War and Terror

Who's lying about the Uyghurs? Socialist Action covers for repression in China

The Socialist Action group has republished an article by Max Blumenthal, a US “left-wing” conspiracy theorist and apologist for Stalinism, seeking to undermine the idea the Chinese state is committing human rights abuses against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang/East Turkestan. They praise Blumenthal and his article in an introductory article which is itself quite extensive. Socialist Action is small but has a certain influence in the Labour left. It is also well-entrenched in the offices of various influential people. Its origins are Trotskyist but nowadays its politics are crudely Stalinist. In...

Rape as a weapon of war

Pietro da Corona's 17th century painting depicts "the rape of the Sabine women" by the early Roman armies. But rape in war is also much more modern. Christina Lamb has been a journalist reporting from war zones for over thirty years. Her book Our Bodies Their Battlefield: What War Has Done To Women, published by William Collins in 2020, traces the struggle to get rape recognised as a war crime. When Lamb began to submit copy to editors, telling the largely unreported evidence of survivors who told her their stories, her editors would reply that it would be too shocking for their readers to put...

To defeat salafi-jihadism, rebuild hope

Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones were killed by Usman Khan on 30 November on London Bridge in an attack which has been claimed by Al Qaida as its own. About the similar but larger massacre, in Manchester, in the run-up to the 2017 election, we wrote: “Cults of death run through the history of fascism. The Spanish Falangists (part of Franco’s forces) had the slogan Viva la Muerte, Long Live Death. “For the death cult to reach the pitch of suicide attacks on randomly chosen civilians... (world-wide, more often what the Islamists see as the wrong sort of Muslims than non-Muslims) requires a...

Diary of an engineer: You’ll probably deserve it?

On Mondays my cohort attends college. The building is made of slick modern metal and glass, and built on the site of the battle of Orgreave. The Economist magazine described its construction as “a promising attempt… to tackle an ancient and ridiculous class divide” by getting Boeing and Rolls Royce to invest in working-class children’s education. Over the road is the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, hosting buildings dedicated to factory automation and nuclear research. My class is twelve men and three women, aged 17-30. Our Health and Safety Trainer is a 30-40 year old Brummy called “P...

Prevent database revealed

UK police have a secret database with details of thousands of people referred to “Prevent”, the government’s supposed “anti-radicalisation” programme, it was revealed on 6 October by the Guardian, via human rights group Liberty. The National Police Prevent Case Management (PCM) database is accessible to all UK police forces and the home office, and contains personal details and reasons for “referral” of all those referred. People referred are not notified, and so have no (straightforward) rights to due process. The stated aim of Prevent is to prevent “radicalisation” which is at risk of...

Morality and the Birmingham bombings

The "Birmingham bombings", on 21 November 1974, killed 21 people and injured 182 others through bombs in Birmingham city centre. The reaction to the killings included protest strikes; some workers seen to be sympathetic to Irish Republicanism being driven out of their jobs; and drastic curbs on civil liberties through a Prevention of Terrorism Act rushed through Parliament (with no votes against - supposedly as a temporary measure, but renewed again and again over decades until its provisions were folded into more recent "anti-terrorist" legislation). Six people were quickly arrested and...

1919 - Militarists and Mutineers

The ‘Great War’ was finally over. When it had begun in August 1914, the British government predicted that it would be won by Christmas, but it had dragged on for four more years, with dreadful suffering and loss of life. In 1916, Britain began conscripting its men to fight. Now that the fighting was done, the soldiers expected to go home to their civilian lives. Lloyd George had induced then to vote for him by pledging rapid demobilisation. But the army needed troops to defend Britain’s imperial possessions; and the war was not officially over yet. Lloyd George back-pedalled on his promises...

1919 - Whose Peace?

11 November 1918 had been merely an armistice. The war would not be officially over until peace terms had been negotiated. The victorious Allied countries began six months of talks in Paris in January 1919, before compelling Germany to sign the treaty that ended the war at Versailles on 28 June. The treaty required Germany to accept all responsibility for the war, to disarm, to concede territory, and to pay reparations later assessed at 132 billion marks, equivalent to around £284bn in 2018. The economist John Maynard Keynes, a British delegate to the Paris Peace Conference, criticised the...

Labour: dump militarism

On 25 June, Labour Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith made a speech to the Royal United Services Institute, a think-tank made up of retired generals and military-industrial-complex grandees with well-paid jobs in “strategic intelligence consulting firms” and the like. You might have hoped that a leader of a radically left-wing Labour Party would have had some hard words for the masters of war. Maybe something about scrapping Trident, nationalising British arms manufacturers, and repurposing the shipyards and factories for socially-useful ends. Maybe something about taking the 2% of GDP...

Protest Trump on 14 July

In January 2018, US President Donald Trump cancelled a planned trip to the UK. His stated reason was that the famously unsuccessful realtor didn’t fancy the “off-location” US Embassy. But the real reason was almost certainly that Trump wanted to duck the huge wave of protest that anyone could see would meet any visit. The racist, authoritarian and climate-change-denying policies of the Trump administration stoked a storm of indignation and a series of huge rallies at the very suggestion of his visit. In mid-April 2018, Trump announced a new trip to the UK, for a “working meeting” with Theresa...

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