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John Simkin

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In an attempt to increase support for their campaign, the British Union of Fascists announced its attention of marching through the East End on 4th October 1936, wearing their Blackshirt uniforms. The Jewish People's Council Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism produced a petition that stated: "We the undersigned citizens of East London, view with grave concern the proposed march of the British Union of Fascists upon East London. The avowed object of the Fascist movement in Great Britain is the incitement of malice and hatred against sections of the population. It aims to further ends which seek to destroy the harmony and goodwill which has existed for centuries among the East London population, irrespective of differences in race and creed. We consider racial incitement, by a movement which employs flagrant distortions of the truth and degrading calumny and vilification, as a direct and deliberate provocation to attack. We therefore make an appeal to His Majesty's Secretary of State for Home Affairs to prohibit such matters and thus retain peaceable and amicable relations between all sections of East London's population."

Within 48 hours over 100,000 people signed the petition and it was presented to 2nd October deputation was headed by James Hall, the Labour Party M.P. for Whitechapel, and Alfred M. Wall (Secretary of the London Trades Council). George Lansbury, the M.P. for Bow & Bromley, also wrote to John Simon, the Home Secretary, and asked for the march to be diverted. Simon refused and told a deputation of local mayors that he would not interfere as he did not wish to infringe freedom of speech. Instead he sent a large police escort in an attempt to prevent anti-fascist protesters from disrupting the march.

The Independent Labour Party responded by issuing a leaflet calling on East London workers to take part in the counter demonstration which assembles at Aldgate at 2.p.m. As a result the anti-fascists, adopting the slogan of the Spanish Republicans defending Madrid "They Shall Not Pass" and developed a plan to block Mosley's route. One of the key organizers was Phil Piratin, a leading figure in the Stepney Tenants Defence League. Denis Nowell Pritt and other members of the Labour Party also took part in the campaign against the march.

The Jewish Chronicle told its readers not to take part in the demonstration: "Urgent Warning. It is understood that a large Blackshirt demonstration will be held in East London on Sunday afternoon. Jews are urgently warned to keep away from the route of the Blackshirt march from their meetings. Jews who, however innocently, became involved in any possible disorders will be actively helping anti-Semitism and Jew-baiting. Unless you want to help the Jew-baiters - Keep Away."

The Daily Herald reported that by "1.30 p.m.... anti-Fascists had massed in tens of thousands. They formed a solid block at the junction of Commercial Street, Whitechapel Road and Aldgate. It was through this area that Mosley would have to reach his goal, Victoria Park, Stepney and the Socialists, Jews and Communists of the East End were determined that 'Mosley should not pass!' At the time every available policeman - about 10,000 in all - was converging on Whitechapel from all parts of London. Mounted police rode into the huge throng and forced the demonstrators back into the streets. Cordons were then flung across to keep a clear space for the marchers."

By 2.00 p.m. 50,000, people had gathered to prevent the entry of the march into the East End, and something between 100,000 and 300,000 additional protesters waited on the route. Barricades were erected across Cable Street and the police endeavoured to clear a route by making repeated baton charges. One of the demonstrators said that he could see "Mosley - black-shirted himself - marching in front of about 3,000 Blackshirts and a sea of Union Jacks. It was as though he were the commander-in-chief of the army, with the Blackshirts in columns and a mass of police to protect them."

Eventually at 3.40 p.m. Sir Philip Game, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London, had to accept defeat and told Mosley that he had to abandon their march and the fascists were escorted out of the area. Max Levitas, one of the leaders of the Jewish community in Stepney later pointed out: "It was the solidarity between the Labour Party, the Communist Party and the trade union movement that stopped Mosley's fascists, supported by the police, from marching through Cable Street." William J. Fishman said: "I was moved to tears to see bearded Jews and Irish Catholic dockers standing up to stop Mosley. I shall never forget that as long as I live, how working-class people could get together to oppose the evil of fascism."

The Manchester Guardian supported the Home Secretary's decision to allow the BUF's march as it demonstrated that the Fascists had the right to hold a procession, but correctly banned it, when it showed signs of getting out of control. (64) The Times condemned the actions of the anti-fascists and concluded, "that this sort of hooliganism must clearly be ended, even if it involves a special and sustained effort from the police authorities." The Daily Telegraph praised the Police Commissioner Hugh Trenchard "as he was on the side of free speech, and those who assembled to resist the march threatened it."

A total of 79 anti-fascists were arrested at during the Battle of Cable Street. Several of these men received a custodial sentence. This included the 21 year-old, Charlie Goodman. One of his prison experiences highlighted the conflict between the conservative Jewish establishment and left-wing Jews: "I was visited by a Mr Prince from the Jewish Discharged Prisoners Aid Society... an arm of the Board of Deputies who called all the Jewish prisoners together." He asked them what crimes they had committed. The first five or six prisoners admitted to crimes such as robbery and he replied, "Don't worry, we'll look after you." When he asked Goodman he replied, "fighting fascism". This provoked Prince into saying: "You are the kind of Jew who gives us a bad name... It is people like you that are causing all the aggravation to the Jewish people."

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Influenced by his own business experiences, Jorian Jenks became a "critic of this modern economy". Jenks was regulator contributor to Action under the pseudonym "Vergillius" and was the agricultural advisor to the party. He organised garden parties to raise funds for the BUF, a fairly common technique amongst the party's more affluent and rural supporters.

Chris Hare argues: "Jorian Jenks was attracted to fascism because of its policy of self-sufficiency - the 'autarky' of the German Nazis. He saw industrialization and urbanization as corrosive developments that were alienating people from a natural way of living and their true inheritance - the land... Unfortunately, he also pointed the figure of blame at 'Jewish financiers' and increasingly, as the 30s progressed, aligned himself with the anti-Jewish policies of Nazi Germany."

Jenks led the attack on Walter Elliott, the Minister for Agriculture. Each week a specific grievance was highlighted in Jenks' "Farmer's Diary". This included imports of lamb, bacon and fruit. He also attacked Elliott for continuing to give subsidies on imported beef. The Potato Marketing Board was also criticized for advising farmers to be cautious over planting, even though potatoes were still being imported.

Jenks and the BUF also condemned those chain stores that were under foreign ownership and were responsible for huge imports of goods produced by cheap foreign labour. As Martin Pugh points out this included: "Marks & Spencer and Montagu Burton as Jewish, Woolworths as American, Unilever as Jewish-Dutch, and the Vesty Meat Trust for dealing in Argentine beef, not to mention Sainsbury, Liptons, Boots and Timothy Whites... All these combines were condemned for crushing small shopkeepers by means of bulk purchases, price-cutting, and bullying the producers into giving large discounts."

Jenks, along with Commander C. E. Hudson of Bognor Regis, became the most important figures in Sussex. An MI5 report stated: "Throughout the country the movement was well organised, led by enthusiastic persons and persistently active until the time the principal members were arrested... The Chief Constable estimated the number of adherents in Bognor as about 300.... Worthing membership was estimated to be about 60...As to the amount of activity, we know that the area was of sufficient importance of Mosley himself to speak at four meetings in recent times."

Jenks and Oswald Mosley joined forces to speak at Worthing Town Hall in March, 1937. At the meeting Jenks was announced as the BUF candidate for Horsham and Worthing at the next election. The Worthing Journal accused Mosley of "bellowing", and thought Jenks was a poor speaker. However, he did not doubt he was "a very nice fellow", who should be thanked for giving permission for a part of his land to be excavated by archaeologists looking for the remains of the Angmering Roman villa.

In December, 1938, John Becket and Gerard Wallop, 9th Earl of Portsmouth, launched the Fascist and anti-Semitic journal, New Pioneer. Jorian Jenks began one of the magazines main writers and wrote several articles on organic husbandry. Others who contributed to the journal included Major General John Fuller, A. K. Chesterton, Edmund Blunden, Arthur Bryant, H. J. Massingham, Rolf Gardiner, Reginald Dorman-Smith and Anthony Ludovici.

Jenks published Spring Comes Again in 1939. In the book he argued "for sustainable production, organic farming and small localised economies. He believed that artificial fertilisers were causing cancers and killing wildlife and the international trade in food, far from being a way of providing cheaper products, was a trap, impoverishing producers and depriving customers of real choice."

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In December, 1931, Harold Harmsworth, 1st Lord Rothermere, the press baron, approached Oswald Mosley and told him that he was prepared to put the Harmsworth press at his disposal if he succeeded in organising a disciplined Fascist movement from the remnants of the New Party. It was very important to Rothermere that this new party would target working-class voters in order that it would help the fortunes of the Conservative Party. Harold Nicolson recorded in his diary that "Cimmie (Cynthia Mosley), who is profoundly working-class at heart, does not at all like this Harmsworth connection" and warned her husband that she would put a notice in The Times "to the effect that she disassociates herself from his fascist tendencies."

You can find out a detailed account of this story here:
British Union of Fascists
British Union of Fascists

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At an election meeting in Broadwater, Worthing, on 16th October 1933, Charles Bentinck Budd revealed he had recently met Sir Oswald Mosley and had been convinced by his political arguments and was now a member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). Budd added that if he was elected to the local council "you will probably see me walking about in a black shirt".

Budd won the contest and the national press reported that Worthing was the first town in the country to elect a Fascist councillor. Worthing was now described as the "Munich of the South". A few days later Mosley announced that Budd was the BUF Administration Officer for Sussex. Budd also caused uproar by wearing his black shirt to council meetings.

On 4th January, 1934, Budd reported that over 150 people in Worthing had joined the British Union of Fascists. Some of the new members were former communists but the greatest intake had come from increasingly disaffected Conservatives. The Weekly Fascist News described the growth in membership as "phenomenal" as a few months ago members could be counted on one's fingers, and now "hundreds of young men and women -.together with the many leading citizens of the town - now participated in its activities".

A Worthing Anti-Fascist Committee was established in the town. John Robert Peryer became one of the leaders of the group. Peryer had support from the monthly Worthing Journal. In March 1935, it reported with pleasure the resignation of Superintendent Clement Bristow. It was seen by many as a consequence of his apparent sympathy for the fascist cause, for in court he had described fascists in the town as "very nice Worthing people". A few months later it reported: "Fascism has come to Worthing, but Worthing has shown through its accredited representatives that it is not yet ready to submit to a Dictatorship."

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"We are in a strange period of history in which a revolutionary has to be a patriot and a patriot has to be a revolutionary." (George Orwell, The Tribune, 20th December 1940)

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Cynthia Mosley was selected to be the Labour Party candidate for Stoke-on-Trent. The Liberal Party candidate, John Ward, had held the seat since 1918 and in the 1924 General Election he had a 4,546 majority over his Labour opponent. During the general election of 1929 she was mocked for her "Hyde Park sentiments delivered in a Park Lane accent"

The newspapers spread false stories about Cynthia. It was claimed that she had a penniless brother in America whom the heartless family allowed to live in a workhouse and that she and her husband owned a factory where they paid their workers eighteen shillings a week. Despite these attacks she got a 7,850 majority over Ward - his majority at the last election had been 4,500. She doubled the Labour vote from 13,000 to 26,000. (25) It was "the largest swing to Labour of the election and one of the largest majorities of any inter-war woman MP."

In her maiden speech in the House of Commons she explained the merits of socialism and attacked the Conservative charge that unemployment insurance would "demoralize" recipients. "All my life I have got something for nothing… Some people might say I showed remarkable intelligence in the choice of my parents but I put it all down to luck… A great many people on the opposite side of the House are also in that same position… Are we demoralised? I stoutly deny that I am demoralised."
Cynthia Mosley
Cynthia Mosley

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Charles Bertram Barber was born in 1884. At the age of fourteen he joined the Worthing Post Office. The day after the outbreak of the First World War Barber enlisted in the British Army. He served in the Signalling Corps on the Western Front until April 1919.

Barber was also a leading figure in the Labour Party. Local elections in Worthing were very much under the control of the Conservative Party and seats were not contested. However, in 1919 the the Labour Party contested all seven wards in the elections to Worthing Borough Council for that year. None of the candidates were elected but in Broadwater ward the margin of defeat was only 92 votes. In 1922 Charles Barber won Broadwater with a majority of 47 over the Conservative candidate, H. R. Carter.

Barber was re-elected in his ward in 1925 where he was joined by Thomas Cramp (Victoria). Barber was elected for Offington ward in 1928. Joseph Mason was elected to the council for Clifton (1930-1945). He always stood as an independent, although he was a member of the Labour Party. According to Chris Hare, the author of Worthing: A History (2008), Barber and other Labour councillors "impressed even die-hard Tories by their eloquence and their moderation. In 1931 he was unopposed in the election.

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George Orwell, Why I Write (September, 1946)

I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

1. Sheer egotism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in children, etc. etc.

2. Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed.

3. Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

4. Political purpose - using the word 'political' in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people's idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.

It can be seen how these various impulses must war against one another, and how they must fluctuate from person to person and from time to time. By nature - taking your nature to be the state you have attained when you are first adult - I am a person in whom the first three motives would outweigh the fourth. In a peaceful age I might have written ornate or merely descriptive books, and might have remained almost unaware of my political loyalties. As it is I have been forced into becoming a sort of pamphleteer.

Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows.

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R. D. Laing completed The Divided Self by 1957, but it was turned down by a dozen publishers. It was finally published by Tavistock Publications in 1960. The book sold very badly and was not reviewed by the specialist press. The clinical evidence for the book emerged out of his work at the British Army psychiatric unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley and at the Gartnavel Royal Mental Hospital. Laing claimed that the basic purpose of the book was to make madness, and the process of going mad, comprehensible. "The kernel of the schizophrenic's experience of himself must remain incomprehensible to us. As long as we are sane and he is insane, it will remain so. But comprehension as an effort to reach and grasp him, while remaining within our own world and judging him by our own categories whereby he inevitably falls short, is not what the schizophrenic either wants or requires. We have to recognise all the time his distinctiveness and differentness, his separateness and loneliness and despair."

In the book Laing questioned the definition of madness: "In the context of our present pervasive madness that we call normality, sanity, freedom, all our frames of references are ambiguous and equivocal.... A little girl of seventeen in a mental hospital told me she was terrified because the Atom Bomb was inside her. That is a delusion. The statesmen of the world who boast and threaten that they have Doomsday weapons are far more dangerous, and far more estranged from 'reality' than many of the people on whom the label ‘psychotic' is affixed."

Laing adds: "Psychiatry could be, and some psychiatrists are, on the side of transcendence, of genuine freedom, and of true human growth. But psychiatry can so easily be a technique of brainwashing, of inducing behaviour that is adjusted, by (preferably) non-injurious torture. In the best places, where straitjackets are abolished, doors are unlocked, leucotomies largely forgone, these can be replaced by more subtle lobotomies and tranquillizers that place the bars of Bedlam and the locked doors inside the patient. Thus I would wish to emphasize that our 'normal' 'adjusted' state is too often the abdication of ecstasy, the betrayal of our true potentialities, that many of us are only too successful in acquiring a false self to adapt to false realities."

In the book Laing attempted to explain what he meant by the term divided-self: "Self-consciousness, as the term is ordinarily used, implies two things: an awareness of oneself by oneself, and an awareness of oneself as an object of someone else's observation. These two forms of awareness of the self, as an object in one's own eyes and as an object in the other's eyes, are closely related to each other. In the schizoid individual both are enhanced and both assume a somewhat compulsive nature. The schizoid individual is frequently tormented by the compulsive nature of his awareness of his own processes, and also by the equally compulsive nature of his sense of his body as an object in the world of others. The heightened sense of being always seen, or at any rate of being always potentially seeable, may be principally referable to the body, but the preoccupation with being seeable may be condensed with the idea of the mental self being penetrable, and vulnerable.

The central concept for Laing is that of ontological insecurity. An ontologically secure person will encounter the hazards of life from a "centrally firm sense of his own and other people's reality and identity". According to one interpretation of this concept: "An ontologically insecure person suffers a fundamental insecurity of being, an insecurity that pervades all of his existence. He is thereby forced into a continuous struggle to maintain a sense of his own being... The individual's total self, the 'embodied self', faced with disadvantageous conditions, may be split into two parts, a disembodied 'inner self', felt by the person to be the real part of himself, and a 'false self', embodied but dead and futile, which puts up a front of conformity to the world."

In the book he uses the case of "Julie", who had been admitted to Gartnavel Royal Mental Hospital at the age of 17. She became one of Laing's patients nine years later. She had been labelled as being "a typical inaccessible and withdrawn chronic schizophrenic". Julie was mostly mute but when she did speak it was in 'schizophrenese'. After interviewing her close relatives, Laing concluded that Julie came from a close, loving family. She had an older married sister and an almost "doting mother". However, Julie told Laing that she believed that "her mother was trying to kill her".

On one occasion Julie claimed that she "was born under a black sun". Laing was puzzled by this comment: "Julie had left school at fourteen, had read very little, and was not particularly clever. It was extremely unlikely that she would have come across any reference to it." Laing believed that she was expressing herself in a kind of poetry: “I was born under a black sun. I wasn't born, I was crushed out. It's not one of those things you get over like that. I wasn't mothered I was smothered. She wasn't a mother. I'm choosy who I have for a mother. Stop it. Stop it. She's killing me. She's cutting out my tongue. I'm rotten, base. I'm wicked. I'm wasted time."

Julie always insisted that her mother had never wanted her, and "had crushed her out in some monstrous way rather than give birth to her normally". Her mother had "wanted and not wanted" a son. Julie was "an accidental son whom her mother out of hate had turned into a girl. The rays of the black sun scorched and shrivelled her. Under the black sun she existed as a dead thing.... She's the ghost of the weed garden. In this death there was no hope, no future, no possibility. Everything had happened. There was no pleasure, no source of possible satisfaction or possible gratification, for the world was as empty and dead as she was... She was utterly pointless and worthless. She could not believe in the possibility of love anywhere."

Richard Sennett argued in the New York Times that Laing had been influenced by the work of Gregory Bateson: "The book's power lay in Laing's ability to catch the rationality behind seemingly irrational behavior, a logic he revealed by making the reader see through the eyes of someone labeled schizophrenic. Laing did not 'explain' schizophrenia as a disease; he showed how schizophrenia was a perfectly logical way of coping with impossible, longstanding situations in a person's family or immediate society. Much of this ground was prepared for Laing by the American anthropologist Gregory Bateson - probably one of the greatest and most neglected writers on human behavior in this country."
R. D. Laing
R. D. Laing

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"All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescabably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.” Upton Sinclair

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