Friday, August 29, 2008

Yang Jia is our friend, is our friend

(thanks to Paul for this)
China has it's own Harry Roberts
Yang Jia, a 28-year-old unemployed man from Beijing, appeared in court in Shanghai charged with an alleged attack against the police on July 1, the anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.

Mr Yang is said to have thrown molotov cocktails into a police station in Zhabei, a northern suburb of the city, before entering the building and attacking a group of unarmed officers with a knife. He was arrested at the scene.

However, instead of condemnation, he has received widespread approval from Chinese internet users, or netizens, for his apparent act of defiance.

He has become a symbol for the growing number of people who are attacking Chinese police in protest at the brutality of the state.

Mr Yang has even been compared to Wu Song, one of the greatest heroes in Chinese literature, who killed a tiger with his bare hands.

One message left on his MySpace page said: "You have done what most people want to do, but do not have enough courage to do".

The prosecution said Mr Yang had acted out of "revenge" after he was caught by police riding an unlicensed bicycle last October and interrogated. He later sued the Shanghai police for 10,000 yuan (£803) for psychological damage, but his claim was rejected.

Mr Yang is rumoured to have been badly beaten and maimed by police.

One blogger, Zi Bingyue, wrote: "Yang Jia is not bad. He has no previous criminal record. On the contrary, he has a strong sense of the law. He gave seats to older people on the bus and carried luggage for weak travellers."

His father, Yang Fu, said his son must "have been greatly wronged" and added that he hoped Mr Yang's almost inevitable death sentence would help spur the Chinese legal system to change in the future.

Another blogger, Qing Feng, wrote that Mr Yang had been ground down by the reality of being unemployed in China. "He would have self-destructed one way or another since he has lost hope. He has no job, no degree, no income, no background, no relationship or normal family," he said.

Since Mr Yang's arrest, his lawyers have been uncontactable. An attempt by the Telegraph to trace them to a second-floor office in north Shanghai was met with a simple note saying that the office would be closed for the foreseeable future.

In addition, blogs mentioning Mr Yang have been deleted and bloggers have been told by websites that sensitive articles will be blocked

from the Daily Telegraph

Dave cocks a snook

me and Dave discuss Red star commando in happier times

Its getting lonely on here.

The others stopped blogging a long while back- Mostly because they kept forgetting how to log in.
Dave and me were the only ones posting at all.
Now Dave has started his own blog where he brings his own brightness and jollity to the world, as seen through the prism of Yorkshire curmugeonlyness.
Dave's contributions to this blog have been the best part of it in the past and I hope he will still pop round occasionally.

professional contrAryans?

After the interweb kerfuffle that surrounded the story of ‘Harry Potter and the goosestepping academics',there has been a great deal of discussion about how a certain section of the Left have developed a selective blindness towards anti semitism,
Just to prove that the 'anti- imperialist left' don't have a monopoly on scarcely concealed anti semitism, I have just received a email with this weeks missive from those 'jolly japesters’ at spiked-online and found this about Jerry Springer's BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are

But how many more times must we be told that the Nazis weren’t very keen on Jews? Why not have a documentary on the Pope not being a Protestant? Or on ursine bowel movements in arboreal regions? It’s been told time and time again.

Leaves a distinct queasy feeling in the guts.
But do fear as All is apparently ok as;

I’m not anti-Jewish. In fact, I am exactly the opposite. I’m very pro-Israeli, because I think the Jews are a nation of geniuses. You can always spot a loser in life if he is anti-Semitic. This is the politics of envy. Hitler hated the Jews because he thought they were clever; the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche loved the Jews because he thought they were clever. Hitler, the über-anti-Semite, was an über-loser. Never trust anyone who hates Jews

A great improvement on ‘some of my best friends are Jewish’ –‘some of my favourite nations are jewish.’
And I always thought that at the heart of modern anti-Semitism was not some idea that Jews were inferior but that they were geniuses (who ran the world).


(Why is there always a BUT?)

But Holocaust stories have become very tiresome,

Those Jews do keep on about it don’t they?

especially when people alive today claim victimhood status on behalf of their ancestors, which is not only boring but despicable. Jerry Springer shed many a tear on behalf of his grandparents who were rounded up by the Germans in Czechoslovakia. But what about the people who actually survived Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and the like, or the children of the survivors and the dead who do actually remember the trauma they endured? This programme felt like an insult to genuine Holocaust survivor
These were the cheap words of a cheap TV presenter who has made his career from deriving cheap thrills from the misfortunes of others. He has made a living from parading and creating ‘victims’ by humiliating them on American and international TV, and now parades himself as an ersatz victim on the BBC.

I have a confession to make, I like Jerry Springer!! I have always found his show sympathetic and decent, not unjudgemental, but never treats its guests as victims, in fact it has been for many years one of the few programmes on which american working class people get to speak for themselves.
Mr. West finishes his piece apparently equating the industrialised murder of Jerry Springer’s grandparents, and millions of others with his own family experiences;

All families have skeletons in their closets. My direct paternal ancestor was Lord North (yes, the surname is no joke), the incompetent prime minister who lost Britain the War of Independence against the American colonies. My grandfather Douglas West was features editor of the Daily Mail in the 1930s, where he championed Mosley’s fascist Black Shirts. My maternal grandparents in Dublin used to host dinner parties for the German ambassador in the 1940s.
But then again, my mother was a leading feminist in Ireland in the 1960s who brought condoms from Belfast to Dublin, and my father was a veteran journalist in Vietnam at the same time and was one of the first to say that the US campaign there was actually correct. He was also one of the very last journalists to leave Saigon before the final US retreat in 1975.
But I am not ‘traumatised’ by any of these events, nor informed by them. We are who we are, not who our ancestors were

I dislike this man.

Anti Semitism seems to be this year’s black.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Class War Bonfire Party November 5th

superb promotional video now out for this years bonfire party

Nazi loving academics- Fuck off!

UPDATE- Harry's place is currently offline
UPDAte 2- temporary Harrys place at

the blog Harry's Place is under threat after revealling that an academic happily reprinted articles from the Nazi, former Klu klux Klan leader, David Duke's website on her Trades Union's internet discussion board.
the idiotic nature of the 'anti- imperialist' left in its opposition to zionism now means that the racist rantings of neo- nazis are acceptable if they oppose the jewish state.

the post that caused the trouble

The University and College Union maintains an email list for its activists, which is administered and monitored by the union. As Harry’s Place readers know, the email list traffic is dominated by political extremists and almost entirely given over to their obsessive and nasty campaign to boycott Israeli academics.

The extremists are countered by a small number of Jews and anti-racists, many of them supporters of Engage. They are routinely defamed as racists, imperialists, Apartheid supporters, liars and conspirators. Quite a few of the Jews and anti-racists have been chucked off the list by the UCU administrators, arbitrarily, and usually for making public their complaints about the racism on the list.

There have been complaints to UCU about racism on its activist list. UCU has dismissed them all as baseless.

One of the formal complaints was made in relation to a series of particularly poisonous and nasty emails written by a Sheffield-based UCU activist called Jenna Delich. That complaint was also dismissed.

Yesterday Jenna Delich wrote the following message on the activist list in order to support a boycott of Israeli academics:


In support to your link this may be a long but also an interesting reading:

No comment necessary. The facts are speaking for themselves.


The website which she links to is the website of David Duke, who is the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and perhaps the most notorious racist and anti-semite in the world. The article itself was originally posted on an extremist conspiracy nut website, but appears only on David Duke’s website. It is therefore reasonable to infer that Jenna Delich reads and takes her information on world events from neo Nazis.

So, in a nutshell, the position is this. The UCU refuses to take action against viciousness against Jews and anti-racists on its own activist list, and endorses their exclusion from that email list when they defend themselves. Meanwhile, the UCU is circulating links to David Duke’s website on behalf of Delich.

What a wonderful institution UCU is.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


from the yorkshire NUM website
Dave Douglass former NUM Yorkshire Area Executive member writes this report of his visit to the so called Climate Camp."

In August, me an Arthur Scargill enter another big field to fight the corner for the miners and coal our industry and cause. Last time it was that field at Orgreave, this time it’s the Climate Camp at Kingsnorth Power Station and instead of thousands of cops there’s thousands of eco-warriors who now believe coal is killing the planet and want to stop all new coal stations.

If truth were known, they want to close down all coal stations per sae. This time there is only Arthur, and me, we have no squads of pickets, no marching bands and no flying banners. It is in many respects as daunting a prospect, but it shows the quality of this man, our differences aside, he came into the teeth of opposition with an unpopular and untrendy message, among people who are hardly receptive to his old school brand of Marxist-Leninist socialism but prepared to debate till the cows come home why the NUM and clean coal technology are allies in the struggle for a socialist ecology and a just world.

Arthur is now 70 and I am 60, I think we present a figure of two rather battered and scarred alley cats come for a peace conference with the league of dogs. This is a sad and confusing conjuncture of forces. I have never in my life experienced a situation where the miners and what we do is the unpopular foe except among the ruling class and Tories.

Outside of the Young Conservatives, I have never known young people regard mining and pit heads as their enemy. What is worse is that these are my traditional constituency on the Anarchist left, they have the aura of the hippies, they aspire to the freedoms and love of life, which our 60s/70s generation did. I come across the Newcastle and Scottish camp, and know many of the activists from the Toon scene and demonstrations. Previously we have always held each other in a silent mutual respect, now there is a mutual distance, coolness, a sort of mutual Et tu Brutus. However, I see here also the mortified conviction of my own anti-nuclear youth. The conviction that myself and the world were on the brink of extinction. The certainty that if we delay we are all doomed to a wretched and painful end. Now it is climate change, and the gathering speed with which the earth is crashing toward climatical obliteration ironically for all carbon based creatures and vegetation on the earth as we know it. A change, which will cleanse us all from the surface of the globe for eternity.

The camp like some latter day Woodstock; they are a commonwealth, locked in debate and dedication, little communities with kids romping through the fields, longhaired, dreadlocked, singing and dancing. It is deeply wounding to be the enemy.

This is an anti-Durham gala, everywhere are Workshops on mining, on resistance around the world to mining of all descriptions, pictures of headgear and open cast, industry and miners, and the campaigns against them. It is like a Durham miner’s gala on bad acid. Instead of everywhere a celebration of the miners, our work, our communities, are protests for its end. I am shocked that many left groups are now Groupies to the eco movement and have abandoned all attempts at class analysis.

Arthur’s worst critic in the field is the local secretary of The Socialist Party, who tells him the NUM and miners’ struggle was yesterday’s cause, this was where the struggle was now, that Eon and the big generators to facilitate their profits are using us. I argue the opposite that every attack on coal feeds the nuclear agenda, sets the agenda for government policy. I remind them too that they are enthusiastic supporters of EON when it comes to ramming wind turbines down the throats of protesting locals resolved not to have them.

Around the tent, are dotted Trade Union members of the SWP are they now ready to bury him having once been full of his praise? For a month, the Weekly Worker has carried uncritical adverts for the camp while the Morning Star warned me I was underestimating the forthcoming climate holocaust and declined my article criticising the camp.

I have the honour to have wrote the official NUM bulletin The Miners and The Climate Camp, which Ken Capstick the Miner’s editor has managed to reduce from 8 sides to four with a bit of clever editing. I’ve humped 2000 of them in a huge bag from Doncaster and have spent the morning spreading them round the field, where they are received with less than enthusiasm. About 150 protesters turn up to the tent, where Arthur and I are speaking from 1500 in the field. Their bottom line argument is we shouldn’t be generating so much power anyway, it should be cut by 50% and we need to get use to not having electricity.

Arthur gets one of the Greens scientific officers to admit she was talking about taking out all nuclear and coal capacity, which would leave Britain virtually without power generation of any sort.

They are non-plussed by the fact that we both accept practical renewables, that we see solar energy as the long-term future for the planet. That many other clean sources, as long as they are not equally environmentally damaging (like land wind turbines) should be deployed along with mass insulation projects and energy saving programmes. But that coal should be the base supply agent and buy the world a breathing space so long as we developed carbon capture systems to burn it cleanly.

There is sympathy for the miners generally accepted as the most exploited people in Britain over the last century, but there has to be losers if we are to save the Planet, and we have been chosen to be it. Few people believe that CO2 capture works, and anyway will not be ready ‘in time’ to stop the climate going into free fall.

At the same time as facing the Climate Camp and linked to it across the left and green movement, more and more people are coming over to the Government programme for nuclear power, and an end to coal mining and coal burning in Britain. I have argued far and wide that clean coal is the alternative to a civil nuclear programme. I am stunned to be told the NUM’s new policy supports both coal and nuclear although I still claim this to be untrue. It needs urgent clarification, because this is a central plank in our defence.

I am asked to give a Workshop on the relevance and importance of the great 84/5 coal strike, nine people come. The relevance clearly isn’t too well established.
‘The Earth’ becomes an abstraction, humanity is some sort of foreign and alien invader and the storm troops, this time not of the TUC but of tidal waves, poverty and death, are the miners.

Of course, Arthur’s arguments are not totally mine, he talks of ‘dirty foreign coal’ and unfair competition, slave labour and child labour, these are not my arguments. Import controls are not a progressive answer, in my view, but I am for a level playing field of subsidies and a ‘fair trade’ standard of terms, conditions and union rights, which would be, for the millions of coal miners abroad as much as for us. We agree though that clean coal technology is an achievable science now, and it is vital that it is applied wholesale across coal generation.

The cops are arseholes as usual I am stopped and searched two sometimes three times a day, against my consent and often with force. Indeed, I am almost arrested, which would have been proved interesting in court. They could hardly argue they had reasonable grounds for suspecting I was going to sabotage the Power Station when I had gone down two thirds of the country with half a tonne of literature in its defence.

They attack the camp on numerous occasions and lay into protesters with truncheons; day after day, they line people against the fence from the very youngest toddlers to very old people, and search and harass them. Arthur makes a very strong Statement to the media at the gate, in defence of the right to protest and welcomes the protesters invitation to him and to debate this vital issue.

It was a privilege to stand with Arthur again, in the teeth of opposition again, though we could have done with thousands more supporters so short sighted ‘greens’ are not allowed to dominate this crucial debate.

I am trying to put together a Labour Movement Conference on Climate, Class and Clean Coal in Newcastle for the end of the year, and very much hope the NUM sponsor it and supply key speakers. Watch This Space.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

was there resistance in the Lager?

Was there resistance inside the Lager?
Primo Levi maintained that resistance for the ordinary Haftling inside the concentration camp, was impossible. Romantic ideas about the unity of the oppressed were, in the extreme circumstances of Auschwitz, untenable, and each prisoner was alone in the daily and unequal struggle to simply exist .
The Nazi process of dehumanisation; systematic theft of personal belongings, the replacement of names with tattooed numbers, the loss of dignity and personality associated with the cropping of hair and replacement of personal clothing with ill fitting and ‘clownish’ uniforms combined with the trauma of the constant presence of sudden death and murder all combined for Levi to make the prisoner less than a man , “To Destroy a man is difficult almost as difficult as to create one: It has not been easy or quick, but you Germans have succeeded. Here we are docile under your gaze; from our side you have nothing more to fear; no acts of violence, no words of defiance, not even a look of judgement.” Returning to the question of Resistance in the books Afterword, Levi acknowledges that some sporadic acts of resistance did take place inside the camps, but insisted that these were carried out only by ‘privileged’ groups amongst the camp population and that for the ordinary prisoner resistance was not an option as; “people in rags do not revolt” . For Levi, those who gained positions of privilege within the camp, as ‘notables’; Kapos, or other officials, were morally compromised; complicit in the oppression of the rest.
Levi gives a number of other reasons that would inhibit resistance; the constantly changing population of the camps, as selections and transfers prevented any established community to emerge, language barriers between different groups of prisoners, exemplary executions of anyone who showed defiance, combined with random and extreme violence kept the prisoners in a constant state of disorientation and terror. For Levi, the Jewish prisoners were especially unable to resist, worn down as they were by long periods of hunger and oppression in the ghettos before even arriving in the camps. Levi dislikes the image of docile Jews patiently lining up for the gas chamber, but maintained that, “no one rebelled” . Levi cited the Germans use of Soviet Prisoners of War as guinea pigs to test the gas chambers, if these “young, army trained, politically indoctrinated, (and) not encumbered by women and children” did not resist then how can anyone expect the frighten beaten and cowed Jews?
However despite Levi’s denial of the possibility of resistance there is a great deal of evidence from the testimonies of other survivors that resistance to the Nazi genocide did exist and went far beyond a few scattered outbreaks.
In accessing the evidence for resistance inside the Lager it is useful to actually define what is meant by resistance, and as such it is possible to discuss three, distinct but overlapping, levels of resistance and defiance.
First, there was the struggle to survive. In a regime of annihilation, ‘the common struggle for survival’ itself becomes an act of defiance. For many the impetuous was to survive to bear witness to what had been done to them. Similarly, in a system which stole every facet of human identity from its captives, the maintenance of personal pride , through washing or the observance of daily exercises, for example , or the reassertion of a level of individuality, of personality through alteration or re-tailoring of the camp uniform was a minor act of rebellion.
Another, if not the ultimate, form of individual defiance was the taking control of the moment of ones death. In the Lager where every other right and dignity had been stolen from them, to take ones own life in a matter of ones own choosing was for some prisoners a last final act of defiance.
The second level of defiance and resistance was collective. The Nazis enforced upon their prisoners their own warped and racialised form of social Darwinism, prisoners were categorised and ranked according to the Nazis racial typography, ‘Aryans’ above ‘non-Aryans’, criminals above ‘politicals’, with Jews at the bottom. By pitching each against all the Nazis sought to ensure that the prisoners would keep each other in line as they scrambled for the smallest crumbs of privilege over their fellow unfortunates. This was encouraged by appointing criminal prisoners as Kapos over Jews and punishing any act of common decency and compassion.
For Levi and many other survivors the first shock of arrival at the camps, the very alien and insane nature of the Lager convinced them that all human decency and links of comradeship had been shattered; “…(I)n the Lager things are different: Here the struggle to survive is without respite, because everyone is desperately and ferociously alone.” Comradeship and solidarity reasserted themselves quickly; whether through political, regional or national ties different groups of prisoners sought to protect themselves and each other by bonding together. In terms of political organisation, the communists were most successful as they deliberately sought to gain positions of influence in order to lessen the worst effects of camp life upon their comrades. As communists organised amongst both gentiles and Jews, they were able to provide a network of mutual solidarity that cut across the Nazis’ racial categories, which provided the springboard for later resistance efforts . Zionist groupings and the Jewish socialist Bund were also able to give similar support, especially by providing common language (Yiddish and/or Hebrew) and values for prisoners from widely different nations. National ties were also important, especially for prisoners who were a part of large Jewish populations in their home countries and therefore within the camps. For example Rudolf Vrba got his job in Canada partially because of his ability with languages, and partially because he recognised a fellow prisoner as from his old town . Even those who fell outside of these social and political ties were not abandoned; Vrba tells of the thief in his blockhouse who was discovered stealing bread from a Musselman, a prisoner at the very bottom of the Auschwitz social scale. The other prisoners beat the thief to death; “It was rough justice, but it was fair, for to deprive a man of food was to murder” .
Another form of collective defiance was the self sacrifice of those who gave their lives rather than abandon others, such as the Dutch nurses who were offered the chance to return to Holland but instead chose to remain with their patients, mentally and physically handicapped children, and so perished with them in the gas chambers . There were also those who abandoned positions of power and safety within the camps so that they might assist those who were suffering around them, for example the non-Jewish Kapo Franz, who when in charge of the S.S. stores sacrificed his position and put his life in jeopardy in order to provide some food for some starving Jewish women .
The third level of resistance was actual physical resistance to the Lager regime, this ranged from acts of sabotage and ‘go-slows’, only working as little as to avoid a beating, to full scale insurrections and mass breakouts.
Opportunities for acts of resistance within the camp were limited. “For the Jews, resistance almost always ended in death.” But there were uprisings in Treblinka, where the prisoners set fire to the camp and killed the chief of the S.S. as well as 15 other guards; in Sorbibor, where, led by a Soviet prisoner of war, Alexander Pechersky, Jewish prisoners killed 11 guards before some 300 prisoners were able to escape, in Birkenau, where the Sonderkommando working the crematoria rose up destroying crematorium IV by setting fire to its roof, and blowing up crematorium III with explosives which had been smuggled in by Jewish women prisoners working at the Union explosives factory, whilst prisoners at crematorium II attempted a mass break out. It was one of these fighters that Levi witnessed being executed .
There were individual acts of resistance as well, such the Dancer Horowitz, one of a number of Polish Jewish women who were being led to the gas chamber, ordered to undress she smashed a Nazi in the face with her shoe, took his pistol and shot him and another guard, the other women then started to beat the guards, scalping one and tearing the nose off another, who were forced to flee for reinforcements. The women were gunned down at the very entrance to the gas chamber.
Levi maintained that resistance was confined to the most privileged of the prisoners, the prominents, yet as approximately 90% of those sent to Auschwitz never entered the camps, but were sent directly to the gas chambers, everyone who had not initially selected could be said to be ‘privileged’ to one degree or other.
The major problem for those attempting to resist the mass murder was that resistance within the camp was far too late. The place to resist Auschwitz had to before the deportations, thus the emphasis for resistors was to escape and warn Jewish communities of what was happening, so that they could frustrate the Nazis attempts to deport them. Levi claimed that of the 600 official escape attempts from Auschwitz many were prisoners randomly shot by guards wishing to claim the bounty for foiling escape attempts, however, as some 300 or so escapes succeeded then a great number of real escape attempts must have succeeded.
The greatest asset the Nazis had in their plans to exterminate Europe’s Jews was incomprehension at the true enormity of their criminal intention. Even when confronted with clear evidence of what was happening, Hungary’s Jewish leaders preferred to believe the assurances of the ‘cultured’ S.S. officers, rather than the reports of eyewitnesses.
Revolts did take place in a number of Jewish Ghettos, but here again the Jewish fighters were isolated, cut off from a beaten and cowed general population and could only provide for the people of the Ghettos the right “to die as human beings”
Much has been made of the alleged anti Semitism of the non Jewish Polish resistance, and its failure to support the uprising, however one of the participants of the Ghetto uprising in Warsaw, Marek Edelman pointed out that in 1943 the Polish Home Army had only just been organised and had virtually no weapons for its own members let alone any for the fighters inside the Ghetto.
Whilst Poland and the Baltic states did have a history of anti Semitism it is worth noting that after the war the Israeli govt. honoured more Poles as ‘Righteous Gentiles’- non Jews who had risked their lives to save Jews- than any other country.
The most effective acts of resistance were those in communities where the Nazis had been unable to separate and demonise Jews from the mass of the population. In Denmark the resistance were able to organise the evacuation of 8,000 Jews to safety in neutral Sweden to prevent their deportation . In Bulgaria, German pressure to deport its Jewish population, led to mass protests; farmers threatened to lie down on the railway lines, and appeals called for people to “Take your stand in front of your Jewish neighbours homes and don’t let them be led away by force! Hide their children and do not hand them over to executioners!” Even the German born king intervened and Bulgarian opposition ensured that Bulgaria was the only country in Europe whose Jewish population actually increased during World War II.
Most of the obstacles to resistance that Levi identified were real and made effective resistance far harder, However despite all the obstacles placed in their way the Jews did find ways to fight back against the attempts of the Nazis to eradicate them from History . Where they could not defy the Nazis by surviving, then they sought to defy them by refusing to die as animals, but instead as Human beings.

back from holiday

got back yesterday from a weeks holiday with the family in salou, catalunya. This was our first ever foreign holiday and we loved it.