ONE blogs – JOHN CALDER – Man for Monday: ‘THANK YOU PETER BRIERLEY’

A simple gesture can speak for the feelings of millions of people, and I would like to thank Peter Brierley, father of the soldier killed in Iraq, for refusing to shake Tony Blair’s hand because it was ‘covered in blood’. Indeed, his hands have the blood not of just of a few unfortunate soldiers, but of the millions killed by bombs on false information about the existence of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which had already been dismissed as ‘highly unlikely’ by the U.N inspectors. It may be that this one simple but telling gesture by Mr. Brierley undermines Blair’s chances of becoming the first president of the European Union. The only thing that Tony Blair deserves from Europe is to be on trial at the International Court in The Hague as a War Criminal. Hopefully, this may still one day happen.

We live in a time when the world is suffering from mass amnesia about twentieth century history. The evils of Nazism and Fascism generally, which led to the terrible events of the thirties and forties, is being resurrected in the growing support of the BNP and the bottom feeding hoodlums in Manchester that were demonstrating against local Muslims and were quite rightly opposed by Anti-fascist demonstrators. The Tory party has not only allied itself in the European Parliament with extreme right-wing neo-fascist and anti-Semitic groups, but has allowed representatives of those parties to attend their recent national conference. The Anti-Obama groups in the U.S are using outright lies and slander that may well lead back to the era of McCarthyism, and a national reaction which is similar to that which prevailed in the 1950s.

The current economic depression provides ideal conditions for the rise of Fascism and all of its horrors, and now, more than ever, it is time for us to brace ourselves to combat it before it takes further hold. This means that we must educate ourselves in our recent history, and learn not to believe and accept the ridiculous and tendentious assurances given us by desperate politicians, uninformed pundits and a financial world trying to deny its culpability for the crisis it has brought about. We need to learn to accept a new and different situation.

We must accept a severe austerity and it should be based on a willingness to share, not just with those worse off in our own society, but with a world lacking in food, water and the most basic needs of existence. We must not only accept much higher taxation, but learn to do without most of the things we have taken for granted over the years, while learning to be more generous in accepting those whose culture, colour, religion, class and generation is different from our own. If we want to reduce crime, we must preach and practice sharing and community sociability, banish greed and feed our minds- not our appetites. If we wish to extinguish terrorism in the domestic sphere, we simply must cease committing terrorism abroad.

It is a self evident fact that there are certain things which should take precedence over others: health, education, the creation of employment and just enough food to create a just and equal society. Those with the ability to rise and administer society should be encouraged to do so, always openly, and that is why we need education. Such individuals should be honoured, but never compensated out of all proportion. We must exterminate prejudice and hatred, learn to accept difference and work to raise honesty to the level of the most important virtue, and in the process, overcome the petty tribalism which poisons our society. This requires the development of self-control through education and of sharing through compassion. With Intolerance reserved only for criminality. Is this possible? If not- we are all doomed.

John Calder 11/10/09