Ideology

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The Government’s Rwanda Plan is a Relic of a Colonial Age

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/04/2022 - 6:45pm in

Britain's historic hostility towards migration – by politicians of all stripes – has laid the groundwork for Priti Patel's controversial plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda, says Thomas Perrett

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The Government’s proposal to deport people seeking asylum arriving via 'unauthorised' routes to Rwanda has sparked visceral criticism from across the political spectrum.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said there are “serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas”; while Labour Leader Keir Starmer described it as a “desperate” attempt to distract from the ongoing ‘Partygate’ scandal which has engulfed the Conservative Party.

The scheme, which aims to deter migrants from crossing the Channel by relocating those who arrive through “illegal, dangerous or unnecessary methods” in Rwanda for their applications to be evaluated, has been criticised by the UN for breaching international law. Gillian Triggs, assistant secretary-general at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said that the agency “strongly condemns outsourcing the primary responsibility to consider the refugee status”.

But rather than merely functioning as a distraction, the Government’s proposal is disturbingly reminiscent of post-imperial policies in which the British state sought to mediate the UK's relations with its colonies by controlling and regulating access to the spoils of Empire.

These policies, which began by making the status of non-white Commonwealth immigrants more precarious, later sought to categorise refugees and asylum seekers as an incursion which drained public finances and threatened to undermine national unity. 

Policing the Spoils of Empire

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Government sought to recast its relationship with its colonies in the face of stridently nationalistic movements in the Empire and as these territories became independent.

The 1948 British Nationality Act – passed by Clement Atlee’s Labour Government – distinguished between British ‘citizens’ and British ‘subjects without citizenship’, implicitly permitting freedom of movement for white citizens from Britain’s settler colonies.

However, as 500,000 racialised Commonwealth citizens arrived between 1948 and 1962, the government sought to introduce specific legislation to deter the influx of non-white British subjects.

It was in 1962 that the Conservative government began to introduce formal measures which categorised citizens from the Commonwealth as 'immigrants' instead of British 'citizens'. The 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act stated that only immigrants with work visas, issued at the Home Secretary’s discretion and typically awarded only to highly-skilled workers, could travel to live and work in Britain.

Referred to by the then leader of the opposition, Hugh Gaitskell, as “cruel and brutal anti-colour legislation”, the 1962 Act set a precedent for legislation providing legal loopholes which disputed the rights of both asylum seekers and racialised British citizens to remain in the country, and to consider themselves British.

The 1968 Commonwealth Immigrants Act can be considered a direct antecedent of the government’s Rwanda plan.

An explicitly discriminatory law, the Act denied 35,000 overseas British citizens the right to enter the country following the Africanisation policies carried out by newly independent Kenya's President Jomo Kenyatta. Entry to Britain for Kenyan Asian refugees, permissible under the 1962 Act, was revoked on the grounds that Commonwealth citizens had to have either been born in Britain or have had at least one parent or grandparent born in the country to emigrate.

These pieces of legislation, aiming to construct a bordered British nation-state in the aftermath of decolonisation, defined 'Britishness' in explicitly racial terms. They sought to assuage post-imperial anxieties created by mass non-white immigration from former colonial dominions, contesting the ability of British subjects to become British citizens.

Disposing of Unwanted Arrivals

The political and legal disputation of Commonwealth citizens’ right to enter the country, which followed a wave of ethno-nationalist fervour and racist attacks on non-white British citizens, has provided the basis on which to refuse entry to refugees and people seeking asylum in the Government's Rwanda plan today.

In her book (B)ordering Britain: Law, Race and Empire, legal scholar Nadine El-Enany observes: “People residing in Britain on a temporary status are at the constant mercy of the state. Hanging over them is the threat of losing their status and of a court attaching little weight to the private life they established while holding their temporary status.”

Indeed, the 2018 case of Rhuppiah versus Secretary of State for the Home Department established a justification for the removal of immigrants with precarious citizenship status. The case concerned a woman who had travelled to Britain from the former British colony of Tanzania, yet faced removal following the denial of her application to remain in the UK. 

Although she had cited Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights – which provides for the right to a private and family life – the courts relied on the 2002 Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act to dispute the applicability of this ruling. The court concluded that little consideration should be given to a person’s private life if their immigration status was precarious.

The invocation of this Act not only undermined the right of a vulnerable individual who had travelled from a former British colony to live in Britain, but also characterised immigrants with precarious status as a drain on the taxpayer.

The law states that it is in the “public interest” that immigrants are “financially secure” to ensure that they are not “a burden on taxpayers” – demonstrating how the livelihoods of people seeking asylum, and the conditions which they are compelled to flee, are of secondary concern. 

The Rwanda plan draws on this crude, populist logic.

The Government has consistently framed policies seeking to curtail immigration as beneficial for the security and prosperity of the British people, intent on providing a better life for genuine, ‘deserving,’ refugees.

Boris Johnson – whose Government has attacked as “lefty human rights lawyers and other do-gooders” who have called into question the legality of its anti-immigration policies – has predictably blamed “politically motivated lawyers” for seeking to thwart the legally dubious Rwanda plan. The Home Secretary has also engaged in this rhetoric.

The Rwanda plan thus represents an opportunity for the Government to position itself as the ally of a ‘silent majority’ of the British people against excessively altruistic, ideologically-motivated opponents. 

Yet this does not stand up to scrutiny. A YouGov poll conducted within hours of the announcement of the proposal found that 42% of those surveyed were opposed to the plan, with 27% strongly opposed to it. Even in the ‘Red Wall’ constituencies snatched by the Conservatives at the 2019 General Election – commonly characterised as hostile to immigration – opposition to the scheme outweighed support for it.

The Rwanda plan is by no means an aberration when viewed within the turbulent context of Britain's historic immigration policy. Successive governments have characterised both people seeking asylum and Commonwealth citizens as invasive interlopers; seeking to contest their status as British citizens and to dispute their rights to seek a prosperous future for themselves and their families.

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Boris Johnson is Fighting a ‘Culture War’ to Cling On to Power

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/04/2022 - 5:00pm in

The Prime Minister's divisive comments about trans people are part of a broader attempt to survive rising public anger with his Government, reports Adam Bienkov

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Boris Johnson is in trouble. Anger over 'Partygate' is combining with frustration over soaring living costs to put the future survival of his Government at risk.

After 12 years in office, the Conservative Party is starting to fear that it could be entering the twilight years of its long dominance over UK politics.

Yet, like all great survivors, Johnson has a plan which he believes could turn things around. And that plan is to replace his losing political war with a winning 'culture war'.

The Prime Minister’s comments about trans sportspeople last week were the latest in a growing series of attempts to drive a wedge between his party and Labour on cultural issues in order to cling onto power.

Whether it’s university free speech, LGBT rights, statues, Black Lives Matter or lockdown laws, Johnson is increasingly attempting to make the big divide at the next election between a socially Conservative Government and a ‘woke’ opposition.

So far it has had limited success. A study by Kings College London and Ipsos Mori last year found that, while there had been an explosion of interest in these subjects in the British media, the general public hadn't taken the bait. The study found that British people were just as likely to see ‘woke’ as being a compliment as an insult, with a plurality of people unaware of what the term meant at all.

The Labour Party too has so far failed to take the bait, with Keir Starmer and his Shadow Cabinet concentrating instead on cost of living and other issues, which polls suggest the public are most concerned about.

Unlike in the US, where such cultural battles now form integral parts of the political identities of the two major parties, UK voters don't appear to yet be willing to head to the culture war frontline.

“Most of the discussions [of culture war issues] that are played out on social media, and the media more generally, are just from the very extreme wings [of public opinion] and most people are just much more nuanced or conditional, or not that bothered,” Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at Kings College London, told Byline Times.

As a result, some of the recent endeavours to ignite culture wars in the UK have gone nowhere.

Attempts to form new political parties and movements based on resistance to Coronavirus lockdowns fell flat, with most voters remaining supportive of public interventions to prevent transmission of the pandemic. Similar attempts by Johnson’s Government to ignite a divide over the Black Lives Matter movement failed to take off, with most voters saying that they were supportive of England footballers who took the knee.

Is Johnson's Culture War Starting to Take Off?

But, while the public may so far have failed to bite, that could be changing. 

The same study by Kings College found that there had been an exponential growth in discussion of these topics in the press over recent years. Byline Times' analysis of press and broadcast coverage over recent months suggests that this trend has massively increased in the year since the study. 

So could the relentless push for a UK culture war ultimately work and could Boris Johnson succeed in igniting the sorts of divisions already seen in US politics?

Bobby Duffy suggests that, while individual attempts to stoke culture wars will have varying levels of success, the strategy could still succeed in forging what he calls new “mega-identities” among voters, which political parties will ultimately be able to exploit.

“The really important feature of a true culture war... is that it’s not really about disagreement over specific cultural issues or even fractious disagreement," he said. "It's about two fundamentally different views of the world where compromise is not possible.

"And the thing that comes through in the US experience with this is the idea of conflict extension – where you start with one issue, or small collection of issues, and then it slowly builds other issues into that in order to form these kind of mega-identities."

To Duffy, these mega-identities "get more and more caught up in your own political identity [which] reinforces that sense of division".

Looked at this way, it becomes clear that Johnson’s push for culture wars over issues such as taking the knee or trans rights, is less about the issues themselves and more about creating a 'wedge' between one bloc of younger, socially-liberal, Labour-leaning voters; and another bloc of older, socially and politically Conservative voters.

Once that wedge has been driven, it then requires very little effort to raise other issues which then help to deepen that political divide.

“The point is that once you activate one of those identities, and you've got these really big identities that cover all sorts of social and cultural issues, then they strengthen each time you activate them," Duffy told Byline Times.

The Casualties of Johnson's Culture Wars Conservative MP for Bridgend Jamie Wallis. Photo: PA Images

The problem with this strategy is that culture wars, like all wars, normally have real-world casualties.

At the end of last month, Boris Johnson used a dinner with Conservative MPs to make a joke about trans people and the Labour Party.

Yet, within hours one of his own MPs, Jamie Wallis, came out as a trans woman. Wallis’ dignified statement forced Johnson into a brief U-turn, as he praised his colleague’s “courage” on the issue.

But far from discourage Johnson from pursuing this particular incursion of the culture wars, he was back on the nation’s screens within days calling for a blanket ban on trans women taking part in women’s sports events. 

A leak to ITV News also revealed that he had removed trans people from his planned ban on conversion therapy. As a result of Johnson’s decision, which was reportedly made in order to 'trap' the Labour Party on the issue, dozens of LGBT groups withdrew from the Government’s planned international LGBT conference.

Broadcasters too have played their part in this new culture war.

News channels, including the BBC, interviewers have regularly asked senior politicians, particularly in the Labour Party, about changing rooms and whether women have penises.

The net effect of all this has been to massively raise the issue of trans rights up the political agenda. And where previous polling has suggested that the public is broadly liberal and tolerant on the issue, Johnson’s comments and the constant coverage of the issue over recent months could change that.

“I think that if you if you went down any street in the UK and spoke to people and said 'do you think that trans people should have access to quick healthcare, do you think that trans people shouldn't be disproportionately made homeless, disproportionately discriminated against at work and targeted with street harassment? I'm pretty sure everyone would say yes,” Labour MP Nadia Whittome told Byline Times.

“But what the Government is trying to do is stoke a cultural war for for two reasons. Firstly I think, it’s to distract from their own failures with the cost of living crisis, but also because this will be a useful divide and rule tactic in the same way as migrants and refugees and people of colour have been in the past, and still are.”

Just as Boris Johnson's past comments about Muslim women were followed by a reported spike in hate crimes against them, Whittome fears that Johnson’s comments about trans people could also risk placing them in harm's way too.

“I think it's extremely dangerous… given that there's already a hostile environment for trans people facing hate crimes, then stoking this actively puts people in even more danger," she added.

It is too early to know whether Johnson’s attempts to create a new cultural divide in the UK to replace the waning Brexit divide, will work. MPs Byline Times has spoken to in recent weeks say that such cultural issues are still not major concerns being raised on the doorstep during campaigning for the upcoming local elections.

However, similar attempts to stoke such cultural divisions have had some success in the US and, like many other cultural imports, this may be one that Britain eventually takes wholesale too.

But even if Johnson is successful in stoking a culture war, it may be a war his party ultimately loses. Increased levels of university education and decreased home ownership among younger generations could ultimately deprive the Prime Minister of the numbers of troops he needs to win any future cultural battle.

Yet whatever the outcome, this new culture war will have real-life consequences. For trans people, it already means the removal of planned protections from the barbaric practice of conversion therapy.

In the future, Boris Johnson and his successors could be tempted to see the rights and safety of other minority groups as necessary collateral damage for their culture wars too.

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The Church of Putin

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/04/2022 - 9:25pm in

Reverend Joe Haward explores how the Russian President has won support from US evangelicals and his playbook matches that of the European far-right

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On 23 February 2022, a few hours before the Russian military began bombing Ukraine, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia, issued a statement on behalf of Vladimir Putin. 

Kirill began by “heartily” congratulating the Russian President “on the Defender of the Fatherland Day”. He went on to honour those carrying out military service, “strengthening its defence capability and national security” through “ardent love for the Fatherland”. 

Strikingly, Kirill declared that military service is a “manifestation of evangelical love for neighbours, an example of fidelity to high moral ideals of truth and goodness”. 

Kirill’s support of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine comes as no surprise. For a decade now, he and the increasingly authoritarian President have established a close relationship. Both men see in the other someone who will establish the conservative, nationalist values that they both desire for Russia. 

Two days before Kirill’s praise, Putin made his ideological claim on Ukraine clear. He said that “Ukraine is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space. These are our comrades, those dearest to us – not only colleagues, friends and people who once served together, but also relatives, people bound by blood, by family ties”. 

This is an ideological position shared by Kirill. He too believes that many countries that once made up the Soviet Union belong to some kind of transnational Russian civilisation. In a sermon preached on 13 March, Kirill declared that endurance through this time of war would result in “our Russian land [being] preserved, which now includes Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus”. 

This cocktail of religious nationalism, wedded to militarism, has unleashed atrocities and a humanitarian catastrophe against the Ukrainian people. Unfortunately, there are those beyond Russia who have become intoxicated by the message and actions of Vladimir Putin and his supporters – including US evangelical churches.

Evangelical Adulation

Kirill’s approval of the war – and the ideological, religious fanaticism used to justify this – has received praise within conservative evangelical camps in America. 

This support comes in part from Kirill’s outspoken criticism against Western liberalism. Like Putin, he has argued that Western culture’s support of LGBTIQ rights stands in stark contrast to the 'traditional values' of Russian morality. This kind of diatribe fits easily within the worldview and belief systems of Trumpian evangelicals. 

In 2021, Sarah Riccardi-Swartz, in a study on the allure of post-Soviet Russian Orthodoxy with American conservatives, noted how the nationalistic and religious ideals promoted by Kirill under Putin’s regime aligned closely with the traditionalism and ideological reimaging of the American 'culture wars'. 

In other words, evangelicals find in Kirill and Putin messengers with a message that they strongly resonate with. 

There are those within radical-right politics – both socially and theologically – who believe that Russia now represents Christianity, as opposed to the 'anti-Christianity' of American culture. These are not just conservatives or traditionalists, but also far-right ideologues. 

Issues around gender, body rights, sexuality and morality continue to hold a particular significance to American conservatives – as well as a growing significance within UK right-wing circles. 

Yet, these issues of ‘traditionalism’ are rooted in ideas of national identity. Just as Putin and Kirill continue to collapse church and state into one, so conservative Christians desire America to be governed according to evangelical doctrine and ideology, through the lens of nationhood.

This is nothing new within the right-wing playbook.

On 16 February 1933, Hitler told a crowd in Stuttgart that “today Christians... stand at the head of Germany... We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit... we want to burn out the rotten developments... this poison which has entered our whole life and culture”.

Five years later, on 20 April 1938, the legal director of the German Evangelical Church Friedrich Werner ordered “that all pastors in active office were to take the oath of allegiance to the Führer”. 

History Rhymes

Nationalism and religious ideology are a powerful concoction. 

Earlier this week, Nigel Farage tweeted his congratulations as Viktor Orbán won his fourth term as Hungary's Prime Minister.

Orbán – who has been a vocal supporter of Vladimir Putin – has spoken of wanting to create a “Christian democracy” – blurring hardline migration policies with religious language. It should be of little surprise then that former US President Donald Trump praised Orbán while he was on a visit to the White House.

“Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered,” George Orwell once wrote. “Material facts are suppressed, dates altered, quotations removed from their context and doctored so as to change their meaning”. 

The UK is not immune from such mendacity. These tactics are regularly deployed, with religious dogmatism, by Boris Johnson’s Government as the public are assured that our hard Brexit and the Government's disastrous handling of the Coronavirus pandemic are outstanding successes. 

As Richard Dawkins highlights, Brexit has become like a religion, a type of faith and creed, preached with religious zeal, regardless of the cost and consequences, and despite all the evidence against it. 

“They are determined to get Brexit even if they destroy the country,” he has observed. It is a path to little England nationalism. Brexit ideologues will continue to preach 'sovereignty' and 'victory' whatever the cost and sacrifice to living standards, so enraptured they are to the Brexit cult. It is a nationalist, religious zeal that is akin to Putinism in its goals.

Once again deploying religious language, the Russian President told his troops that “there is no greater love than giving up one’s soul for one’s friends”.

As truth and goodness are crushed to the earth under his despotic regime, we must pursue justice so that they may one day rise again.

Reverend Joe Haward is a community and business chaplain

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What Does ‘De-Nazification’ Mean to Russians?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/03/2022 - 11:03pm in

The rhetoric around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine serves to construct the other side as evil, helping to justify military aggression and human suffering, argue Dr Maren Rohe and Professor Sara Jones

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That President Putin sought to justify the invasion of Ukraine as part of a ‘de-Nazification’ process seemed absurd to many Western observers – not least because Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish and several of his family members were murdered during the Holocaust. 

But for Putin’s intended audience for his propaganda – the Russian and Russophone public – talking about de-Nazification is a reference to World War Two and Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. 

This moment of national pride is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War. Throughout the second half of the 20th Century, the victory over fascism was used to legitimise the Soviet Union as a world power and its domination of Central and Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The Russian Federation since 1991 has continued memorialisation of the conflict in a comparable way. 

References to de-Nazification are therefore a reminder of this victory and designed to invoke Russian national pride at this time of violence and conflict.

Warring Narratives

The idea of the Great Patriotic War as a manifestation of Russian power is connected to a downplaying of the Western role in the 1939-1945 conflict. 

While the Soviet Union cooperated with the Western allies in World War Two, since the early days of the Cold War, Soviet and Russian narratives have emphasised Western appeasement of Nazi Germany – especially the Munich Pact of 1938. The historical narrative they have of the war attaches little importance to Western involvement in the eventual victory. 

Similarly, Western Europe tends to downplay Russian involvement and emphasise the victory of the Western allies over appeasement and collaboration. In a survey conducted in 2018, 50% of British respondents stated that Britain had played the most significant role in defeating the Nazis in the Second World War with only 13% believing that it was the Russians.

De-Nazification of Germany was also understood quite differently on the two sides of the Iron Curtain. 

The Soviet narrative was that West Germany had not been properly de-Nazified, claiming former Nazis remained in positions of power. This narrative was bolstered by scandals surrounding the chequered pasts of individuals such as Kurt Georg Kiesinger, West German Chancellor from 1966-1969. Kiesinger had been a leading figure in the Nazi German foreign ministry involved in producing antisemitic and war propaganda.

De-Nazification in the Soviet occupied zone and East Germany was in many ways more thorough – while also used as a weapon against political opponents. 

Former members of Nazi organisations were interned, and any political unrest blamed on Nazi sympathisers. The rest of the East German population were encouraged to view themselves as anti-fascists liberated by the Soviet Union.

It’s this history, then, that is evoked in Russian minds when talking about de-Nazification. Unlike the West, which is viewed as appeasing rather than fighting Nazism, according to this narrative only Russians can recognize and put a stop to Nazis.

Ukrainian Nationalism

Debates about the past in Central and Eastern Europe also fuel this perception. 

In Ukraine, historical memory of World War Two is divided between accounts that support the Russian narrative of the Great Patriotic War. and those that celebrate Ukrainian national resistance against the ‘double occupation’ – first by Nazi Germany and then by the Soviet Union. While the former narrative emphasises the shared past with Russians in the Soviet Union, the latter emphasises the history of conflict between Ukrainians and Russians. 

The Russian public are sold a narrative of Ukrainians as ‘Banderites’: a term derived from Stepan Bandera who, along with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, collaborated with the Nazis and were involved in atrocities against Jews. This has meant the lumping together of neo-Nazis with any Ukrainians who oppose Russia.

Of course, recent history has shown the link between Nazism and some forms of Ukrainian nationalism is not confined to the past. Far right battalions led by neo-Nazis, such as the Azov battalion, were incorporated into the Ukrainian Army in recent years. Neo-Nazi groups were also active in the Maidan Revolution of 2014. 

These only represent a small minority of Ukrainians. However, there has been a failure on the part of the Ukrainian state and anti-Russian public to ostracize them. This allowed for people who opposed the Maidan Revolution to portray it as a movement of neo-Nazis – a narrative pushed by Russian propaganda ever since. 

As such, when talking about de-Nazifying Ukraine, Russia is talking about returning it to pre-2014 status when it had a pro-Russian Government.

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Different Definitions

While in the West, the term Nazi has a clear connotation of antisemitism, this has not been the case in Russia. 

In the post-war Soviet period, the emphasis was on the war victory and a generalised experience of suffering that tended to marginalise memory of the Holocaust. 

This started to to change after the fall of communism, for example the Park of Victory at Poklonnaya Gora now includes a Holocaust Memorial Synagogue. Nonetheless, as the title of the Park indicates, even this recognition of the genocide of the European Jews remains embedded in a memory foregrounding the Russian victory over fascism. 

In 2020, the Jerusalem Post reported that 48% of respondents in 11 Russian cities were unable to answer the question “What is the Holocaust?” 

The main crime of Nazi Germany, from the Russian point of view, was instead unleashing World War Two and killing millions of Soviet citizens. This account conveniently ignores that most Nazi victims in the Soviet Union were not, in fact, ethnic Russians, but Jews, Belarusians, and Ukrainians. 

The Holocaust is regarded as a sub-chapter in this Great Patriotic War narrative – it certainly does not play the same central role in commemoration as it now does in many Western European countries. 

The absurdity of ‘de-Nazifying’ a country with a Jewish leader is therefore not as clear from a Russian point of view as it is from a Western one.

For all these reasons, the term Nazi – and the more frequently ‘fascist’ – are often used to indicate “enemies of Russia” rather than a narrower usage following their historic meaning. 

This is of course highly problematic. 

Firstly, Ukrainians in their majority were victims of Nazis, rather than collaborators. Secondly, it hides the imperialist, supremacist, racist worldviews prevalent among the Russian Government, and their cooperation with Russian and international far right groups. Thirdly, it delegitimizes any criticism of Russia as ‘Nazism’ and crucially hinders the fight against actual neo-Nazis in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. 

Finally, as has become clear in the current war, it serves to construct the other side as evil, helping to justify military invasion and human suffering.

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Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine Reveals the Moral and Intellectual Rot of the ‘Anti-War’ Left

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 07/03/2022 - 10:51pm in

Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine RevealsMoral and Intellectual Rot of the ‘Anti-War’ Left

CJ Werleman argues that, though their arguments had relevance decades ago, analysts of US imperialism such as John Pilger and Noam Chomsky are no guides to the present

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When comments resurfaced on social media, in which legendary American intellectual Noam Chomsky blamed NATO for the Russian-Ukraine crisis, Ukrainian writer Artem Chapeye responded with a sharp and biting retort: “Please start your analysis with the suffering of millions of people, rather than geopolitical chess moves.”

He continued: “When you’re being bombed, when you’re thinking of ways to evacuate your kids, you have a different perspective than when you’re sitting cosy in an office somewhere in Arizona. Yes, Noam Chomsky, I’m looking at you, among others.”

Here’s something every scholar of international relations knows to be true about Chomsky: when you read him as a college sophomore, you think he’s the most profoundly brilliant man on the planet. When you re-read him as a graduate student, you come to regard him as an individual blinkered by his own myopia.

In the mind of Chomsky – and, by extension, the collective minds of the anti-US imperialist and anti-war movements he has inspired around the world for the past five decades – there exists only a single imperialist power: the United States.

And while that may have been a somewhat reasonable but not entirely accurate assessment of the period spanning the collapse of the Soviet Union and the first major US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, the recent emergence of a multi-polar international system – one comprising three great powers and more than a dozen middle powers – has made the Chomsky view of the world obsolete.

In fact, Russia’s imperialist ambitions in Europe and central Asia, along with China’s military expansionist policies in Indo Pacific, has made him and his anti-US imperialist and anti-war brethren appear thoroughly delusional – if not downright dangerous. 

Europe has been reawakened by the well-known Latin proverb ‘si vis pacem, para bellum‘ – ‘if you want peace, prepare for war’, as noted by Foreign Policy columnist Caroline de Gruyter. As every student of international relations understands, the international system rewards nations that prepare for war and punishes those that don’t.


Ukraine is Justthe BeginningSecret Document RevealsPutin’s Long War on Europe
Nafeez Ahmed

Were you to condense a four-year undergraduate degree in international relations into a single paragraph, it would read like this: an international system absent a global authority or police force, or what scholars call a state of anarchy, leaves each country responsible for its own security, and because no country can never truly know the intent of its neighbours or rivals, it must accumulate as much power as possible to safeguard its sovereignty. 

Tragically, this realist lens of the world not only encourages arms races – but also invites both insecure and ambitious states to do awful things to their neighbours, rivals and pesky minorities. This is not the way the world should be, but it is the way it is. 

More to the point, it explains the conditions that produce war and peace. It gives reason, not justification, to China’s occupation of Tibet, persecution of Uyghur Muslims along its north-western frontier, and military aggression in South China Sea, along with its recent and ongoing military threats against Taiwan. It also explains, not justifies, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Buying Into Russian Propaganda

This simple reading or understanding of the world as it is is one lost on large segments of the anti-war left, specifically those who continue to wrongly believe that US foreign policy is the root of all evil. This includes veteran Australian journalist John Pilger, who has won numerous awards for exposing injustice and promoting human rights.

His commentary during the Russian military build-up typified the anti-war left’s response to the war in Ukraine. Pilger – not once, but five times – mocked the US for warning of a Russian invasion tweeting that “Russian aggression in Europe is a fraud”, while accusing the US and UK Governments in an article on selling a fictitious war for the “restoration of imperial mythology” and “permanent enemy”.

Worse, he parrots Kremlin propaganda by smearing and dehumanising Ukrainians as a land of “Nazi cultists” – a bogus claim that has been regurgitated across the leftist blogosphere, which serves only to undermine global solidarity for the besieged Ukrainian people.

Unsurprisingly, they tend to be the same individuals and outlets that parroted Kremlin propaganda and conspiracy theories during the Syrian civil war, including those that dehumanised opponents of the Assad regime as ‘violent jihadists’, civilians killed under Russian aerial bombardment as ‘crisis actors’, and first responders in rebel-held territory as ‘al Qaeda propagandists’.

Ibrahim al-Assil, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, says progressive millennials are facing an “intellectual dilemma” because they have never lived with a threat from another great power, having grown up in a US-dominated international system. Their world views were shaped under Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, when the US did whatever it wanted, unchallenged.

“The main global event for progressive millennials was the invasion of Iraq,” says al-Assil. “While they spent their adult life criticising it, it left them with a deep sense of guilt and shame… The sense of guilt, coupled with a distorted view of global politics, where the US is always secure and dominant, resulted in progressive millennials buying into two notions they loath: American supremacy and tolerating imperialism as long as it’s anti-US dominance.”

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He believes that this view – which posits the US as the sole bad actor – has left progressive millennials blind to crimes committed by rivals to American power, which explains why many ignore and even whitewash the “horrible and unprecedented human suffering” caused by Russia in Syria and Ukraine; Iran in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon; and China in Xinjiang.

“They saw the war in Syria as a pure foreign power intervention, ignoring the main role of Assad and how much Syrians didn’t want to live under him no matter what,” he observes. “In Ukraine, many argue that it was the West’s fault ignoring that Ukrainians made their decision to look West.”

They ignore that polls conducted in 2014, 2017 and 2022 showed that an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians wished to join the EU and NATO and to shun Russia. They ignore NATO is a voluntary association. They ignore that eastern European countries Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia pleaded to join NATO to protect themselves from Russian aggression. They ignore that Russia has 3,000 combat tanks, 1,900 warplanes and one million soldiers within uninterrupted walking distance to the Ukrainian border. Most significantly, they ignore that there wasn’t a single NATO soldier on Ukrainian soil prior to the Russian invasion.

In other words, there is no legitimate reason to excuse Russia’s criminal actions against a sovereign country that posed zero threat.

Europe has been jolted wide awake to the necessity of hard power to resist Vladimir Putin’s imperialist ambitions, having learnt the hard way that ‘soft power’ – ideals, culture, and persuasion – isn’t enough to counter kinetic and hybrid military threats and attacks.

But to attain and maintain peace, Europe will need to commit to building an even stronger military alliance and spending more on defence – as the US has long demanded – which means that the Chomsky, Pilger and their ilk should quietly take a back seat. Their time has now passed.

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Conspiracy and Paranoia: Putin’s Far-Right Cheerleaders

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/02/2022 - 3:12am in

Conspiracy & ParanoiaVladimir Putin’s Far-Right Cheerleaders

The Russian President’s anti-NATO, anti-EU, anti-gender stance has won him support over Ukraine from far-right and populist-right actors

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While much of the Western world watches in horror at Russia’s attack on Ukraine – which the Prime Minister has warned could be the worst land war in Europe since 1945 – Vladimir Putin can look with gratitude to his cheerleaders on the populist and far-right.

Sharing unverified footage of attacks and fires, members of far-right Telegram channels linked to UK activists expressed their solidarity with Putin, who they believe has been “demonised by the mainstream media”. Others shared antisemitic conspiracy or made crude, homophobic and transphobic jokes about Russia versus the West.

It may come as a surprise to some that the populist and far-right see Putin not as an enemy but as an inspiration. After all, for decades the Soviet Union was a communist country, the natural antagonist of the far-right. But Putin’s antagonism towards NATO and the European Union, as well as his anti-gender policies and alliances, dovetail with populist and far-right interests. 

As a result, far-right actors defend Russia against the “North Atlantic TERRORIST organisation” and “American imperialism” which, falsely claimed one prominent far-right leader, “wherever it takes root, comes with an entire range of social poisons that attack the moral fabric of the nation – feminism, the LGBTQ agenda, attacks on the traditional family and anti-white rhetoric”.

In contrast, Putin’s Russia is celebrated by these same individuals as defending a fascist, mythic past of white male supremacy in the home and state. 

The needs and wants of the Ukrainian people in these right-wing narratives, are lost. For Putin’s defenders, Ukraine is merely a pawn in a game between east and west, white supremacist tradition and progressive values – as they join Putin in denying its status as a democratic, independent, sovereign nation with its own political landscape and movements. 

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‘Does Putin Eat Dogs?’

When the far-right indulges in the most extremist pro-Putin rhetoric, it is taking its cue from populist-right voices on TV and social media. 

Take for example Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who demanded to know “why shouldn’t I root for Russia, which I am” and repeated a Trumpian conspiracy about Ukraine and the Biden family. 

In a bizarre monologue, Carlson suggested his audience ask themselves: “Why do I hate Putin? Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job to Russia? Did he manufacture a pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for a year? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs? These are fair questions and the answer to all of them is no.”

Donald Trump meanwhile, has taken to his Gab account – a social media channel well known for platforming far-right voices – to say he knows “Vladimir Putin very well” and that this situation would not have happened if he, Trump, was in charge. His followers responded to his posts to say “Putin is not the enemy” and they will “gladly take up arms to defend White Christian Russians.”

During his presidency, Trump was dogged by allegations of Russian interference in his election, rumours that Putin held compromising material about him, and, of course, he was impeached over allegations he improperly sought help from Ukraine to boost his chances of re-election.

Trump’s ‘Mr Brexit’, GB News presenter Nigel Farage, is another populist-right leader who has sought to blame NATO and the European Union – which he appears to use interchangeably – for Russian aggression in Ukraine. 

Before the conflict started, he warned that “the NATO policy, the EU policy, of expanding ever eastwards, was a huge strategic error… Nobody I speak to thinks that the Ukraine joining NATO is a good idea”. It’s not clear who he was speaking to. 

The day Putin officially announced hostilities against Ukraine, Farage took to Twitter to once again blame the EU and NATO, saying that “it made no sense to poke the Russian bear”. Nowhere did he take aim at Putin’s aggression or express any solidarity with Ukrainian people. 

The former UKIP leader also blamed the 2014 annexation of Crimea on the European Union, claiming that it was the EU wanting to expand that led to Ukraine’s Maidan revolution.

Such sentiments were echoed at the time by then London Mayor Boris Johnson, who said: “If you want an example of EU foreign policymaking on the hoof and the EU’s pretensions to running a defence policy that have caused real trouble, then look at what has happened in Ukraine.”  


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Conspiracy and Paranoia

The far-right echoes the anti-NATO and anti-EU rhetoric that come from its populist peers. Many have promoted conspiracist ideas such as those shared by Trump, or claimed that because the mainstream media is critical of Putin, the Russian President must be ‘right’.

NATO is blamed for escalating violence in Libya and the rise of ISIS, while activists explain they ‘understand’ Russia’s position. 

As on Trump’s Gab channel, far-right activists agreed the conflict would not have happened if the former President was in power, while others even made the bizarre suggestion that the whole crisis was being staged. 

Some of the crueller comments about Ukraine are not worth repeating here, alongside offensive conspiracy theories about the country’s history and democracy. 

But a significant number of posts from leading far-right figures show that their support of Russia is motivated by anti-gender beliefs. This is driven by the Putin regime’s crackdown on LGBTIQ people and its association of the EU with pro-LGBTIQ, pro-abortion agendas, imposed upon eastern Europe and ‘Mother Russia’.

De-Nazification

Vladimir Putin has spread disinformation to justify the attack on Ukraine as being part of a process of “de-Nazification”. This prompted one right-wing YouTuber to mock the left, which he called “Putin using every Antifa excuse… a glib excuse that has been overused by virtually everyone”.

Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov Battalion has been accused of war crimes and has attracted support from fascist sympathisers abroad.

However, the focus on Ukraine’s far-right minority has been accused of being a ‘false flag’ operation that misrepresents the political reality on the ground, particularly the pro-European, pro-human rights youth. 

Although like every Western country Ukraine has its far-right elements, in the 2019 election when the major right-wing parties Svoboda, National Corps, the Governmental Initiative of Yarosh and the Right Sector formed a nationwide united party list, they only managed to win 2.15% of the popular vote.

No far-right parties gained seats in Parliament.

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Putin’s War of Annihilation: A Decrepit Empire’s Last Stand

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/02/2022 - 11:27pm in

Putin’s War of AnnihilationA Decrepit Empire’s Last Stand

Heidi Siegmund Cuda speaks to political scholar Michael MacKay on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how the West has failed to respond to its dictator for a number of years

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“What we’re looking at now is the offensive that we’ve been saying is coming with certainty for eight years, since Russia first invaded Ukraine,” Michael MacKay told Byline Times. “It is just heartbreaking that all these long years of suffering by the Ukrainian people, defending themselves, defending Europe, defending all of us in the West, has been wasted. That we’re as unprepared now as we were eight years ago.”

Michael MacKay is a Canadian academic with a PhD in political philosophy from the London School of Economics. An expert in Ukraine – having worked there as a university lecturer, internet project director and international election observer since its independence in 1991 – he has been chronicling the build up to the conflict that began today, as Russian President Vladimir Putin launched missiles into the country. 

According to MacKay, the West could and should have faced Putin down in Ukraine back in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. This was the moment when it was “just the little green men stage of the invasion, the fake separatists stage of the invasion”. 

“We could have stopped this invasion by Russia, when it was this little occupation of Crimea with a bunch of special forces soldiers and a few mercenaries,” he told Byline Times. “We could have stopped it when it was in Luhansk and Donetsk. We could easily have stopped it when it was just a few pathetic locals, some mercenaries and a handful of Russian officers. We could have stopped it there. And now we face a multi-front war. I’m just heartbroken today.” 


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Capturing the Western Right

The outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, MacKay argues, has been “enormously” enabled by the West and of “elite capture” of Western political forces.

“Russia’s been quite open about it,” he said. “There’s no secret in this, it’s not like in a spy movie. It stated: ‘We will buy off journalists, we will buy newspapers and media empires, we will buy the press in Britain to ensure the Brexit campaign will be successful’.

“Then in the US, it waged its most successful operation: the elite capture of the Republican Party… and large segments of the press. He just needs Tucker Carlson. And he’s got ’em.”

Despite debate on the right and left about what kind of war this is – with some on the hard left arguing for solidarity with Russia against an ‘imperialist’ America – MacKay is adamant that this is an imperial war for the “decrepit” modern-day Russian empire. 

“This isn’t an ideological war, like we had in the 20th Century,” he said. “It’s an imperial war. Western leaders should act, and they should act fast. Putin is so much more agile because he has no moral limits.”

The Russian President has given himself away with his comments about “de-Nazifying” Ukraine, MacKay insists, with the rhetoric revealing his true motivation. 

“When he talks about de-Nazification, he means it is a threat,” said MacKay. “What he is really saying is, ‘I’m going to do to you, Ukraine, what we did to Germany. I am going to bomb your capital city like the Soviet Red Army did to Berlin until it is rubble’. This is not about an ideological reorientation, but an excuse for a war of annihilation.”

Standing Up

Throughout the build-up to the invasion, Vladimir Putin received the support of his regional ally Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarussian dictator who in 2020 brutally crushed democratic dissent following elections. Many Belarussian dissidents have sought sanctuary in Ukraine.

Mackay believes that the weak response to Belarus has exacerbated the crisis.

“We gave Russia an extra front,” he told Byline Times. “We could have stood behind the Belarus people when they voted democratically, and stood up in their streets. And where are we now? Ten thousand Belarussians are political prisoners.

“Belarus is no longer an independent country. The Russian army is there. So now there’s a northern flank to attack Ukraine. And Russia is now on the borders of three more NATO countries.” 

That the West turned a blind eye to the situation in the country known as ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’ was “incredible stupidity”, he insists. 

MacKay said he has confidence that the Ukrainian people will never surrender, but fears that their sacrifice “will be squandered”.


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“I just think it’s an unbelievable tragedy,” he told Byline Times. “In the Ukrainian people, we have the greatest asset we could possibly have to defeat Russia. And we’re not standing behind them the way we should.

“I’ve been engaged with Ukraine since independence and I see people who stand up for themselves, who fight for a better future, who stand up because they believe in the principles of democracy and want a future for their children.

“We have to have to convince ourselves that it’s never too late. At any stage, you can stand up and fight and do something. We can still stand with the Ukrainian people. You can always save what can still be saved. Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

Michael MacKay said he will keep documenting the war tweet by tweet, giving voice to the Ukrainian people as he has done for eight years. “I’m not going to stop. What right have I got to give up when Ukrainians will never ever give up?”

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Far-Right Infiltration: The Extremists Hiding in Germany’s Police and Military

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/02/2022 - 10:34pm in

Far Right Infiltration The Extremists Hiding in Germany’s Police and Military

Some serving police and military personnel in Germany are plotting for ‘Day X’ – a far-right conspiracy that seeks to overthrow democracy and launch a race war

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“If I hadn’t woken up, we would have all been burnt to death. I still ask myself why, when the police admitted they knew neo-Nazi’s were planning an arson attack on me, why did they fail to warn me?”

For three years, Ferat Koçak, a Die Linke politician now in the Berlin State Parliament, had been under surveillance by neo-Nazis – who, in turn, were under surveillance by the police.

In 2018, Koçak – whose parents are Kurdish and who lives in the multicultural Neukölln area of Berlin – that surveillance spilled out into real life violence. The home he shared with his parents was targeted by arsonists. His car was set on fire in the driveway, with the flames spreading to their house. 

That same evening, a neighbouring bookshop run by Heinz Ostermann, who had hosted anti-right-wing reading groups, was also firebombed. 

Three days later, his mother suffered a heart attack. 

“The police knew about the planned attack but either could not or would not prevent it,” Koçak said. To this day, he still regularly receives death threats from far-right actors.

Ferat Koçak. Photo: Craig Stennett

To all intents and purposes, Germany has laboured hard to make amends for its Nazi past. In the wake of the Second World War, it re-emerged on the world stage as a functioning and modern liberal democracy; an anchor within the European project.

But what if two key pillars of this nation – the police and the army – were not entirely what they seemed? And what if a percentage of the service personnel within these organisations were working in an interlinked form as a ‘state within a state’, hiding in the shadows of the establishment and preparing themselves for a ‘Day X’?

‘Germany Still has a Nazi Problem’

It’s an overcast and windswept day in Neukölln, and Ferat Koçak is taking part in a memorial service at Zichenplatz for the nine people murdered in Hanau, Hesse, by the far-right gunman Tobias Rathjen in 2020. Koçak is here as an official parliamentary observer. 

Neukölln itself is a typical Berlin mix of multiple cultures, with shisha bars next door to coffee shops, buzzing outdoor markets and Bierkellers standing side by side. 

But, despite this eclectic scene and its Kurdish population, this area in south-west Berlin has a dark side: an active neo-Nazi scene dating back many years. 

“Germany has an ongoing issue in admitting that it still has a Nazi problem within its society and state institutions,” Koçak said. Indeed, no one in Neukölln has ever been convicted by the courts of an act of far-right extremism and terrorist activity.

Troublingly, this neo-Nazi scene has crossovers with state officials. A Berlin police superintendent was accused of supplying classified police computer files to members of the far-right via a chat group. When this was discovered, the officer was simply relocated to another force.

This was not the only time the police have been found to be colluding with the far-right. Germany’s Council for Migration – a non-profit organisation established in 1997 – noted in its 2020 report that, between January 2017 and March 2020, there were 1,441 suspected cases of right-wing extremism across all security and intelligence services. 

A neo-Nazi march in Chemnitz. Photo: Craig Stennett

‘Day X’ and Infiltration

Two hundred kilometres away from Berlin, in the north-eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, former army officer and police officer Marko G, was preparing for ‘Day X’.

Neo-Nazi movements believe that this is the day when the social fabric of Germany will collapse and the far-right will be called upon to to restore law and order; to rescue the German nation from itself. 

In his long career, Marko G had served as an army parachutist for eight years, and as a police officer for two decades – including in the state criminal police office and in the police special forces. He was also a member of the neo-Nazi Nordkreuz group, along with a local politician, a lawyer, a judge, army reservists and fellow police officers. 

In preparation for Day X, the group had accumulated body bags, explosives, quick lime and more than 50,000 rounds of ammunition and assorted firearms. Some of the rounds were traced back to the stores of specialised army units and police forces. 

Operational since January 2016, Nordkreuz is a splinter group from the far-right ‘Hannibal’ network set up by André S, who has a conviction for violating Germany’s weapons and explosives act. Like Marko G, he has a history in the armed forces and was a former non-commissioned officer in Germany’s KSK elite military force. He used his position to supply the network with state information on the current security situation in Germany. 

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The far-right infiltration of the KSK was so pronounced that, in 2020, a full fighting company of KSK soldiers was disbanded after it was revealed that they had been sharing Nazi symbols and mocking refugees in chatgroups.

The far-right’s focus on getting inside the KSK is no surprise to anti-racist campaigners, such as Timo Reinfrank, of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. “If you’re looking for a special unit who could take over the German Chancellery or the most important ministries in Berlin, then this was the most important unit to do so,” he told Byline Times.

As part of its preparations for Day X, Nordkreuz had drawn up a ‘death list’ of its political enemies – this time with the help of another police detective who used his access to a law enforcement computer network to help create the list of undesirables journalists, activists and politicians.

The plan was for these individuals to be rounded up and transported by army trucks to a pre-planned location and be ‘dealt with’. 

‘The Greatest Danger to Democracy

Marko G faced criminal allegations of illegal weapons possession. However, the court took no action to pursue or convict him over his activities within Nordkreuz. He was given a 21-month suspended sentence after the regional court in Schwerin deemed his action “a one-time lapse”. 

State prosecutors have appealed the decision and the case is now set to return to a higher court once again. A further prosecution against two other members of Nordkreuz was quietly dropped by the Federal Prosecutor General in December 2021 due to “lack of sufficient suspicion”. 

This is in spite of the fact that Nordkreuz was part of an identified and verifiable nationwide network across Germany, set up with its mirroring geographical divisions of military district administrations. It had aligned groups in Switzerland and Austria, and is still intact and active to this day.

For Martina Renner, a member of the German Parliament, “this is not how you fight terrorist structures – this is how you protect them”.

In 2021, Felix Klein, the Federal Government’s Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany, said that “nobody can deny the deadly dimension of antisemitism and right-wing extremism in Germany anymore” and that “right-wing extremism is a big threat to democracy in Germany”.

Photo: Craig Stennett

Heike Kleffner – who works at the VRBG, which provides counselling for victims of right-wing, racist and antisemitic violence – agrees with this assessment. She co-edited the 2019 book Extreme Security, that explored police and military collusion with the far-right. 

“We have police officers who supply right-wing terror networks with information from police databases on political enemies,” she told Byline Times. “And we have police officers who spread antisemitic and National Socialist propaganda.”

The Military Counterintelligence Service has noted how the number of military and security personnel linked to far-right extremism has been increasing year on year, from 2018 to 2020. However, the recorded numbers of staff within the security services holding right-wing extremist views is still proportionally very low. 

But, despite these low numbers, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser is clear that a problem exists. In her inaugural speech to the German Parliament in January, she said: “We will do everything in our power to stop radicalisation, dismantle right-wing extremist networks and consistently take away the weapons of extremists… The greatest danger to democracy is right wing extremism.”

“If trained elite soldiers now become radicalised, that is of course a completely different level of threat,” said Dirk Laabs – author of Enemies of the State in Uniform: How Militant Right-Wingers Infiltrate Our Institutions – during a talk with Nicholas Potter of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.

“I think the term ‘shadow army’ is an exaggeration. There is no army that could be activated for a civil war against the Bundeswehr. But there is a very dangerous small group of radicalised and partly right-wing extremist soldiers and police officers and it has to be said: it will be very difficult to keep this group under control.”

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The Far-Right Attack on Education From Poland to the UK and US

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/02/2022 - 8:00pm in

The Far-Right Attack on Education From Poland to the UK and US

The superintendent of Poland’s Małopolska province is seeking to ban anti-racist, pro-human rights groups from working with students – but the attack on progressive education goes beyond Polish borders

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Anti-racist, feminist, pro-LGBTIQ and human rights organisations are likely to be banned from working with school students in Poland’s Małopolska province, as the region’s superintendent compiles a list of groups she believes are destroying the country’s ‘social norms’.

The decision comes as Poland debates a new law that would allow regional superintendents to prevent outside organisations from running lessons for school students. It has already been passed in the Parliament’s lower house.

The list includes Amnesty International, the Never Again Association, the Ponton Sex Educators Group and a foundation supporting children’s with Down’s Syndrome.

It was based on lists drawn up by the religious-right organisation Ordo Iuris – which campaigns against LGBTIQ rights and abortion rights – and Protect Our Children, an anti-vaxxer, anti-sex education group. At least three of Ordo Iuris’ board members have held political positions in Poland.

Małopolska province’s superintendent, Barbara Nowak, claims that the listed groups intend to “sexualise under the guise of education” and cause damage to “not only children and adolescents, but also the condition of the entire society”.

These accusations are levelled against organisations which educate people about the Holocaust and the need to tackle antisemitism, as well as international human rights NGOs, LGBTIQ-rights groups and women’s rights advocates. 

But they form part of a worrying and international trend that seeks to attack anti-racist, pro-human rights education – including here in the UK.

“Education should be a path to emancipation and enlightenment, not oppression and discrimination,” Dr Rafal Pankowski, of the Never Again Association, told Byline Times. “Unfortunately, the Polish educational system has been increasingly turning into an ideological instrument for the far-right.

“It is no coincidence the list of allegedly dangerous organisations includes anti-racist and human rights groups such as the Never Again Association, Amnesty International, the Auschwitz Jewish Centre, the Roma Association of Poland as well as numerous women’s rights and LGBT rights organisations. It’s a clear example of institutionalised intolerance and bigotry.”

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The European Picture 

The proposed ban on human rights groups working with school students forms part of a raft of anti-rights legislation in Poland that includes a ban on gay adoption and a tightening of the already draconian abortion restrictions. 

It also follows the controversial Holocaust Bill, which amended the law on the Institute of National Remembrance to state that “whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich… shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years”.

The bill sought to distance Poland and its citizens from Nazi crimes, despite evidence of complicity between some Polish people and the occupying Nazi force. At the time, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Poland was committed to combating lies about the Holocaust and that “the camps where millions of Jews were murdered were not Polish. This truth needs to be protected”.

The proposal to ban organisations which promote education about the Holocaust and tackling antisemitism appears therefore to be a continuation of 2018’s controversial bill, not least because the Nazi death camp Auschwitz is located in the Małopolska province. 

When it comes to opposing inclusive sex education, Poland is not an outlier in Europe. In Spain, the far-right Vox Party has proposed a ‘parental pin’ which would give parents a veto over whether their child can attend sex education lessons. The pin was supported by CitizenGO, an anti-gender campaigning platform connected to Ordo Iuris through the Agenda Europe network.

Similarly, in Romania, politicians bowed to pressure from the Orthodox Church to scrap plans for mandatory sex education. Parliamentarians opposing the plan were supporters of the Coalition for the Family, another Agenda Europe-linked group which staged – and lost – an anti-LGBTQ referendum in 2018. One of its members is the co-founder of the far-right AUR Party which won 9% of the vote in the 2020 election. 

In the UK, there is a small but vocal minority opposing inclusive sex education, focused around fringe groups such as Parent Power – a coalition of anti-gender forces such as Christian Concern and Voice for Justice. Its parliamentary launch was hosted by the Democratic Unionist Party Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP. Christian and Muslim activists have joined forces on this issue, with 2019 protests in Birmingham getting mass media attention. 

A Department for Education white paper on freedom of speech in education cited research by the religious-right giant ADF International which has supported Poland’s veer to the right, while Ordo Iuris is one of its allied organisations. The organisation is anti-abortion and anti-LGBTIQ and seeks to uphold “parental rights” when it comes to sex education. 


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Anti-Racist Education

The proposal to block anti-racist charities from working with school students is a key far-right aim.

In the US, the campaign about teaching critical race theory – waged by white supremacist forces in the Republican Party and their allies – has led to book bans and nine states passing legislation to ban the discussion, training, and/or orientation that the US is inherently racist, as well as any discussions about conscious and unconscious bias, privilege, discrimination, and oppression. 

Those opposing education on race claim that discussions about race disadvantage white students who are made to feel that they are to blame for current and historic racism. 

This line of thinking is not confined to the US: in the UK, right-wing provocateurs and politicians have taken aim at critical race theory.

The Free Speech Union’s Toby Young has called it “political indoctrination”, while Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis said the phrase “white privilege” was “racist and extremist”. The Henry Jackson Society’s Alan Mendoza called critical race theory “a pet-project of a few crazed individuals”.  

Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch warned that “any school which teaches these elements of critical race theory, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law”.

Further, the Conservative Party’s insistence on waging a ‘culture war’ has focused on anti-racist campaigners rewriting history in their attempts to include narratives about slavery and the impact of Empire in education, museums and public statuary. 

Boris Johnson accused Labour of being on the side of those who “want to pull statues down, to rewrite the history of our country… to make it look more politically correct”, while the Department for Education told schools in England that they were not to teach “victim narratives that are harmful to British society”.

There has not been a ban on groups, but a suppression of certain narratives and the first step towards the policies now being employed in Poland. 

Patrik Hermansson, senior researcher at Hope Not Hate, the UK’s leading anti-fascism and anti-racism campaign group, told Byline Times: “Attacks on anti-racist, pro-LGBTIQ and sexual health education, and issues such as abortion are just one part of a broader strategy of the far-right and radical right to attack progressive ideas and undermine the people and institutions that support them. This is done in the hope that opposition to far-right politics is weakened.

“The broader far-right has long been critical of public education systems in many countries as it believes they are biased towards progressive and democratic ideals which they oppose.”

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Liz Truss: The Tufton Street Candidate

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/01/2022 - 8:00pm in

Liz TrussThe Tufton Street Candidate

Sam Bright unravels the ties between Conservative leadership hopeful Liz Truss and Westminster’s network of opaque libertarian think tanks

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Boris Johnson’s premiership of the Conservative Party is dying. It is currently unclear how slowly or quickly the rot is taking hold, but there is little doubt that his political career is on a steep, downward trajectory.

His Downing Street team held multiple parties in breach of lockdown rules both this year and last, some of which were attended by the Prime Minister. The public backlash has been fierce, with focus groups telling former Downing Street pollster James Johnson that the Prime Minister is a “coward”.

“There was something about him that made him a bit more personable to me,” one voter in the focus group said, who backed the Conservatives for the first time in 2019. “It’s gone now, because we’ve lost that trust in him. Now he’s just a buffoon… He can’t be trusted.”

Scenting an opportunity, rivals to Johnson’s throne are now encircling the Prime Minister – preparing their campaigns for the moment when his leadership begins its final descent. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is a front-runner in this pack, by virtue of her popularity among Conservative Party members.

But Truss also has another crucial constituency of support that may bolster her efforts to seize control of the Conservative Party: for years, she has developed close ties to the ‘Tufton Street network’ – a group of libertarian think tanks and lobbying groups, many of which are opaquely funded, that for years have exerted considerable influence on the policy decisions and the operation of the Tories.

Several of the groups are currently or were formerly based in brick-clad offices along Tufton Street in London’s Westminster, creating an association between a political ideology and the address – as well as suspicions that these libertarian organisations closely coordinate their work.


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Tufton Street is much like ‘Fleet Street’ – the former habitat of the newspaper industry. While the titles that were once based there have now scattered across London, ‘Fleet Street’ is still used as a shorthand phrase for the industry – much like ‘Tufton Street’ and the world of libertarian politics.

Indeed, Shahmir Sanni, a Brexit whistleblower who formerly worked within the Tufton Street network, says that these groups regularly held meetings at 55 Tufton Street to “agree on a single set of right-wing talking points” and to “[secure] more exposure to the public”.

These organisations are bound by their support for Brexit – the Vote Leave campaign was originally registered at 55 Tufton Street – and their vigour for low taxes, laissez faire economics, a smaller state, and seemingly close relationship with Liz Truss.

A Thatcherite Revival

Attempting to institutionalise a right-wing political ideology, the Conservative Party has deployed the public appointments system to install sympathetic individuals in prominent government roles.

This strategy has been adopted by Truss, seen actively during her time as International Trade Secretary from July 2019 to September 2021, which involved the awarding of public positions to Tufton Street insiders.

In October 2020, for example, the radical, right-wing website Guido Fawkes gleefully reported that Truss had appointed “a swathe of free market think tankers” to her “refreshed Strategic Trade Advisory Group” – a forum of businesses and academics, which meets regularly to consider the UK’s international trade policies.

These appointments included:

Lord Hannan himself was also appointed as an advisor to the Board of Trade – a commercial body within the Department for International Trade – in September 2020. His Initiative for Free Trade was formerly based at 57 Tufton Street, sharing an office with Colvile’s Centre for Policy Studies, based around the corner from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Following these appointments to the Strategic Trade Advisory Group, former Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake wrote to Truss, asking whether proper due diligence had taken place in the recruitment process. Brake asked her to explain what additional checks had been carried out on the organisations that employ these individuals – which have a history of failing to declare their donors – to ensure that they are not funded by those “who might be deemed to be agents of a foreign principal”.

Core members of Truss’ own team have also been drawn from the Tufton Street network.

Sophie Jarvis – who previously worked as ‘head of government affairs’ at the Adam Smith Institute – has been a special advisor to Truss at the Department for International Trade and now the Foreign Office. Nerissa Chesterfield, former head of communications at the Institute of Economic Affairs, was also employed as a special advisor to Truss from August 2019 to February 2020 – leaving to work for Rishi Sunak, one of Truss’s main competitors for the Conservative leadership.

Truss has also recently been given responsibility for post-Brexit negotiations with the EU – tasked with ensuring a diplomatic resolutions to various trade disputes. Assisting Truss in this task is Minister of State for Europe Chris Heaton-Harris – who chaired the European Research Group, a network of hard-right Eurosceptic Conservative MPs, from 2010 to 2016.


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In August 2019, Truss appointed eight advisors to recommend locations for new, post-Brexit ‘freeports’ – ports where normal tax and customs rules do not apply – two of whom were senior members of Tufton Street think tanks. One was Tom Clougherty – head of tax at the Centre for Policy Studies. Clougherty was previously executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, managing editor at the libertarian Reason Foundation, and senior editor at the Cato Institute – co-founded and part-funded by the Koch brothers, two radical, right-wing American billionaires.

Truss has surrounded herself with Tufton Street figures, with her departments often relying on their policy advice. She and her ministers held a swathe of official meetings with representatives of Tufton Street think tanks and lobbying groups during her time at the Department for International Trade, departmental records show.

Controversially, two meetings between the Institute of Economic Affairs and Truss were removed from departmental records in August 2020 – justified on the basis that they were personal rather than official meetings. Labour accused Truss of appearing to be evading rules designed to ensure integrity, transparency and honesty in public office, and the records were subsequently reinstated.

It was also revealed in December 2018 that Truss met with five American libertarian groups during a visit to Washington D.C. that cost taxpayers more than £5,000. The organisations included:

  • The Heritage Foundation, a Donald Trump-linked think tank with ties to Rebekah Mercer, the major Republican funder who has invested in Breitbart, Cambridge Analytica and Parler
  • The American Enterprise Institute, a neo-conservative think tank
  • The American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing lobbying group funded by corporations that advises law-makers across America
  • Americans for Tax Reform, a low-tax advocacy group
  • The Cato Institute

The majority of these organisations have been closely associated with climate change denial or policies that obstruct efforts to address climate change and its effects.

Americans for Tax Reform belongs to an “international coalition of anti-tax, free-market campaign groups called the World Taxpayers Associations,” according to DeSmog. This includes the TaxPayers’ Alliance – an influential UK libertarian pressure group founded by Matthew Elliot, who was the CEO of the Vote Leave EU Referendum campaign.

Elliott, an authoritative figure on the right, reserved special praise for Truss after an event hosted by Policy Exchange in September 2021, in which they both participated. Truss was on “great form”, he said, “outlining a bold, exciting vision for how boosting international trade benefits UK consumers and workers across the country.”

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Truss, along with a number of her colleagues, recently signed up as a parliamentary supporter of the Free Market Forum – a new free market project launched by the Institute of Economic Affairs and advised by Elliott.

The MP for South West Norfolk since 2010, she is viewed widely as a political chameleon – a former Liberal Democrat and a supporter of the Remain campaign in 2016 – but her libertarian convictions have been evident since entering Parliament in 2010.

At the September 2021 Policy Exchange event, the Oxford University graduate emphasised her desire to “[champion] open markets and free enterprise”, saying that “protectionism is no way to protect people’s living standards”. This could well have been a veiled swipe at her boss, Boris Johnson, who has been seen as an interventionist Prime Minister – using state spending and powers to achieve his political objectives, and raising taxes as a result.

“At this critical time, we need trade to curb any rise in the cost of living through the power of economic openness,” Truss added.

These sentiments chime with the attitudes of the Tufton Street network, establishing Truss as the Thatcherite contender in the upcoming Conservative leadership contest – whenever it may take place.

Johnson has authoritarian instincts, and is certainly not a moderate Prime Minister. However, whichever direction the Conservative Party takes in the post-Johnson era, it seems likely to be more radical – particularly in relation to economics. Truss, as the Tufton Street candidate, represents the sharp end of this spear.

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