Democracy

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Government being taken to court for lack of PPE

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/08/2020 - 5:00pm in

Even if you don’t wish to contribute to the legal fund this is well worth the two minute watch!... Read more

Creating full employment is the real Job Guarantee

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 5:00pm in

There was an interesting discussion on Universal Basic Income here form the ‘Basic Income Conversation’ and in particular, of course how it would be paid for. Actually, I have already discovered that a straightforward basic income is simple to ‘pay for’ when conventionally required. But this discussion was especially with regard to new monetary thought... Read more

A review of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”, the prequel to “The Hunger Games”.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 7:39am in

[spoiler alert!]

As a fan of the “Hunger Games”, a dystopian trilogy where teenagers are thrown into gladiatorial games to fight till the last survivor in a world that is a blend of ancient Rome and modern America, I eagerly awaited its prequel “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”. Its another intricately constructed book by Suzanne Collins, displaying her impressive tool-kit of story-telling tricks, taking elements of different fantasy writers over the last 100 years.

Let me first discuss some of the tricks she uses and then what I think of the messages she uses them for.

One trick in “the Ballad” is that the names of the characters are full of meaning and cultural references. The main character is a young Coriolanus Snow, who was to become the ruthless ruler of the Rome-like ‘Capitol’ in the “Hunger Games”, combining the name of a brutal Roman emperor (Coriolanus) with the name for purity (Snow). The main group of ‘good people’, a gypsy-like entertainment group called the Coveys, are all given names that combine a song and a colour, such as Barb Azure or Lucy Grey. The songs they are named after have a story that fits them, and their colour has a function too (Lucy Grey is somewhat in between good and evil, ie grey). As with the Hunger Games, there are Heavensbees and Plutarchs, somewhat performing the roles of heaven’s bees and very rich people. There are also Highbottoms and Sickles, being precisely that for comic effect.

Another standard trick of the trade is that we get to read the internal voice of the main character as he internally comments on what others say and do, drawing us into his confidence. There are also catchy emotional songs, stunning visual scenes (like a seductress buried in snakes), clever spur-of-the moment decisions, and gorgeous costumes. It already reads like the script of another movie.

A Suzanne Collins special is that we get drip-fed backstories that depict lives as being determined by a few high-emotion moments (a view I associate with the American media. It makes for easy comprehension and television, though lousy psychology as real life is not a collection of original sins and ultimate triumphs). Those backstories connect people in hitherto unsuspecting ways, making the reader experience “aha” moments. For instance, an enemy of Snow in the Hunger Games, Tigris, returns in the Ballad as a loving cousin of his.[1]

Another trick this author excels at is sudden dramatic shifts in the story as something blows up or some character one thought was on one side suddenly reveals (s)he was playing for the other side in a sudden traitorous move. The pace is fast, the storyline intricate and dense as many elements are tightly-interwoven, and yet the story also touches on topical issues like authority and the role of the media.

What I enjoyed most about the Ballad were the very recogniseable depictions of different character traits and personalities. They are sometimes too realistic for fiction.

For most of the book, the description of the Snow family for instance superbly catches the mentality of upper-class people in English society. The ruthlessness, the total devotion to power, the mannerisms, the use of language, the smooth habit of false flattery, the quick judgments of others, the upkeep of appearances at all costs, the relations to any person or group not in as least as powerful a position as themselves, the envy and spitefulness towards those in their own group, etc. It is such a fantastically good and unflattering description of the English aristocratic mindset that I was surprised an American author wrote it, though less surprised when reading that Suzanne Collins’ mother was English.

Whilst it is another easy page turner, the Ballad is less gripping, mainly because Coriolanus Snow is much harder to like than the main trio of the Hunger Games: Katniss, Peeta, and Hamish. Snow doesn’t love passionately, nor does he hate passionately. He is just totally obsessed with power and image, using everyone around him, including his own family, to further his ambitions. The obsession with power is a common trait in many politicians, so that is not unrealistic, but it does not make a very inviting person to share thoughts with. He is also a bit of a wet fish with little zest for life. For instance, Snow is depicted as an 18-year old healthy boy with access to a beautiful girl who loves him, and yet he does nothing more, even in his fantasies, than kiss her a few times. One might say: wtf?

Then the message of the book. The author clearly wants to say deep things, using quotes from Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseaux at the start of the book. Yet, the general problem is that the book lacks reflective thinking, both in its details, in the whole structure, and in the message. The author is just not a deep thinker. Neither are her current editors.

A small but very clear example of the lack of reflective thinking in this piece is how the book ends: having survived his ordeals and with more power and money than he had at the start of the book, Snow puts poison in a bottle of drugs which he then personally brings up to the office of the dean of his university, one of his enemies. He hopes the dean will consume the contents of the bottle in one of the coming days and die a horrible death. Snow thinks himself clever for having wiped the bottle for fingerprints. How sneaky, one initially thinks as a reader.

But hang on, is it really clever? Whilst it is perfectly believable that Snow would try to kill an enemy via poison and subterfuge, the manner in which he does so is beyond stupid: the sudden death of a dean would be investigated, meaning the poison will be found inside the bottle he consumed, with no suicide note or poison anywhere else in the vicinity of the dean, making it instantly clear the dean was deliberately murdered. And who would have been known to have personally visited him recently in his own office carrying luggage? Why, it’s Snow, the boy the dean earlier in the book punished and tried to destroy. Snow, whose tribute in the Hunger Games used the same type of poison earlier in the book. Means, motive, and opportunity would thus be immediately established. Snow would be in jail within hours of the autopsy findings.

A supposed genius like Snow would not murder so carelessly, yet Suzanne and a whole team of her editors failed to pick up on this hole in the plot.

More worrying for me was that this book copies some of the basic human implausibilities of the original Panem world, and then makes them even more implausible and hence the whole of Panem less interesting. More reflective thought would have helped.

The Panem of this book, which is set 65 years before the events in the Hunger Games, is a world just recovering from an extremely violent civil war, with an authority that is yet to get a full grip on the situation. However, like the Hunger Games, it has no religion in it at all. No gods, no major superstitutions, no real ideologies, no escape from suffering at all. That was already a bit strange in the Hunger Games wherein one might argue an all-powerful authority had stamped out superstitions and religions, as many real-world authorities do. But in the more chaotic world of the Ballad, it is more conspicuously strange to have such a huge unmet human need for meaning and solace.

Also, like in the Hunger Games, Panem in the Ballad has hordes of powerful young men stationed around populations with defenseless young women, yet those young men are remarkably self-constrained and do not have children with the women, nor do they kill off the male competitors in the populations they rule. It’s a very strange idealistic-puritan quirk to build into a society that is supposedly ruthless, particularly one where a victorious occupying army would have had the excuse of the brutality towards their own population from the recent civil war as an excuse to do what they want. If you want to talk about adult themes, you have to have adult characters, yet Suzanne Collins populates her Rome with nothing but stuck-up eunuchs. That’s not how Rome was, or any conquering empire: victors have always claimed the spoils of war, including American armies in the 20th century, who invariably left behind extensive brothels and a more mixed population.

Another such jarring element is that all the main characters have media instincts that would befit a long-time reality tv-star, placed in a world with very few televisions and very few tv-programs. The Ballad depicts a media world from around the 1920s where almost no-one watches television and everyone has more important things to worry about than how they look on the sparse tv-screens. This makes it totally unrealistic that either the population or the main protagonists would behave as if they lived in a Big Brother House. Hence all the awareness and effort made to hide things from cameras by the main protagonists don’t make much sense.

This problem with the Ballad was the key strength of the Hunger Games which depicted a media-obsessed society, making it suitable to tell us about how power and the media work in the 21st century. Indeed, it was a large part of the appeal of the Hunger Games that media was used and abused by both the good and the bad personalities, drawing the readers into the necessity by all to lie constantly to the media.

Yet, this key strength and message of the Hunger Games is like a fish out of water in the Ballad.

Many of the structural implausibilities of the world of Panem seem to be there because of the wish of the author to connect her story with references to Western history and current sensitivities. For instance, Panem has order maintained in the subdued “districts” via armies of “peacekeepers” who do 20-year shifts of duty, something that comes straight out of Roman army history. Not only has the author brushed out the true brutality of the Roman armies whose soldiers most definitely took the local women and who eventually became part of the population that lived somewhere, but the very idea that the population-poor world of Panem would tie down so many of their prime-aged men into such an unproductive role is simply ludicrous. It makes no sense whatsoever, except from the point of view of wanting to make fairly uneducated readers think the Capitol of Panem is just like Rome, with elements of 21st century American puritanism thrown in to avoid particular visuals that would make the books banned from children’s book stores and the movies R-rated.

What would a more realistic form of control over the districts have looked like in the world of the Ballad and the Hunger Games? Well, the conquerors could have taken a leaf out of the rule book used by colonial powers or, indeed, Rome: they would have divided and ruled by means of giving a higher position of power to local rulers and some smallish group within the conquered population. They would have made local overlords out of those minorities, encouraging them to misbehave so as to remain despised by the local population and thus ultimately dependent on the Capitol. That’s how France, Rome, and Britain did it: co-opt local rulers and minorities to keep the majority in line. Much cheaper, much more effective, and much more sustainable than having huge stationed armies everywhere, essentially twiddling their thumbs during their most productive years.

To be fair, the Hunger Games had lots of deep design flaws in its depiction of society too. I am not talking here about the implausibility of the science used in Panem, but the implausibility of human behaviour in that world. Oppressed populations staying put in their depressing villages, not populating the forests and mountains? The outbreak of democracy, rather than a Chinese-style collectivist empire, in a situation where the entire known population is run by a single government? A unified single government for the whole of Panem that did not descend after 75 years into a nightmare of form-filling and rituals? These bits never made sense, so the human society of Panem in the Hunger Games was not a socially plausible construct.

Yet, the Hunger Games had its powerful human-interest stories around love, sacrifice, loss, and war, and could claim some gravitas from the highly sophisticated way it talked about power and media, and from the realism of the ruthlessness that leaders displayed in order to hold on or acquire power. It also was full of great characters one could easily like, and had little intellectual puzzles a reader could get stuck into, such as how one would behave in an arena with 23 others where only one could come out alive. There was more than enough for greatly entertaining and thought-provoking books. But it was not a vehicle for discussing human nature or the future of humanity.

Panem as an imaginary construct differs from the imaginary societies of authors like Jonathan Swift and Aldous Huxley. Those authors depicted imaginary societies to either lay out how they thought about their own society and where it was heading (Gullivers’ Travels), or else how a particular utopia might actually work (Brave New World). In contrast, Panem is much less a product of real imagination or understanding of humanity, and much more a collection of highly stylised impressions and elements relevant to contemporary USA served up in a hyped-up entertaining manner. This makes Panem far less timeless and also much more superficial than the creations of Swift and Huxley. Suzanne Collins is no less gifted a writer than those authors, but unfortunately a much less gifted thinker.

Even in her description of the Snow family, Suzanne Collins cannot help but put in a bit of inappropriate puritanism. In the book Snow is motivated by a Hobbes-like idealism to save people from themselves by suppressing them (a trait he also displayed in the Hunger Games when he visits Katniss in Book 2 to convince her to play a certain role). That idealism is out of place in an aristocracy. Born rulers like the Snow family feel entitled to power, only adopting justifications because intellectuals and bureaucrats need a story to more easily go along with their lower station in life. True aristocrats are not afflicted by the middle-class idealism Coriolanus Snow shows at the end of the book where he resigns himself to being thought of as a dictator in order to save people from themselves. To an aristocrat, slaves are there to serve and obey, not to be saved. So a Hobbesian ideology is totally out of place in that type of character. It also had no place in Rome. Romans and aristocrats did not need excuses to seek power.

The Ballad is thus decidedly a notch down relative to the Hunger Games in terms of the quality of the mirror it holds up of our own world and our own tendencies. It gets parts of individuals right but it gets humanity wrong, because in every crucial part of the structure, American puritanism has been inserted at the expense of realism. Its philosophizing and depiction of human nature are, simply put, amateurish. Suzanne is just not good at it, which is a pity because her storytelling skills combined with clear hard thinking could give us another Gullivers’ Travels or Brave New World. Maybe Suzanne should combine with people who are better at thinking hard about humanity and society. Maybe some Russian or African thinker would suit her: someone outside of the Anglo-Saxon traditions who can get her to see how the pretenses of her own society are holding her back.

Though her publishers and bank managers will want her to suck the world of Panem dry of its commercial potential, it would be a great pity if Suzanne Collins wastes her talents on further elaborations of the Panem world and its hunger games. She used Panem already to great effect to give us a mirror on how we now relate to power and the media, but its useless as a general vehicle to talk about war and humanity because the Panem world has too many design flaws in it and is too hampered by American puritanism. She will need to construct a different world if she wants to say more than she did in the Hunger Games.

[1] I suspect in a sequel the “Greasy Sae” of the Hunger Games will be revealed to be Lucy Grey if only because there is no other notable old district 12 lady available!

 

Starmer Returning Labour to Blairite Corporatism, Cronyism and Corruption

On Monday Mike put up a piece commenting on a report in the Groan that after corporate donations to the Labour party had almost dried up under Corbyn’s leadership, the fat cat rich were once again giving their cash to the party. This was welcomed by former Blairite fundraiser, Lord Michael Levy, who declared that it was important that the party should be funded by people, who believe in the cause.

As Mike and the various peeps he cites from Twitter, like Jackie Walker, Tory Fibs, Ian Byrne MP, Kam Sandhu and James Foster point out, Corbyn’s leadership proved that big money donations weren’t needed. The party was funded by its members’ subscriptions and it became the biggest socialist party in Europe. And it was in the black. This is an achievement to be proud of. Now all this is imperilled, as Mike points out. The party is haemorrhaging members at the rate of 2,000 a day. Corbyn’s party was about the people, but the influx of the corporate donors threatens this. Mike asks the obvious question of whether they’re doing this because they ‘believe in the cause’ or whether they’re seeking to influence party policy.

He concludes:

It also indicates that “big money” wants to support Starmer’s appeasement of those staffers who are accused of sabotaging the Corbyn project, of racism, misogyny and in some cases anti-Semitism. Because it makes Corbyn look bad without actually proving anything either way?
This is a very bad look for Starmer’s new New Labour.
We already have evidence that indicates around 2,000 people are leaving the party every week.
This may multiply that outward flood into a deluge.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/08/09/is-keir-starmer-re-installing-corruption-into-the-labour-party-with-the-wealth-of-private-donors/

There’s no question about any of this, and the return of Michael Levy as fundraiser says much, all of it negative. Blair met Levy at a meeting at the Israeli embassy, and Levy was instrumental in getting Blair’s office funding from pro-Zionist Jewish businessmen. This allowed Blair to be independent of union funding, and so pursue his modernisation agenda of turning Labour into the Tory party mark 2. It was also a major factor in the creation of viciously persecutory pro-Israeli establishment within the Labour party that has seen critics of Israel’s barbarous maltreatment and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians smeared and purged as anti-Semites simply for reasoned criticism of a racist, colonialist state.

As for these donors wanting to influence party policy, of course they do. New Labour was corporatist through and through. In return for donations from big business, the corporations were allowed to influence government decisions at every level, with senior management advising and serving in government boards and departments. This is extensively described by George Monbiot in his book, Captive State, and by the satirists and impressionists Rory Bremner, John Bird and John Fortune in their book, You Are Here. These were the same corporations that donated to the Tories, and Blair’s Labour was also sponsored and hosted the same think tanks that advised them.

As the peeps from Twitter have pointed out, it was government for the few, not the many.

As a result, Blair’s Labour party became a byword for sleaze and corruption, far in excess of John Major’s government, which had also been notorious for this. And it is utterly disgraceful, but deeply symptomatic, of the Guardian to try to present the return of private corporations in such a positive light. As for Lord Levy’s words, the corporate donors don’t believe in the cause. Or if they do, it’s simply the Blair project of giving them more power. The Labour party was not founded for them. It was founded as a coalition of trade unions and socialist groups and societies to represent ordinary people – the labouring poor. And their interests were not being served by the other parties. The Tories represented the interest of the Anglican aristocracy, while the Liberals were definitely middle class. More democratic, certainly, than the Tories  – the first working class members of parliament were the ‘Lib-Labs’, trade unionists who entered parliament as members of the Liberals, but ultimately committed to free trade and business at the expense of working class interests.

And corporativism is actively harming democracy, both here and in America. A report by Harvard University a few years ago concluded that the USA was no longer a functioning democracy but a corporate plutocracy because of the corporate funding of parties and political candidates. And even some Republicans are fed up with it. One Republican businessman in California wanted to have a law passed that would force politicos to wear the names of the corporations that had sponsored them on their jackets, like sportsmen. The left-wing surge in the Democrat party was also at the beginning very much a revolt against the corporate corruption represented and led by the Clintons.

But Trump is now in the White House, representing the cesspool of corporate politics over the other side of the Pond. And the Blairites have had their way, toppled Corbyn, sabotaged Labour’s elections and are back to reinstalling the corporations they admire at the centre of government.

Which means more privatisation, including that of the NHS, frozen wages, attacks on the welfare state and the privatisation of the NHS. It means mass starvation and more grinding poverty. 

But never mind: the corporations will be in power, exploiting welfare to work schemes, and Israel won’t have to worry about any more pesky criticism about its crimes against the Palestinians.

 

The 3.5 per cent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 5:00pm in

Nothing to do with that other percent – the 1 or less – but this time, the academic, Erica Chenoweth, (who name sounds very Cornish, but she is an American) is the source of these 3.5% figures that keep cropping up everywhere – often just chalked up as in a park here: This concerns the... Read more

Winds of Change in Belarus: Neither Dictatorship Nor Democracy Offer Anything for the Working Class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 2:35am in

image/jpeg iconbelarus_protests.jpg

The onus lies on the workers of Belarus to seek their own solution outside of the futile battle to refurbish the shabby window dressing of democracy.

read more

Hardship ahead

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/08/2020 - 5:00pm in

According to a Sky News report, Conservative policies have (either purposely or inadvertently) arranged for the country to be subject to hardship ahead. Rishi Sunak said: I don’t think it’s fair to extend (furlough) indefinitely. It’s not fair to the people on it. We shouldn’t pretend there is, in every case, a job to go... Read more

Labour South West Forced to Widen Nominations for Metro Mayor After Mistakes by Governance and Legal Team

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 09/08/2020 - 7:57pm in

On Monday I received this strange email from Labour South West, explaining that they’d had to widen the nominations for south west metro mayor following complaints from members about the shortlist. This had apparently been due to mistakes by the Governance and Legal Unit, who had supplied the Regional Office with an out of date version of the selection procedures. This had been a mistake, and had only caused some minor administrative irregularities that had no effect on the final shortlist. However, one area which was affected was the ability for Labour groups within the combined authority to make supportive nominations. The Labour party was therefore opening a window period of 14 days to allow this to occur.

As you will know the short-list for the West of England Metro-Mayoral Selection was announced on Thursday 16th July.

Since that time there have been a number of communications expressing concern in respect of how the procedure was managed and the final short-list was determined.

The Labour Party General Secretary has conducted a review of these concerns. During the review it was found that Regional Office had been inadvertently provided with an out of date version of the selection procedures (by the Governance and Legal Unit) and that therefore there had been some small/minor administrative irregularities. It should be pointed out that none of the irregularities which occurred had any material impact on the final short-list. You will find attached to this email an outline of the main concerns and an explanation as to why they were found to be without merit. 

However, one omission from the procedures provided to Regional Office which do appear in the more recent version was the point which allows Labour Groups from within the combined authority area to make supportive nominations, as below.

7f. 

Each principal Labour Group within the Combined Authority area may make a supporting nomination of one or two candidates from the applications received. If making two nominations, at least one nomination must be a woman. Supporting nominations do not count towards the short-listing process. 

As a result of this omission, and as a demonstration of good faith, The General Secretary has discussed this with relevant key stakeholders internally (including the NEC) and it has been determined that a window of 14 days should be allowed for Labour Groups within the combined authority area to consider if they wish to make supportive nominations. Labour Group Officers will be provided with all appropriate information on how to consider if they wish to make supporting nominations, and the process for making a supporting nomination tomorrow morning (Tuesday 4th August). The deadline for receipt of a Labour Group Supporting nomination will be 4pm on Tuesday 18th August.

Once, and if, any Labour Group supporting nominations are received the Selection Committee/Interview Panel will be invited to consider if they wish to consider any relevant next steps, including the possibility of re-opening interviews. Those candidates already short-listed will not be affected by this and will remain short-listed.

We apologise for any confusion and inconvenience which this may have caused.

As you will see from the attached outline of queries some concerns were expressed that full candidate application forms were not circulated along with candidate statements. As stated previously this had no material impact on the process, however we will forward you full candidate application forms and candidate statements in due course for your records.

Many thanks

Now I’d like to believe that this was all purely by mistake, but considering the plotting and intrigues by the Blairites within the Labour party to scupper the party’s electoral chances under Jeremy Corbyn, and the way the same right-wing bureaucrats maligned, smeared and libeled decent people as anti-Semites in order to have them purged from the party, I think doubts about the intentions of the Governance and Legal Unit are warranted. The right-wing bureaucrats in charge of the party machine are showing themselves extremely corrupt and duplicitous in their attempts to cling on to power. Despite their protestations of innocence and threats of legal action, it very much looks to me and very many other members of the party that those at the top of the party apparatus are massively unfit to hold their positions. Confidence will only be restored when these people are removed from office and replaced with more conscientious administrators working for the good of their party, not their faction nor the wider goal of maintaining the Blair neoliberal project.

Until the party bureaucrats, who are responsible for these intrigues and bringing the party into disrepute are gone, there will always be suspicion among rank and file members about incidents like this, even if they are genuine mistakes.

Akila Hughes Loses Vindictive Court Case against Sargon. Obviously.

There was an interesting bit of legal news last week. Akila Hughes, a left-wing Black American activist, lost her lawsuit against Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, the man who broke UKIP. I’ve blogged about Sargon many times already. He’s a libertarian, Trump-supporting, Tory Brexiteer, so I really don’t share his politics. They’re closer to Hughes. But this time, I think Sargon was actually right and that Hughes has only herself to blame for her defeat. Sargon was the better person.

The dispute goes back to the American presidential election campaign between Trump and Clinton. Hughes was a supporter of Killary, and put up a video supporting her. Sargon disagreed, and in order to show that millions of Americans didn’t share her views, took clips from it and turned it into a YouTube poop intended to satirise her. YouTube poops, if you are blissfully unaware of them, are videos where the makers take clips of certain celebrities or personalities and edit them to make them look ridiculous. There have been any number directed against mad conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, which I find hilarious. And the peeps on YouTube regularly take videos and clips of material by others and include them in their own to critique or comment upon this. This is allowed under the copyright laws as fair use.

Hughes didn’t see it that way, however, and decided that Sargon was infringing her copyright. So she sued him for $150,000. She also showed just how personally vindictive she was by declaring on YouTube that she didn’t care if this bankrupted Sargon and took food away from his children, because Sargon himself should have thought of that. But this personal spite has backfired on her. Judge Sullivan founded in Sargon’s favour, and has ordered Hughes to pay the Sage of Swindon $38,000 in costs. The other day Sargon received a copy of the lawman’s judgement, and posted a video about it on YouTube. And it’s not only interesting in itself, but I’d say it was also relevant for other, similar vindictive legal actions. Like those, in my opinion, brought by Rachel Riley and Tracey Ann Oberman.

The judge decided against Hughes because of her suit’s ‘objective unreasonableness’. I don’t think she had been able to show how Sargon had harmed her through the video, but had shown instead her own personal spite against him by stating that she didn’t care about taking food away from his children. He also ruled that she had acted from improper motivations. While many such litigants are able to keep theirs hidden, she had displayed hers by boasting about her intentions to her many followers on Twitter and social media. Hughes had previously led a campaign to have Sargon thrown off Twitter, and when this succeeded, claimed it was due to her. Having received a message from YouTube that the company supported Black creators, she took this as a sign that she should go ahead and try to get Sargon deplatformed from there as well. She also told her followers she wanted to bankrupt Sargon, stymie his attempts to crowdfund his defence and use copyright law to silence her personal critics and opponents. The judge also ruled that she was also seeking to publicise her suit in order to enrich herself. He therefor found against her. Sargon isn’t out of the woods, as Hughes has 38 days to appeal the decision. But it looks very damning.

I have to say that while I dislike Sargon’s opinions, I don’t believe that he is personally racist or a White supremacist as Hughes and his opponents allege he. He has spoken on his channel to Black activists, and shares their concern about the breakdown of the Black family. Not that family breakdown hasn’t devastated White and other communities as well. Some of his criticisms of Black anti-racism are, in my opinion, entirely fair. In one of his videos he criticised a group of Black activists, who were complaining because the Equalities Commission were compiling statistics on anti-White incidents. He called them racists, which they are. He has also criticised Black Lives Matter and the demands for redressing historic western slavery, when real slavery has re-emerged in Africa. He has quoted a recent article from a paper, which stated that there are now three times more slaves around the world than were transported from Africa to the New World during the transatlantic slave trade. This is grotesque and horrific, but you hear very little about it. Emma Maltby took issue in the pages of the I a few weeks ago to attack right-wing critics of anti-racism movements like Black Lives Matter for trying to use the issue to distract on the real problems of racism and racial inequality in the west. She’s right, but so is Sargon, and I don’t believe that the real slavery that is experiencing a resurgence would have quite the same exposure without Sargon and Conservative critics like him. My sympathies in this case are with Sargon, not Hughes.

And I also note certain similarities between Hughes’ case and that of Rachel Riley and Tracey Ann Oberman to sue Mike and other bloggers for posting a piece about their maltreatment of a schoolgirl. They accused the girl of being an anti-Semite and told her they wanted to re-educate her, simply because she put up a piece supporting Jeremy Corbyn. Shaun Lawson put up an article about this, which other people, including Mike, reblogged and/ or commented upon. Riley and Oberman therefore took it upon themselves to sue Mike and others, including Jane Heybroek in a related case, for libel.

Now Riley and Oberman certainly haven’t gone on social media and revealed their improper motives, but the circumstances of these lawsuits are very suspicious and, in my opinion, certainly look every bit as vindictive and spiteful as Hughes’. Riley and Oberman are rich celebs. Riley is able to afford the expense of a QC, and has insurance against her losing legal suits. Mike, like Sargon, has had to crowdfund his defence. Riley, like Hughes, has attempted to stymie Mike’s defence. Her lawyer argued that the difficulty Mike was having obtaining a lawyer to act for him during the summer months was clogging up the legal system, in what looks suspiciously to me like an attempt to stop Mike raising any more money to defend himself. Despite her own claims that she is not doing it for the money, she did not proceed against Shaun Lawson, who creator the original article. He lives in Uruguay, and apparently doesn’t have much in the way of money so it apparently isn’t worth suing him. Her suit against Jane Heybroek was abandoned when her insurers decided that they would no longer fund her suit, and she would have to start using her own money. In addition, Riley also appealed to her followers to suggest people she should sue, as the charities she supported needed money. This, as Zelo Street pointed out, comes close to the very definition of grifting. And so it does look very much to me – and I stress this is my own personal opinion – that Riley is using the lawsuit and its publicity to enrich herself.

And I am absolutely convinced that she is, like Hughes, abusing the legal system to shut down her personal critics. Riley and Oberman like to present themselves as crusaders against anti-Semitism. But their interpretation of anti-Semitism seems to be the perversion used by the Zionist fanatics: criticism or opposition to Israel. Israel, it needs to be stressed, is a country. And like all-too many nations, it commits atrocities. In the case of Israel, these are against the indigenous Palestinians. It is not by any means anti-Semitic to criticise Israel for its crimes. Despising Israel’s atrocities does not mean that one hates its citizens, still less the wider Jewish community. However, Israel and pro-Israel groups have and are using claims of racism and anti-Semitism to silence critics and opposition groups, such as the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign against goods produced in the occupied territories. The misuse of such legislation to silence such criticism is termed ‘lawfare’. And it looks to me very much exactly what Riley and Oberman are doing in their lawsuit against Mike.

As I said, I don’t share Sargon’s opinions, but I’m glad he won. Just as I hope Mike and the others will similarly be vindicated when Riley’s and Oberman’s suit comes to trial. I hope the judge also finds their case vexatious and vindictive. Because it certainly seems that way to me.

The Innocence Tax and how Democracy is undermined

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/08/2020 - 5:00pm in

There has been a series of articles on Channel Four News on the experiences of ‘The Secret Barrister’ – and of course there is a book of the same name. This illustrates the straight injustice for potentially any one of us when the state refuses to fund adequately our defence – not to mention the... Read more

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