History

Sure it had an effect

There was no single moment when I began to sense the long shadow that Cecil John Rhodes has cast over my life, or over the university where I am a professor, or over the ways of seeing the world shared by so many of us still living in the ruins of the British empire. But, looking back, it is clear that long before I arrived at Oxford as a student, long before I helped found the university’s Rhodes Must Fall movement, long before I even left Zimbabwe as a teenager, this man and everything he embodied had shaped the worlds through which I moved.

You speak English, Zimbabwe was at least a relatively rich country for the area, Zimbabwe did at least have the rule of law, an education system and all that.

What else was it you wanted to talk about concerning Rhodes and colonialism?

How wonderfully the world has changed since 1945

The juxtaposition of this gave me a jolt:

“It’s hard to explain why people elsewhere are being vaccinated more quickly with an excellent vaccine developed in Germany. Time is crucial. If Israel, the US, or the UK are far ahead of us with jabs, they’ll also gain economically.”

Israel has vaccinated more than a million people with the German jab.

I might be primed by having been reading some Simon Schama.

But think back to 1945 and the incredulity with which Jews lining up for German injections would be greeted. Voluntarily lining up that is.

The place still ain’t perfect, definitely still some cleaning up in the corners to be done, but hasn’t the world got better since then?

But it wasn’t a real revolution

So, first Ms. Malik tells us that revolutions screw up:

And yet, when we look across the Arab world today, it is hard to believe this happened. Only the “Tunisian revolution” remains intact. Every other country affected has either collapsed into chaos and civil war, as in Libya and Syria – or, like Egypt, has entered a new era of dictatorship, darker and more oppressive than ever before. What has come to pass looks like a fulfilment of the warnings that were issued against the protests from the start: this will only lead to even more political instability.

Some people have made this point before, that evolution not revolution might be the way to go. But apparently revolutions are as with socialism, it wasn’t real revolution:

The problem was the absence of enough of the forces necessary to the success of a revolution rather than the presence of too many counter-currents against it.

Not enough revolution, d’ye see?

It can happen. It has happened before. Now we know what it looks like. And next time, we will know what is required of us.

So, let’s have more revolution!

The same logic that led Lenin to shoot a few more peasants when the crops failed.

Sigh.

Are these people really this ignorant?

The American Revolution itself was not merely a reaction against certain types of control—such as the British East India Company’s monopoly on commerce.

Sure, John Company got to sell tea from the Far East. But monopoly upon commerce in the Americas? Or even the Atlantic?

Lad’s insane

In economic matters since 1945, it is not so much that the US either forged or ruptured a rules-based order, but rather that it pivoted from one set of rules to a radically new one. For decades after the second world war, the system allowed other governments considerable room for manoeuvre in their economic policies. But then the US helped to impose a draconian neoliberal order that persists to the present day, including through international financial institutions it dominated.

The Bretton Woods system, where exchange rates were fixed and monitored by the IMF, offered more freedom of economic action to nation states than the floating rate FX system which succeeded it?

Crippled JC on a pogo stick that’s an idiot assertion.

Samuel Moyn is a professor of law and history at Yale and the author of Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World

There’s nothing so stupid American academia won’t believe it.

Umm, what?

If approved, the move could pave the way for other rail and underground stations to be reviewed, with stops such as East India and Canning Town also highlighted for its past associations with the slave trade.

East India Company slavery did of course exist. To whatever extent the Moghul etc entities had slavery before the EIC arrival. As to Canning Town, umm, what’s the supposed connection? Named, apparently, after a Viceroy of India that’s got very little to do with slavery. Indeed, it didn’t really exist – being marshland – before the end of slavery.

So, what are they talking about?

Quite remarkable

So, bloke writes about grandfather, Polish Jew who fought in the Red Army. And uses it as a base from which to muse about remembrance and just war and so on. Fair enough:

But, as the historian Sheila Fitzpatrick noted in a recent essay in the London Review of Books, such views aren’t uncommon. “Many Polish Jews … who found themselves in the Soviet Union during the war, deportees as well as refugees, retained affectionate memories of the place and its people, whom they experienced as not antisemitic and generous in sharing the little they had with strangers,” she writes.

The remarkable bit is rather brushing over that attempt to exterminate Poland as a nation. You know, by Stalin?

Hmm, well…..

the statue is one of the hopelessly few reminders we have of one of Britain’s greatest emigres.

That’s about Engels. And emigre has a definite tint of “from” rather than “to”.

We might say he was a Prussian emigre, a Rhineland emigre, even a German emigre. But not really a British one – for here he’s an imigre……

The British colour bar

Ms. Gopal again and her knowledge of history:

In the postwar period, the colour bar in hotels and other public spaces was challenged by people like the famous cricketer Learie Constantine, who won a landmark judgment.

Britain never did have a colour bar. This wasn’t Jim Crow, you know, that was some other group of wipipo. As was apartheid some other group. Sure, we all look the same but really, you should be able to distinguish.

Constantine booked into a hotel, having been assured that his colour was not a problem. Then the actual management of the hotel on the spot insisted it was. After remonstration etc he moved to another hotel owned by the same company.

So, clearly not a bar in law nor by the hotel chain. Racism, yes, clearly. The case was breach of contract, having taken his booking and not supplying the room. He won.

This is many things including a righteous biff on the nose to racism. It’s also not proof of a colour bar having existed.

Ms. Gopal

Yes, this is the bird who insisted that not being addressed by her title by a college porter (not her own college you understand, just some other) was evidence of institutional racism:

whether through bigotry or predatory capitalism.

sharp critiques of both capitalism and empire, or racial capitalism.

Since colonialism was inseparable from capitalism

If only historians actually did know history.

Pre-capitalist societies had slavery, colonialism and racism. Capitalist did too. Therefore none of the three are unique to capitalism, are they? Yea, whatever Lenin said in On Imperialism.

Gotta get the Marxism in there, eh?

Jackson discovers that ivory was also taken from Africa, with elephant tusks loaded alongside the human cargo to boost profits even further: a reminder that, at its heart, slavery – although underpinned by white supremacist beliefs – was driven by extreme, unchecked capitalism, rather than racism alone.

Slavery rather predated capitalism. It was a feature of feudal societies and also of the classical ones before that. Slavery also was not a feature of capitalist societies after any level of development of the capitalism. Because it was that very machine use – so promoted, invented and caused by capitalism – that brought slavery to an end in an economic sense.

But we’ve got that Marxist underpinning to the explanation of everything these days, don’t we? Capitalism is bad, slavery was bad, therefore slavery and capitalism must be the same thing.

Jackson and Hirsch travel to Elmina Castle in Ghana, the first trading post on the west African coastline,

Nope, Arguim was earlier. Elmina the first on the Gulf of Guinea, sure, but that’s not all of West Africa, is it? Pendantry to be sure but they’re making a damn history programme…..

Last word to Hirsch, though. She is told of the science that went into the positioning of the triangular sails of tall ships – a 15th-century innovation that harnessed the wind’s power, enabled the ships to sail the oceans at speed, and helped turn the looting of Africa into a business. Hirsch observes: “You think of pioneering technology as a positive thing, but it’s just heartbreaking that Europeans saw this as an opportunity to really embark on their most evil project.”

Slavery is more evil than the Holodomor? The Holocaust? An interesting claim…..

Honey buns…..

So those of us with time, resources and motivation are left to bridge the void through self-education, which often involves grappling with significant facts and figures.

The numbers of Africans estimated to have been trafficked by Europeans to their American and Caribbean colonies: 12 million-plus. Deaths on the Middle Passage alone, across the Atlantic: 1.5 million at a highly conservative estimate. The cumulative individual tragedies on slave trails to the coast, in the barracoons, and on the beaches: no one can even count.

So the four centuries of African enslavement by Europeans remains an abstract story.

The longer, larger and with greater transport losses enslavement of sub-Saharan Africans by Arabs might also get a look in. But as that doesn’t fit the political narrative it don’t, do it?

Further, Honey Buns, a little examination of your own Akan forbears in the trade might be worthwhile. There are recorded instances of said Akan buying slaves off the Portuguese in the 1440s……it’s the partiality that grates, no?

How this will confuse the Wokerati

English Heritage has commissioned portraits of forgotten black figures to hang in its properties, beginning with an African girl who was sold into slavery and became Queen Victoria’s goddaughter.
The portrait of Sarah Forbes Bonetta will go on display at Osborne, the Queen’s holiday home on the Isle of Wight.
Bonetta was born as Aina, daughter of a West African ruler, who was orphaned and captured by King Gezo of Dahomey (modern-day Benin)during the Okeadon War in 1848.
The following year, Gezo was visited by a Royal Navy officer, Captain Frederick Forbes. During negotiations, Gezo offered the then-five-year-old Aina as a diplomatic gift to Queen Victoria.
The little girl was re-named Sarah Forbes Bonetta – Bonetta was the name of Forbes’ ship – and taken back to England, where she became the Queen’s godchild. When she married and had children of her own, she named her first child Victoria.

There is no sold into anything there. Although there’s very definitely slavery. Except no wipipo are involved in her slavery anywhere. Purely and entirely a function of ructions among the indigenes of West Africa. All happening in West Africa too.

The confusion will stem, of course, from how can this be possible. For slavery is a wipipo sin, right?

You knew this would be left out, didn’t you?

The International Brigades by Giles Tremlett review – fighting fascism in Spain

OK:

The Spanish civil war has long been valorised by the European left, documented, debated and commemorated in incredible detail – in many thousands of books, but also in film, in song, in musical theatre, in poster exhibitions, badges and T-shirts. And while there are many tales of selfless sacrifice, solidarity and idealism, there is also much in the story that is inglorious – the boredom, unpreparedness and terrible equipment, the panic, internal arguments and betrayals, lice, accidental deaths and injuries and Franco’s eventual triumph.

So, we going to get to the Stalinist murders of the rest* of the left?

Ah, no, thought not.

*An exaggeration but not by much.

Not so much really

Blonde and burly, the Vikings are commonly viewed as a Scandinavian warrior-race who traversed treacherous seas to raid and colonise distant lands.
However, the biggest ever study of skeletons from archaeological sites in Europe and Greenland has shown that the Vikings were less of a race and more of an idea, with some even hailing from Scotland.
DNA analysis from bones from burial sites in Orkney has found that the remains were of Scottish locals who had adopted Viking identities.
Skeletons with British heritage were also found in Norway, while other Vikings had ancestors from Asian and Southern Europe. Many were found to have dark, not blonde hair.
Prof Eske Willerslev, of St John’s College, University of Cambridge, and the University of Copenhagen, said: “This study changes the perception of who a Viking actually was – no one could have predicted these significant gene flows into Scandinavia from Southern Europe and Asia happened before and during the Viking Age.”
“We have this image of well-connected Vikings mixing with each other, trading and going on raiding parties to fight kings across Europe because this is what we see on television and read in books – but genetically we have shown for the first time that it wasn’t that kind of world.
“The results change the perception of who a Viking actually was. The history books will need to be updated.”

The imagery rather includes the blokes in helmets trotting back to their ships with the local birds over their shoulders. Along with that nirvana, the mother in law free marriage, this does rather imply a certain genetic mixing in the next generation. And folks were going a viking for several generations…..

So here’s a fun task for someone bored

In The Road To Wigan Pier Orwell gives us the weekly diet of a poor family on benefits.

50% of the weekly cash is spent upon food. And he details out what that is spent upon.

So, anyone actually got that list? Can’t seem to find it, Google Fu is failing. And then, then – anyone want to price it up at today’s prices? Go with the Aldi/Lidl/Sainsbury’s Basics range sorta prices.

Or, perhaps, if someone can find that list I’ll have a go.

Would be interesting to price that diet as against modern wages…..

Well, not hugely so really

The film opens on his early life in England. Osbourne’s family was poor, and he was the middle child of six siblings and was plagued by massive insecurities while growing up.

He was a subpar student — later diagnosed with dyslexia — who was ashamed of the conditions in which he grew up. The Osbourne family didn’t have an indoor restroom and often didn’t have money for soap.

Poor by the standards of today, certainly. By those of 1950s England? Not so much:

His mother, Lilian (née Unitt; 1916–2001), was a non-observant Catholic who worked days at a factory.[7] His father, John Thomas “Jack” Osbourne (1915–1977), worked night shifts as a toolmaker at the General Electric Company.

Skilled working class, not the lap of luxury to be sure but poor? By the standards of then?