the letter, claims the draft national curriculum does not teach evolution until ages 14 to 15.

The letter reads: “Pupils should be introduced to [evolution] early – certainly at primary level – as it underpins so much else.

“Without an explicit ban on teaching creationism and other pseudoscientific theories as evidence-based, such teaching may begin to creep into the school curriculum.”

In 2015, the Scottish Government made clear that creationism should not be taught in state schools, while in England, state schools – including primaries – have to teach evolution as a “comprehensive, coherent and extensively evidence-based theory”.

The new Welsh curriculum, due to be rolled out in 2022, set out six “areas of learning and experience”, including science and technology.

A spokeswoman for Wales Humanists said it “could allow schools much more flexibility over what they teach”. “This is very worrying, as it could make it much easier for a school to openly teach creationism as science,” she added.

But a spokesman for the Welsh Government denied the claims, saying: “It is wholly incorrect to claim that evolution will only be introduced at 14 to 16.

“We believe that providing children with an understanding of evolution at an early age will help lay foundations for a better understanding of wider scientific concepts later on.”

Both Mike and I went to an Anglican comprehensive school, which certainly did teach evolution before 14 or 15 years of age. In the first year I can remember learning about the geological history of the Earth and the formation of the continents. We were also taught evolution, as illustrated by the development of the modern horse from ancestral species such as Eohippus.

Theories of Evolution before Darwin

I am also very much aware that the history of religious attitudes towards evolution is much more complex than the accepted view that Christians and other people of faith are uniformly opposed to it. One of the first books promoting the evolution of organisms from simpler ancestral forms was written by Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather. Erasmus Darwin was part of the late 18th century scientific group, the Lunar Society, who were the subject of book, The Lunar Men, published a few years ago by the British writer and academic, Jenny Uglow. I think Erasmus was a Quaker, rather than a member of a more mainstream Christian denomination, but he was a religious believer. In his book he argued that the evolution of different organisms made the existence of a Creator ‘mathematically certain’. Erasmus Darwin was followed in turn by the great French scientist, Lamarck, who published his own theory of evolution. This was highly influential, and when Darwin was a student in Scotland, one of the lecturers used to take him and the other students to a beach to show them the shells and other fossils showing the evolution of life. And one of the reasons why Darwin himself put off publishing his magnum opus, The Origin of Species for so long was because of the reception of another, preceding book on evolution, Joseph Chambers’ Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. Chambers’ book had caused a sensation, but its arguments had been attacked and refuted on scientific grounds. Darwin was afraid this would happen to his own work unless he made the argument as secure as possible with supporting facts. And he himself admitted when it finally was published that even then, the evidence for it was insufficient.

The Other Reasons for Darwin’s Loss of Faith

Darwin certainly lost his faith and it’s a complete myth that he recanted on his deathbed. But I think the reasons for his loss of faith were far more complex than that they were undermined by his own theory, although that may very well have also played a part. Rather, he was disturbed by the suffering in nature. How could a good God allow animals to become sick, prey on each other, and die? I might also be wrong here, but I think one of his daughters died, and that also contributed to his growing atheism. As you can understand.

Christian Acceptance and Formulation of Theories of Evolution

At the same time, although Darwin’s theory did cause shock and outrage, some Christians were prepared to accept it. Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, when he debated T.H. Huxley on Darwin’s theory, opened the debate by stating that no matter how uncomfortable it was, Christians should nevertheless accept the theory if it were true. And after about two decades, the majority of Christians in Britain had largely accepted it. One of the reasons they did so was theological. Some of the other theories of evolution proposed at the same time suggested that evolution was driven by vital, supernatural energies without the direction of a creator. The mechanistic nature of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection rebutted the existence of these non-materialistic forces, so that Christians could still believe that God was in charge of the overall process.

In the 1840s in Britain, Samuel Baden-Powell, a professor of Mathematics at Oxford, proposed a view of evolution that attempted to prove that it was driven by the Almighty, by comparing it to the manufacturing process in factories. In 1844 the Polish writer, Juliusz Towianski, published his Genezis z ducha – ‘Creation through the Spirit), an explicitly religious theory of evolution. He believed that God had created the world at the request of disembodied spirits. However, these were given imperfect forms, and since that time have been striving to ascend the evolutionary ladder back to God through a process of transformation and catastrophe. By the 1900s in many Christians eye evolution had become an accepted theory which posed no obstacle to religious faith. The term ‘fundamentalism’ is derived from a series of tracts, Fundamentals of Christianity, published in America in the early 20th century. This was published as a response to the growth in religious scepticism. However, it fully accepts evolution.

Scientists Against Evolution

The Intelligent Design crowd have also pointed out that rather than being the sole province of churchmen and people of faith, many of Darwin’s critics were scientists, like Mivart. They objected to his theory purely on scientific grounds.

Creationism, Christianity and Islam

If the history of the reaction to Darwin’s theory is rather different than the simplistic view that it was all just ignorant religious people versus rational scientists, I also believe the situation today is also much more complex. A decade ago, around 2009 when Britain celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of the Species, there was a determined attack on Creationism, particularly by the militant New Atheists. Some of this was driven by anxiety over the growth of Creationism and the spread of Intelligent Design. This was framed very much as combating it within Christianity. The problem with that is that I understand that most Creationists in Britain are Muslims, rather than Christians. There was an incident reported in the press in which one Oxford biologist was astonished when a group of Muslims walked out of his lecture. This was Steve Jones, who presented the excellent Beeb science series about genetics and heredity, In the Blood back in the 1990s. One male student told him frankly that this conflicted with their religion, and walked out of the lecture hall, leaving Jones nonplussed. The far right Christian Libertarian, Theodore Beale, alias Vox Day, who really has some vile views about race and gender, caustically remarked on his blog that this showed the powerlessness of the scientific establishment to opposition from Islam. They were so used to Christians giving into them, that they didn’t know what to do when Muslims refused to cave. That said, I would not like to say that all Muslims were Creationists by any means. Akhtar, who led the demonstrations against the Satanic Verses in Bradford in the late ’80s and early ’90s, angrily declared in one of his books that Salafism – Islamic fundamentalism – did not mean rejecting evolution, and he could point to Muslims who believed in it.

Scepticism Towards Evolution Not Confined to the Religious

Another problem with the assumption that Creationism is leading to increasing scepticism towards evolution is that the statistics seem to show the opposite. Back around 2009 there was a report claiming that 7 out of 10 Brits didn’t believe in evolution. One evolutionary biologist was quoted as saying that this was due to the marginalisation of the teaching of evolution in British schools, and demanded that there should be more of it. Now it might be right that people don’t believe in evolution because of its teaching or lack therefore in British education. But this was the same time that the New Atheism was on the march, led by Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion. This was supported by statistics showing that Christianity and church attendance was well in decline in this country. According to the stats, although many people identified as Christians and about 70 per cent at the time declared they believed in God, the actual number who go to church is far smaller. Only a few years ago further polls revealed that for the first, atheists were in the majority in this country. The growth of disbelief in evolution can’t simply be explained as the product of Creationism, whether Christian, Muslim or whatever.

Atheists and the Problem of Persuading Creationists to Accept Evolution

There’s also the problem here in that, however, well meant Humanists UK’s campaign may actually be, at one level they and Richard Attenborough are the last people, who should be leading it. They’re atheists. A few years ago Attenborough was the subject of an interview in the Radio Times, in which he photographed chatting with Dawkins. He was also quoted as saying that he had stopped believing in God when he was child, and at school he used to wonder during services how anybody could believe in such rubbish. He’s not the first or last schoolkid to have felt that. But it does mean that he has a very weak personal position when dealing with Creationists. Many Creationists object to the teaching of evolution because not just because they think it’s unscientific, but because they also believe that its a vehicle for a vehemently hostile, anti-Christian or simply irreligious and atheist political and intellectual establishment to foist their views on everyone else. A campaign insisting on the teaching of evolution by an atheist organisation like Humanists UK will only confirm this in their eyes.

Anti-Creationist Campaigns also Attacking Reasoned Critique of Materialist Views of Evolution

Another problem with the campaign against Creationism is that is leading scientists to attack any critique of the contemporary neo-Darwinian theory or materialist views of evolutionary. Gordon Rattray Taylor, a former Chief Science Advisor to the Beeb and editor of the Horizon science series, himself published a detailed critique of conventional evolutionary theory, The Great Evolution Mystery, shortly before his death in 1981. He states in it that he doesn’t want to denigrate Darwin, but he concludes that it is not so much a theory, as a subset of greater theory that has yet to be formulated. He also quotes another evolutionary biologist, von Bertalanffy, who said

‘I think the fact that a theory so vague, so insufficiently verifiable … has become a dogma can only be explained on sociological grounds’.

Rattray Taylor himself concludes

Actually, the origin of the phyla is not be any means the weakest point in the Darwinian position. Many facts remain inexplicable, as we have seen. Modern biology is challenged by ‘a whole group of problems’ as Riedl remarks. Now, however, the attempt to present Darwinism as an established dogma, immune from criticism, is disintegrating. At last the intellectual log-jam is breaking up. So we may be on the verge of major advances. The years ahead could be exciting. Many of these advances, I confidently predict, will be concerned with form.

It is unfortunate that the Creationists are exploiting this new atmosphere by pressing their position; this naturally drives the biologists into defensive attitudes and discourages them from making any admissions.

Evolutionists have been blinkered by a too narrowly materialist and reductionist approach to their problems. But the trend of the times is away from Victorian certainties and Edwardian rigidities. In the world as a whole, there is growing recognition that life is more complex, even more mysterious, than we supposed. The probability that some things will never be understood no longer seems so frightening as it did. The probability that there are forces at work in the universes of which we have scarcely yet an inkling is not too bizarre to entertain. This is a step towards the freeing of the human mind which is pregnant with promise.

Conclusion

This is an effective rebuttal to the charge that challenges to materialist conceptions of evolution are a science-stopper, or that they will close minds. Rattray Taylor’s book was published in 1983, 36 years ago. I have no doubt that it’s dated, and that scientific advances have explained some of the mysteries he describes in the book. But I believe he still has a point. And I am afraid that however genuinely Humanists UK, Attenborough and the scientists, who put their name to the letter, are about making sure Welsh schoolchildren are scientifically literate, that their efforts are also part of a wider campaign to make sure materialist views of evolution are not challenged elsewhere in society and academia.

The Impossibility of Immigrants Refusing to Integrate into British Society (guest post by Hasko Von Kriegstein)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/09/2019 - 10:09pm in

The following is a guest post* by Hasko Von Kriegstein, an assistant professor in the Department of Law & Business at Ryerson University, regarding matters related to Brexit.


[Maryam Hashemi, “Motherships”]

The Impossibility of Immigrants Refusing to Integrate into British Society
by Hasko Von Kriegstein

Brexit continues to make international headlines. The desire to leave the EU appears to be, in large part, driven by a desire to limit immigration. This brings many questions about immigration to the forefront, among them the question whether immigrants have a duty to integrate into the receiving society. Many in Britain seem to think that there is. In 2016, for example, then communities secretary Sajid Javid stated: “for too long, too many people in this country have been living parallel lives, refusing to integrate failing to embrace the shared values that make Britain great.” 2.5 years later, former prime minister Tony Blair concurred: “ [Government] has to be a passionate advocate and, where necessary, an enforcer of the duty to integrate while protecting the proper space for diversity. Integration is not a choice; it is a necessity.”

I do not hold strong views, one way or the other, on the question whether there is a duty to integrate. What I argue here is that, in the case of Britain, the question is moot. That is because it is impossible for immigrants to Britain to refuse to integrate into British society. Consider the following argument.

(1)   Any immigrant into British society either does, or does not, make an effort to adopt the local lifestyle.

(2)   An immigrant who makes an active effort to adopt the local lifestyle is not refusing to integrate.

(3)   An immigrant who adopts an essential characteristic of the receiving society is not refusing to integrate.

(4)   Moving to a foreign country without making any effort to adopt the local lifestyle is an essential British characteristic.

(5)   An immigrant to Britain who makes no effort to adopt the local lifestyle is not refusing to integrate. (from (3) and (4))

(6)   Any immigrant to Britain is not refusing to integrate. (from (1), (2), and (5)).

The argument is valid. Is it sound? Claim 1 is a logical truth. Claim 2 strikes me as uncontroversial. Claim 4 is strongly supported by the history of British colonialism. Claims 5 and 6 follow from the other claims. That leaves claim 3. One might be tempted to think that an immigrant’s adopting a single essential characteristic of the receiving society is not sufficient to rule out the possibility that they are refusing to integrate. This objection may come in two forms.

On the one hand, it might be thought that an immigrant needs to adopt all, or most, or at least more than one, essential characteristic of the receiving society. That this is an unreasonably high standard becomes clear once we recognize that many native members of an even moderately diverse society will not possess many essential characteristics of that society. This is certainly true in Britain today. And while we might expect immigrants to integrate, we cannot in good conscience require immigrants to Britain to become more British than the British.

On the other hand, it might be argued that the immigrant to Britain who makes no effort to adopt the local lifestyle, while thereby adopting an essential British characteristic, is doing so merely by accident. Such accidental adoption of an essential characteristic, it might be thought, is not enough to defuse the charge of refusal to integrate. We can spell this requirement out either de re or de dicto. Under the de dicto interpretation, we would require an immigrant to adopt an essential characteristic explicitly so that they fulfil their duty to integrate. This is unreasonable. There are surely many well-integrated immigrants who never adopted any part of their lifestyle explicitly as a means to fulfilling their duty to integrate. Under the de re interpretation, we would require that the immigrant adopted the characteristic in question consciously and on their own accord. For this condition to fail, in the case of the essentially British characteristic under consideration, the immigrant would have to be prevented from adopting the local lifestyle, either by outside forces or by their own incompetence. In either case, it would be false to say that they are refusing to integrate.

I conclude that, while the question whether immigrants may rightfully refuse to integrate into a receiving society might be a difficult one, Britain may rest easy. For, in the case of Britain, refusal to integrate is a logical impossibility.

The post The Impossibility of Immigrants Refusing to Integrate into British Society (guest post by Hasko Von Kriegstein) appeared first on Daily Nous.

Private Eye: Government Plan to Draft Army as Local Government Officials in Event Brexit Crisis

There’s a very worrying story right at the beginning of this fortnight’s Private Eye. It’s page 7, where the actual text of the magazine starts right after the first few pages of advertising. Titled ‘Privates on Parade’, it reveals that Project Yellowhammer, the secret government plan for dealing with mass shortages caused by Brexit, also includes provisions for drafting the army in as local government officials. The reason they’ll be needed there is because there aren’t enough civil servants in the national administration to deal with the crisis, and if it happens, they’re going to have to draft in local government officials. The article runs

The government has spent the past fortnight trying to play down the leaked Operation Yellowhammer document about preparations for a “no deal” Brexit. Ministers initially pretended it was an old plan; when it emerged that the document was dated August 2019, they claimed preparations had alread moved on since then.

But the ramifications of the plans are extraordinary. To fill the thousands of extra civil service posts required the government has arranged for a rather unorthodox shuffle: if/when a “no deal” Brexit happens, thousands of local government officials are to be reallocated to Whitehall departments to fortify Sir Humphrey.

Who will run town and county halls in their absence? This is where matters become surreal. The army – including territorial volunteers – are being issued with instructions to take over local government posts, in a civilian capacity, in the event of “no deal”.

One officer, who admitted he was uncomfortable at the optics of all this, observed to the Eye that this involved putting soldiers in charge even when they lacked basic literacy and numeracy. Quite how they would get on in calculating council tax, or providing adult social care and children’s services, remains to be seen…

There are several remarks to be made about all this. The first is that it shows how stupid and destructive successive Conservative administrations have been in their determination to slim down the civil service. This has now reached the point where there are too few of them to run the country effectively in the event of a national crisis, like a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The second is the massive implications this has for democracy in this country. I would imagine that one reason the unnamed officer felt uncomfortable about the ‘optics’ of the army moving into local government is that it looks very much like the beginnings of a military coup. And events don’t have to go much further before it really would amount to a military take-over of civilian government. I think that Operation Yellowhammer also provides for emergency legislation to deal with possible civil unrest in the event of shortages of food, medicines and other essential services. After a wave of rioting up and down the country the government could declare a state of emergency, draft in the army and put in force martial law.

Given Boris’ personal authoritarianism, as shown in his prorogation of parliament, I can imagine that he may even wish to dispense with parliamentary supervision in such an emergency. With the very loud support of the Tory press, he dissolves parliament again, which will only be recalled in after the restoration of order. And it probably isn’t so far-fetched to see some of the Tory right and British press demanding the arrest of left-wing subversives. If the unions call a strike, I imagine they’d be delighted. They could go back to Maggie’s tactic of posing as the nation’s champion against the bullying of the union barons. Further legislation would be passed or invoked to break up the strikes, ban trade unions and arrest trade unionists. At the same time, allegations of Communist connections and sympathies would be used to justify the arrest and detention of left-wing activists and trade unionists as threats to national security. This might be going too far, but I could also imagine the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the right-wing Zionists of organisations like Herut handing over lists of names of ‘the wrong sort of Jews’ in order to make sure Jewish critics of Israel and Conservatism were also arrested and detained. Because after all, they’re a threat to Israel, one of the West’s major outposts in the Middle East.

I’m not saying this will happen, only that it could. Back in 1975 the Conservative party and parts of the press, including the Times and the Mirror, were also pressing for a coup to overthrow Harold Wilson’s Labour government. Because industrial unrest had got out of hand, and he was supposed to be a KGB spy. See Francis Wheen’s book on paranoia in the ’70s, Strange Days Indeed. It’s also described in Ken Livingstone’s 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, in which the-then mayor of London discusses how there were plans to round up left-wing activists, MPs and journalists, and have them sent to concentration camps on one of the Scottish islands.

The plan to draft soldiers in to local government also reminds me of the very strong position of the armed forces in the economies in many developing countries. In Pakistan, for example, the army also runs businesses, like cement factories. I’ve heard that the same is true of Egypt. The military is deeply entwined with large sectors of industry. Now Johnson and co.’s plan only involves drafting the military in to deal with a shortage of civil servants. But Zelo Street posted a piece recently showing that the government was also considering buying up the surplus food produced by our farmers if they could not export to the continent, and asked whether they would also provide financial support to the British car industry, another part of the economy that’s under threat. If the government decides that they, too, will have to be given over to army management or staffing, then Johnson and the Tories will really have turned this country into a third world nation. He’ll have a created a real military dictatorship, like those that have afflicted Pakistan and other nations. And they will be cheered on in this destruction by the right-wing press, like the Times, the Mail and the Scum. Lurking behind this threat of a coup, is the danger of a return of real Nazism from Social Darwinists like Toby Young and Dominic Cummings, who fear that giving education and welfare support to the poor and disabled is a threat to our racial stock and the proper running of our society by the upper classes. You can see them demanding legislation once again to sterilise the disabled and those on benefits.

The Tories and the right-wing media, including the Beeb, are now a real threat to democracy, whatever Boris and the Polecat now say about holding elections. We have to get them out, even if that means that Corbyn and the rest of the opposition have to bide their time for the moment. The future of our country and its people really is at stake.

 

 

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