Thursday, 6 March 2014

Babi Yar

As the Western powers seem determined to allow the flourishing of fascism in the Ukraine it's worth remembering the famous poem by Yevgeni Yevtushenko. The poem Babi Yar speaks of the anti-semitism that led to the massacres of Jews, Gypsies and Soviets at Babi Yar in the Ukraine during the Second World War.

BABI YAR

By Yevgeni Yevtushenko
Translated by Benjamin Okopnik, 10/96

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o'er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself. *1*
The Philistines betrayed me - and now judge.
I'm in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I'm persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I'm thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of "Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!"
My mother's being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The "Union of the Russian People!"

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I'm in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other's eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed - very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-"They come!"

-"No, fear not - those are sounds
Of spring itself. She's coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!"

-"They break the door!"

-"No, river ice is breaking..."

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I'm every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May "Internationale" thunder and ring
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that's blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that's corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!

This translation copied from http://remember.org/witness/babiyar.html
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Friday, 7 February 2014

The Right to Strike

Acetate stencil commemorating the life and dea...
Utah Phillips (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was watching BBC Question Time the other night and the great and the good were waffling on about removing the right of tube workers to withdraw their labour. Most of the Parliamentary politicos seemed to think restricting the right to strike for public transport workers might be a good thing. I expect our government of millionaires will be contemplating the same thing. After all they managed it with GCHQ.

It reminded me of a quote from Utah Phillips which I couldn't quite remember so I posted this on twitter:
The right to strike is not a right conferred upon the masses by the elite and is not theirs to withdraw
Summed it up for me. Anyhow, here's the most excellent quote from Utah:
The state can't give you freedom, and the state can't take it away. You're born with it, like your eyes, like your ears. Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free...
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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Oh the integrity of them all!

Seems that someone else is getting involved in the saga around politicising OFSTED.

Seems that David Laws is accusing Gove of acting politically over the appointments and de-appointments.

Hold on, David Laws?

Yes, that David Laws.

Just to remind ourselves.


Oh the integrity of them all!

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Sunday, 14 July 2013

Making The Rich Poorer

George Lansbury, c1935
George Lansbury, c1935 (Photo credit: LSE Library)
This is why George Lansbury is my hero, he tells it as it is or as it should be.
The workers must be given tangible proof that Labour administration means something different from Capitalist administration, and in a nutshell this means diverting wealth from the wealthy ratepayers to the poor. Those who pretend that a sound Labour policy can be pursued nationally or locally without making the rich poorer should find another party. - George Lansbury 1922
Would that we had someone of the calibre of George or any of the other Poplar councillors with us today!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Let's Impeach the President

Listening to Neil Young's Let's Impeach the President when I heard these lyrics. Somewhat apt given the current controversy surrounding Snowden/Prism etc.

Let's impeach the President
For spying On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones