‘We Will Fight Them in their London Luxury Flats!’
By Gwydion M. Williams
“Boris Johnson has likened the way President Putin is promoting the World Cup in Russia to Hitler’s notorious use of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
“The foreign secretary said Labour MP Ian Austin was ‘completely right’ to say Russia’s president wanted to ‘gloss over [his] brutal corrupt regime’”
Boris Johnson waxes Churchillian. But fails to shine.
As London Major, he encouraged rich and often criminal Russians to settle in London. Will not view them as suspects, though many might want more bad feeling between Britain and Russia.
He ignores history, even the bits of history he has lived through.
Putin inherited the brutal corrupt regime that Boris Yeltsin created between 1991 and 1999. Yeltsin was a genuine hero in the fall of the Soviet Union, but then messed up.
China showed how to modernise a state-run economy without generating poverty and crime. Finland showed how to combine welfare and state planning with a vigorous economy and a happy population. Finland regularly comes top in studies of global happiness, with the rest of Scandinavia above Britain and the USA. But Yeltsin foolishly listened to right-wing British and US advice. Worse, the ‘experts’ told him to apply extremes of New Right doctrine that had not been allowed to try back home. Police are wasteful – cut them! (Just as Britain right now is cutting police despite rising crime.) Remove all state regulations – they are always burdensome and useless! Privatise at once, with a bland confidence it will work out fine! Give shares to ordinary workers, without the normal rules that prevent them being sold on for ready cash!
Russians now believe this was a conspiracy to make them poor. I think it more likely the advisors were dogmatic fools. They have spread violence, inequality, and the breakdown of peaceful societies, everywhere they have influence. But these flowed naturally from their false beliefs. They did less damage – but still quite a lot of damage – within Britain and the USA, where there was a powerful ruling class that wasn’t entirely foolish. But in Russia, the new leaders were unreasonably hostile to the Soviet past. Unduly respectful of the power of the USA.
It isn’t ignorance that makes you a fool: it’s what you know that ain’t so. This piece of folk-wisdom from the USA is useful, only when you spot foolishness for what it is. They still have trouble: but if the Democratic Party had allowed its members to choose Bernie Saunders. he would now be President. It would be a different world.
It would also be a different world if George Soros had become famous earlier on. When the Soviet Union collapsed, he was one of many who called for a new Marshall Plan to help them. Sadly, he is far from being a clear-headed thinker outside of the specialist world of parasitic financial speculation. He follows the Western consensus of seeing no link between Russia under Yeltsin being damaged by Western advice and Russia under Putin being suspicious of the West.
Yeltsin, at least, realised before the end that he had messed up. Spread poverty and given wealth to crooks who knew more about lethal violence than how to run a business with any skill. That’s why he was too drunk to get off the aircraft and left leaders of the Irish Republic standing in the cold waiting for him, among other offences. That’s why he only got elected in 1996 with a lot of fiddles, with the candidate of a revived Russian Communist Party getting 40%.
The world as a whole chooses who gets big sporting events. Not sharing the Anglosphere’s hostility to Russia, they gave it the 2014 Winter Olympics. Gave it the 2018 World Cup. It has remained much the same place throughout.
The scandal of the 1936 Berlin Olympics is that Germany had changed massively since Berlin was originally chosen. Given when the Weimar Republic sought peace and reconciliation. And where Berlin was famous for its tolerant artistic atmosphere (plus some open sex and a lot of slightly covert gay sex). By 1936, Hitler was openly a dictator. German citizens who were Jews were mostly excluded from sport and most other aspects of citizenship. And unlike most anti-Semitic regimes, this included Jewish converts to Christianity.
Nor was that all. The 1934 ‘Night of the Long Knives’ killed conservative politicians equivalent to Britain’s Jacob Rees-Mogg, as well as the gay stormtroopers who are more often mentioned. Germany had become a completely different place – but Britain’s centre-right mostly approved of it. The Daily Mail repeatedly praised Hitler. Even Winston Churchill approved of Mussolini, and was more anti-German than anti-Nazi.
Despite a lack of suspects or hard facts, we are told that the nerve gas attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal must have been ordered by Moscow. Why? Because the Soviet Union had a secret program that may have produced a similar nerve gas, though outside the current borders of Russia.
Nerve gas programs are usually secret. The Soviet program was widely publicised after the Soviet collapse, and lost its security:
“The years following the fall of the Berlin Wall were chaotic, with chemical weapons laboratories and storage sites across the Soviet Union abandoned by staff who were no longer being paid. Security was almost non-existent, leaving the sites at the mercy of criminal gangs or disenchanted staff looking to supplement their income…
“A Russian lawyer, Boris Kuznetsov, told Reuters he was offering to pass to the British authorities a file he said might be relevant to the Salisbury case. It details an incident when poison hidden in a phone receiver killed a Russian banker and his secretary in 1995. The poison came from an employee at the state chemical facility who sold it through intermediaries – in an ampule placed in a presentation case – to help reduce his debts.”
But making nerve gas isn’t that tricky. Back in 1995, a small Japanese sect attacked other Japanese with nerve gas it had been able to produce itself. North Korea was blamed for the nerve-gas assassination of a half-brother of the North Korean leader in 2017. Iran, wishing to see if the danger was real, successfully synthesised minute amounts of five ‘Novichok’ agents under the supervision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the body that the British government should have taken its complaint to. Instead, it demanded that Russia ignore agreed procedures and be answerable to the British government. When Russia refused, they declared that Russia must be guilty. The European Union, busy with delicate Brexit negotiations, has now accepted this. Most of the world has not.
The grand failure of Thatcherism is the real context of the new panic over supposed Russian aggression. Thatcher in the 1980s could have been an authentic conservative. She could have curbed trade union power and then left the successful Mixed-Economy system much as it was. She could have been much more serious about defending conservative social values. But instead she accepted crackpot New Right ideas. Ignored the awkward detail that most New Right thinkers privately believed a Libertarian creed that was just as hostile to conservative social values as any Far-Leftist.
Socially, Thatcherism failed. The values of the Libertarians won out. Tories under Cameron legalised Gay Marriage, which was a fringe idea in the 1970s and 1980s. This was part of a general relaxation about sex in general. Economically, Thatcherism failed. Overall growth in the 1980s was slower than in the 1970s. Slower despite the enormous boost of North Sea Oil. Norway saved the revenues from its North Sea Oil and is secure. Britain wasted it on free gifts to the rich.
Thatcherism was all about free gifts to the rich. People with absurdly large salaries, £80,000 a year or more: the people Labour intends to tax more heavily. But even 80,000 is modest compared to the million-pound salaries paid to top managers for doing a much worse job than they did before the 1980s. And gigantic corporations have been allowed to evade most tax. The ‘magic money tree’ exists, but has been shielded from paying even as much tax as ordinary people pay.
Globally, Thatcherism failed. The ‘Arab Spring’ soon came tragically un-sprung. Multi-party democracy depends on habits of compromise that Western Europe and its overseas colonies build up gradually over centuries.
Meantime Boris Johnson has done everything he can to turn London into ‘Upper London’. A global haven for the very rich, with ordinary people shipped out as far as possible. That’s why he wasted £40 million on the never-built ‘garden bridge’ – it would be a nice curio to attract them.
Including super-rich Russians, most rich behave dishonestly. Some are anti-Putin, and many have given large donations to the Tory Party. They are among the foreign investors who build luxury flats than now stand empty, but remain a nice asset. Empty while many Londoners are homeless Talk about action against the rich or for the needy is likely to remain just talk, as it has in previous crises.
As at 7th April 2019, there is still no detailed explanation as to what is supposed to have happened. And a baffling silence from the Skripals.
An 8,500-word study of the Nerve Gas Attack is also available.