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SydWalker.Info is a personal website. I live in tropical Australia near Cairns. I oppose war, plutocracy, injustice, sectarian supremacism and apartheid. I support urgent action to achieve genuine sustainability and a fair and prosperous society for all. I rely upon - and support - free speech as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see below).
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers"
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Since Tony Abbott seized the leadership of the Liberal Party in late 2009, Australian party politics have become extremely polarised. The indecisive election in August 2010, which led to a hung Parliament and a minority Labor Government, didn’t reduce this polarisation; if anything, it’s increased since. There are clear differences between the two major parties (left-of centre Labor and right of centre Liberals) on a range of social, economic and environmental polices.
On most of these partisan debates I favour the Labor Party. I especially dread the prospect of an Abbott Government’s impact on environmental policy. Combined with gung-ho pro-development Liberal/National Coalition Governments at State level, I fear the likely direction an Abbott Government would take on ‘green’ issues. So in general, I favour the re-election of a Gillard Government at the coming general election, which is due by the end of 2013.
But while I prefer Labor’s policies on most issues, there are exceptions. Some of them are important to me. They’re more than mere “flies in the ointment” – I regard a few of them as potentially serious drawbacks to the re-election of the current Government. On those issues I’d like the current Labor Government to shift its position.
This article is about one such exception. I write not motivated by a desire to help defeat the ALP Government; I want to encourage it to change policy. If that doesn’t happen it’ll seriously detract from my enthusiasm for renewal of Labor’s mandate to govern.
Back in 1995 the Keating Labor Government was in power and Michael Lavarch was his Attorney-General. After intensive lobbying from Australia’s powerful mainstream Jewish/Israel Lobby, that Government legislated an amendment to the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act (RDA).
Here’s the amendment in question:
Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin
(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.
Note: Subsection (1) makes certain acts unlawful. Section 46P of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 allows people to make complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission about unlawful acts. However, an unlawful act is not necessarily a criminal offence. Section 26 says that this Act does not make it an offence to do an act that is unlawful because of this Part, unless Part IV expressly says that the act is an offence.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), an act is taken not to be done in private if it:
(a) causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or
(b) is done in a public place; or
(c) is done in the sight or hearing of people who are in a public place.
(3) In this section:
“public place” includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, whether express or implied and whether or not a charge is made for admission to the place.
On Monday this week, in a speech to the right-wing Institute of Public Affairs which he called ‘Freedom Wars‘, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott gave what for me was one of his finest speeches – a speech more in keeping with the liberalism of John Stuart Mill (which I respect) as opposed to the reactionary polices of Australia’s Liberal Party on a raft of other issues (which I oppose).
In ‘Freedom Wars’ Mr Abbott took a stand against the Finklestein Inquiry proposals for a new media tribunal. As I’ve written previously, I also regard Finkelstein’s key proposal for a new ‘media tribunal’ as deeply flawed and I welcome Abbott’s clear rejection of it. If that happens, on this rare occasion, to locate me on the same side of a debate as executives of News Ltd, so be it. In fact I’m glad, this once, to have powerful allies on what I regard as a very important policy issue.
His speech also clarified the Liberal Party’s position on the notorious 18C Amendment to Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act. Abbott said:
Abbott’s reference to ‘Bolt’ was to the prominent Australian political commentator Andrew Bolt, who was convicted in 2009 of infringing this notorious section of the RDA. Some of the nuances of the case were discussed by Jonathan Holmes on Media Watch before the court’s decision – see Andrew Bolt and The Herald Sun on trial. Mr Holmes also wrote about the case after Justice Mordecai Bromberg brought down his decision in September 2009: Bolt, Bromberg and a profoundly disturbing judgment. I found his coverage of the case insightful, fair and well-argued.
The feisty and (to me) highly irritating Andrew Bolt is not the only person to have faced the courts since the RDA was amended in the mid-1990s. Other notorious earlier cases had been brought by the organised Jewish/Israel Lobby against people it derides as ‘Holocaust deniers’. The most famous of those cases was that of Dr Frederick Toben, who was eventually jailed for several months for breaching court rulings made after he was found guilty of breaching the 18C of the RDA back in 2002.
Toben often uses polemical language that may well cause offence to Jewish people. But if his language offends Jews, it’s no surely more offensive than recurrent vilification of Muslims (and occasionally Christians) by some Jewish and non-Jewish commentators in Australia. Toben’s key ‘thought-crime’ appears to be his rejection of the mainstream narrative of the history of World War Two. The judgement against Toben makes it clear that it was that specific issue – a matter of historical debate – that was the nub of the case brought against him.
The judgement handed down against Dr Toben by Justice Branson on 17th September 2002 sought to restrain him from “further publishing information which conveyed the following imputations:
(A) there is serious doubt that the Holocaust occurred;
(B) it is unlikely that there were homicidal gas chambers Auschwitz;
(C) Jewish people who are offended by and challenge Holocaust denial are of limited intelligence;
(D) some Jewish people, for improper purposes, including financial gain, have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II and the circumstances in which they were killed.”
It was an extraordinarily illiberal judgement.
I’ll take the four points one by one:
(A) is meaningless without a precise definition of ‘The Holocaust’ which, as far as I can see, the judgement lacked. This term ’The Holocaust’ was rarely used to signify events pertaining to the fate of Jews in World War Two until the 1970s. In previous decades – the 1950s/60s – ‘holocaust’ was used mainly as a term to signify the much-feared prospect of a “nuclear holocaust”. Contemporary usage is actually quite recent.
“The Holocaust” is therefore quite different from historical events that were identified as such by protagonists at the time - such as the 1940 ‘Battle of Britain’ or the 1945 atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. Without a precise and generally agreed definition of what is meant by the term, to say “The Holocaust happened” or “the Holocaust didn’t happen” are statements so devoid of precise content that they are, effectively, meaningless.
(B) is a matter of historical debate. Judge Branson may not like the fact that numerous serious scholars have expressed doubts that the gas chambers in Auschwitz were ever used to kill human beings, as opposed to their overt function which was to de-louse clothing and bedding and hence help arrest the spread of typhus. But like it or not, it’s a fact that serious doubts have been expressed by numerous serious scholars. The debate over whatv really occurred at that time is ongoing.
In effect, Judge Branson arrogated to himself the right to determine historical fact. That’s a disgraceful thing for a judge to do. Courts of law are neither equipped to act as the arbiters of history, nor should they ever attempt the task. In the Enlightenment tradition, history is for historians and the general public to debate – not for judges to specify.
(C) is a curiosity. I can find no evidence that Dr Toben ever made such a claim. Perhaps someone can point me to the exact quotation/s which formed the basis of Justice Branson’s decision on this? However, even if Toben didmake such a silly comment, its hard to see how that was not a legitimate part of public discourse. If you want to hear people insulting each other for being ‘stupid’, listen to Parliament, read the newspapers, get on Twitter or go the the pub. It happens all the time. If’s is a criminal offence to say people are of limited intelligence few indeed in our society are not guilty of it.
(D) the notion that some Jewish people “have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II and the circumstances in which they were killed” may cause offense to some people, but it is extremely easy to prove that it’s a factual statement. The key word is “some”. There are numerous cases of demonstrably false claims made by some Jewish people on the events of World War Two. Some of those claims have been openly acknowledged as false by the individuals who originally made them. If Justice Branson wished to restrain free speech on this point, he was clearly seeking to restrain people from telling (a part of) the truth. Judges have no business to do this in a civilised society that takes honesty seriously.
In short the judgement made by Justice Branson in 2002 was an extremely poor judgement that – in my opinion – should never have been made. It would surely have caused a major media outcry at the time were it not that the great majority of journalists and public commentators such as Jonathan Holmes live in fear that their careers will be jeopardised if they fall foul of the Jewish/Israel Lobby. They may also regard Toben as a distasteful character - but I suspect that’s of secondary importance. After all, Mr Holmes is clearly no fan of Andrew Bolt, yet he felt able and compelled to speak in Bolt’s defence when the latter was on trial for breaching 18C of the RDA. Yet very few public commentators had the guts to criticise the earlier judgement against Dr Toben, which in certain key respects was an even more outrageous and sinister judgement.
Defending Toben’s right to make public statements about the (so-called) ‘Holocaust’ is not simply a matter of defending an eccentric’s right to express a unorthodox opinion. It’s not equivalent to saying that people should be free to express the view that the earth is flat. The events of World War Two have remained a dominant theme in public discourse to this day. They are mentioned incessantly in ongoing political debates. If nobody could discuss them openly that would be bizarre, but at least it would be symmetrical and ‘fair’ in a silly kind of way. But what the likes of Justice Branson appear to believe is that the subject matter commonly described as ‘The Holocaust’ can and should be discussed – as long as the content of discussion is within court-approved boundaries. That’s outrageous!
For what it’s worth, I no longer believe the mainstream narrative about the events of the 1930s and 1940s. Some people might call me a “Holocaust Denier” because of my views. I repudiate the term and never use it myself except within inverted commas, regarding it as a deliberately nonsensical and misleading meme, invented decades after the end of World War Two as a sneaky way to police opinion.
I used to share the now-orthodox view of what happened in German concentration camps during World War Two – indeed, until a decade ago, I never really questioned it. Then came 9/11 and my gradual realisaton that the official 9/11 narrative is a pack of lies. After that, I began to take a deeper look a historical controversies such as the JFK assassination and the (so-called) “Holocaust”. I spent some considerable time looking at different sides of these debates – reviewing for the first time perspectives and analyses that barely ever get aired in the mainstream Western media. Now I’m deeply sceptical.
If that expression of my opinions causes offence, I regret it. I try not to cause offence unnecessarily to anyone – but history matters and more generally, the truth matters. I’m offended almost every time I watch the History Channel or open one of Mr Murdoch’s newspapers. But that’s life. I don’t seek to censor people whose views offend me or ban the expression of their opinions. What I do demand is that evidence-based contrary views are not excluded from mainstream discourse. I want them expressed more freely than at present and without fear of persecution. I argue for that publicly. Oh.. and I don’t want one-sided, distorted history that may not be debated openly made compulsory in schools. In fact, when I was a boy, I was often told that was the kind of reason why Britain fought World War Two!
This article began on the theme of ‘exceptions’ – so maybe it’s appropriate to end it on the same note.
It’s not quite true that no ‘mainstream’ commentators had the guts to stand up for Toben’s right to free speech. An exception was Janet Albrechtsen. Like Andrew Bolt, she writes for the Murdoch media. Like Bolt’s output, I usually find her articles irritating, crass and well off the mark. But in 2009 she penned an opinion piece entitled “The Freedom to be Offensive” with specific reference to Fred Toben and his tangle with the RDA. She said a number of things in the article with which I disagree, but did express the view that Toben should not be jailed for his views.
However, Ms Albrechtsen used the long-established formula that makes the opinion that so-called “Holocaust Deniers” should be allowed to speak acceptable in the mainstream Western media. It’s the same formula used, for instance, by philosopher Peter Singer when he defended David Irving‘s right not be be jailed for his historical views.
Janet Albrechtsen’s trick was to thoroughly rubbish Toben’s beliefs in the same breathe as defending his “free speech”. She did this prominently in her third paragraph:
I detest Frederick Toben’s views about the Holocaust. They are wrong. They are stupid. They are offensive. But using laws to censor his views does not enhance our democracy. It diminishes our democratic fibre by suggesting that we are too precious, or too lacking in confidence, to confront wrong words with right words. Let the man speak. These foolish views will be defeated by facts in the end.
Without that sort of proviso, Ms Albrechtsen’s article would doubtless never have been published in The Australian. Without it, she’d probably never have wished to write it..
Janet Albrechtsen is quite entitled to her view – and to express it. But note she didn’t attempt to justify it in any way – not even by providing supporting references. She states it as a fact – something that her her readers are expected to take as given.
In its own way, that style of argument is another way of shrinking, rather than expanding, the domain of free speech. In general, it’s easier to police opinion by ridicule than via the courts. The key – and positive – difference is that the Albrechtsen/Singer approach does not land “offenders” in jail – although it does create an intellectual climate conducive to the marginalisation of the views they disparage.
What we really need – in my opinion- is full, respectful, polemic-free debate about the complexities of our history - especially the thorny subject of World War Two that seems to get even more emotion-laden and propaganda-ridden as time goes by (not less, as is usual with historical events). We need to look back at the catastrophic major conflicts of recent history and try to understand what really happened, free from propaganda and bias. Only then can we learn the real lessons from our past.
Preventing that from happening seems to be the over-riding priority of all these “acceptable” commentators, whatever their posture on the topic of free speech.
Consider the generation that was in its prime in the mid-2oth century – the generation that fought World War Two.
Which individual of that time left the most significant and enduring mark on history?
Who, in that narrow sense, was the greatest ‘success story’ of the era?
The first names that spring to mind may well be the political giants of the time, names known to even the most cursory student of modern history: Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. Hitler might get a mention for some remarkable early victories.
But I beg to differ.
None of those famous leaders was successful in having their preferred narrative of the war become official history, generations later. In a chess analogy, all of them are better viewed as pieces rather than players. Yes, each wielded great power – but their power was relatively circumscribed. All were propelled into war. Once war came, their creative powers were subordinated to the destructive imperative.
However, there was a man, alive at that time, who had a rather more successful war. He commanded no troops directly, but I believe that, along with his associates, this extraordinary individual was able to manipulate the key combatants so they performed in accordance with his general plans. He also achieved a very tangible outcome from the war – delivered soon afterwards – the birth of an entirely new nation, complete with a ‘Get Out of Jail’ card granted at birth. Significantly, his version of the history of that gruesome conflict has become the dominant or ‘official’ history more than two generations later.
As the Second War World recedes into history, memory of "The Holocaust" is promoted with undiminished vigor
The nation in question was the State of Israel, named and declared in 1948, accepted into the UN in the first half of 1949.
The man’s name? Victor Nathaniel Rothschild (later in life, Lord Rothschild)
The “Get Out of Jail Card”? This was the guilt generated through a carefully edited and heavily promoted version of World War Two history, transmuted into sympathy for Jewry in general and Israel in particular
I’m not suggesting Victor Rothschild acted alone, of course. He was no dictator. His true modus operandi behind the scenes is something I can only infer. Rothschild was clearly part of a network – but he was undoubtably a key player within his influential network. It’s possible he was the key player. He had an extraordinarily hands-on role in British national life that’s on the public record, from zoological research at Cambridge to wartime work in the Secret Services. After the war he had a string of roles in the corporate sector and as a senior government adviser. A man who entertained and was courted by British Prime Ministers from Churchill to Thatcher, his network also extended way beyond the British Isles. Rothschild had allies from Moscow to Washington. I speculate he was able to manipulate, rather than be manipulated – far more effectively than other well-known leaders of the times.
Indeed, it’s possible to make a case that World War Two was Victor Rothschild’s war.
The extended network of powerful Jewish interests of which Victor Rothschild was part were, I have come to believe, key players in getting the war started and keeping it going. This is not the ‘mainstream’ historical view, but the people who lobbied hardest for war with Germany left footprints. It’s not really possible to assert that organized Jewry had no role in creating the momentum for war as much of those efforts are on the public record; there can be legitimate dispute over the extent to which it had critical influence on the flow of events as the war began, first in Europe in 1939, then spread to become a truly global conflict in 1941. I think its role was quite central, although making that case satisfactorily would require a longer essay focused on that alone.
After war broke out, Rothschild played a very active personal part in ensuring the gigantic military conflict had his desired outcome: a crushing defeat for Germany.
Last, but by no means least, Rothschild got what he most wanted out of the war – a new nation named Israel – a nation that might appropriately be called Rothschildistan given the intimate relationship between the multinational Rothschild family and the Jewish colonial project in Palestine from as far back as the 1880s.
Victor Rothschild achieved these ends by brilliant, enduring deception that suggests both devilish cunning and utter ruthlessness.
The Second World War was the biggest mass slaughter in history – but there were winners. If any one man emerged as a “winner” from World War Two, it was Victor Rothschild.
It’s an oddity that even in those rarefied circles on the internet where there’s open and critical discussion about Zionism (some of it ugly bigotry, some not) – websites where the highly significant role of the Rothschild family in the evolution of Zionism is discussed – little attention has been paid to this relatively recent scion of the famous banking family.
It’s odd, because in many ways Victor Nathaniel Rothschild was a very noteworthy character. He’s not long dead – and if Hollywood ever gets the green light, his life story would surely make the blockbuster spy thriller of all time.
The Fifth Man. Biographer Roland Perry pulls back the curtain on Victor Rothschild's remakable life - but how far?
This isn’t mere speculation by a ‘conspiracy theorist’. The life story of Victor Rothschild was the subject of a biography by the well-known Australian non-fiction author Roland Perry entitled The Fifth Man. Published some 15 years ago, about five years after Lord Rothschild’s death, it was republished in paperback by Pan. There were reviews in mainstream media at the time, such as this interesting account in The Independent. It’s still not hard to get hold of a copy. Yet with few exceptions, the book is rarely mentioned. Why?
Perry’s biography of Victor Rothschild is based on considerable reasearch. The author acknowledges co-operation from the Rothschild family.The Fifth Man is well written. Much of the biographical narrative is a compelling read. It’s an account of Victor’s busy life from boyhood, through Cambridge in the 1930s to an important MI5 role during World War Two – then as a major force in shaping the post-war world from the 1940s though to the 1980s. The subject matter is interesting enough. So why isn’t it better known?
Perhaps The Fifth Man occupies a kind of no mans land, where “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” prevails.
The Fifth Man is a book anti-Zionists may dislike, because essentially it’s one long glorification of the life of one of the most effective Zionists of all times. It’s a book that Zionists may also treat with trepidation, because it makes the case that this man, a Lord of the (British) Realm who enjoyed the trappings of high privilege within Anglo-American society and exercised considerable influence over several decades at the highest levels of power… was in reality a traitor to the land he lived in, who hoodwinked friends and most of his associates throughout his adult life, committing high treason against the nation to which he nominally swore allegiance while manipulating events so the new ‘Jewish State’ might be born and fortified.
The name of Perry’s book, The Fifth Man, is a reference to its central – and truly explosive – thesis. This is the proposition that Victor Rothschild was the legendary ‘Fifth Man’ of the infamous Cambridge Spy Ring.
Four other members of the mid-century British KGB spy-ring were publicly outed between the early 1950s and 1979 – first Burgess and McLean in the early 1950s, then Kim Philby in the early 1960s – and finally Anthony Blunt. All four were associates from youthful days at Cambridge University in the early 1930s. They had other co-conspirators too, such as the American Michael Straight whose confession in 1963 was crucial to identifying Blunt as the ‘Fourth Man’. But after Blunt’s confession, rumours persisted of a ‘Fifth Man’ – another key spy from the same Cambridge set who’d also spied for the Soviet Union in World War Two. Various suggestions were made about the identity of the ‘Fifth Man’, but most profiles don’t fit. Roland Perry argues that Fifth Soviet spy was Victor Rothschild. I think he makes a very convincing case. Several mainstream commentators thought so too when reviewing the book (but not all!)
Why on earth, one may ask, would the heir to the world’s wealthiest and most established banking family throw in his lot with Joe Stalin’s Communist Party?
It’s a reasonable question. Roland Perry paints a picture of a man of contradictions living in a dramatic and confusing era. I’m rather sceptical of Perry’s interpretation of Victor Rothschild’s evolving psychology and motivations. It’s true that passionately anti-Hitler views weren’t uncommon in the 1930s, especially within Jewish families. The opinion that the Soviet Union was a much-needed counter-force was also widespread in North America and Britain. Of course, between 1941 and 1945, a pro-Soviet Union bias was also a view congruent with official British foreign policy.
But there’s more to Perry’s book than the tale of a most unlikely Soviet agent who penetrated the deepest recesses of ‘British Intelligence’ during World War Two along with other like-minded communist spies. As big as the story is that Lord Rothschild carried out espionage on behalf of the USSR, it’s not the really big story.
Perry suggests Rothschild had political but essentially altruistic motivations for being part (a central part) of the Cambridge Spy-Ring and directing British secrets to the Soviet Union. I rather doubt it. I suspect Rothschild’s assistance to Stalin was less a gift than a trade. After the war, Rothschild called in the debt for a political favour of historic dimensions.
Victor Rothschild; more than two sides to the man
According to Perry, by 1946 Victor Rothschild had effectively morphed into a Triple agent, with primary loyalty to the soon-to-be-declared Jewish State in Palestine. At that time, I suspect he used his influence with the Soviet Union to gain its support for the Zionist project at an absolutely crucial moment.
In March 1949, infuriated with Jewish Terrorism in Palestine and the unwillingness of the Zionist leadership to agree a fair compromise with the Palestinans, the Labor British Government of the day abstained in the Security Council on recognition of Israel. Egypt voted against – but had no power of veto. The USSR, which did have veto power, voted in favour. UN recognition of the unilaterally declared Israeli State followed via majority vote in the UN General Assembly on May 11th.
The crucial lobbying trick carried off by the Zionist Lobby was to garner the support of the USSR up to mid 1949. This was an extraordinary achievement for Zionist Lobbying. How on earth could Communist nations endorse the partisan, racially discriminatory and separatist creed of Zionism? Yet they did – with the USSR onboard at the crucial time. Had it used its veto power in March 1949, the Security Council could and would have blocked the admission of Israel to the UN.
The Soviet Union’s love-affair with Israel was short-lived. The USSR exploded its first nuclear device in August 1949. Fairly soon after, relations with Israel cooled and it moved closer to support for Arab concerns. But by then, the State of Israel was up and running – a full member of the UN. In politics, timing is all-important.
What leverage might Rothschild and his associates have had to garner deals from Stalin’s USSR over Palestine?
First of all – as the ‘Cambridge spy ring’, they’d sent secrets to Moscow during the war, tapping into Britain’s phenomenal top-secret code-breaking and eavesdropping capability that gave it a crucial edge over Germany during the war. The British spied on German communications; the spy-ring spied on British “intelligence” and the Russians consequently had access to German war plans on the eastern front. According to Perry it gave Stalin a crucial edge in countering the German’s attack plan. Perry writes about this espionage very sympathetically. People who believe it crucial that the USSR prevailed against the Axis powers (which is most people, at least these days) are likely to feel that Rothschild and his fellow conspirators were doing the right thing at the time. One almost wonders why Churchill didn’t authorize these “leaks”. There’s no evidence that he did, as far as I’m aware, but it’s possible..
Even so, the war-time favours to the Soviet Union bestowed by Rothschild and his spy ring might not have been sufficient to keep wily Joe Stalin “honest”. I suspect there was something more – something not delivered until after 1945 that would give Rothschild leverage over the USSR – at least for a few decisive years.
In the post-war era (1945+), relations quickly soured between the Anglo-Americans and Soviet blocs. The USA had demonstrated the power of the atom bomb – and its ruthless willingness to use it. Paranoia in Moscow must have been at fever pitch. Under those circumstances, Stalin might well have been induced to make compromises on what he’d have viewed as a lesser issue in order to even up military gap with the West – at least until the USSR had its own nuclear weapons.
We now know the USSR acquired a “nuclear deterrent” years earlier than might otherwise have been the case as a result of the treachery of a number of American spies. Those spies were identified at the time primarily as Communists. But it was also rather conspicuous that , for the most part, they were also Jewish.
The Fifth Man blurs this post-war history somewhat. Perry doesn’t suggest Rothschild directly secured nuclear secrets for the Russians. Rothschild himself, we’re told, lacked direct access to the Manhattan Project. I suspect that his role was more likely that of a negotiator or broker. He could arrange for espionage in the United States that enabled the Soviet Union develop nuclear weaponry much faster. He was in a position to set a price. That price, I suspect, was recognition of Israel in 1948.
As someone who, at least in his Cambridge days in the early 1930s, affected left-wing views (and may have genuinely held them, at least in part), Victor Rothschild’s public position on Zionism had appeared lukewarm at best until 1946. That apparent indifference may well have been important in his dealings with both British and Soviet power-brokers. Posing as an anti-Zionist would have kept doors open that he needed to access at the time. But in 1946, the chips were down. An opportunity had been fashioned for a complete reversal of Britain’s pre-war Palestine policy as announced in the 1939 White Paper. It was the moment for Rothschild to show his cards in case they wouldn’t be counted.
On 31st July 1946, Victor Rothschild spoke in the House of Lords. IHe gave a polished speech at a time of high drama. A few days before, Irgun Zionist terrorists launched a devastating, pre-meditated bomb attack inside the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Their bombs destroyed major structural supports and much of the building collapsed, killing 91 and injuring 46 more. The incident – in which British, Arabs and Jews all suffered mortalities – triggered a wave of revulsion and anger in Britain. There had been sympathy for the Zionists on both sides of Parliament – but this was going too far!. Even Churchill, then Opposition leader and a longstanding Zionist supporter, was clearly embarrassed. Such a grotesque act of terror was hard even for British Zionists to defend.
Until then, Lord Rothschild’s public persona was that of someone opposed to “political Zionism”.
This is what he said on that day. It’s a speech about Palestine, but it also delves into history
More than the narrative left by Roosevelt or Truman, Churchill or Stalin, what Rothschild said about World War Two on that occasion has since become the official history, opinion enforced by law in more than ten nations, including Germany and France. (emphasis added)
My Lords, it is with considerable embarrassment that I speak on the subject of to-day’s Motion. I am embarrassed because it was only a few months ago that I was a British Army officer. During the war, even though one may not have been very near the front line, it was unfortunately a fairly commonplace occurrence to hear that one’s fellow soldiers had been killed. But there is something dreadful about fellow soldiers being killed in time of peace, and no Jew, quite apart from those who were in the British Army, can fail to feel despair and shame when confronted with the stark fact that his co-religionists, who have traditionally abhorred war and violence, should have been responsible for the deaths of British soldiers. It is also embarrassing for me to say something about the aspirations of the Jews in Palestine when, in fact, I do not entirely share those aspirations. Nevertheless, I feel impelled to say something about the situation in Palestine from a point of view which almost by definition must be strange to nearly everyone in England.
I have noticed that it is customary for noble Lords, when they are speaking in certain debates, to make quite clear what is their personal position in regard to the subject under discussion. I should therefore like to say that I have never been a supporter of Zionism, or what is called political Zionism; nor have I been connected officially or unofficially with any Zionist organization.
It would be a waste of your Lordships’ time to go over the old ground again; for me to try and interpret the Balfour Declaration or Sir Henry MacMahon’s letter, which is said by some to contradict the Balfour Declaration; or to go into the history of Palestine—who got there first; who “kicked” who out, and so on. Such matters have often been discussed before by your Lordships, and in any case there are great authorities in this House on that subject. I need only refer to the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, and the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Liberal Party, who have already spoken. I should, however, like to say a few words to your Lordships about something rather strange to all of us; that is, the mentality of the Jews in Palestine and the causes of that mentality.
When I put before you their reactions and their interpretation of the Palestine situation, I think it is necessary to remember two basic facts which have had a profound effect on the Jewish mentality. First, whatever the reasons, there are few countries in the world where the Jews have not been harried or persecuted for many hundreds of years. Even in 1946, pogroms go on in Europe—I refer to the one at Kielce in Poland, in July—pogroms based on the old, old story of the Jews murdering Christian children. And Cardinals, in spite of the precepts of many Popes, refuse to condemn such acts, even when the person who invented the story has admitted that it was a lie.
The second basic fact is that almost all the young Jews in Palestine have had fathers, mothers, and relations who were among the six million Jews tortured and gassed to death by Hitler. It is a strange feeling to have had relations put to death in some terrible way. I wonder how many of your Lordships are in the same position that I am, of having had an aunt whom one loved dearly—she was seventy-five years old, and quite blind—clubbed to death by the S.S. on the railway station outside an extermination camp. She had kept a small farm in Hungary for many years, and was much liked by the other farmers in the district. Please do not think that by telling this story I am trying to evoke any personal sympathy. I tell it quite objectively, because I believe such episodes help one to understand the despair and desperation which have led to the unforgettable events of the last few months. When such things happen to people without the advantages we have in England, the results are terrible and the wounds may take long to heal. They need all the understanding and forgiveness of which we are capable, however sorely tried we may be.
But there was more to be superimposed on this intolerable suffering. There was the White Paper. Many Jews felt that it was a betrayal of previous promises. Some were doubtful about their interpretation of these promises and thought they might be biased and illogical, but they were fortified in their beliefs by no less a person than Winston Churchill who said, referring to certain parts of this White Paper: That is a plain breach of a solemn obligation, a breach of faith …. What will those who have been stirring up these Arab agitators think? Will they not be tempted to say, ‘They are on the run again. This is another Munich’. Naturally, this did not influence any Jew, Zionist or non-Zionist, when the war came; they fought, died, and shed their blood like all other democratic people. But the Palestinian Jews could not help but notice the Arab record during the war; the Rashid Ali rebellion in Iraq, in which a member of the Irwin lost his life while on a special mission for the British. He is now a captain—in the Habbaniyah cemetery. Nor can they forget the Egyptian Minister of Defence who, in 1941, delivered the defence plans for Egypt to the Axis. They cannot help noticing that the Mufti, quite commonly known in the war as an agent of Hitler—and your Lordships will remember that the Mufti trained the Bosnian S.S., and for that reason was at one time wanted as a war criminal by another country—is an honoured guest of a King who has always expressed his sympathies with the Arab cause, and a King in whose country bomb outrages in which British soldiers have been killed are by no means unknown.
That is a plain breach of a solemn obligation, a breach of faith …. What will those who have been stirring up these Arab agitators think? Will they not be tempted to say, ‘They are on the run again. This is another Munich’.
Finally, we come to the recent Anglo-American Committee and its recommendations. The Committee recommended that 100,000 Jews should be allowed to enter Palestine. A pre-requisite of this recommendation being implemented was that no further acts of terrorism should take place. The Government added what at any rate appeared to be a further condition, that illegal armies in Palestine should all disarm before these displaced people were allowed into Palestine. The Jews, constrained in Palestine, felt, quite wrongly no doubt, that this added condition was directed against them, rather than against the Arabs, who had all the surrounding countries, such as Transjordan and Syria, in which to prepare for resistance. They remember that one of the reasons for their being armed was to guard themselves against attacks by the Arabs on their communal settlements—attacks which the British authorities admitted they could not prevent. This Jewish Army, the members of which, as your Lordships know, did many acts of valour for England during the war, was actually trained by a national hero of ours, General Wingate. The Haganah became powerful at a time when Jewish settlements were being ruthlessly attacked and pillaged by the Arabs, who have quite recently announced their intention of resisting by force any immigration into Palestine, just as they did before when they were responsible for the growth of this Jewish Army.
In this country, the idea of any organization having an Army of its own is inconceivable. But it is not easy for us to understand the life of someone in a communal settlement in Palestine, where at any moment he may be the victim of a savage and murderous attack. These communal settlements have a special place in Jewish life. Row often have we all heard that the Jews do not work with their hands, cannot till the soil, and are destined for ever to be urban dwellers engaged in small urban business? Palestine, for whatever the reason, is the only country where the Jews, after 2,000 years, have been able to get back to their real business of tilling the soil and living on the land. Can we put ourselves in their position and realize what it means, having at last settled down in what they believe to be the Promised Land, when their fields are burnt and ravaged by gangs of marauding Arabs, while they are utterly unable to defend themselves?
These factors, extermination in Europe during the war, pogroms in Europe after it, and what they believe to be discrimination against them in Palestine, have produced absolute despair and absolute desperation. Now what sort of person is it who has these suicidal feelings? Perhaps this story may give an indication. During the war my work took me into a house in France where there had been an explosion. I learnt there about a Jewish member of the Resistance Movement who was arrested by the Gestapo and asked to give certain information about the whereabouts and names of his colleagues. He, of course, refused. The flesh on his arms, near his shoulders, was carefully cut round with razor blades and the whole skin peeled off as if it were gloves or sticking plaster. The same was then done to his legs. He refused to give any names. He was bricked up in a wall for 48 hours and, on being taken out, was suspended from the ceiling by his wrists with weights attached to his body. He still refused to give the names of his colleagues. He was then sent to an extermination camp and by some ironical miracle escaped, to be mercifully killed in the explosion which I investigated. The courage of that man is difficult to appreciate in the comparative security of England.
How fortunate it is that human beings find it so difficult to appreciate the horrors and miseries that go on in the world. We hear that millions of Indians have starved to death, or that countless Chinese have been drowned in floods. We say, and even perhaps feel for a short time, “How terrible,” and then we go about our business. It is lucky that we can do this because if we could really feel what has happened we should perhaps be unable to go on living. The same applies about the Jew who was skinned alive, or his six million co-religionists who were gassed, tortured, and experimented on by Hitler. We say, “How terrible,” then we forget and go about our business. But, and this is the thing I find so difficult to keep in my mind, not one Jew in Palestine forgets one of these episodes—forgets that the woman in the next settlement had her one-year-old daughter roasted alive in front of her eyes. And when the scales seemed once more to be weighted against them, the last tonuous threads snapped and they said: “There is no hope; therefore let us die fighting as we did against Hitler.“
I believe and pray that the Government’s proposals, which we have heard to-day, may eventually produce a new state of mind in Palestine and hope, given some good will and moderation on both sides. I said at the beginning that I would try and explain to your Lordships the state of mind which has produced the recent events in Palestine. With the many advantages that I have, it is comparatively easy for me to say that I do not entirely share the aspirations of the Jews in Palestine. I am thinking not so much of the material ones as the advantage of being accepted as an Englishman. But even I remember that only a few years ago my grandfather was the first Jew your Lordships allowed to sit in this House, and I therefore felt it my duty to try and explain something of the trials and torments of my co-religionists in Palestine.
The speech contains two references to the 6 million death statistic that has since become akin to an Article of Faith. This helped establish a “fact” – that six million Jews (no less) were murdered by the Nazi’s during World War Two, with many of those deaths occurring though the horrific practice of gassing inside concentration camps. Churchill, De Gaulle and Eisenhower were all to write war memoirs. None of them mentioned those particular ‘facts’ about World War Two (an omission that these days might cause new books to be unpublishable by mainstream western publishing houses). But today, their histories are only incidental to common public perceptions. The leading books on the Jewish experience in World War Two – books available via high street bookstores in western nations – are all supportive of Rothschild’s narrative.
Victor Rothschild evoked sympathy for Jews by alleging unprecedented atrocities had been committed against them during the war (note the term “Holocaust”, not in general usage as a descriptor for Jewish suffering in World War Two for another quarter century, was not used in Rothschild’s speech). He used that sympathy skillfully to explain and rationalize support for Zionism and its goal of a Jewish State in Palestine – even though at that very time the Zionists in Palestine were showing a vicious, lawless streak.
Is it plausible that Rothschild was such a maverick within his family that he really didn’t become a supporter of Zionism until 1946 or shortly before, as he claimed? Roland Perry invites us to take him at his word. I have doubts. In Perry’s analysis, Rothschild was an English gentleman who became a Soviet spy and then, latterly, formed an affinity with the Zionist project. Somehow I doubt that very much. More plausible, I think, is that Victor Rothschild was a supporter of the Zionist project from the outset – and its goals were his primary political motivator from youth. In other words, I suspect that even while he was a Cambridge undergraduate or wartime British intelligence agent, or post-war Lord and public figure, or even while a Soviet spy sending British secrets to the Soviet Union – all along his main goal was the gestation of the Zionist project and the induced birth of the State of Israel in the chaotic post-war period.
That final act of birthing was helped along by an orchestrated symphony of lethal force, bribery, lobbying and persuasion, deception, falsification and a huge amount of chutzpah. Victor, I suspect, wasn’t far from the conductor’s stand at that time.
A book review would be more descriptive of the content as a whole, but my prime intent here is not to review The Fifth Man as such. There’s a webpage of extracts here that serves as a useful introduction to the content.
My main goal in this essay is not to reproduce Perry’s main arguments taken at face value. I don’t think The Fifth Man should be taken at face value. I’ve already given some of my reasons for this. Perry is a fine writer and his book is illuminating – but does it illuminate with true white light? Or does The Fifth Man, as I suspect, have spectral biases causing blind spots?
I’ve no evidence for this, but can’t help wondering if Perry’s project to write The Fifth Man may not be quite what it seems. Rather like the “popular” British economic historian Niall Ferguson, Roland Perry strikes me as something of a Rothschild court historian. I think he may have been tasked to document – and massage – the life and reputation of this very significant man in terms of Zionist and world history, soon after his death. The book tells the world what a clever and important man he was. It’s explosive because it identifies Victor Rothschild as the fifth man of the British KGB spy-ring. But I think that’s just scratching the surface. Even on Perry’s account, Rothschild continued to exert decisive influence on world affairs after 1945 for more than four decades. He describes some of these activities – but what about the things Perry doesn’t tell us? I’d guess that’s where the story gets really interesting.
There are a number of times in the book when the author’s narrative seems highly implausible. I’ve already referred to the unlikely proposition that Victor was a latecomer to Zionism. There are also times where Perry’s analysis is at odds with other sources that I find more credible.
Take, for example, a notable character who appears in The Fifth Man when Perry describes the immediate post-war era: the American spy-master James Jesus Angleton. In Perry’s narrative, Angleton is an upstanding American intelligence agent who Rothschild (the British spook who moonlighted for the USSR) managed to hoodwink. But I’m more inclined to trust the analysis of Michael Collins Piper, author of Final Judgment, who argues Angleton was effectively a Zionist agent. In other words, I believe Angleton and Rothschild went through a charade of upholding the interests of their respective nations (the USA and UK) – but were really on the same third side.
In the late 1940s, British “Intelligence” Agencies were very much the senior partner to the newly established agencies of American spookdom, in history and experience if not in budget. From the outset, on both sides of the Atlantic, these key clandestine state agencies have been infiltrated by Zionists at high levels. Rothschild and Angleton are two examples.
So what if, far from the uncomfortable stand-off between the Rothschild and Angleton as portrayed by Perry, there was in fact close collaboration between the two agents when they met in the 1940s? What if it continued? By 1963, Angleton was intimately involved in the Kennedy assassination and its coverup. It’s hard to believe key Zionists in Britain weren’t informed about the plot to murder John F Kennedy.
Michael Straight - when he went straight, did he also straighten out JFK about Victor Rothschild's multiple masks?
There’s an interesting connection between JFK and Victor Rothschild – the fact that Michael Straight, a Kennedy supporter, willingly debriefed to US intelligence in 1963 about his own role in the Cambridge Communist spy-ring. His was not a major role and ended with the war, unlike Burgess, Maclean and Philby – but his testimony was sufficient to bring the name of Anthony Blunt as the Fourth Man to the attention of US and hence British intelligence. It led to the deal struck by the British Secret State with Anthony Blunt – a deal left in place until 1979 – whereby Blunt’s name as a traitor was withheld from the public notice in return for what Blunt claimed was his “full confession”.
Did Straight also name Victor Rothschild as the fifth man during his debriefing with US intelligence? It is possible he didn’t know of Rothschild’s involvement,. It’s possible he knew and concealed it. But the third possibility is he knew and told all to his US debriefers. If so, was President Kennedy informed? It seems hard to believe he wasn’t. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr, a special assistant to the Ppresident, was the first person in the Administration that Michael Straight informed of his prior existence as a part-time Soviet spy.
So.. this is highly speculative – but was Kennedy’s knowledge of Rothschild’s involvement in spying for the USSR a source of concern to the latter? It is at least an interesting line of enquiry – though Roland Perry’s fairly recent biography of Michael Straight, Last of the Cold War Spies – is doubtless not the place to find such inquiry.
When now, in the early decades of the 21st century, Westerners wonder how our “intelligence agencies” seem so biased towards Zionism that they’re effectively batting on the same team, it’s useful to reflect on this history. From at least the middle of the 20th Century – but very likely long before that – there has clearly been deep level penetration of US and British “Intelligence” by Zionists who’ve managed to maintain cover, with a few relatively limited lapses, ever since. The penetration is probably much greater now than it was then. Rothschild’s dog is increasingly wagging our tails.
There’s much more to be said about the subject matter of this essay: a critical reading of The Fifth Man. I’ll keep this article a reasonable length by closing now. But here’s a parting thought…
If Victor Rothschild was really – first and foremost – a Zionist, what of the others in the Cambridge spy-ring? Were the rest of the conspirators truly the Communists they eventually purported to be? Or did they also wear another layer of make-up they never took off in their lifetimes?
Kim Philby is a particularly interesting case in point. Both Kim and his remarkable father St. John Philby have gone into history as great friends of the Arab cause. But spooks are not always what they seem.
To be resumed…
Footnote: one factoid in The Fifth Man that does get mentioned often is Victor Rothschild’s phenomenal IQ. Apparently it was 184! When I checked the source of this extremely flattering statistic, the footnote indicated it came from Rothschild’s autobiography.
That’s how to be sure you have an impressive historical résumé. Write it yourself
The current Australian Government is moving towards the implementation of a national curriculum for all government-supported schools.
Under Australia’s federal system, education has traditionally been a State responsibility. The new national curriculum is being introduced through co-operative arrangements between the Commonwealth and States. According to a report in late December 2010, progress is slow. Only the Australian Capital Territory is expected to teach the new curriculum in 2011. Nationwide implementation is not anticipated before 2013.
Delay may be no bad thing. It provides time for more public debate. I think we need it.
A national education curriculum is quite possibly a good idea. Australian States and Territories have set their own curricula until now. Why should bureaucrats in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney or Hobart be better placed to make wise decisions about curricula than a single, better-resourced group of national advisers? On the other hand, the consequence of unwise choices made for the nation as a whole are more serious than a poor curriculum at the level of a single State.
Whoever does design school curricula – and at whatever geographical level they operate – what really matters is the quality of choices they make. I presume there will be extensive consultation with the community as a whole and in particular with academia, the teaching profession, parents etc as the curriculum is finalized – but that’s likely to bring in a wide diversity of opinions. Hard decisions will have to be made; selection is inevitable. Those entrusted with setting a national curriculum have a heavy responsibility to choose wisely.
As in other countries such as Britain, Australia’s organized Jewish/Zionist Lobby has been pushing hard for compulsory ‘Holocaust education’ for some considerable time. It’s efforts seem to be reaching a crescendo. The Lobby wasn’t happy with Education Minister Simon Crean’s apparent refusal to make an unequivocal commitment last July. By August it seemed slightly more reassured it would get its way.
EJAC President Robert Goot; 'gratified'
In mid-December 2010, J-wire reported success: “The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has welcomed the mandatory inclusion of the Holocaust as a topic of study in the latest version of the National Education Curriculum for Year 10 history.” The Jerusalem Post picked up the story on December 19th, claiming: “The Holocaust has been included in the national education curriculum in Australia for the first time.” Those most recent reports may be accurate, although they seem to have been barely mentioned by the mainstream Australian media. Perhaps Israelis are better informed about changes to Australian educational policy than most Australians? (Most, but not quite all).
In any event, a press release issue in February 2011 quoted the Tasmanian Education Minister, Liz Thorp, as follows: “The Holocaust and studies of World Wars 1 and II are now part of the mandated curriculum for History under the new Australian Curriculum to be implemented in 2013″.
Any lobby group, of course, is entitled to promote legal objectives. But the rest of us are equally entitled to resist partisan proposals if they impinge negatively on the community as a whole. I believe this is one such case. Inclusion of mandatory, dogmatic, one-sided ‘Holocaust education’ in the curriculum would be a very poor quality decision for reasons I hope to explain. Australians have a popular word for something of poor quality. We call it ‘bodgy‘.
My objection to compulsory ‘Holocaust education’ in the national curriculum is different in kind from complaints I’ve noticed by other commentators. Kevin Donnelly’s article in the Australian Conservative – The Rudd/Gillard education revolution: an evaluation - is a case in point. Dr Donnelly writes:
Every subject in the national curriculum has to be taught through a PC prism involving Aboriginal, environmental and Asian perspectives. As a consequence, the history curriculum ignores Australia’s Western heritage and the significance of the nation’s Judeo-Christian values and beliefs.
Much of the new curriculum, not surprisingly given the march of postmodernism and deconstruction through the Academy, also embraces the view that there are no truths or absolutes as how individuals perceive the world is subjective and knowledge is a cultural artefact.
In the 29 pages of the first draft of the kindergarten to year 10 history document, Christendom is mentioned once and Christian also once, but only in the context of studying other religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Judaism and Islam.
In the science draft teachers are told that Western scientific concepts are on the same footing as indigenous views about science. The geography curriculum adopts a similar relativistic approach to knowledge when it argues that students should be taught that indigenous concepts of the land are just as valid as Western concepts, on the basis that,
“By understanding Indigenous conceptions of their interrelationship with nature, all students can learn that there are other ways of thinking about and interacting with the environment and its resources that those informed by a Western capitalist tradition”.
Writing from a traditionalist, right-wing perspective, the author makes points that certainly merit consideration, although I suspect he’s engaged in some hyperbole. I share some of his concerns, but not others. I don’t propose to debate them here. But I have little doubt the considerations he raises shall feature in the mix of considerations as the curriculum is finalized and reviewed – notwithstanding his grumbles about the dominance of postmodernist relativism. There’s no de facto cultural taboo in Australia that prohibits raising the concerns he expresses and pressing them in public debate.
Debate about the inclusion of ‘Holocaust education’ is an entirely different matter, Indeed, debate about the ‘Holocaust’ in contemporary Australian mainstream culture is so far removed from real debate it’s not really appropriate to use the word at all in this context. There are debates – around the margins – but the essential historical paradigm of ‘The Holocaust’ is typically asserted to be quite unquestionable.
Yet claims by many mainstream commentators that there is no debate about ‘The Holocaust’ are factually untrue. Like it or not, some of the most basic facts of what’s called ‘The Holocaust’ are in dispute. I mean, in this instance, simply that the facts are disputed. It’s a plain matter of fact. Whether they should be disputed is a different issue. That’s a matter of opinion.
On historical matters in general, the western intellectual tradition holds that dispute IS legitimate and that no historical queries should be disallowed. History is an academic discipline which actually makes progress through debate. In a broad sense, history may be regarded as a science, albeit different in focus from ‘hard sciences’ such as physics. Historians apply (or should apply) the same basic scientific approach to their subject matter; they should gather data relevant to a given line of inquiry, formulate hypotheses and subject these – along with the data on which they’re based – to open, rational debate, cross-checking, testing and potential falsification. Furthermore, the goal of historical research is fundamentally akin to that of other sciences: all seek to add to the common store of human knowledge by establishing more of the truth.
‘The Holocaust’ is treated quite in a quite different way by the Jewish/Zionist Lobby – and because of the strong political influence of this Lobby, it has come to be treated quite differently by western societies as a whole. It’s now the norm for the mass media to treat ‘The Holocaust’ not a historical topic appropriate for open discussion, but as a set of verities that shouldn’t be subject to critical examination except by approved insiders.
If that’s truly the case, ‘The Holocaust’ cannot reasonably be taught in schools as part of modern history. The subject may still havc a place in the curriculum within religious studies (in which ‘The Holocaust’ would be studied as a form of modern religious movement) or in sociological studies (viewing it as a cultural and political phenomenon). But if the veracity of the historical subject matter is not open to debate, it’s not history. No debate, no history. Simple as that.
Have I overstated the dogmatism of ‘Holocaust enforcers’? I think not. In 2011, the open expression of opinions contrary to the official ‘Holocaust’ narrative is punishable by law in more than ten jurisdictions worldwide. A significant number of Europeans languish in jail at this moment for no other reason alone than their stated skepticism about the official ‘Holocaust’ narrative. Australia, to date, has no direct equivalent to such legislation, although in one extraordinary series of court cases a few years ago the Human Rights Commission successfully prosecuted Dr Frederick Toben, founder of the Adelaide Institute, for publishing a website of political and historical opinion, following a formal complaint from Jeremy Jones on behalf of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
Anyone challenging the official ‘Holocaust’ narrative has zero access to the mass media. There’s a similar black hole in academia – and the publishing industry plays its part in censoring dissident views on this sensitive topic. When I last visited a major Australian city I checked inside a few major bookshops to see if any of the many books critical of the official Holocaust narrative were available on the shelves. They were none.Clearly, we don’t have open debate on this topic in this country. In truth, it’s the exact opposite! The Jewish/Zionist Lobby has long been trying to stifle debate about ‘The Holocaust’ and has worked hard – and continues to work hard – to destroy the very possibility of fair and open debate.
In English-speaking countries, the expression commonly used to label and excoriate critics of the official narrative is ‘Holocaust Denial’. This is typically portrayed in public discourse, not as a set of debatable opinions, but as a malignant pathology.This quotation from Holocaust ‘expert’ Professor Deborah Lipstadt, whose best-selling book Denying the Holocaust may soon feature prominently in the mandatory teachers’ materials, if not on Year 10′s reading list, shows how this quasi-medical branding is applied:
“In the 1930′s Nazi rats spread a virulent form of antisemitism that resulted in the destruction of millions. Today the bacillus carried by these rats threatens to ‘kill’ those who already died at the hands of the Nazis for a second time by destroying the world’s memory of them…”
The malignancy of ‘Holocaust denial’ is thus associated with other, equally vacuous terms of abuse such as ‘anti-Semitism’. A recent trend has been branding skepticism about ‘The Holocaust’ with the unpleasant label ‘Hate Speech‘.
Readers may notice I insert ‘The Holocaust’ and ‘Holocaust Denial’ in inverted commas. There’s a reason for that. In my opinion, they’re inappropriate terms, designed to mislead. I can’t stop others using these labels – but do avoid using them myself in normal circumstances. If the expressions themselves are the topic of discussion, I wrap them in inverted commas as a reminder I consider them artificial constructs that do more to obfuscate than clarify the underlying issues.
No one suggests ‘The Holocaust’ is a signifier that represents a single event. It signifies a multiplicity of events that allegedly occurred over several years in a variety of locations – and the specifics of some these allegations has changed over time. Consequently ‘The Holocaust’ is not amenable to a simplistic acceptance v denial analysis. It’s not a black and white matter of rejecting or accepting 100% of the officially-endorsed narrative of the day. There’s clearly room for many shades of gray. The Jewish / Israel Lobby has managed to obscure this rather obvious reality.
More than that, ‘denial’ is surely an inappropriate term when referring to any kind of skepticism about historical events – even relatively discrete and unique occurrences.
Jewish-Roman conflict during the Roman Empire; were the casualties exaggerated?
A largely forgotten and somewhat less sensitive historical example may make the point. The Roman historian Cassius Dio wrote that during the brutal Kitos Wars of the early second century AD, Jews in Cyprus massacred 240,000 non-Jewish Cypriots. This figure has been repeated by some historians – but others doubted the accuracy of the figure. I rather doubt it myself. Should I be branded ‘Kitos Wars denier’ or a ‘Cyprus massacre denier’? Clearly if every historical difference of opinion was to be reduced to a simplistic belief/denial false dichotomy, the study of history would descend into complete farce.
Significantly, the terms ‘Holocaust’ and ‘Holocaust Denial’ are quite recent in origin.For schoolchildren in the 1960s in English-speaking countries, the label ‘Holocaust Denial’ didn’t exist. It’s true the word holocaust was widely used – but it was almost invariably uncapitalized and applied most frequently to the much-feared prospect of a nuclear holocaust. Jon Petrie’s carefully documented paper The secular word HOLOCAUST: scholarly myths, history, and 20th century meanings, published in 2000, provides a useful retrospective account of how usage of the term holocaust evolved. He notes: “In the USA of the early 1960s, about 15 years before the word had become closely linked to Hitler’s Judeocide, the word’s principal referent was nuclear catastrophe.” (See also a 2006 version of Petrie’s article)
As someone born in the 1950s and educated in an English-speaking country, I received no ‘Holocaust Education’ as such in school. As far as I can recall, no-one of my age-group did. But I was required to attend history lessons. I recall on more than one occasion being regaled with stories of horrifying Nazi atrocities during World War Two. My favourite history teacher, who’d lived through the Second World War, discussed them in some detail. What’s more, these stories were a staple of TV and radio, newspapers, magazines – even boys’ comics.We learned, for instance, that the bodies of Jewish inmates were processed into soap and lampshades. We were informed of mass gassings of unfortunate Jews in concentration camps such as Dachau and Buchenwald in Germany.
When, a few years later, the term ‘Holocaust’ (capitalized and used to mean specifically the fate of Jewish people in Nazi-occupied Europe) came into widespread usage, it subsumed the horrifying content we’d already been taught. Like most of my contemporaries, I barely noticed the changes in terminology which took place incrementally over several decades. By 2011, most English-speaking people of my age or older have probably forgotten that the term holocaust was rarely capitalized four decades ago – and usually signified other phenomena than the fate of Jews and other minorities in Nazi-occupied Europe. I’d guess even fewer young people are aware of that.
I chose with some care the three examples of specific stories I was taught in school (lampshades made out of Jewish skin, soap made out of Jewish body-fat, gassings in concentration camps within Germany) – because all three claims have since been largely abandoned by ‘reputable’ academic authorities on ‘The Holocaust’.
Establishment ‘Holocaust’ scholars no longer claim mass gassings occurred in any concentration camps on German soil. They no longer allege lampshades or soap were manufactured from the bodies of internees. It is now almost universally recognized those particular stories were allied wartime propaganda for which no hard evidence has subsequently emerged. The continuing insistence of some survivors that they did take place is something of an embarrassment to the ‘Holocaust establishment’.
The first Auschwitz Plaque
Post-1990 Auschwitz Plaque
Moreover, the ‘Holocaust’ narrative continued to metamorphose after the term ‘Holocaust’ came into being. The classic example is the replacement, around 1990, of a plaque at Auschwitz commemorating the murder of more than four million inmates by the Nazis, with a new plaque commemorating a total of victims just over one million. Despite this huge downward adjustment in estimated deaths, the ‘Holocaust establishment’ continues to insist six million Jews were murdered during ‘The Holocaust’. Some things don’t change!
These revisions to the official ‘Holocaust’ narrative typically came about under pressure from scholarly critics of the official narrative. One might say the story has now been pruned back to hypotheses that can less easily be falsified. But that’s not how ‘The Holocaust’ is presented to the public. Quite the reverse! The set of stories we’re now told comprise ‘The Holocaust’, on the authority of the most prestigious ‘Holocaust’ scholars of this era, are typically asserted as long-established fact, supported by superabundant evidence and queried only by very nasty, diseased people with perverse motivations. Here’s one example (emphasis added):
The existence of the Holocaust is not a matter of debate. The Nuremberg trials and the news reports and newsreel covering the liberation of the German concentration camps established the fact of the Holocaust. Despite such documentation, there are those who deny the very existence of this horrific scar on world history. Indeed, denial activity has increased in scope and intensity since the mid-1970s. Given the reality that the Holocaust soon will no longer be a “living history,” such an increase in its denial is frightening. The Allies liberated the concentration camps almost sixty years ago; eyewitnesses of the Holocaust—victims as well as victimizers—are now elderly. Their first-hand, personal accounts of what happened in the concentration camps soon will cease to exist. To prevent a monstrosity like the Holocaust from occurring again, these accounts must be kept alive.
It was not only school-kids in the 1950s and 1960s who were told stories about alleged Nazi atrocities some of which are now accepted by establishment ‘Holocaust’ scholars as untrue. The Nuremberg Trials, held shortly after the end of World War Two, heard the same tales. They were adduced as part of the evidence at Nuremberg, on the basis of which many of the accused were convicted and executed.
The irony of France’s Gayssot Act of 1990 could not be greater. It provides for a prison sentence of up to a year as well as a maximum fine of €45,000 (and payment of damages to the Jewish community) “for anyone who publicly disputes the reality of one or more ‘crimes against humanity’ as defined and ruled on, essentially, by the International Military Tribunal of Nuremberg in 1945-1946.” During the Nuremberg Trials, making soap and lampshades out of Jewish corpses was presumably regarded as a ‘crime against humanity’ – so it seems this very peculiar legislation is an attempt to enforce belief in historical opinions no longer held even by guardians of ‘Holocaust’ orthodoxy! French intellectuals have always had a reputation for subtlety of thought, but that contortion is surely impossible to fathom. Even so, the law was upheld on appeal.
I concede that IF skeptical background material and critical perspectives are also introduced to students in ‘Holocaust studies’, inclusion of ‘Holocaust studies’ in the history curriculum might well be useful. ‘The Holocaust’ receives huge attention in contemporary Australian media and culture, so scrutiny and better understanding of this part of history would be a useful part of anyone’s education. But there are no indications that’s what’s intended.
Ideological schizophrenia in western civilization
On past experience, skeptical views are likely to be rigorously excluded. I doubt any ‘platform’ will be granted to the revisionist school of historians – critics of the official ‘Holocaust narrative’. Indeed, compulsory ‘Holocaust’ education may well lead to increased demands on Government to censor the Internet and enact yet more restrictive prohibitions on so-called ‘hate speech’ and ‘racial vilification’ – so students are shielded from dissenting views.
It all amounts to an attack on the fundamentals of the Socratic tradition. Compulsory one-sided ‘Holocaust education’ is a Trojan Horse in modern western culture. It’s a back-door way to re-introduce religion masquerading as history and impose it on future generations.
Australia’s Jewish/Zionist Lobby would be well-advised to quit while it’s ahead. Its preferred ‘Holocaust’ narrative already dominates our airwaves, screens, magazines and bookshelves. That’s what I’d call ‘ahead’.
By pushing for compulsion within the national education system, this powerful Lobby risks a severe public backlash.
The backlash probably won’t be led by teachers or academics, most of whom are too timid, conformist and mortgage-conscious to jeopardize their careers standing up for intellectual freedom.
Resistance will come from the kids.
Doubtless their school Internet connections can be monitored for evidence of ‘thought crime’ – but that just makes resistance to tyranny more of a challenge! Youngsters are experts at getting round silly and irrational restrictions imposed by compromised, shifty adults.
In a contest between youthful curiosity on the one hand and censorious adults on the other, bet on youth.
Kids can spot bodgy dogmatism and have a marvelous talent for pricking adult pomposity and mystification.
Thank goodness for that!
It’s been popular to give wars brand names for at least a century.
Graveyard at The Somme; memorial to some of the hapless dupes who fought in "The War to End All Wars"
The First World War was sold to Americans as the ‘War to End Wars’. Rather like the preacher who predicts an apocalypse, that’s a trick that can only really be pulled once, but since then we’ve had wars for all sorts of other excellent reasons including Democracy and Freedom (Humanitarian wars to ‘Protect Civilians’ are currently much in vogue). We’ve also had wars against lots of dreadful things: Oppression, Tyranny, Dictatorship and Extremism. There’s even been a trend towards using the war brand for endeavors that aren’t really wars at all, such as the 1970s+ War on Drugs, wars on malaria, poverty and so forth.
In turn, opponents of wars have assigned their own brand names, claiming for instance that a war said to be against ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ was really a ‘War for Oil’. Other wars have been named wars of conquest, imperialist wars or wars for a partisan cause such as Israel.
The essay that follows is therefore just part of a long tradition of branding wars with simple descriptors. It’s about war over the last century and attempts to argue two rather controversial propositions:
Combined together, these propositions may enrage people across the political spectrum, from far right to far left along with liberals in the middle.
If so, it would help make my point. The great mass of humanity has been duped.
Intelligent feedback and criticism welcome.
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
– Leonard Cohen
Pyramid of the Capitalism System; a popular poster before the century of war
Just over a century ago, at the dawn of the 20th century, the level of economic inequality between and within nations was high.
It was possible to speak of an ‘elite’ although the boundaries of any such category are not exact. Marxists would use the term ‘ruling class’ but whatever expression is used, it refers to a social construct more than a distinct, clearly-definable subset of humanity.
This very wealthy elite was predominantly – although not exclusively – European and North American. By any objective standard they were an elite that enjoyed wealth and opportunity unprecedented in human history.
But they were haunted by a specter. The specter was socialism.
One hundred years ago, socialists were in a situation somewhat akin to the position of ‘green’ politics in our contemporary era. They could reasonably argue that ‘socialism’ in a modern form had never been really tried anywhere on earth. It meant they had no working examples to point to; there were no functioning, national-scale working models of socialist societies. On the other hand, there were no discouraging instances of failed socialism.
Attracting growing support from the intelligentsia as well as the working classes, socialism was a political tradition and ideological aspiration which seemed to many intellectuals to have a most promising future.
Of course, there were really many ‘socialisms’ co-existing at the time – different tendencies and ideological stands from anarchism to democratically-oriented reformist socialism, communalism to Lenin-style vanguardism. A century ago, there was no obvious prospect of a single, unifying ‘revolution’ was likely any time soon – and absent broad socialist unity, the privileged elite had plenty of cards to play. Even so, the growing popularity of a political ideology asserting that all humans have equal rights to economic security and prosperity was widely viewed as a significant threat to the established social and political order.
'Destroy this mad brute!" a US WWI anti-German propaganda poster that offers peace - as long as the monster is killed first
In retrospect, if there was one, single, ‘game-changing’ event that stalled the seemingly inexorable rise of socialism, it was the gigantic human-created cataclysm we now call the First World War. This is a somewhat contrarian statement, because the First World War is often portrayed as an event that benefited the advance of socialism. I think that’s an inversion of the truth.
As a consequence of The Great War, one huge nation covering a sixth of the earth’s land mass (Russia along with much of its pre-war Empire), became ‘socialist’ under a particularly repressive, authoritarian and dictatorial form of socialism. There’s no denying ‘Leninist’ tendencies had been present in the socialist movement prior to 1914. But in most if not all countries – including Russia – they were a minority within the socialist movement as a whole. Until war came…
The enormous prestige of gaining such vast terrain for ‘socialism’ indubitably biased the world socialist movement towards Russian-style Communism in the period following World War One. After the USSR’s expansionist victory in the Second World War and the subsequent success of Communists in China, the Leninist tendency within socialism seemed even more on the ascendant. Western Europe never embraced authoritarian Marxism to the same extent. The dominant form of socialism in the west remained democratic socialism, which in turn came in many flavors. Yet worldwide, the influence of the Communist USSR – and to a lesser extent Communist China – was hugely significant. Most observers of the socialist movement at the beginning of the 20th century would probably have been quite surprised that a relatively small tendency within the socialist movement as a whole would soon become so influential and remain so for more than 50 years.
It took several decades, but the general appeal of the USSR’s model of socialism gradually waned as the 20th century rolled by. In the second half of the 20th century, idealistic socialists outside the USSR found it increasingly hard to defend the internal and external policies of the Soviet regime. The USSR’s lack of free speech, abuses of judicial process, economic inefficiencies and the rigid authoritarianism and militarism of the Soviet leadership and its military interventions in rebellious satellites such as Hungary became too hard to rationalize and explain away – notwithstanding quite genuine achievements by Soviet society that were adduced by true believers as countervailing considerations.
Eventually, the USSR ‘fell’. Some three generations after the turmoil and revolutionary zeal of the October Revolution, the Russian nation decolonized and went through an economic catharsis no less tumultuous than the 1920s, leading after one chaotic decade to the bruised but recovering Russian society of today. Post-Leninist Russia is back within the capitalist fold – although for reasons explicable only by apologists for western militarism, it remains a notional military adversary of the USA and NATO.
One could go so far as to say that from the vantage point of a century later, the First War was a War Against Socialism. And although it wasn’t apparent at the time, it was successful. A consequence of the First World War was that prospects for consensual world socialism were set back by several generations.
Whether or not this result was achieved by deliberate prior planning is an interesting question, but I don’t propose to examine at this time. By plan or by accident, in the long-term socialist ideology was a victim of the war. The Western European and North American elite have enjoyed a century of continuous privilege ever since. Elites in both the USA and the UK have enjoyed robust continuity, without a single rupture caused by revolution or military defeat. The Anglo-Saxon elite – more successfully than any other – has kept socialism at bay.
Peace Pledge Union poster of the 1930s
The bloodbath of World War One had another rather obvious consequence. It gave rise to unprecedented revulsion with war – especially in the countries of western Europe and North America. Pacifism became popular to a quite novel extent, especially in Britain. For idealistic young men and women in the 1930s, the cry “Never Again!” was a self-evident reference to war. Nor was the popularity of anti-war sentiment confined to the political left or the right. For a while it had very broad appeal. In the USA it was especially strong on the political right.
Growing grass-roots determination to avoid another war that flowered in the generation following World War One represented a potent threat to some very powerful vested interests in the western world. It was, of course, of no real consequence to many capitalists, businesses and family fortunes. But it did jeopardize the plans of specific vested interests – based mainly in the USA and UK. These were the forces that collaborated to launch World War Two. They managed to do so by enlisting one brand of socialists (most of the left in the western world) to join them in going to war against another brand of socialists (National Socialists in Germany) who in turn became embroiled with a third, supposedly more extreme variant of socialism (the Marxist USSR). The latter ended up, somewhat remarkably, in war-time alliance with the major capitalist powers.
Having made the bold claim that World War One was the western plutocracy’s answer to socialism, I’ll go further and assert that World War Two was its deadly response to the peace movement. The Second World War was arguably even more effective in achieving its objective than the First. After promising peaks in the mid-1930s, the European and North American peace movement was eventually shattered by World War Two. I believe it has yet to fully recover.
Meanwhile, with no breaks in continuity and a succession of wars to boost its budgets, the military, ‘security’ and ‘intelligence’ functions of the British and American states have grown from strength to strength.
To illustrate this point, I use the more extreme example: the USA. Back in the 1930s, it was a nation with a general consensus supporting continental isolationism and an aversion to European wars. The USA didn’t even have a foreign intelligence agency. Public opinion was overwhelmingly anti-war. Yet within a few years America was transformed into a military colossus, eventually sporting hundreds of overseas military bases and the largest so-called ‘intelligence community’ in history. By the end of the 20th century, the USA’s military spend came to equal the combined military budgets of all other nations on earth. America had become the new Rome..
I find it astonishing how so many ‘socialists’, once war broke out in the northern autumn of 1914, became almost immediate converts to rampant nationalism and militarism. Something similar was true of other progressive social movements. For instance, suffragette split on the issue of war, but the majority seemed to support militant nationalists such as Christabel Pankhurst.
Australian WW1 anti-conscription poster: not everyone was fooled by Great War propaganda. Australians were less fooled than most
Had the majority of socialists united with determination in solidarity against the war, the conflict’s outcome would likely have been very different. The war would probably not have lasted beyond a year or so – and might well have led to quite dramatic advances for democratic socialism and international co-operation between the most economically advanced nations on earth. On the other hand, the imperial elites, who’d presided over the outbreak of war would quite likely have been out on their ears – from St Petersburg to London. In class terms, the stakes in the First World War were extremely high. It wasn’t just a war between nations. The imperial contestants were recklessly gambling all – including the possibility that their own prosperity would vanish in chaos and revolution.
The First World War bled white the youth of a generation, but did leave most of Europe relatively unscathed. It was mainly a military conflict between military machines. Civilian casualties remained a small proportion of the total. Since then, technology and ideology have combined to bring war much more directly to civilian populations. Civilian casualties were a considerably higher proportion in World War Two and it’s been a continuing trend since (Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan for example).
"Save free speech, buy war bonds!"
Although technology helped drive the “civilianization” of war casualties, the role of ideology and government policy should not be understated. When new technologies with obvious military potential were invented, most notably the ‘conquest of air’, many people were aware of the danger and pressed for controls by international agreement. There were, for instance, proposals to ban aerial bombing floated in the 1930s by at least one major European nation. Unfortunately, they did not win common agreement.
When World War Two did break out there was a swift descent into hideous mutual terror. Yet some ‘rules of warfare’ were observed, whether or not they’d previously been formalized by treaty. That’s to say, there was some holding back from utterly unspeakable, worst-case cruelty. One clear example was that, despite holding huge reserves of lethal sarin gas, the German leadership eschewed its use on battlefields and against civilian populations. Unlike World War One, no broad-scale military usage was made of poison gas by any of the protagonists.
Even so, World War Two did entail mass terror of a ferocity the world had never seen before. Entire cities with large populations were incinerated from the air. The worst offenders, sad to say, were the USA and Britain, who used World War Two to turn destruction of cities into an art-form. By war’s end, the USA had even perfected a completely new technology that would enable its President to order obliteration of tens of thousands of people via a single ordinance drop. In the event, Truman chose to try out the USA’s nuclear bombs twice on Japanese cities, without warning and certainly with no subsequent apology. It was an unspeakably murderous act.
Not only were Britain and the USA the most notorious civilian mass murderers during World War Two. They were also, I believe, the instigators of the war. It was British and American diplomacy first and foremost that brought about a conflict the Axis powers were clearly most anxious to avoid. Once war broke out (that is, following their declarations of war), it was the western powers that refused proposals for a negotiated end to hostilities. Unconditional surrender was the consistent Allied demand until they achieved their goal.
WW2 propaganda poster which came in several versions to help Anglo-Saxons identify friends
After five bloody years of war, the ‘Allied powers’ did prevail. Crucial to their success was the wartime alliance they forged with the USSR – a partnership that saw a crusty imperial power link arms with a brash nouveau riche capitalist republic and a brutal and authoritarian communist dictatorship. The latter, despite devastating losses, was eventually a beneficiary of the war in geostrategic terms.
After their military victory, those within the elites of the two English-speaking allies who’d been instrumental in fomenting war had tidying up to do, in cahoots with their temporary Soviet allies.
They had to cover their tracks. The war had caused the most terrible suffering for hundreds of millions of people, so the perpetrators had the strongest of incentives to obscure their own responsibility for the war. They also wished to camouflage and rationalize their horrendous brutality during the war. Arguably both English-speaking nations had committed the greatest war-crimes of all time – atrocities without precedent. It was a reputation they were naturally keen to avoid.
Denying that Dresden, Hamburg and Berlin, Tokyo, Nagasaki and Hiroshima had been blown to smithereens by their bombs wasn’t really an option. The evidence could scarcely be denied. The solution was to ‘out-do’ those atrocities in the public mind – while falsely pinning the blame for starting the war on the defeated nations.
It was really just a matter of infusing new life into wartime propaganda that had already served US and UK national interests well during the war, when it had been used to whip up their own populations into a fury of righteous indignation. The post-war task was to emphasize suitable aspects of that propaganda and endow them with the status of ‘indisputable fact’. The landmark event used to ‘sell’ this false history to the world was the Nuremberg Trials. They are generally spoken of today as representing some kind of historical benchmark in international jurisprudence. In fact, the list of people who consider the Nuremberg trials were a disgraceful travesty of justice is impressive indeed, although their comments are rarely mentioned.
The enemy. Better off without him, even on the UN Security Council in 2011?
By the 1950s, the essential framework of our contemporary world was in place. It’s a world fashioned out of a combination of legal, political and economic arrangements between nations, world-transforming technologies and generally accepted ideological understandings. Of course, it’s a world that continues to evolve. Some major changes have occurred during the last 60 years, such as the remarkable collapse of the USSR. Yet overall, continuity has been greater than difference. We still live in a world of nation-states, operating under the rubric of the UN, World Bank, IMF and other key post-1945 institutions. Technology has evolved to be sure, but our societies are still largely reliant on fossil fuels. We remain under the threat of nuclear weapons – the most lethal devices for deliberate mass murder ever invented.
Crucially, we also still live under the “ideological understandings” that were in place six decades ago, based on historical beliefs that are largely distorted myths.
In the English-speaking countries (including Australia, whose view of world history is largely derived from Anglo-American sources) these myths still dominate our lives. They colour how we view the world. They define what we think is acceptable and what is not.
As I write, the two most populous English-speaking countries, this time in cahoots with France, are bombing Libya from the air. Since World War Two, this form of warfare has been preferred by the Anglo-American war machines for rather obvious reasons.
On what basis do these bomb-happy nations justify their action? Why – it’s all about human rights of course. We bomb… because we care.
Taken for granted, again & again & again...
But what gives us that right? How dare the USA and UK arrogate to themselves the right to kill by long-distance action in remote locations?
There are two answers – the ‘legal’ answer, and the more deeply entrenched ideological answer.
In terms of legality, the UK and USA managed to fix a vote in the UN Security Council at a crucial time that ceded them the authority to impose a ‘No Fly Zone’. They made no serious attempt to establish global consensus. The type of diplomacy they exercised had nothing to do with consensus. It was concerned only with achieving the goal which the war-promoting countries had already set: they wanted war. A UN Security Council resolution was a necessary fig leaf to give an appearance of legality to their direct involvement in the war. They got their fig leaf, even though UN Security Council Resolution 1973 provides a self-evidently incoherent policy framework that could perpetuate Libyan civil war indefinitely – the very worst imaginable outcome from a genuine humanitarian perspective!
These serial war-mongering rogue states – most notably the USA and UK - have made a travesty of the aspiration of finding genuine international agreement. They play the UN as a game – a game to get their way using fair means or foul.
It is disgusting – but it would never be accepted if it were not for the ideological arrogance of the Anglo-Saxon nations – a grandiose self-image which they’ve managed to market to the rest of the world to a quite remarkable extent.
A significant proportion of the British and American public seriously believe they – as a people – are better placed to make decisions about what’s appropriate for people living elsewhere (such as Libya) than the ‘other peoples’ concerned (eg the Libyans). And why not, given their history? They are, after all, the same people who saved the world from the greatest threat it had ever faced – the Great Evil One himself, Adolf Hitler. If some people have to make more decisions than others, who better than the Anglo-Saxon nations, bastions of democracy and human rights?
The rise and rise of militarism in the USA
Most westerners seriously imagine that world peace, since 1945, has been preserved by their own nations’ military dominance. Yet the truth is mainly the opposite. From 1939 onwards world peace has been foiled by collusion between the key allied powers of World War Two. It’s true Anglo-American military strength seemed to make sense during the ‘Cold War’ era, supported by the narrative that the west had defeated Nazi Germany only to witness the rise of another ‘Evil Empire’. But post-1990 that excuse for militarism had to be dropped. It should now be apparent to objective observers of international affairs that far from keeping the peace, the US/UK effectively serve as guarantors of continuing, controlled and highly contrived war.
From an Anglo-American perspective, what has changed most of all about warfare is its externalization. Notwithstanding occasional false-flag operations such as 9-11 or the 7/7 London bombings, war no longer happens at home. It’s entirely exported to regions of the world that the war planners deem ‘peripheral’. The cost of war in terms of human life is now quite small for the aggressor nations and their military are all professional employees (accompanied by increasing numbers of private contractors). But of course, the impact of war is devastating to the recipients of western military aggression.
Would the great-great grandfathers of this generation of Anglo-American warmongers have approved? Maybe they would.
Like magicians, the canny Anglo-American warmongers misdirect the attention of observers. They adorn themselves in the regalia of peace, human rights, justice and freedom. Beneath the splendid ideological garments, reality is not so flattering.
By flash-freezing long-discredited war propaganda back in the 1940s – and keeping it rigid and impenetrable ever since – the ‘Allies’ obscured their role in fomenting the bloodiest war of all time, obscured their role in making it the bloodiest war of all time – and re-sanctified the very notion of war itself.
They achieved this last task by creating the myth that World War Two ‘ was both ‘necessary’ and ‘just’ – the ultimate response to the peace movement.
To this day, World War Two is referred to as the quintessential ‘necessary’ war. Take, for example, this recent article by the veteran Israeli peacenik Uri Averny. It contains a perfect example of what I mean. Here’s the relevant extract:
THE VERY term “war crimes” is problematic. War itself is a crime, never to be justified unless it is the only way to prevent a bigger crime – as with the war against Adolf Hitler, and now – on an incomparably smaller scale – against Muammar Qaddafi.
So there we have it – from someone who defines himself as a supporter of the peace movement, no less.
World War Two propaganda, eerily relevant today although Klu Klux Klan symbolism is obsolete. (Poster used during German occupation of Holland)
Averny is correct to suggest that war itself is a crime. But his analysis is downhill from there. He explains that sometimes war is essential. The greatest of such instances was World War Two – the ultimate “justified war”. But other, lesser cases reflect in the glory of that iconic necessary war, so they can be considered a bit necessary too – even though war itself really is a crime when you think about it. Oh and by the way… if you’re wondering who gets to decide which wars are necessary… it’s the good guys do, of course! The victors of World War Two! US! The same heroic people who vanquished Adolf and the Nazis.
Confused? Yes, we are confused. Very confused, Our dominant historical narrative has been distorted by lies, absurdities and dis-proven myths. It’s not surprising we’re confused…
Uri Averny is a grand old man of the Israeli peace movement. I could instead have chosen examples of ‘World War Two worship’ by much more bombastic pro-war commentators. In the run-up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, barely a day went by without one talking-head or other warning about ‘appeasement’. Hoary old myths and distortions from the Nazi era perform excellent pro-war service to this day.
The myths of World War Two are ubiquitous and by no means confined to open advocates for militarism, as the example of Uri Averny indicates. They are shared by right, left and center. They unite east and west. It is no exaggeration to say they form a crucial part of our commonly accepted intellectual landscape. And of course, they are incessantly re-iterated by the western media, refreshed by Hollywood and reaffirmed by the mainstream publishing industry.
Uri and his adopted nation have a somewhat different interest in the frozen history of World War Two. The State of Israel was also born out of that war. The Zionist State acquired ‘moral legitimacy’ and vast wealth as a consequence of general acceptance of the notion that Nazi mass murders of European Jews were carried out on such a gigantic scale that they represented the greatest war crime of all time.
Most of the heated debate about World War Two surrounds this Jewish/Zionist narrative of events. Although interwoven with what I’ll call the Anglo-Saxon myths – it’s essentially a separate topic. In this essay I shall merely pause to note the ongoing usage and efficacy of that related mythology, which makes the fate of Jews during the war the central and most significant event of the war. It is, of course, a historical perspective enforced by law in several jurisdictions, including Israel itself.
Did he have the guts to be a war resister?
As someone of Anglo-Saxon ethnic origins, I want nothing but the truth about history. Insofar as I was taught lies in the past about my culture and its history, I’d like those lies corrected so posterity is not equally misled. For me, the call to universal truth is fundamental. I’m fond of many aspects of the culture I acquired through an accident of birth, but I want it to become better by shedding dross. My primary loyalty is to humanity as a whole – not to a national, ethnic or religious sub-set.
I have no doubt the future belongs to people of similar conviction. Tribalism is a dead-end. War is species suicide.
As for Socialism, so badly derailed by a century of war and confusion, I believe in the broadest sense it’s a necessary – but far from sufficient – prerequisite for collective human well-being . Socialism need not and should not be at the expense of free speech, individual initiative and private enterprise. And it may be the word carries too much historical baggage to be useful in the future. But whether we call it socialism or something else, modern civilization needs a civilizing, equalizing integument around the raw energy of what may be called the realm of enterprise to prevent the latter usurping the common good. In the 21st century, Socialism itself also requires a ‘outer integument’ – the vital constraining influence of ecologically sustainable management of human activity.
Seen as complimentary, with blue constrained by red and red by green, these three great movements are best regarded not as competitors but as complimentary forces. Appropriately co-related, they can sustain life that’s worth living for us all.
War, on the other hand, is the absolute antithesis of sustainability, justice and freedom. War – and the malevolent ideologies that glorify and promote it – remains humanity’s greatest common enemy.