John Newsinger

Corruption old and new

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Politics in Britain at the end of the eighteenth century was described as the “Old Corruption”. The state was, at every level, in the hands of the great landowners and their allies. It was used to serve their interests, to protect their wealth and privilege, and they ruthlessly pillaged it to further enrich themselves. Place and position were wholly at their disposal. What made all this possible was the enormous scale of social and economic inequality. This Old Corruption came under sustained assault from a number of directions in the course of the nineteenth century.

Declassified

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On 4 December 1935, England played Germany at White Hart Lane, the Tottenham Hotspur football ground in north London. The game was seen by the Nazis as a great political and propaganda coup, especially coming so soon after Hitler devised the racist Nuremburg Laws that deprived German Jews of their citizenship and civil rights. In England, the decision to go ahead with the game met with considerable opposition, but the Conservative government and its supporters, together with Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, were positively enthusiastic.

How Trump Stole 2020 Greg Palast with illustrations by Ted Rall Seven Stories Press £13.99

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In November 2018, 92 year old Christine Jordan, a cousin of Martin Luther King and herself a veteran civil rights campaigner, went to in the election vote for Governor of Georgia. She went to the same polling station she had voted in since 1968, but ‘this time…they threw her out…they had no record of her’. She was not alone. Tens of thousands of would-be voters were turned away. How did this happen? Greg Palast has, among other things, been investigating voter fraud in the US for the past twenty years.

Declassified

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In the grounds of Lews castle on the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides there is an impressive monument commemorating the achievements of a certain James Matheson. It was erected in 1880, some two years after his death and renovated in 2006. He was the second biggest landowner in Britain, had been a Liberal MP for over twenty years, was a governor of the Bank of England and for many years was chairman of the giant shipping company P&O. He is celebrated on his monument as ‘a child of God…a good and faithful servant’ who had been welcomed into Heaven.

Hiding in Plain Sight: the Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America, Sarah Kendzior, Flatiron £22

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If you only read one journalistic account of Donald Trump’s America make sure it is Sarah Kendzior’s Hiding in Plain Sight. It is certainly one of the most devastating indictments not only of the Crooked President himself but of the corrupt system that put him in power. Kendzior first came to notice with the publication of a collection of her journalism, The View from Flyover Country, which provides a powerful account of post-2008 America from the point of view of the blue and white collar working class.

The uprisings that ended slavery

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anti-racism

The uprisings that ended slavery
We are told William Wilberforce brought about the abolition of slavery. As John Newsinger explains, it was the slaves themselves that fought bloody rebellions in order to win their freedom
‘I Would Rather Die On Yonder Gallows Than Live In Slavery”. These were the words of Sam Sharpe, the leader of the great Jamaican slave revolt of 1831, shortly before he was hanged on 23 May 1832. This was the spirit that abolished slavery in Britain’s Caribbean colonies.

Track and Trace: In safe hands?

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Even in the middle of the Dominic Cummings scandal, it still comes as a surprise that the person put in charge of Track and Trace by Matt Hancock is Baroness Dido Harding. Among other things she is also on the board of the Cheltenham Festival. As the Daily Mail pointed out, the board decided that the event should go ahead this year despite the pandemic, and experts believe it “caused a spike in Covid-19 deaths”. Now even taking into account the fact that Johnson and Cummings and the rest of the Cabinet are without shame, perhaps she was still the best person for the job.

The Romance of American Communism

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One of the great enigmas of working class history is how it was that so many fine working class militants, men and women, embraced Stalinism and either refused to believe in or actually helped cover up its crimes.

They happily followed political strategies dictated by Moscow and aimed to further Soviet foreign policy rather than the class struggle.

Afghanistan the hidden defeat

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US imperialism has suffered a massive historic defeat with the planned withdrawal of troops. This is being presented as some sort of success. The hard truth is very different.

The most powerful country in the world has failed to defeat the Taliban after years of bloody warfare. Not only is this America’s longest war, but taking into account inflation, it is the third most expensive war in US history.

A conservative estimate is that the war has cost well over $900 billion and other estimates double that figure. And there is the toll of 2,300 US dead and over 20,000 wounded.

Rishi Rich takes top job as chancellor

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Boris Johnson has just installed the richest man in the House of Commons, Rishi Sunak, as Chancellor of the Exchequer in his “people’s government”. The fact that Sunak is a disgusting sycophant, only appointed because he was prepared to demonstrate absolute commitment to the realisation of Johnson’s greatness, and who would do what he was told, should not disguise this fact. Indeed, a willingness to publicly humiliate and demean oneself before Johnson is now an essential requirement of being a Tory minister.

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