neoliberalism

Nonviolent Protest Groups Placed on Anti-Terrorism List

Last week it was revealed by the Groaniad that the environmentalist group, Extinction Rebellion, had been put on a list of extremist organisations, whose sympathisers should be treated by the Prevent programme. Extinction Rebellion are, in my view, a royal pain, whose disruptive antics are more likely to make them lose popular support but they certainly aren’t violent and do keep within the law. For example, in one of their protests in Bristol last autumn, they stopped the traffic for short periods and then let some cars through before stopping the traffic again. It was a nuisance, which is what the group intended, and no doubt infuriating to those inconvenienced by it. But they kept within the law. They therefore don’t deserve to be put on an anti-terrorism watch list with real violent extremist organisations like Islamist and White fascist terror groups such as the banned neo-Nazi group, National Action.

But Extinction Rebellion aren’t the only nonviolent protest group to be put on this wretched list. Zelo Street put up a piece yesterday revealing that the list also includes Greenpeace, the campaigners against sea pollution, Sea Shepherd, PETA, Stop the Badger Cull, Stop the War, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, CND, various anti-Fascist and anti-racist groups, as well as an anti-police surveillance group, campaigners against airport expansion, and Communist and Socialist parties.

I can sort of understand why Greenpeace is on the list. They also organise protests and peaceful occupations, and I remember how, during the ‘Save the Whale’ campaign, their ship, the Rainbow Warrior, used to come between whalers and their prey. I also remember how, in the 1980s, the French secret service bombed it when it was in port in New Zealand, because the evil peaceful hippies had dared to protest against their nuclear tests in the Pacific. From this, and their inclusion on this wretched list, it seems they’re more likely to be victims of state violence than the perpetrators of violence themselves.

Greenpeace’s John Sauven said

“Tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush is not going to help fight terrorism … It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers … How can we possibly teach children about the devastation caused by the climate emergency while at the same implying that those trying to stop it are extremists?”

And Prevent’s independent reviewer, Alex Carlile, said:

“The Prevent strategy is meant to deal with violent extremism, with terrorism, and XR are not violent terrorists. They are disruptive campaigners”.

Zelo Street commented that this was all very 1960s establishment paranoia. Which it is. You wonder if the list also includes anyone, who gave the list’s compilers a funny look once. And whether they’re going to follow the example of Constable Savage in the Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch and arrest gentlemen of colour for wandering around during the hours of darkness wearing a loud shirt. This is a joke, but the list represents are real danger. It criminalises any kind of protest, even when its peaceful. About a decade ago, for example, Stop the War held a protest in Bristol city centre. They were out there with their banners and trestle tables, chanting and speaking. Their material, for what I could see where I was, simply pointed out that the invasion of Iraq had claimed 200,000 lives. They were on the pavement, as I recall, didn’t disrupt the traffic and didn’t start a fight with anyone.

As for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, this is a knee-jerk attempt to link pro-Palestinian activism with terrorism. But wanting the Palestinians to be given their own land or to enjoy equal rights with Israelis in a modern, ethnically and religious diverse and tolerant state, does not equate with sympathy for terrorism or terrorism itself. Tony Greenstein, Asa Winstanley and Jackie Walker are also pro-Palestinian activists. But as far as I know, they’re all peaceful, nonviolent people. Walker’s a granny in her early 60’s, for heaven’s sake. They’re all far more likely to be the victims of violence than ever initiate it. In fact, Tony was physically assaulted in an unprovoked attack by an irate Israeli, while one woman from one of the pro-Israel organisations was caught on camera saying how she thought she could ‘take’ Jackie.

I realise the Stop the Badger Cull people have also physically tried to stop the government killing badgers, but this is again disruption, not violence. And one of those against the cull is Brian May, astrophysicist and rock legend. Apart from producing some of the most awesome music with Freddy Mercury and the rest of Queen, and appearing on pop science programmes with Dara O’Brien showing people round the Jodrell Bank radio telescope, he has not, not ever, been involved in political violence.

This shows you how ludicrous the list is. But it’s also deeply sinister, as by recommending that supporters of these organisations as well as real terrorist groups should be dealt with by Prevent, it defines them as a kind of thoughtcrime. Their members are to be rounded up and reeducated. Which is itself the attitude and method of suppression of totalitarian states.

Zelo Street pointed the finger for this monstrous shambles at Priti Patel. As current Home Secretary, she’s ultimately responsible for it. The Street wanted to know whether she knew about it and when? And if she didn’t, what’s she doing holding the job? But there’s been no answer so far. And a police spokesperson said it was unhelpful and misleading to suggest the nonviolent groups on the list had been smeared.

The Street said it was time for Patel to get her house in order, but warned its readers not to bet on it. No, you shouldn’t. This is an attempt to criminalise non-violent protest against capitalism and the actions of the authorities and British state. It’s the same attitude that informed the British secret state’s attempts to disrupt and destroy similar and sometimes the same protest movements in the 70s and 80s, like CND. And it will get worse. A few years ago Counterpunch published a piece reporting that the American armed services and police were expecting violent outbreaks and domestic terrorism in the 2030s as the poverty caused by neoliberalism increased. They were therefore devising new methods of militarised policing to combat this. We can expect similar repressive measures over this side of the Atlantic as well.

This list is a real threat to freedom of conscience, peaceful protest and action. And the ultimate responsibility for it is the Tories. Who have always been on the side of big business against the rest of society, and particularly the poor and disadvantaged.

They’re criminalising those, who seek peaceful means to fight back.

Trotsky on the Failure of Capitalism

I found this quote from Trotsky on how capitalism has now outlived its usefulness as a beneficial economic system in Isaac Deutscher and George Novack, The Age of Permanent Revolution: A Trotsky Anthology (New York: Dell 1964):

Capitalism has outlived itself as a world system. It has ceased to fulfill its essential function, the raising of the level of human power and human wealth. Humanity cannot remain stagnant at the level which it has reached. Only a powerful increase in productive force and a sound, planned, that is, socialist organisation of production and distribution can assure humanity – all humanity – of a decent standard of life and at the same time give it the precious feeling of freedom with respect to its own economy. (p. 363).

I’m not a fan of Trotsky. Despite the protestations to the contrary from the movement he founded, I think he was during his time as one of the leaders of the Russian Revolution and civil war ruthless and authoritarian. The Soviet Union under his leadership may not have been as massively murderous as Stalin’s regime, but it seems to me that it would still have been responsible for mass deaths and imprisonment on a huge scale.

He was also very wrong in his expectation of the collapse of capitalism and the outbreak of revolution in the Developed World. As an orthodox Marxist, he wanted to export the Communist revolution to the rest of Europe, and believed that it would be in the most developed countries of the capitalist West, England, France, and Germany, that revolution would also break out. He also confidently expected throughout his career the imminent collapse of capitalism. This didn’t happen, partly because of the reforms and welfare states established by reformist socialist parties like Labour in Britain and the SPD in Germany, which improved workers’ lives and opportunities, which thus allowed them to stimulate the capitalist economy as consumers and gave them a stake in preserving the system.

It also seems to me that capitalism is still actively creating wealth – the rich are still becoming massively richer – and it is benefiting those countries in the Developing World, which have adopted it, like China and the east Asian ‘tiger’ economies like South Korea.

But in the west neoliberalism, unregulated capitalism, certainly has failed. It hasn’t brought public services, like electricity, railways, and water supply the investment they need, and has been repeatedly shown to be far more inefficient in the provision of healthcare. And it is pushing more and more people into grinding poverty, so denying them the ability to play a role as active citizens about to make wide choices about the jobs they can take, what leisure activities they can choose, and the goods they can buy. At the moment the Tories are able to hide its colossal failure by hiding the mounting evidence and having their hacks in the press pump out favourable propaganda. But if the situation carries on as it is, sooner or later the mass poverty they’ve created will not be so easily hidden or blithely explained away or blamed on others – immigrants, the poor themselves, or the EU. You don’t have to be a Trotskyite to believe the following:

Unfettered capitalism is destroying Britain – get rid of it, and the Tories.

Sargon of Gasbag Blames Plato for SJWs

Okay, I know, I shouldn’t have done it, but I did. I watched another of Sargon of Akkad’s wretched videos. In my defence I can only say that it is important to understand the ideas of the right and extreme right, and what they’re telling people about the left. And some of Sargon’s ideas are so bizarre that there’s a kind of weird fascination about them. Sargon is, of course, the nom de internet of Carl Benjamin, the Sage of Swindon, who broke UKIP by joining it. The scourge of Communists, feminists and anti-racist activists put up a video in which he claimed that the ancient Greek philosopher Plato was responsible for Social Justice Warriors. That’s the term the right sneeringly uses to refer to all the above, or even simply anyone who believes that the poor, unemployed, disabled and the working class are getting an increasingly raw deal and that the government should do something about it.

Sargon’s Libertarianism

For Sargon, anyone who believes in government intervention and in greater equality for women, ethnic minorities are working people is a Communist. But it’s the definition of Communism as used by the American right, which means anyone with vaguely left-wing views. Barack Obama was actually very moderate in his policies. He’s since come out and said that he considers himself a moderate Republican. But that didn’t stop his right-wing opponents attacking him as an evil Maoist Communist, as well as an atheist Muslim Nazi. Sargon himself is a ‘classical liberal’, which means that he’s a Libertarian who looks back to the early 19th century when governments followed the economic doctrine of laisser faire, so that people could work 18 hours per day in factories or the mines before dying of disease or starvation in a cellar or garret in an overcrowded slum. But Sargon, like all Libertarians and Conservatives, believes that if private industry is released from the chains of government bureaucracy, it will somehow magically produce economic expansion and wealth for all. Even though we’ve Tory privatisation and neoliberalism for forty years, the Conservatives have been in power for the past ten, the economy is collapsing and people are being forced in homelessness, debt and starvation. Most weirdly, Sargon somehow continues to believe he’s on the left. He’s a moderate, you see, unlike the far-right SJWs.

Plato and Aristotle

And he blames Plato for the far left on account of the ancient Greek philosopher’s highly authoritarian political views and his theory of forms. Plato believed that beyond this material world there was another, perfect world of ideal forms, of which the entities in this world were only imperfect shadows. For example, these ideal forms included animals, so that there was an ideal cat, of which real, material cats were imperfect copies. But there were also abstract concepts like justice and beauty, in which the beings in this world also participated and reflected. A beautiful woman, for example, was a woman who corresponded to the perfect ideal of beauty in the intelligible world. SJWs were intolerant, because they were idealists. They had impossibly high ideals of justice, and this made them intolerant. Just as Plato himself was intolerant in his idea of the perfect state, which he wrote down in his Republic and Laws. Plato himself believed that government should be left to enlightened absolute monarchs, and his idea of a perfect state is definitely totalitarian. Sargon’s right about that.

Sargon, however, champions Aristotle, because he believed in ‘the republic of virtue’ and democracy. And it was at this point that I stopped watching, because there’s only so much right-wing idiocy you can take. It can sound plausible, but a moment’s reflection is all it needs to show that it’s all nonsense, and Sargon knows less about SJWs, Marxism and Aristotle than he thinks he does.

Aristotlean Democracy Different from Today’s

Let’s deal firstly with the idea that Aristotle is a democrat. He isn’t, or rather, not in the modern sense. He’s not a totalitarian like Plato, but he believed that the only people, who should have a vote and a share of government in his ideal democracy were leisured gentlemen, who didn’t need to work and therefore had the time, education and money to devote themselves to politics. He makes this very clear in his Politics, where he states categorically that artisans and other working people should very definitely be kept away from politics and from mixing with the gentlemen of political class. So firmly did he believe this the he argued the two classes should have two separate forums. And Aristotle, like Plato, also believed in the world of intelligible forms. Which means that if idealism makes someone intolerant, then, by Sargon’s argument, he should also attack Aristotle as intolerant.

Marxism, Communism, Postmodernism and the New Left

Sargon is also, of course, spectacularly wrong about Communism. He uses it to mean anyone, who has what he considers to be extreme left-wing views. But Communism also has a very distinct meaning in that it referred to those versions of Marxism practiced in the former Communist bloc and the parties outside it that followed these forms of Marxist dogma. In the USSR and the European Communist countries, this meant Lenin’s formulation of Marxism; in China, Mao’s. But at the time there were other forms of Marxism that were far more democratic. Karl Kautsky, the leader of the Austrian Marxists, believed that industries should be socialised and taken over by the state when they became monopolies, and that socialism could only be achieved through democracy. He was bitterly hostile to the Soviet dictatorship.

Marxism certainly is an element in some forms of contemporary radicalism, such as postmodernism and Cultural Studies. But this is the Marxism of the New Left, which emerged in the 1960s. The New Left attempted to revitalise Marxism through a return to Hegelianism. As far as I can tell, it was Trotskyite, rather than Communist, although both refer to radical Marxism. But Postmodernism was also strongly influenced by structural linguistics, Freudian psychology and Nietzsche. And, at least in the 1990s, it rejected class politics, which are an essential part of orthodox Marxism.

Modern Feminists and Anti-Racists Not Necessarily Marxists

It’s also problematic how much contemporary anti-racism and feminism owes to Marxism. Some of the Black rights and anti-colonialist movements of the 20th century were influenced by Marx to a greater or lesser extent. But I doubt that the mass of anti-racist or feminist activists in this country have read Marx. For them, it almost certainly has more immediate causes in their experience of being treated as less than and denied opportunities open to White males. One of the landmark cases in British feminism was the strike by women workers at Dagenham in the early ’70s. But I doubt they were interested in creating a Communist utopia. They simply wanted to be paid the same as the men. And as for utopianism, while that does exist among the real extreme left, such as anarchists, communists and Trotskyites, for most people left-wing activism simply means realising that things are badly wrong now, and wishing to change it for the better. But as the books on left-wing organisation and activism I’ve read have argued, that means simply trying to make things a little better, and realising an absolutely perfect society is unachievable. That’s also the point of view Marxists like the economist Bernard Wolf.

The Utopianism of Libertarians and Conservatives

If anyone does believe in a perfect system, however, it’s Sargon and the Conservatives/Libertarians. They really do seem to believe that capitalism is a perfect system, and if people are poor, then it’s their own fault. It reminds me of the 19th century Tories, who talked endlessly about the perfection of the British constitution without thinking that anything could or should be done about the mass poverty around them. Sargon and his allies are thus rather like Dr. Pangloss, the character in Voltaire’s Candide, who believed that all was for the best, in this, the best of all possible worlds. Except in their formulation, all is for the best in capitalism, the best of all possible economic systems.

But capitalism is not perfect. Unregulated, it creates mass poverty, and this has always spurred left-wing activists and reformers to try to tackle it. This includes liberals as well as Marxists. But Sargon doesn’t understand that, and so he thinks that those dissatisfied with capitalism can only be radical Marxists.

He’s wrong, but this view is very influential, and used by the right to discredit everyone on the left. And so, daft as it is, it needs to be fought.

 

 

World War III

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/01/2020 - 11:18pm in

So, 2020 is off to an exciting start. It’s barely the middle of January, and we’ve already made it through World War III, which was slightly less apocalyptic than expected. Forensic teams are still sifting through the ashes, but preliminary reports suggest that the global capitalist empire has emerged from the carnage largely intact.

It started in the Middle East, of course, when Donald Trump (a “Russian-asset”) ordered the murder of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani outside the Baghdad Airport, presumably after clearing it with Putin, which, given Iran and Russia’s relationship, doesn’t really make much sense.

But whatever. According to the U.S. government and the corporate media, Soleimani was a “terrorist,” who had been working with Assad (another “terrorist”) to destroy ISIS (who are also “terrorists”) and elements of Al-Qaeda (who used to be “terrorists”) with the support of the Russians (who are kind of “terrorists”) and doing all sorts of other unspecified but allegedly imminent “terrorist” things.

Apparently, Soleimani had flown to Baghdad on a secret commercial “terrorist” flight and was on his way to some kind of covert “terrorist” diplomatic meeting to respond to a de-escalation proposal from Saudi Arabia (who are definitely not “terrorists”) when the U.S. military preventatively murdered him with a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9B Reaper drone.

Iran (officially a “terrorist” country since January 1979, when they overthrew the brutal Western puppet that the CIA and MI6 had installed as their “Shah” in 1953, after they regime-changed the Iranian prime minister, after he nationalized the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, later to be known as British Petroleum) reacted to the preventative murder of their “terrorist” general like a bunch of “terrorists.”

The Ayatollah Khamenei (you guessed it, a “terrorist”) issued a series of “terrorist” threats against the 50,000 U.S. military personnel more or less completely surrounding his country on bases all across the Middle East. Millions of Iranians (currently “terrorists,” except for members of MeK), who, according to the U.S. officials, hated Soleimani, took to the streets of Tehran and other cities to mourn his death, burn American flags, and chant “death to America” and other “terrorist” slogans.

The empire went to DEFCON 1. The 82nd Airborne was activated. The State Department advised Americans vacationing in Iraq to get the hell out of there. #worldwar3 started trending on Twitter.

Freedom-loving countries throughout the region stood by to be annihilated. Saudi Arabia postponed its previously scheduled weekend edition of public head-chopping. Israel dialed up its non-existent nukes. The Kuwaitis posted armed guards on their incubators. The Qataris, Bahrainians, United Arab Emiratis, and other loyal empire outposts did whatever those folks do when they’re facing nuclear Armageddon.

In the U.S.A., it was mass hysteria. The corporate media starting pumping out stories about Soleimani having “blood on his hands,” and being “the number one terrorist in the world,” and having ruthlessly genocided hundreds of American soldiers, who, back in 2003, had preventatively invaded and destroyed Iraq and were preventatively slaughtering and torturing its people to keep them from attacking America with their non-existent WMDs.

Americans (most of whom had never even heard of Soleimani until their government murdered him, and many of whom can’t find Iran on a map) took to Twitter to call for the immediate nuking of Iran from orbit. Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a division of heavily-armed anti-“terror” forces to stand around in New York City with their rifles in the classic “sling-ready” position to prevent the Iranians from swimming the Atlantic (along with their communist killer dolphins), crawling up onto East Hampton Beach, taking the LIRR into town, and committing some devastating “terrorist” atrocity that would be commemorated throughout eternity on key rings, T-shirts, and jumbo coffee mugs.

Trump, disciplined Russian agent that he is, held his nerve and maintained his cover, performing his “total moron” act as only a seasoned Russian operative can. While Iran was still mourning, he started publicly jabbering about Soleimani’s dismembered corpse, bombing Iranian cultural sites, and otherwise bombastically taunting Iran like an emotionally-challenged street-corner drunk. His strategy was clearly to convince the Iranians (and the rest of the world) that he is a dangerous imbecile who will murder the officials of any foreign government that Mike Pompeo tells him to, and then incinerate their museums and mosques, and presumably the rest of their “shithole” countries, if they even think about retaliating.

Nevertheless, retaliate the Iranians did. In a sadistic display of cold-hearted “terrorism,” they launched a firestorm of ballistic “terror” missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq, killing no one and injuring no one, but damaging the hell out of some empty buildings, a helicopter, and a couple of tents. First, though, in order to maximize the “terror,” they called the Swiss embassy in Tehran and asked them to warn the U.S. military that they would be launching missiles at their bases shortly. As the Moon of Alabama website reported:

“The Swiss embassy in Tehran, which represents the U.S., was warned at least one hour before the attack happened. Around 0:00 UTC the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) which prohibited civil U.S. flights over Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.”

In the wake of the Iranians’ devastating counter-strike, and the mass-non-casualties resulting therefrom, anyone with an Internet connection or access to a television descended into their anti-terror bunkers and held their breath in anticipation of the nuclear hell Trump was sure to unleash. I confess, even I tuned into his speech, which was one of the most disturbing public spectacles I have ever witnessed.

Trump burst through the doors of the White House Grand Foyer, dramatically backlit, freshly “tanned,” scowling like a WWF wrestler, and announced that, as long as he is president, “Iran will never be allowed to have nuclear weapons” … as if any of the events of the preceding week had had anything to do with nuclear weapons (which the Iranians don’t need and do not want, except in some neoconservative fantasy wherein Iran intends to commit national suicide by nuking Israel off the face of the Earth).

I didn’t make it through his entire address, which he delivered in a breathless, robotic staccato (possibly because Putin, or Mike Pompeo, was dictating it word-for-word into his earpiece), but it was clear from the start that all-out, toe-to-toe nuclear combat with the Axis of Resistance, or the Axis of Terror, or the Axis of Evil, or the Axis of Whatever, had been averted.

But, seriously, all mass hysteria aside, despite whatever atrocities are still to come, World War III is not going to happen. Why, you ask, is it not going to happen? OK, I’ll tell you, but you’re not going to like it.

World War III is not going to happen because World War III already happened … and the global capitalist empire won. Take a look at these NATO maps (make sure to explore all the various missions). Then take a look at this Smithsonian map of where the U.S. military is “combating terrorism.” And there are plenty of other maps you can google. What you will be looking at is the global capitalist empire. Not the American empire, the global capitalist empire.

If that sounds like a distinction without a difference … well, it kind of is, and it kind of isn’t. What I mean by that is that it isn’t America (i.e., America the nation-state, which most Americans still believe they live in) that is militarily occupying much of the planet, making a mockery of international law, bombing and invading other countries, and assassinating heads of state and military officers with complete impunity. Or, rather, sure, it is America … but America is not America.

America is a simulation. It is the mask the global capitalist empire wears to conceal the fact that there is no America … that there is only the global capitalist empire.

The whole idea of “World War III,” of powerful nation-states conquering other powerful nation-states, is pure nostalgia. “America” does not want to conquer Iran. The empire wants to restructure Iran, and then absorb Iran into the empire. It doesn’t give a rat’s ass about democracy, or whether Iranian women are allowed to wear mini-skirts, or any other “human rights.” If it did, it would be restructuring Saudi Arabia and applying “maximum pressure” to Israel.

Likewise, the notion that “America” has been making a series of unfortunate “strategic mistakes” in the Middle East is a convenient illusion. Granted, its foreign policy makes no sense from the perspective of a nation-state, but it makes perfect sense from the perspective of the empire. While “America” appears to be mindlessly thrashing around like a bull in a china shop, the empire knows exactly what it’s doing, what it has been doing since the end of the Cold War, opening up formerly inaccessible markets, eliminating internal resistance, aggressively restructuring any and all territories that are not playing ball with global capitalism.

I know it’s gratifying to wave the flag, or burn it, depending on your political persuasion, whenever things flare up militarily, but at some point we (i.e., we Americans, Brits, Western Europeans, et al.) are going to need to face the fact that we are living in a global empire, which is actively pursuing its global interests, and not in sovereign nation-states pursuing the interests of nation-states. (The fact that the nation-state is defunct is why we’ve been experiencing a resurgence of “nationalism.” It isn’t a return to the 1930s. It is the death throes of the nation-state, nationalism, and national sovereignty … the supernova of a dying star.)

World War III was an ideological battle, between two aspiring hegemonic systems. It is over. It’s a global capitalist world. As Mr. Jensen put it in the movie Network:

“You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today.”

That system of systems, that multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars, has us all by the short hairs, folks. All of us. And it won’t be satisfied until the world is transformed into one big, valueless, neo-feudal, privatized market … so maybe we should forget about World War III, and start focusing on World War IV.

You know the war I’m talking about, don’t you? It’s the global capitalist empire versus the “terrorists.”

#

CJ Hopkins
January 13, 2020
Photo: Wikipedia

CJ Hopkins Summer 2018 thumbnail

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Sargon of Gasbag on How the Norf Went Tory

A few days ago Carl ‘Sargon of Akkad’ Benjamin put up a video, in which he presented his idea of why the north of England and the midlands went Tory. It was based on a cartoon from 4chan’s Pol Board, and so presented a very caricatured view of the north. Sargon is the extreme right-winger, who personally did much to destroy UKIP simply by joining it. This ‘classical liberal’ – meaning libertarian – with his highly reactionary views on feminism and racism was too much even for the Kippers. His home branch of Swindon wanted him deselected when the party chose him as the second of their two MEP candidates for south-west England, and the Gloucestershire branch closed down completely. And according to Sargon, the ‘Norf’ went Tory because Blair turned the Labour party from the party of the working class throughout Britain into the party of the liberal metropolitan elite, and turned its attention away from class issues to supporting Islam, refugees, radical feminism and gay rights. This conflict with the social conservative values of working people, and particularly northern working people. As a result, they voted for Johnson, who had the same values they had.

The strip depicts the northern working class as Norf F.C., a local football team. They have their counterparts and rivals in Sowf F.C., a southern football team, and in the Welsh and Scots. The north is presented as a region of fat skinhead football hooligans, poorly educated, and suffering from scurvy and malnutrition, but who love their families, their communities and their country. In the strip’s view, these communities were traditionally Labour. But this changed with the election of Tony Blair, an Oxford educated lawyer, who took over the party. Under his aegis, it no longer was the party of the working class, but instead had a lower middle class membership. These were over-educated officer workers, who turned it towards Communism with the election of Jeremy Corbyn. They supported racism witchhunts, gay rights and flooding White communities with coloured immigrants, and were pro-EU. They despised natural, healthy patriotism. The result was that when Boris appeared, despite being an Etonian toff they recognised themselves in him. He would do something about Brexit and immigration, and would attack the radical left who support Muslim rape gangs and wanted to chop off their sons’ genitals. And who would also put the ‘bum boys’ in their place. It led to the massive defeat of the Labour party, and in particular ‘Communists’ like owen Jones and Ash Sarkar of Novara media.

I’m not going to show the video here, but if you want to see it for yourself, go to YouTube and search for ‘How the Norf Went Tory’, which is his wretched video’s title.

To Sargon, Corbyn is a friend of Hezbollah and Hamas, and to show how threatening the feminists and LGBTQ section of the Labour party he shows various radical feminists with T-shirts saying ‘White People Are Terrorists’ and a trans-activist with a baseball bat and the tattoo ‘Die Cis Scum’, referring to cis-gendered people – those who identify with their biological gender. The over-educated lower middle class people he sneers at are graduates of gender studies, who work in McDonalds, or have submitted to what he describes as ‘office serfdom’.

It’s very much a simplistic view, but there’s much truth in it as well as great deal of distortion. Let’s go through it.

The UKIP View of the North

Firstly, it represents very much the UKIP view of events. The academic study of UKIP, Revolt on the Right,  found that its members were poorly educated, working class people in the north. They had socially Conservative views, hated the European Union, resented immigration, particularly Black and Asian, and felt abandoned by the traditional parties. He is also right in identifying the change from working class representation to middle class representation with Blair’s leadership. Blair didn’t like the working class. He wanted to get the votes of the swing voters in marginal constituencies. As Sargon’s video acknowledges, he supported the neoliberalism that had devastated the northern economy and which made so many northerners hate the policy’s architect, Maggie Thatcher. Within the party, Blair sidelined working class organisations like the trade unions in favour of courting and recruiting business managers.

The Labour party was keen to represent Blacks and other ethnic minorities, women and gays due to its ideological commitment to equality. This policy became particularly important after Thatcher’s victory in 1979, when it appeared to some that the White working class had abandoned the party. I’ve also seen books published in the ’70s lamenting the right-ward movement within the Labour party due to its membership becoming increasingly middle class, so this trend actually predates Blair somewhat. However, it acquired a new importance under Blair because of the emphasis his administration place on BAME rights, feminism and gay rights. In my view, this was partly as an attempt to preserve some claim to radicalism and progressive values while abandoning socialism and the working class.

Sargon Doesn’t Understand Class and Communism

Sargon also doesn’t understand either what Communism is. He seems to believe in the rantings of the contemporary right that it’s all about identity politics and changing the traditional culture from above. That’s one form of Marxist politics coming from the ideas of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. But traditional, orthodox Marxism emphasised the importance of the working class and the class structure of society. Marx’s theory of Dialectical Materialism held that it was the economic base of society that defined ideology, not the other way around. Once the working class came into power and socialised the economy, the ideologies supported and created by capitalism would disappear. Gramsci’s ideas about changing ideology and culture became fashionable in left-wing circles because it was believed that the working class was actually in decline as society changed. Demographers noted that increasing numbers of people were becoming lower middle class. Hence the movement on the left towards that sector of society, rather than the traditional working class.

Corbyn More Politically Committed to Working Class

Yes, Corbyn also supported anti-racism, feminism and gay rights, but these had been key values of the left since the 1980s. I remember then how the Labour party and leading figures like Michael Foot and Ken Livingstone were vilified as Communists and Trotskyites, and how the party was caricatured as standing for Black lesbians. There were all those stories circulating in the Scum, for example, about how radical teachers in London schools had decided that ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ was racist, and insisted children sing ‘Baa Baa Green Sheep’ instead. Corbyn does come from a privileged background, but his views and the Labour manifesto are far more working class in the sense that they represent a return to traditional socialist economic policies than Blair’s. And certainly far more than Johnson’s and the Tories.

I have to admit that I’m one of the over-educated officer worker types Sargon sneers at. But I never did gender studies, not that I’m sneering at it or those who studied it. My first degree is in history. And I am very sure that most of the legions of graduates now trying to get any kind of paid work have a very wide variety degrees. I also think that many of them also come from the aspirant working class, who went into higher education in order to get on. Also, if you were interested or active in working class politics in the 1980s, you were exposed and took over the anti-racism and anti-sexism campaigns. Ben Elton was notorious as a left-wing comedian in the 1980s, but he defended the working class and ethnic minorities against the Tories.  It was not the case that the White working class was viewed with suspicion as a hotbed of racism, although sections of it, represented by such grotesques as Alf Garnet, certainly were. But it was that section of the working class that the Scum and the Tory party addressed, and so it’s now surprise that they see themselves represented by Boris.

Their belief in Boris is ultimately misplaced, however. Boris will betray them, just like he has betrayed everyone else.

He isn’t going to get Brexit done. He is going to continue with his privatisations, including that of the NHS, and dismantlement of the welfare state. The people in the northern and midlands communities that voted for him are going to find themselves still poor, and probably much poorer, under him.

But the lessons for Labour should be that there should be no return to Blairism. 

David Rosenberg and many other left-wing bloggers have argued from their own personal experience that the way of winning working class voters back to Labour and away from the far-right is through the hard work of knocking on doors and neighbourhood campaigning. This is what Blairism didn’t do. Jones showed in his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class that it was Blair that turned away and demonised them, and simply expected them to continue voting Labour as they didn’t have anywhere else to go. And it was the Blairites and Tories, who viewed the White working class as racist and vilified them as such. Although it also has to be said that they also courted them by appealing to their patriotism and their feeling of marginalisation in an increasingly multicultural society. And the fact that Jones took the trouble to attack this refutes Sargon’s attempt to present Jones as a ‘Communist’, who was against their interests.

Yes, you can find the misandrists, and the anti-White racists and extreme gay and trans rights activists in the Labour party. But they’re an unrepresentative minority, who are going to be controversial even in their own small circles. Attempts by the Tories to magnify their influence are deliberately deceptive in order to stop people from believing that the Labour party means to do anything for ordinary working people. Just as Sargon has tried to do in his video.

Winning back the working class from Boris does not mean a return to Blair and attempting to turn the party into the Conservatives 2.0. But it does mean returning to working class activism, representation and continuing to support real policies to benefit the working class, whether Black, White or Brown, Christian, atheist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or whatever.

And that has to be a return to genuine socialism.

In Defense of Knowledge

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/01/2020 - 5:08am in

Earlier this week, the AAUP issued a new statement entitled In Defense of Knowledge and Higher Education.   In it, the AAUP offers both a defense of the importance of knowledge opposed to opinion and a critique of the growing efforts to undermine the authority of scholars and expertise.  It helps clarify the relationship between Academic Freedom and Free Speech and marks the importance of defending the ongoing collective work of scholarly and academic communities.  As it concludes:

In 1915 the founders of the AAUP characterized the university as “an inviolable refuge” from the “tyranny of public opinion,” as “an intellectual experiment station, where new ideas may germinate,” but also as “the conservator of all genuine elements of value in the past thought and life of mankind which are not in the fashion of the moment.” On that basis they asserted “not the absolute freedom of utterance of the individual scholar, but the absolute freedom of thought, of inquiry, of discussion and of teaching, of the academic profession.”21 They pledged, as do we, to safeguard freedom of inquiry and of teaching against both covert and overt attacks and to guarantee the long-established practices and principles that define the production of knowledge.

It is up to those who value knowledge to take a stand in the face of those who would assault it, to convey to a broad public the dangers that await us—as individuals and as a society—should that pledge be abandoned.

I urge everyone to read and share it.

Book Review: Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed by Lisa Duggan

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/01/2020 - 11:15pm in

In Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed, Lisa Duggan offers a new thesis on the infamous literary, cultural and political icon, Ayn Rand, exploring how the adoption of many of her philosophical and political ideas and beliefs helped fuel the insidious shift towards neoliberalism. Duggan’s skills as a cultural historian and her sharp-witted socio-political commentary fuse seamlessly together in this short yet fascinating book that is a necessary read for students of culture and politics, as well as activists and organisers, writes Ellen Reid

Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed. Lisa Duggan. University of California Press. 2019.

In 1905, Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum was born into a middle-class Jewish family in St. Petersburg, Russia. While Rosenbaum lived a relatively comfortable life financially until her teens, it is important to acknowledge that she grew up in what Anne C. Heller has described as ‘the most anti-Semitic and politically divided nation on the European Continent’. Alissa’s father’s position as a pharmacist, and his use of variants of his name, enabled the Rosenbaums to have greater freedoms than many other Jewish people living in Russia under the Tsar, where the threat of pogroms was constantly present. Despite the fear of violence, arrest and/or exile for the Jewish community at the time, her father’s career as a pharmacist grew from strength to strength, allowing the Rosenbaums to become part of the Jewish bourgeoisie.

However, in 1917, when the Bolshevik revolution began, the Rosenbaum family business was seized by the newly established socialist government. Rosenbaum’s family fled to Crimea to escape the poverty of St. Petersburg, and their financial stability and social capital was never retrieved. This uprooting and loss that the young Alissa experienced affected her greatly, and she held this sense of dispossession with her throughout her life. Her upbringing had hitherto shielded her from the experiences of poverty that had motivated the working class to rise up against Tsar Nicholas II – for the young Rosenbaum, the Bolshevik revolution was a gross display of ‘theft, bullying, and the exercise of illegitimate power by people who did not deserve it’ (Duggan, 18). Her obsession with Hollywood cinema and her disillusionment with the loss of financial and social capital led Rosenbaum to move to the United States in 1926. It is here that she formally changed her name to Ayn Rand, and it is in the United States that she would become the infamous literary, cultural and political icon that has come to define our contemporary culture of greed.

There are few authors better equipped to write Mean Girl, this new thesis on Rand, than Lisa Duggan. With Duggan a self-proclaimed ‘pinko commie queer’, prospective readers may assume that Mean Girl will be a scathing critique from cover to cover. However, the ‘weird obsession’ Duggan has garnered for Rand over a ten-year period (91) has resulted in a book that gives readers a deep, insightful and nuanced look at the life, philosophies and worlds that Rand inhabited and created.

The blending together of distrust of the working class, ambivalence towards the Jewish community and erasure of the possibility of an agentic, female subjectivity marked Rand’s fictional and political writings. In this short text, Duggan illustrates how Rand’s philosophical and literary works gave way to a new world order based on ‘ethical egoism’, rampant individualism and a surge in capitalistic endeavours that put profit before people, public services and the environment. Throughout Mean Girl, Duggan illuminates the seductive qualities of Rand’s writing and highlights how her ambivalences enamoured the most power-hungry and privileged, arming them with a new hypocritical language that has seemingly stunned the masses into believing that surrendering solidarity will solve all of society’s problems.

Running parallel to her narration of Rand’s life, Duggan subtly links Rand’s politics and positionality to the ethics and ethos of modern Western society (particularly in the United States) where the ‘Season of Mean is truly upon us’ (xiii).  Duggan highlights how the power imbalances and problematic representations of gender, race and ethnicity in Rand’s fictional works – which typically place white, male, imperialist ‘heroes’ at the forefront – have been reproduced, institutionalised and legitimised in our modern world. This text is particularly prescient in a time when right-wing populism is gaining traction, allowing those in power to be utterly unapologetic about the cruelty they produce – be it through law, policy and/or the tolerance of hate speech, amongst other issues.

Image Credit: (david_jones CC BY 2.0)

Duggan opens Mean Girl by introducing readers to the slew of contemporary fans of Rand – including President Donald Trump as well as technology venture capitalists like Uber co-founder, Travis Kalanik, associated with a company that stands accused of exploitation. Most notably, the common strand that connects Rand’s fans together is that they are largely cisgender, heterosexual white men who have swathes of privilege – yet this privilege is rarely acknowledged, creating a false idea that the contemporary world operates under a fair and just meritocracy. This is particularly interesting to consider as Rand has been described as having ‘a particular genius’ which allowed her to mould the most privileged of characters into the most oppressed, legitimising those at the top as the only vehicles of progression for society. At their core, Rand’s ideologies purport that being selfish and greedy are not only desirable qualities, but necessary in order to succeed.

While many of us may have knowledge of Rand as a literary icon who authored novels including The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), Duggan’s text also provides a deep dive into her political musings and philosophical writings. Rand developed a philosophical movement known as ‘Objectivism’ in the early 1950s. The Objectivist Collective asserted the need to be selfish, promoted individualism and argued that the ideal political-economic system for a successful world was laissez-faire capitalism (10). At its peak, Objectivism had a 3,500 strong following across the United States in 1967 (67), yet many contemporary cultural commentators acknowledged the almost cult-like behaviour of its followers. One requirement of becoming a student of Objectivism at the Nathaniel Braden Institute was to swear that ‘Ayn Rand is the greatest human being who has ever lived’ (Braden in Duggan, 68). While the Objectivist Collective disbanded in the late 1960s, Rand’s philosophical movement lives on through the Ayn Rand Institute, which purports that Objectivism is ‘a philosophy for living on earth’.

Using her signature wit, Duggan eloquently yet accessibly charts how Rand’s fiction is viewed as the ‘gateway drug’ to right-wing politics. Yet, interestingly enough, Duggan also highlights how her work has been co-opted by some leftist groups. As a researcher interested in queer studies and queer theory (of which Duggan can be considered a giant), for me one of the most striking revelations provided in Mean Girl is the coveting of Rand by queer groups offering queer readings of her work. While Rand is widely known as being homophobic (ii), there has been significant investment in her political and philosophical writings by queer readers of her fiction, who are often interested in the homoeroticism and polyamorous portrayals within her work first and foremost. However, this interest in Rand on the part of LGBTI+/queer people highlights how pervasive her influence is – regardless of her true politics and ethics, readers often see some sort of value and merit in her work, which is reminiscent of how people can fall into the trap of neoliberalism. The illusion of the ‘good’ life, an alternative world in which life is worth living, is central to Rand’s writings as with neoliberalism. The catch is, however, that only those who are the most relentless with their privilege and/or greed get to achieve such a life.

Duggan’s book helps readers to be alert to Rand’s true intentions – to instil egoism in her readers, and to promote a cold, harsh, unregulated capitalism in the name of individual freedom and technological and social progression. In a similar vein, ‘soft’ neoliberals have captured the hearts and minds of many (Western) societies and their political spheres due to their invisible cruel intents. For example, in true Mean Girls fashion, we end up trying to follow in the footsteps of the cruellest of humankind, just like the ‘beta’ women in Mean Girls follow Regina George. Rand’s work has lulled admirers into believing that we are means to ends in ourselves, and that the individual should be held above all else.

Duggan’s skills as a cultural historian and her sharp-witted socio-political commentary fuse seamlessly together in this short yet fascinating book that is a necessary read for students of culture and politics, but also activists and organisers who feel the deep disillusionment of what seems like a never-ending neoliberal era. Mean Girl is also an essential text for anyone interested in the insidious shift towards neoliberalism, and how the spectre of Rand has shaped the political landscape, inhabited morality and made ethical egoism and rampant individualism a new cultural creed. This book is incredibly prescient at a time when we are on the verge of environmental collapse, when we are bearing witness to a new rise of right-wing populism and when solidarity has become a word without any weight. For Duggan, this is not just a book about Rand. It is a call for revolution against the grain of the cis-heteropatriarchal, white supremacist societies we live in. Duggan urges readers to ‘expose the cruelty at the heart of neoliberalism, and build on the social solidarity [Rand] worked so hard to discredit’ (90). As Duggan writes, we must reject Ayn Rand and all her acolytes – because, after all, they reject us.

Ellen Reid is a graduate of the University of Limerick and University College Cork. She is currently a second year PhD student and Departmental Research Fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Limerick. Her PhD research is an investigation of the impacts and mechanisms of bisexual erasure during the Republic of Ireland’s marriage equality referendum in 2015. Her research interests are predominantly in the area of gender studies, sexuality studies, social movements and queer perspectives on popular culture.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


Privatisations Not Nearly as Popular as Maggie and the Tories Claim

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/01/2020 - 2:27am in

I found this extremely interesting snippet in Oliver Huitson’s chapter on the way the media, including the Beeb, promoted the Tory privatisation of the NHS in Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis’ NHS – SOS. Huitson states that despite the massive media bias and their highly distorted reporting, there was a sizable chunk of the British public that fully understood the issues involved and did not like it one little bit. He goes on to write that trust in politicians is at an all time low – 19 per cent of people trust them, just two per cent above journos at 17 per cent (p. 171). And then there’s this passage in which he explains that privatisation wasn’t as nearly as popular as Thatcher and her poodle press claimed:

It should also be remembered that the public have now had thirty years’ experience of the privatisation of state assets and services, as well as the rhetoric that accompanies such moves, and they are increasingly cynical about the purported aims and efficacy of such ‘reforms’. Margaret Thatcher spent millions of pounds marketing her privatisations to the public, yet polling revealed that support for this policy never rose above 50 per cent. In the wake of the Iraq War, the expenses revelations, the financial crash and the phone-hacking scandal, public trust in the political class as a whole, including in the national media, is extremely low. (p. 172).

For the past forty years we’ve had it rammed down our throats that privatisation was not only necessary, it was massively popular. Everyone was right behind Maggie and Major on the issue, and if you weren’t, you were an evil Commie. But like neoliberalism and austerity generally, it’s a massive lie.

No wonder the Tory media are now screaming that Labour lost because Corbyn was ‘too far’ left, and only a return to Blairism will make the party popular.

Labour Leadership Candidate Lavery Blames ‘Remain’ for Labour Defeat

Yesterday’s I (2nd January 2020) also ran this report on the candidates for the Labour leadership by Jane Merrick, ‘Labour ‘foisted Remain on working class’. This runs

One of the architects of Labour’s historic election defeat has claimed that the party’s attempt to “foist Remain” on working class communities was responsible for last month’s result.

Ian Lavery, the party’s chairman and general election campaign coordinator, denied that Jeremy Corbyn’s policies contributed to the losses.

Mr Lavery is among several Labour MPs considering running to succeed Mr Corbyn. Ahead of nominations opening next week, speculation is mounting that Jess Phillips, one of the most widely recognised MPs among the general public, is about to announce her candidacy.

Yesterday she tweeted: “2020 starts with fire in my belly and I promise that won’t change.”

I’m a Remainer, but Lavery’s right: all the northern and midland communities that voted for Boris were Leave areas. Labour’s manifesto promises for the nationalisation of rail, water and electricity, strengthening the welfare state, restoring workers’ rights and union power, were actually well-received and polled well. But they’re a threat to the upper and upper middle classes, including media barons like Murdoch, the weirdo Barclay twins and Lord Rothermere, so the Tory press is doing its absolute best to try and discredit them.

And the I unfortunately is also following this line. It has always backed the ‘Centrists’ in the Labour, for which read ‘Blairites’ and ‘Thatcherite entryists’, who stand for more privatisation and the destruction of the welfare state. But they pretend – mostly – to be more ‘moderate’ than the Tories. The I’s also been promoting female candidates for the party leadership, and loudly denouncing opposition to them as ‘misogyny’. It’s noticeable in all this that the women, who’ve thrown their hats into the ring are all Blairites, and so the election of someone like Phillips would just be a liberal disguise for the right-wing policies underneath. Just like Hillary Clinton over the Pond is right-wing and militaristic, and therefore very establishment. But she was claiming that, as a woman, she was somehow an outsider, and the people, including women, who back Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for the presidency instead were just misogynists.

At the moment the I’s backing Lisa Nandy, who appears to be another wretched Blairite.

Lavery, however, is working class, and so a far better spokesman for those areas and people that have suffered from the neoliberalism the Tories and their pet press have pushed on us.

 

Is Black Anti-Semitism Behind the Attacks on Jews in New York?

Yesterday came the shocking news that there had been yet another anti-Semitic attack in New York. The attacker had pushed into a rabbi’s house where he and a group of others were celebrating Hanukkah, and stabbed five of them. And Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, the Sage of Swindon, has posted a video about it.

Sargon is the right-wing ranter, who broke UKIP. He’s a ‘classical liberal’, or rather Libertarian, who believes in privatising everything, destroying the welfare state even further, and is anti-feminist and racist. So it should come as no surprise that he supports Donald Trump. Sargon is the man who sent the Tweet to Jess Philips telling her that he wouldn’t even rape her. When he joined UKIP and was selected as one of their two candidates for the south-west constituency in the Euro elections, the branch in his own town of Swindon asked for him to be deselected. Gloucestershire UKIP disbanded in disgust, and he was greeted with protests and thrown milkshakes and fish in places like Bristol and Truro on his election tour.

But this time Sargon seems to have raised an interesting issue and made a decent point. In his video, he goes through some of the newspaper coverage of the incidents. Yesterday’s attack is sadly only one of a number that have been carried out in recent weeks, so that several of the members of the Jewish community affected have said that they felt they were living in Nazi Germany.  Sargon noted how the newspapers claimed that the attackers were of both genders and all races, male and female, Black and White. He found a piece where one newspaper columnist called for Jews and Blacks to unite against their common enemy, white supremacy. But Sargon stated that in all the incidents he’d seen, the perpetrators had been very largely Black, although there were a few Hispanics. And he quite naturally wondered why.

Now it could be that the idea that the attacks are committed by Blacks is an illusion. It’s possible that there were equal numbers or more of Whites involved, but for some reason these were not covered as examples. Or else they were reported, but Sargon couldn’t find them when he searched the net. Certainly there have been terrible anti-Semitic attacks carried out by White racists this year.

But some of the attacks may also be due to causes peculiar to certain forms of Black radicalism. If that’s true, then it must also be stressed that this is only going to be a minority within America’s Black community, just as White racists like Richard Spencer certainly do not represent all White Americans.

Sargon suggested that it might be connected to a speech by the head of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, which was taken down from YouTube. Farrakhan, whose anti-Semitism is notorious, had ranted about the Jews, at one point comparing them to Termites. Given that the attackers seemed to be largely Black, he didn’t see how Trump or White supremacy could be blamed. He claimed that Trump didn’t have any problem with Jews, as his daughter had converted to Judaism. So, he asked, why were Blacks attacking Jews? He then made the perfectly reasonable point that we wouldn’t know unless somebody asked them.

It is possible that Farrakhan’s highly inflammatory rhetoric against Jews could have inspired some of the attackers. Farrakhan is the head of the Nation of Islam, a Black Muslim organisation that, from the standpoint of orthodox Islam, is highly heretical. It’s a mixture of 19th century Freemasonry, Sudanese Sufism and elements of Ufology. It’s central doctrine is that W.D. Fard, a Syrian immigrant to the US, is the Son of God. Farrakhan claims that he was taken up to a flying ‘mother wheel’ by a UFO from a mountain in Mexico, and shown that Fard is alive and well and living on Venus, directing the war against Whites. The religion calls for the creation of a separate nation for Black Americans as it considers that they will never have justice or equality under White domination. They also believe that hundreds of thousands of years ago Blacks had an advanced civilisation, travelling to and exploring the Moon. White people are albinistic mutants created by a renegade Meccan scientist. Way back in the 1990s Farrakhan was predicting that American would be destroyed by a nuclear attack from an alliance of Muslim nations, that would free Black Americans. The religion is obviously bitterly hostile to Whites, or at least White civilisation. Given the immense exploitation and injustice Blacks have suffered in American and western history, it’s understandable.

Farrakhan also has a particular hatred of the Jews, because he blames them for the slave trade. Mainstream, respectable scholarship, such as Hugh Thomas’ comprehensive The Slave Trade, actually shows that Jews formed a tiny minority of slave traders and slave-owners.

A number of right-wing American websites also reported that the man responsible for an attack on a Jewish supermarket just before Christmas was a member of the Black Hebrew Israelites. This was a response to one of the left-wing Democrat politicos, who claimed that it was the vile work of a White nationalist. The Black Hebrew Israelites were founded c. 1964 by two preachers of Black Judaism, Gerson Parker, who took the name Nasi Hashalom, and Louis Bryant, who became Nasi Shaliach Ben Yehuda. Hashalom was the group’s spokesman, and revered as the Messiah. In 1969 they established a community in Dimona in Israel. The group believe that the only real Jews are Black Americans of slave ancestry.  Jews are fakes, and are part of the conspiracy to hide Black Americans’ real, spiritual identity from them. They will be destroyed, along with the rest of the religion’s enemies, at the Battle of Armageddon. This didn’t impress the Israeli authorities, who ruled that the Black Hebrew Israelites were not genuine Jews, and so could be legally deported. However, this hadn’t occurred by 1992, and the group was reported to have good relations with the Israeli authorities.  

It’s possible that the growth in the Nazi and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in the White population may also have encouraged similar poisonous ideas in the Nation of Islam. The September 8th, 1992 issue of the religion’s newspaper, The Final Call, carried an article that suggested that the American government was planning to fake an alien landing in order to set up a tyrannical one-world government. The article featured an interview with UFO researcher Nario Hayakawa, who said

The U.S. government behind a veil of secrecy, is testing these aerial devices or select pilots may be receiving instructions [from alien beings] on how to fly these disk shaped crafts developed by the government for the purpose of staging a fake extraterrestrial event in the very near future, perhaps around 1995… Secret international banking groups and other global secret groups are going to forcefully eliminate international borders and create some kind of controlled society… The most amazing weapon they will use to do this will be the extraterrestrial threat. 

(See Donna Kossy, Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief (Portland: Feral House 1994) 27).

This is very similar to some of the ideas promoted by White conspiracy theorists at the time, like Bill Cooper in his book, Behold a Pale Horse. Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince also suggested that there was a conspiracy to create a Fascist social order with a fake alien landing in their book, The Stargate Conspiracy, published at the same time. This last book does not, however, blame the Jews and is certainly not anti-Semitic.

These ideas have been around for decades, however. This raises the question of why these attacks are being carried out now.

While Sargon is right that Trump’s daughter converted to Judaism – she did so when she married Jared Kushner, his son-in-law – Trump’s administration did contain allegedly genuine anti-Semites like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, and he did have links to and sympathy for the Alt Right. It might be that the growth in far right activism and racist rhetoric that his presidency has encouraged among White nationalists and racists like Richard Spencer has encouraged a similar increase in racism and anti-Semitism among some Black radicals.

On the other hand, it may also be that these attacks arise from tensions that a particular to the Black community. But left-wing commenters may also be right in that Trump’s neoliberal economic policies have resulted in more Americans of all colours facing terrible poverty. This is going to exacerbate racial tensions as groups compete over scarce resources. And the economic and social sense of threat this creates may cause some to seek out the Jews as scapegoats.

Racism and anti-Semitism have to be fought in all their forms. But the underlying economic causes have to be tackled as well – the poverty and the sense of despair and alienation this generates.

And that means electing a government that Sargon is definitely opposed to: one that will overturn decades of neoliberalism and restore genuine prosperity and a proper welfare net to working people. A government headed by Bernie Sanders.

 

 

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