In July we began the month with a powerful argument against Rebecca Long-Bailey’s dismissal by Richard House published by Paul Halas. It had a large number of other signatories. The article was widely read and then republished elsewhere.
There is no question, but that it was read by key figures in the Labour Party who simply ignored it. In Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent this is the basic tactic of the liberal democrats and right of centre social democrats. The suspicion is that Kier Starmer is just that. A right of centre social democrat. Dr. Richard House ended by saying:
We have countless Jewish friends and loved ones, and we abhor and condemn anti-Semitism in all its manifestations. But for the sake of democracy, social justice and free speech, the use and deployment of faux anti-Semitism accusations must and will be called out by all fair-minded people – and that includes calling out those who – lazily or calculatingly – deploy the ‘conspiracy theory’ trope in order to close down or silence any critical thinking about the behaviour of the political State of Israel. It also includes relentlessly calling out those who, for whatever motivation, falsely conflate anti-Semitism with criticism of the behaviour of the political State of Israel.
On the subject of Israel Philip Hall and Naeem Ali Jundyeh republished an excoriating article, ‘Stand up to Apartheid Israel, you Lily-livered Soft Leftists’ that they had previously published in the Morning Star together. The article argued that the Israeli state is indeed an Apartheid state and if the article was not used to expel Philip Hall from the Labour Party then it was simply because, we sense, the Labour Party did not want to bring attention to the article by doing so. Among other things Philip Hall and Naeem Ali Jundyeh noted:
But Israel, thanks to the guilty conscience of the anti-semitic European ruling class, and the strategic oil interests of the US — where Israel behaves as the US’s proxy in the region — continues to receive qualified support from the large Western states. Israel gets this support despite the fact that Israel has clearly created its own horrific apartheid state, with Palestinians given the choice of emigration and refugee status (4.5 million) or living in the enormous ghettos that Israel has created for them in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Looking for more trouble, Philip Hall also put the achievement of Roger Bannister into the context of the end of empire and questioned its legitimacy as a symbol of British pride:
In an empire built on the muscle and sweat and physical prowess of the exploited and downtrodden, a relaxed amateur from Oxford breaks the record? Clearly he was superior. An example had been manufactured to help justify a vestigial white colonialism.
Who are the people who run the mile faster than anyone now? They are people from the highlands of Africa, where Europe’s colonies were.
In 1954 the British were not busy timing the running speeds of Kenyan runners, they were busy farming Kenya for coffee and tea and tobacco and hunting down the Mao Mao, offering 20 shillings for the severed hand of a nationalist Kenyan rebel.
Dan Pearce’s honest account of middle age male Depression continued to serve as the spine of Ars Notoria. It is true that this does reflect the demographic of people publishing and reading Ars Notoria at the moment. We will be making an effort to diversify Ars Notoria over the next months. Dan Pearce’s comic is beautifully drawn and powerfully written. Fellow creative in the comics industry, Paul Halas, considers Dan Pearce’s Depression to be a masterpiece. However, clearly Depression has yet to find the broader reading public it deserves. Please share it far and wide.
Bryan Greetham, the leading academic and a pioneer of Smart Thinking, currently writing a book on the origins of the Holocaust, wrote an article explaining the origins of fascism. As usual, his clearly structured, logical ideas clarified the issue for many of us. It is not that the working class has fascist inclinations, Bryan Greetham pointed out. Fascism finds its natural home with small business men and women and the lower middle class:
The radical right appealed to all those social groups (teachers, civil servants, army officers, small businessmen, shopkeepers, artisans, agricultural workers, etc.,) whose economic status and privileges were threatened by the two historical forces unleashed by the industrial revolution.
At the end of the First World War, the heirs of the modern world appeared to be liberalism and socialism. One or the other would dominate modern politics, thereby threatening the social and economic position of these lower middle class groups. In such a society, as one writer put it, these groups felt psychologically homeless: they were strangers in their own country. Their traditional values seemed to be under threat.
Dr Greetham followed up his article with another one explaining the links between fascism and conspiracy theory. He suggests that conspiracy theories are a way to manipulate public perception in the favour of the a ‘particular’ class, the ruling class:
Like all forms of nationalism, the political problem comes first and the conspiracy theory is created to promote and protect the interests of a particular class or group by attracting the support of the working class, who might have little economic reason to embrace it…
Dominic Tweedie, the head of the Communist University in South Africa, meanwhile, republished some of the letters of Paul Robeson with a commentary. Over time, and especially as a result of Black Lives Matter, the figure of Robeson has come to the fore again after the US establishment tried to erase his example from the records of history:
Paul Robeson was a superstar in the USA in the 1930’s and 40’s despite the fact that he was African American. In 1915 he was twice an All American football star and while playing for the NFL got his law degree summa cum laude. Robeson was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance putting on songs and shows. In his career he recorded almost 300 songs.
The Chilean academic and head of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign in the UK, Francisco Dominguez, wrote another article published by James Tweedie lauding the success of Cuba in creating an egalitarian society, a society where black lives actually do matter and praised Cuba’s role in extending its struggle to Africa where Cubans fought and died alongside Africans fighting against the Portuguese colonialists and Apartheid South African troops:
Many Black men and women since 1959, have had access to the highest levels of politics, science, education, technology and social life in general. A former British MP struck a powerful chord when he said this truth: Cuba is the only country on earth where the daughter of a sugar cane cutter, could become a medical doctor. Yet some racist social and cultural attitudes persist, but they pale into insignificance compared to advanced countries, such as the U.S. or the U.K. The current Cuban government led by Miguel Diaz-Canel has launched a comprehensive government programme, called Aponte Commission, after José Antonio Aponte, leader of the 1812 slave rebellion, to combat it. Unlike ‘civilized’ countries where statues for slave traffickers and racist generals have been erected.
And, there is the role socialist Cuba has played in Africa, where its manifestations of solidarity have, on more than one occasion risked the very existence of the revolution itself, such as in Angola both in 1975 and 1987 when Fidel, at the request of the MPLA pro-independence movement requested military assistance, of which he sent sufficient to defeat both Western powers intervention and apartheid South African elite troops.
Dr. Francisco Dominguez also wrote an article published by James Tweedie arguing that the gold wrongfully confiscated from Venezuela by the British Judge Nigel Teareat at the instigation of the reactionary US government currently in power, be returned:
The spurious grounds on which Teare’s verdict is based are essentially that Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) of the UK, “whatever the basis for the recognition”, has “unequivocally recognised Mr Guaidó as President of Venezuela.” Thus the UK Court rules in favour of Mr Guaidó because HMG recognised him as ‘interim president’ because in turn he invoked Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution.
But Justice Teare’s verdict is based on a fabricated interpretation of Article 233 used by Guaidó to declare the Presidency “vacant.”
The Irish political analyst, Eugene McCartan republished an article in Ars Notoria on how Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party have joined hands in government only to offer the Irish people more of the same neo-liberal economics:
But the policies will be the same: to give priority to the interests of the market and big business, both national and transnational; tax cuts for the wealthy and professional classes; deeper involvement in EU military strategies and adventurism, and Shannon Airport still used as a staging post for US and NATO wars of aggression.
There will be a further erosion of workers’ rights, while precarious employment and zero-hour contracts will remain central factors in the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers, mainly young people and women.
On the cultural side the writer Paul Halas provided an entertaining analysis of the politics and political influence of British sitcoms and discussed how they are probably used to influence British public opinion:
Television at its best stimulates the grey matter, but the reality is that for the most part it has the opposite effect: it is a heavy sedative. And nowhere is that more true than in situation comedy, the shows we all grew up with and clustered around the box at the same time every week to devour. I thought I’d take a closer look at some of them.
Paul Halas concludes:
Is it fair to single sitcoms out in a medium that as a whole appears to be increasingly hell-bent on reducing our brains to a pottage-like mush? Perhaps not, but their overall effect is to facilitate an uncritical acceptance of the nation’s status quo; whether that is by design or just a by-product of having timid, acquiescent programme commissioners I couldn’t possibly say. But one thing is sure: the vast majority of situation comedies act as the TV’s audience’s comfort blanket.
Adam Lickley wrote a sparkling story of his trip to see the Dalai Lama and of its ups and downs – literally and figuratively:
Tibet Charity is located at the bottom of a terrifyingly steep hill, which I nicknamed Devil’s Hill, for its unforgiving length, its steepness and its unholy curvature. As promised in the advert, McLeodganj was indeed nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas and the view from my apartment was quite spectacular.
Commenting, briefly, on the merits of Tibetan butter tea:
I can assure you, Tibetan tea is not for the faint of heart. The unlikely ingredients are tea, yak butter, salt and hot water. And yes, it tastes as foul as it sounds, perhaps even more. I did recognise the kindness of the gesture, but how welcome would an espresso coffee have been at 7 am?
Things didn’t go quite as well as Adam Lickley would have hoped:
There was chattering all around from every language imaginable, but that just quickly turned the thoughts in my brain into some kind of rare undrinkable soup. It wasn’t long before my attention turned from the lecture to the numbness seeping into my entire body and the pain in my coccyx. All of a sudden the idea of merely surviving this physical torment for an hour, seemed like an epic victory. The end of the hour struck and I skulked off, sheepishly…
Adam Likeley, a former professional dancer, also wrote for our series with the titles beginning: ‘So you want to be a…’ He gave realistic advice to all aspiring dancers on how difficult it is, how competitive and just how much sacrifice is required to succeed.
Imran Khimje wrote about tennis – just to prove that we include sport in our coverage. He argues that lower ranked tennis players should be paid a living wage as professional sportsmen and women. Imran Khimji writes:
Next time you think of a tennis player think of World Number 114 Chris O’Connell who had to sell clothes and clean boats to keep his tennis dream alive. Despite winning 82 matches on tour last year, O’Connell’s take home pay was only $16,000, one hundred times less than Djokovic’s. Tennis should wrong foot this inequality.
Paul Halas continued the series with ‘So you want to be a comic strip writer? And James Tweedie with ‘So you want to be a journalist.’ On the whole Paul Halas was a little more upbeat about his chosen profession than James Tweedie, former International Editor of the Morning Star who began his article by saying:
So you wanna be a journo, and why not? Well, here are a few good reasons to let the dream die.
Sober advice from Paul Halas:
It was through getting outrageously drunk with an American science fiction novelist that I was given an introduction to the Swedish Disney editors. Work on the skills, work on the contacts, and work on getting that stroke of luck. And it’ s best not to get outrageously drunk when one’s writing. It only seems a work of genius at the time.
In July Yogesh Patel (MBE) our poetry editor, published a poem by the prize winning poet and member of the Royal Society of Literature, Fiona Sampson. We also published a poem by the passionate outsider poet Keith Woodhouse.