Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Predestination and Freewill: Augustine and Pelagius

Predestination and Freewill: Augustine and Pelagius

Saint Augustine
Saint Augustine
The use of Romans in the construction of soteriological concerns has a long and varied history. Perhaps the most important discourse concerning the will involved St. Augustine of Hippo and the English monk Pelagius, both of whom relied upon Pauline thought in their arguments. In his “Letter to Demetrius,” Pelagius outlines his theology of the human will, using or inferring from various texts and concepts found in Paul’s Letter to the Church at Rome. Pelagius argued that the human will had the inherent capacity to perform both good and evil, that the will was not forced to do evil necessarily, and that the human will became habituated into evil.[1] For his understanding, “doing good has become difficult for us only because of the long custom of sinning, which begins to infect us even in our childhood. Over the years it gradually corrupts us, building an addiction and then holding us bound with what seems like the force of nature itself…. If even before the law and long before the coming of our Lord and Savior, some people lived upright and holy lives, as we have said, we should believe all the more that we can do the same after his coming. Christ’s grace has taught us and regenerated us as better persons. His blood has purged and cleansed us, his exampled spurred us to righteousness.”[2] Using Romans 9:20, Pelagius argues that the Pauline Christian perspective indicates that people are wicked because they work not to improve their loves, but complain about their nature. “If, then, even apart from God, these people demonstrate how God made them, we should recognize what can be accomplished by Christians whose nature has been restored to a better condition by Christ and who are assisted by divine grace.”[3] Thus for Pelagius, the human will remains endowed with the freedom of choice between good and evil even now, and while the humans tend to sin, they act and choose not because of predetermined necessity but of their own willing.
St. Augustine of Hippo took a different approach to the Pauline understanding of the relationship of the human will to salvation. Augustine understood Pelagius to attribute too little to God in the salvation process: “It becomes clear that the grace Pelagius acknowledges is God’s showing and revealing what we ought to do, not his giving and helping us to do it.”[4] For Augustine, the human will, empowered and sustained by the grace of God, wills toward salvation, though only in part. For, “Who does not realize that a person comes or does not come by his free choice? If he does not come, then free choice acted alone. If he comes, however, then it must have been helped, and helped not only to what to do but to do what it knows. Thus when God teaches through the grace of the Spirit rather than the letter of the law, the result of his teaching is not simply that a person is aware of what he has learned by knowing but also that he seeks it by willing and accomplishes by acting. This divine way of teaching assists not only the natural capacity for willing and working but also the actual willing and working itself.”[5] The grace of God held primary importance for Augustine’s soteriology, as without it nothing could be accomplished.[6] Augustine affirms the understanding of Ambrose of Milan concerning the relationship between God and human will, that “the Lord also cooperates with our wills”[7] and that ultimately God remains sovereign over all human action.[8] Thus for Augustine, “Free choice is adequate for evil, but it can manage good only if it is helped by Sovereign Good”[9], and thus the human will on its own remains not able to not sin.[10]
Augustine also gave a number of other considerations concerning the understanding of the human will and salvation. Of great importance in understanding Luther’s interpretation of the Romans, Augustine laid the foundation for a strong dichotomy of law and grace in interpreting Paul. Quoting Romans 7:7, Augustine writes that, “Thus the law and grace are so different that the law is not only useless but actually an obstacle in many ways unless grace assists. This shows, moreover, the function of the law: it makes people guilty of transgressions and forces them to take refuge in grace in order to be liberated and helped to overcome evil desires. It commands more than it helps; it diagnoses illness but does not cure.”[11] Using his three-part model of capacity, will, and action to describe the relationship of the human will to salvation, Augustine writes that “God not only helps the capacity even if a person neither wills nor acts well, but also helps willing and action itself, so that a person wills and works well…. Let him [Pelagius] admit that this is the grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ, through which he makes us righteous by his justice rather than our own, that our justice is that which comes from him.”[12] These understandings will become important in viewing Luther and Erasmus’ use of Romans and their constructions concerning the human will, as both Erasmus and, especially, Luther believe that they are interpreting Augustine’s interpretation of Paul with regard to soteriology correctly.

[1] Pelagius. “Letter to Demetrius.” Translated and Edited by J. Patout Burns. Sources of Early Christian Though: Theological Anthropology. Series Editor William G, Rusch. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1981. 49. [2] Ibid., 50. [3] Ibid., 43. [4] Augustine of Hippo. ”On the Grace of Christ.” Translated and Edited by J. Patout Burns. Sources of Early Christian Thought: Theological Anthropology. Series Editor William G. Rusch. Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1981. 67. [5] Ibid., 72. [6] Ibid., 82. [7] Ibid., 91. [8] Ibid., 93. [9] Augustine of Hippo. “On Rebuke and Grace.” Translated and Edited by J. Patout Burns. Sources of Early Christian Thought: Theological Anthropology. Series Editor William G. Rusch. Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1981. 101. [10] Ibid., 100-101. [11] Augustine of Hippo. ”On the Grace of Christ.” Translated and Edited by J. Patout Burns. Sources of Early Christian Thought: Theological Anthropology. Series Editor William G. Rusch. Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1981. 67. [12] Ibid., 94.

Weimar, snow and Port Talbot...tomorrow belongs to me

The snow falls gradually in Penrhos. I meet the dog walkers as they pass the T6 bus stop. Some predict that the snow will fall heavily today and others tomorrow. Mervyn appears and points out that you cannot see the mountain . He tells me that the T6 failed to appear yesterday. I had caught the X50 from the bus station but today it appears and as I write we speed across Crynant common. The sky is full of snow...and I begin to wonder if I will make my therapy session in Penclawdd tomorrow...the wind is stronger today and it won't reach above freezing.
Someone posts on Neath politics the amazing fact that Neil McEvoy is giving his staff St David's day off. I wonder if they were allegedly bullied I to it lol. I remove the post...

In Port Talbot debate and argue they hold a referendum to decide if I should remain or. leave. The turnout reaches rather less than 1.5%. My crime was to out up a post about a nasty little Nazi in the group. . The 180 odd characters who wished me to leave feel that I think they are stupid and don't understand reality . I notice that none of them notice the fascist and anti Semitic pics on his FB.. stupid is as stupid does....Fortunately another 10,000 make no comment or vote. But I would like to thank the 10 heroes who stood with me last night. It seems that you have to avoid being judged even if you have Nazi propaganda on your FB profile...its an odd has come to Port Talbot...oh well tomorrow belongs to see tbey seem to think I am worse than a Nazi...apparently you can't mention what goes on in the group outside ...but as long as you don't publish Nazi propaganda and just stick to Britain First it's ok..

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

No Platform for Fascists..... Far-right terror threat 'growing' in UK as four plots foiled

Far-right terror threat 'growing' in UK as four plots foiled



The retiring head of counter-terrorism policing in the UK has warned of the growing threat of far-right terrorism.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, who will retire from the Met Police next month, said four extreme-right terror plots were disrupted last year.
Ten Islamist-inspired plots have been foiled since March last year, he added.
In a speech made at Policy Exchange, the Met Police's Mr Rowley also warned that far-right extremists are working in similar ways to Islamist extremists.
He said they create intolerance, exploit grievances, and generate distrust of state institutions.
One of the four alleged far-right plots disrupted was that of white supremacist Ethan Stables.
Earlier this month, he was convicted of plotting an axe and machete attack on a gay pride event at a pub in Barrow.
Mr Rowley said: "Islamist and right-wing extremism is reaching into our communities through sophisticated propaganda and subversive strategies creating and exploiting vulnerabilities that can ultimately lead to acts of violence and terrorism.
"Ten conspiracies of an Islamist nature were stopped since the Westminster attack.
"And I can tell you today that over the same period police have been able to prevent a further four extreme, right-wing inspired plots in the UK."
He said it was "important we make these figures public in order to illustrate the growth of right-wing extremism".
Referring to the banned group National Action, he said: "For the first time we have a home-grown proscribed white supremacist, neo-Nazi terror group, which seeks to plan attacks and build international networks."

Live investigations

Last year, the security service MI5 joined the fight against the right-wing terrorist threat.
There are currently more than 600 live investigations and more than 3,000 people of interest at any one time.
While they have not been involved directly in terrorism, he singled out Tommy Robinson, who founded the English Defence League (EDL), and Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, as voices from the far right who stir up tensions.
Mr Rowley told the BBC: "In the noise and focus on the global threat, and what we've wrestled with with Daesh [the Islamic State group], I don't think the change and growth in extreme right-wing terrorist threat has been explained or described well enough - and that's one of the things I wanted to do."
Aside from the attempted gay pride attack in Barrow, the other three alleged plots that were foiled last year are yet to come to trial.
One allegedly involved a neo-Nazi buying a machete with the intention of murdering the Labour MP Rosie Cooper.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Rowley oversaw the response to five terror attacks in the UK last year, including at Westminster
Mr Rowley said the ability of extremists and terrorists of all kinds to "ply their trade" through the internet was of great concern.
He urged social media companies to do more to combat extremism.
"Many of them tried to argue for some that they simply provide pipes, they have no editorial responsibilities," he said.
"That argument was always in my view nonsense. They've stopped using that argument. They've started to try and take some responsibility.
"I think to be fair to them, they can't exert editorial control over everything that is published on their sites.
"But they can exert a massive amount of control both on the day-to -ay management of it, and I think more in the future about how they design their platforms and their operating systems and their products.
"Their products shouldn't simply be designed for maximising profit, they should be designed with a parallel objective around public safety."

'Throw away the key'

Mr Rowley was also asked what should happen to two Londoners suspected of being members of an Islamic State cell - dubbed "the Beatles" by Western media because of their British accents.
The gang was notorious for kidnapping Western hostages and filming their murders - often by beheading.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were captured in Syria in January and are accused of links to a string of hostage murders in Iraq and Syria.
Mr Rowley said: "The people who have done the most ghastly things overseas, the ones who don't fight to the death, we would all like to see them never able to do anyone any harm ever again.
"Locking them up and throwing away the key would be a great idea."
Mohammed Emwazi, better known as "Jihadi John", was a suspected member of the cell before his death.

I come across a nasty and vile post from one Kurtis Price. Naturally I find him on Port Talbot Debate and Argue Facebook page. It shows a. bus driver beating off an assailant. It's Britain First propaganda and as I look through the pictures on Kurtis Price profile I find pictures celebrating the far right . I find one talking about how Hitler made Germany great again. It mocks liberals condemns gay and trans people and others.. I find Fascist iconography everywhere and code words about "international finance" and the condemnation of "Jewry". There are pictures of Trump and others from the alt right. He will clearly be a Holacaust denier. Thrre is a pu ture if German soldiers at the Christmas day truce of 1914. There is even a picture of the idiot with a Nazi haircut sandwiched between British a fascist pose.. There are pictures of SS soldiers and fictional nightmares of fascist cities and pseudo architecture and art... and I really wonder what on earth the admins of Port Talbot Debate and Argue are doing allowing such individuals to join the group. Their rules claim to be anti racist and against hate speech. WTF are they doing?

Monday, 26 February 2018

The Theme of Jealousy in Shakespeare's Othello

Detailed Summary of Othello, Act 1, Scene 1

  • Enter Roderigo and Iago.
    Hopelessly in love with Desdemona, Roderigo is angry that his supposed friend Iago didn't do anything about the elopement of Desdemona and Othello, but Iago convinces him that he hates Othello.
  • Brabantio appears above.
    Shouting vulgarities, Iago and Roderigo announce the elopement to Desdemona's father, Brabantio, who declares that he will form a posse to chase down Othello. Iago sneaks off to join Othello so that he can pretend that he is still his loyal ensign.

Enter Roderigo and Iago:
Being a dramatic genius, Shakespeare is able to begin with a rush, but still provide -- or imply -- a lot of background information.

As the scene opens, Roderigo is pouting, and exclaims, "Tush! never tell me; I take it much unkindly / That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse / As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this" (1.1.1-3). The "this" is the elopement of Othello and Desdemona. Roderigo loves Desdemona, but he's also a twit -- gullible, spoiled, and stupid. In fact, he's such a twit that Brabantio, Desdemona's father, has told him to stay away from the house. Roderigo, however, can't quit, so he has been using Iago as a go-between to deliver gifts and messages to Desdemona. He's also been giving Iago money for his trouble, which is what he means when he complains that Iago "hast had my purse / As if the strings were thine." Iago is Roderigo's opposite -- self-possessed, cynical, and very smart. He's one of Shakespeare's most frightening villains, because he's the sort who can look you in the eye, lie through his teeth, and make you believe he's your best friend on earth. At the moment he is in a little difficulty with Roderigo, who assumes that Iago must have known about Othello's plans, but Iago quickly talks his way out of the difficulty and takes command of the situation.

Iago declares that the elopement was a complete surprise, and Roderigo answers, "Thou told'st me thou didst hold him in thy hate" (1.1.7). This gives Iago a chance to talk about himself, which he loves to do. To prove his hatred of Othello, he tells the story of how he was passed over for promotion to lieutenant. He says that three very important Venetians very humbly asked Othello to give the job to him: "Three great ones of the city, / In personal suit to make me his lieutenant, / Off-capp'd to him" (1.1.8-10). Maybe these three "great ones" just happened to take a personal interest in Iago's career, but it seems more likely that Iago tried to pull some strings. He declares that "I know my price, I am worth no worse a place" (1.1.11), so it must have been painful to him to see his hopes dashed. Sarcastically, he describes Othello as a pompous ass who uses military jargon to deliver the message that he has already chosen another man.

With more sarcasm (he can be quite entertaining) Iago describes the man chosen as "a great arithmetician, / One Michael Cassio, a Florentine, / (A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife), / That never set a squadron in the field" (1.1.19-22). This is the only mention of the wife of Cassio, who never acts like a married man. Whatever, we get the picture. In Iago's eyes, Cassio is the effete geek from Florence. On the other hand, Iago describes himself as one who has served Othello in numerous battles, and as one who could really use the money. He is "be-lee'd and calm'd / By debitor [bookkeeper] and creditor" (1.1.30-31). A ship is "be-lee'd and calm'd" when the wind is taken out of its sails, and this is how Iago feels. It rankles that Cassio, a "counter-caster"(1.1.31) (our phrase is "bean counter"), has the job Iago wanted, while Iago has to keep on being "his Moorship's ancient [ensign] " (1.1.33). "His worship," is a term of respect, so Iago's pun, "Moorship," mocks both Othello's race and his character.

Iago's verbal artistry is effective, and makes Rodrigo sympathize. He says, "By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman" (1.1.34). Iago answers that it can't be helped, because "Preferment goes by letter and affection" (1.1.36), which means that promotions are decided on the basis of letters of recommendation and personal contacts. The current phrase for this is "It's not what you know, but who you know." It's not like the good old days, Iago adds, when seniority was respected. Then, to make sure he has made his point, Iago says to Roderigo, "Now, sir, be judge yourself, / Whether I in any just term am affined / To love the Moor" (1.1.38-40). Roderigo, however, sees a little hole in Iago's argument, and says, "I would not follow him then" (1.1.40). In other words, Roderigo is asking -- in a cautious way -- why Iago is still working for a man he hates.

This question brings another flood of words from Iago. He starts by saying, "O, sir, content you; / I follow him to serve my turn upon him" (1.1.41-42). He goes on to point out that there are many men who loyally serve their masters all their lives, for just room and board, and then get fired. "Whip me such honest knaves" (1.1.49), he exclaims. But he's not one of those who deserve whipping for doing what's right. There are others who serve their masters only to get what they can, "and when they have lin'd their coats / Do themselves homage" (1.1.53-54). We would call such persons embezzlers or worse, but Iago sees them in another light: "These fellows have some soul; / And such a one do I profess myself" (1.1.54-55). He adds, "It is as sure as you are Roderigo, / Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago" (1.1.56-57). This is a little puzzling, but it seems to mean that if he had Othello's position as general of the Venetian army, he wouldn't have to pretend to be a loyal follower of anyone. Iago goes on to express contempt for all those who are not the kind of hypocrite that he is, and concludes with a statement that sums up a great deal of his character: "I am not what I am" (1.1.65).

At this point, Roderigo falls into simple pouting, saying, "What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe [own] / If he can carry't thus!" (1.1.66-67). Iago, however, has a bright idea. "Call up her father, / Rouse him: make after him, poison his delight, / Proclaim him in the streets" (1.1.67-69). When Iago says "him," it's not clear whether he's referring to Othello or Brabantio, but it doesn't much matter. This is pure vindictiveness, the psychological equivalent of relieving frustrations with an assault rifle. This appeals to Roderigo, who says, "Here is her father's house; I'll call aloud" (1.1.74). (Thus we see one of the advantages of Shakespeare's theatre; because there are no sets, people are where they say they are.) Iago eggs Roderigo on, telling him to yell as though there's a fire. Roderigo shouts out Brabantio's name, but that's not strong enough for Iago, and he shouts, "Awake! what, ho, Brabantio! thieves! thieves! thieves! / Look to your house, your daughter and your bags! / Thieves! thieves!" (1.1.79-81).

Brabantio appears above:
The shouting brings out Brabantio "above." "Above" (which is the only stage direction Shakespeare wrote for Brabantio's appearance) indicates the second level of the Globe, the same place used for the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. Iago probably stands directly under this balcony, so that Brabantio can't possibly see him. It's dark out, but Iago wouldn't want to take any chances, and a little later in the scene he tells Roderigo that no one must know that he has spoken against Othello. So here, as throughout the play, Iago is the instigator, hidden in the shadows, but pulling all the strings.

If we were awakened in the middle of the night by a siren wailing ten feet from our window, we'd probably ask the same questions Brabantio does: "What is the reason of this terrible summons? / What is the matter there?" (1.1.82-83). For a second the two men tease Brabantio a little, asking him if his family is at home and if his doors are locked, but then Iago gets down and dirty. Out of the dark comes his voice:
'Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on your gown;
Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul;
Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise;
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you:
Arise, I say.   (1.1.86-91)
Iago is a genius, of a kind. He puts many kinds of poison into one nasty package. He makes Brabantio out to be a dupe, so much a fool that he needs to put on his gown to cover his nakedness. Then he appeals to Brabantio's love for his dear daughter and makes use of pornography, shouting "now" three times to make Brabantio see Othello "tupping" her. (The word "tupping" — or "topping" — is not exactly the same as our "f" word, but Iago uses it to the same effect, because it is a word that is normally used only to describe animals.) The image of the lecherous black man tupping the innocent white girl is meant to inflame Brabantio's racial prejudice. Finally, Iago does his best to make Brabantio panic, by showing him a world of uncaring people who will keep on snoring ("snorting") peacefully unless he rings the alarm bell.

Despite all of the emotional charge of Iago's speech, the essential message hasn't gotten through, so Roderigo identifies himself. Upon hearing this, Brabantio thinks he has it figured out: It must be that Roderigo has gotten himself drunk and full of false courage, and so has come to destroy Brabantio's peace of mind. In Brabantio's words: "Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come / To start my quiet" (1.1.100-101). Brabantio goes on to threaten consequences and it looks like he's not going to give Roderigo a chance to say a word, so Iago bursts out, "'Zounds, sir, you are one of those that will not serve God, if the devil bid you" (1.1.108-110). Then comes more pornography. Iago tells Brabantio that he'll let his daughter be "covered with a Barbary horse" (1.1.111), so that all of his relatives will be horses, too. And when Brabantio asks who's speaking, Iago answers, "I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs" (1.1.115-117). Enraged, Brabantio tells Iago that he's a villain, but Iago has the last word. He answers, "You are -- a senator" (1.1.118). When performed, this usually gets a laugh. Iago is a villain, and a more dangerous one because he can be funny and charming.

Brabantio again threatens consequences, but Roderigo promises to accept any consequences after he delivers the news, and Brabantio lets him speak. Offering a kind of sarcastic self-justification, Roderigo tells Brabantio that Desdemona has run away in a gondola (a Venetian taxi) to be in the "gross clasps of a lascivious Moor" (1.1.126), but that if Brabantio approved of this, then Roderigo owes him an apology. Then Roderigo tells Brabantio to look for himself, and if he finds that Desdemona is at home, Roderigo will accept punishment. This speech has its desired effect. Brabantio rushes back indoors, calling for help and saying that he had a bad dream of just this sort of thing.

Knowing that Brabantio will find that Desdemona has indeed run away, Iago decides it's time to go. If he stays, someone will ask him to testify against Othello, and that will be useless, because Othello is not about to lose his job. No matter what he has done with Desdemona, Venice doesn't have anyone besides Othello who is capable of dealing with the war that's about to begin in Cyprus. Therefore, Iago is going to return to Othello and pretend loyalty. However, this does not mean that Iago is going to let the matter drop. To make sure that Othello is found by Desdemona's angry father, Iago tells Roderigo to lead Brabantio to the Sagittary, an inn.

As soon as Iago has taken off, Brabantio comes onto stage, accompanied by servants carrying torches. He has found that his daughter is indeed gone, and he's preparing to go after her. He's also feeling sorry for himself. He says, "It is too true an evil: gone she is; / And what's to come of my despised time / Is nought but bitterness" (1.1.160-162). He asks where Roderigo saw Desdemona and how he knew it was her, but doesn't give him a chance to answer. Instead he complains that being a father only means pain, and that no father should trust his daughter. Then it occurs to him that his daughter is not really at fault, and asks Roderigo, "Is there not charms / By which the property of youth and maidhood / May be abused?" (1.1.171-173). "Charms" are magic spells, and "the property of youth and maidhood" is the natural innocence and vulnerability of a girl. He thinks that perhaps his daughter didn't betray him after all, that perhaps Othello used magic on her. By the next scene this idea will have developed into a certainty in Brabantio's mind, and he will accuse Othello of using both magic and drugs on Desdemona. At present he is so desperate that he even expresses the wish that Roderigo had had her. What he never considers is the possibility that Desdemona could be happily in love with a good man.

Brabantio sends out search parties and then asks Roderigo if he knows where Desdemona and Othello might be. Roderigo replies that if Brabantio will get together a party of armed men, he can probably lead them to the place. Brabantio, a man of power and influence, is sure he can do that, and so off they go to hunt down Othello. We're looking forward to seeing who Othello really is. In this scene, he's been portrayed as a pompous, oversexed, thieving alien, but the portrayal has been created by his enemies -- a fool, a hypocrite, and a father who thinks his daughter is his property.

Detailed Summary of Othello, Act 1, Scene 1

Race and Discrimination in 'Othello' by William Shakespea

Othello Race Quotes

 Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.

Quote #1

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
Arise, I say! (1.1.97-101)
Iago uses racist slurs when he wakens Brabantio with the news that his daughter, Desdemona (a white Venetian), has eloped with Othello (an older, black man). When Iago says an "old black ram" (Othello) is "tupping" (sleeping with) Brabantio's "white ewe" (Desdemona), he plays on Elizabethan notions that black men have an animal-like, hyper-sexuality. This seems geared at manipulating Brabantio's fears of miscegenation (when a couple "mixes races" through marriage and/or sex).
History Snack: It's also important to note that, although Othello is probably a Christian, Iago calls him "the devil," playing on a sixteenth century idea that black men were evil and that the devil often took the shape and form of a black man. Check out what Reginald Scott had to say in his famous 1584 book, The Discovery of Witchcraft: "Bodin alloweth the divell the shape of a black moore, and as he saith, he used to appear to Mawd Cruse, Kate Darey, and Jon Harviller." (Later, it's no surprise that Brabantio will accuse Othello of using black magic to woo Desdemona.)

Quote #2

This is Venice. My house is not a grange.
Because we come to
do you service and you think we are ruffians, you'll
have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse,
you'll have your nephews neigh to you, you'll have
coursers for cousins and jennets for germans.
I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter
and the Moor are now making the beast with
two backs. (1.1.119; 123-127; 129-131)
We've seen how Iago uses animal imagery in his racist diatribe against Othello, which is grounded in the idea that black men (and women) are inhuman. Here, Brabantio objects to Iago's middle-of-the-night assertions that Desdemona has eloped by saying his house isn't a "grange" (a farm or a farmhouse). Iago takes the opportunity to pun on the term "grange," as he claims that Desdemona is having sex with a "barbary horse" and, as a result, Brabantio will have relatives that "neigh to him." Desdemona and Othello, he says, are "making the beast with two backs" (in other words, humping, like camels). This isn't the first time Iago has implied that Othello's animal-like sexuality corrupts Desdemona. Compare this to 1.1.106-113 above.

Quote #3

She, in spite of nature,
Of years, of country, credit, every thing,
To fall in love with what she feared to look on!
It is a judgment maimed and most imperfect
That will confess perfection so could err
Against all rules of nature, (1.3.114-119)
Desdemona's father argues that her love for Othello is unnatural, since, according to him, Desdemona would never fall for a black man who she "fear'd to look on." Of course, Brabantio couldn't be more wrong about his daughter – Desdemona is in love Othello. It seems that Iago has played Brabantio perfectly. Iago knew that Brabantio was racist and, as previous passages demonstrate, he used Brabantio's attitude toward the idea of a mixed marriage in order to rile the man against Othello. Brabantio repeatedly insists that Othello must have "enchanted" Desdemona with "foul charms" and magic spells. Otherwise, he insists, Desdemona never would never have run "to the sooty bosom" of Othello (1.2.70).

Othello, an African prince
Othello, an African prince | Source

The Issue of Race

People discriminate for many different reasons: fear, envy, the desire for power, or a need to disassociate themselves from others. They can, thus, use someone's skin color (an innate trait that cannot be altered) to express their hatred.
Othello, in Shakespeare’s play Othello, is a happily married and widely respected general in the Venetian army despite his African heritage. In the beginning of the story, Othello has not, as yet, experienced discrimination. However, Iago succeeds in bringing about the ruin of Othello and his wife Desdemona by revealing to Othello the existence of racist ideas and convincing him that he must act out against the individuals supposedly harboring racist-fueled resentment.
Through Iago’s manipulation of Othello and others, his claim comes to pass. In the end, people use the color of Othello's skin to condemn his erratic behavior. And by his believing that racism exists, Othello also creates it.

Othello's Background

Othello is an African prince, born into privilege and royalty. He claims, “I fetch my life and being/From men of royal siege.” (III.iii. 21-22). He left his native homeland and his life of guaranteed luxury to live among white Europeans and be free of the innate obligations of royalty. In his new home, his only obligations are to people he himself has chosen to serve: the Venetian government and his wife Desdemona. Even in this position as general, Othello still experiences freedom since he can retire at his leisure, and he tells Iago:
But that I love the gentle Desdemona,
I would not my unhoused free condition
Put into circumscription and confine
For the sea’s worth (I.ii.27-28).
This statement suggests that if he had not met Desdemona, Othello would have continued to live life in a “free condition” without matrimonial commitments that “put into circumscription and confine” his freedom.
Othello delights in and experiences the ultimate freedom to do as he pleases. He is free to make the choices that ultimately affect his life, and enjoys his self-made position. The color of his skin has not prevented him from achieving a high rank in society and exercising the power and freedom such a position entails.

Othello and Desdemona, husband and wife, in happy times
Othello and Desdemona, husband and wife, in happy times | Source

A Plot Rooted in Jealousy

These achievements have earned Othello the respect and admiration of those around him with the exception of a resentful few, including Iago and Roderigo. Iago hates Othello because he appointed the inexperienced Cassio as his lieutenant instead of Iago, who instead became his “ancient.” Iago enacts his revenge upon Othello by manipulating Roderigo, who desires Othello’s wife Desdemona. Roderigo expresses his jealousy by calling Othello racial slurs: “What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe/If he can carry ‘t thus!” (I.i.65-66). Both men plot to bring an end to Othello’s marriage by telling Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, that Othello kidnapped her.
They succeed in angering her father when they bring up the subject of race. Iago says to Brabantio, “An old black ram/Is tupping your white ewe” (I.i.87-88). With this saying, Iago and Roderigo hint that Othello and Desdemona’s future children will be half-breeds who will become the ridicule of society and bring shame upon Brabantio. They continue by saying, “You’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary/Horse; you’ll have your nephews neigh to you; you’ll have coursers for cousins and gennets for germans” (I.i.110-12).

Is Racism Fabricated?

Afraid that such events would jeopardize his position as senator, Brabantio accuses Othello of kidnapping and bewitching his daughter in a desperate attempt to retain his own power and honor in the eyes of society. In his defense, Othello points out that in the past Brabantio “lov’d me; oft invited me” (I.iii.128), showing that Brabantio was not racist and did not discriminate against Othello until Iago's interference made him feel it was in his best political interests to do so.
Desdemona acquits Othello of any wrongdoing, and the Duke says to Brabantio: “If virtue no delighted beauty lack/Your son-in-law is far more fair than black” (I.iii.288-89). The Duke tells Brabantio that he should not put importance on Othello’s skin color, but on his virtuous deeds and nature instead.

The character Iago, who brings about the demise of Desdemona and the ruin of Othello with accusations of racism
The character Iago, who brings about the demise of Desdemona and the ruin of Othello with accusations of racism | Source

Othello Starts to Believe That Racism Exists

Othello, himself, is unaware of any existing racism or of the power of such thoughtless hatred. He declares, “My parts, my title and my perfect soul/Shall manifest me rightly” (I.ii.31-32). He does not believe that discrimination can determine his guilt. At first, this notion of universal equality works against Iago’s claims that Desdemona is cheating on Othello because of his skin color. Othello confidently declares, “Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw/The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt/For she had eyes, and chose me” (III.iii.187-89).
However, he goes on to say, “And yet, how nature erring from itself—” (III.iii.228). This indicates that, perhaps deep down, Othello believes that it is in Desdemona’s inherent nature to favor men of her own race. Iago draws upon Othello's doubt and says, “Her will, recoiling to her better judgment/May fall to match you with her country forms/and happily repent” (III.iii.226-28). By saying this, Iago implies that Desdemona compares Othello with other white Venetian men and regrets her marriage. Persuaded by Iago's words, Othello starts to believe that Desdemona is cheating on him because he is black.
Left alone with these thoughts, Othello states “I’ld whistle her off and let her down the wind/To prey at fortune (III.iii.263-64). His words suggest that if Desdemona was proven false, he would cast her out of his household. However, after he brings up the issue of his own race and recognizes how he is different from the rest of society, Othello lashes out in anger at Desdemona, the scapegoat for his overpowering sense of self-loathing:
Haply, for I am black
And have not those soft parts of conversation
That chamberers have, or for I am declin’d
Into the vale of years (yet that’s not much)
She’s gone. I am abus’d: and my relief
Must be to loathe her (III.iii.264-69)
Othello does not just criticize Desdemona for her infidelity nor condemns her for her sins, but he, in a way, justifies her actions by assuming that his own race-related weaknesses motivated her to have an affair with another man. This quote shows a change in Othello. He begins to hate Desdemona because he now believes that she cheated on him because of his race. He will not be content with just throwing her out, but is now consumed with loathing because he believes her cheating and discrimination has caused him to feel pain and inferiority.

Othello's Character Comes Into Question

As Iago continues to supply Othello with 'proof' of Desdemona’s supposed infidelity, Othello is further consumed with rage and jealousy. When Lodovico comes to deliver a letter to Othello, Desdemona makes a comment which Othello assumes is about her other lover, and he slaps her. Lodovico is shocked at this rash behavior, which is so out of character, and tells Othello: “My lord, this would not be believ’d in Venice/Though I should swear I saw ‘t; ‘til very much” (IV.i.225-26). He goes on to question Othello’s reputation after such an act, saying:
Is this the noble Moor whom our full senate
Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature
Whom passion could not shake? Whose solid virtue
The shot of accident, nor dart of chance,
Could neither graze nor pierce? (IV.i.245-49)
Othello becomes even more rash when he calls Desdemona a whore, and Emilia, Iago’s wife, exclaims: “Here’s a change indeed!” (IV.ii.107). However, it is not until Othello commits the ultimate crime that his skin color is held against him. They condemn his race because they struggle to find a meaning for this sudden and seemingly unprovoked action.

Death of Desdemona by Othello's hand
Death of Desdemona by Othello's hand | Source


When Othello murders his wife, it forces those who formerly respected and admired him, and those who held him to be equal on all levels, to use his skin color to explain his great misdeeds. For example, Emilia calls him a “blacker devil!” (IV.ii.132). On the topic of Desdemona’s supposed infidelity, Emilia states that Desdemona was true and “was too fond of her most filthy bargain” (IV.iii.157), contemptuously referring to Othello in racist terms. His race is now recognized and being utilized by those who Othello alienated through his irrational actions. If he had not been prompted through jealousy and his own sense of self-loathing, Othello would continue to have been regarded in high esteem by the rest of society.


Othello had previously lived a life free of racial discrimination, except for those few who envied and resented him, or feared he would sabotage their powers. These few used his race as a means of bringing about his destruction. For the rest of society, he was considered a noble and virtuous general, and his color was of little consequence. However, when Othello committed atrocious crimes because of his unfounded jealousy, those who had previously believed him to be admirable and good condemned him, not by criticing his character, but by criticizing his distinguishing racial characteristic: his color.


(Aside) O, you are well tuned now!
But I'll set down the pegs that make this music,
As honest as I am. (2.1.191–93)

Setting the scene

In Act 2, Scene 1 of Othello, Iago formulates his plan to drive Othello mad. Shakespeare shifts the action from Venice to Cyprus. A storm has dispersed the Venetian fleet so that Cassio arrives first, anxious for Othello's safety. Desdemona arrives later with Iago and Emilia. The group wait, bantering on the topic of women. Iago notices Cassio's courteous manner towards Desdemona and resolves, 'with as little a web as this will I / ensnare as great a fly as Cassio' (2.1.164). Desdemona is relieved by Othello’s arrival and the joyful party depart, leaving Iago with Roderigo.
In this key passage (2.1.191–254), Iago persuades Roderigo that Desdemona loves Cassio. His speech plays upon stereotypes, revealing the dangerous underbelly of his earlier misogynistic ‘jokes’. His language is heavily ironic, repeatedly calling Cassio a ‘knave’, though we know this is the role Iago himself gleefully identifies with. As he reminds us in his following soliloquy, ‘knavery’s plain face is never seen till used' (2.1.267).

Boydell's Collection of Prints illustrating Shakespeare's works

Boydell's Collection of Prints illustrating Shakespeare's works An illustration of Act Two, Scene 1 of Othello. Iago looks on as Othello and Desdemona greet each other.
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Usage terms: Public Domain

How does Shakespeare present Iago here?

Iago makes it clear that his object is discord. The metaphor of Othello and Desdemona as ‘well tuned’ string instruments (2.1.191–92) portrays their current harmony but also implies their vulnerability: it is not difficult for Iago to ‘set down the pegs’ – fiddle with the tuning keys – of their relationship. His control of their heartstrings mirrors his control of Roderigo’s purse strings (1.1.2–3). The image of discordant music is a fitting one for his actions, as Iago’s success lies in his ability to distort and pervert what should be other characters’ most positive traits: Othello’s passionate honour, Desdemona’s commitment, Cassio’s courtesy. This aside also encapsulates his keen sense of irony (‘As honest as I am’, 2.1.193) and the role of the audience. Iago’s true intentions are never revealed to other characters – it is only through sneaking asides and hate-filled soliloquies that we are given access to his plots. In this manner, we are colluders, silent witnesses of his evil, failing to intervene.
Iago’s co-conspirator, Roderigo, has less access to his diabolical plans than we do, despite Iago posing as his benefactor with astonishingly little effort: 'Pish! But sir, you be ruled by me' (2.1.248). Iago is portrayed, through Roderigo's compliance, as masterful and persuasive, laying the ground for the ease with which he later poisons Othello's mind.

Photograph of Conrad Nelson as Iago in Othello at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, 2009

Photograph of Conrad Nelson as Iago in Othello at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, 2009 Iago, in a later scene, holding the handkerchief that will become a vital part of his plan.
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The key theme in the passage is sexual appetite. Iago portrays Desdemona as lustful, desperate to trade Othello for a more refined Cassio. Racial and female stereotypes also dominate. Iago refers to Othello not by his name but as 'the Moor', calling him 'the devil' (2.1.216) and 'defective' (2.1.220), a racist portrayal which makes Desdemona's unfaithfulness more believable to Roderigo. Iago's misogyny has been plain earlier in the scene and builds here: young women are portrayed as foolish, having an innately sexualised 'nature' (2.1.222–23) and whorish for touching hands, even for thinking.

Photograph of Hugh Quarshie and Lucian Msamati in Othello, 2015

Photograph of Hugh Quarshie and Lucian Msamati in Othello, 2015 In the RSC’s production, both Othello and Iago were played by black actors, altering the impact of Iago’s most racist lines.
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Language and imagery

Iago’s reputation for straightforward honesty is the foundation of his deceptions. Iago’s crude language is excused as that of a straightforward soldier, with Cassio allowing, 'He speaks home, madam; you may relish him more in the soldier than in the scholar' (2.1.161–62). This conflation of honesty with soldierly bluntness disadvantages Desdemona, who can never communicate her honesty in this manner. Later, it will ensnare Othello: 'give thy worst of thoughts / the worst of words' (3.3.133–34).
But, away from his superiors, Iago’s crudeness becomes obsessively salacious. In the speech he dwells on body parts – eyes, hands, lips, blood – and the 'act of sport' (2.1.217), i.e. the supposed sexual activity of Desdemona and Cassio. Iago portrays desire in low terms, with reductive language: Desdemona's adoration is 'violence', Othello's wooing tales are 'bragging ... lies'. Iago's base reduction figures sex as hunger: 'her eye must be fed' (2.1.215). Like a devouring sexual animal, Desdemona will need an attractive man 'to give satiety a fresh appetite' (2.1.217–18). Desdemona is graphically portrayed as rejecting continued ‘consumption’ of Othello: 'her delicate tenderness will find itself abused, begin to heave the gorge, disrelish and abhor the Moor' (2.1.221–22). In this image, Iago suggests gagging and retching, which, along with the concept of 'abused' 'tenderness', has connotations of disgust with oral sex. Food imagery abounds. Retorting, 'The wine she drinks is made of grapes' (2.1.238), Iago implies that Desdemona is just like all women – women who consume and indulge in gluttonous pleasures. The image is reversed later in the play, when Emilia comments that men 'are all but stomachs, and we all but food' (3.4.93). Iago's food imagery contains sexual innuendo: 'Blest fig's end!' (2.1.238). This is a contemporary obscenity, figs being associated with the female vulva.
But Iago's salacious language is just that – words. There is no evidence for adultery except that Cassio is 'a slipper and a subtle knave' (2.1.229), his slipperiness emphasised by the sibilance, and that Desdemona was seen to 'paddle with the palm of his hand' (2.1.240–41). Nothing has actually happened. Although Roderigo counters, ‘I cannot believe that in her. She’s full of most blessed condition’, the sheer volume – and forcefulness – of Iago’s words obscure the illogical reasoning and overpower Roderigo. And the trap itself is so subtle as to be almost hidden: all Iago asks is whether Roderigo saw Desdemona 'paddle' Cassio's hand, a playful word echoing the image of 'sport' and also Cassio’s supposedly watery nature. Roderigo dismisses it as 'courtesy' but admits he 'did' see it. Yet earlier Iago tells us it is Cassio who 'takes her by the palm' (2.1.163). Through Iago's language, Roderigo is duped into mis-seeing – a trick Othello will later fall for.

Dramatic form

Iago's speech is in prose, like many of his asides. With Roderigo's extended silence, it too feels like an extended aside. The contrast is stark between Othello's stately verse (2.1.194–204), and Iago's sneaking prose. The prose also contrasts with Iago's scene-closing soliloquy (2.1.267–93), where the constrained verse follows his precise, if delusional, reasoning. Shakespeare uses prose for many reasons: for comic or intimate exchanges, for lowly characters, for convention-defying princes such as Hamlet. Here, Iago's prose feels like a loosening, like a man undoing his belt a notch. Engaged earlier in complex word-play with Cassio and Desdemona, he can now relax into an easier deception: false intimacy with Roderigo. The prose allows Iago to produce a persuasive outpouring and release repetitious piles of images designed to bury Roderigo's weak objections. He only manages three (2.1.211, 236, 242) before conceding with an unconvincing 'Well' (2.1.256), perfectly expressive of his spinelessness. It also provides a closing irony to the passage – nothing will be 'well' on Cyprus any more.


Iago's power over Roderigo is emphasised through his sentence structure. Repeated imperatives begin the speech: 'Come hither' (2.1.206), 'Lay thy finger thus', 'let thy soul be instructed', 'Mark me' (2.1.212). All are instructions to be quiet and listen, which Roderigo submissively obeys. Having set himself up as Roderigo's instructor, Iago goes on to lecture him through a series of questions, mainly rhetorical. He even draws Roderigo's conclusions for him, using the language of instructive discipline to describe imagined adultery: 'when these mutualities so marshal the way, hard at hand comes the master and main exercise' (2.1.246–48). Iago closes just as he began, with a command to follow instructions: 'watch you tonight; for the command' (2.1.249–50). The circular structure of the speech reinforces his enclosed grip of Roderigo.

Critical interpretations of Iago

Iago is misogynistic. But a historicist reading could examine his depiction of women as a product of his time and culture. The Jacobean view of Venetian women, in particular the idea that they were sexually immoral compounds how credible Roderigo, and Othello, find Iago's portrayal of Desdemona. Jacobean portrayals often reduce women to saints, mothers or whores. Indeed, Iago's argument itself is construed in the language of female reproduction, described as a 'most pregnant and unforced position' (2.1.224) that reminds us of the Jacobean archetype of the perfect yet paradoxical woman, the virgin mother. The Jacobean ideal of total chastity leaves Desdemona vulnerable to an unforgiving male gaze. In fact, Iago's misogyny pales in comparison to some found in contemporary dramas, such as Ben Jonson’s Volpone, also set in Venice, and John Ford’s 'Tis Pity She's a Whore.
However, such extreme misogyny is the preserve of villains in Jacobean drama, suggesting that they, and Iago, overstep the mark. Iago's envious depiction of Cassio as 'handsome' and 'young', while assigning him his own character traits – 'a knave', 'the mere form of ... seeming' (2.1.227), 'a finder out of occasions' (2.1.229–30) – implies he has a jealous nature. Iago's rage against female sexuality may therefore be just one example of his spiteful attacks on ‘otherness’ to soothe his sense of social impotence. It has even been suggested that Iago is literally impotent, causing his embittered sexual jealously. It certainly makes Desdemona's retort to Iago earlier in the scene – 'Oh, most lame and impotent conclusion!' (2.1.158) – more telling.

The myth of "virtue signalling" ... Freudian denial by whie middle aged plus men

The myth of "virtue signalling" . Have you noticed the certain characteristics of those who use this phrase. I have been watching and observing them over the last few weeks It's a pernicious and vile term and it says more about those who use it. Every time I have seen it used it's been by white men . Each time it is used it comes along with terms like SJW. It's a word that originates from the alt right that dismisses those who campaign for social justice.. the term ' virtue signalling ' was used by Neil McEvoy most recently in his rants against a 'perceived bias' for women. Neil has allegedly claimed that domestic violence charities bullied men. His ally and blogger Jac o the North is want to publish on his blog pictures of female activists asking for his readers to name them and constantly raves against " wimmin, lefties and greenies". You know what is indeed fascinating is how often I have witnessed a bully allege that tbey are being bullied. I have even seen young Jac of the alt right allege tbat poor Neil and others like him were being bullied by strong women.
Jac has moaned about the Confederate flag being taken down in South Carolina. The list goes on and on..

The truth is that these types of men are suffering from what we could call "white fragility". They don't grasp their power and their privilege the problem they face is of their own insecurity. It's common to project onto others when we can't face our own inner demons. Those who use the term "Virtue signalling" are inadequate, afraid cannot face up to the changing nature of identity and meaning that is essential to be a whole person. These are the frightened broflakes who cannot change their outlook or even examine themselves. Yes it's frightening to examine our own hidden motivation but the reality is we must all seek to do so as the unexamined life is not a whole one. So next time you hear that phrase remember it will be said by a white middle aged or older male....

Friday, 23 February 2018

Taffy Voted Leave and reply by Phil Knight

Taffy Voted Leave

Taffy is a Welshman,
Taffy is no thief.
UKIP came to Taffy's house
and stole all true belief

Taffy made no protest,
for he doesn't like a row
Hamilton called on him again
and stole the bloody cow.

UKIP stole his tolerance
they stole his conscience too.

They even stole his language
and flushed it down the loo.

Taffy is a Welshman,
Taffy is a fool.
Taffy voted UKIP
when offered all the truth

And now the hope is closing down
and the EU had its day,
Taffy still lives upon his knees,
for he knows no other way.

We have racists and deniers
and Darren Nichols too,
who does not grasp the 'problem"
between the alt right and the Jew.

And now in far Llanelli
The language is attacked
by a tweeting Labour Councillor,
With Darren at his back..

Now sometimes UKIPs members
will start a row or so,
but you can bank on Taffy:
he still knows not what to do

Taffy is a Welshman
who likes to be oppressed.
He was proud to tug his forelock
to Mark Reckless as a guest.

They give him tinsel royals,
and he blames the dispossessed
and sings God Bless Farage
as they blame the refugee at rest..

He's fought the wide world over,
he's given blood and bone.
He's fought for every bloody cause
except his bloody own

Phil Knight replied

 Taffy was a Welshman
Who grew on what was the EEC
His name was Mr Kinnock
And he smiled on our TV.
His family all got very rich
And he ingored his people's pain
He made himself Chief Engineer
Of the European Union Gravy train.
He is in the house of Lords
A place he used to hate
He lives a high old life
Or has a drink with a Tory mate.

You too could become a Taffy
You don't have to be from Wales
Just betray all your principles
And then spin a few fairy tales.

Clinging to Guns and God.........And yet its Billy who claimed Heaven amd the mind of God who said nothing about Guns

I cannot make myself believe that God wanted me to hate. I'm tired of violence, I've seen too much of it. I've seen such hate on the faces of too many sheriffs in the South. And I'm not going to let my oppressor dictate to me what method I must use. Our oppressors have used violence. Our oppressors have used hatred. Our oppressors have used rifles and guns. I'm not going to stoop down to their level. I want to rise to a higher level. We have a power that can't be found in Molotov cocktails.

So an armed Sheriff's deputy was on guard at the school in Florida. Well what was that NRA claim that the answer to a bad man with a gun is Goodman with a gun...

But of course let's arm the Teachers. Let's have an increased demand for more ammunition for even more guns, for specialists to train them, let's make more people gun aware and walking around with guns , more profit for gun manufacturers and the ability to kill increased....but let's not limit gun production we can't have it...its holy writ the American Founders knew all about automatic weapons didn't they? I mean a front loading musket is so like an AK 47...those founding Fathers were prophets and could see the future...i mean Genesis is a historical account of creation is it not? I mean that Billy Graham never said anything about guns did he..and he was a Christian like me...unlike that Commie the Rev Martin Luther King...that commie spike about them all the time...

Without God and my guns i would not be a Christian.. sure I vote Republican and am pro life well at least till birth..i mean Moses Abraham and Jacob were armed all the time and up on Mount Horeb that Isaac certainly respected his father...and obeyed him as he lay bound on that altar.. he knew his father knew what he was doing...and he gave him respect..

Somehow, gun rights become what Christians are more associated with than a man named Jesus.
The stereotype of aa American Christian today is a red-blooded American who has a lifted truck, likes drinking beer, shooting guns and voting Republican.
Notice what is absent there? yep… Jesus…

You can love America, truck, beer, guns and vote Republican and have absolutely nothing to do with Jesus. they should be known for Jesus, not for the things of this world that we like most.

When the Negro finds the courage to be free, he faces dogs and guns and clubs and fire hoses totally unafraid, and the white men with those dogs, guns, clubs and fire hoses see that the Negro they have traditionally called "boy" has become a man.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

And  yet its Billy who claimed Heaven amd the mind of God  who said nothing about Guns ....was so sure of heaven.......

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Free us from Evangelists and the one true Gods

.I reflect on the death of Billy Graham. I think if his campaign to convince people that they need to find a personal saviour. However I would simply wish for us all to find a saviour that frees us from Saviours. Long ago the Buddha said "all things decay, work out your own salvation with diligence". Yep all things decay and I feel that the belief in the one true gods brings with it the implication tbat if one is true then some other faiths creeds and philosophies are wrong. This is the path that leads us to the crusade; the forced conversion and the persecution..all political philosophies and outlook are faiths. The outlook is driven by faith and mine is Ecosociaalism . It's always seemed clear to me that to believe or not to believe is always a matter of faith..

Philosophically only agnosticism can be defended. The old Pagans had no wish to convert others it is a position I share. I am inclined to polytheism in many outlooks. Monotheism is Imperialism in religion or politics or any other theory. There are many dead white bearded men with large book about which it's followers debate, are sectarian and persecute . All true faiths are monotheistic they ignore symbolism, metaphor, allegory and metonoymy . The human view is partial, limited and psychologically hidden. I am inclined to a sort of nature based pantbeism. Humanity are stewards and not masters of the world and it's environment. It is an :I thou' relationship not the " I It' of the conservative capitalist outlook of the Republican party. In many cases the bluekippers use religion to describe " white culture." Spirituality must be used to transcend us and not used to classify, exclude or condemn us. St Paul created a religion about Christ. Constantine used it to unify the state. St Augustine gave us guilt and created original sin. I am sorry Billy you must be stunned to discover the divine feline wherever you are. Free us from Saviours and seek the divinity within and in the world around us that gives us our daily breath...long ago Nietzche asked suppose truth was a woman? He was not being sexist...he was implying that truth was subjective. He was challenging all one true faiths and using the "feminine" form in the German language to free us the hobgoblin of certainty that is the mind of one true believers...I am sorry Billy in the bardo you inhabit now reflect and free yourself from both sin and salvation...

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Zinoviev letter, Czech spies and the Daily Mail...nothing chamges.......1924 and 2018

There is nothing new under the Sun. In 1924 the Daily Mail published a fake story alleging that the MacDonald Labour government elected in 1923 had links with the Soviet Union.
The same links were drawn out by the Daily Mail between East European spies and the Wilson government of the 60sNow we have the same sort of allegations about Jeremy Corbyn. If I did not know history I would be concerned. The allegations are the same, the Daily Mail is the same the methods are the same. I wonder how many will be aware of history and how many will be fooled. There is of course no mention of Lord
+Czech spies, Zinoviev and the daily mail...nothing changes
Rothersmere and his picture with Hitler or the headline "Hurrah for the Blackshirts". That is different of course..we know that industrialists wanted to limit the trade unionists and workers power by using the Nazis. It's no accident that the Right wing press never mention this. And it's no accident that the Right would do the same again...

"In the 1923 General Election, the Labour Party won 191 seats. Although the Conservatives had 258,Ramsay MacDonald agreed to head a minority government, and therefore became the first member of the party to become Prime Minister. As MacDonald had to rely on the support of the Liberal Party, he was unable to get any socialist legislation passed by the House of Commons. The only significant measure was the Wheatley Housing Act which began a building programme of 500,000 homes for rent to working-class families.

Members of establishment were appalled by the idea of a Prime Minister who was a socialist. As Gill Bennett pointed out: "It was not just the intelligence community, but more precisely the community of an elite - senior officials in government departments, men in "the City", men in politics, men who controlled the Press - which was narrow, interconnected (sometimes intermarried) and mutually supportive. Many of these men... had been to the same schools and universities, and belonged to the same clubs. Feeling themselves part of a special and closed community, they exchanged confidences secure in the knowledge, as they thought, that they were protected by that community from indiscretion."

Two days after forming the first Labour government Ramsay MacDonald received a note from General Borlass Childs of Special Branch that said "in accordance with custom" a copy was enclosed of his weekly report on revolutionary movements in Britain. MacDonald wrote back that the weekly report would be more useful if it also contained details of the "political activities... of the Fascist movement in this country". Childs wrote back that he had never thought it right to investigate movements which wished to achieve their aims peacefully. In reality, MI5 was already working very closely with theBritish Fascisti, that had been established in 1923. Maxwell Knight was the organization's Director of Intelligence. In this role he had responsibility for compiling intelligence dossiers on its enemies; for planning counter-espionage and for establishing and supervising fascist cells operating in the trade union movement. This information was then passed onto Vernon Kell, Director of the Home Section of the Secret Service Bureau (MI5). Later Maxwell Knight was placed in charge of B5b, a unit that conducted the monitoring of political subversion.

In September 1924 MI5 intercepted a letter signed by Grigory Zinoviev, chairman of the Comintern in the Soviet Union, and Arthur McManus, the British representative on the committee. In the letter British communists were urged to promote revolution through acts of sedition. Hugh Sinclair, head ofMI6, provided "five very good reasons" why he believed the letter was genuine. However, one of these reasons, that the letter came "direct from an agent in Moscow for a long time in our service, and of proved reliability" was incorrect.

Vernon Kell, the head of MI5 and Sir Basil Thomson the head of Special Branch, were also convinced that the letter was genuine. Kell showed the letter to Ramsay MacDonald, the Labour Prime Minister. It was agreed that the letter should be kept secret but someone leaked news of the letter to the Timesand the Daily Mail.

The letter was published in these newspapers four days before the 1924 General Election and contributed to the defeat of MacDonald and the Labour Party. In a speech he made on 24th October, Ramsay MacDonald suggested he had been a victim of a political conspiracy: "I am also informed that the Conservative Headquarters had been spreading abroad for some days that... a mine was going to be sprung under our feet, and that the name of Zinoviev was to be associated with mine. Another Guy Fawkes - a new Gunpowder Plot... The letter might have originated anywhere. The staff of the Foreign Office up to the end of the week thought it was authentic... I have not seen the evidence yet. All I say is this, that it is a most suspicious circumstance that a certain newspaper and the headquarters of the Conservative Association seem to have had copies of it at the same time as the Foreign Office, and if that is true how can I avoid the suspicion - I will not say the conclusion - that the whole thing is a political plot?"

After the election it was claimed that two of MI5's agents, Sidney Reilly and Arthur Maundy Gregory, had forged the letter. According to Christopher Andrew, the author of Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community (1985): "Reilly played an active part in ensuring that the letter was publicised. A copy of the Russian version of the letter has been discovered in what appears to be Reilly's handwriting, and there can scarcely have been another past or present SIS agent with so few scruples about exploiting it in the anti-Bolshevik cause."

It later became clear that Major George Joseph Ball (1885-1961), a MI5 officer, played an important role in leaking it to the press. In 1927 Ball went to work for the Conservative Central Office where he pioneered the idea of spin-doctoring. Later, Desmond Morton, who worked under Hugh Sinclair, at MI6 claimed that it was Stewart Menzies who sent the Zinoviev letter to the Daily Mail.

In his book, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009), Christopher Andrew argues that on 9th October 1924 SIS forwarded the Zinoviev letter to the Foreign OfficeMI5 and Scotland Yard with the assurance that “the authenticity is undoubted” when they knew it had been forged by anti-Bolshevik White Russians. Desmond Morton, the head of SIS, provided extra information about the letter being confirmed as being genuine by an agent, Jim Finney, who had penetrated Cominternand the Communist Party of Great Britain. Andrew claims this was untrue as the so-called Finney report does not make any reference to the Zinoviev letter. Finney was also employed by George Makgill, the head of the Industrial Intelligence Bureau (IIB).

Christopher Andrew also argues that it was probably George Joseph Ball, head of B Branch, who passed the letter onto Conservative Central Office on 22nd October, 1924. As Andrew points out: “Ball’s subsequent lack of scruples in using intelligence for party-political advantage while at central office in the later 1920s strongly suggests” that he was guilty of this action. The following day, someone phoned Thomas Marlowe, the editor of The Daily Mail, with information about the Zinoviev letter. According to the author of Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community (1985), the man who made the phone-call "was almost certainly" William Reginald Hall, the former head ofNaval Intelligence Division of the Royal Navy (NID).
Stanley Baldwin, the head of the new Conservative Party government, set up a Cabinet committee to look into the Zinoviev Letter. On 19th November, 1924, the Foreign Secretary, Austin Chamberlain, reported that members of the committee were "unanimously of opinion that there was no doubt as to the authenticity of the Letter". However, eight days later, Desmond Morton admitted in a letter to MI5 that "we are firmly convinced this actual thing (the Zinoviev letter) is a forgery."
Morton also wrote a report for Chamberlain's Cabinet Committee explaining why the SIS originally considered the Zinoviev letter was genuine. According to Gill Bennett, the author of Churchill's Man of Mystery (2009), Morton came up with "five very good reasons" why he thought the letter was genuine. These were: its source, an agent in Moscow "of proved reliability"; "direct independent confirmation" from CPGB and ARCOS sources in London; "subsidiary confirmation" in the form of supposed "frantic activity" in Moscow; because the possibility of SIS being taken in by White Russians was "entirely excluded"; and because the subject matter of the Letter was "entirely consistent with all that the Communists have been enunciating and putting into effect". Bennett goes onto argue: "All five of these reasons can be shown to be misleading, if not downright false."

Georgi Dimitrov, made a speech on 16th December, 1933, where he claimed that the Conservative Party was behind the the forged Zinoviev letter. "I should like also for a moment to refer to the question of forged documents. Numbers of such forgeries have been made use of against the working class. Their name is legion. There was, for example, the notorious Zinoviev letter, a letter which never emanated from Zinoviev, and which was a deliberate forgery. The British Conservative Party made effective use of the forgery against the working class."

Research carried out by Gill Bennett in 1999 suggested that there were several MI5 and MI6 officers attempting the bring down the Labour Government in 1924, including Stewart Menzies, the future head of MI6. Bennett developed this theory in her book, Churchill's Man of Mystery: Desmond Morton and the World of Intelligence (2006). According to her research, Desmond Morton, Secret Intelligence Service's Section V, was the key figure in this conspiracy.

Primary Sources

(1) The Zinoviev letter (October 1924)

A settlement of relations between the two countries will assist in the revolutionizing of the international and British proletariat not less than a successful rising in any of the working districts of England, as the establishment of close contact between the British and Russian proletariat, the exchange of delegations and workers, etc. will make it possible for us to extend and develop the propaganda of ideas of Leninism in England and the Colonies.

(2) Charles Trevelyan believed that the Zinoviev letter was responsible for Labour's defeat in the 1924 General Election. His friend, Francis Hirst, wrote about the matter to him on 3rd November 1924.

I will be utterly disgusted if the Labour Cabinet timidly resign with probing the mystery (of the Zinoviev letter) and explaining it to Parliament. It's the biggest electoral swindle. I personally believe you were right in denouncing it boldly as a forgery.

(3) Series of headlines in the Daily Mail (25th October, 1924)

Civil War Plot by Socialists' Masters
Moscow Order to Our Reds
Great Plot Disclosed Yesterday
Paralyse the Army and Navy
And Mr. MacDonald Would Lend Russia Our Money

(4) Ramsay MacDonald, speech in the House of Commons (24th October, 1924)

On the 21st the draft - the trial draft - was sent to me at Aberavon... I did not receive it until the 23rd. On the morning of the 24th I looked at the draft. I altered it, and sent it back in an altered form, expecting it to come back to me again with proofs of authenticity, but that night it was published.

I make no complaints... The Foreign Office and every official in it know my views about propaganda ... On account of my known determination to stand firm by agreements and to treat them as Holy Writ when my signature has been attached to them, they assumed that they were carrying out my wishes in taking immediate steps to publish the whole affair. They honestly believed that the document was authentic, and upon that belief they acted.
If they acted too precipitately, what is the accusation against us? Why don't these newspapers say we are in too great haste? Ah, that won't catch votes against you... Therefore, they have to put up the story that we shilly-shally... Only nine days have elapsed from the first registering of the letter and the publication of the dispatch last Friday.
But that is not the whole story... It came to my knowledge on Saturday... that a certain London morning newspaper... had a copy of this Zinoviev letter and was going to spring it upon us...
How did it come to have a copy of that letter? I am also informed that the Conservative Headquarters had been spreading abroad for some days that... a mine was going to be sprung under our feet, and that the name of Zinoviev was to be associated with mine. Another Guy Fawkes - a new Gunpowder Plot...
The letter might have originated anywhere. The staff of the Foreign Office up to the end of the week thought it was authentic... I have not seen the evidence yet. All I say is this, that it is a most suspicious circumstance that a certain newspaper and the headquarters of the Conservative Association seem to have had copies of it at the same time as the Foreign Office, and if that is true how can I avoid the suspicion - I will not say the conclusion - that the whole thing is a political plot?

(5) Ramsay MacDonald, diary entry (31st October, 1924)

The story of I suspect to be a forgery is as follows: Amongst the papers I dealt with before leaving my Manchester host's house oil the morning of the 16th was the copy of a letter purporting to have been sent by Zinoviev to the British Communists. I did not treat it as a proved document but as I was on the outlook for such documents and meant to deal with them firmly, I asked that care should be taken to ascertain if it was genuine, and that in the meantime a draft of a dispatch might be made to Rakovsky. I said that the dispatch would have to carry conviction and that it should be drafted with a view to being published. I was in the storm of an election and it never crossed my mind that this letter had any special part to play in the fight. Diplomatically, it was being handled with energy and precision, circulated to the Service Departments concerned and sent to Scotland Yard. The trial draft waited for me at Aberavon as I had gone to Bassetlaw to help Malcolm, Bristol etc. I found it on my return to the hotel on the 23rd, substantially rewrote it, was not satisfied with it, but being pressed to go to meetings then waiting me, I decided to send it up for copying and to make sure it would come back, did not initial it. This reached London on the 24th.
In my absence, the anti-Russian mentality of Sir Eyre Crowe was uncontrolled. He was apparently hot. He had no intention of being disloyal, indeed quite the opposite, but his own mind destroyed his discretion and blinded him to the obvious care he should have exercised. I favoured publication; he decided that I meant at once and before Rakovsky replied. I asked for care in establishing authenticity; he was satisfied and that was enough. Still, nothing untoward would have happened had not the Daily Mail and other agencies including Conservative leaders had the letter and were preparing a political bomb from it. When Sir Eyre Crowe and Mr. Gregory were actually considering the moment when the dispatch should be published, they were informed that the Daily Mail was to publish next morning and without further consideration they decided to send off the dispatch at once and give it out for publication that night.


6) David LowAutobiography (1956)

Labour Ministers hardly had time to get measured for their gold-braided Court suits when they were out again. Their innocuous sojourn ended after a general election which I distinguish from other elections as The Disgraceful Election. Elections have never been completely free from chicanery, of course, but this one was exceptional. There were issues - unemployment, for instance, and trade. There were legitimate secondary issues - whether or not Russia should be afforded an export loan to stimulate trade. In the event these issues were distorted, pulped, and attached as appendix to a mysterious document subsequently held by many creditable persons to be a forgery, and the election was fought on 'red' panic (The Zinoviev Letter).

(7) Bertrand Russell, was the Labour Party candidate at Chelsea in the 1924 General Election. His wife,Dora Russell, wrote in her autobiography, The Tamarisk Tree, that she believed the Zinoviev letter lost Labour the election.

The Daily Mail carried the story of the Zinoviev letter. The whole thing was neatly timed to catch the Sunday papers and with polling day following hard on the weekend there was no chance of an effective rebuttal, unless some word came from MacDonald himself, and he was down in his constituency in Wales. Without hesitation I went on the platform and denounced the whole thing as a forgery, deliberately planted on, or by, the Foreign Office to discredit the Prime Minister.

(8) Frederick Pethick-LawrenceFate Has Been Kind (1942)

The outstanding feature of the general election of 1924 in the country as a whole was the Zinoviev letter. This purported to be a document written by a prominent member of the Communist Party in Russia, and, if authentic, certainly did not make pleasant reading for the friends of the Soviet Government in this country. A copy of it was printed in one of the Conservative newspapers at the eve of the poll. The publication was a bombshell for Labour candidates everywhere. Many were defeated, and only 151 secured re-election to the House of Commons.

(9) David KirkwoodMy Life of Revolt (1935)

The people accepted the letter as genuine, just as Ramsay MacDonald had accepted it as genuine. The reply of Ramsay MacDonald only had the effect of making it seem more serious. If it had been printed by a newspaper, the people would have said: "Oh, this is a newspaper stunt." But when they saw that Ramsay MacDonald accepted it as genuine, they said : " Then why is he talking about a loan of £40,000,000 to Russia ? " To them there was something sinister about it all.
Posters appeared in which Socialist candidates were portrayed with long hair, bulging eyes, squat noses, bristling moustaches, and beards like kitchen scrubbing-brushes. It was a picture of a ' stage ' Cossack'.

(10) Herbert MorrisonAn Autobiography (1960)

The letter presumably existed a month before the press reproduced its text on the Saturday before polling day, which was a Wednesday. Ramsay MacDonald, who was Foreign Minister as well as Prime Minister, must have been aware of the letter at least ten days prior to the press revelations. He had said nothing at his election meetings nor to his colleagues in the cabinet.
With reason Jimmy Thomas commented to Philip Snowden after they had read the scare headlines: "We're sunk!" MacDonald may have thought so too, but he effectively disguised the feeling. On that Saturday afternoon he was due to address a mass meeting at Swansea. The public packed the hall to hear what he had to say about the letter, and the press were there in droves. We candidates anxiously awaited the evening papers so that we could study what we expected would be a clear lead on what to say at our meetings that Saturday evening.
There was not a single word in the MacDonald speech about it. Not until he spoke at Cardiffon Monday did he refer to it, and then he merely recited the known facts. He did not take a clear hue.
Forty-eight hours later the nation went to the polls. The Tories achieved a big victory with 419 seats. Labour members dropped from 191 to 151, and I was among the defeated.


11) Ken Livingstone, speech in the House of Commons (10th January, 1996)

We all know about the Zinoviev letter, which led to the downfall of the first Labour Government in 1924. It is now believed to have been produced by two Russian emigres who were working in Berlin. They passed the forgery to an MI5 officer, Donald Thurn. Once in the hands of MI5, senior officials realised that its details of an alleged communist plot would be a devastating blow to the Labour Government in the closing days of the election campaign. MI5 leaked the letter to a Tory Member of Parliament and former intelligence officer, Sir Reginald Hall. It also leaked it to Tory central office and the Daily Mail, which obligingly ran it on its front page.
In the run-up to the 1929 election, the links between MI5 and the Tory party were renewed. The head of MI5's investigation branch, Major Joseph Ball, was employed by Conservative central office to run agents inside the Labour party. After the election, Ball was rewarded with the directorship of the Tories' research department.


12) Richard Norton-TaylorThe Guardian (4th February, 1999)

The Zinoviev letter - one of the greatest British political scandals of this century - was forged by a MI6 agent's source and almost certainly leaked by MI6 or MI5 officers to the Conservative Party, according to an official report published today.
New light on the scandal which triggered the fall of the first Labour government in 1924 is shed in a study by Gill Bennett, chief historian at the Foreign Office, commissioned by Robin Cook.
It points the finger at Desmond Morton, an MI6 officer and close friend of Churchill who appointed him personal assistant during the second world war, and at Major Joseph Ball, an MI5 officer who joined Conservative Central Office in 1926.
The exact route of the forged letter to the Daily Mail will never be known, Ms Bennett said yesterday. There were other possible conduits, including Stewart Menzies, a future head of MI6 who, according to MI6 files, admitted sending a copy to the Daily Mail.
The letter, purported to be from Grigori Zinoviev, president of the Comintern, the internal communist organisation, called on British communists to mobilise "sympathetic forces" in the Labour Party to support an Anglo-Soviet treaty (including a loan to the Bolshevik government) and to encourage "agitation-propaganda" in the armed forces.
On October 25, 1924, four days before the election, the Mail splashed headlines across its front page claiming: Civil War Plot by Socialists' Masters: Moscow Orders To Our Reds; Great Plot Disclosed. Labour lost by a landslide.
Ms Bennett said the letter "probably was leaked from SIS [the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6] by somebody to the Conservative Party Central Office". She named Major Ball and Mr Morton, who was responsible for assessing agents' reports.
"I have my doubts as to whether he thought it was genuine but [Morton] treated it as if it was," she said. She described MI6 as being at the centre of the scandal, although it was impossible to say whether the head of MI6, Admiral Hugh Sinclair, was involved.
She said there was no evidence of a conspiracy in what she called "the institutional sense". The security and intelligence community at the time consisted of a "very, very incestuous circle, an elite network" who went to school together. Their allegiances, she says in her report, "lay firmly in the Conservative camp".
Ms Bennett had full access to secret files held by MI6 (some have been destroyed) and MI5. She also saw Soviet archives in Moscow before writing her 128-page study. The files show the forged Zinoviev letter was widely circulated, including to senior army officers, to inflict maximum damage on the Labour government.
She found no evidence to identify the name of the forger. She said the letter - sent to MI6 from one of its agents in the Latvian capital, Riga - was written as a result of a campaign orchestrated by White Russians who had good contacts in London who were strongly opposed to the Anglo-Soviet treaty.
The report says there is no hard evidence that MI6 agents in Riga were directly responsible - though it is known they had close contacts with White Russians - or that the letter was commissioned in response to British intelligence services' "uneasiness about its prospects under a re-elected Labour government".
However, if Ms Bennett is right in her suggestion that MI6 chiefs did not set up the forgery, her report makes clear that MI6 deceived the Foreign Office by asserting it did know who the source was - a deception it used to insist, wrongly, that the Zinoviev letter was genuine.

(13) Christopher AndrewThe Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009)

Allegedly despatched by Zinoviev and two other members of the Comintern Executive Committee on 15 September 1924, the letter instructed the CPGB leadership to put pressure on their sympathizers in the Labour Party, to "strain every nerve" for the ratification of the recent treaty concluded by MacDonald's government with the Soviet Union, to intensify "agitation-propaganda work in the armed forces", and generally to prepare for the coming of the British revolution. On 9 October SIS forwarded copies to the Foreign Office, MIS, Scotland Yard and the service ministries, together with an ill-founded assurance that "the authenticity is undoubted". The unauthorized publication of the letter in the Conservative Daily Mail on 25 October in the final week of the election campaign turned it into what MacDonald called a "political bomb", which those responsible intended to sabotage Labour's prospects of victory by suggesting that it was susceptible to Communist pressure.
The call in the Zinoviev letter for the CPGB to engage in 'agitation-propaganda work in the armed forces" placed it squarely within MI5's sphere of action. Like others familiar with Comintern communications and Soviet intercepts, Kell was not surprised by the letter's contents, believing it "contained nothing new or different from the (known) intentions and propaganda of the USSR." He had seen similar statements in authentic intercepted correspondence from Comintern to the CPGB and the National Minority Movement (the Communist-led trade union organization), and is likely - at least initially - to have had no difficulty in accepting SIS's assurance that the Zinoviev letter was genuine. The assurance, however, should never have been given. Outrageously, Desmond Morton of SIS told Sir Eyre Crowe, PUS at the Foreign Office, that one of Sir George Mahgill's agents, "Jim Finney", who had penetrated the CPGB, had reported that a recent meeting of the Party Central Committee had considered a letter from Moscow whose instructions corresponded to those in the Zinoviev letter. On the basis of that information, Crowe had told MacDonald that he had heard on "absolutely reliable authority" that the letter had been discussed by the Party leadership. In reality, Finney's report of a discussion by the CPGB Executive made no mention of any letter from Moscow. MI5's own sources failed to corroborate SIS's claim that the letter had been received and discussed by the CPGB leadership - unsurprisingly, since the letter had never in fact been sent.
MI5 had little to do with the official handling of the Zinoviev letter, apart from distributing copies to army commands on 22 October 1924, no doubt to alert them to its call for subversion in the armed forces. The possible unofficial role of a few MI5 officers past and present in publicizing the Zinoviev letter with the aim of ensuring Labour's defeat at the polls remains a murky area on which surviving Security Service archives shed little light. Other sources, however, provide some clues. A wartime MI5 officer, Donald Im Thurn ("recreations: golf, football, cricket, hockey, fencing"), who had served in MI5 from December 1917 to June 1919, made strenuous attempts to ensure the publication of the Zinoviev letter and may well have alerted the Mail and Conservative Central Office to its existence. Im Thurn later claimed implausibly to have obtained a copy of the letter from a business friend with Communist contacts who subsequently had to flee to "a place of safety" because his life was in danger. This unlikely tale was probably invented to avoid compromising his intelligence contacts. After Im Thurn left the Service for the City in 1919, he continued to lunch regularly in the grill-room of the Hyde Park Hotel with Major William Alexander of B Branch (an Oxford graduate who had qualified as a barrister before the First World War). Im Thurn was also well acquainted with the Chief of SIS, Admiral Quex Sinclair. Though he was not shown the actual text of the Zinoviev letter before publication, one or more of his intelligence contacts briefed him on its contents. Alexander appears to have informed Im Thurn on 21 October that the text was about to be circulated to army commands. Suspicion also attaches to the role of the head of B Branch, Joseph Ball. Conservative Central Office, with which Ball had close contacts, probably had a copy of the Zinoviev letter by 22 October, three days before publication. Ball's subsequent lack of scruples in using intelligence for party-political advantage while at Central Office in the later 1920's strongly suggests, but does not prove, that he was willing to do so during the election campaign of October 1924. But Ball was not alone. Others involved in the publication of the Zinoviev letter probably included the former DNI, Admiral Blinker Hall, and Lieutenant Colonel Freddie Browning, Cumming's former deputy and a friend of both Hall and the editor of the Mail. Hall and Browning, like Im Thurn, Alexander, Sinclair and Ball, were part of a deeply conservative, strongly patriotic establishment network who were accustomed to sharing state secrets between themselves: "Feeling themselves part of a special and closed community, they exchanged confidences secure in the knowledge, as they thought, that they were protected by that community from indiscretion."
Those who conspired together in October 1924 convinced themselves that they were acting in the national interest - to remove from power a government whose susceptibility to Soviet and pro-Soviet pressure made it a threat to national security. Though the Zinoviev letter was not the main cause of the Tory election landslide on 29 October, many politicians on both left and right believed that it was. Lord Beaverbrook, owner of the Daily Express and Evening Standard, told his rival Lord Rothermere, proprietor of the Daily Mail, that the Mail's "Red Letter" campaign had won the election for the Conservatives. Rothermere immodestly agreed that he had won a hundred seats. Labour leaders were inclined to agree. They felt they had been tricked out of office. And their suspicions seemed to be confirmed when they discovered the part played by Conservative Central Office in the publication of the letter.

(14) Gill BennettChurchill's Man of Mystery (2009)

Morton's own explanation, that Finney "elaborated" on his written report, is therefore invalidated. It is possible that Morton conflated, accidentally or deliberately, Finney's report with the report from Latvia received the day before. If accidentally, it implies a casualness that does not sit well with Morton's known modus operandi; if deliberately, the reason may not necessarily be sinister. Morton received a great many such reports across his desk, the majority of which were genuine. He may have believed, sincerely, in the authenticity of the letter at that point. On the other hand, it might be that since he, like many of his colleagues and contacts (including his own Chief), detested the Bolsheviks and disliked the Labour Government, he welcomed the chance to throw a spanner in the works of Anglo-Soviet rapprochement. He may have been influenced, or even instructed, to do so.
The propagation of conspiracy theories is always unprofitable, as it is impossible to prove a negative. There is no hard evidence to explain Morton's actions or motives, and he never revealed them (adding extra fuel to the conspiratorial fire in an interview in 1969, when he claimed that Menzies had posted a copy of the letter to the Daily Mail because he disliked Labour). The surviving documentation is, as so often with Morton, contradictory. By the beginning of November 1924 SIS had begun to receive reports from SIS stations that the letter was a forgery, probably originating in the Baltic States; Morton wrote to M15 on 27 November that "we are firmly convinced this actual thing is a forgery". Meanwhile, however, two Cabinet Committees had been convened to consider the question of the Letter's authenticity: the first, chaired by MacDonald, reported to the Cabinet on 4 November that they "found it impossible on the evidence before them to come to a conclusion on the subject"; it was the last act of his ill-fated Government. The second, however, chaired by the new Foreign Secretary Sir Austen Chamberlain, reported on 19 November that its members were "unanimously of opinion that there was no doubt as to the authenticity of the Letter".
Meanwhile, on 17 November Sinclair submitted to Crowe, for consideration by the Chamberlain Committee, a document, apparently drafted by Morton, containing "five very good reasons" why SIS considered the Letter genuine. These were: its source, an agent in Moscow "of proved reliability"; "direct independent confirmation" from CPGB and ARCOS sources in London; "subsidiary confirmation" in the form of supposed "frantic activity" in Moscow; because the possibility of SIS being taken in by White Russians was "entirely excluded"; and because the subject matter of the Letter was "entirely consistent with all that the Communists have been enunciating and putting into effect". All five of these reasons can be shown to be misleading, if not downright false. SIS did not know, for example, the identity of the agent in Moscow said to have provided the letter, and were certainly not, as the document claimed, "aware of the identity of every person who handled the document on its journey from Zinoviev's files to our hands".
The "independent and spontaneous confirmation" that the CPGB had received the letter was, as has been seen, of decidedly suspect provenance, while reports of arrests in Moscow were no more than circumstantial. The claim that SIS was incapable of being taken in by White Russian forgers was more aspirational than accurate, while the final reason, that the letter was consonant with Communist policy and "If it was a forgery, by this time we should have proof of it", may have been unanswerable, but was disingenuous in the light of reports received in the previous month.
This documentary sophistry, not to say prevarication, cannot fail to arouse the suspicion that Morton, and indeed SIS, had something to hide, not just about how the letter came to be given to the Press, but also about its origin. Orlov's Berlin organisation, with whom Morton remained in touch and about which he received regular information, was identified quickly as a likely potential source of the forgery, and although the account published by the Sunday Times "Insight" team in 1967, alleging that one of Orlov's colleagues, Alexis Bellegarde, forged the letter begs more questions than it answers, there is no doubt that Orlov had the opportunity and contacts required. It would, as one SIS account noted, have been easy enough for him to put in touch with a foreign intelligence service, e.g. in Riga, some well-trained agent of his own who would thereafter produce material purporting to be obtained from Moscow or elsewhere, but which was, in fact, prepared by himself. It was part of Morton's job to pay close attention to "expert" forgeries emanating from sources such as Orlov's service...
The way the letter was handled once it reached SIS, and its communication to the press, also arouses suspicion, heightened by what is now known about the activities of some of Morton's contacts: the Makgill organisation; White Russian groups at home and abroad; the head of the FO's Northern Department, J.D. Gregory, an old "Russia hand" later shown to have been engaging in decidedly unethical (if inept) currency trading at this time in company with his mistress Mrs Aminta Bradley Dyne - whose husband was another old "Russia hand". Although a Treasury Committee of Enquiry held in 1928 was unable to establish any direct connection between Gregory's activities and the Zino,viev Letter, suspicions remained." Similarly, doubts have been raised as to whether Morton's contacts with Ball at MIS were politically as well as professionally motivated: and the involvement of former M15 officer Donald im Thurn, who tried to sell a copy of the letter (which he did not possess), adds another mysterious dimension to the story; the names of the former DNI, Admiral Blinker Hall, and former Deputy Chief of SIS, Frederick Browning, have also been implicated.


15) Keith JefferyMI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service (2010)

It (the Zinoviev Letter) took about a week to reach London and, having been evaluated by Desmond Morton, was circulated by SIS on 9 October to the Foreign Office and other departments. A covering note said that the document contained "strong incitement to armed revolution" and "evidence of intention to contaminate the Armed Forces", and was "a flagrant violation" of "the Anglo-Russian Treaty signed on the 8th August". Though, apparently, no systematic checks had been made, SIS also categorically vouched that "the authenticity of the document is undoubted".
The Foreign Office, nevertheless, carefully sought further corroboration from SIS. This was provided by Desmond Morton on 11 October based (he maintained) on information received from "Jim Finney" (code-named "Furniture Dealer"), one of the agents jointly run with Makgill's organisation, who had been infiltrated into the Communist Party of Great Britain. According to Morton, Finney reported that the Party Central Committee had recently received a letter of instruction from Moscow concerning "action which the C.P.G.B. was to take with regard to making the proletariat force Parliament to ratify the Anglo-Soviet Treaty" and that "particular efforts were to be made to permeate the Armed Forces of the Crown with Communist agents". This, concluded Morton, "seems undoubtedly confirmation of the receipt by the C.P.G.B. of Zinoviev's letter". But the original report contained no reference to any particular communication from Moscow, and Morton said he had ascertained details of a specific letter only during a subsequent meeting with the agent. Reflecting how curious it was that the agent had not mentioned so apparently significant a directive from Moscow in the original report, Milicent Bagot, a retired
M15 officer who spent three years in the late 1960s exhaustively investigating the affair, suggested that the agent had been asked "loaded" questions by Morton, who is known to have been working on the Riga report and had no doubt put the two together in his mind.
On 13 October SIS assured Sir Eyre Crowe that Morton's information provided "strong confirmation of the genuineness of our document (the Zinoviev Letter)". This was interpreted by Crowe as "absolutely reliable authority that the Russian letter was received and discussed at a recent meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain", and on this basis he recommended to MacDonald that a formal note of protest be submitted and full information be given to the press.

Morton's "strong confirmation", therefore, already perhaps more than the evidence supported, became "absolutely reliable authority", and the basis for explicit government action. It was only after the Soviet charge, Christian Rakovsky, had dismissed the letter as "a gross forgery" (which it almost certainly was) that on 27 October Crowe asked Malcolm Woollcombe for further information. Had, for example, the text been received in English or Russian and could an SIS officer explain things personally to the Prime Minister, who in the meantime had himself begun to wonder if the letter were bogus? Riga told Head Office that their original version had been in Russian, which had been translated by a secretary in the station before transmission to London, thus revealing that the English text was not quite as "authentic" as had at first been claimed."

Nothing changes does it?