Sunday, May 19, 2024

72 minutes. Five billion people

 Have Australia and New Zealand come up with a new strategy to encourage migration to their countries? Slogan, we are te safest places to be in the aftermath of a nuclear war?

There have been several recent MSM pieces about a possible nuclear war. The latest comes from The MailOnline, 16 May, which carries an article titled, ‘Nuclear war expert reveals what would really happen after an atomic blast - and the safest part of the world to live.’ Although featured on the front online web page the article is listed under the Femail section which is presumable aimed specifically at women readers.

A nuclear war expert who claims we are getting closer to atomic warfare says it would take 72 minutes to wipe out five billion people if the worst comes to pass.

Annie Jacobsen said: 'If a nuclear exchange happens - and we're talking strategic ballistic missiles - it will not stop until the world ends and we are talking about in seconds and minutes not in days and weeks and months.'

'An ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) travels from one continent to the next in roughly 30 minutes carrying a nuclear warhead to strike a target.

She said: 'On top of the initial flash of thermonuclear light which is 180 million degrees, which catches everything on fire in a nine mile diameter radius; on top of the bulldozing effect of the wind and all the buildings coming down and more fires igniting on top of the radiation poisoning people to death in minutes and hours and days and weeks, if they happen to have survived, on top of all of that, each one of these fires creates a mega fire that is 100 or more square miles and so.'

The author said if the world went into nuclear war you would 'want to die instantly' because 'there is no more law and order.'

She said: 'There's a quote from Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, he said: '"After nuclear war the survivors would envy the dead".

'Who's left? It's man returning to the most primal, most violent state as people fight over the tiny resources that remain, and by the way they're all malnourished, everybody's sick and most people have lost everything and everyone they know. How's that going to feel?'

If nuclear war did break out Annie said the safest place to be would be in Australia or New Zealand because of the agricultural resources.

She said: 'Agriculture would fail and when agriculture fails people just die and on top of that you have the radiation poisoning because the ozone layer will be so damaged and destroyed that you can't be outside in the sunlight and so people will be forced to live underground - fighting for food everywhere except in New Zealand and Australia.'

Nevil Shute in his 1957 novel On the Beach has the population of those countries eventually succumbing to the spread of radiation southwards.

Saturday, May 18, 2024


‘Ukraine can use any weapons supplied by the UK to launch strikes on Russia’s Crimean Peninsula, British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed to journalists. London considers the region, which joined Russia in 2014 following a referendum, to be an “integral part of Ukraine,” he said.

Russia has already warned that it could retaliate to any strikes by attacking British military targets in Ukraine and beyond.

Speaking at a Royal Navy conference in the British capital, Shapps maintained that a victory for Russia would be “unimaginable and unacceptable” for the UK, and called for intensified arms deliveries to Kiev.

When asked specifically about the weapons the UK has supplied to Ukraine, the defence secretary replied that “we have provided munitions for weapons to be used in the territory of Ukraine, including Crimea.” He refused to reveal further details about the exact agreements reached by London and Kiev, saying he would “not go beyond that in talking about tactics.”

Earlier in May, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron told Reuters that Ukraine had the right to use long-range missiles sent by the UK to strike deep inside Russia. Moscow condemned the remarks, summoning London’s ambassador to warn him about possible retaliation, should British weapons be used in Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory.

A potential response could involve strikes against “any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and beyond,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Cameron’s words de-facto “recognized his country as a party to the conflict,” it added.

The ministry also said British weapons are being actively used by Kiev in “terrorist attacks on civilian infrastructure and the civilian population of Donbass and other Russian regions.” Russian diplomats further accused London of using arms supplies to Ukraine to gain a more prominent position within NATO.

The UK remains one of the largest donors of weaponry to Kiev, providing £7.1 billion ($8.9 billion) in assistance since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February 2022, according to Sergey Belyaev, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second European Department.’

‘Moscow will retaliate against British targets in Ukraine or elsewhere if Kiev uses UK-provided missiles to strike Russian territory, the Foreign Ministry told London’s ambassador.

Ambassador Nigel Casey was summoned to the ministry following remarks by British Foreign Secretary David Cameron to Reuters that Ukraine has the right to use long-range missiles sent by the UK to strike deep inside Russia.

Casey was warned that the response to Ukrainian strikes using British weapons on Russian territory could be any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and beyond,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the meeting.

The US and its allies had previously qualified their deliveries of long-range weapons to Kiev by saying they could only be used on territories that Ukraine claims as its own – Crimea, the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Cameron’s statements to the contrary “de facto recognized his country as a party to the conflict.”

Russia understands Cameron’s comments as “evidence of a serious escalation and confirmation of London’s increasing involvement in military operations on the side of Kiev,” the ministry added.

Casey was urged to “think about the inevitable catastrophic consequences of such hostile steps from London and to immediately refute in the most decisive and unequivocal manner the bellicose provocative statements of the head of the Foreign Office.”

Earlier the Russian Defence Ministry announced an exercise to test the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. President Vladimir Putin ordered the drills after “provocative statements and threats” by Western officials, the military said.

Moscow hopes the drills will “cool down the ‘hot heads’ in Western capitals and help them understand the possible catastrophic consequences of the strategic risks they generate,” as well as “keep them from both assisting the Kiev regime in its terrorist actions and being drawn into a direct armed confrontation with Russia,” the Foreign Ministry said in a follow-up statement.’

Friday, May 17, 2024

The Levellers


‘On 17 May 1649, three soldiers were executed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in Burford churchyard, Oxfordshire. They belonged to a movement popularly known as the Levellers, with beliefs in civil rights and religious tolerance.

During the Civil War, the Levellers fought on Parliament’s side, they had at first seen Cromwell as a liberator, but now saw him as a dictator. They were prepared to fight against him for their ideals and he was determined to crush them. Over 300 of them were captured by Cromwell’s troops and locked up in Burford church. Three were led out into the churchyard to be shot as ringleaders.’

The following is from the Socialist Standard, December 1961

The word “Leveller” was first heard in 1606 when a band of men roamed the Warwickshire countryside, uprooting or levelling fences and hedges enclosing the once-common lands. These detested barriers had been going up all over England for eighty years.

Enclosing the “waste-land” that from time immemorial had been common property brought increasing misery to the poor and greater .wealth to the rich. Large areas were turned into sheep walks to satisfy the growing demand abroad for superior English wool. In Thomas More’s Utopia we read, “ The sheep that were wont to be so meek and tame and so small eaters now as I heare say be become so great devourers and so wild, that they eat up and swallow down the very men themselves.” Fresh ideas on farming and improved methods of stock-breeding made squires land-greedy. Enclosing was the polite name for stealing; people were driven from their homes to give pasture to sheep. Their only hope of survival lay in the towns, where they were fleeced even more closely than their woolly competitors.

Inventions and the necessity for larger ships meant bigger outlay and brought a demand for more money in the form of capital. A rich, powerful merchant class came into being. The first bank—the Bank of England, 1694—came with it.

The land lost much of its aristocratic value; the traditional obligations to tenant and labourer tended to disappear. The old tyrant with titles was often superseded by a new tyrant with money. Farmworkers were tricked out of rights of tenure. Though freed from the old bondage they were enslaved in a new and often terrifying system.

Throughout these tremendous changes Charles I remained obstinately feudal in outlook. Something was bound to happen. By 1628 the House of Commons was three times richer than the House of Lords. This gave its members confidence to resist the king's demands for money. So in 1629 he closed Parliament for eleven years, hoping to show his recalcitrant M.Ps. that he alone held power. But in 1639 a rebellion broke out in Scotland, and by 1640 he had been forced to recall Parliament to vote the necessary money to quell the rising. Here was the opportunity the Members had dreamed of. They knew that archaic notions of kingship must give way to a governmental system favourable to the merchants.

As a warm-up for their startling policy they executed the king’s chief minister, the Earl of Strafford, who had been raising an army in Ireland to crush Parliament. At the same time John Lilburne leader of a “left-wing” group—the Levellers—was released from prison, where he had resided two years for issuing anti-State Church pamphlets. Now free, he got an Army command.

With this widespread opposition came a taste for democratic expression. The popularity of Cromwell's rising faction gave the Levellers a chance to speak out. How and where did they fit into the political ferment?

Parliament was divided. On the right were the Anglican Royalists, conservative and pro-Charles. On the left were the Independents, radical but not united. They were divided into a right-wing called Gentlemen Independents headed by Cromwell, Ireton, and Fairfax, and a left-wing known as the Levellers. The latter reflected the aspirations of small farmers, humbler-tradtsmen, work people and soldiers. They advocated greater political equality than the Independents and had a widespread popular support.

In addition to political demands the civilian arm of the movement (the Diggers) urged greater economic equality; and in recognising that all political organisations and freedoms spring from or are crushed by the particular mode of land-ownership, they earned for themselves the undying hatred of Cromwell.

At this stage the Levellers were welcomed by the Radicals. All through the struggle the Levellers did best in the army, perhaps because there they were better organised than the Diggers. Both issued a considerable mass of literature, the Levellers maintaining that economic freedom followed from political freedom, and the Diggers seeing it rather the other way.

Common-ownership of the land was the bed-rock of their philosophy. Stripped of its Biblical overtones it stated a view that is still a staggering novelty to millions today. “. . . the time will be when all men shall willingly come in and give up their lands and estates and submit to the community.” They added, “and of that for money there was no need of it” (if men led communal lives). In the letter to Lord Halifax, Winstanley asked, “I demand whether all wars, bloodshed and misery came not upon creation when one man endeavoured to be a lord over another.”

In an article in the Leveller paper, The Moderate in 1649, after some men were executed for cattle-stealing, a writer suggested private property was the cause of a great deal of crime committed by the poor, “ We find,” he wrote, “some of these felons to be very civil men, and say, that if. they could have had any reasonable subsistence by friends, or otherwise they should never have taken such necessitous courses for the support of their wives and families.” The paper was suppressed after September, 1649, by “democratic” Cromwell.

The Levellers just as clearly saw that religion with its mirage of a happy future life was the carrot that encouraged the poor donkey of a labourer to stagger on. Winstanley wrote, ". . . to know God beyond the creation or to know what he will do to a man after the man is dead, in any other wise than to scatter him into his essences of fire, water, earth and air of which he is compounded (a belief handed down by the ancient Greeks) is a knowledge beyond the line or capacity of man to attain to while he lives in his compounded body.” Richard Overton, too, wrote in Man's Mortality that the idea of the soul was ridiculous.

The New Model Army (Roundheads) was Parliament’s striking force, its job to overthrow the king. But because its ranks were filled with many pro-Leveller men the Levellers saw in it a means of getting better conditions for the poor. On May 20th, 1647, “a great petition” was sent to the Commons demanding political reforms and the re-organisation of the Constitution. When the re-imprisoned Lilburne (he was in and out of gaol between 1646-1648 for various attacks on authority) heard that the common hangman had been instructed to burn it, he looked to the army for support. He declared the power of the land vested in the army, and at this point Cromwell agreed. Next, a manifesto, The Case of the Army Truly Stated, was presented to General Fairfax on October 15th, 1647, and later An Agreement of the People, which dealt more with civil matters.

Fearing the support gained by the Levellers, the Presbyterians compromised with Charles. Enraged, the Independents with the Levellers marched to London, entered the House and passed a measure to thwart any attempt to corrupt the army; the Presbyterians were crushed. Though Cromwell had been aided by the Levellers, he refused to free Lilburne. When we see what the Levellers were after, we can understand why! The Case of the Army Truly Stated listed thirteen points:

  1. 1.  New election for new parliament.

        2. House of Commons to be cleared of royalist sympathisers.

        3.Army’s supremacy to be made known officially.

  1. 4.Excise tax to be lifted from the poor, Better tax-laws.

    5.Trials to be speeded up and improved conditions for prisoners.

    6.Greater religious tolerance.

    7.Abolition of tithes.

    8.Oath of Supremacy to be abolished.

        9.No oaths from those with conscience scruples.

  1. 10.Law reform to enable laymen to understand legal matters.

    11. Removal of privileges. All to be subject to same laws.

    12.Enclosed land to be returned to common use.

    13. Pensions for disabled soldiers, widows and children.

The stir that these programmes made, forced Fairfax, Cromwell and the others Grandees (as they were somewhat derisively called) to allow their discussion in a series of debates held in Putney. Cromwell reasoned that if these fiery demands could be proved too extreme or impractical. Leveller influence would diminish and the threat to his supremacy would disappear. The main point was that the vote was the birthright of all men, and to this Ireton replied, “ was a property right. Only those who owned a house worth 40s a year in rent or who had a freehold interest in land should vote. The protection of private property was of the utmost importance, now that freedom had been won. Everyone was free to make money, and to own property, and the law was there to protect them while they did it.” Rainbotough for the Levellers retorted that what was required in voting was reason not property. And Sexby added, “... as things are today unless a man has fixed property, he has no rights in England at all.”

Cromwell had the Case of the Army condemned in Parliament. Next, he set out to quell his army and persuade the least influenced to sign a pledge of loyalty at Corkbush Field, Ware, in Hertfordshire. There the Agreement of the People was presented to Fairfax. He accepted it, but told the men to go on signing and they did. But then up rode two dissenting regiments singing and wearing the Leveller colours. Immediately Cromwell drew his sword and rode angrily among them, tearing away their colours. His sudden action quietened them. The ringleaders were arrested; three were found guilty and one of these was shot.

It was a serious defeat for the Levellers. They tried resistance again, but were imprisoned and Lilburne remained in the Tower. At Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight, Charles in 1648 launched another attack (the Second Civil War). All the contesting elements of Parliament sank their differences again in preparation for the fray. The artful Presbyterians released Lilburne, hoping he would stir the army to mutiny. But he supported Cromwell, presumably regarding him as the lesser of two evils.

After the royalist defeat more discussion on the Agreement of the People followed and it actually reached Parliament, but lay in abeyance while the king’s fate was decided. On January 30th, 1649, Charles, king by the grace of God, died by the grace of the merchants.

M. Brown.

SPGB Meeting Tonight 1939 (GMT+1) ZOOM



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Thursday, May 16, 2024

SPGB Meeting Friday 17 May 1930 (GMT + 1) ZOOM



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Rishi the seer

Using his brilliant observational skills over the last weeks and months, Sunak has concluded that Britain faces dangerous, transformational times. Who’d have thought it? But don’t worry – he has a plan to ensure a secure future for us all, should he win the next election. Presumably, it will also result in fairness and opportunities for everyone.

And squadrons of pigs are preparing for take-off too.

But let’s not be harsh on Rishi alone – Davey, Starmer and the rest will promise anything to slime their way into administering the system for the owning class. The socialist, in comparison, can only promise to keep exposing the lie that capitalism is the best that humanity can achieve.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Socialist Sonnet No. 148

Free School Meals


Empty bellies leave young minds malnourished,

A famine of learning that’s all too rife,

Starving children of their chances for life,

Who might well, properly fed, have flourished.

Free school meals then? Except, nothing is free

For this world in which all necessities

Have a price, and hunger is a dis-ease

Caused not by a lack of food, but money.

Capital, driven by insatiable greed,

Will not, shall not finance gratuitous fare

If it can’t claw back the cost from elsewhere,

Driven to meet profit’s demands, not need.

For now, only air is an oddity,

Not made and sold as a commodity.


D. A.