Slaves at the root of the fortune that created Richard Dawkins’ family estate – Telegraph


Slaves at the root of the fortune that created Richard Dawkins’ family estate – Telegraph.

Richard Dawkins and Long-Dead Ancestor, Henry Dawkins...

“The ancestors of Richard Dawkins, the atheist campaigner against superstition, intolerance and suffering, built their fortune using slaves, it has been revealed.” Daily Mail style Headlines from the Sunday Telegraph

For starters, none of us are responsible for the actions of others (aside from the children in our care and that is relinquished once they are 18) – least of all our long dead ancestors – any more than we are entitled to take personal credit for their innovations.  For The Telegraph to take this stance, they must have been REALLY desperate for something to print.  How on earth did this epitome of demagogic hackery get past the editor of a national broadsheet?  Were they asleep on the job?  I was aware of this article prior to it’s release, as many others who read the RDF website were, and he reported the aggressive and accusatory approach of the ‘news-gatherer‘.  If the Telegraph values it’s reputation at all, it will offer a front page apology to Proff. Dawkins (for this shameful attempt to slander his character) written by the journalist who wrote it, retract the article and discipline the editor.  The comments on the Telegraph article have been disabled.  I wonder why.  This is NOT an awkward truth.  He has done nothing wrong by being related to a property owner; one among hundreds who owned slaves nearly 300 years ago.  For people to arbitrarily declare that he personally owes an apology for historical events, is both crass and and parochial and indicative of a much bigger problem.

“Plantation owners were not the only customers who wanted to buy slaves. Many people in the cities of North America, including New York, Charleston and Providence in Rhode Island on the east coast, employed enslaved Africans as domestic servants, sailors and construction workers.” – Portcities Website, ‘Plantation owners’


Lets go through some of it shall we?

Before I start, I am by no means justifying the existence of slavery.  I find the idea of owning someone abhorrent – and the fact that it continues to this day, even more so.  What I aim to do in this post is clarify the events without applying a my 21st century ideals.

The first mistake that should be mentioned is the deliberate omission from popular history of where and how the slave merchants obtained their stocks.  European access to Africa was extremely limited.  Where colonies of British and European settlers existed, they were confined to a handful of  coastal areas of West Africa and solely at the pleasure of the African Tribal leaders.  Africa is a continent, not a single country, a fact which the ignorant (the writer of the article), seems blissfully unaware of.  The individual kingdoms had their own leaders, their own customs, and where European presence was met with hostility and deemed unwelcome, this was not the universal rule.  The neighbouring kingdoms also had their own conflicts and tensions, so when the Europeans came along they saw an opportunity to gain an advantage over their neighbours through trade.

“He has railed against the evils of religion, and lectured the world on the virtues of atheism.

Now Richard Dawkins, the secularist campaigner against “intolerance and suffering”, must face an awkward revelation: he is descended from slave owners and his family estate was bought with a fortune partly created by forced labour.” 

The mistake people commonly make is confusing simplicity for stupidity.  The second mistake is to apply modern standards, and impose modern motives to figures and events of the past.  The Africa of the 17th and 18th century was extremely simple in comparison with Europe but that does not make them ‘primitive’ or inferior.  As I said, each region had its own laws and customs.  One of those customs was to either kill or enslave criminals (all crimes were capital) and prisoners of war. If they had a harvest to collect, prisoners would be put to work, if not, they would execute them.  What the Europeans did was alter the equation.  The letters of Lieutenant John Matthews of the Royal navy provide first hand evidence (4), that the presence of European traders on the coast, willing to buy slaves, inspired some African leaders to lead raiding parties into other villages for sale to slave traders on the coast in exchange for gunpowder, weapons and other items which would add to their prestige and give them an advantage over their neighbours.  For those demanding monetary regress between the descendants of planters, traders and slaves are extremely remiss in their adamant claims that blame lies entirely at the feet of the planters and their descendents.

“One of his direct ancestors, Henry Dawkins, amassed such wealth that his family owned 1,013 slaves in Jamaica by the time of his death in 1744.” 

“The Dawkins family estate, consisting of 400 acres near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was bought at least in part with wealth amassed through sugar plantation and slave ownership.”

 The Beckford family (5) were also made extremely rich by their sugar plantations. In fact they were the richest family in England for the best part of 200 years.  They did not do what they did illegally.  At the time their actions were all legal and considered acceptable.  As did, the Dawkins family.

“Over Norton Park, inherited by Richard Dawkins’s father, remains in the family, with the campaigner as a shareholder and director of the associated business.”

“Professor Dawkins, the atheist evolutionary biologist and author of The Selfish Gene, claimed associating him with his slave-owning ancestors was “a smear tactic”.

“One of the most disagreeable verses of the Bible – amid strong competition – says the sins of the father shall be visited on the children until the third or fourth generation,” he said.”

Even if inherited sin was not a disgusting guilt-tactic cynically adopted by the early church to maintain fear and through fear, control, the fact that 6 generations have now passed, cannot have escaped the ‘reporter’s’ notice.  It holds individuals responsible for actions they could not have possibly had anything to do with and condemns infants to answer for, and somehow atone, for the sins of not only their parents but their grandparents, great grandparents and great, great grandparents.  This so-called journalist has appointed himself judge in this instance and demanded, that Dawkins answer for the ‘crimes’ (I will reiterate, that owning slaves was a legal and common practice in the 18th century).

“In 2010 Richard Dawkins wrote an obituary for his father, describing how John Dawkins had inherited Over Norton Park from a distant cousin and how the estate, in the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty, had been in the family since the 1720s. He omitted, however, to mention how previous generations made their money.

And why should he have done?  What business is it of ours?  If it had been him, personally, owning slaves and profiting from their labour, we would probably be rightly shocked. It wasn’t him.  It was the 18th century and most of the wealthy landowning class, DID earn their money that way. It wasn’t shocking.

He quoted Scripture – disparagingly – to insist: “I condemn slavery with the utmost vehemence, but the fact that my remote ancestors may have been involved in it is nothing to do with me.

“One of the most disagreeable verses of the Bible – amid strong competition – says the sins of the father shall be visited on the children until the third or fourth generation.”

Audibly irritated, he added: “You need a genetics lecture. Do you realise that probably only about 1 in 512 of my genes come from Henry Dawkins?”

Well the reporter called his house (twice) and accused him of being guilty of enslaving a thousand people who died 3 centuries ago.  Who wouldn’t be ‘irritated’?  For the last time, Dawkins is NOT responsible for the actions of  his ancestors.

“”For goodness sake, William Wilberforce may have been a devout Christian, but slavery is sanctioned throughout the Bible.”

Richard Dawkins’ sister Sarah Kettlewell, 67, is thought still to live on the estate, which has a farm shop and pedigree cattle. According to Companies House records which list Professor Dawkins as a director, Over Norton Park Limited made a £12,000 profit last year.”

For those outside the UK, £12,000 is less than one person would earn on minimum wage in a year. And weren’t most people Christians and church-goers in the 18th century?

He insisted: “The estate is now a very small farm, struggling to make its way, and worth peanuts. The family fortune was frittered away in the 19th Century. Such money as I have is scarcely inherited at all.”

He earns his money from his work as a biologist, writer and public-speaking.  The little his family estate is worth or makes is shared among his other relations.  I fail to see a problem with this.  He’s doing nothing illegal.

He is now facing calls to apologise and make reparations for his family’s past.

Esther Stanford-Xosei, of Lewisham, south London, the co-vice chairman of the Pan-African Reparations Coalition in Europe, said: “There is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity.

“The words of the apology need to be backed by action. The most appropriate course would be for the family to fund an educational initiative telling the history of slavery and how it impacts on communities today, in terms of racism and fractured relationships.”

The revelations come after a difficult few days for the campaigner.”

Only due to the fact that few hacks in the media and (several in the cabinet), have been making claims that not only fly in the face of reason, but are completely devoid of truth.  Baroness Warsi, an unelected, token Muslim woman in the Conservative party, is not unknown for her spurious claims about non believers and has made no effort at all to listen when corrected.  Her comments, and Cameron’s,  about this country being ‘Christian’ and needing a resurgence of religious fervour is, in my view, a sinister distraction tactic.  I have little doubt that Cameron knows that his party is in trouble with public opinion.  He backed Osborne’s economic austerity measures and they have made the situation far worse and is now attempting a policy of divide and rule among believers and non-believers in order to retain favour with the white, male, business owners.  He has even put in plans to force people on JSA to work for nothing, or risk losing the £53 per week they live on now.

To add inventive this scheme, big companies are also exempt from offering any of the benefits or rights that their other employees have (including minimum wage).  The only thing that will do is allow businesses to take on unpaid temporary staff on a continual stream and avoid paying contracted staff overtime.  The only people who actually gain are the board members and the shareholders.  While slavery is being brought back by stealth and Cameron systematically dehumanises the poorest of the British public, the trash-news aided and abetted by the Telegraph find it prudent to publish the family history of a specific prominent figure who speaks out against religious privilege in an attempt to deprive him of support.  It doesn’t bode well…

On Tuesday 14 February, some critics branded him “an embarrassment to atheism” after what many listeners considered a humiliation in a Radio 4 debate with Giles Fraser, formerly Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, in which the professor boasted he could recite the full title of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”, then when challenged, dithered and said: “Oh God.”

Critics of the movement have always found an easy target in the shape of  Professor Dawkins and other outspoken atheists, viewing any opposition or contradiction to their beliefs as the height of rudeness.  The only thing we can do as a movement is to continue to push back and hold our ground.  It’s worrying enough that the British PM has begun pushing his Christianity and encouraging others to push theirs while complaining they are being marginalised by equality laws, but how long will it be before non-believers are more stringently penalised?  Our tax-funded faith schools already have the right to exclude the children of non-believers.  Let me make one thing quite clear, preventing one group of people from discriminating against another does NOT under any stretch of the imagination, amount to oppression, marginalisation, or persecution.  It amounts to fairness, where all people have equal rights under the law, without exception or privilege.


From the sublime to the ridiculous…

It gets worse.  On the 14th of February The Telegraph published and article applauding a former cleric and ‘Thought for the Day’ know-it-all, for rendering Professor Dawkins ‘speechless’ when he could not roll of the top of his tongue, the full title of Charles Darwin’s (going to be the name of my 3rd child if I have a third) ‘Origin of Species’.  It’s ‘On the Origin of Species by Process of Natural Selection‘ but as most copies are printed with the shortened title, including mine, it’s not surprising that most people don’t know it.  The fatuous challenge was issued after Dawkins pointed out that most people who call themselves Christian, cannot name the first book of the bible which is true.  However the point is more than about knowing what something is called.  It is about understanding the content.  The Rev. was not ‘stylish or mature.  It was a simple case of playground ‘I know you are, but what am I”, posturing. The second article uses their favourite ad hom – ‘militant secularists -against those of us who object to having the superstitions of other people foisted upon us by means of legislation.  When religious institutions start paying tax and making a real contribution to society, they can then start having a say on political reforms. Untill such time, can they shut up.

“We all hear about Muslim leaders issuing fatwas against homosexuals, preaching hate and the extermination of the Jews. But who hears of an Imam who is a credit to their religion?

And yet the extremists are merely a flipside of the atheists. Their actions, too, are entirely negative, aimed at winning plaudits from fellow atheists and in the process poisoning the rest of society against them.” – Stephen Pollard of The Daily Telegraph

The telegraph and the Independent have both gone downhill. It seems nationalist anachronistic crap now qualifies as reasonably objective and fashionable journalism to papers more concerned with sales than with quality and they are fast losing all credibility.


Related articles and Sources…

  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2012/feb/15/richard-dawkins-title-origin-species
  2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/feb/19/richard-dawkins-disbelief-slave-trade-ancestor
  3. http://discoveringbristol.org.uk/slavery/people-involved/traders-merchants-planters/caribbean-plantation-development/plantation-owners/
  4. Matthews. J (1787-8), ‘Letters of John Mattews‘ in Gibbons. R (ed.) ‘An Anthology of Primary Sources‘, Manchester University Press, New York, (pp. 266-270).
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/content/articles/2007/03/06/abolition_fonthill_abbey_feature.shtml

Hugo Boss, The Nazi Party, Forced Slave Labour, and Why You should Think twice before Splashing out on an Expensive Designer Label…


What do IBM, Hugo Boss, Porsche, Audi, Degesch, Ford, Bayer, BMW, Krupp, Seimens and Mercedes have in common?  Multinational Fortune 500 companies?  Well known and popular brands?  Close…They were ALL Nazi collaborators made successful through willing capitulation and involvement with the brutal regime.  Please don’t be mistaken in the view that their hands were forced: these companies had to meet some very tight requirements and competition to be allowed access to the free and captive workforce that the Nazi party were waving around as reward for being official suppliers as well as continuing to trade on the commercial market.  If the ever the events of the past could teach us anything, it is why we must think and make actively ethical purchasing choices.

 

Ford.

“A well-known anti-semite, Henry Ford, published anti-Jewish slandersand was awarded the highest medal Hitler could award a foreigner (The Grand Cross of the German Eagle). Ford was even named in Hitler’s auto-biography, Mein Kampf, as the only man in America who was fully independent from Jewish control” –

US Army report shows Ford, the company, as an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler’s regime whose German division made huge profits in becoming an “arsenal of Nazism.”  Like IBM, Ford claims to have lost control of its German division, Fordwerke, before it started using forced labour but according to a well-researched and damning report in The Nation, “Robert Schmidt, the man appointed to run Ford Werke in 1939, states that the company used forced laborers even before the Nazis put the plant in trusteeship.” Ford also placed a rabid Nazi as head of Fordwerke, and US Government documents show that Ford was in constant communication with the Ford plants in Nazi-occupied Vichy France.

It’s interesting to note that while Americans of Japanese ancestry were rounded up and placed in camps by the US government, large companies like Ford were allowed to help build the Nazi military without much interference.

 

BMW

Used slave labour to repair aeroplane engine.  It is estimated that between 25,000 and 30,000 slave labourers, POWs and concentration camp inmates were used.  If they were paid at all their wages were sent to the SS treasury to fund their own destruction.

 

Audi

Audi were formerly known as Horch and then as Auto Union and made, among other things, the SDKFZZ 222 armoured cars and the Horche type 80 (otherwise known as Kraftfazuef or the KFZ11)

 

Volkswagon

The company was founded by Ferdinand Porsche just before the beginning of WWII.  Porche’s partner in the design of the VW beetle was the orchestrator of the horror himself; Adolf Hitler.  The idea behind the beetle was to provide a cheap car that every German could afford.  Porsche lobbied the fuhrer for support and soon after he had factories churning them out in the thousands.

“Soon, its factories were also producing grenades, land mines and V1 rockets to help the Nazis fight the war. To speed along production, VW used as many as 20,000 slave laborers – the vast majority being foreign prisoners from Russia, Poland, France, Belgium and Holland. At Volkswagen, the foreign workforce was subjected to incessant beatings, malnutrition and early death.”

Ferdinand Porsche, was an SS activist and chairman of the Panzer committee which developed innovations in armored vehicles. He also played a key role in developing the Fi 103 flying bombs which were used indiscriminately against civilians.

“”In the opinion of this officer the function of this organization was nothing more than a death chamber for children of slave workers and veiled by the term ‘maternity hospital.'” “The infants literally rotted away with the same sequence of symptoms, vomiting, diarrhoea, emaciation, distended blueish colored abdomens and death. The nursery was loaded with bedbugs and flies. The infants cried all night while being bitten by the bedbugs. . . . One mother attempted to take her child from the nursery in a hand bag.” Statements taken from the U.S. Army War Crimes Investigation

 

Daimler Chrysler

They started using foreign workers and Soviet & French POWs as forced labor in early 1941, and were heavily dependent on them by the end of that year.  Many of their Soviet workers refused to work, and engaged in strikes. Daimler-Benz sent the “ring-leaders” of these strikes to concentration camps.

“In December of 1944, Daimler-Benz was using 26,958 forced foreign workers, 4,887 POWs, and thousands of concentration camp inmates under the most brutal conditions to build the Luftwaffe and other weapons of the Nazi war machine. However, this number does not take into account the number of workers who had previously escaped, died, or had been sent to concentration camps. As the war progressed and it became obvious that Germany would lose, Daimler-Benz factories became even more cruel, using more and more prisoners, and sending greater numbers of dissident workers to the camps.” – http://www.theawfultruth.com/salbmw/

Neil Gregor wrote an exhaustive account called Daimler-Benz in the Third Reich. Referring to Daimler-Benz and other companies using forced labour, Gregor states:

“Insofar as industrialists and managers did drift into barbarism, they did so in any case because they broadly accepted National Socialist ideology and had allowed it to permeate the culture of the company…The company was able to survive in a relatively healthy position down to the end of the war at least partly at the expense of the health, and indeed in many cases the lives, of these thousands of victims of forced labour.”

 

Bayer

BAYER used to be a much larger German chemical company called IG Farben.  It was also known as Degesch.  The company is still in business, producing insecticides and pesticides.  This company, alongside Tesch/Stabenow -which liquidated in 1979 – were the producers of Zyklon b; the cyanide gas which  was used to murder so many people.  It also used prison labor in the production of synthetic rubber and oil. During the Nuremburg trials, 24 IG Farben executives were indicted and charged with 5 counts including “slavery and mass murder.”  25,000 of the 30,000 slave labourers who worked for IG Farben at Auschwitz died there.

Bayer is most important for given heroin its name. The drug was promoted as having “heroic” properties, which is ironic since it by all accounts turns you into a shivering shell of a man.

Zyklon b was originally invented by Fritz Haber, a man whose life is so incredibly pathetic that you almost forgive him for indirectly causing millions of deaths.

After he oversaw the first use of chemicals in warfare, his wife killed herself in their garden with his service revolver in protest.  Once Hitler took over, Haber decided to renounce Judaism to fit in, only to be told that he was still Jewish according to the Nazi rule book because his mother was Jewish. He died of a heart attack while fleeing the country he spent his life serving. The chemical he originally invented to kill insects was used to kill a number of his relatives in the Concentration Camps.

Bayer, though, has continued some of its ‘master-race’ attitudes into the modern era.  First off, Aspirin was invented by a Jewish man, Arthur Eichengrun, whose name Bayer still refuses to acknowledge. To this day, the “official” history of the company denies Eichengrun’s involvement in the invention of aspirin, and states that an Aryan invented the drug, because as we all know, Aryans are better at everything.  One such Bayer-employed Aryan was a nice, thoughtful fellow by the name of Josef Mengele, who Bayer sponsored to seek out medical discoveries in the important field of torturing people to death.

IBM

IBM have always been an American company but pre-war American industry was also known to be somewhat ambiguous on the ethical practices front (what’s changed?) so trading with Nazi controlled Germany wasn’t enough to make them bat so much as an moral eye-lid.    Groups such as the Rockerfeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institute are also known to be donors to the Nazi eugenics programs prior to the start of the war.  Once the war had began, most American companies had done the decent thing and ceased trading but IBM continued exploration into Hitler’s ‘final solution.

In those days databases were kept in the form of punchcards and IBM led the way in both the construction and maintenance of those databases.  They claim that they were merely the victims of circumstance and that their German branch had fallen under Nazi control, like many businesses of the time but records exist which contradict that claim.  IBM issued internal memos within their New York office acknowledging that their machines were aiding the Nazification of Germany by making them more efficient and that they would have to increase production in order to meet the demand.  They made no attempt to end the relationship and separate themselves from their German branch.

Neither have they ever attempted an apology or even acknowledged that an apology is needed.  It appears that they hope that time is all that is needed to erase their complicit and active involvement in the murder of so many people.

 

Siemens

The company is a rare beastie in that it has its roots back in the 19th century founded by famed scientist Werner von Siemens.  He was dead long before the 1940s, so Mr. Werner von Siemens is guilty of nothing.  The same cannot be said for company he gave that name to.  The rise of Hitler in the 1930s was taken as a cue to begin building factories at Auschwitz and Buchenwald and hundreds of thousands of slave workers were employed to build all sorts of goodies for the German military to use on both the western and the eastern fronts.  Siemens was in charge of Germany’s rail infrastructure, communications, power generation … the list goes on.

These days Siemens is being forced to pay due to a series of lawsuits from survivors. So, at least they’re sorry and own up to it, right? Wrong.  A  few years ago, in an act of insensitivity so colossal it could blot out the sun, Siemens tried to trademark the name “Zyklon” with the intent of marketing a series of products under the name including gas ovens.

 

Krupp

They built the gas champers and used an estimated 70,000 people in armament factories.  Krupp even built a plant inside the Auschwitz camp to produce fuses and had another within the Ravensbreuk camp.  The family contributed 4,738446 marks to the Nazi Party and violated treaties on forced labour by importing forced-labourers from nearly every Nazi occupied country.  They were compelled to produce munitions for use against their own countries and were underfed, overworked, misused, inhumanely treated by the company.  Krupp’s records were captured in 1944 and show that they were working 54,990 foreign forced labourers and 18,902 POWs.

 

Hugo Boss

“While Hugo Boss was a member of the Nazi party, there is no proof that he personally subscribed to the Nazi doctrine. It is believed that while Hugo Boss was a member of the Nazi party, he was one of many Germans who joined the Nazis as a survival method to save themselves and their businesses.” – History Of Hugo Boss by: Sameerah Blue

Hugo Boss founded the company in 1923.  The head office is still in Stutgard, Germany.  He went bust in1930 but in an agreement with his creditors he was able to keep 6 sewing machines and start again in 1931.  From making mens’ bespoke suits he moved on to production of working clothes and uniforms.  1931 was also the year that Boss joined the Nazi Party and began producing uniforms for the SS and the Hitler Youth among others.  The reason he gave was that he hoped the party would end the devastating unemployment ravaging Germany at the time, adding that he had become withdrawn from the Lutheran church.  As well as a member of the Nazi party, he also became a sponsoring member of the SS.

  • 1936 – Joined the German labour Front
  • 1939 – Joined the Reich Air Protection Association
  • 1941 – Joined National Socialist People’s Welfare

Boss personally admitted supporting the party with uniforms since 1924 but this is more likely to have been since 1928 and certain from 1934 when he became their official supplier.  Like many other business at the time, Boss took advantage of the cheap and captive labour from concentration and POW camps provided to him by the Nazis in order to make the branding of their own oppressors and captors. In 1946, the denazification project declare Boss an opportunistic sympathiser, supporter, activist and beneficiary of Nazism.   As a result he was stripped of the right to vote, to run a business and fined more than 80,000 marks.  Hugo Boss died in 1948 and the company was taken over by his son-in-law.

In 1997 the company appeared on a list of dormant Swiss bank accounts spurring a litany of articles highlighting the company’s willing involvement.  By 1999 lawsuits were filed in New Jersey on behalf of the survivors or families of those used to provide forced labour.  No comment was made by the company about the cases but they reiterated an earlier statement that that it “would not close it’s eyes to the past but rather dead with these issues in a forthright manner”. They even funded the research of historian Elisabeth Timm but when she went to the press with her findings, they refused to publish them.

The German government and a team of American class action lawyers, Jewish groups and the US government reached an agreement to compensate slave labourers used during WWII.  This was to be achieved by way of a $1.5 billion fund to be contributed equally by German industry and the German government.  Hugo Boss agreed to pay 752,000 euros to the fund: a small price to pay for the pain, misery and humiliation caused by the company’s appalling ethical practices.

 

Conclusion

It is worth remembering that due to the nature of the Nazi party, if Hugo Boss and the other collaborating corporations had not cooperated with the regime, others would have.  Their refusal to comply would have only resulted in the imprisonment of the objectors and the complete take over of the business.  It does not excuse their actions but nor does it condemn the people that now run and work for those companies.  It would be unreasonable to expect the working generation to accept responsibility for the actions of their predecessors of more than 70 years ago in the same measure that it is unjust to expect the victims of those atrocities to merely forgive and forget what was done to them.  It is not this generation’s place to either offer forgiveness or demand accountability for events and crimes that, though within living memory, have had little effect on us other than shock after a few weeks of history lessons.

 

Sources

The Bastille is Falling Again.


 

Egyptian army tanks in Tahrir Square Cairo, February 2011

“The old slogan from the 1960s has come true: the revolution has been televised. The world is watching the Bastille fall on 24/7 rolling news. An elderly thug is trying to buy and beat and tear-gas himself enough time to smuggle his family’s estimated $25bn in loot out of the country, and to install a successor friendly to his interests. The Egyptian people – half of whom live on less than $2 a day – seem determined to prevent the pillage and not to wait until September to drive out a dictator dripping in blood and bad hair dye.” – Johann Hari – The Independent

The revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and now, Yemen, however violent have to encourage us at least in some small way that the Arab world is in a state of flux which is having a domino effect.   The authoritarian and arbitrary dictatorships in the Middle East were encouraged and capitulated by the west as and when they supported our economic plans.  When they didn’t our governments responded by embarking on illegal wars which have cost the lives of thousands.  However, there is a danger that, as in Iran, Mubarak could be replaced by someone far worse.

“Events in Egypt look more like the Indonesian revolution, where in 1998 a popular uprising toppled a US-backed tyrant after 32 years of oppression – and went on to build the largest and most plural democracy in the Muslim world.” – Johann Hari – The Independent

Mr Hari asked if we should be concentrating on fixing the damage ‘The west’ has caused but I’m not sure at this stage it CAN be fixed.  Owning up to our own unthinking capitulation would be a good start.  UK taxes and resources were used to fund and supply Mubarak’s sick regime of fear.  It is British made machine guns and grenade launchers that are aimed at pro-democracy demonstrators, while we sit quietly taking for granted the democracy we enjoy thanks to the courage and steely determination  of our own ancestors.  The US is not blameless either as their tear-gas was used to subdue people calling for basic human rights and the end to the reign of a vicious tyrant.  We have been used to silently aid a murdering torturer while our governments tear Iraq and Afghanistan apart and pay false  lip-service to bringing them democracy.

“You have unwittingly helped to keep these people down.” – Johann Hari – The Independent

Our foreign-policies SHOULD be a reflection of us as people.  They SHOULD echo our moral principle and codes of decent humane behaviour.  In the meantime our governments, who were elected to represent us, are failing to with dire consequences.  They make hypocrites of us ALL and must be called to heel and made to account for their actions, both presently and retrospectively.  It is for this reason that we need brave people like Julian Assange to provide us with the transparency that big government does not feel the need to do us the courtesy of supplying.  They have repeatedly abused our trust but they are not shamefaced or remorseful for their actions in the least.  They are angry with the person who has exposed their guilt and so try to discredit him.  They pretend to be hurt that we will not now re-extend that lost trust; all actions of the skilled con-artist.  It seems that even the US is ‘not above’ high handed tactics in order to enforce their will on the majority as the Military police have been holding another individual, Bradley Manning in solitary confinement without trial for several months. Transparency over our respective countries diplomatic conduct is essential if we even hope to regain our credibility with the rest of the world.  We should know, and care very much, about what is done in our names as well as the consequences of those actions.

“Very few British people would praise a murderer and sell him weapons. Very few British people would beat up a poor person to get cheaper petrol. But our governments do it all the time. Why? British foreign policy does not follow the everyday moral principles of the British people, because it is not formulated by us.” – Johann Hari – The Independent

To be a true democracy our governments must be made to represent us or be ousted immediately.  We cannot continue to sit complacently by and let these people either rule our lives to suit the whims of big businesses or ruin the lives of others for the same reason and it is about time we ALL stood up and did something about it.  It means using more than the ballot box to have your say because by that time it is too late and the policy has already been set and by voting for it you are giving it your stamp of approval.  What must be done is the right of all free citizens of the UK and the US; JOIN a party,start your own, or become an independent and give people the alternative you think they deserve.   The democratic process is a tool we all have the right to make a use of.  Refusing to get involved or vote achieves nothing but allowing the policies which supported the likes of Mubarak et. al. to continue unchecked and un-hindered.  As it is, big business decides who we deal with and how and all that drives them is money; the rest is immaterial to them.  They have taken it upon themselves to scrap our principles for us and by saying or doing nothing we have sent them our consent to do so.

“Addicts don’t stand up to their dealers: they fawn before them.” – Johann Hari – The Independent

There are ‘reasons’ that our governments use in lack-lustre attempts to defend their conduct in foreign policy.  The first is as Hari says, Oil.  We have become reliant on it for fuel and the oil companies, like drug dealers, do not wish to lose demand for their product.  Our ‘need’ for oil has outlasted its efficiency now that we have the means to produce, clean and renewable energy which threatens the income of those same companies.  Even though Egypt has no oil, it does have pipelines and supply routes that the west rely on the use of.  It is part of a chain that serves Western purposes and without support for the regime, our access to those lines and lucrative routes is also threatened.  So what needs to come first?  Principals!  Integrity!  Simple human decency and consideration of how our actions, conscious or otherwise, affect others.  Integrity means that our principles are not brushed under the rug under the guise of  ‘pragmatism’ whenever it suits us or others.  It is when our principles are really tested that we find out what they are really worth.  As consumers, we need to create a real consumer demand – on both sides of the Atlantic – for those clean energy sources and renewable fuels (even if its more expensive in the short-term) because it will take money out of the pockets of those companies who fund those regimes. THAT is how to rid ourselves of the need for ‘cheap’ oil (cheap for whom?) which is paid for with blood-money and oppression.  We need to demand full and open access to information and a chain-of-custody style of accountability when shopping in order to exercise real purchasing power because we have the correct information.  We must tell those companies what we want and need and stop allowing them to regulate us.  They don’t care about our needs they care about their money.

“Israel blockades Gaza to one side, and Mubarak blockades it to the other. I’ve stood in Gaza and watched Egyptian soldiers refusing to let sick and dying people out…” – Johann Hari – The Independent

The second excuse is Israel.  The so-called promised land of a people who have undergone centuries of religious persecution.  That, however, does not excuse or justify their current occupation of Palestine, usurpation of agricultural land, destruction of property, deprivation of food and basic resources, and imprisonment of 1.5 million people within annexes of their own land.  Punitive action is being taken for the ‘wrong result’ in a democratic election and Mubarak, not content with the suppression of his own people, is a knowing party to the horrific treatment of the people of Gaza.  Israel’s behaviour is disgusting and their ‘peace process’ is a farce; a smoke screen of oppression and outright territorial theft.  Mubarak receives $1.5 billion a year from the US government in return for blocking the passage of even sick people fleeing from Gaza, because their hospitals were collapsing.   It is no wonder they grow to hate us considering what is being done to the people of Gaza and Palestine in our name and with our support.  They have every right to be angry and we should be ashamed for what our respectively easy lives have allowed us to ignore for so long.

Israel and the “peace process”. Over the past week, we have persistently been told that Mubarak was a key plank in supporting “peace in the Middle East”. The opposite is the truth. Mubarak has been at the forefront of waging war on the Palestinian population.” – Johann Hari – The Independent

The final, and even less credible excuse is that these dictators are suppressing a backlash against us.  If they really think that those self-serving tyrants wouldn’t jump at the chance to shift blame from themselves to us, they are deluding themselves.  Their foul penal systems of torture and indefinite incarceration has not stopped our ‘trusted’ officials sending prisoners to those very systems because their methods are illegal here or in the US as if it excuses the act.  Torture by proxy is still torture and the person who allowed it is as guilty as the animal who carries it out.   Tyrants only create more tyrants and when our money is used to harm and demoralise people we are also guilty of those crimes. The people of these countries have my full support and I applaud their courage to stand up for themselves in countries that do not grant the right to any form of protest and where the police are used as a fist to beat down dissent.  In the mean time I shall be doing my bit here.

Robert Baer, once a senior figure in black ops at the CIA, said: “If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear, you send them to Egypt.””

 

Sources

Hold the Fort, for We are Coming!


The recent Tory cuts will cost 500,000 people their jobs in the next four years. They have chosen to strike ordinary people, and those in hardship rather than close the ‘legal’ tax loopholes that only the rich can afford to pay accountants to ‘find’ and avoid paying their fair share.  George Osborne is just one such hypocrite.

This is not the only onslaught we face, Comrades.  It is not only the very real danger of a second recession before we recover from the first.  It is bad enough we face a government who would hold people to ransom over needed assistance be it for food or for housing (What’s next Osborne?  Extra fees for using the fire service, police, schools or ambulance service?), and a very real danger of our public services being dismantled or privatised, but since the Pope’s invasion of this country last month, which he used to undermine secular democracy, others  have taken this as licence for a media attack on our morals and have picked up the cue to communion whine (excuse the pun, couldn’t help it) about, being marginalised.

Enough is enough.  I am not going to sit quietly and take it anymore.  It is to this joint cause which I think this rousing little union march applies nicely.

We meet today  in freedoms cause
And raise our voices high.
We’ll join our hands in union strong
To battle or to die.

Hold the fort
For we are coming,
Union men be strong.
Side by side keep pressing onward,
Victory will come.

Look my comrades
See the union banner waving high.
Reinforcements now appearing
Victory is nigh.

Hold the fort
For we are coming,
Union men be strong.
Side by side keep pressing onward,
Victory will come.

See our numbers still increasing
Hear the bugles blow.
By our union we shall triumph
Over every foe.

Hold the fort
For we are coming,
Union men be strong.
Side by side keep pressing onward,
Victory will come.

 

Alternate Chorus.

Hold the fort for we are coming,
Union men be strong!
Side by side we’ll battle onward,
Victory will come!