Thursday, November 28, 2013

Politics - Then and Now

The last few days has seen traffic to this blog shoot up massively, attracted by my posts about Ara Balakrishnan and the Lambeth 'Slavery' case. These visitors have included members of the mainstream media, many of whom have been in touch and who I've spoken to. Some, like the reporter from the Independent have credited this blog directly, others, like the Huffington Post have been happy to take what I've offered and then used it without attribution. However, that's material for a future article, for today I want to just make a few things clear about my politics as it's clear to me that some people haven't looked at anything else on this site.

Back in the days when Balakrishnan and his group were active, that is in the mid to late 1970s, my politics were far Left. I was a teenage Marxist, from an immigrant working class background. The world was clear to me. I knew that I was on the side of history and that proletarian revolution was the only solution to the poverty, racism and violence around me. I was driven by a strong sense of injustice, that people like me were excluded from society, that we were poor and would remain so. It was also clear that class society was organised to preserve the status quo and that the country was run by a political class that did everything it could to keep us down. On the streets the National Front and British Movement were active neo-Nazi movements that were acting as tools of the ruling class, and that the police were there to defend them and to fight those of us who were anti-fascists. And these views, though they may seem extreme now, were not that uncommon. Brixton, and places like Brixton, were home to numerous far Left groups, and though they differed in degree, the views I've described were common across most groups, whether they described themselves as Communist, Maoist, Trotskyist or Anarchist. And it was all so black and white - the temper of the times would not admit shades of grey. And, to be fair, being a teenager makes it easy to be certain, dogmatic and intolerant of ambiguity.

That was then. Here I am more than thirty years later, and I still believe that society is run by a political class that is intolerant of dissent and divorced from the lives of most people. I still care about poverty and racism and the struggle for economic and political justice. Only now I think that the victims of racism are as likely to be, or even more likely to be, white and working class as they are to be black. I believe that multi-culturalism is a poisonous ideology that enshrines and fetishises difference whereas I had wanted to eliminate difference and to aim for a society that was truly colour-blind. Where I wanted race to become inconsequential, todays anti-racists elevate it to a guiding principle and turn victimhood into a virtue. I now believe that you fight poverty locally and globally by economic development - and that free trade and globalisation are the best means to acheive this - whereas now it is the establishment that hates development. I believe that the green agenda is shared by our political classes and what sadly now passes for 'the left'. Rather than aiming to pull people from poverty and exclusion by giving space for them to work and to grow their economy, we instead try and shoe-horn them into 'sustainable' paths that actually means they stay poor.

And finally, where I used to see the world as black and white, I now see that it's all grey. Maybe it's the wisdom that comes with experience, maybe it's the fact that I've deliberately decided to test my assumptions repeatedly over the years and have to tried to adopt a sceptical attitude in politics, science and life in general. And perhaps, finally, it's the fact that I was so closely involved with the far Left for a number of years which means that I can be so critical of where they are now - the mind-set is familiar to me in the way that it isn't for those who've not been there.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Balakrishnan's Red Guards

The thing about Balakrishnan and his group is that they were completely inspired by the politics of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It was a bizarre combination of violent radicalism, self-sacrifice, utter egalitarianism and devotion to the leader - Mao or his representative here on earth. They saw themselves as Red Guards, ready to do whatever was required in the name of the Party. There could be no room for doubt, shades of grey or ambiguity. So, to make sense of what happened to Balakrishnan and his group, you have to let go of any preconceptions you might have about conventional left or far left politics.

And the spark of all this madness was the very real glamour of the Red Guards and the zeal of those who wanted to be like them. People forget that radical Maoism had quite a following in many parts of the third world (as it was then called) - and many of those attracted to Balakrishnan came from those countries. What's more, you didn't just wander into their centre and ask to be signed up. To become a member you had to work hard at it. You had to prove you could be trusted, you had to show ideological purity, exhibit devotion to the group no matter what. All this and put up with the world around you actively telling you that you're crazy. It's the ideal recipe for cultish behaviour.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Did Comrade Balakrishnan Try To Break Into Whitehall?

It's been years since I've thought about this stuff... A persistent rumour back in the late 70s, when Balakrishnan's group were at the height of their public activity, was that Balakrishnan had been arrested trying to break into government offices in Whitehall. Lots of people on the Left believed it at the time, though it's also true that it was the sort of rumour that some of the other Maoists could have spread around.

And how's this for a little historical snippet... During the Queen's 1977 Jubilee visit to Brixton, the route took her right by the Maoist centre, replete with huge red portrait of Mao Tse Tung. Balakrishnan's supporters were inside clutching copies of the little red book...

Balakrishnan In Action

How's this for Maoist style:

The Party Committee of the Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, which upholds the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Chairman Mao, with profound indignation and deep class hatred, denounces the British fascist state for its repeated political persecution of our worker comrade, Ekins Brome, a member of our Party Committee. Comrade Brome was arrested on February 13th, 1976 together with Comrade Najeeb Norman, another member of our Committee, when both these comrades went to Brixton Prison to visit two of our other leading comrades who were then in unjust detention from February 1st, 1976 – Comrade Ara Balakrishnan, the Secretary of the Institute and Comrade Wee Hock Seng. A surprise attack was made on Comrades Brome and Najeeb by some prison wardens who pounced on them and violently assaulted them inside the Brixton Prison compound. Both their spectacles were smashed and their faces were covered with bloody bruises. The fascist prison wardens bared their anti-communist fangs further by tearing off a badge of Chairman Mao from Comrade Najeeb’s coat! These fascist hoodlums revealed only too clearly that they were acting on the direct instructions of the panic stricken British fascist state when they turned truth upside down and hastily charged our comrades with assaulting them! From then on we witnessed yet again the mockery of the British legal system – the rubber stamp of the dictatorship of the fascist bourgeoisie of Britain. Our comrades, as soldiers of Chairman Mao and servants of the working and oppressed people, militantly resisted at every step and resolutely denounced the fascist courts and the moribund criminals who sat in “judgement” of them. They vigorously shouted the slogans: “Long live Chairman Mao!”, “Long live the Communist Party of China!”, “Death to the British fascist state!”, “Victory to World Revolution!”

Yep, that's the authentic voice of 'slave keeper' and Marxist-Leninist Aravindan Balakrishnan
in action, exactly as I remember him...

So what we have here is not anything to do with 'modern slavery' or people trafficking or anything of that ilk. What we have is a Leftist sect that has imploded and collapsed in on itself. This lot might be more extreme, but it's what we've seen again and again with the Left.

Anyone want to talk about Gerry Healey and the WRP? Or even good old Rev Jim Jones if we really want to get dramatic.

Slavery = Democratic Centralism

Earlier this morning I blogged about the Lambeth Slavery story - (for non-UK readers, the police have retrieved three women from a house in South London, alleging that the women had been held against their will for 30 years) - and guessed that this was really a case of political brainwashing. At the time I suggested that the most likely culprits were Marxist-Leninists/Maoists. I even mentioned a specific group who ran a Maoist bookshop on Acre Lane.

The police have just revealed that the couple accused of being the 'slave keepers' were Aravindan and Chanda Balakrishnan, who ran the Maoist bookshop on Acre Lane. As a curious teenager I had been in there a couple of times and it was weird. The group were spreading the line that the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army were going to invade the UK and bring the revolution to the people. They were preparing the ground by holding study groups in Mao Tse Tung (as it was spelt in those days) Thought. The rest of the time they spent in attacking all other leftist groups. In particular they hated another Maoist group called the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist), now known as the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Balakrishnan had actually been a member of the CPE(ML), but had left/been expelled and therefore hated them more than anything else in the world.

The really were the most paranoid people I ever met. On the second and last time I visited their shop a fire engine passed outside. No siren blaring or anything, it just cruised by. One of the people in the shop looked up and told me that it was an example of psychological warfare by the British government. I never went back.

So, remember where you read it first...

The Lambeth 'Slavery' Story

I'm betting that it turns out that the people involved in the Lambeth 'Slavery' story were Marxist-Leninists of some sort. I grew up on the estates of Brixton in the 70's and 80's and the place was home to every far Left sect you can think of. We locals were considered to be fertile recruitment material, which meant that every Left group in the country parachuted people into the area. Aside from the usual Trotskyite suspects, there were mutliple flavours of Marxist-Leninist/Maoists, including a Centre for Mao-Tse-Tung Thought based out of a bookshop on Acre Lane that was adorned with a 20 foot high portrait of olf Mao himself. In contrast to the largely white and middle class Trots, the Maoists were more multiracial and included a fair few local working class members. And of course, they were way more authoritarian and paranoid than some of the other Leftist groups active on the ground. Later on when the Shining Path were active, they too had a front group active in Brixton.

It wouldn't surprise me then if it doesn't turn out that rather than a case of 'modern slavery', the three women in Lambeth, and the couple accused of being the slave keepers, aren't actually just practising 'democratic centralism' they way they did in the height of the fervour of the 1970s.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Warsaw Climate Talks - Key Agreement Reached

It's in the nature of bureaucracies that self-preservation is the primary and over-riding feature. No matter what the original intention might be, once the organisation is established it will slowly evolve so that it can survive and prosper no matter what.

And so it is with so many of UN's bodies. Which is why the talks in Warsaw, which look like they'll follow tradition and 'go to the wire' and do everything to try and inject a sense of dynamism into the global warming corpse (which, like the real world, shows no signs of warming up...), has already reached the most important decision: the next stop for the roaming global circus. And the lucky winners this time are the French...

With that out of the way the pointless bickering can carry on as if it matters.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

They Have No Shame

So listening to the warmists on the BBC this morning proved once again that they have no shame. Predictably the discussion with head honcho at the World Bank included an attribution of Typhoon Haiyan to man-made global warming. Sure, it was prefixed with 'scientists tell us that it's impossible to attribute a single event to climate change' but this segues into 'but we know that extreme events will become more frequent and more extreme, and this was an extreme event so...'

And so we have warmists using a natual disaster and the suffering of the people of the Philipines to continue to campaign for policies that will make such calamities worse in the future. As Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, points out in the interview with Evan Davies, poverty makes the impact of such disasters much worse. So what does he suggest? More sustainable energy, a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the rest of the green agenda. Access to cheap energy is essential for economic development to take place, and yet he advocates, and the BBC clearly promotes, the very policies that make energy more expensive and which hold back the development that means people can build homes that don't collapse every Typhoon season.

Of course, completely missing from the entire discussion, is any mention that warming stopped more 16 years ago. Where is the warming that is supposed to have made Haiyan more likely? The pause in warming is the most embarassing fact in climate science and yet it is routinely ignored by the warmist establishment.

Instead we get them using natural disasters as a cue to propagandise and promote failed environmental policies that actively work to keep the poor people of the world poor.

Really, they have no shame whatsoever and it's sickening.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Einstein At The Office

The scene: the office of the Chancellor of the University of Zurich. A diminutive Albert Einstein is sitting in front of the imposing oak desk of the Chancellor.

Chancellor: My dear Einstein, I am afraid that your head of department has expressed some unhappiness with the current situation.

Einstein: I'm sorry, Herr Chancellor, I don't quite follow...

Chancellor (Sighs expressively): Let me be to the point, Einstein, there's some concern in the department about some of your recent work.

Einstein (alarmed): An error in my work? I am presently revising my work on the Avogadro constant and believe I have made excellent progress on a new estimate...

Chancellor (interrupts): You misunderstand once again, Herr Professor, and alas it does make me wonder whether you are truly of the right cloth for a career in the academy.

Einstein: I apologise once again, Herr Chancellor, but perhaps you can enlighten me as I am clearly not following your line of thought.

Chancellor: The department are concerned that your recent funding applications are insufficiently compelling and that they cast the department in a poor light.

Einstein: But my work on Brownian motion and the photoelectric effect have been well received, Herr Chancellor. Very well received in fact.

Chancellor (looking distinctly unimpressed): I agree that your refinement of Helga von Thurinberg's theory on the photoelectric effect has some technical interest.

Einstein (shocked): Refinement?? Sir, I beg to disagree. Thurinberg's assertion that the photoelectric effect is caused by the sun smiling benevolently on grateful solids or liquids is not physics. It's not science of any description at all. It's pure metaphysical nonsense...

Friday, November 01, 2013

The BBC, Wine and Climate Change

Alarming headlines in the last couple of days have highlighted a projected a global wine shortage that is likely to raise prices as demands outstrips supply. Much of this is driven of course by changing patterns of demand, particularly relating to increased demand from China. The other side of the equation is also subject to changing patterns. Buried in the story on the BBC is this little snippet:

They say this could be partly explained by "plummeting production" in Europe due to "ongoing vine pull and poor weather".

Poor weather? But surely the BBC has been warning us for years that wine production was a risk because of rising temperatures, not because of cooling or wetter summers. For example on 20 October 2010 the BBC were warning that 'Best loved wines at risk from climate change'  - and here they meant increased warming.

Or perhaps we can go back a couple of years further and find that warming was the key concern on the story from 6 September 2008: 'Spanish wine makers fight climate change'

Go back to July 2007 and we have 'Winemakers keep weather eye on climate' . Again the story was that global warming was going to negatively impact wine production.

And so here we are in 2013 looking at what's really happening rather than on model projections and the story is very different. The climate is changing, but not how the models told it should. Rather than hotter, drier weather causing shrivelled vines, it's colder, wetter weather reducing the crop. For those of us who view a glass of wine (or two) as one of our five a day, this is worrying news, and as sceptics have been saying for a long time, it's global cooling that is the real danger to humanity, not the little bit of warming that we experienced nearly 20 years ago... But don't expect to read that on the BBC any time soon.