Tag Archives: Augusto Pinochet

Janner Request To Keep Seat In Lords

According to news reports this week, Greville (Lord) Janner will not be facing prosecution on charges of child sexual abuse because he’s suffering from Alzheimer’s. This was the same excuse that allowed Ernest Saunders to escape a prison sentence and Augusto Pinochet to avoid justice. In Saunder’s case, he made a miraculous recovery. To the best of my knowledge, no one has recovered from Alzheimer’s. Pinochet was similar: as soon as he touched down in Santiago, he practically danced across the tarmac. As The Needle points out, Janner recently requested to keep his seat in the Lords. Interesting. No?

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From today’s edition of The Sunday Times

The reference to the general election indicates that this is a recent development. Lord Janner seems to have been well enough to sign a letter requesting that he remain a voting member of the House of Lords.

It seems that he is fit enough to plead for his job but not fit enough to enter a plea regarding the  very serious criminal allegations that have been made.

I think it is fair to ask, what the hell is going on here ?

Janner can’t have it both ways !

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Life on Hannan World (Part 16)

Russell Brand: he must be doing something right if Hannan hates him.

I realise there has been little activity on my blog for a number of weeks. This is because I have been very busy with other things. I won’t go into detail but these things have taken a great deal of my time and demanded my utmost attnetion. It’s also likely that my blog output will be patchy over the coming weeks, though I expect to do some blogging closer to the General Election.

I’ve resisted the temptation to comment on Russell Brand because he has been covered from all different angles by all manner of people. Brand’s associations with Laurence Easeman have been the subject of considerable discussion since last October, when his book launch was cancelled after Easeman’s anti-Semitism and fascism were revealed. Under the circumstances, Brand did the right thing by cancelling the launch. At least Brand turns his back on fash and racists. Daniel ‘Anglosphere’ Hannan, on the other hand, airbrushes the latter.

Brand’s appearance on the national political stage has got tongues wagging on the Left and as for the Right? Well, they aren’t taking this at all well. Why? Because they’re in the firing line and they know it. I found this blog from Hannan that attempts to paint Brand as a wannabe dictator.

Russell Brand describes himself as a “comedian and campaigner”. While we might wonder at the first epithet, we can’t argue with the second. The man has built up a huge following among the angry teenage Lefties who dominate Twitter. His theme is that all politics is corrupt, all MPs are plutocrats’ stooges, and all rich people – except him, naturally – are part of a racket.

Bitchy and bitter. “Twitter” Hannan opines, is dominated by “angry teenage Lefties”. Really? That’s news to me. I’ve found many lefties on Twitter but equally, I’ve encountered plenty of vile right-wingers whose idea of free speech begins and ends at insult. They’re also rather fond of the kind of racist and sexist language that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from John Tyndall (deceased) or the bully boys (and girl) of Britain First.

Think about that for a moment. Russell Brand’s quarrel isn’t with the people who have more courage than him; it’s with parliamentary democracy itself. A chap might be making an honest living as, say, a “comedian and campaigner”; but the very fact of bothering to ask his countrymen for their votes would turn him into a shyster.

I love the way The Lyin’ King opens this paragraph with the word “Think”. Thinking isn’t something that either he or his brethren do very well. They react and they presume. Hannan, a Conservative MEP for the South-east, spends his time attacking the European Union, while taking his not-too-insubstantial salary from it. His position on the EU doesn’t differ that much from the Kippers. He is a very part of the corrupt system that Brand stands against.

OK, Russell, so if you don’t like representative democracy, what’s your alternative? Anarchy? Fascism? Monarchical absolutism? An Islamic Caliphate? Because you can’t have a functioning democracy without politicians; and politicians, in every parliament, tend to group themselves officially or unofficially into parties.

More bitchiness. Let’s get something straight: anarchism is a political philosophy; anarchy is a state in which there is chaos and disorder… which is what would happen if we lived in the kind of Randian world that Dan and his buddy Carswell dream about. Most right-wingers can’t tell the difference between anarchism and anarchy and if you attempt to point out the differences, they put their fingers in their ears. Hannan squeals “you can’t have a functioning democracy without politicians”. Well, that depends on what you mean by “democracy” and it also depends on what you mean by the word “politicians”. I suspect Hannan is only thinking of professional politicians that are drawn, as they currently are, from the ranks of the bourgeoisie and the grand bourgeoisie; the scions of the aristocracy, landed gentry and the so-called captains of industry. The very same people Hannan went to school with: in other words, those who believe it is their right to govern by dint of their circumstances of birth. We also see how the political world is explained to us on television by members of the same class as the politicians themselves, who coincidentally attended the same educational institutions. Nick Robinson? James Landale? Tom Bradby?

You might think that Brand’s contention is so puerile as not to merit serious refutation. The chap is, if nothing else, brilliant at promoting his book by courting controversy. But, listen to the ululations of the studio audience when he speaks; read the ecstasy of his Twitter followers. Russell Brand may be cynically boosting his sales, but there are millions out there who take him seriously, parroting his line about parliamentary government being a scam.

Yawn. Someone’s jealous they’re not getting enough attention. Dan? Is that you? Daft question. Hannan is rather good at promoting his dismal books too (like How We Invented Freedom and Why it Matters). In fact, he’s a well-versed in the art of self-publicity to such an extent that when he farts, Fox News is on hand to cover the event. Let’s have a look at the last phrase about parliamentary government. Hannan clearly believes there is nothing wrong and that it doesn’t need to be fixed. Parliamentary politics, as they are currently constituted, is a political dead end. Neoliberalism dominates the thinking of most of Westminster’s politicians and they countenance nothing else. “The market” we are told, “is moral” and the best we’re ever likely to get. We don’t live in a democracy, we live in a tyranny – albeit an elected one. Welcome to the dystopia, leave your dreams, hopes and desires at the door.

I remember hearing the same remarks in South America during the 1990s. Democracy is a sham, all politicians are crooks, voting only encourages them, blah blah. Such disillusionment was the prelude to the populist authoritarianism than has since spread across the continent, knocking aside parliamentary rule in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and elsewhere. The new caudillos aren’t exactly dictators: they were more or less fairly elected. But, once in office, they set about destroying every check on their power, from opposition media to independent courts, justifying every power-grab as a way of getting even with the old elites.

There’s only one problem with Hannan’s thesis and it’s the kind of people who were running these South American countries: the oligarchs and bootlickers who were in thrall to Washington. They were displaced through a combination of popular suffrage and education; two of the things that were denied to ordinary people during the rule of the caudillos. No doubt The Lyin’ King would like to see a return to the days of Operation Condor when people knew their place and those who didn’t were crushed under the military’s jackboot. How dare you question capitalism’s evident limits and fallibilities?

Could something similar happen in Europe? Well, look at what has already happened. In 2011, Brussels imposed civilian juntas on Italy and Greece, toppling elected governments in favour of Eurocrats. What was the justification for these Euro-coups? Pretty much the same as Russell Brand’s: that democracy had failed. As the then President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durrão Barroso, had put it a few months earlier: “Governments are not always right. If governments were right, we wouldn’t have the situation we have today. Decisions taken by the most democratic decisions in the world are very often wrong”.

Hannan’s reasoning here is sloppy, confused and relies heavily on two things: his antithesis to the EU and his love of laissez-faire capitalism. If you hate the EU so much, Dan, you could always stop taking a salary from it. Just a thought, eh? The idea that you’re fighting an ‘evil’ entity from the inside just doesn’t ring true.

Let me put the question again: what is the alternative? Dislike of party politics has been the justification for every autocrat in history: Cromwell, Bonaparte, Lenin, Mussolini, Franco. And it always starts in the same way, with the arguments now being put forward by Russell Brand.

Scaremongering and histrionics. You will notice how Pinochet is absent from his list of autocrats. Presumably, he was the right kind of autocrat. Pinochet, after all, was bolstered by the Chicago Boys, a group of Friedmanite economists who privatized everything in sight and provided the template for Thatcher and Reagan’s assault on the working class. Hannan is an admirer of Thatcher and the notion that markets will provide [for the rich].  For Hannan, all that matters is the idea of growth but it’s the kind of growth that most ordinary folk can’t see in their wage packets. It’s the kind of growth that only benefits the rich and powerful, who continue to increase rents and prices. In fact, Hannan has written a panegyric to the supposed economic growth in the 1930s in another blog. I shall carve that up in due course.

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UKIP, Robin Birley And The Peterloo Massacre

UKIP funder, Robin Birley

Many observers have commented on UKIP’s anti-establishment credentials and found them wanting. Farage’s “People’s Army” is a top-down party, which while claiming to be a grassroots movement full of ordinary people, is run by the same vested interests that control the Conservative Party and share close ties to the unseen hand of Britain’s security services. Those ordinary voters who believe that by supporting UKIP they will, somehow, effect great change on Britain’s political landscape are in for a surprise. With UKIP, it’s business as usual but with an extra dose of Thatcherism. We already know that a number of aristocrats and  ex-public school boys fill the top positions in the party. We also know that many of their MEPs are former Conservatives and a few, like Jeffrey Titford, were members of extreme right-wing parties.  Prominent Kippers like Malcolm (Lord) Pearson and Roger Helmer are also members of the Orwellian-sounding Freedom Association (TFA). TFA, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere on this blog, is not concerned with freedom per se but with protecting the freedom of the ruling classes.  TFA, through John Gouriet, was heavily involved in strike-breaking, the Grunwick Dispute being a notable example. TFA were also supportive of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

UKIP, as Another Angry Voice points out, is not an anti-establishment party, it is an establishment party. This article from The Socialist discusses the establishment position of UKIP . Unfortunately, neither article discusses how deeply UKIP is rooted in Britain’s ruling class. These are roots that go deep and wide, and stretch back to the early 19th century.

A couple of days ago, I saw a Facebook status update that linked to an article which reported that Robin Birley, ‘businessman’, son of hospitality industry mogul, Mark Birley, and stepson of James Goldsmith, has been funding UKIP. Birley was previously involved in his stepdad’s Referendum Party, which folded shortly after Sir Jams Fishpaste (qv. Private Eye) died. Add the names Goldsmith and Birley to the name of John Aspinall and chuck in his zoo and the Clermont Club and what do you have? Britain’s reactionary establishment. So reactionary were the group that gathered at Aspinall’s Clermont Club to gamble and hobnob with others of their class that they formed GB75 with a few disgruntled Army officers with the intention of fomenting a coup against the Wilson government. This subject has already been covered at some length in Adam Curtis’s BAFTA award-winning, The Mayfair Set and by the para-politics journal, Lobster. These paranoiacs seriously believed that Harold Wilson was a KGB spy. Seriously. Is this the Harold Wilson, who sucked up to big business and turned a blind eye to US involvement in Vietnam? Yes, it’s that Harold Wilson. He was hardly a socialist and barely a social democrat. Wilson was a massive disappointment to the Labour left, who had hoped for better things after years of Tory rule.

The Clermont Club boasted  no less than five dukes, five marquesses, twenty earls (including the infamous Lord Lucan) and two cabinet ministers. Colonel David Stirling, the founder of the Special Air Service (SAS) was also a prominent member as were James Bond author, Ian Fleming and Peter Sellers. Stirling was the son of a Brigadier General Archibald Stirling and Margaret Fraser, the daughter of Simon Fraser, the 14th Lord Lovat (his uncle), who was a descendant of Charles II.  Lord Lucan was also a member of the Clermont Club. Because of his charisma and charm, he was considered for the role of James Bond, though he had no acting experience or clear talent. Lucan disappeared in 1974 after killing his nanny, Sandra Rivett. If anyone knew the whereabouts of Lord Lucan, it was Aspinall. Lucan was, himself, a notorious fascist and I’m not using that word pejoratively. Lucan actually sympathised with fascists and even supported the creation of a British fascist state. He was also a rotten gambler and was used by Aspinall to bring a “touch of class” to the club. In 1972, Aspinall was forced to sell the Clermont to Playboy, who in turn disposed of the club. However, Aspinall remained in the gambling business and you can see one of his clubs, called “Aspers”, at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, East London. Aspinall died in 2000. His son, Damien, runs the business.

Robin Birley had his face mauled by a tiger at Howlett’s Zoo in 1970. Aspinall, an eccentric as well as a reactionary right-winger, believed that people should be able to interact with animals at zoos, which he referred to as ‘animal parks’. Even the most dangerous of animals, like the big cats, were considered harmless and people were encouraged to stroke, pet and even play with lions. So even when the bones on the left side of Birley’s face were crushed, Aspinall stuck to his guns and refused to change his zoo’s policy. There was no falling out between the families and no legal suit for damages was filed. Aspinall also stood as an unsuccessful candidate for The Referendum Party in 1997.

George Osborne’s grandfather, Sir George Francis Osborne, was married to Mary Grace Horn, who was previously married to Robert Stavali Aspinall, an Army surgeon. They had a son, John Victor Aspinall and yes, that’s the same Aspinall who owned the Clermont. In effect, John Aspinall is Gidiot’s step-uncle. But Aspinall’s real father was apparently an unnamed soldier. The rich have trouble keeping it in their pants, but are quite happy to lecture the working class about their sexual habits. Surprised? No? Neither am I.

Robin Birley was also involved with fellow UKIP donor, Paul Sykes, in the anti-EU pressure group Democracy Movement that was founded by his mother,  Lady Annabel Goldsmith (the daughter of the Marquess of Londonderry and mother of Ben, Zac and Jemima) as a continuation of the Referendum Party. Sykes also financed the project. Birley was also president of the Mozambique Institute which supported RENAMO, a reactionary conservative party in Mozambique that was also supported by the apartheid regime in South Africa in its struggle against the anti-colonialist FRELIMO during the Mozambique Civil War. As a leading member of Chilean Supporters Abroad, he also supported the Pinochet regime in Chile, and complained bitterly at Pinochet’s detention in 1998 telling the press “It’s a case of rank hypocrisy. It’s also an abuse of hospitality to ambush an old man when he has come to this country year after year. He has done an immense amount for Chile. No one is supporting him and I have sympathy for the underdog”.  Birley also financed Pinochet’s luxury house in Wentworth, Surrey.

When Mark Birley was confined to a wheelchair following a stroke, he handed the reins of Annabel’s (named after his ex-wife) to Robin and his sister, India Jane.  However in 2006, he dismissed Robin after discovering that he’d hired a private detective to conduct a background check on his sister’s boyfriend. The private eye turned out to be a fraudster and Birley had actually paid £200,000 for false information. There’s no sucker like a dim posh sucker. Mark Birley died in 2007 after suffering a massive stroke. India Jane and Robin remained estranged to this day.

So how does the Peterloo Massacre figure in all of this? Robin Birley’s great- great-grandfather, Hugh Hornby Birley was a prominent Manchester Tory and businessman, who led the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry in the fatal charge against unarmed men, women and children at St Peter’s Field on 16 August 1819.  According to reports, the yeomanry were drunk and spoiling for a fight. 15 people were killed and hundreds were injured, many of them seriously. Birley had been previously involved in violent confrontations with workers in 1818. Birley and the yeomanry had, according to Spartacus Educational, a “deep hatred of reformers”. It seems as though little as changed since then. This is what UKIP stands for.

A vote for UKIP is vote for the same old tired system. A vote for UKIP is effectively a vote for Britain’s aristocracy. A vote for UKIP is a vote to sign away the hard-fought rights that we take for granted today. If it ever got anywhere near real power, UKIP would take us back to the past. It is a party that concerns itself with nostalgia and its idea of freedom is the continuation of a system that brutalizes workers and represses progressive forces through the use of violence and intimidation. UKIP is a party of anti-intellectuals, nationalist romantics, bullies and reactionaries. A vote for UKIP is a vote for your own enslavement – unless you happen to be a member of the establishment.

PS Robin Birley should not be confused with the archaeologist, Robin Birley, of the Vindolanda Trust. They are, however, cousins.

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Life on Hannan World (Part 9)

The occasion of Milton Friedman’s 101st birthday…no, he’s still dead, I just checked… has moved the Lyin’ King to pen this gushing tribute to the man whose economic theories have quite literally turned the world into a toilet. Dan opines:

Today would have been Milton Friedman’s hundred-and-first birthday. The Chicago economist, who died in 2006, is already acquiring that almost Homeric status that normally comes only decades after a man’s life.  Perhaps social media have speeded up the process, or perhaps it’s the fact that Friedman’s strongest enthusiasts are often students with no direct memory of their hero.

Friedman, darling of neoliberals everywhere and supporter of Pinochet’s Chile, where his theories were rammed down people’s throats, is given the airbrush treatment… well, that’s not quite true. Friedman’s supporters refuse to see any flaws in the man. In their eyes, he was the very model of economic perfection. So no need for the airbrush.

Yet for someone who talked so movingly about ‘freedom’, Friedman was capable of turning a blind eye to political repression. For him, all that mattered was the functioning of the free market with its insistence that social relations be reduced to financial transactions between actors. Friedman was also fervently against any form of regulation, so in a pure Friedmanite dystopia, surgeons can practice without proper qualifications and driving licenses would be banned. Can you see the dangers? Yes? Well, Dan can’t.

Here, Hannan tells us:

Friedman did not limit himself to academic theories; he had a keen sense of how to translate ideas into action. He understood politics very well, and used to say that his aim was not to get the right people elected, but to create a climate where even the wrong people would do the right thing. Every year I spend in politics I find that insight more brilliant.

Yes, Friedman understood politics so well that in his perfect world, certain kinds of political activity would have been outlawed because they didn’t fit into his perfect model of a rampant capitalist society.

Here we get to the core of the blog:

What mattered to him most of all? Oddly enough, it was nothing to do with monetary policy, or indeed with economics at all. He believed that the single measure that would do most to ameliorate society was school vouchers.

School vouchers, loved by Pinochet’s Chicago Boys and loathed by those who have had to put up with a substandard education, have become a sort of gold standard in the eyes of the Right.  Higher education, too, has moved backwards. For the last few years, students have been protesting over the inequalities of the education system. Dan simply ignores this.

He had first suggested the idea as early as 1955 – in an intellectual climate so unfriendly that he might as well have been proposing that children be cooked and eaten.

You can see where this is heading and predictably enough, Dan tells us:

But the climate shifted, not least through Friedman’s own interventions and, by the end of his life, a few places were prepared to give his idea a go. Chile had led the way in the 1980s, followed by Sweden in the early 1990s. Milwaukee became the first city in the US to adopt vouchers 23 years ago, and around a quarter of a million American pupils are now benefiting.

“Chile had led the way in the 1980s” he says. No mention of the oppressive weight of the Chilean ‘small state’ crushing those below. No mention of the thousands rounded up, tortured and executed. No mention of the oligarchical free-for-all ushered in by Pinochet’s ‘hands off’ approach to the economy and its disastrous consequences for ordinary Chileans. He continues:

Though Britain has stopped short of full-blown vouchers, Michael Gove has plainly embraced the idea that governments can fund schools without running them, and the free schools programme is one of the greatest of the Coalition’s achievements.

The truth of the matter is that the Tories have been historically opposed to the state school system and have spent the better part of 60 years talking it down when they’re out of power and running it into the ground when they’re in government.  The unspoken dictum here is “some state schools are bad, therefore the state education system is bad”.

The Cat believes that the Tories would prefer it if everyone paid for their schooling and if you can’t find the money, that’s tough. You will die illiterate and ignorant. Why? Because it’s God’s will. That’s why.

Finally Dan tells us:

With his wife, he established the Milton Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, which has helped thousands of students, especially poor students, to get a decent education.

“Choice” has been used as a battering ram since the 1980s. But choice is neither here nor there. You can only have what is available. The Tories believe that if you don’t live in the catchment area of a school that you’ve fetishised, then you should be able to bypass the rules and send your kid there anyway. Better still, set up your own free school where you can be free to inculcate children in any superstitious tosh that occupies your thoughts.

While 75% of free schools were found to be “good” or “outstanding” by OFSTED inspectors, 25% were not. This article from The Guardian says:

One of the first free schools to open has been placed on special measures and given an inadequate rating by Ofsted inspectors, in an untimely blow to the government’s flagship education policy.

Adding:

Inspectors were severe on the primary school’s leadership, saying its governors failed to grasp the school’s “serious shortcomings”, while school leaders “believe the school is far better than it is”.

The inspection team gave the school the lowest grade, of “inadequate”, in three of four categories, for pupil achievement, quality of teaching, leadership and management. “Too many pupils are in danger of leaving the school without being able to read and write properly,” inspectors concluded. “Unless this is put right quickly, pupils are unlikely to flourish in their secondary schools and future lives.”

To borrow from the Tories’ lexicon of smears, I could say that “some free schools are poor, therefore all free schools are poor”. But unlike Dan,  I’m not that petty.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Education, Government & politics, Neoliberalism, Society & culture

Totalitarianism and celebrating the death of Thatcher

The Lollipop Guild from The Wizard of Oz

Predictably, the scenes of celebration that greeted the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death on Monday were met with shouts of hurt and anguish by the Conservatives and their allies in the right-wing press. “It’s hateful”, “it’s disrespectful”, “Have some bloody decorum”,  cried the genuflecting faithful of the cult of St Margaret of Grantham.

But it wasn’t just the Tories who complained about the celebrations: members of the Labour party, too, urged restraint. Restraint? On an occasion like this? I think not.  To make a philosophical point: we’ll never get another chance to celebrate the death of the authoritarian-libertarian Thatcher again. This was a woman whose international friends included the ‘friendly’ dictator (according to The Daily Mail), Augusto Pinochet and the butcher of Indonesia, Suharto. A life like this should not be celebrated. On the contrary, this is the occasion to burn effigies.

Those who were the victims of Thatcher’s government – ordinary workers, the poor, the disabled, gays, lesbians, travellers, the list goes on – have every right to celebrate her demise. A safety valve has been inadvertently provided for us to let off some steam. For all those who wrongly believe that Thatcher’s death has been the only instance in history of mass celebration of the death of a public figure, let me just say that there is nothing new in this: we can see these celebrations as a form of carnivalesque that goes back to mediaeval times.  The carnival had its own rules and during these mass celebrations, the participants were subject only to the laws of the carnival. Church-led celebrations of the middle ages demanded formality, deference and obeisance to the objects of veneration. In other words, they were boring.

We don’t know if mediaeval folk celebrated the deaths of tyrannical rulers, because no record of their culture exists. We only have the official version of this period of history and it’s usually mediated to us by the likes of David Starkey.

We do not celebrate the life of Thatcher, that is the job of hagiographers, the dewy-eyed panegyrists and the chinless lickpittles in the media. We rejoice in the death of one who visited pain and suffering on many communities. This is our right as citizens. It is also the nature of carnival.

For all their meaningless rhetoric about liberty, the Conservatives are really authoritarians who are in denial.  In those totalitarian countries that they purported to have historically positioned themselves against; those in which the people aren’t even permitted to utter curses and oaths (not of fealty) to the corpse and memory of a much-hated dictator, the Tories seem to  think that anyone who does so in this country should be silenced. Such is their weakness of spirit and intellect. Such is their desire for the total control of discourse that they are actually trying to rewrite history before our very eyes! “She saved Britain”, “She ended the Cold War” are just two of the more popular myths being substituted for the materialism of history.

It’s been pointed out elsewhere that the Right didn’t hold back in celebrating the death of former Labour leader, Michael Foot. Their jubilation was no less effusive when Hugo Chavez provided a similar opportunity for them a month or so ago. Unable to fathom how much Thatcher was hated, some Tories will only concede that she was “divisive” and then, in the next breath, they will ascribe superhuman qualities to what was supposedly a human being. Breathtaking stuff. Anyone would have thought that cults of personalities are the sort of things that authoritarian leaders of totalitarian countries do, not self-described ‘free’ countries. Surely not in democratic Britain?

It’s worth noting that the death in 2006 of Thatcher’s close pal, Pinochet, was also celebrated by his opponents.  There are other examples in history where the death of a hated public figure has been greeted with celebration. For example, Thatcher’s friends should count themselves lucky they didn’t live in 12th century Constantinople.  The Late Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Andronicus I Comnenus’s two-year reign was marked by harsh and brutal laws (he had also married the 12 year old Agnes of France). Andronicus became increasingly paranoid and created a terror state in which his opponents (and anyone else) were summarily imprisoned, tortured, mutilated and executed. He also attempted to move against aristocracy, thus incurring their wrath.

In 1185,  Andronicus  was away from Constantinople on a military expedition. His loyal lieutenant, Stephen Hagiochristophorites (who actually had questionable loyalties), moved to arrest Isaac Angelos, who had previously been involved in an uprising in Nicaea. Isaac killed Hagiochristophorites and took refuge in the Hagia Sophia, from there he appealed to the masses to rise up against Andronicus. When the latter returned, he discovered that he’d been overthrown and Isaac had been proclaimed emperor. Andronicus was arrested while trying to escape and Isaac, now Isaac II Angelos, handed him over to the mob. He was tied to a post and beaten, mutilated and burned for three days before being strung up between two pillars by his ankles. Legend has it that two Latin soldiers took turns stabbing him to see who could plunge their sword the deepest into his body. He died a few days later.  Grisly stuff. By the way, Isaac was later blinded and imprisoned by his elder brother, Alexios, who was proclaimed Alexios III Angelos, who would in turn be overthrown by his nephew and so on…

So it amuses me when I see the likes of Louise Mensch whining on Twitter about people celebrating the death of Thatcher. It amuses me even more that the Right is making themselves look foolish and weak because they cannot deal with any criticism of their idol. It amuses me when I see arsekisser-in-chief, Charles Moore, claim on television that Thatcher was “Dorothy” to the Warsaw Pact’s “Wicked Witch of the East” in response to Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead rising up the download charts. It amuses me that they have no sense of humour and are only capable of laughing at those weaker than themselves – which isn’t funny. It amuses me when Thatcher’s boot-licking worshippers buy downloads of the Not Sensibles’ song, I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher, and misread the lyrics so badly. They just don’t get satire.

Tories: they may be rich but they aren’t very bright.

Glenn Greenwald’s Guardian article is well worth a read.

Reference

Bakhtin, M., Iswolsky, H. (trans) (1984). Rabelais and His World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press


			

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Remembering the other 9/11

La-Moneda

Smoke billows from La Moneda after being bombed by the Chilean Air Force on the orders of General Pinochet

The purpose of this blog is not to denigrate the memories of those who perished in the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 9, 2001. Nor is this an attempt to offer conspiracy theories about the so-called ‘truth’ behind 9/11. This is a blog about the other 9/11. This is the one that doesn’t get mentioned on television news or anywhere else. It’s almost as if there was a concerted effort on the part of the news media to keep others from knowing the truth behind the Chilean Miracle.

In 1970, the Marxist Salavador Allende was elected president of Chile. Allende was at the head of the Unidad Popular (Popular Unity), a coalition of left parties that included the Socialist Party, the Chilean Communist Party, the Radical Party, MAPU (Movimiento de Acción Popular Unitario or Movement of United Popular Action)  and the Christian Left, who joined in 1971.

From the very beginning there were clandestine efforts to prevent Allende from taking office. The Chilean Right shared the paranoia of the US and called on Richard Nixon to support their cause. The commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army,  René Schneider was a constitutionalist and was opposed to any attempt to overthrow Allende. He was therefore seen by the Chilean Right as an obstacle and there was a botched attempt to assassinate him on 16 October 1970. The plotters got a second chance 6 days later when Schneider’s car was ambushed by coup-plotters loyal to General Roberto Viaux. Schneider was shot several times at point blank range and died from his wounds days later. The incumbent, Eduardo Frei immediately replaced the dead commander with General Carlos Prats, who would also later be killed by the DINA in Buenos Aires in 1974.

In 1972, a series of strikes were called by  Confederación Nacional del Transporte, which at the time was  led by Leon Valarin, who was the leader of the neo-fascist Patria y Libertad. The strikes had the full support of Richard Nixon, who sent considerable sums of money to assist the cause.

Here’s a programme that was shown on the BBC called The Other 9/11

Here’s another video that gives a bit more background to the reactionary forces operating in Chile.

Here’s the second part

Here’s Christopher Hitchens presenting his case for the prosecution against Henry Kissinger, who played an active and important role in Pinochet’s rise to power.

Finally, here’s the The Clash’s Washington Bullets.

Postscript

I found this interesting article on Alan Walters, Pinochet and the Chicago Boys. Here’s a taster.

Nevertheless, Walters thought he had to be discreet about his Santiago trips. During the 1970s, his job at the World Bank gave him a cover (“I got away with murder!”). During the 1980s, when he was working for Thatcher, his visits were “private”. In Britain even then, a decade after the coup, Walters felt, “Everyone hated Chile – except Margaret.  I’d probably talked to her about it for the first time some time in the 1970s. She knew I’d been there, and she asked me about it … She admired Pinochet for putting Allende out of office.” From then on, “I let her know if I was going. She said, ‘Keep quiet about it. Don’t advertise it.’ ”

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Filed under 20th century, Chile, History, History & Memory, Human rights, World

Life on Hannan World (Part 4) or the victimhood of the British right

The right loves to play the victim. If they aren’t complaining that the BBC is “left-wing” then they’re moaning and bitching that they can’t get their own way (which is odd given the fact they’re in power). They groan about Britain’s comedians being “left-wing” and often get their knickers in a twist about the Question Time audiences. Is there no pleasing  these people? Oh, I know what would please them… the imposition of a right-wing dictatorship run by Dan and his wibertarian chums. Or perhaps our Danny would rather a wibertarian nation ruled by some semi-fascist man-of-steel like Augusto Pinochet Ugarte?

Today, Dissembling Dan Hannan has produced this blog in which he whines,

The Australian version of BBC Question Time is called Q&A. As you can see from the above clip, filmed when I was in Sydney a couple of weeks ago, the two shows are remarkably similar in format and furniture. There are, though, two differences. First, Q&A is live, which allows for real-time interaction with electronic media. I’m not sure why QT doesn’t do the same: one of the reasons it has avoided the slide in audience share that other current affairs programmes have suffered is that it was quick to understand the importance of Twitter; the hiatus before the broadcast drains much of the drama from the online debate.

This is the UK, Danny, not Australia.

While the Australian show’s viewers are perhaps a touch more liberal and metropolitan than the general population, they don’t exhibit anything like the Left-wing militancy of their British counterparts. This is true both of the studio audience (the Australian producers invite political parties and organisations to distribute places, rather than asking applicants to state their affiliation on a form); and, far more strikingly, of those following online.

“Left-wing militancy”? He’s lost the plot. He continues,

The Internet is never a place to go for subtle and nuanced debate, of course, but something about the #bbcqt Twitter tag attracts trolls and sociopaths. It’s especially noticeable if there is a Right-of-Centre woman on the panel. When Nadine Dorries was on recently, or Emma Boon from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, they hadn’t opened their mouths before a torrent of puerile, vicious, semi-pornographic abuse began. Here’s something one doesn’t expect to write very often: we should try to be as decorous and restrained as the Australians.

Aw, diddums. The Lyin’ King doesn’t like the #bbcqt Twitter feeds. Listen, Danny Boy, if you don’t like them, then don’t read them. There is a such a thing as agency or is that word too left-wing for you? I love the way he tells us that #bbcqt “attracts trolls and sociopaths”. Let me tell you something, my little capitalist cupcake, most of the trolls and sociopaths are in your own party. Some of them take umbrage at the slightest thing. In fact, many of them are too politically correct for their own good.

These “left-wing” QT audiences are something of a myth. Perhaps he missed all those editions of QT in the shire counties? Or perhaps the mood of the country is such that it can no longer tolerate whingeing, lying Tories? I think that’s it.

Perhaps Hannan would like the QT audience to be vetted by him and some of his hand-picked supporters. Can you imagine what sort of questions he’d include on the application form?

  1. Do you own a Che Guevara T-Shirt?
  2. Have you now or ever been a member of the Communist Party, the Socialist Workers Party or any party that has the word “socialist” in the title?
  3. Do you support unbridled capitalism?
  4. Are you selfish?

If you answered “yes” to questions 1 and 2, Hannan’s goons will take you out back, shoot you in the head and bury you in a lime-filled pit. If you answered “yes” to questions 3 and 4, you will be allowed to take part. You may even get to meet The Lyin’ King himself.

I’ve always thought that wibertarians weren’t particularly mature and this latest outburst from Hannan serves to underline my point. Hannan will only be  happy if this country became a one-party state where the left (or what remains of it) is imprisoned, disappeared or thrown out of a helicopter or plane that has been hired by a private hit squad (it’s a free market, don’t you know?).

If you were ever in any doubt about how The Lyin’ King feels about Pinochet, then doubt no more. He managed to squeeze something about Pinochet into this blog about  Tzipi Livni, the current leader of Israel’s Kadima party.

Pinochet arrived in Britain as an ally who had supported us during the Falklands War. Koussa came as a foeman, implicated in the Lockerbie atrocity and accused of arming the IRA. Guess which one was arrested.

The Tories never tire of telling us how Pinochet was our “ally” and “friend”. Yet, they’re rather fond of telling us how socialism has killed “millions”. It’s a pissing contest and Tories love pissing contests. Point out to them the millions killed by their favourite dictators and watch them foam at the mouth and swivel their eyes a full 360 degrees.

Not wanting to be seen as an admirer of the General, Hannan says,

Never mind Pinochet: ally or not, he was a harsh and corrupt autocrat.

Was he? Well, knock me down with a feather! That didn’t stop your idol Thatcher from cosying up to him – Falklands War or no Falklands War. In fact, Hannan’s party has previous form when it comes to supporting dictators… until the dictator in question develops a mind of their own. Saddam Hussein, anyone?

So when Hannan and his buddies tell you that the QT audience is too left-wing or that the BBC is “left-wing”, you know what they’re really saying and it has nothing at all to do with ‘balance’.

POSTSCRIPT

One thing that our right-wing friends have deliberately, nay, wilfully ignored is the fact that when Labour was in power, the QT audience routinely rounded on them.  Yet I didn’t hear a single Labour MP or MEP claim that the QT audience was composed of “right-wing militants” or that the programme showed bias. Grow up.

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Filed under allegations of bias, BBC, BBC, Media