There is Captain Sir Tom Moore and what he did, and there is what many in the UK, and in particular in the English psyche want to see in him. The brave soldier who fought in WWII to save us from Covid-19 and from losing our minds and sense of identity.
All was still right in the indulgence of an old soldier’s world, one of brave soldiers, brave nurses, spitfires in honour, and an eventual knighthood by the Queen, extinguish any critical thoughts you may ever have had, for who are you to compare yourself to one of the untouchable heroes of that war, that defined this nation to this day? So let’s splash out on the colours for his sake. And on that day, the day he died, the flag was lowered by the government to half-mast.
The fact that this unexpected hero’s life – don’t get me wrong, his initiative is still remarkable, even had he only raised 1000 Pounds – was in the end put at risk by a trip to the Caribbean in the midst of this last December, as I understand it, right in the growth period of the third wave of Covid-19, is then not surprising. That is because in many people’s minds, heroes are invincible. And it was the government let by the Über-Optimist Boris Johnson, that said, in those flattering optimistic tones, the nation can have X-Mass, which may have encouraged Moore’s family to take unnecessary risks. Optimism is not enough to run a government responsibly, we all now know. It is self-critical awareness and appreciating your and people’s vulnerabilities. For Moore on his return, it meant succumbing first to pneumonia and then Covid-19.
At the tender age of 100 years, Captain Sir Moore was as vulnerable as any person of his age, despite enjoying relatively good health. Precautions and shielding for a few more weeks would have seen him being amongst the first to get the vaccine due to his age. He was already too ill to stand for that ultimate reward and photo opportunity. And so Captain Sir Moore fell victim to the dissatisfying policies on Covid-19 as delivered by the government that saluted him so much as a hero, alongside many others of his generation in many care-homes, who may also have served during WWII but who were already forgotten and discarded in third class underfunded care homes. He sadly could not be saved by the NHS that he raised so much money for, starved of finances for decades, mostly under Conservative administrations.
If Moore’s passing is to be a victory, it is not his optimism or his patriotism that must stand out, but the simple fact that he knew in his heart to appreciate the NHS and those who work for it and took a strain upon himself to raise some money as a thank you for those who cared for him. And of course, one is grateful for his contribution to fight fascism. But he shall never be the tool of government to hide behind. In part, they are to blame for the misfortune that cost him his life, and no half-mast will change that.
Some of my photos from remembrance events and protests 14/8/2018 and 16/6/2018 in North Kensington. A few have been taken out since posting, as I felt that they were potentially too invasive in one way or another.
Non-commercial use permitted as long as quoted as (c) Daniel Zylberszajn. Commercial users please enquire.
The nuclear war head submarines that are being built in Great Britain stand for empty waste-lands without hope or vision.
The approval of the Trident project, is all but a vote for the nuclear armed submarine Trident. Members of one political party casted their votes partially in this way , because they are in a messy conflict with its leader, who happens to oppose Trident, the other party voted for Trident on the grounds of some sort of insane attempt to restore their British sense of self-importance. Once their ancestors subjugated half of the world under the force of the gun, dividing up regions with borders that still cause conflict and wars today.
Occurring just after the EU referendum results, the approval of Trident fits the nationalist lunacy that seems to be the Zeitgeist of the majority on this island. It represents the total capitulation to the mad blown-up but morally empty grandeur of Great Britain in the Brexit era. It is paid for by the policy of continuation of up-keeping the social divide and inequality in the country. Like in all times, Britain prefers to invests in its arsenal, rather than its people.
How can mass killings ever be justified for what any government does? It is like threatening to bomb the bank in which bank robbers have taken hostages, it kills the perpetrators with their hostages. Take Syria and Iraq under Daesh. One could nuclear bomb the region tomorrow. The ideology, injustice and killings that go on there are amongst the worst on the planet. Why does nobody do this? Because in between there are people, who are themselves hostages to the situation. A general application of force on an entire area is not morally defensible, it will affect all, including children, elderly, all animals, plants, everything.
How can weapons that also endanger bio-diversity and ultimately everyone on the planet be defensible? Do we really need nuclear WMDs, because of the Kim Jong-uns in the world? What do weapons like that do to protect us from terrorism attacks, or to solve any one crisis? Is it possible they are to be a surrogate for a lack of power and strength otherwise? Again North Korea cones to mind.
I can understand the need for ordinary submarines, I can appreciate fighter jets (their solutions in general are often enough imprecise), or of armed ships, tanks, helicopters, guided missiles, missile defence systems, unmanned air-crafts, and troops. Still each one of these have their own problems, limitations and cause clear moral dilemmas, each one of them are killing machines, whose power is devastating and huge. Drones have known to hit the wrong targets, missiles gone astray, and so on, but one cannot be blind in a world in which far too many countries and groups are armed to their teeth.
But a sub marine with nuclear war heads, costing more than anything this country affords, when there are huge pockets of poverty and social deprivation in Britain? In the UK the majority of politicians just stood up to defend this by voting for Trident. Large sections of the occupants of their island may not have to work in prison camps like in North Korea, they are certainly not getting executed, but by withholding investments, all tax payers’ money, from communities who need it desperately, keeping them poor and under-developed, and bickering about funds to invest in health and schools, care facilities and so on, whilst splashing it out at the same time on nuclear sub marines, is not that far distanced from the ways of North Korea, just softer, with its terror, less immediate with its consequences. Any few millions spent now on social infrastructure here will look ridiculous and insufficient in face of the billions spent on a few sub marines.
So if they want to be called an important progressive country on earth, the British, let them instead invest £42 billion Pounds (the full sum required for Trident with the safety lid of £10 billion) to turn around deprived areas, create the best health and community care, and introduce conflict education as part of every child’s education and part of their overseas mission.
But with the sanctioning of the Trident project yesterday Britain has chosen rather to keep the wastelands at home for the time being, and they can continue to create such wastelands also at the push of a button anywhere else their subs go. Wonderful? No shameful, for one of the richest countries on earth.
I am personally quite depressed about the results of the referendum.
It were not the positive reasons against an EU with “business as usual,” perhaps with an eye to the way the EU handled Greece or how they reacted to the crisis in Ukraine, nor – more importantly – how they managed the refugee issue, or their largely held assumption as Christian and the source of all civilisation, nor the agricultural regulations ( I am old enough to remember the mountain of butter wasted in the 1980s). I don’t throw any of these arguments out, they are mostly valid. Now that Britain is on its own however, it can negotiate its own TTIP agreement, but rather than with a critical and careful evaluation as is the case in the EU, given all the protests, with the renewed neo-liberal elan and anglo-centric power of the Tory Party.
For over three months I was on the roads of England and Wales, precisely those areas that voted largely against the EU for the German independent left of center newspaper taz, die Tageszeitung (see here). What depresses me actually is that the arguments of many who voted for Brexit had actually little in common with all of the above, but much more with the frequently argument put forward to me of “too many immigrants” and “we need our country back!.”
Oftentimes a mixture of sentimental versions of a long gone imperial Great Britain and an undercurrent of nationalism, that frequently contained a dose of unashamed racism was presented to me..
Yes UKIP supporters argued in deed they desired to internationalise immigration. But when darker pigmented people had arrived in Britain in the 1950s, 60s and 70s from India, Pakistan, West and East Africa and the Caribbean many Brits complained ferociously. They welcomed Europeans gladly, “as people who are more like us”. But when they came they hurried to deny them their humanity likewise.
Many of the younger Brits voted for Remain. Hence it were especially the older ones fed and loaded with emotional, nationalist and populist propaganda from yesteryear, often against any real logic, such as in Wales, an impoverished region, that has been one of the largest beneficiaries of EU funding, who carry the responsibility of Brexit. Simple solutions for complex issues.
If you believe that this was a victory for left and justified critique of the EU, you are well advised to be more careful before you pass judgement. This was the glorious victory run of a raw, never critically examined, and once again forthcoming nationalism, which explicitly understands John Bull and Britannia to be atop the rest of the world.
Here in Great Britain, one looks rarely critically into ones own past. They celebrate the end of slavery, but refuse to take responsibility for the hundreds of years the practice went on to enrich the nation, and they likewise deny the truth, that it were slaves themselves who sabotaged the institution of slavery, before parliament abolished it, as the losses became too costly. So now a sovereign Great Britain, can once again engage in pretentious and loud politics, but just like English football hooligans in France, it is more noise than content. The up until this day largely spread feudal estate owners, the monarchy are all in a better place once again. And cheap items produced with no or little labour rights can once again flood the market. Maybe there will soon be even a labour factory under the personal supervision of the crown producing cheap royal souvenirs somewhere in Bangladesh.
Everything is like before the end of the colonial era. The servants of this vision are, as was the case historically, the ordinary people, who allow themselves to be exploited, the descendants pf those who in large numbers were sent into often senseless battles under the banner of manipulated patriotism, and the descendants of those workers slaving themselves in industrial scale mills in the Manchester region, or in coal mines, about whom Marx once so eloquently wrote, or of those who being hungry and poor, were sent to Australia, after stealing a loaf of bread, or worse were hung on Tyburn. It’s all for the Queen and her country. And the country made a public spectacle of it, with alcohol and laughter and made sure the poor individuals, not the ruling elite and the inequality of the country were to blame. Now it is the EU and its European immigrants!
Persönlich bin ich ziemlich niedergeschlagen vom Ergebnis des Referndums. Es waren nicht die positiven Gründe gegen die EU mit “Business as Usual”, beispielsweise Griechenland oder die Art und Weise wie die EU auf die Ukraine reagierte, oder noch wichtiger, wie sie mit der Flüchtlingskrise umgeht, oder gar ihr weit verbreitetes Selbstverständnis als christlich und “Quelle der Zivilisation”, oder die Landwirtschaftsregelungen, ich bin Alt genug für Erinnerungen an den Butterberg. Keins dieser Argumente verwerfe ich. Alleine kann jetyt Großbritannien seinen eigenen TTIP mit den USA schließen, unter den Tories mit neoliberaler anglozentrischer Wucht, statt unter der EU mit kritischen und vorsichtigen Stimmen.
Ich war über etwa drei Monate für die deutsche taz, die Tageszeitung auf den Straßen in hauptsächlich England und Wales, genau jenen Orten die gegen die EU stimmten. Was mich niederschlägt, ist, daß die Argumentation vieler die Brexit wählten, meines Erachtens nichts mit all dem zu tun hat, sondern dem mir immer wieder breit geschlagenen Argument, “too many immigrants” und “we need our country back!.”
Oft mischten sich darunter sentimentale Visionen eines imperialen Großbritanniens, und ein unterschwelliger Nationalismus, oft durchaus mit Rassismus verbunden.
Da argumentierten Ukiper sie wollten Einwanderung internationaliseren. Doch als es dunkelhäutige Menschen aus Inden, Pakistan, Westaftika und den Karibikstaaten waren, da beschwerten sich die Briten der 60ger und 70ger Jahre. Man freute sich auf Europäer, “die mehr wie wir sind”. Doch als sie kamen, wurde ihnen ihre Menschlichkeit wieder entzogen. Viele der jungen Briten wählten für den Verbleib. Es sind also die Älteren mit emotional national populistischen Ideen von Yesteryear, entgegen jeglicher Logig, wie beispielsweise in Wales, eines der am meisten EU subventionierten Orte Europas, die Brexit zu verbuchen haben. Einfache Lösungen gegen komplexe Argumente.
Wer glaubt, daß dies ein Sieg für die linke Kritik der EU ist, sollte vorsichtig sein. Es war der glohreiche Siegeszug eines rohen, nie kritisch betrachteten und wieder zum Vorschein gekommener Nationalismus, der Briten oben und den Rest der Welt darunter sieht.
Man schaut hier selten kritisch in die Vergangenheit, feiert das Ende der Sklaverei, aber schaut sich nie genau den Bezug zur Sklaverei selber an, und die Tatsache, dass Sklaven selber die Institution sabotierten, bevor das Parlament dies abschaffte (auf Grund der Verluste). Nun kann also ein souvereignes unabhäniges Großbritannien wieder großprotzig Politik machen. So wie englischen Fußballfans in Frankreich, ist es mehr Geschrei als Inhalt. Die bis heute weit ausgebreiteten feudalen Landeigentuemer, die Monarchie, sind also wieder besser plaziert, und billig ohne Arbeitsrechte hergestellte Gegenstände können wieder importiert werden. Ja vielleicht werden sie sogar unter Schirmherrschaft der Krone hergestellt, irgendwo in einer Billigfabrik in Bangladesch.
Alles genau wie vor dem Ende der kolonialen Zeit. Und das Laufvolk dieser Vision ist wie in der Geschichte das sich ausbeuten lassende untertänige Volk, die Nachfahren jener, die oft in großen Mengen mit manipulierten Patrotismus in sinnlose Schlachten geschickt wurden, über welche Marx in den Textilfabrikhallen Manchesters schrieb, oder die in Australien oder gar am Galgen Tyburn landeten, weil sie aus Hunger ein Brotlaib gestohlen hatten. Alles für’s Land und die Königin!
In Britain the question is currently waged before parliament if the country should support air strikes against Syria.
The question of bombing Syria or not is an interesting one. First and for most any action must not be carried out because of Paris, but because of the countless civilians killed and tortured in Syria and Iraq, doing otherwise looks out of proportion.
Throwing bombs from the sky is actually the easy thing. The hard issue is to deal with the power struggles of the Middle East. Shia versus Sunni, Russian Federation versus NATO, Muslim and Non-Muslim Minorities versus Muslim Majorities. The question therefore is what follows any bombardment of Syria?
The Middle East suffers in all corners from the way French and British forces settled and divided it nearly 100 years ago in the same fashion they had already done with Africa, Asia and the Americas, and the Middle East was only relatively stable before that, suffering many conquests and counter conquests before this. This is why in the end the only aim of military operations must be the creation of strongly protected zones for each of the groups. However the former Yugoslavia, the best modern example thereof, shows, that it created only cold peace and a bureaucratic machinery exploited by all sides (see Guardian here). A plan for the Middle East must go beyond what has been achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The issues are fundamental differences on ways of life, ethnic divisions exaggerated by external injections of support and arms, and the fragility of peace through quick escalations, when terror actions committed and dictated by usually but a few occur.
One might see military strikes as doing something, rather than nothing, but the real question is bombing what and for what? And to what extend will strikes cause more harm to civilians? Militants tend to hide amongst civilian populations these days (see Gaza, and in ISIS held Syria it is apparently not different).
If strikes are to occur mainly because of Paris, they will fail, because it feeds and confirms the believe that Britain and France stand at the root of much that is going on, and if not for what they did 100 years ago, for what the allied forces did more recently in Iraq. If however military operations are part of a general drive towards a better Middle East, then monstrous hard work is ahead. There is no sense in anything without involving in a most intense way all regional direct and indirect players, and dealing with economic and religious issues.
Players like Iran and Saudi Arabia, The Russian Federation and NATO must then be able to see in each others eyes with a sense of purpose, just as much as the different ethnic and religious groups in the region must be prepare to do. With so many involved it always easy for one to walk out, but only when all feel they can agree for the benefit of a more settled and just Middle East will things have a chance to be different. Bombs are unlikely to do much here.
It is certain that the crisis in Syria and Iraq begs solving, and the ideology of religious inspired militancy that disregards respect for human lives needs to be halted. Morally such militants are in a state of deficiency already. The majority of people, including the majority of today’s Muslims reject this blind militancy. This fact is a great asset. Militant Islamism only had a chance due to power vacuums and general political incompetency and injustice, as in Syria with Assad before the outbreak of the civil war and in post-war Iraq, and through some externally driven access to arms and munitions.
The Middle East is complex and diverse. The problems it faces can only be settled, if all agree that there should be increased justice and security for all, which for some means they need to concede for less, but gain through that greater acceptance. Not just in Israel, by the way. Whilst the borders between Israel and Palestine are discussed by many, the problems are actually everywhere in the region. When British and French bureaucrats took to ruler and pencil and drew lines in inches and centimetres on paper maps, in order to create their colonial protectorates which later became, often unchallenged in its borders, modern states, they failed to take into consideration any reality on the ground, because there was no other reality, but what suited France or Great Britain, the only real states that mattered being them.
And so suitable local rulers where imposed in accordance to their allegiance to the colonial and imperial masters, usually with disadvantageous consequences for a host of local others, who also lived in these states, and some being directly ignored.
As we approach the centenary of these divisions and ask ourselves about whether we should bomb Syria, the damage of that legacy and its continuance into post-colonial times, all based principally on the security of mercantile routes, and oil and gas supply should be laid bare. It caused too many lives to end prematurely, too much injustice, hate and bloodshed.
It is not impossible to imagine a new more grown up reconfiguration, but in order to get there, we must no longer seek comfort in the status quo under benign dictators.
Israel for that matter was one area where the League of Nations attempted to be just to two equal valid claimants. That is long forgotten now, because the plan failed to secure agreement and assurances amongst feuding neighbours and could not prevent the outbreak of war and claims and counter claims to this day. But it was also driven by fundamentalist undertones and an ideology that only one religion should exist here or there autonomously. Whilst many areas in Israel no longer have Palestinian populations, though there are still Palestinians and non Jews living there, nearly the entire Middle East has been ethnically cleansed of its Jewish population. A symbol of how the border and nation politics of the West let to ethnically and religiously defined exclusiveness, the same that let further on to the division of the Indian subcontinent into a predominantly Muslim and a predominantly Hindu half.
Isis and other fundamentalist organisations are connected with the Arab Spring and the desire amongst ordinary people for revolutionary reorganisation. During the preceding autocratic dictatorships, which either favoured Russia and its predecessor the USSR or the West, political ultra conservative Islamic fundamentalism became often the main opposition force present and accessible. No wonder in the first elections, people tended to vote for these, as the main alternative they knew.
If this force is to be discharged, one needs to take the argument out of its mouth that it can answer the difficult realities of the Middle East with its monotone, intolerant and often just as destructive order. But neither can bombs, even commando units going after its most ferocious and brutal leaders yield more than temporary gains, without a later reconfiguration of the Middle East, that takes account of all needs, rights and ethnicities, and that desires to come to fair agreements on those contested areas and sites and places upon which lie multiple interests.
One might add that this also must also happen in the other places still under the curse of imperial and colonial organisation around the world.
There are no easy answers here. Bombs, guns and explosive devises are perhaps at best the expression of a desire for a quick fix, on all sides. The search for peace and security is a harder more time intensive task. But it could be less destructive and more long lasting.
Mein Bericht ueber das seltsame Verharren der britischen Regierung ein Atomkraftwerk zu bauen, entgegen aller Beweislagen.
My report about the strange rational of the UK government on insisting to go ahead with a nuclear power plant in spite all evidence pointing to better, more cost saving, higher employment, and cleaner more sustainable alternatives to a #nuclearpower plant.
Meine dreizehn besten Beiträge und Berichte des Jahres 2014. Besonderen Dank an die taz, die Jüdische Allgemeine und alle Redakteure, die mit mir arbeiteten. Ihr werdet selten genannt und seid immer essentiell.
My best 13 reports and articles from 2014. Special thanks go to taz, die Tageszeitung, the Jüdische Allgemeine and all the editors that worked with me. You are seldomly named and yet essential.
Endlich kein Randthema mehr. Bericht vom Gipfel gegen Frauengewalt in Konfliktzonen.
In dieser Ausgabe der Jüdischen Allgemeinen, fasse ich die Gerüchte zusammen, dass dem Oppositionsführer der Labourpartei Unterstützung aus jüdischen Kreisen zunehmend fehle und finde altbekannten Antisemitismus.
In this report of in the German Jewish national paper Jüdische Allgemeine, I follow the arguments that allegedly the “Jewish lobby” is departing Ed Miliband.
English added comments: My report in the Taz for the Thursday edition came straight from Fleet Street.
As I mingled amongst the people I found it difficult to find opponents to her funeral for at least an hour. There was a lot of hype about these and I had expected to find them instantly. Instead I found many who told me stories of their great admiration of Thatcher. I have named a couple, but I took notes from at least 10 more. Amongst them also Tony Comds, 44 a former Marine soldier, who had served in the Falklands and who had an obvious disability, although I wasn’t sure if it was sustained due to battle. He said he admired Thatcher but he did not have the same kind of feelings for the current government, as he found himself currently to be unemployed. Another group of the para-shoot regiment I found to be upbeat almost slightly inappropriate for the occasion. All soldiers and members of the police force carried their special awards for bravery.
As I interviewed people on the road-side, ceremonial army staff kept organising the armed guards, amongst others using a measurement stick to check in the smallest detail the final standing positions of soldiers.
Eventually I did find some protesters through a 30-year old button sticker in support of coal miners. Others were visible through flowery or red T-shirts, most positioned near Chancery Lane. They were either from up North, especially Yorkshire, or they were intellectuals such as psychologists and lawyers (the majority of Thatchers supporters were business owners or people in finance, including an unsuspecting couple that declared they were millionaires). One man told me, that he had once been responsible for the privatisation procedures of Margaret Thatcher in the city, and that this was what caused him to vehemently oppose these measures, because he saw first hand what they did.
The procession reminded me of a country of a different age, perhaps Edwardian. The kind of postcard England from the empire days, although likewise dignifying. There was very ordered and tolerant behaviour shown by all, the public and the police. Both sides amongst the watching crowd, supporters and opposer of Thatcher said they respected the others being there, as a symbol of British democracy.
The main chunk of my observations can be read via google translate (if you do not speak German) or straight here. It also contains a.o. observations on the service and what was said there.
An English intro follows behind the German summary.
In diesen Bericht in der Taz schildere ich die Ambitionen des Guardian Verlags, der online die drittgrößte Zeitung der Welt ist (via guardian.co.uk). Der Guardian verbuchte trotz massiver Investitionen, manche sagen,wegen ihnen, über Millionen hohe Verluste. Nun sollen auch noch 100 redaktionelle Mitarbeiter aus der Guardian News & Media Group (GNM) gehen, der freie Zugang zu Guardian online soll trotzdem nicht abgeschafft werden, im Gegensatz zur ehemalig freien New York Times , die seit 2011eine Paywall hat. Entweder gewinnt die ganze Welt einen linkszentrierten Nachrichtenverlag, oder alle und vorallen Grossbrittanien verlieren seine seriöseste Pressestimme mit sozial und ökologischen Interessen. In der zwischenzeit, das steht nicht in meinen Bericht, hat sich Chefredakteur Alan Rusbridge, damit beschäftigt professionell Klavier zu spielen. Wer über 400.000 Euro verdient und mit um ihre Zukunft zitternden Journalisten zu tun hat braucht solche Ablenkung. Rusbridger wurde mir von ehemaligen Guardianjornalisten sowohl als Genie als auch als etwas verdächtig beschrieben. Mehr im Bericht.
It was the famous German author Michael Ende who defined first the word Scheinriese for the German vocabulary in his book Jim Knopf and the Wild 13. A Scheinriese is a pretend-to-be-giant. In Ende’s story it is a man who looks like a giant from far way, but as one gets closer to him, he turns out to be of normal stature. In my report about the Guardian Media Group I look at the tension between it being the third largest online newspaper, and its huge deficit in the last financial year. The Guardian desires to grow further with expansions in New York and Australia, whilst it aims to rid itself of about 100 editorial staff. But its free access policy is to remain in place regardless, even though the New York Times has introduced a paywall in 2011. Either the whole world gets a global left-central news corporation, or all and especially Great Britain lose their most serious voice with an interest in social and ecological affairs. I asked a former editor, the chief-editor of the UK’s main media publication, the Press Gazette (which itself saw its print edition vanish) and we learn from Andrew Miller, chief executive of GMG that all is quite well, well enough for Alan Rusbridger, chief editor of The Guardian, to tell BBC World Service about his achievement of finding enough leisure time to learn to play the piano very well in the last few years and from scratch at that (see also below article from Guardian )
The article is part of the debates on how news and media move forward in the digital age.
German: Nicht alle Länder erlauben Kritik. In Kongo (Demokratische Republik) wird man, wenn man sich über nicht genügende Unterstützung vom Sport beschwert, abgeschlachtet. Ich spreche mit einigen der Athleten, und erfahre Erschreckendes.