Tagged: History

On The British Monarchy

An intelligent and interesting appraisal of the British Royal family and their possible future. From an American who knows a lot of stuff!

toritto

As a Brooklyn born kid who grew up in Coney Island I know little about royalty other than what I read in the papers.  Class differences are so important that no one is really permitted to talk about them freely.

In my corporate career I have never met royalty, but I have met nobles.

When I was about 30 years old I was part of a small team examining the books of the Rothschild Intercontinental Bank in London, which my employer (Don’t leave home without it!)  was considering, and eventually did purchase.  The portfolio consisted of a smattering of sovereign credits which is what one would expect of a Rothschild bank.

It was headed up at the time by one Ralph Thomas George Stonor Lord Camoys,  just a few years older than I, who later served as Lord Chamberlain of Great Britain from 1998 – 2000.  The Lord Camoys traced…

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British Communists: Have they given up?

I have made no secret of the fact that I used to be a member of The Communist Party in Britain. I started as a teenager, in the Young Communist League, then transferred to adult membership when I was 18 years old. I wasn’t a very good local member. I rarely attended meetings, and never sold the Morning Star newspaper on the streets. But I did actively support the cause in other ways. I became a trade union ‘agitator’, with a Communist intent to try to make the unions more militant. Much later, I was part of a large group that infiltrated the Labour Party, by joining it, and then signed up as a member of an offshoot group, ‘Militant Tendency’, with an agenda to change the Labour Party into a radical Hard-Left organisation.

That ‘plot’ was discovered, and I was formally expelled as a member of the Labour Party. As that was at the time of Neil Kinnock’s leadership, I saw that almost as a relief. Soon after, I split from the Communist Party, because it took an anti-Soviet stance, and I felt that they were becoming too ‘soft’. The last time I was able to vote for a Communist candidate was in 1987, when I still lived in South-East London. He lost his deposit, and received so few votes that they never stood a candidate there again.

During the EU referendum, The Communist Party took a very anti-EU position, and that attracted me. This is what they had to say about the EU.

Nevertheless, the CP will continue to oppose Britain’s membership of the European Union, recognising that the treaties, rules, directives and policies of the EU are designed to protect big business interests and their capitalist markets against any advance towards socialism in any EU member state.
Like most Communist and workers’ parties across Europe, the Communist Party of Britain understands that the EU has also been designed to be unreformable as a construction to defend and promote capitalism and is now developing a military dimension in order to promote the common interests of Europe’s main imperialist powers.

This was exactly how I had always felt about the EU, and why I voted against joining, in 1975.

Since moving to Norfolk in 2012, I have not had many opportunities to vote. But when they have arisen, I have voted for The Labour Party. This is generally perceived to be a nominal protest vote in this region, which is firmly and traditionally Conservative, and on the right-wing of that party too.

So with last Thursday’s election giving an emphatic win for the Conservatives throughout much of the UK, I wondered what The Communist Party had been up to, and why they had never put up a candidate in Norfolk for me to vote for. I found this, online.

The Communist Party reaffirms its commitment to working for the election of a left-led Labour government on a left and progressive manifesto at an early general election.
Once again, we will call upon all socialists, progressives, trade unionists, Greens and Scottish and Welsh nationalists to vote for such a government led by a socialist who has a long and proven record of defending the interests of working people and their families and of opposing militarism and imperialist wars.
In order to demonstrate its commitment to unity around this perspective, the CP will not be standing candidates of its own in the next general election, providing Labour retains its left leadership and fights the election on a left and progressive manifesto.

It appears that they have so little faith in their own policies, that they urged their members to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, as the ‘best option’ for some kind of Socialist government in this country. Further research told me that it also did this in 2017, and in 2018, it announced that it would no longer stand any candiudates against Labour, as long as the current leadership was in place. Looking into it a little more. I discovered that the current Communist Party in Britain has less than 900 members.

I conclude that they have ‘given up’.

History Is Bunk

Many of you may not be aware, and many will not even care, but there has been a great deal of controversy in America of late. Besides the antics of Mr Trump, his cabinet, and his family, or the bluster and counter bluster with North Korea, something else has been going on.

Some states have decided to remove statues and memorials dedicated to people who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, from 1861-1865. Famous generals like Robert E. Lee, and some statues of other officers, as well as memorials to fallen Confederates are being removed by the authorities. The reasons given for this vary, but the overall idea is to stop ‘glorifying’ people who fought in a cause that supported slavery. I could add quotes, or write all day about the many other reasons why that war happened, but there would be no point. It has become seen as a war against slave states, by states who did not support slavery, and that seems to be the end of it. In other places, the display on public buildings of the Confederate flag, the famous ‘Stars and Bars’, has been outlawed too.

Much of the reason for this backlash can be explained by the fact that Far-Right groups in the USA, including the KKK, and other White Supremacist organisations have ‘hijacked’ this flag, and used it for their own reasons. Also that these monuments are honoured by these same groups, some of which would like to see Secession from the Union happen again. It is claimed that the descendants of slaves, the modern day African-American citizens, are offended by having to walk past statues of Confederate generals, reminding them of the enslavement of their forefathers. The issue has been warmly embraced by Liberal white groups too, and pressure applied to get these monuments removed.

Just yesterday, I became drawn into a heated ‘blog argument’ on the issue, on the site of a very nice lady. I don’t intend to do that again, so no need to look away now…

So, why do I care? I am English after all. American history is for Americans to sort out, surely? Best if I kept my nose out, and let them remove what they want, without me antagonsing their citizens on the blogosphere. But I do care. I care because it is history. Not just American history, but world history too. I care in the same way that I cared when ISIS destroyed religious monuments in Iraq and Syria. When the Taliban destroyed ancient art in Afghanistan, or when the post-soviet Russians pulled down statues of Lenin. Taking away any memorial does not make the history go away, or become any more acceptable to future generations. Something else has to happen, before that is complete.

That something else is the gradual erosion of history by default. Not bothering to stock the books in the library. Removing the teaching of the period from the school syllabus. Forgetting to report on the anniversary of a significant event. It is so easily done, and has been done many times before. In a few generations, it is all forgotten, like it never happened. There is nothing left to remind us, after all. And what about the double standards? Slave-owning Andrew Jackson is on the US $20 bill, and his former plantation home is a ‘national monument’. (Jackson is to be removed from the currency, by 2020)
Mount Rushmore is built on land stolen from Native Americans who were driven off of it, and Florida’s Disney World was once home to the proud Seminole people. How do their descendants feel about those reminders of the desecration of tribal lands, I wonder?

Every nation has an uncomfortable past. My own country spent centuries conquering foreign nations, and reducing their people to little more than servants. But the history of that is still there to be seen, with the statues of colonialists like Cecil Rhodes and Robert Clive sitting proudly on their plinths. It doesn’t mean that the later generations were unaware of their shortcomings, and for all I know, may well provoke debate about their actions. Tens of thousands of people from an Indian or South African background walk past such monuments in London every day. Yet there are no cries to have them taken down. Trying to remove ‘inconvenient’ history is the first step down a very slippery slope that has no end. It was an American, Henry Ford, who once declared that “History is bunk.”

Let’s hope he is not proved right.

The German Election

If the current news remains unchanged, it looks like the German people have voted in the same party, for another four year term. It is a right-wing party, with accordant views on immigration and Europe, and with strong industrial and financial policies. The Right is once again on the move in Germany. Especially in the area that was formerly East Germany, extreme right groups are flourishing, and racism is their creed once more. They are led by a government with a white Christian base, and old-fashioned, conservative ideals and beliefs, backed by big business, and the Church. Nationalism, and domination of the European economy, appear to be their main goals, and they are prepared to ally themselves to almost any other faction, to achieve power.

Sound familiar?