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Even Steam Engines are "racist" it seems

Discussion in 'Everything Else Heritage' started by davidarnold, Nov 7, 2021.

  1. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    You stretch your elastic beyond breaking point. Some observations:
    1. Membership of the CPGB was in and of itself a statement of belief in Soviet Communism; staying in after 1956 and then 1968 was in itself a powerful statement of belief.
    2. If the most influential or mainstream ex BUF member you can cite is Henry Williamson, then that hardly counts as influential. It also (see also my comments about Wagner) emphasises that individuals can both hold abhorrent beliefs and be capable of good work.
    3. A key fascist, not just Nazi, doctrine was “blood and soil” - a deep belief in the relationship between birthplace and person. It’s unsurprising that those beliefs should have an association with agriculture.

    I object to renaming a hall of residence after Kuya not so much because I dislike her (though I do), but because her history is if anything more problematic than that of Gladstone. It reduces a genuinely important and complex historical figure to a small and minor part of his career, while elevating a lifelong supporter of oppression to hero status.

    If Gladstone’s name had to go, hers was not a fit replacement.


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  2. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    You dislike her because she is of the left, and you always apply different standards to people of the left than you apply to the right. You always seek to minimise and caveat the activities of those on the right. While you seek to magnify those on the left and treat them as a monolithic block. If you are going to apply different standards at least be honest about it.

    If Williamson is a minor figure and his membership of the BUF and continued support for Nazi Germany after WW2 is not enough to condemn him then by those same standards, Kuya's membership of the CPGB is no barrier to having a set of halls named after her. By your own arguments, her good works count for more than her membership. Apply your Wagner clause to those on the left for once.

    If you can't see the difference between being a slave owner, profiting and enriching themselves from the oppression and genocide of slavery, profiting again during abolition of slavery and party membership then I am not sure I can help you.

    If you can point me to evidence of Kuya defending Stalinist terror, collectivisation, Hungarian Uprising etc then I can understand your point of view. If party membership isn't enough to make someone on the right persona non grata then it isn't enough to make someone on the left persona non grata.

    You have the relationship between fascism and nazism and farmers the wrong way round. Farmers were supporting fascist and movements that were to become fascist movements prior to mainstreaming of Darreian arguments. The Po Valley farmers, Dorgères's Green Shirts, the farmers in the Rhineland and Westphalia pre-NSDAP. It is actually about weakening economic power concomitant with weakening political power and a reaction against modernity, and the short term effects of WW1 on the countryside. Blood and soil and the discourse that is articulated comes afterwards, first the anger then the narrative. And plenty in the countryside also went to the radical left as well. Politics follows the socio-economic effects.

    BTW - Did you enjoy the New Year's Day concert from Vienna yesterday?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2022
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  3. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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    So did my father. While the Universal declaration of Human Rights is being discussed, I thought listening to it was a breach of article 5 ('cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment').
     
  4. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    My daughter thinks likewise. Fortunately, my son shares my views and is a good excuse for me to see his operas.


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  5. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    No, missed the concert; it's not my usual fare and we had family.

    Reverting to topic, I disagree completely with the distinctions you make. Williamson is not celebrated, the Tarka Trail is named after the subject of one of his books. It's decades since I read it, but my recollection is of superb nature writing that goes way beyond it's author's vile politics; it is possible to accept and honour the work without accepting or honouring the author. In contrast, the renaming of those halls of residence was an explicit acknowledgement and honouring of an individual, including her politics. For your parallel with Williamson to hold true, the path in Devon would have had to be called the Williamson Trail.

    You also have what seems like a strange view of what defines a person. Gladstone changed his views on slavery, and became a supporter of emancipation, in what became a very long political life in which slavery was far from the most important issue he dealt with. That suggests to me that his views on slavery were not a defining characteristic, to say the least. Yet Kuya chose to stay a member of a political party after the regime which it was built to support had demonstrated it's fundamental evil, and after many members had broken with it for defending the indefensible. I don't have to prove that she spoke in favour of Stalinist terror, collectivisation, or the suppression of the Hungarian Uprising to show her support for them - it's inherent in her remaining in the Party. Yet you discount that completely in favour of her work (the worth of which, by the way, I don't dispute).

    If Gladstone's support, which he later renounced, of an evil is enough to make it impossible to commemorate him, then I can't see how commemorating someone who supported a different evil her entire adult life can be justified. If Gladstone is beyond the pale, then on the very basis that he is disqualified, so should she be.

    As for fascism and farming, I agree - there was a strong trend there in response to relative decline. But my point remains - it predated the Nazis (I believe the phrase "blood and soil" dates from the 1870s), and was based on a deep sense of place. Agriculture is one of the most place centric ways of living, and encourages a focus on selective breeding - why wouldn't those involved in agriculture be prone to fascist beliefs?
     
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  6. osprey

    osprey Resident of Nat Pres

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    A well thought out, balanced post...
     
  7. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    The point is the New Year's Day concert was Nazi created tradition.

    Like I say, you will caveat and make exceptions and justify those on the right and won't do the same for those on the left. It is because she is from the left that you find her unacceptable and will find a reason to find her unacceptable, if she were on the right you would find a way to minimise those.

    Here's the difference between you and I. You see things by ideology, I see things by concentric circles and the proximity of the person or group to the source of evil irrespective of whether the oppression is on the right or the left.

    A card carrying member is further out than an active participant and so less evil. A person who writes in support of an oppressive regime is closer in that a person who did not.

    Someone who went to a few BUF meetings in the 1930s is less disqualified for being honoured than someone who wrote in defence of Stalinism. Someone who writes in support of Nazi Germany after the horrors of the holocaust are known is more disqualified than someone who was a party member.

    So the evidence does matter because the evidence moves people closer or further from the epicentre of evil. Demonstrate writing in support of Stalin post-awareness of 53, 56 or 68 and you'd have an argument. Demonstrate that Williamson abandons his views and you have a point.

    Gladstone is further in than either Williamson or Kuya. Not about ideology but about actions and proximity to the oppressive actions. All well and good Glandstone repenting, it was easy for him, he was already powerful and his family had made their money twice over from slavery. Hardly actions of someone worth venerating.

    As for agriculture - the point is that in the inchoate phase, it is the farmers who are the earlier supporters of what are to become fascist movements. If you read Moeller, Paxton etc on rural fascism, you'll see that the centrality of soil and national identity comes later. Dorgères was much more about the idea of the blood sacrifice that peasants had paid during WW1. As the saying at the time went 'the unknown soldier is a peasant'. But just as the countryside throws out a Dorgères it also throws out Renaud Jean, Stamboliyski etc.

    I am not surprised that people in the countryside embraced fascism, I can well understand their motives, just like I can understand those who went left. I don't agree but I can understand why, just like I can understand why people embraced Herzl's Zionism, or Marcus Garvey.

    On the other hand I have no time for the opportunists. I am reminded of the East European joke about priests.

    Q: Why is a priest like a tomato?
    A: Because he goes from green to red

    Interesting the churches across the region continue to block having the files on priests and the secret police being opened up and made available.
     
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  8. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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    I don't follow that, from personal experience. The factionalism of the British communist left was rife (Monty Python's 'splitters!') but there was an even then an ancient group that remained. In my formative years (18-22, before I left London) I was involved as an activist in peace organisations, one of which had involvement from CPGB members of a similar age to Dorothy Kuya (of whom, shame fully, I know nothing). They were anything but slavish to Soviet communism ("no Trident, no SS20!").

    I recall the author John O'Farrell (who went further than I did and went to a CP meeting) said something similar.

    Kuya may have held those views, I really don't know, but remaining a CPGB member into the 1980s was a done thing for some of that generation, and IMV not sufficient for them to be condemned on that alone.

    Patrick
     
  9. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Thank you for the clarification about the New Year Concert - I was unaware of that background. Looking at the Wiki entry (I know...), I'm reminded of the dangers of over-simplification given the prior existence of New Year concerts, and the continued history of this new tradition after 1945.

    More generally, my dislike of the naming of Gladstone Hall has nothing to do with Kuya being of the left or right - it has to do with the ethics of her position, on which (despite the thoughtful and enlightening contribution of @D1039), I remain firm in my views. Membership of revolutionary parties is rather different from membership of democratic political parties.

    Whether it was easy or difficult for Gladstone to change his views, I can't say. You make the valid point that he already had the wealth; in contrast, his change of heart involved a break with his father's views. It would be interesting to know how the balance fell between those factors. What we can say is that Kuya did not change her views during the period of the USSR, despite the considerable evidence of its evil.

    As for the priests, they were far from unique in shifting from right to left and back again - opportunists, especially in societies that train their people in orthodoxy, will always exist as the light of power flickers in their eyes.
     
  10. Enterprise

    Enterprise Part of the furniture

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    And if one lives in a country which is not democratic?
     
  11. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    The same point applies. The difference I point to is of nature, not of legitimacy. Membership of a revolutionary party involves a type of commitment and engagement that democratic parties do not engage. Even in non democratic societies, where the difference is blurred, democratic parties will tend to prioritise different values for when they emerge from oppression.


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  12. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    Many years ago I was at a Red/Green meeting, when some of the 'Reds' thought that forming an eco-socialist party would be a good idea while all us Green Party members just held our heads in despair.
     
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  13. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    And the high point of the concert is the Radetzky March, a piece of music composed in honour of a man who violently repressed the Risorgimento in Northern Italy. (Ironic really considering the relationship between the Risorgimento and Italian C19 classical music.)

    As @D1039 says like all organisations, CPGB was diverse and heterogeneous in its views and membership alone does not make you a Stalinist apologist. There were plenty of them about and if there is evidence of defence of Stalinism then I'd accept your criticism. It is no different than membership of a church. You can be a Catholic and not support the Church's stance on abortion, homosexuality etc. You can be a Catholic and support Liberation Theology and you can be a Catholic and be Amy Coney Barrett. But being Catholic does not make you Amy Coney Barratt. And it is not Amy Coney Barratt's membership of the Catholic Church that condemns her, it is the things she says and does. The Catholic Church can give us Jozef Tiso and it can also give us Jerzy Popiełuszko.

    The same for the Anglican community on homosexuality, women priests, and so on and so forth. Being Anglican does not make you an apologist for the homophobia of the Church in Africa, or for the involvement of the Church in the oppression of colonialism. You don't have to leave the church after becoming aware of it. I am not going to condemn someone for not leaving an organisation but I am going to condemn someone who speaks out in defence of policies I disagree with. I am not going to say that being part of the Anglican community in Britain makes someone a homophobe for not leaving even after they are aware of the homophobia of the community.

    You argue against over simplification but you over-simplify political adherence on the left. Membership alone is not enough. You need hard evidence of someone saying 'this is what I believe' because within the organisation there are different views which are not aligned with those of the leadership. Then you can condemn them. You need stronger evidence to support the claim - just like you need stronger evidence to show that Marples' corruption adversely impacted on the railways.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2022
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  14. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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    There's some overlap (as I'm sure you appreciate), see
    Green Left
    https://www.sera.org.uk/
    'The Green Party's manifesto for a sustainable society incorporates key socialist values.' https://www.greenparty.org.uk/archive/183.html
     
  15. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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  16. D1039

    D1039 Part of the furniture

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    I see from its Twitter that it's still active
     
  17. osprey

    osprey Resident of Nat Pres

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    Why does Alfred Adler keep coming to mind?
     
  18. eldomtom2

    eldomtom2 New Member

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    And now we are getting to the crux of the matter - the question is no longer about the facts but about our judgment of the sincerity and ease of someone changing views. As I have stated, this is where the fundamental problems of the research project come into view.
     
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  19. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    The problem is not the research project - facts are neutral. If there is a problem, it will be to do with how the outcomes are reported and used.


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  20. Enterprise

    Enterprise Part of the furniture

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    But they are not. Some facts are selected and other facts ignored. Some facts are well grounded, others less so. And so on. Just regard the many disputes about Covid.
     

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