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The Two Elizabeths

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/09/2022 - 9:55pm in

photo of Princess Elizabeth sitting in a chair with a book, Windsor Castle, 1940Princess Elizabeth, Windsor Castle, England, June 1940; photograph by Lisa Sheridan, colorized by Marina Amaral

Those of us who find it strange that a country should be deeply shocked by the death of a ninety-six-year-old woman must remind ourselves that it is a crime in England to let your thoughts dwell on the death of the monarch. The Treason Act of 1351, still in force, makes clear that this most terrible of offenses is committed by anyone who can “compass or imagine the Death” of the sovereign. This thought-crime arises, presumably, from the belief that a world beyond the reign of the anointed queen or king ought to be unimaginable. For if it is not, that supremacy is deprived of its most potent magic: the illusion of permanence. The subject (and the British are subjects, not citizens) is compelled to feel for the ruler the love that Shakespeare calls “an ever-fixed mark/That looks on tempests and is never shaken.”

Monarchy seeks, above all, to put on a show of timelessness in which the ruler floats above contingency and change. The hereditary principle rests on a notion of “always”: this is how it has always been and how it will always be. In defiance of historical evidence, it proposes itself as the great repository of all that does not alter. For as Walter Bagehot put it in The English Constitution, published in 1867:

If a king is a useful public functionary who may be changed, and in whose place you may make another, you cannot regard him with mystic awe and wonder; and if you are bound to worship him, of course you cannot change him.

Which invites the question that now faces Britain: What do you do when you have no choice but to “make another” monarch—a seventy-three-year-old man who has spent his life lurking side stage, waiting so long for his entrance that his act has gone stale before he has even properly trod the boards?

The great achievement of Elizabeth II was that, merely by reigning for seventy years, she created and sustained the necessary illusion of permanence. While her United Kingdom was being transformed from a global imperial power to a Northern European country at odds with its neighbors and with itself—while its ideal of greatness was moving from reality to puffed-up pretense—she was always there. Even the obviously anachronistic nature of her reign served to emphasize its remarkable persistence as the only imperial and multinational monarchy left in Europe.

Her biggest interest in life was racehorses, and her specialist subject was their bloodlines. This was hardly accidental. It was useful to study the form, to be able to make an educated guess about which branch of a lineage might be a dead end and which might thrive. Her own bloodline, after all, included her grandfather’s first cousins, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II, neither of whose dynasties were able to stay the course when the going got heavy. Her husband’s father, Prince Andrew, was turfed out of Greece after the revolution of 1922 and died in the Metropole Hotel in Monte Carlo. She knew very well that the louche resorts of Europe contained the human detritus of royal houses, some of which (like the unfortunate tsar’s) could claim much deeper historical roots than her own.

She understood, from this, that the best way to survive was to say and do as little as possible. It was merely to persist unshaken through the tempests of the times. In the grammar of her reign, the operative tense was the present infinitive: to be. She was very good at being there, at carrying on for so long that the infinitive came to seem infinite.

The problem with infinity, though, is that it’s hard to imagine what might come after it. Bagehot—thinking of Queen Victoria, whose sixty-three-year reign was the only one to rival Elizabeth’s for longevity—wrote that “the use of the Queen, in a dignified capacity, is incalculable. Without her in England, the present English Government would fail and pass away.” Less elevated, but no less elegant, is the premature lament of the Smiths, “The Queen Is Dead,” released in 1986, in which Morrissey’s plaintive wail seems to foreshadow an England bereft and forlorn: “The Queen is dead, boys/And it’s so lonely on a limb.” The record fades out into infinity with the repeated line “Life is very long when you’re lonely.” It is as if, after Elizabeth’s death, there can be nothing but an eternity of solitude. Even more apocalyptic is the Pet Shop Boys’ hit of 1993, “Dreaming of the Queen,” in which, after Elizabeth appears to the narrator in a dream,

I woke up in a sweat
That there are no more lovers left alive
No one has survived

Shakespeare’s insistence that real love carries on “even to the edge of doom” seems to be echoed in these strange hymns to Her Majesty. Perhaps such imaginings of the death of the sovereign were not judged to be treasonous because they chime with the intention of the 1351 law: to make the end of the reign seem like the end of the world. Even the Sex Pistols’ snarling “God Save the Queen” concluded on the same note: “There is no future in England’s dreaming.”

This morbidity was part of the monarchy. Elizabeth II had been playing dead most of her life. In his classic work of 1957, Ernst Kantorowicz explored the concept summarized in his title: The King’s Two Bodies. He began with an extract from a legal ruling from the period of the first Queen Elizabeth:

For the King has in him two Bodies, viz., a Body natural, and a Body politic. His Body natural (if it be considered in itself) is a Body mortal, subject to all Infirmities that come by Nature or Accident, to the Imbecility of Infancy or old Age, and to the like Defects that happen to the natural Bodies of other People. But his Body politic is a Body that cannot be seen or handled, consisting of Policy and Government.

For Elizabeth II, we might add the twist that she had two bodies—one alive, one dead. Her “body natural” was clearly that of a lively, physical, intelligent, quizzical woman. Her “body politic,” being a feudal ghost in the machine of a democratic state, had to seem as if it could not be “seen or handled.” (In 1992, when she was on a state visit to Australia, Prime Minister Paul Keating put his hand on her back to guide her gently through a crowd. The British tabloids screamed in outrage: “Hands Off.”) To occupy her royal persona, Elizabeth had to suppress her human one, to make herself as much like a dead person as possible.

Consider two possible glimpses of her. One is by Elton John, recorded in his memoir, Me. He has been invited to a party in one of the royal residences. (He does not say which or exactly when.) As he is watching the queen, she approaches her nephew Viscount Linley. His sister Sarah had taken ill and retired to her room. Elizabeth asks Linley to go and check on her:

When he repeatedly tried to fob her off, the Queen lightly slapped him across the face, saying “Don’t”—SLAP—“argue”—SLAP—“with”—SLAP—“me”—SLAP—“I”—SLAP—“am”—SLAP—“THE QUEEN!” That seemed to do the trick. As she left, she saw me staring at her, gave me a wink and walked off.

The pleasure of this anecdote is that it is pure camp. The sovereign sends up her own authority. Her wink expresses a depth of knowingness, a playful collusiveness, close to the way gay men of her generation used to signal that they had another, truer identity behind their official selves.

The historian James Pope-Hennessy, who met her at Balmoral in 1957, noted in his diary that “she is extremely animated, gesticulates when telling anecdotes, makes comic or pathetic faces, and simply cannot remain still…. She mimes stories.” Yet “extremely animated” is the last phrase anyone would use about her royal self.

For if that winking and miming was the living body, the dead one was encountered, over the decades, by thousands of guests who had to sit beside her. At lunch, Pope-Hennessy encountered her other, official persona: “On the whole it is clockwork conversation, not at all difficult on either side, but not, on the other hand, memorable, interesting or worth the paper it could be typed on.” Clockwork conversation was her constitutional duty. Seamus Heaney’s “Whatever you say, say nothing” was her watchword. The survival of the monarchy depended on her not saying anything memorable or interesting. It required her to be animated only in the other sense—a cartoon of empty sovereignty.

It is striking that arguably the most effective public statements of her reign were silent. In 1947 the then Princess Elizabeth celebrated her twenty-first birthday in Cape Town. Yet she did not return to South Africa for forty-eight years, visiting the country again only when Nelson Mandela was president. She managed, in other words, not to go, while the apartheid system was in place, to what had been an important part of the empire. This was an eloquent absence. She understood that Margaret Thatcher’s support for the white supremacist regime threatened the survival of the British Commonwealth in the rest of Africa, and thus undermined her own position as its head. Equally, in Ireland in 2011, Elizabeth performed a deeply resonant act when she bowed silently before the monument in Dublin to “those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom.” Being a kind of ghost herself, she could lay to rest the ghosts of a long history.

These were episodes when her two selves could come together, when what she might feel as a woman and what she could express as a monarch were in intimate touch with each other. But such episodes were rare. Mostly, the point of her public personage was not to project her private self but to kill it.

This, perhaps, is why the queen was so hard for visual artists to represent. According to the National Portrait Gallery in London, “she is the most portrayed person in the world.” Its collection houses 967 portraits of her. The photographs of Elizabeth as a child have an uncanny presence, capturing the weirdly premature ability to sit ramrod-straight, as though on a throne, that unnerved Winston Churchill when he encountered her as a two-year-old and reported to his wife that “she has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.” But there is not one image that could be placed in any collection of great portrayals of British monarchs. In almost all of them, she is all pose and no persona. They do not seem to have been taken from life at all, perhaps because, in a sense, they were not. They are images of her undead political body, not her living natural one.

Indeed, one of the few truly fine portraits of her is powerful because it confronts this very problem. Chris Levine’s 2007 color print on a lightbox, called Lightness of Being, was an outtake from an official commission. Elizabeth is in her regalia, with crown, pearls, and white fur stole. A soft white light falls on her face, showing all the lines around her mouth, deepened, presumably, by decades of professional smiling. But her eyes are closed. She looks like she has just died and been laid out, ready to lie in state. The excessively red lipstick, which was visually enhanced by Levine in his development of the picture, seems like it has been applied by an undertaker. If the image had a text it would be Shakespeare’s Richard II meditating on the deathliness of the English monarchy: “Within the hollow crown/That rounds the mortal temples of a king/Keeps Death his court.” Levine’s picture ought, therefore, to have been treasonous: it thoroughly imagines the death of the sovereign.

Yet the portrait was and is hugely popular, and its air of the moribund is scarcely remarked on. It seems, somehow, natural. What makes it so is that the British monarchy is itself a form of life-in-death. Thomas Hobbes called the papacy “the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.” Elizabeth was the ghost of the British Empire sitting crowned on top of its tomb.

In her twenty-first-birthday speech in Cape Town, less than two years after the end of World War II, she claimed that “in our time we may say that the British Empire has saved the world first, and has now to save itself after the battle is won.” Both parts of this claim were delusional: the British had not saved the world and the peoples of the empire had no desire for the instrument of their oppression to be “saved.” If keeping the empire alive was to be the test of her reign, she was a complete failure. She was declared queen while in Kenya in February 1952; in October there was another declaration in Kenya—of a state of emergency in the face of the Mau Mau uprising. The seventy territories she theoretically reigned over when she became queen have shrunk to the Falkland Islands and a smattering of convenient tax havens.

How, then, could she preside over the death of a British world and yet be enormously successful in keeping alive the monarchy that symbolized it? The answer lies in an English dreamtime, a time in which there may be “no future” but there is a sort of eternal present. In this make-believe terrain, Elizabeth could be two people, at once royal and familiar. When the writer Brian Masters published a collection of dream narratives he had solicited from the British public, called Dreams About HM the Queen and Other Members of the Royal Family (1972), he noted an inverse relationship between reverie and real life. The less likely people were to encounter the queen in the flesh, the more likely they were to dream about her.

Masters was struck, too, by the blandness of Her Majesty’s presence in most of these imaginary encounters. The sleepers who met her usually had clockwork conversations over that most characteristic of down-home English comforts, a cup of tea. As Masters noted, Her Majesty’s chat, when she drops in for a cuppa, “turns out usually to be suitably dull…. The Queen is the very essence of banality in these dreams…. She is ordinary Betty.” There is an awareness of how bored she must be by her official duties. In one delightful dream, she is encountered at Niagara Falls, wearing a plastic coat and hat to keep her clothes and hair dry:

“Betty!” I yelled. “What on earth are you doing here?” She sighed. “Well, you see, dear,” she said, “we’ve got this State Visit to do, and you know how it is, one always has to look at the Falls and say nice things about them. I do so dislike wearing this ghastly mackintosh.”

It is a short step, in the logic of dreams, to imagining nice, ordinary Betty and Elizabeth II as two different people. There is an anxiety that the queen’s two bodies might divide from each other and go their separate ways. Kantorowicz quoted one medieval political thinker claiming that “two things concur in the [monarch]: the person and the signification.” But what if they were parted? In one elaborate and vivid nightmare, a man encounters the queen alone on a beach in Spain. She explains that “someone has impersonated me, and gone back in my place. She is now sitting in Buckingham Palace.” He takes the real queen back to London, where she lives in his apartment, darning his socks and cooking him shepherd’s pie like a good little wife. But when they turn on the television, she becomes distressed at the sight of her doppelgänger performing her royal functions: “There she is! That’s the woman who’s pretending to be me.” The dreamer goes to see the archbishop of Canterbury and the prime minister, Harold Wilson, to alert them to the problem. There is a “discussion as to whether it was constitutionally possible to have two Queens in a country at once.” But “no one listened. I was in despair.”

Yet it was indeed possible to have two queens in the country at once—and this was the secret of Elizabeth’s success. Even fifty years ago, in these dreams, there is little of the feeling that Bagehot believed to be crucial to the survival of the monarchy: “Mystic awe and wonder.” If anything, there is the opposite—a desire to imagine the queen as ordinary, familiar, merely human. This desire ought to be republican: If she is just like us, why bother? Antimonarchists often thought they could demystify the queen by calling her Betty Windsor. But the real mystery is how her subjects could in fact think of her as Betty and yet still afford her a privileged space in their imaginations, so that imagining her death made them feel lonely and desolate.

The contradiction could be sustained because, while Betty lived in the present, Elizabeth always existed in the hereafter. The queen’s afterlife did not begin with her actual death, but a long time ago, with the rapid melting of the pall of sacral meaning that was laid on thickly at her coronation in 1953. In her broadcast address after her crowning, she informed her subjects that “the ceremonies you have seen today are ancient, and some of their origins are veiled in the mists of the past.” They were in fact invented traditions, few of them dating back much beyond the nineteenth century. The need for bogus antiquity betrayed a deep worry that without mystic awe the sacred monarch, head of the Church of England and embodiment of empire, might be reduced to mere equality. The remarkable thing, however, is that the reduction happened but did not matter very much. It was familiar human sympathy, not religious awe, that made her seem special. She doubled as ordinary Betty, not as God’s anointed.

Much British commentary still finds this hard to grasp. Even now, an otherwise rational publication like The Economist can look back, in its obituary for the queen, on her anointment with holy oil during the coronation as “a sign that her election came not just from good Hanoverian blood, but from God. It was a reminder that kingship was a holy and permanent duty.” This kind of nonsense lingers in the groundwater and comes to the surface with her death. But even in the nineteenth century a monarchist like Bagehot was realistic enough to acknowledge that the English had severed the veins carrying the royal blood and obliterated the divine right of monarchs when they overthrew James II in 1688: “If there was a mystic right in any one, that right was plainly in James II; if it was an English duty to obey any one whatever he did, he was the person to be so obeyed.”

After 1688 the primary claim of the monarchy was not the sacredness of its blue blood but the imperative of a Protestant succession. Under Elizabeth, however, this religious dimension shrank almost as fast as the empire did. In 1956, 34 percent of those surveyed in Britain thought that the queen was “especially chosen by God.” By 1992, a survey found among respondents “no spontaneous…awareness of the monarchy’s religious dimension.” Only about 2 percent of British people now attend the weekly services of the queen’s Anglican church. If Elizabeth’s allure depended on God, the monarchy would have been abolished decades ago.

It survived for other reasons. One was that what was lost in holiness was gained in its contemporary equivalent: celebrity. It is not just that the queen was immensely famous, but that the nature of fame shifted in her favor. It divorced itself from achievement—a beneficial development for a woman whose defining attainment was being born first into the right family. But celebrity only goes so far, not least because it is notoriously fickle: for a time, Elizabeth was not even the most famous person in her own family, and the one who outshone her, Princess Diana, sparked in death the nearest thing to an antimonarchical revolt during the queen’s reign. The fame game is as dangerous as it is rewarding.

The idea of continuity was certainly part of it also, though it worked in paradoxical ways. In her broadcast address after her crowning, Elizabeth insisted that “I am sure that this, my Coronation, is not the symbol of a power and a splendor that are gone.” It was precisely her inability to live up to that assurance that made her own presence increasingly necessary. If the power and the splendor were not going or gone, she herself would have been much less important as a link to the past and a conjurer of the illusion that, so long as she was alive, the past was too.

The need for this illusion became ever deeper in her later years, as the derangements of the Conservative Party produced both the succession of four prime ministers in six years and the collapse, under Boris Johnson, of all notions of decorum and public dignity. Simply by way of contrast, the queen became ever more queenly. She was never more so than when, during the Covid pandemic, she sat alone at the funeral of her husband, the day after two alcohol-fueled parties were held at Downing Street. Yet this was an image not of majesty or might but of human frailty, of an ordinary stoicism that most people, because of their own sorrows, could identify with. The two queens, the regal and the relatable, coexisted perfectly.

What really accounts for her potency—and what makes her irreplaceable—is precisely that doubleness, the way the public could choose to see her at any given moment either as Elizabeth II or as Betty. It meant that the weaknesses of the sovereign could immediately become the strengths of the woman. Thus, the banality of her majesty’s clockwork conversations could become the heroic self-sacrifice involved in the repression of her true personality. The more boring she was, the more this dullness could be configured as duty—and the more her life of wealth and privilege could be thought of as one of endless fortitude.

Thus the idiocies and embarrassments of her offspring—Charles’s infidelity, Andrew’s sordid relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the self-indulgent wars between William and Harry—could be understood as happening not to the monarch (in which case they would have highlighted the folly of hereditary office) but to poor Betty who, like the rest of us, has trouble with the kids. Thus even age itself—the ultimate enemy of royalty—could make her stronger. The closer she came to inevitable death, and the more rational it therefore was to think about what would come after her, the closer British people felt to her as their collective grandmother. She was never so loved as when she was a little old lady, subject “to the like Defects that happen to the natural Bodies of other People.” The more obvious the approach of her demise, the more painful it was to imagine it.

This dual monarchy is not repeatable—and certainly not by King Charles III. It was a female phenomenon, rooted in a patriarchal habit of construing as nobility a woman’s effacement of her own thoughts and desires. Self-suppression is a feminine virtue. It is not one ever practiced by Charles, who has spent his adult life expecting to be listened to and taken seriously merely because of who he is. (Or rather, until now, of who his mother is.) He will moderate himself as king, but it is too late. His persona as a meddler is already far too deeply embedded in public consciousness. He can never have the quality Levine invoked as the title for his haunting image: lightness of being. Elizabeth was stereo; Charles is mono. The terror now for those who look to the monarchy to hold the UK together is that, instead of the queen’s two bodies, they will have only the busybody king. As Oscar Wilde’s Algernon puts it: “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”

The post The Two Elizabeths appeared first on The New York Review of Books.

Veal, Ham and Tongue Pie

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/09/2022 - 3:01am in

Hot water crust pastry
1½ pounds plain flour
2 level teaspoons salt
½ pound lard
½ pint water

¾ pound breast of veal
¾ pound gammon
¾ pound cooked tongue
½ Spanish onion, finely chopped
Chopped fresh tarragon
Chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs

Beaten egg
Aspic jelly

Hot water crust pastry: Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Melt the lard and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add to the dry ingredients and mix quickly to a soft, pliable dough. Line a rectangular pie mould with two-thirds of the dough, pressing it well down into the corners.

Filling: Cut the veal, gammon and cooked tongue into cubes, and mix with finely chopped Spanish onion and generous amounts of thyme, marjoram and chopped fresh tarragon and parsley. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Half-fill the mould with the meat and herb mixture; arrange hard-boiled eggs on top and then fill mould with the remaining meat and herb mixture.

Roll out remaining pastry and cover the top of the pie, pressing edges well together. Trim edges and decorate with “leaves” cut from pastry trimmings. Brush with beaten egg; make three small holes in the pastry lid for the steam to escape, and bake in a fairly hot oven (425° – M6) for ½ hour. Then reduce heat to 375° – M4 and cooked for a further 1¼ hours. (If top becomes too brown, cover with a sheet of aluminium foil.) Allow pie to become quite cold. Remove rectangular pie mould and pour liquid aspic jelly (cool) through the holes in the pastry with the aid of a paper funnel. Leave pie overnight before cutting.

Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd., 36 Park Street, London W.1. ©Robert Carrier 1968

Blomkål Med Currysås (Cauliflower With Curry Sauce)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 20/09/2022 - 6:35am in

Cooking time: approximately 30 min

Ingredients: (4 pers.)
1 large head of cauliflower
1 packet frozen peas
2 hardboiled eggs

1 tablespoon margarine
2 tablespoons flour
1-2 teaspoons curry
approximately 3 dl vegetable broth
1 egg yolk
½ dl cream
1½ hg frozen shrimp
white pepper
cut dill

1. Clean the cauliflower head and cook it until just and evenly soft in lightly salted water.
2. Fry margarine and curry for the sauce, stir in the flour, and dilute with vegetable broth a little at a time. Let the sauce cook for a few minutes.
3. Heat the sauce with the egg yolk stirred in the cream. Mix in the prawns and take the pan off the heat. Season to taste.
4. Place the cauliflower on a heated plate and pour the curry sauce over it. Sprinkle with dill.
5. Garnish with halved hard-boiled eggs and peas.

Approximately 325 calories per portion.

Translation from original Swedish via Google Translate

© Hamlyn Group/Hemmets Journal AB S/C/1

Gästgivarsmörgås (Innkeeper’s Sandwich)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/09/2022 - 6:00am in

Cooking time: approx. 20 min

Ingredients (4 pers.)
2 hectograms beef sirloin
1 egg yolk
approx. ½ deciliter cream
1 tablespoon chopped beetroot
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon capers
salt and white pepper
4 slices white bread
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 eggs
8 anchovy fillets

1. Mix together the mince with egg yolk and cream.

2. Mix in finely chopped beetroot, onion, capers, salt and pepper.

3. Sparingly spread butter on the bread slices.

4. Put 1/4 of the stuffing on each sandwich and shape with your hands.

5. Fry the mince side first, but not too quickly.

6. Then flip the sandwich and let the bread side soak up the frying fat.

7. Fry the eggs lightly and place a couple of anchovies around each yolk.

8. Garnish each steak with anchovy fillets.

9. Serve with a green salad.

Translation of original Swedish recipe card courtesy of Google Translate.

© Hemmets Journal AB S/B/3

Cabbage Schnitzel (Shnitszeli iz kapusty)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/09/2022 - 9:13am in

4 servings

You will need
1 ⅔ lb. cabbage leaves
3 oz. ham
½ onion
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
3 oz. white bread with crusts trimmed and cut into long strips
1 egg
little MSG (monosodium glutamate) (optional)
1 egg, mixed with 1 cup milk
little bread crumbs
butter or vegetable oil
1 ¼ cups Béchamel sauce

4 carrots, glazed
4 small-sized tomatoes
pickled red cabbage
½ cup green peas

Slice both cabbage and ham in long strips. Chop the onions. Sauté them in butter. Add the milk, cover and simmer over low heat.

When vegetables are tender, turn off heat and cool. Add the bread, 1 egg, salt, pepper and MSG. Form 2 patties per person.

Dip the patties in the beaten egg and then in the bread crumbs twice. Heat vegetable oil and butter in a frying pan and brown them over medium heat. Lower heat, cover and cook, taking care not to burn.

Arrange the schnitzel with tomatoes, grazed [SIC] carrots, pickled red cabbage and green peas. Serve with hot Béchamel sauce.

© Shufunotomo Co., Ltd., Japan 1973

The Party’s Over

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/09/2022 - 10:00pm in

Boris Johnson leaving 10 Downing Street six days after his resignation

Tim Ireland/Xinhua/Getty Images

Boris Johnson leaving 10 Downing Street six days after his resignation, London, July 13, 2022

In 1991 Margaret Thatcher accepted an invitation to speak in the city that had just ceased to be Leningrad and was now St. Petersburg again. As a demonstration of the ruthlessness that has made it so good at holding on to power, her own Conservative Party had deposed her the previous year as prime minister of the United Kingdom. She was, however, still a figure to whom Russians might look for advice on how to create a democracy. In her speech, she twice quoted Edmund Burke, the Irish thinker she called “the acknowledged father of conservatism,” invoking in particular his reverence for “ancient traditions, venerable institutions, and old identities.” She also warned her Russian audience that as they went about the business of creating political parties, they should remember the importance of personal character: “Politics always reflects the character and caliber of those who practice it—and of those who choose them.” If any of the budding Russian democrats who listened to Thatcher back then are still around, they may find some consolation in the knowledge that this warning has, of late, been as little heeded in her own country as in theirs.

At the end of July another recently deposed Tory prime minister, Boris Johnson, held a belated party to celebrate his marriage last year to his third wife, Carrie. Invitations to the event at the prime minister’s country house, Chequers, had already gone out, but a series of unfortunate events intervened. As Johnson’s hold on power became ever weaker, Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, alleged that he was only staying on at 10 Downing Street because he wanted “a party at Chequers for his wedding.” To prove otherwise, a new, but suitably grand, venue was required. As has happened throughout Johnson’s career, a vastly wealthy patron came to the rescue.

The man who saved the day was Lord Anthony Bamford, whose company manufactures the JCB line of heavy construction vehicles. Bamford’s penchant for digging very big holes extends to politics. He is a major donor to the Conservative Party and was an important booster for and funder of the successful Vote Leave campaign that Johnson led in 2016. According to the Daily Mail, Bamford’s wife, Lady Carole, had her butler make regular deliveries of organic food from their country estate, Daylesford, to the Johnsons in Downing Street during the Covid lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

Noblesse oblige: the Bamfords again took pity on Johnson and hosted his wedding party at Daylesford. The mood, reportedly, was one of “cheerful bewilderment,” lightened perhaps by Johnson’s joke that his ouster as prime minister was “the greatest stitch-up since the Bayeux Tapestry.” No one seemed to notice a far more poignant echo of the English past. Daylesford was the family residence of another once-powerful figure driven from office by allegations of lawlessness and venality: Warren Hastings, governor-general of India. In 1786 and 1787 Hastings was impeached by the House of Commons because, by his conduct in India, “the honour of the crown, and the character of this nation [had been] wantonly and wickedly degraded.” Johnson’s political epitaph could hardly have been more eloquently written.

Connoisseurs of historical irony may relish the identity of the man who drove the campaign to have Hastings put on trial for “publick corruption”: Edmund Burke. Burke himself regarded this as the achievement by which he wished to be remembered:

Let my endeavours to save the Nation from that shame and guilt, be my monument; The only one I ever will have. Let every thing I have done, said, or written, be forgotten but this…. Remember! Remember! Remember!

Or, as those who claim Burke’s mantle in today’s Tory Party would have it: Forget! Forget! Forget! It is not just that no one saw the joke in Johnson’s celebrating at the seat of a man the “father of conservatism” regarded as a disgrace to his country. It is that the Conservatives have become positively anti-Burkean in their embrace of amnesia. They forget Burke’s dictum in Reflections on the Revolution in France that “good order is the foundation of all good things.” They show contempt for “venerable institutions,” especially the rule of law and adherence to international treaties. Even more radically, they now base their claim to rule on the demand that the recent past—twelve years of Tory government and the glorious promises of Brexit—be forgotten. As they elect their fourth leader in six years, they have come to like a fresh start so much that they have made it almost an annual event. Burke, and indeed Thatcher, would find it hard to recognize those who claim to be their descendants.

Johnson’s elevation to 10 Downing Street in July 2019 was itself an exercise in willed oblivion. To pretend that he was fit for high office, his party had to forget everything it knew about him: his incorrigible mendacity, his lack of convictions or ideas, his notable incompetence as both mayor of London and foreign secretary, his personal and political disloyalty, his crass venality. The Tories bartered the Burkean values of good order and institutional propriety for the short-term popular appeal of the Boris brand. In return, they got a spectacular election victory in December 2019, and the extremist version of Brexit that the most zealous of them desired.

Yet one thing that can be said for Johnson is that he seems always to have had some idea that nothing in his political career was built to last. In his public mode of bumptiousness and boosterism, he insisted as recently as June, after 148 of his own MPs had voted no confidence in him, that he would rule until “the mid-2030s.” There are, however, in his nonpolitical writings, hints that he learned enough from his studies of classical Greece to know that hubris and nemesis are the closest of companions.

In 2007, when he was still a backbench MP, Johnson tried his hand at a children’s book. The Perils of the Pushy Parents: A Cautionary Tale is a weak imitation of Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children (1907). In Johnson’s version the eponymous parents lament the casting of the child, for whom they have grand ambitions, as the hind end of a horse in a school pantomime:

We rather hoped the BBC
Would hire you as a news trainee,
And after that it’s our intent
To shove you into parliament,
Up the greasy pole and then
Propel you into Number 10!
But as it is, your school, God rot ’em,
Portrays you as some dobbin’s bottom.

Things do not go well for the parents. They end up rolling together off a cliff: “The voices of command are hushed./The pushy have become the pushed.” This last line may not quite have the majesty of Burke’s rhetoric, but it is a fine, and impressively prescient, summation of what happens when a horse’s ass is propelled up the greasy pole to Number 10.

In his bad but interesting novel of 2004, Seventy-Two Virgins, Johnson identifies himself with another, slightly more elevated pantomime character. His fictional alter ego, Roger Barlow, is quite sure that his political career is about to meet an abrupt and inglorious end on account of a scandal. He imagines his future:

By this time next week, he thought, there would be nothing left for him to do but go on daytime TV shows. Perhaps in ten years’ time he might be sufficiently rehabilitated to be offered the part of Widow Twanky at the Salvation Army hall in Horsham.

Widow Twankey (as the name is more usually spelled) is the archetypal pantomime dame and appears in burlesque versions of the Aladdin story. She is usually played by a cross-dressed man. When Sir Ian McKellen played her most recently in London, she complained of “my horrible ex-husband Donald J. Twankey.” It is not a bad name for Johnson himself, since the political persona he invented for himself was half Trump, half pantomime performer.

The thing about the panto, though, is that it is strictly seasonal. It is, for performers and audiences alike, a carnivalesque diversion from the routine and the serious. Johnson’s great triumph, the Brexit campaign of 2016, succeeded because he, more than anyone else, could make the act of leaving the European Union into a time of festivity. He made what was a decision of immense practical import appear to exist outside the time frame of the workaday British world. Philip Larkin once asked, “Where can we live but days?” Johnson succeeded, for a season, in giving an attractive answer: the British could live not in days or months or years but in epochs. In his first speech as prime minister, in 2019, he informed his people that they were now at the “beginning of a new golden age.”

For Johnson, Brexit meant that the previous fifty years of British politics, economics, and social change were, as he put it, “receding in the past behind us.” The country was “re-emerging after decades of hibernation,” or, to mix his animal metaphors, “leaving its chrysalis.” This was a holiday from history—not least, of course, from this century’s miserable years of Tory rule: the cruel and misplaced zeal for austerity under David Cameron; the challenges to the very existence of the United Kingdom from Scottish, Irish, and English nationalism; the fact that typical incomes in the UK are 19 percent lower than those in Germany, 10 percent lower than in France, and 6 percent lower than in Ireland. The notion that Britain had been in hibernation for decades before it was then awoken by the rising sun of Brexit was a way of putting that awkward recent past to bed. It is easy to see why this dreamtime is attractive to a party that has been in power for so long: the butterfly is not responsible for the misdeeds of the chrysalis.

This panto season of British politics could not last and neither, therefore, could Johnson’s premiership. His act ceased to be funny when ordinary people discovered that the joke was on them. Festivity turned sour when their real suffering during the pandemic was mocked by their prime minister’s egregious refusal to apply the restrictions they endured to himself, his family, or his staff, for whom Downing Street seemed to become a frat house where the party never stopped. Promises by his political enablers that a chastened Johnson would become a reformed character were undone (again with that strange honesty that he can sometimes summon from the mists of his mendacity) by Johnson himself, who told BBC radio in June that “if you’re saying you want me to undergo some sort of psychological transformation, I think that our listeners would know that is not going to happen.”

In this, at least, he was as good as his word. The proximate cause of his fall was his decision, when faced with accurate allegations that he had promoted a party ally whom he knew to be a serial sexual harasser, simply to lie about it. The deeper problem for the Tory Party, though, was not that he does not tell the truth—which they had always known—but that his dishonesty was becoming so petty and purposeless. Being so relentlessly untruthful about lockdown parties, or the redecoration of his Downing Street flat, or the sordid behavior of a minor political ally devalued the big lie of Brexit. For the Brexiteers, the proper use of Johnson’s talent for falsehood was in turning the leaden realities of leaving the EU into a golden fantasia. As a man for whom nothing ever had any consequence, he was the perfect medium for the message that Brexit, too, would be consequence-free. Yet now he was wasting his gift for extravagant fabrication on grubby little fibs—and making it clear that he would go on doing so.

In Johnson’s defense, it ought to be conceded that he might as well lie about the small things, because the big one is running out of road. For a hard core of English nationalists, Brexit will always be worth whatever pain it causes other people. For many of those who voted for it, a large part of its appeal was that it seemed so exciting. It is a genuinely historic thing to have done, a departure that will shape the lives of generations to come. But it has become tedious. On the political level, the argument has crystallized into a row with Brussels over the protocol on Northern Ireland that Johnson negotiated, claimed as a great victory, and then effectively repudiated.

Yet it has long been obvious that most English voters have very little interest in Northern Ireland. Putting its name together with that legalistic term “protocol” is quite the passion killer. And going to war with Brussels over a provision in the Brexit deal that Johnson assured voters was “done” does not cohere with the assurance that all difficulties would “recede in the past behind us.” Johnson promised a sweet amnesia, but his voters have been fed a dreary diet of leftover grievances.

At the more personal level, Brexit translates for most ordinary British people into the dull anxiety of declining living standards. In early August the Bank of England forecast a decline in real UK household incomes of 5 percent by 2024—the biggest fall since records began more than half a century ago. Some of the causes are common to other countries: the pandemic and the inflationary effects of the war in Ukraine. For the UK, however, these problems are exacerbated by Brexit, which, as the government’s Office for Budget Responsibility estimates, “will reduce long-run productivity by four per cent relative to remaining in the EU.” According to the Resolution Foundation, a nonpartisan British think tank, “a less-open UK will mean a poorer and less productive one by the end of the decade, with real wages expected to fall by 1.8 per cent, a loss of £470 per worker a year.”

The Brexit carnival is over, but its tents cannot be folded. This is a show that must go on. Historically, the genius of the Conservative Party is, as the political historian Tim Bale puts it, that it has “always been protean—shifting its shape, changing its colours like a chameleon to best suit the conditions in which it finds itself.” Johnson leaves it in a condition where it cannot change its colors because Brexit is written in indelible ink. The former Labour Party politician Denis McShane coined the term Brexternity, and it captures the paradox of Johnson’s legacy—his is a very short and flippant dalliance with power that will have very long and serious consequences.

Where can British conservatism go when it has rid itself of Johnson but cannot move out of the twilight monotony he created? Conventional wisdom last year was that the Tories would seek to reshape themselves around the young, sleek, photogenic, very rich Rishi Sunak, whom Johnson plucked from relative obscurity and elevated to the grand office of chancellor of the exchequer. Sunak seemed to have the right balance of ingredients. On the one hand, he was a true believer in Brexit and its mission to “remove the burden of Brussels bureaucracy.” On the other, his origins as the grandson of immigrants from India seem to soften the English nationalism that drove that whole project. He was loyal to Johnson through a series of embarrassments and outrages but jumped ship at apparently the right moment, when all but the most deluded could see that his time was up. Sunak exudes an earnestness and a technocratic competence that might, at other times, have seemed to offer both an antidote to Johnson’s fecklessness and a reassuring calm in the face of approaching economic recession.

Yet the membership of the Conservative Party (around 180,000 people, who are much older, wealthier, whiter, more male, more right-wing, and more likely to live in the prosperous south of England than the general population) will not choose Sunak. There are two big reasons for this and both are rooted in the mentality of Brexit. Sunak himself may have genuinely believed that the decision to leave the EU was all about the achievement of a standard conservative goal, economic deregulation. But Theresa May sang the real tune at the first post-Brexit Tory Party conference, in October 2016, when she railed against “international elites”: “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

Sunak naively believed that this did not apply to him, even though he embodies the international elite. He moved (after an acceptably elite education at an English private school and Oxford) to Goldman Sachs, to Stanford, to hedge-fund management. His vast family fortune comes mostly from shares that his wife, Akshata Murty, holds in Infosys, her father’s India-based IT multinational. Until earlier this year, Murty claimed “non-domiciled” status in the UK, saving her an estimated £2.1 million a year in British taxes even while her husband was in charge of the UK’s national finances. National-populist denunciations of footloose globalist elites may be intended, in contemporary conservatism, purely as fodder for the base. But the base’s appetite for this rhetoric is real and unsatisfied. When Secretary of State for Culture Nadine Dorries, a strong supporter of Sunak’s rival Liz Truss, tweeted about his “Prada shoes worth £450” and “£3,500 bespoke suit,” her meaning could hardly be called coded. Sunak has been burned by the fires of reactionary populism he helped to light.

Sunak’s second problem is contained in the most pointed sentence in the resignation letter he sent to Johnson on July 5: “Our people know that if something is too good to be true then it’s not true.” This was the elevator pitch for the Sunak succession: The British people are fed up with Johnson’s lies and crave an honest truth-teller like me. The difficulty is that what is most obviously “too good to be true” is the fool’s gold of Brexit. It is all very well, and undoubtedly welcome, to stop lying about wallpaper and sexual sleaze, but the promise to tell the truth is rather blunted when there is a far larger deception that must not be confronted. When the big lie remains compulsory, Sunak’s new era of honest Toryism could not but be stillborn.

The alternative to “too good to be true” is the strategy outlined to Katy Balls, the deputy political editor of the pro-Tory weekly The Spectator, by an unnamed MP who is supporting Truss, the woman who is almost certain to be the next British prime minister: “If people think there is an imaginary river, you don’t tell them there isn’t, you build them an imaginary bridge.” This imagery could hardly be more apt as an indication of Truss’s intention to carry on where Johnson has unwillingly left off. Building imaginary bridges—across the Thames, across the English Channel, even across the Irish Sea—was his signature fantasy of untrammeled power. But the quote in fact repeats advice given by one soon-to-be-deposed leader to another: Nikita Khrushchev said it to Richard Nixon. That Truss seems happy to take her cues from such sources is an indication of what might be expected from her premiership.

One way to think of Truss is to recall Larkin’s bleak lines about how your parents “fill you with the faults they had/And add some extra, just for you.” Politically speaking, Truss’s parents are the last two Tory leaders, May and Johnson, and she has inherited many of the faults of both and few of the strengths of either. She lacks May’s integrity but has her strangely robotic persona—Truss speaks in the manner of an actor who has entirely forgotten her lines and is being fed them through an invisible earpiece. And though she is not, like Johnson, lazy (she is, if anything, manic), and lacks his charisma, she has his unprincipled opportunism, carelessness about truth, and habit of blaming everyone else for his own mistakes. Truss was a wild liberal before she became a reactionary. She strongly supported Remain in the Brexit referendum of 2016, before she became an arch-Brexiteer. In her leadership campaign, she suggested cutting the salaries of public servants who live outside of London, then flatly denied doing so and blamed the media for quoting her own press release. Ideas and truths matter to her only as servants to her ambition.

Truss will take the Tories further down the only path that is open to them, that of anarcho-authoritarianism. Like Johnson, she projects herself as a rebel against authority: “I hated being told what to do and that has driven my political philosophy.” She put forward the legislation that allows British government ministers to break international law by tearing up the Northern Ireland protocol. She has indicated her willingness to withdraw the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights.

This outlawry is underpinned by the language of piracy. A chapter in Britannia Unchained, a 2012 book cowritten by Truss and other rising Conservative politicians, is titled “Buccaneers” and quotes Steve Jobs approvingly: “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.” It concedes, with evident reluctance, that “law and order” are “on the whole beneficial.” But it hankers after an ideal of “capitalism as chaos,” the magic that happens “when nearly all society’s strictures are relaxed.” Hence the claim by Truss’s supporter David Frost, who led negotiations of the Brexit deal with the EU and is widely expected to have an important role in a Truss administration, that “what needs to be done [by the new prime minister] will be turbulent and disruptive.”

This promise of disruption is all that remains of Brexit. It can function now only as a fantasy of liberation, not from Brussels but from all restraint on the making of money. Truss’s language evokes a Britain whose only real problem is that its natural exuberance has been constrained by regulation. Hence the recurrence in her rhetoric of “unchain,” “unleash,” “unshackle.” But, as in current US conservatism, these images of freedom must go hand in hand with their opposite. When she is not talking of unshackling everything, Truss is promising to “crack down” on everything. The chains that are to be taken off the moneymakers will be clamped on much of civil society.

In her speeches, and in the way they are reported by her fans in the Tory press, she has promised, so far, to “crack down” on “militant” trade unions, on civil servants who are working from home, on Chinese companies like TikTok, on onshore renewable energy projects, on “unfair protests” by climate activists, on “antisocial” behavior, on illegal migration, and on the “excessive caution” of financial regulators. She is even promising to repress criticism of the dire condition of post-Brexit Britain, warning the democratically elected first minister of the devolved administration in Wales that “I will crack down on his negativity about Wales and about the United Kingdom.” In the pantomimes, it is customary for the audience to cry out against certain assertions made by the characters: “Oh, no, it isn’t.” In this next version of the show, those who dare to make that call will be ejected from the theater.

The post The Party’s Over appeared first on The New York Review of Books.

Eggs Fu Yung

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 30/08/2022 - 10:30am in

Preparation time: 20 min.

This may be a dish you order in Chinese restaurants but never tried to prepare at home. It is actually very easy and makes use of leftover pork.

For 4 servings you will need:
5 eggs beaten
1 ½ cups cooked diced pork
1 small onion, minced
1 ½ cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
1 cup sliced mushrooms
¼ cup salad oil

1. In large measuring cup, combine eggs, pork, onion, bean sprouts and mushrooms.
2. In large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat. Pour egg mixture by ⅓ cupfuls into the pan.
3. Cook until light brown on both sides. Use more oil as needed.
4 Serve with sauce ladled over the eggs.

Sauce: In a small saucepan, heat to boiling 2 cups chicken broth and ¼ cup soy sauce. Combine 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and ½ cup water. Stir into broth. Cook, stirring, until thickened.

Good served with: Fried rice, barbecued pork ribs, steamed broccoli and a light sherbet for dessert

For 2 servings: Half of all the ingredients but use 3 eggs.

For 8 servings: Double the ingredients.


Taiwan visit goads China in US imperialist power play

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 21/08/2022 - 8:36pm in

Nancy Pelosi’s provocative visit to Taiwan in August has signalled a dangerous new phase in the rivalry between the US and China.

Pelosi—the Speaker of the US House of Representatives—is the most prominent US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

China vehemently objected to the visit. The official US policy on Taiwan has been dubbed “strategic ambiguity”. The US formally recognises the “One China” principle which states that Taiwan is part of China.

However, the US Department of State says that, “Though the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, we have a robust unofficial relationship.” This “unofficial relationship” involves implicit political support, military aid and a constant US military presence around Taiwan.

The mainstream media simply blamed China for heightening tensions. But Pelosi’s visit is just the latest US escalation over Taiwan.

In May Joe Biden was asked whether the US was, “willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?” His blunt reply was “Yes”. This pointed departure from official US policy was designed to send a message to China—the US is willing to go to war over Taiwan.

The Pelosi visit took things a big and dangerous step further. Knowing the visit would provoke a hostile response from China, the US moved an aircraft carrier into position near Taiwan, as well as mobilising two warships and a number of F-35 fighter jets.

Pelosi said during her visit that, “our delegation… came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan.” The mobilisation of US military might accompanying it made it abundantly clear what this meant—that the US was willing to use force to maintain its dominance in the region.

The danger involved in such an escalation is immense. War between the two nuclear powers would be an unthinkable catastrophe.

Ahead of the visit China’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, “The People’s Liberation Army will never sit by idly.” Over 20 Chinese fighter jets entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in the lead up to Pelosi’s arrival. This was followed by live fire military drills, including missile strikes in waters off Taiwan.

US policy

Taiwan’s contested status is a legacy of past imperialist interventions. Western-backed Nationalists retreated to Taiwan following their defeat by Mao’s Communist Party in the Chinese civil war in 1949.

The current US policy of “strategic ambiguity” emerged in 1972 in the Nixon era. President Richard Nixon sought to normalise relations with China to draw them out of the orbit of the USSR during the Cold War.

Taiwan occupies a strategic location. China is highly dependent on sea lanes for trade and imports of strategic commodities like oil. In the event of war the US would try to use control along the “first island chain” off China’s coast, including Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and the island of Borneo to impose a naval blockade.

Pelosi’s stunt in Taiwan shows that US imperialism has been emboldened by its proxy war in Ukraine. Following its humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, the US is pouring tens of billions of dollars of weapons into Ukraine to weaken Russia and prove its ability as an imperialist bully to use force to get its way.

Anthony Albanese remained relatively tight lipped about Pelosi’s provocation, saying it is “a matter for them”. But his actions spoke louder than his words. As Pelosi addressed the press in Taiwan, Albanese and Defence Minister Richard Marles announced a comprehensive re-assessment of Australia’s Defence Force.

The message was clear—that Australia is preparing for war. Albanese is committed to Scott Morrison’s policy of $270 billion defence spending in the next decade as well as to the AUKUS Alliance and the acquisition of nuclear-powered subs at a cost of $170 billion. The review will likely entrench the shift towards acquiring weapons directed at China, such as missile systems.

Taiwan will continue to be a flashpoint in a region that is increasingly a tinderbox of imperialist tensions.

Another delegation of US politicians arrived in Taiwan 12 days after Pelosi’s visit, led by Democratic Senator Ed Markey, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific, and International Cybersecurity sub-committee. Chinese aircraft have continued to cross the midpoint of the Taiwan Strait regularly, despite the official end of military exercises.

As inflation skyrockets globally the obscenity of this imperialist jockeying is laid bare.

Governments are spending billions on war and risking nuclear conflict while ordinary people struggle for the most basic necessities. It is more important than ever that we fight their system and build movement in Australia against the military alliance with the US, Labor’s militarism and the drive to war on China.

By Adam Adelpour

The post Taiwan visit goads China in US imperialist power play appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Ecuador rises up against austerity amid cost of living crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 21/08/2022 - 8:29pm in

Indigenous protests in Ecuador have won major concessions after a general strike that brought the capital Quito and the port city of Guayaquil to a standstill for 18 days in June. Protesters blockaded roads, occupied key government buildings and used targeted sabotage to disrupt fossil fuel infrastructure.

The effects of COVID hit Ecuador particularly hard—a disastrous government response saw over 35,700 deaths, whilst economic mismanagement has seen suffocating inflation and household income drop by an average of 40 per cent at the height of the COVID crisis. Over 60 per cent are jobs outside agriculture are in the informal sector, including street vendors and taxi drivers.

Since taking office, Ecuador’s right-wing President Guillermo Lasso, a former banker and businessman, has furthered the economy’s decades-long embrace of neoliberalism.

This has only exacerbated the extreme inequality within the country. With markets now slowly crumbling, Lasso has created an impossible situation for many Ecuadorians, but none more so than the primarily agricultural, already impoverished Indigenous population.

Sonia Guamangate, an Indigenous woman who joined the protests by travelling from Samanga in the Cotopaxi region, explained how economic pressure has driven her community to breaking point:

“The prices have risen in the city, but what we get paid for our agricultural products remains the same. Sometimes they are paying as little as $5 or $6 for 100 kilograms of potatoes. That’s a year’s work for some of us. They call us ignorant Indians. We are not ignorant. We supply the food for the city.”

Primarily led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and joined by a multitude of unions and student groups, the movement was quickly and brutally targeted by government forces, who labelled the protest as an attempted coup, declared a state of emergency, sought to arrest CONAIE leaders, and authorised police to use deadly force to disperse protesters.

However after the actions of the protesters caused significant food shortages in Quinto and Guayaquil, Lasso narrowly avoided both a motion of no confidence and impeachment and the government finally broke on June 30, agreeing to most of CONAIE’s demands, including:

  • the suspension of the state of emergency
  • the reduction in the price of a gallon (five litres) of petrol and diesel by 15 cents
  • the prohibition of mining in protected areas and ancestral territories, as well as in archaeological and water protection zones
  • support for immediate delivery of medicines and supplies to hospitals and health centres
  • raising the human development bonus from $50 to $55
  • a fertiliser subsidy.

This signifies a major victory for CONAIE and its allies, staring down a defiant neoliberal government with little interest in providing any form of relief to its citizens in the midst of a severe cost of living crisis.

Cycle of revolt

In recent years mass protests have shaken a series of Latin American countries, including Chile, Haiti and Puerto Rico. New left-wing leaders have also been elected in Chile, Colombia and Peru, in a region ravaged by US imperialism and neoliberal austerity.

This is not the first time that CONAIE and its allies have forced major change to Ecuador’s political landscape through mass protest.

Formed in the mid-1980s, CONAIE has engaged in a series of mass uprisings alongside labour and urban neighbourhood allies.

However it has continually put its trust in electing left-wing governments that have betrayed it. A major uprising in 2000 toppled a President who had sought a deal with the IMF.

After the following election CONAIE led another uprising against the new President, after backing him at the election. The left-wing governments of Raffael Correa and his successor Lenin Moreno also proved a disappointment.

In 2019 CONAIE staged another mass national strike against the supposedly left-wing leader Moreno. This won a victory forcing the abandonment of a major austerity package including attempts to cut fuel subsidies.

But it then called off the protests, out of concern a more right-wing leader might be the result. This meant that instead of pushing for the working class and poor to take power themselves, the existing parliamentary system remained intact and the government survived.

After the protests were called off, the right won the subsequent elections.

The movement has now entered a 90-day negotiation period with President Lasso in exchange for halting the current protests.

The example set in Ecuador shows how mass protests and strikes can win real, tangible victories over the cost of living and inequality. But real fundamental change cannot come through working to elect different leaders within the existing state—the movement from below has to take power for itself.

By Joshua Look

The post Ecuador rises up against austerity amid cost of living crisis appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Salade de Pâtes Roses (Pink Noodle Salad)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 21/08/2022 - 6:40am in

8 ounces “rigatoni” noodles
3 ½ ounces boiled ham
4 tomatoes, puréed
1 teaspoon prepared French mustard
1 lemon
salt and pepper
½ cup safflower oil
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
3 ½ ounces olives


  1. Cook the rigatoni for 20 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain and cool.
  2. Dice the ham and set aside. Scald the tomatoes to remove the skin, seed them, and purée them.
  3. Mix the French mustard together with the lemon, salt and pepper; gradually add the oil, stirring continuously. Blend in the tomato purée and heavy cream.
  4. Mix the pink dressing with the noodles. Place in a serving dish, sprinkle with the ham, and garnish with the olives.

You can use elbow macaroni, “bow-knots,” or shell-shaped macaroni – the shape does not matter.

Children will enjoy this unusual entrée, particularly during the summer months. Complete the meal with carrot juice and fresh fruits.

© Shufunotomo Co., Ltd., Japan, 1971. Published in the United States and Canada by BOBLEY PUBLISHING, a division of Illustrated World Encyclopedia, Inc. Printed in Japan.