How the left enabled fascism.

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How the left enabled fascism.

[Posted by Lara Keller 15/10/18 Updated 20/3/19]  anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[Original Source = https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2018/10/how-left-enabled-fascism]

By David Winner, UK New Statesman Magazine, 3 October 2018.

[Start Article]

Ernst Thälmann, leader of Germany’s radical left in the last years of the Weimar Republic, thought the centre left was a greater danger than the right. We should remember his miscalculation.

The leader of the left, adored for his “authenticity” and destined for cult status, saw himself as a fighter for radical change. His transformed party was the biggest of its kind in Europe, and bursting with youthful vigour.

On the other side of the political spectrum lay the far right and its sinisterly absurd demagogues, thugs and ideological lunacies. Naturally, the leader of the left regarded these people with contempt and viewed his party as the only authentic resistance to them. For strategic reasons, however, he was willing to help them achieve a key part of their dream, which he shared. The dream was to break the loathsome old liberal order. Such a break, reasoned the leader, would create conditions under which the left would sweep to power and transform the country for the better.

Any similarities to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are far from coincidental. But the leader in question is Ernst Thälmann, chief of the German Communist Party (KPD) in the final years of the Weimar Republic. Thälmann is a tragic and disastrous figure. Dogmatic, passionate, stubborn and stupid, the former Hamburg dockworker divided the left and became one of the right’s first victims. Within weeks of Hitler’s takeover in 1933, he, along with thousands of other communists, was arrested and tortured. Unlike many of them, he survived in prison for 11 years before being murdered on Hitler’s orders in 1944.

After the war, the leaders of Communist East Germany built a personality cult around Thälmann, erecting statues and naming streets, a Berlin park and a metro station after him. The cult depicted him as the bravest and noblest of working-class heroes, Germany’s supreme anti-fascist martyr. That he had also been one of the Nazi regime’s unwitting enablers was erased.

History never repeats itself exactly, and there are obvious and big differences between conditions and politics in Britain now and those of Germany in the run-up to the Nazi dictatorship. But there are a few uncomfortable parallels.

For one thing, even our relatively mild versions of far left and far right seek momentous change – in this case a destructive Brexit – for ideological reasons. For another, the far left’s current mindset is reminiscent of one that had unintended consequences – and is doing so again.

In the 1930s, fear of Bolshevism persuaded many middle-class Germans to support Hitler (and led the Catholic Church to throw in its lot with fascism in Italy, Spain and elsewhere). These days, fear of Corbyn buttresses the worst Tory government in living memory. Worse, although we again face danger from the far right, the far left refuses to work with potential allies in the centre and centre left. Again. Instead, it spends much of its energy attacking them. The obsessive hatred for “Blairites”, “red Tories” and “centrists” is reminiscent of the KPD’s hatred of “social fascists” during the years when Nazism could have been stopped. If the phrase is new to you, you’d be forgiven for thinking it signified some form of fascism. It didn’t. “Social fascism” was the communist term for social democrats – and it helped pave the way to catastrophe.

In the words of Theodore Draper, the American former communist fellow traveller who turned against the party and became a historian, “the so-called theory of social fascism and the practice based on it constituted one of the chief factors contributing to the victory of German fascism in January 1933”.

The theory, developed in the early 1920s, favoured by Stalin and established as Communist orthodoxy by 1928, held that reformist social democracy was the worst enemy of the proletariat – worse than fascism – because it created false consciousness and made revolution, the party’s overriding goal, less likely. This notion derived from the left’s misunderstanding of the dark forces about to overwhelm it.

Thälmann and the KPD regarded fascists and Nazis as products and tools of capitalism. Since social democrats were also capitalists, it followed that social democracy, fascism and Nazism were simply different facets of the same oppression. To further the dream of a Soviet Germany, the party was willing to help the Nazis destroy democracy, thinking it could beat the Nazis easily in the aftermath.

Unlike the modern Labour left, the KPD’s antipathy to their centre-left rivals derived in part from memories of a recent crime against them. In January 1919, after Germany’s defeat in the First World War and the fall of the Kaiser, the new Social Democratic Party (SPD) government led by Friedrich Ebert used the far-right Freikorps militias to help suppress the Spartacist uprising, led by KPD founders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. In the process, Freikorps men tortured and murdered Luxemburg and Liebknecht.

In the first part of his Hitler biography, Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris, Ian Kershaw describes these killings as “the symbolic sealing of the rift within the working-class movement that throughout the Weimar Republic prevented any united front being formed against the growing threat of National Socialism”. By the late 1920s, though, the KPD had largely purged itself of Spartacists and become a Stalinist party. Thälmann took his instructions from Stalin and his hatred of the SPD was essentially ideological.

With hindsight, his relaxed attitude to the threat of Hitler seems astonishingly foolish. For example, as Russel Lemmons shows in his 2013 book about Thälmann, Hitler’s Rival, when the Nazis made their electoral breakthrough in the Reichstag elections of 1930 (winning 18 per cent of the vote to become the second-largest party) Thälmann insisted that if Hitler came to power he was sure to fail and this would drive Nazi voters into the arms of the KPD.

Foreshadowing the 2017 claim that Labour actually won the general election it lost, the KPD newspaper the Red Flag even hailed the KPD’s defeat in that election (up by 2.5 per cent to 13.1 per cent) as a victory on the grounds that communist voters were ardent revolutionaries (“one communist vote has more weight than ten to 20 national socialist votes combined”). The 1930 election left the Social Democrats and KPD with almost 40 per cent of the seats in the Reichstag between them. In November 1931 the SPD suggested the two parties work together but Thälmann rejected the offer and the Red Flag called for an “intensification of the fight against Social Democracy”.

Along the way Thälmann made any number of tactical blunders. In 1925, for example, against the advice of Bolshevik leader Grigory Zinoviev, the KPD leadership refused to stand Thälmann down in the second round of the German presidential election. This split took enough votes away from centre candidate Wilhelm Marx to give the First World War general Paul von Hindenburg a narrow victory. In 1933, Hindenburg appointed Hitler as chancellor, then signed the decrees enabling the Nazi terror against the left after the Reichstag fire.

As the Nazi menace intensified in the early 1930s, Thälmann continued to be sanguine. As late as February 1932, he was arguing that “Hitler must come to power first, then the requirements for a revolutionary crisis [will] arrive more quickly”. In November 1932, just three months before Hitler’s takeover, the KPD and Nazis even worked together in the Berlin transport workers’ strike.

——–

Is it fair to speak of this in the same breath as Corbyn’s de facto alliance with the right on Brexit? The stakes are less high, and the specifics are so different it’s hard to compare.

Corbyn’s lack of enthusiastic campaigning may have hampered Remain in the referendum. He has made a damaging Brexit more likely by failing to oppose it, and by whipping his MPs to abstain or vote with the government at key moments since 2016. But this isn’t the same as seeking a Soviet Britain, or enabling Hitler. Corbyn isn’t trying to end democracy, or co-operating with Nazis, or taking orders from Stalin. He hasn’t even created a party paramilitary wing.

The Labour left’s assault on the liberal centre is driven by a quite different political agenda to that of the KPD. But it runs a similar risk of hollowing out the political constituency best capable of resisting the radicalism of the right.

History teaches us that it is dangerous and naive to expect only the radical left to benefit politically from the kind of economic chaos and social upheaval a hard or no-deal Brexit would bring.

Thälmann was at least open about his objectives. Corbyn rarely explains his strategy, and even talks blithely about a “jobs-first Brexit” while backing a course liable to wreck the regions, damage the NHS and blight the future of the young.

Thälmann’s approach was also contradictory and ambivalent. On one hand, his Communist militias fought bloody and often lethal turf battles with Nazi stormtroopers and police. On the other, he refused to provide effective political opposition to the Nazis. There were some half-hearted attempts to work with SPD rank and file, but Thälmann never stopped regarding the SPD leadership as anathema and refused to co-operate with them in any significant way until it was far too late.

Only in February 1933, by which time the battle was already lost, did Thälmann finally grasp the situation and propose a united front with the SPD and the free and Christian trade unions – under his own leadership, of course – to prepare for a general strike to bring down the new regime.

When the Nazis started rounding up leftists, Thälmann escaped but his hiding place on the Kaiserallee (now Bundesallee) in Berlin was revealed by a tortured comrade and Thälmann was arrested on 3 March and taken to prison. In 1939, Stalin could easily have had Thälmann released as a condition of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, but he didn’t say a word. In August 1944 Hitler ordered Thälmann “liquidated”. SS officers drove him to Buchenwald, shot him in the courtyard of the camp crematorium and burned his body immediately.

Lemmons argues that Thälmann “went to his grave believing that the SPD represented the forces of ‘social fascism’ and was no better than Hitler’s party”. That, and his subservience to Stalin, meant Thälmann “failed his people in its greatest hour of need”. The KPD did “nothing to stop the Nazi seizure of power – indeed they had welcomed it as what they considered to be the dying breath of German imperialism”.

Even if the worst Brexit predictions come true Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to suffer so terrible a fate. But if a disastrous Brexit does occur, the verdict of history is unlikely to be much kinder.

[End Article]

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Fascist racism in Czech regional elections shows the path to dictatorship.

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[ Posted by Lara Keller 6/10/18 ]

Fascist racism in regional elections in struggling regions of the Czech republic revealed by UK’s C4 Far right in Czech Republic: the politicians turning on Roma. They are not only turning on the Roma which is bad enough. The language is vague and is about difference. Speaks of the “rabble”, and the “maladjusted”. Turning people into problematic objects. These objects can then be more easily destroyed, socially by being contained as a threat, or biologically by being murdered, or both. In one poster the “others” also include the “homeless”.

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The highly respected Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit (who works actively against Zionist racism) would see this as contradictory:

“My central claim is that humiliation typically presupposes the humanity of the humiliated. Humiliating behavior rejects the other as nonhuman, but the act of rejection presupposes that it is a person that is being rejected.“ (The Decent Society, Margalit 1998, pp 109)

If only everyone was a philosopher worried by contradiction. Western countries, like the Czech Republic, turning to racism show a possible path to authoritarianism.

  1. Identify sections of the population as surplus, describe them humiliatingly as problematic objects.
  2. Attempt to clean up the problem up, by constraining and humiliating them.
  3. Provoke and facilitate acts of destruction by the so called surplus population.
  4. Justify further oppression in the name of security.
  5. Identify more surplus people.
  6. Repeat………
  7. Install a fully authoritarian government, to protect the. minority from the enraged surplus population.

Some people claim that this process requires a severe mismanaged economic crisis like the Great Depression, or a society that is deeply divided and so can easily provide a ready made detached group of oppressors. The truth appears to be that people can easily be convinced to turn against each other, if they see no economic future, see no effective progressive political leadership and live in modern societies in small isolated groups. The truth appears to be that there are wealthy elites inside democracies and outside them (esp Russia-China) queuing up to turbo charge this decay.

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The multipolar spin how fascists operationalize left wing resentment.

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The multipolar spin how fascists operationalize left wing resentment.

[ Source= The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment. By SPLC ]

[Posted By Lara Keller 17/3/18 Updated 22/4/19]  anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

(This article was originally posted on Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog but was taken down after threat of litigation by Max Blumenthal. It is reproduced here in full. Source= Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist, The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment, from removed SPLC post. March 15,  2018.)

[Start Article]

During his recent tour of Europe, disgraced former Trump strategist Steve Bannon declared “Italy is in the lead.”

Amid the historic resurgence of the Italian far right that returned right-wing populist Silvio Berlusconi to prominence, Bannon fantasized about “the ultimate dream” of unifying the anti-establishment Five Star Movement with the far-right League (formerly the Northern League) through a populist movement. Bannon’s international vision of nationalist populist movements is locked into the Kremlin’s geopolitical ideology of a “multipolar world.”

The League is tied through a cooperation pact to Putin’s Russia, and its deputy in charge of relations with foreign parties, Claudio D’Amico, explicitly called for a “multipolar world” in Katehon, a think tank created by fascist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin. Following the ideological line Dugin put forward in his text, Foundations of Geopolitics, Katehon calls for uniting a “Eurasian” bloc in constant struggle against “Atlanticist” countries. For Dugin, the “21st century gamble” is to create a “multipolar” confederation of “Traditionalist” regional empires united under Russian sovereignty that will overthrow the “unipolar” empire of “postmodern” democracies.

Shortly after Putin’s election in 2000, the Kremlin released a set of foreign policy guidelines calling for a “multipolar world order” against the “strengthening tendency towards the formation of a unipolar world under financial and military domination by the United States.” Escalating with the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004, the Kremlin’s production of soft-power networks throughout Europe and the United States involves- think tanksloansforumspropaganda outlets and cooperation agreements with far-right parties like the Austrian Freedom Party and the League. From Russia to Iran to Western Europe and the U.S., this international movement uses conspiracy theories and “gray material” to warp the political spectrum into a populist referendum along “geopolitical” terms set by fascist engagées.

Red and brown polarities.

As a recent major report on syncretic networks exposed, the modern fascist movement’s obsession with geopolitics emerged in force amid the post-Cold War antiglobalization movement. In 2002, a front group formed out of the U.S.-based Workers’ World Party known as the International Action Center joined forces with the Assisi-based “Campo Antimperialista.” As Duginists infiltrated the Campo, opening a journal called Eurasia that garnered the influential involvement of Campo participant Costanza Preve, the International Action Center continued their cooperation.

Soon, a similar Russian group called the Anti-Globalist Resistance began to repost the Campo’s dispatches. Sharing support for Milosevic with the Campo and the International Action Center, the Anti-Globalist Resistance emerged simultaneously with the same tendency to fight globalization by linking far-right to hard-left. In 2008, they brought the Campo to Moscow for the third “All-Russia Anti-Globalist Forum,” introduced by long-time U.S. fascist Lyndon LaRouche [alt better link Lyndon LaRouche]. The next year’s conference included Duginist leaders like Leonid Savin and retired General Leonid Ivashov [alt better link Leonid Ivashov], along with LaRouche and Holocaust denier Israel Shamir.

As their work continued, the Campo and Anti-Globalist Resistance drew more anti-globalization activists into their syncretic orbit. In 2012, a group came together at a Campo Antimperialista event in Assisi and developed what would become the Syria Solidarity Movement. The movement’s steering committee came to include top figures from groups from the U.S. hard left, including the Workers World Party, its affiliate, ANSWER and a spinoff of the latter group called the Party of Socialism and Liberation.

After changing their name to the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, the group drew people from the Syria Solidarity Movement’s network to a conference called the “Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and Building a Multipolar World” in 2014. A delegate from the International Action Center attended, along with delegates from another Workers World Party front group called United Anti-War Coalition, including an editor with the Black Agenda Report named Margaret Kimberly. Among the conference’s other attendees were Michael Hill of the neo-Confederate League of the South and the Texas Nationalist Movement, as well as the far-right Republika of Srpska and National Bolshevik Italian Communitarian Party.

The following year, the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia met with a purported Cherokee Nation elder named “Mashu White Feather” and a representative of the Uhuru Movement, also connected to the Black Agenda Report. They then organized a state-funded conference that drew members of the fascist Italian group Millenium [alt better link Millenium], Mutti’s associate Antonio Grego, and a leading member of the far-right Rodina party, as well as representatives of separatist groups like the Texas Nationalist Movement and the Catalan Solidarity for Independence party. The now-notorious troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, would later invite the Texas Nationalist Movement to join an armed, Islamophobic protest launched by the fake “Heart of Texas,” while also inciting counter-protestors.

This network map shows the flow of movement building from parties to front groups to participation in and creation of syncretic coalitions.

The Syria connection.

The Syria Solidarity Movement lists on its steering committee a host of syncretic figures like DuginistNavid Nasr and an Australian representative of the fascist-modeled Syrian Social Nationalist Party affiliateMussalaha. Before a report revealed her associations with Global ResearchRon Paul and the right-wing British Constitution Party, conspiracy theorist Vanessa Beeley held a position on the steering committee as well.

As an editor at the alt-right-associated conspiracy theory site, 21stCenturyWire, Beeley’s repeated conspiracy articles attempting to link the White Helmets to al Qaeda and George Soros earned her a visit with Assad in Damascus and senior Russian officials in Moscow; however, they have been thoroughly debunked. A defender of right-wing Hungarian president Viktor Orban, Beeley promotes antisemites like Gilad Atzmon and Dieudonné, even speaking at a conference hosted by the latter in partnership with notorious Holocaust denier Laurent Louis. Regardless, the Syrian Solidarity Movement and the associated Hands Off Syria Coalition recommend Beeley’s work.

Along with members of the Syria Solidarity Movement, delegates who attended the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia’s “Multipolar World” conference sit on the Hands off Syria Coalition’s steering committee. Showing its commitments and affinities, in January 2016, the Hands Off Syria Coalition published a “Multipolar World Against War” statement signed by the leader of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Alexander Ionov.

Similarly, the Hands Off Syria Coalition website publicizes self-described Marxist, Tim Anderson, who has an interesting record of attending far-right conferences. In 2015, Anderson attended the far-right Brandherd Syrien Congress, and the next year he was at Defend Our Heritage’s Leura Forum, chaired by a leader of far-right party Alternative for Germany. Following that, Anderson’s pet project, Center of Counter Hegemonic Studies, convened a conference that brought in Paul Antonopoulos, an editor for the Duginist website Fort Russ.

The Hands Off Syria Coalition advertises Anderson’s book, The Dirty War on Syria, which is published by syncretic conspiracist site Global Research. Multiple “Research Associates” of Global Research sit on the “scientific committee” of the Campo-linked Duginist journal Geopolitica, and the site lists as its “partner media group” the Voltaire Network. Publishing LaRouchite and Duginist articles, the Voltaire Network boasts the Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs as its Vice President. One of the Voltaire Network’s leading contributors is Mikhail Leontyev, an associate of Dugin who has moved from prominent media personality to the role of spokesman for Russian state oil company, Rosneft. The Syria Solidarity Movement publishes Voltaire Network articles by founder Thierry Meyssan, a contributor to Campo-linked journal Eurasia who associates with Holocaust deniers and open fascists, among others.

Hands Off Syria Coalition steering committee member Issa Chaer joined Meyssan on a panel at the Second New Horizons conference in Iran in 2012. Conference speakers that year included World Workers Party member Caleb Maupin, Alt Right journalist Tim Pool, Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett, and Duginists like Voltaire Network associate Mateusz Piskorski, German editor Manuel Ochsenreiter, Leonid Savin, and Claudio Mutti the leading fascist infiltrator of the Campo Antimperialista. The banner image for last year’s New Horizon features Aleksandr Dugin.

Multipolar propaganda.

According to the metrics search engine BuzzSumo, most of the leading articles with the terms “multipolar world” and “multi-polar world” in the title come from an interconnected network of sites, including Global Research, The Duran and Sign of the Times. With an estimated six million unique daily views per month, the biggest and most influential in this network is the Russian state-run media site Sputnik News.

Billing itself as pointing “the way to a multipolar world that respects every country’s national interests, culture, history and traditions,” Sputnik frequently publishes PiskorskiOchsenreiter, Mutti’s fellow Campo infiltrator Tiberio Graziani, commentator Andrew Korybko and Fort Russ editor Joaquin Flores. Furthermore, Sputnik has joined RT in consistently using dubious sources affiliated with the Syria Solidarity Network to attack the White Helmets and throw doubt on the Assad regime’s war crimes, for instance its use of chemical weapons.

A syncretic hub on Sputnik, anti-imperialist John Wight’s podcast, “Hard Facts,” promotes the same figures associated with the pro-Assad network in the West, including Beeley, Anderson, and Nasr. Perhaps most interestingly, Wight also hosted trans-national far-right figure, Edward Lozansky during the 2016 election and again early the next year.

With more than 30 years of involvement in the U.S. and Russian far right, Lozansky is perhaps most known as the creator of the American University in Moscow. Boasting a number of Fellows involved in pro-Kremlin media outlets like The Duran, RT and Russia Insider, the American University in Moscow appears to be an ideological center in the concerted social media campaign associated with the Internet Research Agency to boost anti-Clinton, pro-Kremlin propaganda in the U.S. Lozansky also hosts conferences with known fascist ideologues and an annual “Russia Forum” featuring far-right politicians and left-wing media operators from Russia and the U.S.

During both of his pro-Putin, pro-Trump interviews with Lozansky on “Hard Facts,” Wight advocated “a multipolar alternative to the unipolar world,” insisting, “we’re talking about a struggle for a multipolar world to replace the unipolarity that has wreaked so much havoc since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.”

The most important anti-imperialist hub on Sputnik, however, is hosted by Brian Becker, whose fellow party member and brother sits on the steering committee for the Syria Solidarity Movement. The leader of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Becker regularly hosts Fellows of the American University in Moscow on his Sputnik podcast, “Loud & Clear.”

“Loud & Clear”‘s Lozansky-affiliated guests include far-right PR man Jim Jatras, Mark Sleboda of the Dugin-founded Center for Conservative Studies, the Ron Paul Institute’s Daniel McAdams and Alexander Mercouris of the syncretic conspiracist site, The Duran. The program also provides a platform to a variety of explicitly far-right guests, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, antisemite Alberto Garcia Watson, alt-right figure Cassandra Fairbanks and militia movement leader Larry Pratt.

Aside from marginal guests, Loud & Clear can bring on some heavy hitters. During his two appearances on “Loud & Clear” in late 2017, bestselling author Max Blumenthal called the red-brown radio show “the finest public affairs programming” and declared, “I am increasingly turning to RT America for sanity.” No stranger to Sputnik, Blumenthal also went on “Hard Facts” that August, claiming that notorious ISIS militant Mohammed Emwazi was ushered into the Syria conflict by the CIA via a “rat line” from Saudi Arabia.

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This Venn diagram suggests that certain syncretic groups exist as containers for the intersection of right and left wing groups, ideologies.

Highway to the Grayzone.

Around the same time he went on “Loud & Clear,” Blumenthal appeared on Tucker Carlson‘s FOX News show to defend RT — his second time on the far-right show that year. Blumenthal’s RT appearances have been praised by white nationalists like Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., who murdered three people outside of a Jewish Community Center in 2014, so his courting of the right on FOX drew considerable backlash.

Two months later, Blumenthal offered up a staunch defense of “Russia’s position in the world” to author Robert Wright in an interview on bloggingheads. Admitting that Putin’s Russia remains far from left-wing, Blumenthal justified support for the country’s authoritarian conservative government as “part of the multipolar world.”

“If you believe in a multipolar world,” Blumenthal told Wright, “you believe in détente, you believe in diplomacy.” He specifically mentioned Becker’s Party for Socialism and Liberation and groups like it, arguing that they “tend to get all the major issues right regardless of their ideology or agenda.”

Blumenthal was not as clear of a spokesperson for Kremlin geopolitics before he appeared at the same RT gala as disgraced former National Security advisor Michael Flynn and the Green Party’s Jill Stein in December 2015. During that occasion, he joined a panel called “Infowar: Will there be a winner” alongside Alt Right anti-Semite Charles Bausman of Russia Insider. A month later, Blumenthal’s pro-Kremlin position crystalized with the founding of the Grayzone Project.

Grayzone is a collaborative project also featuring journalist Benjamin Norton, who cosigned the Hands Off Syria Coalition’s points of unity statement along with Beeley and others. After going on “Loud & Clear” with Duginist Mark Sleboda and Infowars regularRay McGovern, Norton plugged the Party for Socialism and Liberation on a podcast episode titled “Hands off Syria.” With other Grayzone contributors, Norton has been criticized for downplaying war crimes and helping publicize false theories about rebels contaminating Damascus’s water supply.

When reached for comment by email, Norton retorted, “I know your goal is to outlandishly smear anyone who opposes US imperialism and is to the left of the Clintons as a ‘crypto-fascist,’ while NATO supports actual fascists whom you care little about.”

Grayzone is perhaps best known for Blumenthal’s controversial two-part article attacking the White Helmets, which brought accusations of plagiarism from Beeley. Grayzone contributor Rania Khalek had, Beeley insisted, “pumped me for information on the [White Helmets] and then Max wrote the article.”

While Blumenthal may have repeated some of Beeley’s theories, Beeley cannot be seen as a credible source. Regardless, Khalek has since used a questionable interview sourced from Beeley as evidence that the White Helmets “were deeply embedded in al Qaeda.”

Grayzone recently announced their move from independent news site AlterNet to The Real News Network, a left-wing site with a penchant for 9/11 truther inquiries. Neither Blumenthal nor Khalek responded to efforts to reach them for comment.

Right uses left.

Through its amplification of an interlinked, multi-centered network organized around institutions like Lozansky’s American University in Moscow and the Voltaire Network and conferences like Moscow’s “Multi-Polar World” and Tehran’s “New Horizons,” syncretic networks associated with Dugin’s Eurasianist ideology have combined distortions and ambiguities into a geopolitical narrative meant to confuse audiences and promote authoritarian populist opposition to liberalism.

The “gray measures” used to deny the Kremlin’s influence operations may seem dubious when delivered through channels like Sputnik that are, themselves, political technologies of far-right political influence. When cycled through “narrative laundering” of secondary and tertiary networks enhanced by trolls and coordinated influence operations, however, propaganda is “graywashed” of its dubious sources and presented as cutting-edge journalism.

As shown with Figure 3, think tanks like Katehon and connected Russian Institute for Strategic Studies develop strategies for media spin and online promotion through influence groups and botnets. These think tanks engage in feedback loops with Russian state media channels and linked syncretic news sites, amplified through social media with the help of botnets, and eventually reaching more legitimate sources often freed of their dubious sourcing. The results are explored by a recent study from Data and Society called Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online: “Online communities are increasingly turning to conspiracy-driven news sources, whose sensationalist claims are then covered by the mainstream media, which exposes more of the public to these ideas, and so on.”

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A conceptual model made in Vensim intended to present the workings of “Graywashing.”

The problem with multipolarism, aside from assuming polarity as a useful prescription, may be that it supports not the emergence of Russia as a world power but the rise of the Kremlin’s authoritarian conservative political ideology. In this, multipolarists tend to support other authoritarian regimes and movements from Iran to Syria to Italy. Although anti-imperialists may believe that these measures land them on the right side of history, taking stock of the fascist movement suggests that the strategy of opposing a liberal order through red-brown populist collaboration makes the left a willing accomplice.

[End Article]


Oracle Orwell: NOTES ON NATIONALISM (1945)

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Oracle Orwell: NOTES ON NATIONALISM (1945)

[Posted by Lara Keller 17/10/2017, Updated 12/6/2019]

Introduction: Orwell’s intentions were to apply honesty, direct experience, clarity and art to political writing. Orwell wrote and personally engaged in an extremely turbulent era when nineteenth century European political philosophies collided disastrously with twentieth century industrial technology, resulting in two World Wars and the start of a potentially apocalyptic Cold War. It is for this reason that Orwell’s writings – in particular the reflective ones of the 1940s – should be read now especially in a time of an emerging Second Cold War.

Orwell political thought underwent some profound shifts. He had been wounded in the Spanish Civil War while fighting for the Republicans. Immediately before the Second World War he joined the radical left wing ILP (Independent Labour Party). Bizarrely at this point he opposed rearmament and the fighting of a war against Nazi Germany, at least by the British State. The ILP position, common to much of the radical left, was that the liberal laissez-faire capitalism of this period was an inevitable predecessor to fascism.  They believed there was a serious threat from British Fascism enabled by the discipline needed to impose a then unpopular war mobilization on the UK. In reality the UK government made concessions and promises to engage the working class in an existential struggle with the Nazis. Orwell shifted his position to supporting the British Government’s War Effort.

Orwell’s essay is much broader than the title indicates. It is decisively not just about “nationalism” as an obsessive love of country. Orwell extends the concept to a kind of chauvinism, that encompasses obsessive loyalties to country, politics, religion and race. This essay is actually a blistering rejection on the destructive absurdity of all of these.

Orwell does not target “social anarchism” specifically, of which he appears to have been an agnostic sympathizer. It would certainly qualify as a radical-left quasi-religious “nationalism” under Orwell’s scheme. His criticism of anarchism in other writings is more piecemeal. “Economic neo-liberalism” in the wake of post Second World War reforms has since Orwell’s time become a reactionary quasi-religious nationalism. The ideas expressed in this essay rather than just the targets is it’s real lasting value.

Have also added a few extra notes after the essay text, marked as [See Extra Note*1]…..etc.

[Start Essay]

Somewhere or other Byron makes use of the French word LONGEUR [See Extra Note*1], and remarks in passing that though in England we happen not to have the WORD, we have the THING in considerable profusion. In the same way, there is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name. As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word ‘nationalism’, but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation–that is, a single race or a geographical area. It can attach itself to a church or a class, or it may work in a merely negative sense, AGAINST something or other and without the need for any positive object of loyalty. [See Extra Note*2]

By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. [See Note, in text below] But secondly–and this is much more important–I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests.

Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, NOT for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

[Note: Nations, and even vaguer entities such as Catholic Church or the proletariat, are commonly thought of as individuals and often referred to as ‘she’. Patently absurd remarks such as ‘Germany is naturally treacherous’ are to be found in any newspaper one opens and reckless generalization about national character (‘The Spaniard is a natural aristocrat’ or ‘Every Englishman is a hypocrite’) are uttered by almost everyone. Intermittently these generalizations are seen to be unfounded, but the habit of making them persists, and people of professedly international outlook, e.g., Tolstoy or Bernard Shaw, are often guilty of them. (Author’s footnote)]

So long as it is applied merely to the more notorious and identifiable nationalist movements in Germany, Japan, and other countries, all this is obvious enough. Confronted with a phenomenon like Nazism, which we can observe from the outside, nearly all of us would say much the same things about it. But here I must repeat what I said above, that I am only using the word ‘nationalism’ for lack of a better. Nationalism, in the extended sense in which I am using the word, includes such movements and tendencies as Communism, political Catholicism, Zionism, Antisemitism, Trotskyism and Pacifism. It does not necessarily mean loyalty to a government or a country, still less to ONE’S OWN country, and it is not even strictly necessary that the units in which it deals should actually exist. To name a few obvious examples, Jewry, Islam, Christendom, the Proletariat and the White Race are all of them objects of passionate nationalistic feeling: but their existence can be seriously questioned, and there is no definition of any one of them that would be universally accepted.

It is also worth emphasising once again that nationalist feeling can be purely negative. There are, for example, Trotskyists who have become simply enemies of the U.S.S.R. without developing a corresponding loyalty to any other unit [See Extra Note*3]. When one grasps the implications of this, the nature of what I mean by nationalism becomes a good deal clearer. A nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige. He may be a positive or a negative nationalist–that is, he may use his mental energy either in boosting or in denigrating–but at any rate his thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations. He sees history, especially contemporary history, as the endless rise and decline of great power units, and every event that happens seems to him a demonstration that his own side is on the upgrade and some hated rival is on the downgrade. But finally, it is important not to confuse nationalism with mere worship of success. The nationalist does not go on the principle of simply ganging up with the strongest side. On the contrary, having picked his side, he persuades himself that it IS the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him. Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception. Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also–since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself–unshakeably certain of being in the right.

Now that I have given this lengthy definition, I think it will be admitted that the habit of mind I am talking about is widespread among the English intelligentsia, and more widespread there than among the mass of the people. For those who feel deeply about contemporary politics, certain topics have become so infected by considerations of prestige that a genuinely rational approach to them is almost impossible. Out of the hundreds of examples that one might choose, take this question: Which of the three great allies, the U.S.S.R., Britain and the USA, has contributed most to the defeat of Germany? In theory, it should be possible to give a reasoned and perhaps even a conclusive answer to this question. In practice, however, the necessary calculations cannot be made, because anyone likely to bother his head about such a question would inevitably see it in terms of competitive prestige. He would therefore START by deciding in favour of Russia, Britain or America as the case might be, and only AFTER this would begin searching for arguments that seemed to support his case. And there are whole strings of kindred questions to which you can only get an honest answer from someone who is indifferent to the whole subject involved, and whose opinion on it is probably worthless in any case.

Hence, partly, the remarkable failure in our time of political and military prediction. It is curious to reflect that out of all the ‘experts’ of all the schools, there was not a single one who was able to foresee so likely an event as the Russo-German Pact of 1939. [See Note 1, in text below] And when news of the Pact broke, the most wildly divergent explanations were of it were given, and predictions were made which were falsified almost immediately, being based in nearly every case not on a study of probabilities but on a desire to make the U.S.S.R. seem good or bad, strong or weak. Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties. [See Note 2, in text below] And aesthetic judgements, especially literary judgements, are often corrupted in the same way as political ones. It would be difficult for an Indian Nationalist to enjoy reading Kipling or for a Conservative to see merit in Mayakovsky, and there is always a temptation to claim that any book whose tendency one disagrees with must be a bad book from a LITERARY point of view. People of strongly nationalistic outlook often perform this sleight of hand without being conscious of dishonesty.

[Note 1: A few writers of conservative tendency, such as Peter Drucker, foretold an agreement between Germany and Russia, but they expected an actual alliance or amalgamation which would be permanent. No Marxist or other left-wing writer, of whatever colour, came anywhere near foretelling the Pact.(Author’s footnote)]

[Note 2: The military commentators of the popular press can mostly be classified as pro-Russian or anti-Russian pro-blimp or anti-blimp. Such errors as believing the Maginot Line impregnable, or predicting that Russia would conquer Germany in three months, have failed to shake their reputation, because they were always saying what their own particular audience wanted to hear. The two military critics most favoured by the intelligentsia are Captain Liddell Hart and Major-General Fuller, the first of whom teaches that the defence is stronger that the attack, and the second that the attack is stronger that the defence. This contradiction has not prevented both of them from being accepted as authorities by the same public. The secret reason for their vogue in left-wing circles is that both of them are at odds with the War Office. (Author’s footnote)]

In England, if one simply considers the number of people involved, it is probable that the dominant form of nationalism is old-fashioned British jingoism [See Extra Note*4]. It is certain that this is still widespread, and much more so than most observers would have believed a dozen years ago. However, in this essay I am concerned chiefly with the reactions of the intelligentsia, among whom jingoism and even patriotism of the old kind are almost dead, though they now seem to be reviving among a minority. Among the intelligentsia, it hardly needs saying that the dominant form of nationalism is Communism–using this word in a very loose sense, to include not merely Communist Party members, but ‘fellow travellers’ and russophiles generally. A Communist, for my purpose here, is one who looks upon the U.S.S.R. as his Fatherland and feels it his duty t justify Russian policy and advance Russian interests at all costs. Obviously such people abound in England today, and their direct and indirect influence is very great. But many other forms of nationalism also flourish, and it is by noticing the points of resemblance between different and even seemingly opposed currents of thought that one can best get the matter into perspective.

Ten or twenty years ago, the form of nationalism most closely corresponding to Communism today was political Catholicism. Its most outstanding exponent–though he was perhaps an extreme case rather than a typical one–was G. K. Chesterton. Chesterton was a writer of considerable talent who whose to suppress both his sensibilities and his intellectual honesty in the cause of Roman Catholic propaganda. During the last twenty years or so of his life, his entire output was in reality an endless repetition of the same thing, under its laboured cleverness as simple and boring as ‘Great is Diana of the Ephesians.’ Every book that he wrote, every scrap of dialogue, had to demonstrate beyond the possibility of mistake the superiority of the Catholic over the Protestant or the pagan. But Chesterton was not content to think of this superiority as merely intellectual or spiritual: it had to be translated into terms of national prestige and military power, which entailed an ignorant idealisation of the Latin countries, especially France. Chesterton had not lived long in France, and his picture of it–as a land of Catholic peasants incessantly singing the MARSEILLAISE over glasses of red wine–had about as much relation to reality as CHU CHIN CHOW has to everyday life in Baghdad. And with this went not only an enormous overestimation of French military power (both before and after 1914-18 he maintained that France, by itself, was stronger than Germany), but a silly and vulgar glorification of the actual process of war. Chesterton’s battle poems, such as Lepanto or The Ballad of Saint Barbara, make The Charge of the Light Brigade read like a pacifist tract: they are perhaps the most tawdry bits of bombast to be found in our language. The interesting thing is that had the romantic rubbish which he habitually wrote about France and the French army been written by somebody else about Britain and the British army, he would have been the first to jeer. In home politics he was a Little Englander, a true hater of jingoism and imperialism, and according to his lights a true friend of democracy. Yet when he looked outwards into the international field, he could forsake his principles without even noticing he was doing so. Thus, his almost mystical belief in the virtues of democracy did not prevent him from admiring Mussolini. Mussolini had destroyed the representative government and the freedom of the press for which Chesterton had struggled so hard at home, but Mussolini was an Italian and had made Italy strong, and that settled the matter. Nor did Chesterton ever find a word to say about imperialism and the conquest of coloured races when they were practised by Italians or Frenchmen. His hold on reality, his literary taste, and even to some extent his moral sense, were dislocated as soon as his nationalistic loyalties were involved.

Obviously there are considerable resemblances between political Catholicism, as exemplified by Chesterton, and Communism. So there are between either of these and for instance Scottish nationalism, Zionism, Antisemitism or Trotskyism. It would be an oversimplification to say that all forms of nationalism are the same, even in their mental atmosphere, but there are certain rules that hold good in all cases. The following are the principal characteristics of nationalist thought:

OBSESSION. As nearly as possible, no nationalist ever thinks, talks, or writes about anything except the superiority of his own power unit. It is difficult if not impossible for any nationalist to conceal his allegiance. The smallest slur upon his own unit, or any implied praise of a rival organization, fills him with uneasiness which he can relieve only by making some sharp retort. If the chosen unit is an actual country, such as Ireland or India, he will generally claim superiority for it not only in military power and political virtue, but in art, literature, sport, structure of the language, the physical beauty of the inhabitants, and perhaps even in climate, scenery and cooking. He will show great sensitiveness about such things as the correct display of flags, relative size of headlines and the order in which different countries are named. [See Note, in text below] Nomenclature plays a very important part in nationalist thought. Countries which have won their independence or gone through a nationalist revolution usually change their names, and any country or other unit round which strong feelings revolve is likely to have several names, each of them carrying a different implication. The two sides of the Spanish Civil War had between them nine or ten names expressing different degrees of love and hatred. Some of these names (e.g. ‘Patriots’ for Franco-supporters, or ‘Loyalists’ for Government-supporters) were frankly question-begging, and there was no single one of the which the two rival factions could have agreed to use. All nationalists consider it a duty to spread their own language to the detriment of rival languages, and among English-speakers this struggle reappears in subtler forms as a struggle between dialects. Anglophobe-Americans will refuse to use a slang phrase if they know it to be of British origin, and the conflict between Latinizers and Germanizers often has nationalists motives behind it. Scottish nationalists insist on the superiority of Lowland Scots, and socialists whose nationalism takes the form of class hatred tirade against the B.B.C. accent and even the often gives the impression of being tinged by belief in sympathetic magic–a belief which probably comes out in the widespread custom of burning political enemies in effigy, or using pictures of them as targets in shooting galleries.

[Note: Certain Americans have expressed dissatisfaction because ‘Anglo-American’ is the form of combination for these two words. It has been proposed to submit ‘Americo-British’.(Author’s footnote)]

INSTABILITY. The intensity with which they are held does not prevent nationalist loyalties from being transferable. To begin with, as I have pointed out already, they can be and often are fastened up on some foreign country. One quite commonly finds that great national leaders, or the founders of nationalist movements, do not even belong to the country they have glorified. Sometimes they are outright foreigners, or more often they come from peripheral areas where nationality is doubtful. Examples are Stalin, Hitler, Napoleon, de Valera, Disraeli, Poincare, Beaverbrook. The Pan-German movement was in part the creation of an Englishman, Houston Chamberlain. For the past fifty or a hundred years, transferred nationalism has been a common phenomenon among literary intellectuals. With Lafcadio Hearne the transference was to Japan, with Carlyle and many others of his time to Germany, and in our own age it is usually to Russia. But the peculiarly interesting fact is that re-transference is also possible. A country or other unit which has been worshipped for years may suddenly become detestable, and some other object of affection may take its place with almost no interval. In the first version of H. G. Wells’s OUTLINE OF HISTORY, and others of his writings about that time, one finds the United States praised almost as extravagantly as Russia is praised by Communists today: yet within a few years this uncritical admiration had turned into hostility. The bigoted Communist who changes in a space of weeks, or even days, into an equally bigoted Trotskyist is a common spectacle. In continental Europe Fascist movements were largely recruited from among Communists, and the opposite process may well happen within the next few years. What remains constant in the nationalist is his state of mind: the object of his feelings is changeable, and may be imaginary.

But for an intellectual, transference has an important function which I have already mentioned shortly in connection with Chesterton. It makes it possible for him to be much MORE nationalistic–more vulgar, more silly, more malignant, more dishonest–that he could ever be on behalf of his native country, or any unit of which he had real knowledge. When one sees the slavish or boastful rubbish that is written about Stalin, the Red Army, etc. by fairly intelligent and sensitive people, one realises that this is only possible because some kind of dislocation has taken place. In societies such as ours, it is unusual for anyone describable as an intellectual to feel a very deep attachment to his own country. Public opinion–that is, the section of public opinion of which he as an intellectual is aware–will not allow him to do so. Most of the people surrounding him are sceptical and disaffected, and he may adopt the same attitude from imitativeness or sheer cowardice: in that case he will have abandoned the form of nationalism that lies nearest to hand without getting any closer to a genuinely internationalist outlook. He still feels the need for a Fatherland, and it is natural to look for one somewhere abroad. Having found it, he can wallow unrestrainedly in exactly those emotions from which he believes that he has emancipated himself. God, the King, the Empire, the Union Jack–all the overthrown idols can reappear under different names, and because they are not recognised for what they are they can be worshipped with a good conscience. Transferred nationalism, like the use of scapegoats, is a way of attaining salvation without altering one’s conduct.

INDIFFERENCE TO REALITY. All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage–torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians–which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. The Liberal NEWS CHRONICLE published, as an example of shocking barbarity, photographs of Russians hanged by the Germans, and then a year or two later published with warm approval almost exactly similar photographs of Germans hanged by the Russians. [See Note, in text below] It is the same with historical events. History is thought of largely in nationalist terms, and such things as the Inquisition, the tortures of the Star Chamber, the exploits of the English buccaneers (Sir Francis Drake, for instance, who was given to sinking Spanish prisoners alive), the Reign of Terror, the heroes of the Mutiny blowing hundreds of Indians from the guns, or Cromwell’s soldiers slashing Irishwomen’s faces with razors, become morally neutral or even meritorious when it is felt that they were done in the ‘right’ cause. If one looks back over the past quarter of a century, one finds that there was hardly a single year when atrocity stories were not being reported from some part of the world; and yet in not one single case were these atrocities–in Spain, Russia, China, Hungary, Mexico, Amritsar, Smyrna–believed in and disapproved of by the English intelligentsia as a whole. Whether such deeds were reprehensible, or even whether they happened, was always decided according to political predilection.

[Note: The NEWS CHRONICLE advised its readers to visit the news film at which the entire execution could be witnessed, with close-ups. The STAR published with seeming approval photographs of nearly naked female collaborationists being baited by the Paris mob. These photographs had a marked resemblance to the Nazi photographs of Jews being baited by the Berlin mob.(Author’s footnote)]

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. And those who are loudest in denouncing the German concentration camps are often quite unaware, or only very dimly aware, that there are also concentration camps in Russia. Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English russophiles. Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own antisemitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness. In nationalist thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown. A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one’s own mind.

Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered. He spends part of his time in a fantasy world in which things happen as they should–in which, for example, the Spanish Armada was a success or the Russian Revolution was crushed in 1918–and he will transfer fragments of this world to the history books whenever possible. Much of the propagandist writing of our time amounts to plain forgery. Material facts are suppressed, dates altered, quotations removed from their context and doctored so as to change their meaning. Events which it is felt ought not to have happened are left unmentioned and ultimately denied [See Note, in text below]. In 1927 Chiang Kai Shek boiled hundreds of Communists alive, and yet within ten years he had become one of the heroes of the Left. The re-alignment of world politics had brought him into the anti-Fascist camp, and so it was felt that the boiling of the Communists ‘didn’t count’, or perhaps had not happened. The primary aim of propaganda is, of course, to influence contemporary opinion, but those who rewrite history do probably believe with part of their minds that they are actually thrusting facts into the past. When one considers the elaborate forgeries that have been committed in order to show that Trotsky did not play a valuable part in the Russian civil war, it is difficult to feel that the people responsible are merely lying. More probably they feel that their own version was what happened in the sight of God, and that one is justified in rearranging the records accordingly.

[Note: En example is the Russo-German Pact, which is being effaced as quickly as possible from public memory. A Russian correspondent informs me that mention of the Pact is already being omitted from Russian year-books which table recent political events.(Author’s note)]

Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing-off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be a genuine doubt about the most enormous events. For example, it is impossible to calculate within millions, perhaps even tens of millions, the number of deaths caused by the present war. The calamities that are constantly being reported–battles, massacres, famines, revolutions–tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. What were the rights and wrongs of the Warsaw rising of August 1944? Is it true about the German gas ovens in Poland? Who was really to blame for the Bengal famine? Probably the truth is discoverable, but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in almost any newspaper that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or failing to form an opinion. The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs. Since nothing is ever quite proved or disproved, the most unmistakable fact can be impudently denied. Moreover, although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the nationalist is often somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What he wants is to FEEL that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory. Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.

I have examined as best as I can the mental habits which are common to all forms of nationalism. The next thing is to classify those forms, but obviously this cannot be done comprehensively. Nationalism is an enormous subject. The world is tormented by innumerable delusions and hatreds which cut across one another in an extremely complex way, and some of the most sinister of them have not yet impinged on the European consciousness. In this essay I am concerned with nationalism as it occurs among the English intelligentsia. In them, much more than in ordinary English people, it is unmixed with patriotism and therefore can be studied pure. Below are listed the varieties of nationalism now flourishing among English intellectuals, with such comments as seem to be needed. It is convenient to use three headings, Positive, Transferred, and Negative, though some varieties will fit into more than one category:

POSITIVE NATIONALISM

(i) NEO-TORYISM. Exemplified by such people as Lord Elton, A.P. Herbert, G.M. Young, Professor Pickthorn, by the literature of the Tory Reform Committee, and by such magazines as the NEW ENGLISH REVIEW and THE NINETEENTH CENTURY AND AFTER. The real motive force of neo-Toryism, giving it its nationalistic character and differentiating it from ordinary Conservatism, is the desire not to recognise that British power and influence have declined. Even those who are realistic enough to see that Britain’s military position is not what it was, tend to claim that ‘English ideas’ (usually left undefined) must dominate the world. All neo-Tories are anti-Russian, but sometimes the main emphasis is anti-American. The significant thing is that this school of thought seems to be gaining ground among youngish intellectuals, sometimes ex-Communists, who have passed through the usual process of disillusionment and become disillusioned with that. The anglophobe who suddenly becomes violently pro-British is a fairly common figure. Writers who illustrate this tendency are F. A. Voigt, Malcolm Muggeridge, Evelyn Waugh, Hugh Kingsmill, and a psychologically similar development can be observed in T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, and various of their followers.

(ii) CELTIC NATIONALISM. Welsh, Irish and Scottish nationalism have points of difference but are alike in their anti-English orientation. Members of all three movements have opposed the war while continuing to describe themselves as pro-Russian, and the lunatic fringe has even contrived to be simultaneously pro-Russian and pro-Nazi. But Celtic nationalism is not the same thing as anglophobia. Its motive force is a belief in the past and future greatness of the Celtic peoples, and it has a strong tinge of racialism. The Celt is supposed to be spiritually superior to the Saxon–simpler, more creative, less vulgar, less snobbish, etc.–but the usual power hunger is there under the surface. One symptom of it is the delusion that Eire, Scotland or even Wales could preserve its independence unaided and owes nothing to British protection. Among writers, good examples of this school of thought are Hugh McDiarmid and Sean O’Casey. No modern Irish writer, even of the stature of Yeats or Joyce, is completely free from traces of nationalism.

(iii) ZIONISM. This the unusual characteristics of a nationalist movement, but the American variant of it seems to be more violent and malignant than the British. I classify it under Direct and not Transferred nationalism because it flourishes almost exclusively among the Jews themselves. In England, for several rather incongruous reasons, the intelligentsia are mostly pro-Jew on the Palestine issue, but they do not feel strongly about it. All English people of goodwill are also pro-Jew in the sense of disapproving of Nazi persecution. But any actual nationalistic loyalty, or belief in the innate superiority of Jews, is hardly to be found among Gentiles.

TRANSFERRED NATIONALISM

(i) COMMUNISM.

(ii) POLITICAL CATHOLICISM.

(iii) COLOUR FEELING. The old-style contemptuous attitude towards ‘natives’ has been much weakened in England, and various pseudo-scientific theories emphasising the superiority of the white race have been abandoned. [See Note, in text below] Among the intelligentsia, colour feeling only occurs in the transposed form, that is, as a belief in the innate superiority of the coloured races. This is now increasingly common among English intellectuals, probably resulting more often from masochism and sexual frustration than from contact with the Oriental and Negro nationalist movements. Even among those who do not feel strongly on the colour question, snobbery and imitation have a powerful influence. Almost any English intellectual would be scandalised by the claim that the white races are superior to the coloured, whereas the opposite claim would seem to him unexceptionable even if he disagreed with it. Nationalistic attachment to the coloured races is usually mixed up with the belief that their sex lives are superior, and there is a large underground mythology about the sexual prowess of Negroes.

[Note: A good example is the sunstroke superstition. Until recently it was believed that the white races were much more liable to sunstroke that the coloured, and that a white man could not safely walk about in tropical sunshine without a pith helmet. There was no evidence whatever for this theory, but it served the purpose of accentuating the difference between ‘natives’ and Europeans. During the war the theory was quietly dropped and whole armies manoeuvred in the tropics without pith helmets. So long as the sunstroke superstition survived, English doctors in India appear to have believed in it as firmly as laymen.(Author’s footnote)]

(iv) CLASS FEELING. Among upper-class and middle-class intellectuals, only in the transposed form–i.e. as a belief in the superiority of the proletariat. Here again, inside the intelligentsia, the pressure of public opinion is overwhelming. Nationalistic loyalty towards the proletariat, and most vicious theoretical hatred of the bourgeoisie, can and often do co-exist with ordinary snobbishness in everyday life.

(v) PACIFISM. The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to the taking of life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of western countries. The Russians, unlike the British, are not blamed for defending themselves by warlike means, and indeed all pacifist propaganda of this type avoids mention of Russia or China. It is not claimed, again, that the Indians should abjure violence in their struggle against the British. Pacifist literature abounds with equivocal remarks which, if they mean anything, appear to mean that statesmen of the type of Hitler are preferable to those of the type of Churchill, and that violence is perhaps excusable if it is violent enough. After the fall of France, the French pacifists, faced by a real choice which their English colleagues have not had to make, mostly went over to the Nazis, and in England there appears to have been some small overlap of membership between the Peace Pledge Union and the Blackshirts. Pacifist writers have written in praise of Carlyle, one of the intellectual fathers of Fascism. All in all it is difficult not to feel that pacifism, as it appears among a section of the intelligentsia, is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty. The mistake was made of pinning this emotion to Hitler, but it could easily be retransferred.

NEGATIVE NATIONALISM

(i) ANGLOPHOBIA. Within the intelligentsia, a derisive and mildly hostile attitude towards Britain is more or less compulsory, but it is an unfaked emotion in many cases. During the war it was manifested in the defeatism of the intelligentsia, which persisted long after it had become clear that the Axis powers could not win. Many people were undisguisedly pleased when Singapore fell ore when the British were driven out of Greece, and there was a remarkable unwillingness to believe in good news, e.g. el Alamein, or the number of German planes shot down in the Battle of Britain. English left-wing intellectuals did not, of course, actually want the Germans or Japanese to win the war, but many of them could not help getting a certain kick out of seeing their own country humiliated, and wanted to feel that the final victory would be due to Russia, or perhaps America, and not to Britain. In foreign politics many intellectuals follow the principle that any faction backed by Britain must be in the wrong. As a result, ‘enlightened’ opinion is quite largely a mirror-image of Conservative policy. Anglophobia is always liable to reversal, hence that fairly common spectacle, the pacifist of one war who is a bellicist in the next.

(ii) ANTI-SEMITISM. There is little evidence about this at present, because the Nazi persecutions have made it necessary for any thinking person to side with the Jews against their oppressors. Anyone educated enough to have heard the word ‘antisemitism’ claims as a matter of course to be free of it, and anti-Jewish remarks are carefully eliminated from all classes of literature. Actually antisemitism appears to be widespread, even among intellectuals, and the general conspiracy of silence probably helps exacerbate it. People of Left opinions are not immune to it, and their attitude is sometimes affected by the fact that Trotskyists and Anarchists tend to be Jews. But antisemitism comes more naturally to people of Conservative tendency, who suspect Jews of weakening national morale and diluting the national culture. Neo-Tories and political Catholics are always liable to succumb to antisemitism, at least intermittently.

(iii) TROTSKYISM. This word is used so loosely as to include Anarchists, democratic Socialists and even Liberals. I use it here to mean a doctrinaire Marxist whose main motive is hostility to the Stalin régime. Trotskyism can be better studied in obscure pamphlets or in papers like the SOCIALIST APPEAL than in the works of Trotsky himself, who was by no means a man of one idea. Although in some places, for instance in the United States, Trotskyism is able to attract a fairly large number of adherents and develop into an organised movement with a petty fuerher of its own, its inspiration is essentially negative. The Trotskyist is AGAINST Stalin just as the Communist is FOR him, and, like the majority of Communists, he wants not so much to alter the external world as to feel that the battle for prestige is going in his own favour. In each case there is the same obsessive fixation on a single subject, the same inability to form a genuinely rational opinion based on probabilities. The fact that Trotskyists are everywhere a persecuted minority, and that the accusation usually made against them, i.e. of collaborating with the Fascists, is obviously false, creates an impression that Trotskyism is intellectually and morally superior to Communism; but it is doubtful whether there is much difference. The most typical Trotskyists, in any case, are ex-Communists, and no one arrives at Trotskyism except via one of the left-wing movements. No Communist, unless tethered to his party by years of habit, is secure against a sudden lapse into Trotskyism. The opposite process does not seem to happen equally often, though there is no clear reason why it should not.

In the classification I have attempted above, it will seem that I have often exaggerated, oversimplified, made unwarranted assumptions and have left out of account the existence of ordinarily decent motives. This was inevitable, because in this essay I am trying to isolate and identify tendencies which exist in all our minds and pervert our thinking, without necessarily occurring in a pure state or operating continuously. It is important at this point to correct the over-simplified picture which I have been obliged to make. To begin with, one has no right to assume that EVERYONE, or even every intellectual, is infected by nationalism. Secondly, nationalism can be intermittent and limited. An intelligent man may half-succumb to a belief which he knows to be absurd, and he may keep it out of his mind for long periods, only reverting to it in moments of anger or sentimentality, or when he is certain that no important issues are involved. Thirdly, a nationalistic creed may be adopted in good faith from non-nationalistic motives. Fourthly, several kinds of nationalism, even kinds that cancel out, can co-exist in the same person.

All the way through I have said, ‘the nationalist does this’ or ‘the nationalist does that’, using for purposes of illustration the extreme, barely sane type of nationalist who has no neutral areas in his mind and no interest in anything except the struggle for power. Actually such people are fairly common, but they are not worth the powder and shot. In real life Lord Elton, D. N. Pritt, Lady Houston, Ezra Pound, Lord Vanisttart, Father Coughlin and all the rest of their dreary tribe have to be fought against, but their intellectual deficiencies hardly need pointing out. Monomania is not interesting, and the fact that no nationalist of the more bigoted kind can write a book which still seems worth reading after a lapse of years has a certain deodorising effect. But when one has admitted that nationalism has not triumphed everywhere, that there are still peoples whose judgements are not at the mercy of their desires, the fact does remain that the pressing problems–India, Poland, Palestine, the Spanish civil war, the Moscow trials, the American Negroes, the Russo-German Pact or what have you–cannot be, or at least never are, discussed upon a reasonable level. The Eltons and Pritts and Coughlins, each of them simply an enormous mouth bellowing the same lie over and over again, are obviously extreme cases, but we deceive ourselves if we do not realise that we can all resemble them in unguarded moments. Let a certain note be struck, let this or that corn be trodden on–and it may be corn whose very existence has been unsuspected hitherto–and the most fair-minded and sweet-tempered person may suddenly be transformed into a vicious partisan, anxious only to ‘score’ over his adversary and indifferent as to how many lies he tells or how many logical errors he commits in doing so. When Lloyd George, who was an opponent of the Boer War, announced in the House of Commons that the British communiques, if one added them together, claimed the killing of more Boers than the whole Boer nation contained, it is recorded that Arthur Balfour rose to his feet and shouted ‘Cad!’ Very few people are proof against lapses of this type. The Negro snubbed by a white woman, the Englishman who hears England ignorantly criticised by an American, the Catholic apologist reminded of the Spanish Armada, will all react in much the same way. One prod to the nerve of nationalism, and the intellectual decencies can vanish, the past can be altered, and the plainest facts can be denied.

If one harbours anywhere in one’s mind a nationalistic loyalty or hatred, certain facts, although in a sense known to be true, are inadmissible. Here are just a few examples. I list below five types of nationalist, and against each I append a fact which it is impossible for that type of nationalist to accept, even in his secret thoughts:

BRITISH TORY: Britain will come out of this war with reduced power and prestige.

COMMUNIST: If she had not been aided by Britain and America, Russia would have been defeated by Germany.

IRISH NATIONALIST: Eire can only remain independent because of British protection.

TROTSKYIST: The Stalin régime is accepted by the Russian masses.

PACIFIST: Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.

All of these facts are grossly obvious if one’s emotions do not happen to be involved: but to the kind of person named in each case they are also INTOLERABLE, and so they have to be denied, and false theories constructed upon their denial. I come back to the astonishing failure of military prediction in the present war. It is, I think, true to say that the intelligentsia have been more wrong about the progress of the war than the common people, and that they were more swayed by partisan feelings. The average intellectual of the Left believed, for instance, that the war was lost in 1940, that the Germans were bound to overrun Egypt in 1942, that the Japanese would never be driven out of the lands they had conquered, and that the Anglo-American bombing offensive was making no impression on Germany. He could believe these things because his hatred for the British ruling class forbade him to admit that British plans could succeed. There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. I have heard it confidently stated, for instance, that the American troops had been brought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool. When Hitler invaded Russia, the officials of the MOI issued ‘as background’ a warning that Russia might be expected to collapse in six weeks. On the other hand the Communists regarded every phase of the war as a Russian victory, even when the Russians were driven back almost to the Caspian Sea and had lost several million prisoners. There is no need to multiply instances. The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And, as I have pointed out already, the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also. There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when ‘our’ side commits it. Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified–still one cannot FEEL that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function.

The reason for the rise and spread of nationalism is far too big a question to be raised here. It is enough to say that, in the forms in which it appears among English intellectuals, it is a distorted reflection of the frightful battles actually happening in the external world, and that its worst follies have been made possible by the breakdown of patriotism and religious belief. If one follows up this train of thought, one is in danger of being led into a species of Conservatism, or into political quietism. It can be plausibly argued, for instance–it is even possibly true–that patriotism is an inoculation against nationalism, that monarchy is a guard against dictatorship, and that organised religion is a guard against superstition. Or again, it can be argued that NO unbiased outlook is possible, that ALL creeds and causes involve the same lies, follies, and barbarities; and this is often advanced as a reason for keeping out of politics altogether. I do not accept this argument, if only because in the modern world no one describable as an intellectual CAN keep out of politics in the sense of not caring about them. I think one must engage in politics–using the word in a wide sense–and that one must have preferences: that is, one must recognise that some causes are objectively better than others, even if they are advanced by equally bad means. As for the nationalistic loves and hatreds that I have spoken of, they are part of the make-up of most of us, whether we like it or not. Whether it is possible to get rid of them I do not know, but I do believe that it is possible to struggle against them, and that this is essentially a MORAL effort. It is a question first of all of discovering what one really is, what one’s own feelings really are, and then of making allowance for the inevitable bias. If you hate and fear Russia, if you are jealous of the wealth and power of America, if you despise Jews, if you have a sentiment of inferiority towards the British ruling class, you cannot get rid of those feelings simply by taking thought. But you can at least recognise that you have them, and prevent them from contaminating your mental processes. The emotional urges which are inescapable, and are perhaps even necessary to political action, should be able to exist side by side with an acceptance of reality. But this, I repeat, needs a MORAL effort, and contemporary English literature, so far as it is alive at all to the major issues of our time, shows how few of us are prepared to make it.

[End Essay]

Extra Notes

[Extra Note*1]  The reference is to Byron’s use of the French word “longueur” in his satirical poem Don Juan. Its contemporary relevance makes it worth quoting:

“I know that what our neighbours call ‘longueurs’
(We ‘ve not so good a word, but have the thing
In that complete perfection which ensures
An epic from Bob Southey every spring),
Form not the true temptation which allures
The reader; but it would not be hard to bring
Some fine examples of the epopee,
To prove its grand ingredient is ennui.”
[ George Byron, “Don Juan, Third Canto”, 1821 ]

By neighbours he means the French. Robert Southey was then the British “Poet Laureate”, and one of the “Lake Poets” school along with Wordsworth and Coleridge. Byron is complaining of his “long” romantic poetic sagas, which although respected lacked authenticity, and so produce boredom in those who see through them. In the same poem Byron pokes fun at the “Lake Poets” flabby high minded utopianism. Their move from infatuation with the radical politics of the French Revolution, to romantic conservatism, he lampoons brilliantly earlier in this poem as: “Their loyal treason, renegado [rebel] rigour, Are good manure for their more bare biography”. In other words for personal gratification they swing passionately from rebellion to the establishment, and shallowly count the strength of their attachment above the nature of object of this attachment.

It is understandable why Orwell was thinking of Byron when he wrote a denunciation of chauvinistic groups in all their forms. Orwell’s and Byron’s complaint could be leveled at the writers of popular “progressive” political door stops today which provide neither the necessary diagnosis let alone cure.

[Extra Note*2] In Orwell’s essay he uses the word “nationalism” in the sense that “nation” is any overwhelming group feeling. A nation may be a political conviction, a country or a religion.

[Extra Note*3] Trotsky was one of the principal leaders (second only to Lenin) of the Bolshevik Russian Revolution of 1917. He was exiled and eventually assassinated by Stalin. He proposed the theory of permanent revolution in  which he proposed that a country did not need to pass through a stage of advanced capitalism to achieve a sustainable communist revolution. He opposed the state capitalism of Lenin and Stalin, that imposed a privileged bureaucratic class on society, which was justified as a stage towards eventful worker control.  Trotsky also opposed Stalin’s isolationist doctrine of socialism in one country, and instead maintained that any revolution in one country required the solidarity of an international movement. Trotskyists criticized and indeed continue to criticize the corrupt elites of nominally communist states (in particular the Soviet Union) as deformed workers states. These revolutions could or can still apparently be returned to the correct path without external intervention. Trotskyism is associated with Marxist fundamentalism.

[Extra Note*4]  Jingoism means “the extreme belief that your own country is always best”, and comes from a disguised oath. It first appears in a popular British song about the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78 (the war was mostly about ousting the Ottoman Empire from the Balkans).

“We don’t want to fight but by Jingo if we do
We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, we’ve got the money too
We’ve fought the Bear before, and while we’re Britons true
The Russians shall not have Constantinople.”

The song’s anti-Russian sentiment carries on from the Crimean War of the 1850s, in which Britain and France fought against Russian Expansionism into the decaying Ottoman Empire.

The jingoist theme of the song reappears in a Punch cartoon by EH Shepherd in 1938, where it is contrasted with the pacifism of Neville Chamberlain, with his  appeasement of Hitler and resistance to adequate rearmament. The old fashioned British national John Bull character, is in a record shop, asking the assistance Neville Chamberlain for this song. While Lord Salisbury’s (Neville Chamberlain’s father) portrait looks down from the wall. Lord Salisbury pursued an aggressive policy of security alliances  in Europe that led to the First world War. His son is pursuing the opposite policy under different conditions with ironically the same results.

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The text reads:  THE OLD-FASHIONED CUSTOMER “I wonder if you’ve got a song I remember about not wanting to fight, but if we do …. something, something, something …. we’ve got the money too?”

[End Extra Notes]

Assad’s Democide Services.

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Assad’s Democide Services.

[Posted by Lara Keller 10/10/17 Updated 21/4/19] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

Assad’s victory effect is not confined to Syria or even MENA Shia-Sunni regional tensions. Assad proved that you could mass impoverish, murder and torture your way to keeping your brutal kleptomaniac dictatorship in power.This must have an effect on other dictatorships around the world, facing the dilemma of reform or oppress. The Assad regime butchers will be able to sell advice on genocide of the people (“democide”). This is an angry mock advert for these disgusting consultancy services. It is meant as a warning allow Assad to get away with it, and the so called “international community” will be faced with many more so called “Syrian Crises”, which will become more urgent and harder to respond to.


 

It is absurd for Syrians not to have representative government.

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 [By Lara Keller Last Updated 6th June 2017]

It is absurd for Syrians not to have representative government.

The statement “it is absurd for Syrians not to have representative government” is the starting point for any discussion on the Syrian Revolution.  Apologists for the Assad regime regularly claim that Syria has always had free elections and the dictator Bashar Assad is wildly popular. This claim contradicts all the evidence of human right abuses, the size and brutality of the security brigades, censorship of the media, extent of inequality and the amount of wealth held in offshore tax havens. All this going back to 1970 and the beginning of the current regime with Hafez Assad’s illegal military coup against the Baarthist regime that had ceased power in 1963.

The regime and it’s apologists also claim the Syrian Revolution is not valid because it is composed of terrorist extremists. This is not true, and anyway the central issue is what the majority of the Syrian people want, rather than the composition of the armed opposition to regime. According to academics like Charles Lister, who closely studies these armed groups, a minority of the armed opposition are extremists. Groups that compile statistics on human rights violations, state that the regime, its foreign militias and Russian military are responsible for around 90% of violations, including civilian deaths.

The next claim is that the Syrian Revolution should be allowed to fail, because the opposition faces both Iran and Russia (backed financially by China). The Assad regime therefore cannot be defeated. Any attempt to escalate this “proxy war” by the West, by  giving more support to the opposition would lead to an unlimited war.

This amounts to appeasing Assad, Iran, Russia and China over Syria. After five years of brutal struggle against incredible odds this betrayal of the Syrian Revolution is utterly repulsive, but so also is the continuation of the war.

The “proxy war” claim ignores an essential reality. The elites in the West have no interest in empowering ordinary people anywhere, especially in the Middle East. The opponents of the Syrian Revolution are the elites in Syria (Assad Clique), Iran (clerical dictatorship), Russia (Putin dictatorship),  China(dictatorship), the Western elites (in US,Europe….) and the Sunni Dictatorships (Saudi Arabia, Egyptian Military Elite….). Western governments have had to pretend to support the Arab Democratic Uprising of 2011 onward, because their voters expect support for the concept of democracy in public.

In this realistic context the claim of “proxy war” needs to be reexamined. This “global elite” is not only fighting to prop up repressive government in Syria. It is also attempting to extend authoritarian government into the West. This year Trump and the UK’s Brexit. Next year potential Marine Le-Pen presidency in France, and a Geert Wilders government in Holland. All these victories for the far-right supported by the Putin Russian regime. The Western economies also sit on an ever growing debt crisis. Political upheavals and economic crises could easily form a self perpetuating machine driving the West towards authoritarianism, while authoritarian regimes support each other in securing these disasters.

So a war between the “global elite” and ordinary people is already being fought, with the ongoing Arab Democratic Uprising and the Syrian Revolution a part of it.

If Assad and Putin are appeased in Syria, then this will only lead to greater gambles by elites and more desperate extremism among ordinary people, resulting in more and deeper conflicts. The Syrian Revolution must succeed, as quickly as possible. This will happen by providing proper military and humanitarian support to the Syrian Opposition and by direct consequences on the Assad regime for war crimes that it or its allies commit. This support will strengthen the Syrian Opposition, by insisting it only goes to those who demonstrate a clear commitment to an inclusive representative government in the new Syria.

It is time to judge anyone in the West who claims to be “progressive”, or any leader who claims to have “democratic values”, by whether they support the Syrian Revolution.

 

 

 

 

Syria at our crossroads.

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Reading a review of Adam Hochschilds’s “Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939” I was shocked again by the parallels with the “orphan” revolution of our times in Syria (see: Rich Benjamin’s review in the Guardian 14/5/15 https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/may/12/spain-in-our-hearts-americans-in-the-spanish-civil-war-1936-1939-by-adam-hochschild-review). Two years ago there was a lot of rhetorical chatter about young Muslim Islamists volunteering for ISIL being like the volunteers who fought on the Spanish Republican side in the 1930s. Liberal feeling appeared to dismiss this, and the idea that Syria was like Spain was dismissed. I think this is both unjust and unwise, because there are many other parallels which have not been examined, and the consequences of the Spanish Civil War on the rise of European Authoritarianism has not been examined.

To see the connections think of roles rather than labels. This idea will escape the extremists of left and right, who resist the reality that authoritarian regimes of any banner, converge into the same oppressive state designed to favour elites.

The roles in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39:

Oppressive Regime: Spain was dominated by an elite of landowners and industrialists, backed up by the Catholic Church. Since the First World War they had ruled by a mixture of corrupt semi democratic politics (most people lived in rural areas, with dishonest elections) and short lived dictatorships. The coup by Franco and the Nationalists in 1936 set out to reinstate and defend rule by this traditional elite.

Regime Backers: In the 1930s Fascist Germany and Italy. They ignored the “Non-Intervention Agreement” (that farcically they were meant to be helping to enforce) and supplied large quantities of weapons to the Nationalists. They also sent soldiers, pilots and aircraft.

Opposition: In spite of the democratic obstacles, a left wing popular front won the elections of 1936. It became the official Republican government, but lost over half of the armed forces to the rebel Nationalists.

Democratic Opposition Backers: Democratic countries largely kept to the “Non-Intervention Agreement” which prevented the opposition Republican government from buying weapons. Léon Blum’s left wing Popular Front government in France did send some weapons in secret, but was limited by fear of a right wing coup in France.

Authoritarian Opposition Backers: Stalin’s Soviet Union gave quantities of antiquated weapons to the Republicans in exchange for the government’s gold reserves. They also sent some modern tanks and planes. They used this influence to direct the Republican forces, and ruthlessly purge them of all the ideological enemies of Soviet Russia.

International Free Media: They portrayed the conflict as being between extremists. The Nationalists used a policy of terror and killed more than 80% of the victims of repression. The Opposition were portrayed as hard line Soviet Bolsheviks. Fear of war was widespread after the carnage of the First World War. Opinion in democratic countries was firmly against any intervention against authoritarianism, because of the fear this would lead to another Great War.

International Peacemakers: The League of Nations supported non-intervention mostly by stopping arms import. They proposed a ceasefire, mediation and a free election. They did nothing to stop countries from intervening. Nothing was achieved.

Consequences of defeat in the Spanish Civil War:

The lack of support for the Republicans from other democratic countries, meant the Spanish Civil War ended with a victory for the Fascist Franco regime, which lasted until 1975. This victory encouraged other fascist groups in Europe who were waiting to take power with the help of Nazi Germany. In 1939 Belgium, Holland and France fell easily to the German army, and local fascist governments took control. The United States remained neutral until 1941.

Roles in the Syrian Civil War 2011-????:

Oppressive Regime: Since the 1960s Syria has been ruled by the Baathist party. In 1970 this government was taken over by the Assad family dynasty. It is dominated by a clique of a few Alawite (a sect of Shia Islam) families and wealthy Sunni business families. This elite has used its power to enrich itself, relying on systematic torture to suppress any dissent from the Sunni majority population. The regime maintains rigid control over advanced Syrian Armed Forces (supported by Russia) that is designed to stand up against Israel.

Regime Backers: Ironically this started as the Soviet Union, and has continued in Putin’s Russia. Iran supports the Assad regime, because of the Shia connection. They have supplied large quantities of advanced arms, planes, pilots and soldiers.

Opposition: The regional uprisings against oppressive regimes in the Middle East in 2011 spread to Syria. Peaceful demonstrations were violently suppressed, and the opposition to the regime became armed. Most of the arms of the Syrian Armed Forces remained with the Assad regime. Soldiers who moved to the opposition were mostly Sunni conscripts.

Democratic Opposition Backers: Democratic countries have given few arms to moderate opposition groups like the Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish groups. No weapons that can deal with aircraft, and only a few anti-tank weapons. The elites who dominate foreign policy in Western countries, have no interest in empowering Syrians. The public in the West associate intervention with the destructive recent conflicts of Afghanistan, Iraq and to a lesser extent Libya. No attempt is made to understand why these failed, and public opinion assumes all types of intervention must fail, and are weary of it.

Authoritarian Opposition Backers: Sunni Monarchies and other authoritarian regimes in the Middle East region have been giving large quantities of arms to extremist Sunni Islamist opposition groups. This has increased the power of these groups over moderate opposition groups. Many fighters have joined extremist groups to access weapons. The Sunni Monarchies have also been giving support to the “Islamic State” group, who have created a barbaric reign of terror in Eastern Syria.

International Free Media: They portray the conflict as being between extremists. The Assad regime has always used a policy of terror and has killed more than 90% of the victims of repression since 2011. The Opposition are portrayed as extremist Islamists. A lot of focus is given to the anti-Western rhetoric and threat from “Islamic State”. Opinion in democratic countries is firmly against any intervention to support people struggling against authoritarianism in the Middle East, because of the weariness of being involved in expensive wars in the Middle East. In Syria this includes fear of the West being involved in a direct war with Russia.

International Peacemakers: The Security Council of the United Nations have refused to authorise direct intervention by other countries in Syria. This includes enforcing no fly zones, and creating safe zones. An arms embargo by Western countries against the moderate Syrian opposition has been dropped. The UN has recently created a partial ceasefire, and started peace talks which are meant to lead to a free election. Nothing has been done to stop Russia and Iran directly intervening in Syria. Little in being done to force the Assad regime to allow food to be regularly supplied to around a million besieged people. It is likely that nothing will be achieved by the UN.

Consequences of defeat in the Syrian Civil War:

The lack of support from other established democratic countries, for the moderate Syrian opposition seeking to create a democracy, will mean the Syrian Civil War ends with a victory for the authoritarian Assad regime. This victory will demonstrate the lack of international will to support democracy, and the related lack of will to maintain existing democracies. Also it will show how easy it is for the hard line media of the right and left to destroy public support for others opposing authoritarianism. Expect a potentially devastating crisis in weakened democracies on the fringes of Europe, with the defeat in Syria as the decisive wrong turn that begins the collapse.

Looking at a comparison of Spanish and Syrian Civil Wars Again:

Looking at the review of “Spain in our hearts” again with this enumeration of roles, the similarities between Spain and Syria stand out vividly. Below are listed quotes from the review about the Spanish Civil War, with notes about how these parallel Syria now.

1. Oppressive Regime’s Terror Strategy.

“… Soldiers [in Spain] severed miners’ hands, genitals and tongues; some wore wire necklaces adorned with the strikers’ sliced-off ears. The young general who presided over the rout was lauded as one of Europe’s most up-and-coming military leaders, a rough-hewn soldier named Francisco Franco, whom the Associated Press proclaimed ‘Spain’s Man of the Hour’….”

Parallels the mass torture and murder committed by the Assad regime, especially since 2011.

2. Use of violence to defeat to defend authoritarianism.

“…. In the landmark elections of 1936 in Spain, the Popular Front – a coalition of liberal, socialist, secular, feminist and communist forces – defeated a coalition of wealthy industrialists, landowners, the Catholic Church and military loyalists. Right-wing forces, led by Franco, launched a military coup against the newly elected republican government, igniting the three-year civil war.”

The difference between Right wing authoritarianism of Franco’s Nationalists and the Left wing authoritarianism of Assad Baathist clique, is not significant as it amounts to same repressive state run for the benefit of elites. In Syria in 2011 a popular uprising as part of the “Arab Spring” was violently crushed by the Assad dictatorship, so creating a civil war that is still raging over five years later.

(* It is also worth noting when reading modern rhetoric about the Spanish Civil War, that Spanish democracy in the 1930s was limited, especially in rural areas. Franco was effectively attempting to reinstate the status quo overturned by popular will.)

3. Economic conditions that spark uprisings

“It was an era of economic crisis, in which general strikes, monetary collapses and vast swaths of homelessness were affecting the US and Europe. Millions felt a sense of despair and urged action; Spain provided a sharp focus. Stalin’s purges were far from general knowledge, so communism held powerful appeal. And fascism enjoyed its own allure. After Hitler grabbed power, promising deliverance to his reeling people, the Canadian prime minister compared him to Joan of Arc.”

The West is currently in a prolonged economic crisis, caused by neo-liberal economics, resulting in huge wealth inequality and an associated debt crisis. The same happened in the 1930s. Far right wing political parties in Europe are gaining influence.

A significant minority of progressives in the West are influenced by Russian propaganda, which is presented as a genuine alternative to “capitalist” media, and are actually hostile to the Syrian Revolution. Most others are indifferent. In contrast the Republican side in Spain received some sympathy (exaggerated in retrospect) but little action. George Orwell lamented: “To the British working class the massacre of their comrades in Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, or wherever it might be seemed less interesting and less important than yesterday’s football match.” [Looking Back On The Spanish War,1942]

4. The rise of authoritarianism in Europe.

“The Führer was wooing admirers among Spanish generals, English nobility and American oligarchs, all threatened by populist movements. Portugal, Poland, Greece, Lithuania and Romania, alongside the Third Reich and Mussolini’s Italy, all suffered under far-right regimes or dictators. “Fascism,” André Malraux lamented, “has spread its great black wings over Europe.”

The far right are gaining ground in France, Holland, Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary.

5. Foreign backers of the regime and the opposition.

“Many soldiers on both sides of the [Spanish] civil war felt that their fate was being decided elsewhere. Stalin’s regime sent the republican fighters antiquated guns and tanks, and tried to manipulate the war from Moscow.”

The fate of the Assad regime and the Syrian Revolution, is being decided by outside powers. The indifference of the public in the West, has allowed the elites who dominate Western foreign policy, to ensure the Syrian moderate opposition is poorly armed. Stalin’s Russia played a similar role in the Spanish Civil War.

The public’s fear of conflict has encouraged the appeasement of Putin’s Russia. In the same way Fascist Germany and Italy were appeased, in order to avoid war, when actually this strategy encouraged authoritarian regimes and movements to take bigger gambles.

6. Indifference and dithering among elites about the Civil War.

“Members of the British elite hedged their bets, with indifference. ‘If there is somewhere where fascists and Bolsheviks can kill each other off’, sniffed British prime minister Stanley Baldwin, ‘so much the better.’ In private, Franklin D Roosevelt dithered. Publicly he championed the US’s neutrality laws, which banned arms sales to either side.”

The Syrian Civil War is seen by Western elites, in a distorted way, as a struggle between Russia and Shia Iran, against Sunni Islamist extremists. A long war is a way to weaken both sides. The Syrian people, the real opposition are ignored. Stanley Baldwin was a conservative politician who led the National Government in the UK from 1935, whose policy was to appease the fascists.

Obama’s US government have given some arms to the opposition, and crucially withheld them in 2012 when the Assad regime looked as if it may have collapsed. Obama is notorious for dithering over the “red line” warning given to the Assad regime over the use of chemical weapons in 2013.

7. The greater support given by the regime’s backers.

“Hitler and Mussolini supplied Franco with troops, warplanes and weapons – assistance estimated to cost between $432m and $692m then, or from $7bn to $11bn today. The conflict emerged as a staging ground, or gruesome rehearsal, for the Second World War.”

Ironically Putin’s Russia now ensures that the Assad dictatorship has military superiority, just as Fascist Germany and Italy did for Franco’s Nationalists. The Syrian Civil War is a stepping stone in the encouragement by Russia and China of authoritarian movements in Europe. The lack of support for the Syrian opposition exposes the weakness of democratic will in Europe and the United States.

The opposition to the Assad regime has been smeared as being mostly extremists, while the atrocities committed by the regime have been widely unreported. The Syrian Civil War has been explained as being due to Arab or Islamic cultural backwardness. These type of smears were also directed at the Spanish Civil War.

8. The wisdom of taking a broader view of the Syrian opposition.

“Witnessing the imprisonment, torture and killings ordered by Stalin’s Spanish henchmen against his [George Orwell] fellow leftists, disillusioned him, though he continued fighting loyally. “Whichever way you took it,” he wrote, “it was a depressing outlook. But it did not follow that the government was not worth fighting for as against the more naked and developed fascism of Franco and Hitler.”

The Assad Regime is incapable of reform. Over forty five years of systematic oppression, torture, murder and extortion needs to end. Peace talks with the clique who dominate the wider Syrian government are absurd.

9. The misclassification of the Syrian Civil War.

“Under Hochschild’s sure prose, however, can be heard the wavering nostalgia of a baby boomer yearning for a time when wars had more moral clarity. His generational tribe broadly supported peace movements, and generally opposed US intervention in cold war flashpoints, from Vietnam to Nicaragua to El Salvador, and the invasion of Iraq. But Hochschild artfully coaxes the reader into thinking that the world would have been better off for generations had western democracies, especially the US, not stood aside during Spain’s cardinal war. He asks: when is military involvement in a distant conflict justified or even demanded?”

The Syrian Civil War should be in the same category as the Spanish Civil War, as a struggle of a mainly democratic opposition against an oppressive regime. Also as a part of a wider struggle of democracy to resist rising authoritarianism.

Instead it is being seen as a neo-colonialist war, in the same mould as the neo-colonialist cold war conflicts. Where rival super powers struggled to impose authoritarian governments labelled as far right or far left, on non-Western countries, resulting in mass murder and suffering. The genocidal struggle over Vietnam killed approximately 2 million people for example.

In the same way the Spanish Civil War was seen in the light of the First World War, as a struggle between groups of nations seeking dominance. It should have been seen at the time as a struggle between democratic and authoritarian ideologies. Later it was correctly reclassified as a precursor to the struggle against fascism of the Second World War.

A concluding thought from the review.

“Spain in Our Hearts closes also with an elderly American woman travelling in 2012 to an old battlefield to commemorate her disappeared brother’s death in 1938. ‘I told him we honoured his goodness and idealism and that the world turned out to be a much more politically complicated truth then he could ever have known.’ “

Yes it is complicated, but that does not mean it should not or cannot be tackled. Just like Spain the Syrian Civil War needs to be ended as quickly as possible with a victory for the opposition to tyranny. It is up to the millions of people who will never read this article or better ones like it, who will decide.

Charlie Hebdo Is An Islamophobic Propaganda Sheet.

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Charlie Hebdo Is An Islamophobic Propaganda Sheet.

[ Posted by Lara Keller 23/9/15 Updated 19/5/19 ] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

Introduction:

This illustrated article shows how the French satirical “Charlie Hebdo” magazine does not represent “freedom of expression”, but instead is an Islamophobic propaganda sheet, that is playing into the hands of far-right-wing racists.

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In 2015 there was an horrific unjustifiable terrorist attack on the “Charlie Hebdo” magazine, followed by an understandable white washing of the magazine. The illustration above shows the link between those who fund Islamophobic groups and those who fund Fundamentalist Islamic (so called) groups. Both sources of funding come from elites who have an interest in promoting authoritarianism. The nominally left-wing “Charlie Hebdo” magazine has been openly promoting Islamophobia. The fundamentalist Islamist (so called) group who attacked the magazine, used anger at Islamophobia to recruit terrorists and justify their atrocity. This is the Tragic Irony.

Helping The Rise Of The French Islamophobic Far-Right:

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At the same time there was a parallel increase in the popularity of Marine Le Pen’s far-right “National Front” (now “National Rally”) who benefited from Islamophobia and Islamist terrorism.

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There was a fear her party would win the 2017 French presidential election (update: she managed to get to the last round against Macron, where she achieved 34% of the vote). Ironically her popularity was being supported by a climate of Islamophobia, that “Charlie Hebdo” had helped to increase.

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She was absurdly asking the French people to trust the far-right National Front that she now led, which was founded by her holocaust denying father Jean-Marie Le Pen.

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Marine Le Pen posed as a modern day Joan of Arc, saving the French nation from the alleged tyranny of foreigners. She posed as a champion of freedom of expression, and an enemy of “political correctness”. Ironically a far-right government would close down left-wing critics like the “Charlie Hebdo” magazine. The illustration above shows Marine Le Pen as Joan of Arc setting fire to Charlie Hebdo (also the everyman character in the magazine). To the right is a drawing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist and editor Stéphane Charbonnier satirizing himself. Added is the blue and red flame symbol of the National Front. Ironically his magazine was encouraging Islamophobia, which benefited the far-right authoritarianism of the National Front.

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Two cartoons from the extremist leftist Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff (some of whose work as crossed the line from anti-Zionist to anti-Semitic, and who performed a shameful inexcusable volte-face from hating Assad to praising him). He correctly satirizes Marine Le Pen as a smiling fascist (in 2014), and Stéphane Charbonnier as someone who actively provoked the rage of conservative Muslims (in 2012).

In 2011 the Charlie Hebdo offices were fire bombed after an issue mocking Islam and the prophet Mohammad (the attack boosted circulation). In the summer of 2012 an extreme Islamophobic video called “Innocence of Muslims” was released in the US that resulted in a wave of riots around the world. Charlie Hebdo magazine opportunistically “poured fuel on the fire” in September 2012 with a series of naked caricatures of Mohammad.

In an interview reported by “Der Spiegel” Charbonnier complacently said “a drawing has never killed anyone”, he clearly had never heard of “Der Stürmer” famous for its vile anti-Semitic cartoons before the Holocaust (it’s influence was so bad that its editor Julius Streicher was hanged after the Nuremberg Trials). He also told the French news channel i>TELE: “We do caricatures of everyone, and above all every week, and when we do it with the Prophet, it’s called provocation”. Charbonnier was added to an Al Qaeda hit list.

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Marine Le Pen’s father Jean Le Pen was one of the co-founders of the National Front in 1972. It attracted many who were nostalgic for the far-right Vichy Regime, those who were enraged by Algerian Independence and hard line fundamentalist Catholics. Jean Le Pen has repeatedly defended the collaboration of Petain’s Vichy far-right regime. The Vichy propaganda posters above, are a reminder of the authoritarianism of the Vichy regime, and it’s close links and dependence on a much darker brand of fascism.

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This Vichy poster above could be ironically applied to Marine Le Pen’s attempt to gain power for her far-right National Front Party again, after the collaborationist far-right Vichy government of the Second World War (which provided inspiration and founding members of the National Front). This especially applies given Marine Le Pen’s Joan of Arc obsession. A far-right government in France is the disaster that Charlie Hebdo’s fueling of racist Islamophobia could result in.

How Islamophobia Progresses To Fascism:

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The propaganda progression illustrated above, starts with denigrating a group as inferior and dangerous (stage 1). Charlie Hebdo magazine has done this with its Islamophobic propaganda, and the deliberate provocation of violent fundamentalist Islamists. The smearing of a whole religion is a racist act, when that religion is strongly identified with an ethnic-cultural group. This was and is the case with Antisemitism, and applies equally to Islamophobia. The next stage is to oppress the feared group, who are labelled as irrationally dangerous (stage 2). The resulting hatred and resistance from the oppressed group is used to justify murder and ethnic cleansing as the only solution (stage 3). Once a group has been “othered” and destroyed, the concept of universal human rights has been broken. This leads to the persecution and elimination of other groups (stage 4). Fascism.

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The mass psychology progression illustrated above, shows an ordinary French citizen, symbolized by Charlie Hebdo’s every-man character dressed as Napoleon. He starts feeling that he has no power in modern France, because (like everywhere else in the Western democracies) the economy has been allowed to move beyond the control of democratic institutions towards a global elite, resulting is mounting inequality. He feels weak and therefore vulnerable and suspicious of “others” (stage1). He then goes on to look for authoritarian “strong” leaders who can protect him. He is encouraged to “fear” others, who he is told want to take his “place” (stage 2).  He feels angry because he hates feeling weak and vulnerable, and is enraged by “others” he is repeatedly told want to “replace” him. He wants to find an expression for his rage (stage 3). He has acted to hurt those “others” who are not strong enough to fight back. He is told he has done the right thing by stopping them before they got too strong. He feels a sense of power. He never wants to go back to feeling weak and vulnerable, and wants to make sure by “dominating” others. Authoritarian “strong” leaders promise to empower him to do this (stage 4). Fascism.

Examples Charlie Hebdo’s Islamophobia:

Here are some examples of Charlie Hebdo magazine’s racism and Islamophobia.

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This is a Charlie Hebdo cover from October 2014. It is mocking the 276 school girls who were abducted by the fundamentalist Islamist group “Boko Haram” from a town in North West Nigeria. They were raped, and some became pregnant. There was a large social media campaign (#BringBackOurGirls) to free the girls. There were offers of asylum in the West. Charlie Hebdo is mocking the possibility that traumatized pregnant raped schoolgirls might claim child benefit in the West. This is the true Charlie Hebdo (“Ce Est Charlie”): Sexist, Racist and in any terms Gross.

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This is a Charlie Hebdo cartoon from November 2011. The most explicit part of the cartoon has been blurred on this web page, although the original was not blurred. I interpret this cartoon as the naked figure of Prophet Mohammad, with a gold star over his anus. It suggests that his teachings came not from his mouth, but from this anus. This is very highly offensive, because most Muslims believe that Mohammad recited the Quran after nights of dream like prayer in a cave. These recitations were transcribed immediately by his followers. They are miraculous in terms of their poetic structure and theological insight. Literally the Words of God. This cartoon is a blanket negation of every aspect of Islam. This is Charlie Hebdo (“Ce Est Charlie”): Extreme, Gross and in negating an entire religion of billions of non-Western people it is Racist.

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This is the cover of “Charlie Hebdo” magazine from February 2006. The Prophet Mohammad is drawn holding his head, saying “it is hard to be loved by jerks”, under the title “Mohammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists”. This cartoon is ambiguous. Does it mean that all Muslims who love the Prophet Mohammad are jerks? Does it mean that nearly all Muslims are fundamentalists? Does it mean both? Does it perhaps mean some Muslims are fundamentalists and jerks? To the Islamophobic far-right all Muslims are inferior worthless dangerous fanatics. They would see this cartoon as supporting their racist ignorant prejudice.

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The meaning of the cover becomes clear inside this edition of “Charlie Hebdo” [CH] magazine from February 2006. There are a number of offensive cartoons attacking Islam. Some are from the right-wing Danish J-P Newspaper from the previous year. One of the CH cartoons has a gap-toothed Prophet Mohammad saying in translation “Mohammed President! My program: Gather believers and to the ovens the Infidels”. There is the J-P cartoon of Mohammad with the bomb turban. There is also the Danish J-P cartoon with the translated caption “Prophet [Mohammed], you messed up f*ck, that keeps women under the yoke.” There were also many more in the same ignorant and offensive vein.

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This is a cover of Charlie Hebdo magazine from 2011, where it claims to be against all religions.In reality there is a clear hierarchy in the aggressive Charlie Hebdo’s “so called” satire, that actually reads like abuse, ignorance and very little humour. The most abuse goes to 1.Islam, then 2.Christianity and lastly 3.Judaism.

The caption at the top of the image says: “After the scandal of Christ in the Pee of Avignon.” This refers to the destruction of a print of a photograph of the “Immersion (Piss Christ)” by Andres Serrano. It shows a plastic crucifix (with a figure of Christ attached) submerged in a tank of the (so called) artist’s urine. The photograph was attacked at a modern art gallery in Avignon. This is very highly offensive as the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is central to Christian theology. As in other religions there are many interpretations of the crucifixion . Charlie Hebdo magazine makes an indirect reference to this Grossly Offensive work of art.

Charlie Hebdo’s Excuses For It’s Islamophobia:

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1. Charlie Hebdo magazine excuses itself by claiming it mocks other religions. This is true but there is a clear hierarchy for scale and severity of the the magazines’ abuse:  Islam>Christianity>Judaism. The magazine claims this is not true, and that the media only reports the Islamophobic abuse, which does not hold up when the magazine’s output is examined in detail.

2. The magazine claims that critics of the magazine do not understand the context of its satire. Above is a Charlie Hebdo cover satirizing Christian opposition to equal marriage between people of the same gender. The title means “The Bishop of Paris [23rd Bishop] has three fathers. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.” It is difficult to see either relevance or humour in this cartoon. The real story is about Christian fundamentalists and gay marriage. The irony worthy of satire is that Jesus or the Bible in general has almost nothing to say about homosexuality, especially when compared to Jesus’ teachings promoting love and cautioning against judgement. The cartoon satirizes a particular aspect of Christian intolerance, while the Islamophobic cartoons are blanket savage criticism of the whole of Islam.

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3. The next excuse Charlie Hebdo uses is that it is critical of Israel, and is therefore not Islamophobic. The logic of this is flawed as Western far-right and far-left extremists can be both Antisemitic and Islamophobic. The Christian Right in the US is often Islamophobic and pro-Israel. The Charlie Hebdo cartoon above shows an Israeli settler asking a Palestinian who is in a humiliating position the question: “So what? It is cool to have a country?” It reinforces the Zionist idea that Palestinian Resistance to Zionist exclusion by the international recognition of Palestine is useless.

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Here is another Charlie Hebdo cartoon that reinforces the Zionist idea that Palestinian Resistance is useless. Zionist propaganda repeatedly states the solution to the Palestinian problem is for all Palestinians to leave Israel-Palestine. They compare the land area of Israel-Palestine and the Middle East. No account is taken of geography or political reality.

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This Charlie Hebdo cover shows an Israeli solder and a French PSG football supporter. The soldier is saying “Israel will win!” under the title “Enemies over there [Palestinians].” The PSG football supporter is saying “Death to the Jews!” under the title “His friends [Palestinians?] over here.” The Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) football club in known for having some Muslim supporters, and some of these are antisemitic. The title above the cartoons says “Palestine has Two problems”. These are the Israeli army in Israel-Palestine, and antisemitic supporters of the Palestinians in France (and elsewhere in the West). This cartoon reinforces the Zionist propaganda message that justifies racist violence by Zionists against Palestinians because of antisemitism abroad.

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Occasionally Charlie Hebdo has been genuinely critical of Israel. This is a cartoon after the Israeli army shelled an UNWRA school in Gaza in July 2014. The radio is playing “Yes School is over…..”

Charlie Hebdo Apologizing For Assad’s Genocide.

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The Charlie Hebdo magazine is also relaxed about the genocide of Muslim Arab Syrians by the Assad regime. This is a cartoon from July 2013 just before the infamous Sarin attack on Ghouta in August by the Assad regime. It calmly compares the chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime against the Syrian people, with an early monsoon in India. Where is the outrage in this cartoon?

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This is cartoon about Syria is from September 2013. Shortly after the mass murder of Syrians in Ghouta, due to a Sarin attack by Assad on the 21st August 2013. The cartoon relates to the chemical attacks on civilians by the Assad regime, with a child reacting to a regime shell by saying “Oh I’m just a kid!”, with the response “Whoops! Pardon!”. There is a notable absence of outrage given the world wide revulsion at the recent Ghouta attack.

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This Charlie Hebdo magazine cover, just a week after the mass murder in Ghouta, due to the Sarin attack by the Assad Regime on the 21st August 2013. It relates to calls for intervention by France against the regime. A presumably regime solider is targeted by a French missile. The cartoon has the the weasel words “Where do our taxes go? In the face of the Syrians.” This defense of the Assad regime against intervention fits the relaxed attitude of the previous cartoons to the killing of Syrian Muslims with chemical weapons.

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This cartoon from April 2011 illustrates the ignorance of Charlie Hebdo magazine on the Syrian Revolution. The Assad regime did not face “pressure from the street”, but a people empowered by the Arab Spring to protest at over 40 years of ruthless brutal dictatorship.

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This Charlie Hebdo cover is only two weeks after Assad’s Ghouta Sarin Attack. It relates to a story about gun violence in Marseilles from a year before, that turned into a big  political debate about immigration and Muslims. The City’s Mayor(?) is saying “I wait for Obama’s Green Light” under the title “Should We Intervene In Marseilles ?” This refers to anticipated intervention in Syria by the US Obama government, after the Assad regime deliberately crossed his “red line” on the use of chemical weapons. There was no intervention, and Assad’s political genocide in Syria was given the green light to continue instead. The comparison in the Charlie Hebdo cartoon is inappropriate, but worse still it reheats the Islamophobic debate on a small minority of Muslim immigrants who had become criminals.

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Occasionally Charlie Hebdo has been genuinely critical of the Assad regime. This is a cartoon from September 2011, at the beginning of the Syrian Revolution. Assad’s security thugs are saying “that’s really a peaceful demonstration”. It reminds me of the army of myopic righteous pacifists and fake-left dictatorship apologists in the West, who mistake the terrified silence of living or dying in a brutal dictatorship with peace.

Assad’s huge security forces were killing and torturing protesters indiscriminately from the beginning of the Syrian Revolution (and indeed anyone who challenged the regime from its illegal birth in a military coup in 1970). They then went on, with the help of Russia and Iran, to commit political genocide in Syria, largely unchallenged by the Western democracies.

Charlie Hebdo Celebrating The Military Coup In Egypt.

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This is the Charlie Hebdo magazine cover two days after the massacre of Morsi supporters by the Republican Guard in Cairo. On 8th July 2013, 51 protesters were killed, and 435 injured. Earlier President Morsi had been ousted by the military in a coup. The cartoon shows a man dressed as an ultra-conservative salafist, being shot while holding up a copy of the Koran for protection. He title says the “The Koran Is Shit”. The yellow caption reads “It does not stop bullets”. The smaller caption reads “Slaughter In Cairo”. The cartoon manages to be both Islamophobic propaganda and grossly insulting to those who died.

Charlie Hebdo, Islamophobia and Opportunism.

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The image above shows Jean-Marie Le Pen in February 2010. His daughter Marine Le Pen replaced him as President of the far-right National Front in the following year. The National Front poster behind him reads “No To Islamism, Youth with Le Pen.” The National Front has  successfully moved the focus of it’s racism from the Antisemitism under  Jean-Marie Le Pen to Islamophobia under Marine Le Pen (together with enthusiastic support for Zionism). This was and is pure opportunism, as Antisemitism has been replaced by Islamophobia as the form of racism best tolerated by the West’s elites.

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Philippe Val helped to resurrect Charlie Hebdo magazine in 1992, it had it roots as a radical publication in the 1960s and 1970s that finally ground to a halt in 1981. Philippe Val always had an obsession with supporting Israel in his editorials.

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In 2003 Philippe Val and the Charlie Hebdo magazine in general, moved on and started an obsession with promoting Islamophobia  and the “Clash of Civilizations”. The magazine moved away from antagonism to all religions, to targeting Islam and Muslims in the harshest terms.

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In 1997 Fiammetta Venner, Caroline Fourest and Moruni Turlot formed a feminist organization called Prochoix. It started by promoting feminism and LGBT rights, but rapidly moved towards a focus on Islamophobia. Charlie Hebdo promoted their work, and Venner and Fourest started working for it from 2004 onwards.

After firebomb attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and accusations of racism, the magazine hired Muslims in 2012. Including Zineb el-Rhazoui a journalist, an atheist and human rights campaigner. She is  a Moroccan with a mixed French Arab background. She specializes in fanatical attacks on Islam, whose authenticity are weakly justified by her Moroccan background and a masters in the “Sociology Of Religion” (see so called “native informer” syndrome). [update: Zineb el-Rhazoui left Charlie Hebdo after 2015, because their attacks on Islam were no longer sufficiently harsh]

Conclusion:

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Islamophobia is a threat to democracy in  France and the rest of Europe. The cartoon above illustrates how Islamophobic racism coupled with a sudden economic depression would empower the far-right (ie Marine Le-Pen in France).  This cartoon is based on Carlos Latuff’s work (some of which has crossed the line from anti-Zionist to anti-Semitic, and who has now performed a shameful inexcusable volte-face from hating Assad to praising him).

The Islamophobic content of the Charlie Hebdo magazine is voluminous, and inexcusable. The set of examples shown in this article are the tip of the iceberg, there are plenty of others examples to examine.

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The magazine courted outrage, which resulted in an inexcusable attack on its offices and the murder of prominent members of its staff. This attack greatly amplified the negative consequences of the magazine’s Islamophobic content. There is an unhealthy feedback loop between Islamophobes and Violent (so called) Islamist Extremists. The activities of both are destructive, and they help to fuel each other.

The cartoon above illustrates this unhealthy feedback loop. Western Elites fund Islamophobic abuse, create an atmosphere of fear of Islam and promote repressive policies to “protect” people from this threat. At the same time, the Elites of Dictatorships who have gained and kept power by promoting Islamic Extremism, are funding groups who promote this extremism, and also fund groups who attack those who are moderate or who follow a conflicting form of extremism. They falsely claim they are protecting people from being destroyed by those who hate Muslims and Islam. Clearly Islamophobia and Islamic Extremism strengthen each other, with ordinary people feeling they need to be protected by one side or the other.

Charlie Hebdo magazine have obviously made many attacks on the Marine Le-Pen and the french far-right. It is deeply ironic that their attacks on Islam have advanced the agenda of far-right far more successfully, than any of their attacks on the far-right have impeded it. The magazine was preaching to the converted on the far-right, but by indulging in unmoderated Islamophobia they made it seem fashionable.

After the January 2015 shootings there was a large outpouring of emotional solidarity for those killed and injured at the Charlie Hebdo offices. Ten workers at the magazine were killed, including the well known cartoonists Cabu (Jean Cabut), Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), Tignous (Bernard Verlhac), Wolinski (Georges Wolinski) and Honoré (Philippe Honoré). Also killed were two police officers (one was assigned to guard Charb), and a maintenance worker who just happened to be at the reception desk. Over twenty others were injured. The solidarity response centred on the social media tag “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie [Hebdo]).

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The magazine had a small circulation, and it is doubtful that many people saying “Je Suis Charlie” actually knew the extent of the magazine’s Islamophobia. Stéphane Charbonnier was working on a book on Islamophobia at the time he was killed. Typically it was dedicated to the false claims that Islamophobia is not racist, and condemning it is a distraction from fighting real racism.

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There was a backlash against anyone who criticized Charlie Hebdo, or the “Je Suis Charlie” campaign. Some of this was justified, as some people did claim a perverted  sympathy with the terrorists rather than their victims. The beatification of Charlie Hebdo magazine with the “Je Suis Charlie” campaign was grossly inappropriate. Sympathy for all the victims of the shooting should have been  expressed, while not endorsing the magazine. Clearly no one deserves to die for writing, drawing or producing the Charlie Hebdo rubbish.

It would have been better and more  effective if protests against Charlie Hebdo’s Islamophobia had come from all sectors of French society rather than leaving it to Muslims only. The magazine should not have been banned, but it would have been an effective opportunity to defeat Islamophobia by uniting society around condemnation of its content.

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After the shooting the correct response should have been “Je Suis L’Ironie” (I am Irony). That is the inner truth of this tragedy.