Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Better Together's Rightist Inspirations

I blogged a couple of days ago on the National Collective's revelations that fully half of the anti-Scotland campaign's funding came from the sponsor of "Arkan", a criminal terrorist warlord who was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and is most notable for the massacre of three hundred hospital inmates in an act of racist violence. 

The National Collective website, following threats from Better Together and an injunction served by Ian Taylor's lawyers, Collyer Bristow, has been forced to close. Another pro-democracy website, Wings Over Scotland, was also sent a threatening letter, as was the anti-independence Glasgow Herald newspaper, which is as yet the only mainstream media outlet to publish the brewing scandal. 

The systematic agenda is clear. Whilst the proven and admitted allegations against Vitol are freely available on the business pages of British newspapers, the anti-Scotland Better Together campaign cannot allow them to get into the Scottish public domain. They will do all in their power to ensure that the people of Scotland are not allowed to be aware of the bloodsoaked source of the anti-Scotland campaign's money. 

Better Together is a campaign based on hate and fear. It is no surprise that it has captured the support of such progressive luminaries as the British National Party and the fascist Orange Order. 

Their defence is that their deals with Arkan "were legal at the time"! Of course they were legal: it was a country dominated by President Milošević, who wrote the laws to say what he wanted them to. This is actually the equivalent of saying "well, yes, we used slave labour in Poland in 1941, but it was perfectly legal at the time".

3 extreme right-wingers - 1 tactic
President Milošević is the European poster boy for the Unionists. 

Just as the Tories campaigned for a reversal of devolution in Scotland, so did Milošević campaign for a reversal of devolution for Kosovo and Metohija, and Vojvodina (Serbia, like Britain, is composed of three self-governing territories. For England, Scotland and Wales, read Central Serbia, Vojvodina, and Kosovo and Metohija).

As the Socialist Republic of Croatia and the Socialist Republic of Slovenia moved towards independence, Milošević claimed that this was only out of "spreading fear of Serbia". Compare this to Ian Davidson and his repeated, empty assertions that those who desire independence do so only out of some sort of ephemeral "hatred of the English".

In Slovenia, an independence referendum was held. Milošević opposed it ever being held. Compare this to the united platform of Labour, the Tories and the Liberals, who stood in the 2011 General Election on a "No Referendum. Not now; not ever" manifesto.

When Bosnia and Herzegovina spoke of independence, Milošević and his leadership immediately began to speak of partition of the country. Compare this to Tavish Scott  and his newly-found support for partition. 

The Unionist tactics are clear.

They tried to block self-government. They claim that anyone who desires independence is inherently racist (even though there's nobody in the independence movement who went to a school from which non-white children were banned, is there, Jim Murphy?). They fight against a referendum ever being held. 

They know they will lose because they represent the forces of reaction against the forces of progress. They lost, and they know it, the minute the Referendum Bill was published.

Now, they follow another right-wing nationalist leader, Ian Smith, in spoiler tactics. He censored the Salisbury Herald. They have already tried to silence The Herald. They've threatened YouTube into removing pro-independence film. They have succeeded in keeping their links to "Arkan" silent by shutting down one website and trying to close another. 

Ian Smith, when forced into a referendum, tried to have the electoral franchise based on race. Better Together have campaigned for the same thing in Scotland.

They don't need - or even particularly want - their writs to be successful. They want them to be delaying tactics. Preferably their injunctions won't be heard until September 2014, but as long as they can keep the media scared of reporting their terrorist links until the story becomes an old one, they're happy. 

They fought with every fibre of their being to prevent a referendum. They've taken bloodstained money from "Arkan"'s sponsor - a man who does not even have a vote in this country - to attempt to steal the referendum. And they're now trying to censor the truth, for they know it deals a death blow to their anti-Scotland campaign

They try to deflect from their terrorist, war criminal dollars by accusing pro-Scotland campaigners of "smears"; their meetings being "disrupted by militant nationalists"; of our attacking their newspaper offices; of "almost daily acts of sabotage against our campaign HQ". 

It would be no surprise, given their paranoia, their hate, their inspiration from some of the most oppressive nationalistic leaders the world has seen, if they were to take inspiration from the ultimate in right-wing nationalism, set fire to Holyrood tomorrow and try and blame it on the pro-Scotland campaign. 

They have been exposed for what they are. An extreme right-wing campaign which uses extreme right-wing tactics inspired by extremist nationalists. In a week in which the anti-Scotland campaign described the hated Bedroom Tax as "right and popular", and lionised the hated dictator Thatcher, they have been exposed as grubby, reactionary forces. 

It will be a pleasure to look on their faces as we take their country away from them.

Tramp the Dirt Down

A sense of relief was felt in Scotland on Monday as the hated former dictator, Margaret Thatcher, finally succumbed to Satan's advances. Spontaneous street parties broke out in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Thatcher, who never came close to winning a mandate to legitimately govern Scotland at any of her three Westminster election "victories", governed Scotland with an iron fist for over a decade, crushing internal dissent, and steadfastly refusing to implement the devolution Scotland had voted for in a referendum. Her rule in Scotland was the extremist regime of a leader who knew that Scotland couldn't respond by voting her out (we had done so already, to no avail), and that she would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Labour and the Liberals to deny a further referendum, on independence.

Today, Thatcher is dead and gone. Her pernicious and divisive ideology lives on. Should a future Thatcher arise, or should the previous one come back in some class of awful respawning event from the loins of the devil, the anti-Scotland "Better Together" campaign - an alliance of the Labour Party, the British regime and the British National Party - are campaigning for her right to rule Scotland as she desires, even with not a single MP in this country. 

But that's an argument for another day. 

I was quickly struck by the tone of the fawning, obsequious tone of the news coverage of the celebrated event. Had I been a visitor from Mars tuning into BBC News, I should have quite reasonably concluded that I had witnessed the death of a much-loved elder stateswoman, rather than the hated, divisive figure she actually was. 

Right-wing unionist followed right-wing unionist on our screens, extolling her virtues as a politician, and celebrating her "achievements". Those who objected to her politics, on the other hand, were told not to act in "bad taste", and to recognise that it wasn't a dictator who had gone to the big fire, but we should mourn her loss, for her children. 

Which one? The one sacked for being a racist, or the one who tried to mount a coup d'état in an African republic?

It's the crazy idea that we should somehow put her actions as dictator to one side that baffles me. She's not getting a "ceremonial" funeral because she was a loyal wife. She's not having a service in St Paul's because she was a sensitive and generous lover. She's not having a gun carriage pull her coffin because she was a wonderful mother. 

We're paying £10.000.000 for her funeral precisely because of her behaviour in power - not because of who she was, but what she did. 

So we can take from this that if you are pro-Thatcher (hi, Johann! Hi Alistair!), you can discuss her death in the context of her politics and actions; but if you are anti-Thatcher, you can only discuss it in the context of her personage. Which seems a pretty liberal interpretation of the "don't speak ill of the dead" guideline which in any case was only ever supposed to apply to private individuals. 

It got me thinking, if we're only allowed to say positive things of the dead, what would the Daily Mail obituary column have looked like on May 1st, 1945?

The artist and writer, Adolf Keith Hitler, died yesterday in a shooting accident at his home in Berlin.
Although not himself a father, Mr Hitler was keen on children, and often involved them in local activities, often organising youth groups, particularly towards the end of his life in Berlin.
He was born in 1889 in a pretty market town in Austria, to his father Alois, a civil servant, and Klara, a housekeeper. He was a keen singer, and took part in the church choir. 
While Mr Hitler wanted to become an artist, his father wanted him to become a customs officer, and schooled him accordingly, leading to some tension between the pair. On his father's death, he left school and moved to Vienna, where he sold his art. 
He left for Munich in 1913 in order not to have to serve in the Austrohungarian army. On the outbreak of the Great War, he served in the Bavarian Army and was decorated for bravery. He was disappointed by the outcome of the war and joined the German Workers' Party, where he designed its logo.
With an engaging social life, including many visits to beer halls, he soon went into politics. After being imprisoned for a scuffle in Munich, he used his time in gaol to write his memoirs, which were a best-seller.
After going into politics, he was soon appointed as administrator of his state's delegation to the national parliament, and ran for President, coming second to Hindenburg.
He became an MP in 1932, and Prime Minister in 1933, a position he held until his death. 
He enjoyed travelling extensively through Europe, and particularly enjoyed camps. He survived a terrorist bomb attack at a party conference in 1944.
He is survived by his loving wife, Eva, briefly, and his sister Paula.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Better Together, Arkan, and a Troubling Financial Scandal

Concentration Camps

On the morning after their existence was revealed to the world, the Daily Mirror described the discovery of the concentration camps as "Belsen 92". 

The horror of the camps was manifest - the Serbian authorities had, not unreasonably, tried to hide their existence from the public. 

The genocide of the Bosnians - Bosniaks and Croats alike - was the most horrendous act of war criminality in Europe since the collapse of the Third Reich in 1945 and the liberation of concentration camps whose very names resonate with tragedy and pain: Auschwitz. Bergen-Belsen. Sachsenhausen. Buchenwald. Dachau.

I have been to two of the German camps. The ghosts of the past linger in them. At Sachsenhausen, even the birds do not sing. They are oppressive places, heavy with the leaden hand of history. I shudder even now to recall the atmosphere of them.

Prosaic, even dull towns, which because of the evil perpetrated in them will live forever under a pall of dread. People whose grandparents were not born when the camps were operational even yet labour under the terrible burden of the collective guilt that many of the German people feel.

Six million people, at a conservative estimate, were systematically slaughtered in a Europe-wide system of extermination and concentration camps. 

When the existence of the network was revealed to an horrified world, we said as one "never again". 

And so it was, never again in Europe. 

Concentration camps in Yugoslavia

Until the outbreak of the Yugoslav wars. 

It fills me with loathing, with shame, and with horror to know that in my lifetime, on my continent, once again men with power, filled with hate, herded entire families, entire towns on occasion, into concentration camps from which many would never emerge alive. 

As Yugoslavia disintegrated in the early 1990s, multiethnic parts of the Federation exploded into violence. The worst-affected federal unit was the People's Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina, a state composed - more or less - of a third Serb, a third Croat, and a third Bosniak (the latter is a term used to describe Bosnian Muslims when it is the ethnicity, rather than the religion, which is being discussed). 

Inmates of a Serb concentration camp
Croats detained Serbs and Bosniaks at Dretelj, and Serbs in Gabela. The commander of the latter summarily executed an inmate, Mustafa Obradović, in front of the inmates for the crime of having concealed a piece of bread on his person. 

In Čelebići, Bosniaks detained Serbs. The inmates were treated to torture, sexual assault, beatings and extra-judicial executions. 

The point of the above two examples is to demonstrate that the war in Bosnia was not, as is often assumed, simply a matter of Serbs genociding Bosniaks and Croats. It was a three-way conflict, with atrocities committed on all sides. 

We stood by idly and watched it happen.

Ražnatović and the Serb Volunteer Guard

Some of the worst atrocities were perpetrated by Zeljko Ražnatović, a petty criminal from Slovenia turned war criminal. 

His Serb Volunteer Guard, known as Tigrovi, the Tigers, fought in Croatia in 1991 and 1992, Bosnia-Hercegovina between 1992 and 1995, and Kosovo between 1998 and 1999. Ražnatović, better known by his nom de guerre, Arkan, was the leader of the Crvena Zvezda soccer hooligans, Delije sever, before branching out into armed thuggery after a riot at a match between Dynamo Zagreb (Croatia's standard-bearer) and Crvena Zvezda (Serbia's most successful team). This riot is widely held to have precipitated the start of the war in Croatia.

Many Golden Dawn, the Greek fascist movement which went on to be so worryingly successful last year, members fought with the "Tigers".

Ražnatović was a particularly unpleasant paramilitary commander in a particularly unpleasant conflict. 

One of Ražnatović's "Tigers" kicks the corpses of Bosniak civilians
As well as being involved in the administration of the concentration camps (the concentration camp, incidentally, was invented by the British during the genocide of the Boers in the 19th Century), Ražnatović personally led massacres in the towns of Bijeljina, Zvornik and Brčko, overthrowing the government there in the process in order to ensure ethnically "pure" Serbian towns.

In Croatia, Ražnatović perpetrated the Dalj Massacre, in which he executed Croat civilians who refused to leave the city, which was to be "ethnically cleansed". Although arrested in Croatia, Ražnatović was released after the Serbian authorities paid a fee of a million Deutchemarks to the Croat authorities.

In Bosnia, Ražnatović used the services of the Vilina Vlas, a rape camp in which Bosniak girls of around 14 years old were kidnapped and used systematically as rape victims for the "Tigers" and another, similar group, the "White Eagles".

The "Tigers" were charged at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of crimes ranging from forced detention to executions, rape and torture. 

Ražnatović was on Interpol's most wanted list throughout the 1970s and 1980s and was personally indicted by the United Nations on charges of crimes against humanity relating to the "Tigers'" role in the Kosovo War. He was unable to stand trial because he was assassinated at the Intercontinental Hotel in Belgrade in 2000. 

Ražnatović and the "Better Together" donor

In 1996, several years after the full horrifying extent of Ražnatović's war crimes, and the extent of the concentration, rape and death camps he was responsible for, emerged, a British oil firm, Vitol, supported him to the tune of US$ 1m.

Its CEO, an English-based Conservative Party member and donor, Ian Taylor, was today revealed as being responsible for up to half of all donations received by the anti-Scotland "Better Together" campaign, a coalition of anti-independence organisations such as Labour, the British National Party and the British regime.

The National Collective goes into this in more detail in a fascinating post.

Last week, Better Together described the hated Bedroom Tax as "popular and right". This week, it is exposed as funded by a man who sponsored Zeljko Ražnatović even after the existence of his war crimes was revealed. Better Together's CEO said he hoped to get "even more" donations: presumably, as Ražnatović is now dead, the money needs to go somewhere. Why not from a Yugoslav unionist and fanatical Serb nationalist to a Scottish unionist and British nationalist campaign?

How much more of this will it take before decent Labour Party supporters realise what Better Together is? It is a front for the British regime, the British military industry, and powerful capitalist forces terrified not that an independent Scotland will fail, but that it will succeed. 

With the blood of a hundred thousand murdered Iraqi children still dripping from Johann Lamont's gnarled hands, will she finally have the guts to say "no thanks" to Better Together, disengage from what has become a Faustian pact (the Tories provide the funding, Labour provide the people) with the British regime, and either concede that independence is the best chance of a progressive, socialist state, or set up her own Unionist campaign?

Or will she do what she so often does, hide away, get under the radar, and disappear for a couple of weeks, rubbing her hands at the money provided by a man whose other project is the funding of a perkele responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the worst genocide witnessed on the European continent since the fall of Nazi Germany?

There is a sign at Auschwitz. Its English translation reads, roughly

Let this place always be a cry of despair and a warning to the human race, where the Nazis slaughtered around one and a half million men, women and children, mainly Jews from the various nations of Europe.
And Auschwitz does stand as such a memorial. It is the only Polish town whose name everyone in Europe knows.

Lamont would do very well to go to the concentration camps. She would do very well to visit the death camps in Yugoslavia, as I have, to read the memorials to the thousands of civilians who were murdered or forced from their homes. She would do very well to speak to some of the survivors of the concentration camps. 

And then she would do well to sit down with a nice cup of tea, her hands shaking as she tries unsuccessfully to evacuate from her thoughts the imagery of what she has just seen, to chase the ghosts of recent history from her conscience. And she should then think whether the political Union between Scotland and England is worth the shame and taint of being forever associated with Zeljko Ražnatović and a crime against humanity which surely, this time, must never, ever be repeated again.