The Road to Hell.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 28/10/2018 - 5:53am in


Marxism, Politics

Poor Joe Sixpack, he was getting desperate. He had been travelling for a while, always hoping to get to a better place. He took the bus but every stop was worse than the previous. It didn’t take him long to realise this one was the worst yet. Just after he got off the bus, there it was, a huge sign with the inscription “Welcome to the Fifth Circle of Hell. Population: 34 billion souls”.

Upset, Joe went straight to the ticket counter to get a ticket to a better place.

“Hey! Hey!” Joe exclaimed, slamming the counter. “I want a ticket to a better place, now. Now. You hear me?”.

“Right away, sir! Right away”. The Attendant pulled a ticket from the dispenser, offered it to Joe and instructed him: “Here you are. Go back to that bus, give the driver this ticket and ask him to drop you off two stops down the line. That’s the best place ever. You won’t regret it, sir, I promise you”.

“But … but …” Joe protested. “Two stops down the line…? Isn’t that the Seventh Circle of Hell?”

“Pff. Why! Of course it is, dummy! What did you expect? Like I said, the best place ever. C’mon! Take it, take it, take it! I don’t have the whole day,” the attendant replied, his tone of voice no longer servile.

At that precise moment a white cloud formed just next to Joe.

“Vade retro, Satana!” a mighty voice roared with divinely inspired authority. Before the suddenly alarmed Attendant ran away, an Angel struck him over the head -- KAPOW!!! -- with a big crucifix. As the Attendant fell to the ground with a hair-raising howl, the Angel shot him point-blank with a high-powered, 9 mm, semi-automatic Holy-Water pistol. FLUSH!!! The Attendant, astonishingly, just vanished. POOFF!!! Only a black, sulphurous cloud remained where he had been.

In awe, Joe grabbed the Angel’s tunic and tried to kiss it. “Thank you! Thank you!”

“Praise the Lord, child of Adam. Not me,” the Angel commanded.

His voice trembling, Joe explained his predicament. “Help me, dear Guardian Angel. For the love of Him!”

With a dramatic gesture, the Angel extracted a miraculously pure gold bus ticket from a pocket in his tunic. “Go to the bus and tell the driver to drop you off at the first stop. Remember, the first, not the second, like that abomination of Hell wanted. Understood?”

“Yes!” Joe answered, tears of gratitude welling in his eyes, a glimmer of hope in his heart. “Is that … is that where Heaven is?”

The only answer was: “Well… ah… hmm… I mean…”.

Joe could not contain his disappointment: “Oh! I understand. It’s not Heaven, just the Sixth Circle of Hell, yes?”

“Well,” replied the Angel after clearing his voice, “Yes. Goddammit! Yes, it is the Sixth Circle. But, that’s not so bad, Joe. It’s way better than the Seventh, where that devil wanted to send you. It’s the Lesser Evil!”

“But Angel,” Joe pleaded, “you don’t understand. That’s how I got here, in the first place. There’s always been a Greater Evil advertised as the greatest destination ever and there’s always been a Lesser Evil following it closely behind as the Greater Evil gets worse and worse. Whichever one chooses, one goes that way until one reaches the Ninth Circle of Hell, and then is game over. What I want is to go the other way. I want to go to a better place, I want to get out of here, not further in”.

“I see,” the Angel, resenting Joe’s speech, replied. “Well, too bad. Since you arrived I've been bending over backwards to offer you the best possible alternative and that’s how you repay me? You’re an ungrateful bastard, Joe. Let me spell it out for you: There’s no alternative, no way out. The bus only runs that way; it doesn’t run the other way. Those are your choices, the Lesser Evil or the Greater Evil. So shut up and take that damn ticket, now!”

That’s when Joe noticed emaciated, sickly-looking people, clothed in rags, slowly, painfully dragging their feet on their way back to the entrance. Approaching them, Joe grabbed one by the arm and asked him, “What are you doing?”

“Trying to get outta here. This is the only way”.

“But the Angel said…”

“Mate, those blokes work for the bus line”.

“Please, be sensible Joe”, shouted the Angel, more composed. “Take the Lesser Evil, I beg of you. It’s the saintly thing to do and it’s much better than the Greater Evil”. “Baloney!”, the Attendant, grinning next to the Angel, yelled as he waved the American flag. “The Greater Evil, Joe. It's patriotic and you’ll be rich. God loves the rich. It’s gonna be great!”.

Both in unison: “Nobody has ever managed to get out of here! You can see by those irresponsible radicals’ state, Joe, to get out of here is difficult. It’s a long way, it’s risky, it’s painful, it’s foolish. The bus is so much better!”

Okay, dear reader, you are Joe Sixpack. Your choice.

“This Time, don’t Give the Liberals your Vote.”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 5:52pm in

Life is full of perverse, cruel irony. That sentence is a case in point.

Alex Turnbull is no radical.

It would be nearly inconceivable for him to be a left-wing radical: before resigning his seat in Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull, Alex’s father and former Goldman Sachs partner, was Australia’s richest politician. Alex (against my rule, I’ll refer to him and his father by their first names, for brevity) is a hedge-fund manager based on Singapore.

I know little about Alex’s ideas on economic policy, social and cultural issues, and I only know he supports action against climate change. Until now he flew under my radar, so to speak. His father was, of course, as neoliberal as the vast majority of the bien-pensant. That places Malcolm squarely within the mainstream.

Malcolm was a promoter of last year’s Same Sex Marriage Postal Survey and a supporter, albeit a timid one, of the Yes side, which eventually won (61.6% Yes, 38.4% No, national figures). That result led to the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017, extending the right to marry to same sex couples, being passed in Parliament. That earned Malcolm some cookie points among the liberally-minded public (in the vaguely ideological sense of the word liberal), although did not endear him to the decidedly conservative sections of his own party, the Liberal-National Coalition (LNC). On this subject, too, Malcolm fits well with the mainstream.

Back in 2009, then federal opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull supported a carbon emissions trading scheme, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (an initiative of the Labor Party’s Kevin Rudd, at the time PM). As with SSM, that earned him credibility with the mainstream, although it marked him as a “socialist” before the coal mining industry-funded conservative fringe of this party (one could say that episode marks the birth of the “insurgency” which eventually succeeded last month). As a consequence of that internal opposition, Malcolm gradually drifted away from climate change action, without entirely abandoning it

It seems reasonable to conclude that Malcolm isn’t a right-wing extremist, either. And one could extend that assessment, at least provisionally, to Alex.

It’s important to make that point, because I believe many in the Left (in Australia or abroad), without being fully supportive, could sympathise with father and son, a duo in many ways similar to themselves. It’s the kind of men they could comfortably share tea in a Victorian manor room and exchange pleasantries, if not a Platonic dialogue for mutual edification.

And yet, the title of this post are Alex Turnbull’s words. Yes, he was actually urging Liberal voters not to vote for his father’s (presumably his own) party. He was doing precisely what the Republican establishment have been condemned for not doing with Donald Trump.

Turnbull Jr. isn’t speaking in the name of the alt-right. Whatever personal reasons he may also have, he’s speaking in the name of classical liberalism and climate change action and against those he calls “crazies” (“insurgents” and “wreckers”, in his father’s words: the LNC extremely conservative faction).

Alex was urging that, even if it costs the Liberal Party and the LNC’s 1-seat majority in the House of Representatives, even if that leads to a loss of power. Even if it leads (God forbid!) to an opposition victory.

Hopefully, many Liberal voters think as he does.

I’m sure many on the Left, particularly the American “Left”, would applaud Alex’s courage and urge Liberal voters to heed him. They may feel disappointed by his father’s more cautious stance (he refused to campaign for the Wentworth candidate, but did not come out openly against him), but those more charitable among them may even find in their hearts some understanding for his more delicate position.

The cruel and perverse irony I spoke about earlier should now be evident to some readers. Others may need some explaining. They are my intended readership.

Those same “leftists” who would likely applaud Alex Turnbull’s courage (and did sternly condemn the Republican establishment’s cowardice) are also at the forefront of “the vote for the Democratic Party come what may”. No matter if the party does not represent you anymore; no matter if it never did; no matter how you feel about it. It’s the lesser evil. Anathema and eternal damnation upon heretics saying otherwise.

That phenomenon is not strictly limited to the US. You find the same thing in Australia or in Britain and I would be surprised there weren’t all sorts of local variations all over the world. Understanding that phenomenon is, therefore, fundamentally important and indeed vitally urgent, not only for the Left, but for humanity’s survival. We won’t survive if there is no radical change: exactly what these people oppose, in deed if not in words.

I’ll advance here my thoughts on that matter, for what they are worth, based on my own personal experience. A warning to readers: my evaluation is as frank as it is negative and pessimistic. If readers lack the stomach, they are well advised to leave now.

I dislike the “idiocy” multi-purpose explanation: by explaining all, it ends up explaining nothing. On top, it reeks of self-promotion (the “smarter” critics, by implication, should replace the “idiots”). Besides, those people aren’t idiots by any measure. In fact, I’d say many are extremely intelligent.

It’s not ignorance either, although the case here is less clear. In general they have their fields of expertise and there some of them may have something useful to say. The problem is that they tend to overestimate their own competence and believe it universal.

(Incidentally, together, those two observations imply one cannot ignore what they have to say; but one must put up with lots of irrelevancies, sometimes bordering on eccentricity -- if you stumble upon them, you’ll have no difficulty understanding this -- and take even what goes beyond that with handfuls of salt. The occasional glimmer of insight may justify the effort, but one pays a price for it: the cost/benefit analysis is unclear.)

They aren’t blind: it’s not that they cannot see the words one writes; they aren’t dumb: it's not that their minds cannot grasp the ideas they transmit. It’s that they refuse to engage with them. Their way out is to pretend misunderstanding, to feign indignation, empty pompous rhetoric, often offensive. To resort to faux emotional distress -- as I’ve seen an adult, who claims to be an intellectual, do -- is not merely dishonest, it’s pathetic and grotesque.

Behind that attitude, I think, there’s a kind of arrogant cowardice masquerading as pragmatism, a petty bourgeois stubborn sense of entitlement, self-importance and intellectual and moral superiority. These people are incredibly good at self-justification, which -- allied to their endless moralising -- makes them, at worse, appear as hypocrites and concern trolls, or useful idiots, at best. Nothing illustrates that better than Alex Turnbull’s example.

Maybe I’m too negative. I’m not infallible, like Peter’s successors. Readers are not my children, they don’t have to do as I say. So, as always, I advice them to exercise critical thinking if faced by this breed of “leftists” (sadly, including at least one “Marxist”). If you do and pay attention -- trust me -- you will know them.

Perhaps someone more skilled, diplomatic and patient than me could be more successful in establishing a constructive dialogue with them. I tried. I can’t do it anymore, and so I won’t. Unless readers fit the bill more closely than me, I would strongly discourage any active dialogue. To me they are -- regrettably -- as much the enemy as capitalists and their avowed servants. Personally, I have more respect for a guy like Turnbull Jr. To say something different would be a lie.

In a twisted way, they are a more insidious enemy: they genuinely believe themselves leftists and that everything they offer is unquestionably true; and that is how they represent themselves to the wider public. Their education, too, lends them credibility. You can see how that combination can hurt you and the real Left and how it can mislead the unwary, yes?

If I’m right, and I sincerely hope -- for the good of humanity -- reality will prove me wrong, one day their children and grand-children may curse their names. If that day comes, they will have deserved that.

The Price of Survival.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/10/2018 - 12:08pm in

I think there’s little need to repeat the dramatic pleas the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made last Monday: to avoid world average temperatures rising above 1.5°C greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 45% within the next 12 years and reach 0 (as in nada, zilch, rien) within 32.

There’s a detail, however, most commentators have overlooked. To achieve those reductions, in a capitalist economy, where prices are the rationing device par excellence, it “would require carbon prices that are three to four times higher than for a 2°C target” (Yes, maties, that was there, too).

The release of the IPCC report came a few days after our latest prime minister, Scott Morrison (aka ScoMo), concluded a tour over drought-striken regional Australia.

Tuesday morning former mining sector employee and current Federal Environment minister Melissa Price went to the radio: “We make no apology for the fact that our focus at the moment is getting electricity prices down,” she said. “Every year, there’s new technology with respect to coal and what its contribution is to emissions. To say that it’s got to be phased out by 2050 is drawing a very long bow.”

“That would be irresponsible of us to be able to commit to that”, added the extremely responsible Price.

Faced with that one would be tempted to conclude that Morrison and Price are two idiots. That, however, is a simplistic diagnostic and, as all wrong diagnostics, is bound to lead to a wrong treatment.

For one, because that “explanation” ignores the politics behind those two characters.

As it is known, Morrison, a conservative Coalition leader, replaced Malcolm Turnbull -- who once championed a carbon tax -- after a conservative backlash leaded by Tony Abbott ousted Turnbull. Turnbull’s popularity had plummeted among other things because energy prices had risen, placing low-income consumers in a very difficult situation, thus the lack of apologies.

Morrison was Turnbull’s rearguard action to stop the even more conservative (to say nothing of repulsive and odious) Peter Dutton from getting the top job.

But there are, in fact, at least 76.4 billion other very good reasons for Morrison’s and Price’s unapologetic “idiocy”.

Look at the chart above. At the current rate of production, the world’s proven reserves of coal should last 134 years, on average. But averages hide enormous variations: the reserves of the Russian Federation and North America could last between 350 and 400 years. That’s a lot of coal laying around, waiting to make its owners richer. Put yourself in their shoes: would you be anxious to let that money go?

Let’s look more closely at those reserves:

World's Top 10 Proven Coal Reserves
(billions of metric tones)

USA            237.3
CIS            157.0
China          114.5
Australia       76.4
India           60.6
Germany         40.7
Ukraine         33.9
Kazakhstan      33.6
Colombia         6.8
Canada           6.6

That data are for the end of 2012. Australia has the fourth largest coal reserves and is the fifth producer, but given its small population, most of that output (421 million tones per year) is for export. That’s how Australia manages to be the world’s second coal exporter.

And that coal is presently fetching a very good price: US$114.16 per ton, up from a five-year minimum of 49.02 in January 2016 (source). At the current exchange rate, that is 161.50 little Aussie battlers.

Moreover, coal mining is -- and has always been -- a crap job. Still hundreds of thousands if not millions of people all over the world earn a living doing that (and, wages being what they are, they are relatively lucky). How would you feel if your livelihood depended on that?

That’s to say nothing of those whose livelihoods depend indirectly from coal mining. Or those who grew used to the cheap energy fossil fuels make possible (because it’s not only coal we need to take into account: we also need to cut down other greenhouse gases emissions, like methane, which largely comes from cows).

Although it lacks the pleasant self-congratulatory implications of the “idiocy” explanation, this more comprehensive framework has an advantage: it also explains ScoMo’s negative attitude towards the capitalist development of renewable power generation alternatives.

Morrison is a member of the Pentecostal Church. Unless some exceedingly bright young internet post-Keynesian comes up with the silver bullet to kill that monster, it seems we are left with ScoMo’s own solution to climate change. “I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain,” he has been quoted as saying during his tour, “and to pray for our farmers. Please do that”.

Either that or we ditch capitalism, before it bakes us to death and destroys our civilisation or maybe even life as we know it.

Theres something chillingly apocalyptic in a religious man delivering us straight into the gates of Hell.

Vox Political on the Racist, Islamophobic Booklets at the Tory Conference

Mike also raised further questions about the prevalence of racism in the Tory party in an article he put up about a report by Vice that they had discovered far-right literature at a meeting of the Bruges group, a Thatcherite anti-EU group within the Tories. The book in question was Moralitis: A Cultural Virus. This was a long, racist rant against ‘Cultural Marxism’ using the metaphor of bacteriology. It stated that

The body politic has become infected. Like the growth of bacteria in a petri dish, the subversive tenets of cultural Marxism have spread as a pinking of the public discourse.

Mike goes on to explain that ‘Cultural Marxism’

refers to a far-right conspiracy theory with its origins in anti-Semitic beliefs that Jews – as a culture – want to undermine traditional Western values.

In its modern variant it seems to be a product of the Republicans in America. Right-wing organisations like Prager U and Paul Joseph Watson, formerly Alex Jones’ Brit sidekick on Infowars, rant about it. It seems to be based on a confused and garbled understanding of the German Frankfurt School and Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was a Marxist, who turned Marxism on its head by discussing and analyzing how culture helped perpetuate capitalism. In orthodox Marxism, it’s the other way round: the economic basis of society determines the culture. Scholars from the Marxist Frankfurt School sought refuge in America when the Nazis took power. In the form the Republicans and their followers over here are retailing, there’s no explicit reference to Jews, and I think many of those who have adopted this view may also believe the lie that anti-Semitism is also something unique to the Left.

But critics of the idea have also pointed out that the idea of ‘Cultural Marxism’ actually goes all the way back to the Nazis and their idea of Kulturbolschevismus – Cultural Bolshevism. This was the idea that the supposed Jewish plot to enslave White Aryans, and particularly Germans, included the destruction of German culture. Jews were members of many of the modernist movements in art, music and literature the Nazis despised, such as 12 note Serialism in music and Expressionism. And so the Nazis and anti-Semitic mobs angrily denounced anything dangerously modern as ‘Jewish’.

Mike goes on to quote the Vice article on the contents of this nasty booklet.

The Vice article states: “The booklet blames immigration for “relentless population growth” and suggests that the growth of Britain’s Muslim population was “a deliberate policy to replace one set of voters with another”. It also notes that it is absurd for progressives to favour immigration, “considering the very conservative cultures that they bring” – for instance, “the growth of fundamentalist Islam”.” It goes on to suggest that such “progressives” are like turkeys voting for Christmas.

He explains that

This refers to a far-right conspiracy theory called “The Great Replacement”, that believes Western culture is being systematically “replaced” by the culture of immigrants from third-world continents who are allegedly “pawns for the revolutionary zeal of cultural Marxism”.

This idea is merely a modern version of the old conspiracy theory that the Jews are encouraging racial mixing in order to destroy the White race. You may remember that the Nazis and Klansmen marching through Charlottesville last year chanted ‘You will not replace us!’ and ‘Jews will not replace us!’ It also seems to be partly based on the fact that some parts of the radical American Left in the early part of this century did look forward to immigrants from Latin America and elsewhere revitalizing American radicalism. You also hear regularly on this side of the Atlantic the claim that Blair deliberately allowed in greater numbers of immigrants because he wanted to create a multicultural society that the Tories would be unable to undo or appeal to. This claim was first made by a former civil servant under Blair, who remains its only source. And the positive attitude of the American Left towards immigration, and its alleged deliberate increase by Blair are far from being the racist plot the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory claims.

As for the book’s title, Moralitis is ominously similar to the Nazis’ explicit rejection, common to Fascism generally, of humanitarianism.

As for the claim that Muslim immigration presents a particular danger because of the conservative nature of those societies, there is indeed a problem with the very hardline, intolerant form of Islam promoted by the Saudis. And I can remember one moderate Muslim imam complaining in the Financial Times back in the 1990s that the lack of properly trained Muslim clergy in Britain meant that dangerous fanatics and bigots were able to come here from Pakistan unchecked in order to meet this spiritual need. However, this was before 9/11 and I doubt very much the same type of clergy find it quite so easy to get into this country or others in the EU. Furthermore, many, if not the majority of the Islamic terrorists so far caught are second or third generation Brits, coming from integrated, westernized homes. Anjem Chaudhury, the raving bigot behind a whole host of Islamist organisations in Britain and Europe, like Sharia4UK, is an example of this. Before he converted to hardline Islam and became an ardent, vocal supporter of terrorism, Chaudhury was a law student at Oxbridge. He managed to fail his degree, largely due to drink and drugs. While many people reach out to religion and God during personal crises like that, they don’t all of them by any means decide that the way to the divine is by the destruction of their surrounding society and the murder of its people. It looks to me very much like Chaudhury and those like him turned to nihilistic, destructive Islamism because of their own personal failings and destructive tendencies. They aren’t representative of wider British Islamic culture.

Mike’s article concludes

The meeting of the Bruges Group was said to be well attended this year, with a cabinet whip keeping watch over hard-Brexiteer MPs – that’s right, Conservative members of Parliament have been swallowing this tripe.

The title of his article asks ‘Are these far-right, racist booklets influencing Conservative MPs?’

It’s a good question. Even if they aren’t, they show that people elsewhere in the Tory party are reading them, and are being influenced. Which in turn shows that vehement racism is still a powerful force amongst the ‘Nasty Party’.

Private Eye on Sunday Times’ Smear of Michael Foot as KGB Agent

The media this week has been full of the news about a book about the KGB defector, Oleg Gordievsky. Gordievsky was a high-ranking KGB officer, whose father was also a KGB officer, and who had been slated to be the next chief of the Soviet spy agency and secret police. When he defected, Gordievsky brought with him whole dossiers of KGB records, which were invaluable for ending the Cold War. However, Gordievsky himself was a self-admitted liar. And one of those lies was that the former leader of the Labour party, Michael Foot, was a KGB agent codenamed ‘Comrade Boot’.

This falsehood was published in 1995 by the Times, and was promptly answered by a libel action by Foot and a cover by Private Eye sending the whole thing up. Foot won the case, and the Eye also published an article taking apart the whole story and exposing the Times’ article for the libel it was.

Now with the publication of the new biography, the Sunday Times has decided to repeat the libel again. And Private Eye has responded again with another article effectively demolishing this sorry piece of gutter journalism. The piece was published in last fortnight’s Eye for the 21 September to 4 October 2018, and entitled ‘Shooting Yourself in the Foot’, and runs

<strong>”MI6 believed Michael Foot was paid Soviet informant,” a Times front-page headline announced last Saturday. “Truth about former Labour leader emerges 23 years after he sued Sunday Times for libel.” The editor of the Times, John Witherow, also published the Sunday Times story about the former Labour leader in 1995 – and is clearly still sore about the embarrassment and ridicule it earned him.

It’s not only the editor, it’s the same story-based entirely on a claim by former double agent Oleg Gordievsky that he once saw a KGB file marked “Agent Boot”, which apparently referred to Michael Foot. The only difference is that the previous version was taken from Gordievsky’s memoirs while the latest one comes from a new biography of the spy.

According to the Times, The book “presents the first corroboration by MI6 officers of the allegations made by the Soviet defector”. No it doesn’t, at least not in the normal meaning of corroboration, ie additional proof or confirmation. In 1995 the Sunday Times reported Gordievsky’s allegation that the KGB regarded Foot as an agent of influence; now the Times says some people in MI6 thought the Russians regarded him as an agent of influence. And why did they think that? Because, er, Gordievsky had told them so. In short, not a smidgin of supporting evidence has “emerged” since Witherow last ran the story.

At the time of the earlier farrago, the Sunday Times claimed that it was “based on interviews with Gordievsky and six other former KGB officers”. But it omitted to add that only Gordievsky believed in “Agent Boot”. Although the paper claimed that the London-based KGB colonel Mikhail Lyubimov had recruited Foot, Lyubimov himself promptly denied it.

So the allegations were not made by “the KGB”, as Witherow told his readers 23 years ago and again last Saturday. They came solely from a single ex-KGB man, Gordievsky – whose unreliability was officially confirmed in May 1995, just three months after the Sunday Times splash, by the then solicitor-general Sir Derek Spencer. Speaking on behalf of the government during an appeal by Michael Smith, who had been convicted of spying for the Russians, Spencer told the Lord Chief Justice that some boasts made by Gordievsky in his memoirs were “not correct”. He described one of Gordievsky’s claims, about identifying undercover KGB agents to his British controllers, as “another exaggeration”. As the judge observed: “He must have lied to everybody at one time or another.”

With just one witness to rely one, it’s no surprise that Witherow and the Sunday Times couldn’t defend a libel action against Foot. More surprising is that the editor is now repeating even the most egregious howlers from his previous debacle. According to the 1995 story, for instance, Foot regarded Moscow as “a beacon of world peace” until 1968, when the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia brought him “down to earth with a bump” and he ceased to be a fellow-traveler. Exactly the same narrative appeared in last Saturday’s Times. From the 1940s to the 1960s, it claimed, Foot was an “agent of influence” who could be “fed pro-Soviet ideas and reproduce them in articles and speeches” – but in 1968 he became “intensely critical of Moscow in the wake of the Prague Spring”. After that, his “enthusiasm for the Soviet Union appears to have waned”.

The claim that Foot was a pro-Soviet mouthpiece until 1968 is easily disproved. As long ago as 1946, a Labour MP wrote to Tribune complaining of the “jaundiced prejudice against Russia” in Foot’s articles. In 1948, soon after becoming Tribune’s editor, he published a leader attacking left-wingers who “are still gulled by the monstrous delusion that the Russians are the friends, not the enemies, of democratic socialism”. During the Soviet blockade of Berlin, he urged the West to “drive a land passage through the Russian zone against Russian resistance and if necessary by force of arms”.

When Ian Mikardo MP resigned from Tribune’s board of directors in protest at the editor’s anti-Soviet stance, Foot was unapologetic. “The Soviet leaders … believe as a matter of theory that the end of establishing Soviet Communism wherever they can justifies any means for its attainment,” he wrote. “They believe also as a matter of theory in secrecy, censorship, dictatorship and the ruthless annihilation of the rights of individuals.” And so it went on. When the Russian tanks crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Foot was quick to condemn this “hideous outrage”.

Odd behavior for a man who, the Times alleges, wa sbeing paid to publicise “pro-Soviet ideas”. Why didn’t they ask for their money back. (p. 10).

Foot was right: the Soviet Union and the Communists were always hostile to democratic socialism, though Stalin used the existence of democratic socialist parties and other left-wing organisations to provide a spurious democratic justification for his transformation of their countries into Soviet satellites after the end of the Second World War. Stalin would amalgamate the Communist parties of the various countries the USSR had liberated with the largest left-wing party. This was usually the mainstream, democratic socialist under the pretext of reuniting the two forms of Socialism. Before the First World War in Germany and Italy, for example, there was only one socialist party, which included not only democratic socialists – reformists – but also radical Marxist revolutionaries. After the First World War, the radical Marxists split away from the reformist majority parties to form their countries’ Communist parties. In countries where the socialism was weak, Stalin amalgamated the Communists with the largest and most popular left-wing party, such as the various Peasants’ Parties. The new, umbrella Socialist party would then make a statement adopting Marxism-Leninism – the Communism of the Soviet Union – their official ideology, and the democratic socialists would find themselves purged and either executed or sent to the Gulags.

In the West there were some mainstream socialists, who really did believe that Stalin represented Socialism, such as the Fabians. But Foot, to his immense credit, clearly wasn’t one of them.

However, Maggie Thatcher hated socialism, because it came from the same ideological roots as Communism, and the Tory press in the 1980s was very quick to smear any Labour politician or activist as a potential traitor or agent of Moscow. Foot came in for particular abuse because of his support for CND and unilateral nuclear disarmament. It was therefore inevitable that one of the Tory papers would eventually smear him as a KGB agent.

As it stands, the Sunday Times has form on libeling people. As well as smearing Foot, it also libeled Mike as an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. Since that article came out, the Sunset Times has repeated the smear and tried to back it up, and the Eye has published yet another tearing it to shreds.

The satirical rag has done an excellent job attacking the lies and falsehoods against Foot. Too bad that it also seems to have swallowed the lies and falsehoods about Jeremy Corbyn.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 26/09/2018 - 6:04pm in

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What’s Standing in the Way of Socialism?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/09/2018 - 6:03pm in


Ideology, Marxism

As the idea of socialism becomes more and more acceptable, Socialist Economist decided to ask four eminent scholars what economic obstacles is the Left facing in the 21st Century?

These are the answers from David Ruccio, Johanna Bockman, Prabhat Patnaik and Andrew Kliman.

“The foremost internal obstacle is the naïve belief that leftists can turn capitalism into something it’s not. So instead of struggling against capitalism, many leftists struggle for power within capitalism.” Andrew Kliman.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Anti-Semitism and the Aristocracy

Last night I put up a piece debunking the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, based on the chapter about this vile book in Jon E. Lewis’ The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups (London: Constable & Robinson 2007), pp. 433-50. The Protocols are a notorious anti-Semitic forgery, probably concocted by Matvei Golovinski of the Tsarist secret police, the Okhrana, to make his master, Nicholas II, even more anti-Semitic and to intensify the persecution of the Jews.

The Protocols purport to be the minutes of a secret meeting of a group of elite Jews, intent on destroying all non-Jewish religions and conquering and enslaving Christians and gentiles. They claimed that the Jews were at the centre of a massive conspiracy controlling the banks and were encouraging the downfall of Christian civilization by promoting liberalism, democracy, socialism and anarchism. At the same time they were distracting gentiles from uncovering this plot through using alcohol, gambling, games and other amusements.

There is absolutely no truth in any of this whatsoever. But the book became an immense success and was read and influenced many Fascists and anti-Semites. These included Adolf Hitler, who made the book a compulsory part of the German school syllabus.

Like much of Fascism, it’s a rejection of modernity – the mass society of modern politics that emerged in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Modern politics and secular ideologies were attacked. At one point, the Protocols claim that Darwinism, Marxism and Nietzscheanism have been successful because they have been promoted by the conspiracy. (Lewis, Mammoth Book of Covers-Ups, p. 444). The forger’s own view of what constitutes the best society is revealed very clearly in another passage, in which the conspirators celebrate their destruction of the aristocracy.

The people, under our guidance, have annihilated the aristocracy, who were their one and only defence and foster-mother for the sake of their own advantage, which is inseparably bound up with the well-being of the people. Nowadays, with the destruction of the aristocracy, the people have fallen into the grips of merciless money-grinding scoundrels who have laid a pitiless and cruel yoke upon the necks of the workers. (p.446).

Historically, some of the persecution of the Jews in the later Middle Ages was due to the fact that a large number of the aristocracy had become seriously in debt to Jewish bankers, and tried to get out of their obligation to pay it back by urging for their persecution and expulsion.

A significant number of aristocrats and the upper middle class were supporters of Nazism before the Second World War. The leader of the British Union of Fascists, Oswald Mosley, was a baronet. Aristocrats and landlords joined pro-Nazi and appeasement organisations like the Anglo-German Fellowship. Martin Pugh on his book on British Fascism between the Wars describes how the aristos welcomed members of the Nazi elite at dinner parties on their estates, when the swastika was discreetly flown from the flagpoles.

And there still seems to be a fascination and dangerous sympathy with Nazism even today. Way back in the 1990s and early part of this century, Private Eye published a number of stories about one Cotswold aristocrat, who had very strong anti-Semitic, racist and anti-immigrant opinions.

And then there’s the Traditional Britain Group on the far right of the Tory party. These also have the same, genuinely Fascist attitudes, and one of their leaders is fascinated with the Nazis and the Third Reich. It was the Traditional Britain Group, who invited Jacob Rees-Mogg to their annual dinner, which Mogg accepted. When the Observer published the story, Mogg claimed that at the time he hadn’t known anything about them. If he had, he wouldn’t have gone. Which doesn’t really sound convincing, as people don’t normally accept dinner invitations from organisations and people they know nothing about. But perhaps Mogg, as well as being viciously right-wing, is also very naïve.

As for the Tories being good friends of the Jews, as the current head of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyle claimed in a speech, David Rosenberg posted up in response a series of incidents across the decades which put the lie to it. These showed very clearly how anti-Semitic the Tories had been, and which parts of it may very well still be.

And one of the attractions of anti-Semitism, apart from sheer racism, is that, in the form of conspiracy theories like the Protocols, they blame the Jews for all the forces of modernity that threaten the aristocracy and the upper middle class, and celebrate the aristocracy itself as the people’s saviours, and so appealing very strongly to certain types of Tories.

Notes on Cedric Robinson's Black Marxism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 17/09/2018 - 8:04am in



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I recently read Cedric J. Robinson's Black Marxism, the Making of the Black Radical Tradition, here's some quick notes.

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The left has no need to be defensive over anti-semitism – a response to Rachel Shabi and why Marxism helps

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/09/2018 - 3:16am in

Rachel Shabi is a strong supporter of the “Corbyn project” and makes many interventions defending it from right wing critics. But I found this well intentioned piece aiming to do that unnecessarily defensive, mistaken and detached from the social reality … Continue reading →