John Newsinger

Codename Intelligentsia

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This is a very good book. It makes an important contribution to the history of British Communism. Russell Campbell painstakingly chronicles how the Communist Party transformed the upper class socialist Ivor Montagu, a younger son of Lord Swaythling, into a shabby apologist for the very worst excesses of Stalinism, someone even prepared to work for the Russian secret police, the GRU.

In God we entrust money

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Today’s religious support for the US regime is not new but was conciously created. John Newsinger talks about political evangelist Billy Graham and what has been called the Spiritual-Industrial Complex.

The Christian right played a vital role in electing Donald Trump to the presidency in November 2016. Evangelical Christians made up a third of electorate and four out of every five of them voted for Trump.

And, so far at least, they have remained loyal to the man they consider to be God’s Chosen. Understanding the strategic position they occupy in US politics today is vital.

Charles Aznavour: a forgotten episode

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Charles Aznavour, the French singer and songwriter, died on 1 October, aged 94.

The son of parents who had fled the Armenian genocide during the First World War, his family’s involvement with the Communist resistance movement in Paris during the Second World War has not been given enough prominence in the obituaries that have appeared in the British press.

George Orwell Illustrated

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The great bulk of this book is a reprint of the 1984 publication Orwell for Beginners. I must confess I never read it at the time and only now appreciate what a great book I missed out on. It was an outstanding introduction of George Orwell’s politics that has certainly stood the test of time, and the artwork is tremendous. The reprint is accompanied by a 60-plus page update entitled “Planet Orwell”.

A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism

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Paul Hanebrink’s tremendous book could not be more timely. As he points out, we are in the middle of a “surge in political activity on the far-right in Europe and North America”. At Charlottesville there were neo-Nazis shouting the slogan “The Jews Will Not Replace Us”.

These are dangerous times and we need to know as much about the history and politics of the far-right as we can. Hanebrink’s book is a challenging and important contribution helping to develop that understanding.

Orwell or Carroll?

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Many people have turned to George Orwell and his novel Nineteen Eighty Four for assistance in trying to understand the Trump presidency and its implications for both the US and the wider world. This is a mistake. Orwell certainly offers insight into the activities of the many Big Brothers who have paraded on the world stage since he wrote the novel, but if the truth be told, Big Baby is completely beyond him.

100 years of RAF bombing

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This year the establishment has been celebrating the centenary of the founding of the Royal Air Force. All very well if you enjoy celebrating colonialism made cheaper and more deadly.

In 1921 eight RAF planes carried out a bombing raid against a village in Iraq. The villagers were terrified and men, women and children fled their homes, taking shelter in the shallows of a nearby lake. This, as the official report noted, made them “good targets for the machineguns”.

Their crime was non-payment of taxes. For some reason the massacre of rebellious “natives” from the air for non-payment of taxes has not really figured in this year’s celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the RAF.

The Murderer of Warren Street

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The French Blanquist revolutionary, Emmanuel Barthelemy, was hanged for the Warren Street murders on 22 January 1855. He had been sentenced to death, even though the jury that found him guilty had recommended clemency. It was a public execution, watched by perhaps as many as 10,000 people, apparently a disappointing crowd for the time.

How had a dedicated and uncompromising French revolutionary, a veteran of the 1848 barricades, come to die on the scaffold in London?

Regime change in Iran: yesterday and tomorrow

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President Donald Trump is ratcheting up the pressure against Iran, as well as elsewhere. Indeed, his election campaign was fought partly on the “bad deal” that was struck over Iran and nuclear weapons. Now he has pulled out of the deal and is putting pressure on others to do the same. In order to understand the current situation we should revisit the history of meddling by the US.

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