Trotsky was effaced, in photos…
…. exiled in Paris, Lenin met the beautiful Inès Armand…
The recent poisoning of a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and the murder, using radioactive polonium in his tea, of Alexander Litvinenko are stark reminders of the reach of the Russian state. In 2006, the British media had heart-wrenching pictures of the young handsome but bald Russian defector and former officer of the Russian FSB secret service lying in his bed connected by tubes and wires to machines which ultimately proved to be useless. Russia is a violent place with scant regard for democratic principles. The old USSR was born in the violence of peasant revolt and the devastating war with Germany in October 1917. Two charismatic leaders and orators, Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin charmed and cajoled supporters and risked their lives to achieve a stupendous transformation of a centuries old empire into an egalitarian state. However, it was not without much bloodletting and subsequent events and history has not been equally kind to them.
Continue reading “Statutes of Lenin and the Disappearance of Trotsky.”
Our seas are filled with plastic which degrades so slowly it is ingested into the marine food chain
500 years ago, Martin Luther demanded changes from the Catholic Church when he hammered his ninety-five theses onto the doors of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.
300 years ago, grand, but distant from the people, diplomacy formed the quadruple alliance of powers (The Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, and the Kingdom of France) and launched the War of the Quadruple Alliance against Spain
100 years ago women won the right to vote.
Significant events. The long-established church was challenged. The grand powers moved armies and navies like pieces on a chessboard without reference to the people, and all the people are heard through the ballot box.
Power, which was centralised in the hands of the church and in grand governments, has descended to the everyone. In 2018 how should we use it? Continue reading “Can We Keep Growing?”
(With thanks to Thomas Gray)
The curfew tolls the knell of coming dread,
The lowing management wind slowly to their ends,
And homeward plod, their weary tread,
To leave the company to darkness and thee, my friends.
Now fades the glimm'ring sites of outsourcery,
And all directors a solemn silence hold,
Save where their money should be paid, tax free,
And drowsy workers face winter's fiercest cold.
A breezy call of "Will you help?" from PM Cameron
Meant Chairman Green became an advisor,
An 'industry czar', to plug the theme and hammer on
That private enterprise works, the eulogiser.
But yonder Philip (not BHS) who saw it coming.
Arrived at Number Ten but who would listen?
So he jumped ship before succumbing
To the push of May, newly elected, and on a mission.
Beneath those rugged oaks of commerce,
The outsourcing board their costs did tighten.
Worker's wages fell, while to directors honours
And extra cash were showered - viz Baroness Huyton.
The shares slid down, the market aflutter.
Investors lost savings, their nest eggs in ruin
But Howson laughed, oh, no life in the gutter,
A contract's a contract and if not I'm suing.
If only workers could say, “Enough
Of free enterprise, it doesn't always apply.”
As commuters on Southern Rail, who have it tough,
Or weary East Coast travellers will testify.
The problem is the Tories - yesterday's men,
and women, and ethnic minorities - who seem to think
our daily life and sole concern is money, Amen.
The country heads down a darkening path to the brink.
Come on, Jezza, save our wearisome nation
And lighten our loads with fairness and money.
Help the old and the poor and infirm rise up from their station
And lead us to the land of flowing milk and honey.
‘From nowhere, Special Constables arrived…
An Easter Day in London
Early in 1907, a month after my seventh birthday, our new coalman asked my mother, Matilda Morton, to walk out with him. She was no beauty. Drudgery had worn that out of her and given her a hardness totally in keeping with the battle she waged to keep our family afloat. Washing, ironing, and folding, day in day out, a penny here, penny hap’ney there. But it all added up, and she kept going through thick and thin, for poverty stalked us, waiting for any mishap.
Throughout the winter, the widower John Sutcliff flattered Mum. He was persistent. Twice, I heard him ask her out after sliding a bag of clunky black coal noisily into the bunker in the backyard. On one occasion, Mum, with her arms deep in the copper wringing out the washing, her black hair awry beneath her plain brown headscarf, told him, ‘Be off with you John Sutcliff, can’t you see I’m busy.’
One night, lying in bed, I heard Gran and Mum talking downstairs. Continue reading “The Teesdale Affair”
Up the gradient, it puffed furiously, belching black smoke into the blinding whiteness of the snowy surroundings.
Igor Pavlovich Radiorksy’s death in a car accident on a Moscow road marks an ominous start for Peter (Petya) Cuthbert as Head of Operations of Goldberg Bank’s Russian subsidiary. Quickly, he discovers that the computer problems at the bank run deep and perhaps Radiorksy’s death was not accidental. Things are compounded when the head of the payments section is found dead. And are the newly promoted chairman, a young Kazakh and the ravishing Tatiana Sholokova all they appear to be? Pressure from headquarters in New York and demands from a major client mean a trip a fifteen hundred miles east of Moscow to Chelyabinsk for Peter Cuthbert and the new chairman with fateful consequences.
All the opening quotations are attributed to Adam Smith (1723-90). He was an eighteenth century Scottish economist, a philosopher, an author, and a key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment.
Read Chapter one here
Continue reading “Return to Chelyabinsk”
The European Political Map Before the Unification Movements of Germany and Italy
Doesn’t the path of history look obvious when viewed through the lens of time? A hundred years ago the actions and subsequent reactions of states or politicians seem obvious. Events which so troubled our forefathers are taught by the simplicity of a needlewoman’s thread and as the embroidery becomes a tapestry and we see the pattern so clearly that even the simplest student can follow it.
But look into the future and the clear patterns distort, the threads tangle. After hundreds of years of association and unification, do we face, in Europe today, the first cuckoo of the spring of disunion? Continue reading “The Catalan Referendum – The Impasse”
…the ballot papers – in three languages, Spanish, Catalan and Occitan.
George Orwell said of the Catalans, “I defy anyone… not to be struck by the essential decency, above all their straightforwardness and generosity.”
What he saw in 1935 is still present today.
Straightforward decent people want the right to vote on the most important issue- the issue of how they should govern themselves. Yet the Spanish government does not want to engage in the debate – rather it prefers to deploy the Guardia Civil, whose faces are hidden behind perspex shields, to kick and punch peaceful protesters and to attack and beat with truncheons ordinary citizens and old ladies in a crude attempt to dissuade them from congregating and voting. It seems they have learned nothing. The power of the masses will not be thwarted by a few policemen, however belligerent.
Continue reading “The Catalan Referendum”