All posts tagged: historical perspectives

Captain Cook’s “Discovery” 250 Years On

Hugh O’Neill CAPTAIN COOK Abridged from a lecture by Professor Bernard Smith (1916-2011) The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interr’d within their bones.” Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2 That’s one way to start isn’t it, but in Cook’s case it misses the point rather badly. Because his bones were not properly interred, they were carried around for over forty years in a reliquary bundle at Hawaii (at the carnival time of the god Lono, the time of the god’s harvest festival) as a sign that the god had returned, and a sign perhaps too that the god was now an Englishman. In Cook’s case, both the good and evil aspects of his astounding achievements have been keenly debated since his death. Cook’s three Pacific voyages had immense consequences because they changed the world so radically that their good and evil consequences continue to be debated e.g. is modern industrial society a blessing or a curse? We enjoy the benefits even as we become increasingly apprehensive as to the …

Iron Ladies and Golden Dreams

Steven Keith It was Margaret Thatcher who as Prime Minister was the principal driving force behind the expansion of the European Union. It was she who advocated the broadening of the physical, philosophical, financial and spiritual scope of the European Community as it was then known, to include the eastern European and Baltic, former Warsaw Pact states. Her nemesis at that time was Jaques Delors, a bureaucrat and a Frenchman. He of course (being that he had risen to the appointed post of a Commissioner) came from the Brussels mindset that was then and remains to this day of the same view, that being, that Brussels, Berlin and Paris run the show between them. The physical structures of the EU project in Brussels, Belgium being underpinned by the financial and philosophical capacities of Germany and France. Thatcher attempted to weaken that triumvirate by expanding the number of nations and taking advantage of the fact that those countries were existing in their post-Soviet incarnation, that being, in a state of virtual financial anarchy, masquerading as liberalism. …

Leavings

Tony Benn used to say that he grew more radical as he got older. As in many things, Benn was unusual. People are generally apt to grow more reactionary as they get older. This is particularly true of MPs of all persuasions. For all its timid and marginal reforms of itself, the Palace of Westminster is still more like a traditional gentlemen’s club than any other institution. MPs are easily lulled by the comforts and the rhythms of the House.

Goebbels is alive and well…in Amerika

Philip A. Farruggio Peter Longerich’s 2015 biography Goebbels instructs well how history can and does repeat itself. Like many of the NeoCon ex “Lefties” who loaded up the Bush Sr. and Jr. administrations, Goebbels was at first a true socialist, perhaps even a Marxist sympathizer. [He had also seriously considered the Catholic priesthood.] As a young novelist and later journalist, he had a real dislike for the Fat Cat capitalists who he and others from both the political left and right blamed for Germany’s fall from grace. When he “found” Adolf Hitler, despite his many disappointments about Hitler from his diary entries ( including the fact that he fervently believed that Hitler was in love with Goebbels’ fiancé Magda … and perhaps vice versa), Goebbels joined the new Fuehrer Cult. As with many others in economically and culturally depressed Germany, Goebbels was enamored with the man he referred to as ‘The boss’. The need for a messianic leader, actually a dictator, was very prevalent among many in the NASDAP (Nazi party). So much so that …

The CIA Then and Now: Old Wine in New Bottles

The Nazis had a name for their propaganda and mind-control operations: weltanschauungskrieg – “world view warfare.” As good students, they had learned many tricks of the trade from their American teachers, including Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for the United States during World War I and had subsequently started the public relations industry in New York City, an industry whose raison d’ȇtre from the start was to serve the interests of the elites in manipulating the public mind.

We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth

As Martin Luther King’s birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, his death day disappears down the memory hole. Across the country – in response to the King Holiday and Service Act passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 – people will be encouraged to make the day one of service. Such service does not include King’s commitment to protest a decadent system of racial and economic injustice or non-violently resist the U.S. warfare state that he called “the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.”

War Criminals at Large

It is a common misconception that democracies do not start wars of aggression or carry out terrorist attacks. The historical facts for the period from 1945 to today show a completely different reality: time and again, democratic states in Europe and North America have participated in wars of aggression and terrorist attacks in the past 70 years.

A Brief History of the System

This is an extract from the Introduction to Darren Allen’s new book 33 Myths of the System. We’ll be publishing a few more extracts over the coming days. The full work is available as a free download here. Our society resembles the ultimate machine which I once saw in a New York toy shop. It was a metal casket which, when you touched a switch, snapped open to reveal a mechanical hand. Chromed fingers reached out for the lid, pulled it down, and locked it from the inside. It was a box; you expected to be able to take something out of it; yet all it contained was a mechanism for closing the cover. Ivan Illich For hundreds of thousands of years, people lived well in peaceful, egalitarian, healthy societies, at the very least in comparison with what followed. We did not work particularly hard and the work itself (if it could be called work; pre-civilised societies don’t make distinctions between work and play), was enjoyable, meaningful and non-alienating. Activity is alienating if it makes …

Upside Down Mark Twain

Philip Farruggio Mark Twain AKA Samuel Clemens ( 1835-1910) best known for his literary works like Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, was also a man with deep rooted empathy for any underclass containing people of color. Few readers of his works realize that he was also a staunch opponent of imperialism, having been president of the Anti Imperialist League from 1901 to his death in 1910. Twain wrote about the treatment of the Chinese in San Francisco during the Civil War when he was a newspaper reporter. In 1865 he astonished many passersby, even those who fought for the abolition of slavery years earlier, when he chose to walk arm in arm through the San Francisco streets with the editor of the recently established Afro American newspaper, the Elevator. Of course, one of his most famous quotes was on his definition of politics: “To protect us from the crooks and scoundrels”. He also said something that resonates so strongly today: Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting …

The Milagro of Oscar Romero’s Sainthood

Lately when you read the news about the Catholic Church, it’s really bad. But on October 15, the Pope canonized a truly remarkable person, Oscar Romero. This is a saint whose life you should study, even if you aren’t Catholic.

The #MeToo campaign versus the presumption of innocence

Eric London, World Socialist Website In the US, the Democratic Party and its celebrity and media allies, through the vehicle of its #MeToo campaign, are waging a battle against the presumption of innocence. By seeking to whip up hysterical moods surrounding allegations of sexual misconduct, they are trying to popularize the idea that those accused of sexual assault should be presumed guilty. This campaign is, in its essence, reactionary and should be opposed. The proponents of this view have put forward four primary arguments: All accusers must be believed, and doubting any accuser is tantamount to “victim blaming” or “rape apology.” The actress Rose McGowan said in December 2017, “I would challenge the media to stop using the word ‘alleged.’ My beef is really with all the people who are complicit. It’s the first time in history women are being believed, even though we get slagged.” The impact of such crimes on victims is so devastating that basic protections for the accused are obstacles in the way of justice, not only for the particular accuser, …

The Russian minority in the Baltics live under ‘apartheid’ states

Max Parry It has been nearly three decades since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Despite Russia’s reemergence on the world stage as a respected power after market-oriented ‘reforms’ destroyed its economy for the duration of the nineties, the breakup of the USSR is an event regarded by an increasing amount of Russians as a catastrophic tragedy rather than a triumph of ‘freedom and democracy.’ In recent years, there have been numerous polls showing that more than half of Russians not only regret the collapse of the Soviet Union but would even prefer for its return. However, the nostalgia only comes as a surprise to those who have forgotten that not long before the failed August Coup that led to its demise, the first and only referendum in its history was held in March of 1991 which polled citizens if they wished to preserve the Soviet system. The results were more than three quarters of the population in the entire socialist federation (including Russia) voting a resounding yes with a turnout of 80% in the …

European Holocaust had roots in Africa, now Namibia is suing Germany

In Africa, Namibian history is no secret. Nothing is taboo. This is what is common knowledge in Windhoek or in Cape Town in neighboring South Africa:

The Germans drove into the desert, and then exterminated, over 80% of the entire nation – the Herero. The Nama people lost around 50% of its population. The concentration and extermination camps were built; monstrous medical experiments on human beings were perpetrated. German ‘doctors’including those who were working on ‘the pure race doctrine’ in Namibia (the doctrine later used by the Nazis in Europe), subsequently ‘educated’ many German racist physicians, including the notorious ‘Angel of Death’ – Mengele. The most notorious doctor, who experimented on human beings in Africa, was Eugen Fischer.

The Satanic Nature of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

American history can only accurately be described as the story of demonic possession, however you choose to understand that phrase. Maybe radical “evil” will suffice. But right from the start the American colonizers were involved in massive killing because they considered themselves divinely blessed and guided, a chosen people whose mission would come to be called “manifest destiny.” Nothing stood in the way of this divine calling, which involved the need to enslave and kill millions and millions of innocent people that continues down to today.

New Zealand – The ebb & flow of History

Hugh O’Neill There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat.” Julius Caesar, Act iv, Scene iii After Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, the British Empire had few rivals in the first half of the 19th Century, but when Britain allied with France in the Crimean War against Russia, they realised that wooden ships were no match for French iron ships. The Industrial Revolution was spreading and other empires were rising: Russia, Japan, America, France and Germany all wished to join the global game of chess. Russophobia thrived in NZ since the Crimean War, encouraged by newspapers e.g. Daily Southern Cross whose 1873 ‘hoax’ report of Russian ship “Kaskowiski” invading Auckland caused panic. When the Russian Empire did collide with the British in Northern Afghanistan (Pandjeh Incident 1884), the NZ public demanded protection in the form of coastal batteries, torpedo boats and militia training, …

The U.S. won’t say ‘genocide’ but cares about Armenian democracy?

by Max Parry “Did Armenia just dance its way to revolution?” Mass demonstrations that have shut down Armenia leading to the replacement of its prime minister have queued the obligatory western media push for regime change. Already dubbed a ‘Velvet Revolution’ after the 1989 protests that collapsed communist Czechoslovakia, there have been so many ‘color revolutions’ in former Soviet states that the colors are being recycled by the NGOs. The first crowds gathered in April in response to the Republican Party of Armenia’s decision to nominate outgoing leader Serzh Sargsyan as the sole candidate for Prime Minister after having already served as the country’s President since 2008. Despite its constitutional legality, this was perceived by many to be a consolidation of power as he would have retained the same authority since the country just transitioned to a prime ministerial system. Predictably, the western media commentary has framed the protests in the context of the new Cold War by emphasizing the ruling party’s links to ‘Kremlin oligarchs’ and Armenia’s presence within Russia’s sphere of influence. However, …

The ‘Crucifixion’ of the Black Messiah

On this the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King, a soon-to-be-published book provides us the most comprehensive account of this event, the shock of which reverberated across America and the world. More than that, the anniversary gives us all ample reason to reflect on the man and his impact, and where America is at present in the context of the main pursuits to which he devoted his life: racial equality, justice, liberty, truth, freedom, and peace. Oh, and a slice of the American Dream. Australian writer Greg Maybury reports.

Long Live the Great October Revolution – 100 years of screwing Imperialism!

The world is in ruins. It is literally burning, covered by slums, by refugee camps, and its great majority is ‘controlled by markets’, as was the dream and design of individuals such as Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Führers like Kissinger and Brzezinski, sacrificed tens of millions of human lives all over our planet, just to prevent nations from trying to fulfill their spontaneous socialist, and even, God forbid, Communist dreams and aspirations. Some of the tyrants were actually very ‘honest’: Henry Kissinger once observed, publicly, that he saw no reason why a certain country should be allowed to “go Marxist” merely because “its people are irresponsible”. He was thinking about Chile. He “saw no reason” and as a result, several thousands of people were murdered…

Reading the Reformation

by Philip Roddis Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out. Bishop Latimer: Oct 16, 1555 On this day five hundred years ago an exasperated preacher and professor in moral theology is said to have nailed his ‘grievances’, ninety-five theses written in the spring and summer of 1517, to a chapel door at Wittenberg Cathedral. First in his sights was the trade in indulgences: papal promises signed by this bishop or that to expedite the progress of the purchaser’s soul through purgatory. One practitioner was Dominican friar Johann Tetzel, seller of indulgences who rose to become Grand Inquisitor of Heresy to Poland, aided by a ditty Madison Avenue itself could not have improved on: “as soon as gold in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” Disgusted of Wittenberg – a Martin Luther soon outflanked by fiercer critics of Rome – was by no means the first to look askance on …

It Hurts When Empires Fall

This article by Pål Steigan was originally published here. Translated by Graham Healey. There is a genre of landscape painting from the 17th and 18th centuries that ought to give us cause for reflection. They are paintings of Italian landscapes where goatherds and their flocks wander amongst the ruins of Roman aqueducts, bridges and temples. The fascinating thing about them is that they depict a European society which, more than 1200 years after the fall of the Roman empire, still had not regained the level of production and infrastructure that the Roman empire had at it’s height. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution in the 18th century that the productivity and infrastructure in Europe managed to surpass the Roman empire in its heyday. The paintings of goatherds and farm animals amongst the ruins of infrastructure and temples from classical Rome are like pictures of people moving among the remains of a high-tech civilisation that they no longer have the ability to match. The city of Rome had at its height a population of a million …