The oligarch who hedges his bets

Three leading Russian oligarchs – Len Blavatnik, Mikhail Fridman, and Viktor Vekselberg – with then BP chairman John Browne (second right).

Today Spanish police seized a £70m ‘superyacht’ belonging to one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarch cronies.

Tango is registered in the British Virgin Islands – one of the favourite havens for shady international tycoons – and belongs to Viktor Vekselberg, son of a Ukrainian Jew and a Russian. Since 1990 Vekselberg has been head of the Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate with interests in aluminium, oil and other sectors. He has been subject to international sanctions due to his close Kremlin ties.

According to several investigators, Vekselberg’s most interesting international role has been as the man who does the dirty work for Sir Len Blavatnik, his business partner, co-founder of the Renova Group and closest friend since their schooldays.

Viktor Vekselberg being decorated by his patron Vladimir Putin

While Vekselberg has been sanctioned, Blavatnik has earned a teflon reputation which might be connected to his remarkable talent for backing opposite political sides and remaining close to power.

Blavatnik has at various times backed pro- and anti-Netanyahu factions in Israel; Tony Blair in the UK; Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Joe Biden in the USA. In 2015 a group of international scholars condemned Oxford University for accepting Blavatnik’s money to fund the ‘Blavatnik School of Government’.

Blavatnik however insists that he has distanced himself from Putin, and the likes of Tony Blair and his ‘charitable foundations’ have continued to work closely with the Blavatnik School of Government. Meanwhile Blavatnik has continued to be one of the world’s leading sponsors of ‘Holocaust’ education, including a recent international conference to celebrate “the nearly 1.5 million Jewish men and women who fought in World War II against Adolf Hitler and the Axis powers.” H&D will soon be analysing some of the interesting omissions from this ‘history’!

Perhaps the ambiguities of Blavatnik’s own position will never be fully resolved, but as the Kremlin’s brutality continues in Ukraine, the likes of Tony Blair are feeling increasingly nervous about their ties to Putin’s oligarchs. Whatever their politics, Western politicians (including some so-called ‘nationalists’) have been happy to stick their snouts in the Kremlin trough.

Len Blavatnik with Bill Clinton, one of many political leaders (often of opposing tendencies) whom he has sponsored.

Madrid government surrenders to immigration blackmail

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez meeting King Mohammed VI of Morocco, who has blatantly blackmailed the Madrid government over immigration.

The Spanish government has been humiliated, conceding to Moroccan blackmail over illegal immigration. Simultaneously, by a strange non-coincidence, politically motivated prosecutors in Madrid have leaked news that they are preparing a criminal case for ‘racial incitement’ against H&D’s Spanish comrade Isabel Peralta, over an anti-immigration speech that she gave outside the Moroccan Embassy in May last year.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has surrendered control over Madrid’s diplomacy, because he has proved unable or unwilling to exercise control over immigration.

And the consequences could be severe for Spain’s access to natural gas, and the prices paid for energy by long-suffering Spanish consumers.

This all concerns Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, where control has since 1976 been disputed between Morocco and an independence movement called Polisario Front, which is backed by Algeria.

Until this week, the Madrid government backed the Polisario – i.e. backed Western Sahara’s independence from Morocco – partly in order to remain on good terms with Algeria, which supplies Spain with natural gas.

Brahim Ghali, head of the Polisario Front

For a year or more, Morocco has sought to blackmail Spain into changing its position on Western Sahara. Morocco’s main weapon is control over illegal immigration into Spanish territory. They have indicated that they are prepared to turn the immigration tap on or off. And Spain’s socialist government is naturally unable or unwilling to take firm action against the consequent flood.

Essentially this was the background to a demonstration addressed by Isabel Peralta in Madrid in May last year. The demonstration targeted both the Moroccan government’s blackmail, and the Spanish authorities’ weakness.

Now the argument of Isabel and her colleagues in the Spanish nationalist youth movement Bastión Frontal has proved correct, but the response has been to threaten criminal charges against Isabel!

Isabel Peralta addressing an anti-immigration rally in May 2021, which drew attention to the Moroccan government’s behaviour and the Spanish government’s weakness

Having for decades argued that Western Sahara’s future should be settled by a referendum of its inhabitants, the Madrid government has this week carried out a U-turn and adopted a pro-Moroccan position.

Consequently the Moroccan Ambassador to Madrid has been reinstated, but the Algerian Ambassador has been recalled, threatening vital trade deals including the supply of natural gas.

The entire situation is a shambles, rooted in the inability of Spain’s socialist government to stand up for Spanish interests.

And as so often across the West, when the arguments of nationalists are vindicated, the authorities’ response is to persecute us. And as so often, weakness in the face of an invader or a blackmailer merely invites further invasion and further blackmail.

H&D readers will hear more from Isabel Peralta, beginning with our next edition in May.

Who was Stepan Bandera – and how does his history help explain the present crisis? Peter Rushton reports from London and Washington’s secret files

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted much ill-informed comment in nationalist circles. Many nationalists have chosen to believe an online fantasy world in which Vladimir Putin is really an Alt-Right or White Nationalist culture warrior. H&D‘s Peter Rushton has this week turned away from the propaganda and attempted to reconstruct a balanced assessment of Ukrainian nationalism based not on Google searches but on primary source documents. What follows is partly based on British intelligence reports, some only recently declassified and analysed publicly here for the first time. Not propaganda material for external consumption, but internal assessments aiming at accuracy – from the archives of MI5, the Foreign Office, and the CIA. In the latter case the relevant document (a detailed assessment of Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera) was written for the CIA by a senior MI6 officer. Despite the CIA archive’s attempt to delete his name, we here identify the MI6 author of that report for the first time, attempt to set this and other reports in context, and consider what lessons today’s European nationalists can draw from Ukrainian nationalist history.

Banners at Zhovkva Castle, Ukraine, greet German liberators in July 1941 with the words: “Heil Hitler! Glory to Bandera! Long Live the Independent Ukrainian State! Long Live Our Leader Stepan Bandera!”

Vladimir Putin has repeatedly sought to justify his invasion of Ukraine by asserting it was necessary to defeat “neo-Nazis” and “Banderites”. This not only emphasises the extent to which Putin’s image of both his nation and himself is bound up with Second World War propaganda, it also tells us something quite specific about this invasion, its motives and objectives.

Most importantly it tells us for certain that the invasion was launched not to defend ethnic Russians in parts of eastern Ukraine, where they were supposedly under threat from ethnic Ukrainians. Nor was it intended merely to conquer areas of Ukraine that are deemed by the Kremlin to be traditionally Russian.

Putin’s choice of “neo-Nazis” and “Banderites” to describe his targets shows that his objective is to restore the old Soviet borders, to conquer and incorporate the entirety of Ukraine, including those western regions variously known as Eastern Galicia or Ruthenia – regions that have never been ethnically, culturally or politically Russian but which became Soviet territory as a result of the 20th century’s wars and revolutions.

Steeped from childhood in Second World War mythology, Putin is referring to the bloody battles in the southern sector of the Eastern Front following ‘Operation Barbarossa’ from 1941-45; to the role of the Galizien Division of the Waffen-SS, created in April 1943 and formed of Ukrainian anti-communist volunteers; and to Stepan Bandera, the most famous Ukrainian anti-communist leader, who continued guerrilla activities against the Soviet occupiers of his homeland until he was assassinated by a KGB hitman in Munich in 1959.

The life and death of Stepan Bandera helps us to understand not only Putin’s strange obsession, but the reasons why H&D readers might – while denouncing Moscow’s aggression without hesitation or qualification – be in two minds about aspects of Ukrainian nationalism.

Galicia has a long and complex history, but the short, simple version for understanding the present crisis is that it straddles the border between modern Poland and modern Ukraine, and while its control has long been disputed, one thing’s for sure: it’s not Russia.

Its largest city (which I visited in 1993) is now called Lviv, in Soviet days was Lvov, but was for much of its history known by the German name Lemberg since it was incorporated in the Habsburg Empire from 1772 to 1918. In the chaos that followed the defeat and dissolution of that Empire, much of Galicia (including Lemberg) was incorporated into Poland, whose government proceeded to ignore its treaty obligations to respect Ukrainian culture and autonomy.

The result was that after 1918 Ukrainian nationalists (many of them originating from Galicia) fought against Bolshevik Russians – with some also fighting against anti-communist Poles. In the former case this inevitably also meant fighting Jews, because Jews played a grossly disproportionate role in the Bolshevik Party – in Ukraine as much as (if not more than) elsewhere in the nascent Soviet Union.

Symon Petliura, assassinated Ukrainian patriot

This can be seen most clearly in the case of Symon Petliura, the first of four Ukrainian patriot leaders to be assassinated by Russians within just over thirty years.

Having ousted the short-lived Cossack monarchist regime of the so-called ‘Hetman’ (Pavlo Skoropadskyi), Petliura fought for and led Ukraine from 1918 to 1921. During these years he was in alliance with anti-communist Poles, since in this period at least they shared anti-Soviet (indeed frankly also anti-Russian) territorial objectives. Jews have frequently asserted that Petliura and his Ukrainian forces carried out pogroms in which several hundred Jews were killed (atrocity inflation had not yet taken hold, so even Petliura’s critics speak of hundreds, not thousands or millions).

After the Bolshevik victory Petliura went into exile and was murdered outside a Paris bookstore in May 1926. His assassin was a Russian-born Jewish anarchist poet, Sholem Schwarzbard. While prosecutors alleged that he was a Soviet agent, Schwarzbard argued that as a Jew he was justified in murdering Petliura, in revenge for Ukrainian ‘atrocities’ against Jews.

Readers will not be surprised to learn that (even in this pre-‘Holocaustian’ era) the Paris court chose to believe this Jewish defence, and Schwarzbard was acquitted. British authorities refused him a visa to enter Palestine and he travelled instead to South Africa, where he died while raising funds for a Yiddish encyclopaedia.

OUN founder Yevhen Konovalets

The militant Galician/Ukrainian nationalists denounced by Putin as ‘Banderites’ can be traced back to Yevhen (or Eugen) Konovalets, a former officer in the Austrian army who (unlike Petliura) fought against both Russian Bolsheviks and Poles. This is an important distinction when in 2022 we consider slogans such as “no brothers’ wars”. Petliura believed in the transnational anti-communist alliance that these words imply – and so did his various sponsors including Britain’s intelligence service MI6 who helped Petliura’s Ukrainians and their Polish allies set up the ‘Promethean League’, in cooperation with anti-communists of numerous Eastern European nationalities.

It is vital to understand that when anti-communist Ukrainians were recruited into the Waffen-SS Galizien Division in 1943, these were the latter-day successors of Petliura and the once (and future) MI6-linked, and Vatican-linked Promethean League. (I shall be analysing long-secret intelligence documents about these anti-communist networks as part of my book later this year on British intelligence and the alleged ‘Holocaust’.) These SS men were not the people Putin calls ‘Banderites’, who as part of their Ukrainian nationalism were fundamentally anti-Polish and anti-Russian (at least to a large extent) as well as anti-communist, and to some degree anti-clerical. At the time when the Galizien Division was formed, Bandera and his allies were interned in German camps for political prisoners, because they were regarded as politically unreliable (i.e. too extreme in their nationalism).

In a far more extreme mirror-image of this ethnic chauvinism, Putin is not only anti-‘Banderite’, he wants to remove Ukraine from the map entirely!

Stepan Bandera was a 20-year-old nationalist student in Lviv when the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was formed in 1929, with Konovalets as its first leader. OUN is the group from which various future nationalist factions traced their lineage.

According to a 1942 British intelligence summary, Konovalets had been paid by German military intelligence since 1927 (i.e. first in the Weimar era, then in the national-socialist era). Until 1934 the OUN was encouraged by Berlin to attack both Polish and Russian targets, but after a German-Polish agreement was signed in 1934 Konovalets’ “activities on Polish territory were diverted to other parts of Central and Eastern Europe”.

The OUN’s final anti-Polish operation in 1934 was a spectacular one: the assassination of one of Poland’s leading politicians Bronisław Pieracki. The gunman escaped, but several of the OUN team directing the assassination were caught and sentenced to death by the Polish authorities, a sentence that was commuted to imprisonment. These OUN convicts included the young Stepan Bandera and Mykola Lebed, whose on-off friendship and rivalry became important features of Ukrainian nationalist history.

The MI5 report continues: “Serious Nazi interest in the possibilities of an independence movement may be dated from 1935, when a Ukrainian Bureau, acting in an advisory capacity to the German Government and as liaison between Germans and Ukrainians, was established in Berlin. Since then most Ukrainian nationalist organisations in Europe have had some financial support from Rosenberg’s Aussenpolitisches Amt [i.e. the NSDAP’s Office of Foreign Affairs].”

Like his successor Putin, Stalin saw the OUN as a serious threat to the Kremlin’s control of Ukraine and ordered his intelligence service NKVD (forerunner of the KGB in which Putin was trained) to kill its leader. NKVD officer Pavel Sudoplatov infiltrated the OUN. In May 1938, meeting Konovalets in a Rotterdam restaurant, he handed the OUN leader a box of chocolates with a bomb inside, then made his excuses and left before the bomb exploded.

According to Sudoplatov, Stalin had personally told him (foreshadowing later Moscow plots against Ukrainian nationalists): “Our goal is to behead the movement of Ukrainian fascism on the eve of the war and force these gangsters to annihilate each other in a struggle for power.”

And after Konovalets’ removal, that internecine struggle was exactly what happened. In theory the new leader was Andriy Melnyk, who though himself having served four years in Polish prisons during the 1920s for paramilitary activity, was now less keen on ‘terrorism’.

UPA veterans in Kyiv celebrate their murdered leader Stepan Bandera

Stepan Bandera and Mykola Lebed either escaped or were freed from their Polish captivity soon after the German invasion in September 1939 – the precise circumstances are still unclear – and they soon became more militant rivals to Melnyk, at first fighting both Germans and Soviets – but then in 1941 becoming allies of Germany.

In the weeks before Hitler launched his attack on Stalin, the Abwehr (German military intelligence) worked with the OUN to set up two pro-German Ukrainian units that would act as part of the German spearhead, winning local support for the liberation of Ukraine from Stalin. These units were named ‘Nachtigall’ and ‘Roland’.

A priest in the Greek Catholic or ‘Uniate’ church – Fr. John Hrynioch – was attached to the Nachtigall unit and became a loyal ally of anti-communist Ukrainians throughout the various phases of the war, whether in the OUN or in the Waffen SS.

During these same weeks before Barbarossa, Bandera’s OUN faction held a conference in Krakau, issuing a policy programme for the future war where they explained the anti-Bolshevik context of what would now be called their ‘anti-semitism’.

“The Jews in the USSR constitute the most faithful support of the ruling Bolshevik regime, and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in Ukraine. The Muscovite-Bolshevik government exploits the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Ukrainian masses to divert their attention from the true cause of their misfortune and to channel them in a time of frustration into pogroms on Jews. The OUN combats the Jews as the prop of the Muscovite-Bolshevik regime and simultaneously it renders the masses conscious of the fact that the principal foe is Moscow.”

It was in this context – an anti-Bolshevik rather than religious or racial ‘anti-semitic’ context – that Bandera’s men killed large numbers of Jews during the early stages of Barbarossa.

Richard Yary, OUN intelligence officer and Gestapo liaison

According to MI5 the most important Gestapo contact was Bandera’s ally Richard Yary (even though some of his rivals claimed that Yary was himself of partly Jewish descent, and the rival Melnyk faction of OUN predictably accused him of being a Soviet agent):

“It is believed that during the Polish campaign the dropping of saboteurs by parachute behind the Polish lines was organised for the Germans by Captain Yary, a leading Ukrainian Nationalist. According to a Polish source, a Ukrainian Gestapo Company, German-trained, appeared in the Cracow district in October 1940. By March 1941 a Ukrainian Military HQ in Vienna and a Military Academy in German-occupied Poland had been established, with the intention of raising six divisions for eventual use against the USSR.”

In the broader historical context it is especially interesting to note that none of these files, even when discussing the possible partly Jewish ethnicity of the main Gestapo contact in OUN, mentions anything about what is now called the ‘Holocaust’. It’s also important to note that German intelligence operations all over Eastern Europe and Russia often relied on Jewish or part-Jewish informants and contacts. This is partly because such people proliferated among smugglers and criminals (on a petty or grand scale) who could make themselves useful to intelligence services.

Here we need to take a step back and avoid the temptation to see Bandera and his colleagues as part of a generalised force of ‘nazis’.

They were certainly anti-communist – and this meant in a Ukrainian as in a broader Soviet context that it was logical also to be anti-Jewish. But it didn’t mean that they were going to be puppets of Berlin.

One problem for the Third Reich was that many of its actual or potential allies in Central and Eastern Europe hated each other, even though they might all share antipathy to communism. For example, German intelligence long hoped to make use of anti-communist Russians as well as non-Russian nationalities such as Ukrainians who had been subjected to Moscow. This involved inherent contradictions, because many anti-communist Russians were reactionary Czarists who wanted to re-establish or even extend their pre-1917 Empire.

We now know that German intelligence analysts on the Eastern front were systematically misled by their Soviet rivals into believing in non-existent Russian anti-communist groups. Amazingly, German intelligence even trusted as their main intelligence network on Russian soil the so-called ‘Klatt Bureau’ of supposedly anti-communist Russians, run by the Viennese half-Jew Richard Kauder, who is now known to have been a Soviet agent all along.

The story of the Klatt or ‘Max’ network is an aspect of the Second World War that is yet to be fully explored, partly because today’s historians prefer to see Jews as victims of events in the 1940s rather than as manipulators of events.

The half-Jewish Viennese spy Richard Kauder (alias Klatt) whose fake network fooled the Third Reich’s intelligence services; seen here with his Hungarian mistress Ibolya Kálmán.

There is some evidence that German intelligence was misled into over-rating the potential of ‘White Russian’ / Czarist Russians, and therefore under-utilised more genuine anti-communist Ukrainians in Bandera’s OUN. For whatever reasons, German forces soon decided that their initial ally Bandera was a troublemaker, and in September 1941 he and his right-hand man Yaroslav Stetsko were arrested and interned by the Gestapo. Yet even during their internment they retained links with some German intelligence and special forces operatives. For example Otto Skorzeny met with them in April 1944 to discuss potential anti-Soviet operations. And in early 1945 the SS Galizien Division’s Gen. Pavlo Shandruk negotiated a last minute deal between the various Ukrainian factions, bringing Bandera and Stetsko on board in a ‘Ukrainian National Committee’ and reforming part of the Galizien Division as a ‘Ukrainian National Army’.

By the time of Germany’s collapse in May 1945, there was therefore an uncertain alliance between two different groups of Ukrainian nationalists. Shandruk’s troops managed to trek to the Italian-Austrian border where they could surrender to British rather than Soviet forces.

Centrally important here – and a continuing reason for festering resentment in the mind of ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin – is that the Waffen-SS Galizien Division was accepted by the British as being immune from the requirement to hand back prisoners who were of Soviet nationality. (Unlike for example the Cossacks and other Russians who had fought with Germany, and who even after surrendering to the British were handed over to Stalin’s torturers and executioners.)

The vital difference was that the British accepted these Ukrainian anti-communists were ‘Galicians’, and therefore arguably of Polish rather than Soviet nationality. (There was of course at that period no official ‘Ukrainian’ nationality.)

Therefore as Jewish historians John Loftus and Mark Aarons later complained – and the like of Putin still complain – the SS Galizien Division was “the only Axis unit to survive the war intact, under arms and with their own officers”. An additional factor was that one of the British officers in immediate charge of assessing these 8,000 Ukrainians – Maj. Denis Hills – was himself a man of staunchly anti-communist (though maverick) opinions who had fascist sympathies in his Oxford student days and attended the 1935 Nuremberg rally.

We also now know from previously secret sources that the British and Americans – as well as the Germans – eventually found Bandera a difficult person to deal with. Though he has become a posthumous hero of the anti-communist cause, it seems that he could be arrogant and blinkered, vitiating his undoubted courage.

Senior MI6 officer Col. Harold Gibson who handled British intelligence liaison with the OUN for more than 25 years

A Top Secret MI6 assessment of Bandera can be read in CIA files, even though it is still unavailable in British archives. This was written in 1954 but looks back over more than a quarter-century of British intelligence involvement with Ukrainian nationalists. Though the CIA archive attempts to disguise the report’s authorship, I can reveal that it was written by Col. Harold Gibson, a senior MI6 officer, who writes that he had been in touch with the OUN leadership from the moment the group was founded, clearly aiming to cooperate with them in anti-Soviet covert operations:

“I was in touch with followers of Petliura and Konovalets in Romania in the late 1920s and in Czechoslovakia from 1933 to 1939 and was quite well impressed with their possibilities. It was not however until after the end of World War II that it was decided to use them operationally.”

Large numbers of Bandera’s guerrilla fighters continued to fight against the Red Army occupiers from 1945-48, and smaller numbers for another eight years under MI6 sponsorship. While the Americans chose to form links with the Melnyk faction, the British chose to work with Bandera and Stetsko.

Again these files are notable by the absence of any reference to what we would now call the ‘Holocaust’, but Gibson leaves no doubt that he was well aware of Bandera’s capacity for extreme violence. (This article is the first to quote or analyse Gibson’s assessment in detail, and the first to identify Gibson as Bandera’s senior MI6 contact.)

“In the summer of 1951, Stefan Bandera, the real leader of the movement, emerged from his clandestine concealment to have his first meeting with me in London. The following is an account of my impressions then of Bandera – impressions which in the main are still valid today:
‘Allowing for the fact that he was out to show himself in the best light, much of what he said sounded both convincing and sincere. We have to accept him for what he is; a professional underground worker with a terrorist background and ruthless notions about the rules of the game, acquired by hard experience, along with a thorough knowledge of the Ukrainian people which I would judge to be more instinctive than deeply psychological. A bandit type if you like, with a burning patriotism which provides an ethical background and a justification for his banditry. No better and no worse than others of his kind I have had dealings with in the past. He appears to be genuinely grateful for the help given to him, but at the same time is certainly trying to get all he can out of it.'”

Gibson continued:

“Since that first meeting I have had occasion to see Bandera repeatedly. The contacts he and his people were to develop with us did have some effect on his character and outlook making him slightly less ruthless and uncompromising than he had been at first. But he nevertheless remains essentially the dictatorial type and as such a difficult customer both to his well-wishers and particularly to his political opponents.”

These problems led to serious difficulties during the early 1950s. Undoubtedly these problems were exacerbated by the mischief of Soviet agents. From 1949-51 the senior liaison officer between MI6 and the CIA was Kim Philby, a long-term Soviet ‘mole’ who also (as I shall discuss in my forthcoming book) had longstanding ties to Zionist intelligence organisations. This meant not only that the various factional differences could be continually stirred up rather than smoothed over, but also that many teams of Ukrainian anti-communists were sent straight to their deaths, because Philby had informed his KGB masters of their precise plans.

West Germany’s new intelligence service BND – run by the former Third Reich military intelligence chief on the Eastern front, Gen. Reinhard Gehlen, who had been recruited by the Americans – was likewise thoroughly penetrated by the KGB with fatal results for its brave Ukrainian recruits. And recent analysis by Polish scholars of their communist-era archives suggests that a Polish-based section of OUN was entirely under the control of that country’s communist intelligence service from 1948 until the mid-1950s.

But partly there was also a genuine strategic difference. MI6 had smuggled parties of Ukrainians into their homeland and Bandera wanted to use them to carry out aggressive anti-Soviet operations, such as ‘terrorist’ assassinations of Soviet officials. Some in MI6 agreed, while others (and especially their CIA friends) preferred to keep these assets safe behind the Iron Curtain, both to carry out intelligence missions and to be in place as a ‘stay behind’ army in case of World War III (similar to the so-called ‘Operation Gladio’ within western European countries deemed vulnerable to Soviet attack). The Ukrainian agents would then be able to carry out sabotage missions behind enemy lines, as part of undermining the Soviet war effort, not as a quixotic act of anti-communist gallantry.

This was the Ukrainian version of a much broader Cold War argument. Should anti-communist forces attempt to “roll back” the Red tide, to liberate “captive nations” from the Moscow yoke? Or should they bide their time and merely act as loyal eyes and ears for their Western allies?

In his long and detailed account of the MI6-OUN relationship, Gibson writes for example:

“At a meeting with Bandera in Germany in March 1953 I once again stressed the need for political peace in order to achieve the main purpose of our collaboration, namely the collection of worth while intelligence.”

Bandera’s sometime friend turned rival Mykola Lebed, who survived the many violent episodes of Ukrainian nationalism to die in the USA aged 89 in July 1998

By 1953 Bandera’s former ally Mykola Lebed (with whom he had plotted the Pieracki assassination in 1934 and served five years in Polish jails) had become a rival. Where Bandera was MI6’s man, Lebed was the CIA’s man. In the 21st century we are instructed to see all this through a ‘Holocaust’ prism and the main argument among modern historians is over whether Lebed was ‘protected’ by the CIA when he should have been prosecuted for ‘war crimes’.

Yet in Gibson’s report none of this is considered worth mentioning. Either MI6 didn’t believe there had been a ‘Holocaust’ of Ukrainian Jewry, or they didn’t consider it disproportionate or worth mentioning among the other horrors of war.

An earlier Top Secret document about Bandera – unlike the Gibson report which is only available via the CIA archives – is now available in the UK National Archives, where it had been marked as closed until 2028 but has now been released. This details a conversation at the Foreign Office in November 1951 between Stepan Bandera and three senior British diplomats and intelligence officers. The minutes of this conversation (which include several sections that remain blanked out in the version available at the Archives) include the following points made by Bandera:

“He thought that the Soviet Union would attempt to secure world domination by war if they could not achieve their aims otherwise. He admitted that he saw in war the only hope of the liberation of the Ukraine. He did not believe that independence could be achieved in other circumstances.

“…He said that the aim of his movement was the liberation of the Ukraine not merely from Soviet but also Russian influence. He said that they would never collaborate in any scheme or plan which entailed any form of connection with any Russian state regardless of its political outlook. Similarly, he was not prepared to have any contact with any émigré Russian body or group and disapproved of American attempts to bring Greater Russian and Ethnic Minority Groups in exile together, which he described as destined to failure.

“…In his opinion, an independent Ukraine was a viable state. His attitude to the problem of the viability of an independent Ukraine was unrealistic and it seemed clear that he had not seriously grappled with it. He admitted that any Great Russian state was bound to look on it with covetous eyes but suggested that it would be possible to preserve its security by a system of guarantee with other limitrophe states [i.e. potentially independent border states on the edges of Russia, such as the Baltic States].”

A 19-year-old Stepan Bandera (standing, third from right) with other young Ukrainian nationalists in Lviv, 1928

Two years later London’s relationship with Bandera had evidently soured. Writing in 1954, Col. Gibson of MI6 strongly criticises Bandera when reporting intense discussion during 1953 and 1954 when repeated attempts were made to persuade Bandera to work with a more collegiate leadership: a “Committee of Three” alongside Zinovii Matla and Lev Rebet. (The latter is also thought by some to have been of half-Jewish origin, but this had nothing to do with his internment by the Gestapo after 1941, which was – like Bandera – because at the time the Gestapo viewed the OUN as troublemakers.)

“A final attempt to bring Bandera to reason was made by me and meetings took place in London on 24th/25th February [1954]. At these meetings Bandera attempted to justify himself by producing instances of what he regarded as an abuse of power by Rebet and Matla of the Committee of Three. He accused them of manoeuvring to subordinate ZCh/OUN and implied that this was being done on instructions and indeed under pressure from the Americans.

“…Having wasted so much time over dealing with Bandera I decided to give him one last chance. Knowing that Matla would be transiting the United Kingdom on his return to the USA I suggested to Bandera that the three of us should meet together in a last effort to reach a settlement, or at least a compromise. Bandera refused this suggestion with arrogant finality. The break between us was complete.”

Paradoxically it was after Stalin’s death and during the apparent ‘liberalisation’ of the Soviet Union under Khrushchev that the KGB decided to kill the two most important Ukrainian nationalist leaders. Had the KGB for some reason lost confidence in their ability to contain and manipulate the Ukrainian anti-communist resistance? Perhaps we will never know for sure, but what we do know is that the KGB launched one of its most famous assassination plots to remove both Lev Rebet and Stepan Bandera.

Professional assassin Bogdan Stashinsky was sent to Munich and equipped with the latest KGB technology, a pistol that fired a spray of hydrogen cyanide directly into the face of the victim, who would ideally be presumed to have died a natural death. In the case of Rebet, whom Stashinsky killed in October 1957, this is exactly what happened; but after he killed Bandera with a modified version of the same gas-gun in October 1959, a post mortem revealed that the former OUN leader had died from cyanide poisoning.

It was not until August 1961 – when Stashinsky defected to the West and told the whole story to the CIA – that anyone knew Rebet had also been murdered. By that time Harold Gibson, the MI6 spymaster who had liaised with Ukrainian nationalists for a quarter of a century, had also met a violent end – shot dead, supposedly by his own hand, in August 1960 in Rome.

OUN activities continued for the rest of the Cold War – but now more as propaganda than as paramilitary activity, via the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN) and an associated World Anti-Communist League (WACL). Periodically, these ABN and WACL activists were accused of the terrible crime of ‘anti-semitism’ and there were frequent purges from WACL of ABN allies such as Lady Birdwood (see my article in H&D 106) and Dr Roger Pearson (in whose Washington office H&D‘s editor Mark Cotterill worked for several years).

When Soviet communism collapsed in the early 1990s, Ukrainian nationalists including the OUN’s old leaders became heroes of the new independent Ukraine. And evidently to this day their bold defiance of Kremlin domination still rankles with one old KGB man, Vladimir Putin.

What lessons should H&D readers draw from the complex saga of militant Ukrainian anti-communism?

OUN leader Lev Rebet and the KGB cyanide gun used to kill him in Munich in 1957

The OUN were undoubtedly brave, and the fact that their operations were almost all undermined by their enemies in Moscow does not detract from their courage.

Stepan Bandera was also a brave anti-communist who paid the ultimate price, but his uncompromising personality and chauvinist ideology caused grave problems for those who wished to work with him – whether in Adolf Hitler’s intelligence services or in MI6 and the CIA.

The bitter ethnic and personal rivalries that bedevilled the anti-communist cause in Central and Eastern Europe could probably only have been resolved by some overall discipline, either exerted by the New European Order envisaged by Adolf Hitler, or by a network united by Catholic religion. The problem with the latter is that this would inevitably be hostile to the other great Eastern European religious tradition – Orthodoxy – whereas National Socialism should (had history worked out differently) have had a chance of forging a modus vivendi between those of differing religions and those of no religion.

And what of Vladimir Putin, cast by so many blinkered Western nationalists as a potential ally in the ‘culture war’ against liberalism.

We should not be surprised that (as explained above) Putin’s rhetoric about “nazis” and “Banderites” betrays a world view thoroughly soaked in Second World War propagandist obsessions, and reveals that his objective is the destruction of Ukraine.

After joining the KGB in 1975, Putin spent a decade based mainly in Leningrad, before his first (and only) foreign posting to Dresden, from 1985 until the end of communist East Germany in late 1989 and early 1990.

During this period he worked for the senior KGB officer liaising with the East German Stasi – Lazar Matveev, one of many Jews to hold senior rank in the KGB. Putin was Matveev’s protégé and remains close to his old boss, who will be 95 next month.

Vladimir Putin greets his old KGB boss Lazar Matveev

Just as he has continued to do via the KGB’s successor agencies in the era of Facebook etc., Putin during his Dresden years worked on Matveev’s instructions to infiltrate and manipulate ‘extremist’ political groups in the West – both the far-left ‘Red Army Faction’ terrorists and some of Germany’s most militant ‘neo-nazis’.

In the latter case Putin’s main agent was Rainer Sonntag, a petty criminal who became close to Michael Kühnen, homosexual leader of one of Germany’s many neo-nazi factions. Kühnen died of AIDS in April 1991, and Sonntag was shot dead in Dresden a few weeks later. A neat and perhaps not coincidental way to prevent discussion of Putin’s operation in post-communist German courts.

By this time Putin was almost 40 and beginning his post-KGB ascent of the new and intensely corrupt Russian bureaucracy. A few weeks after Sonntag’s murder, Putin took the first of several influential jobs in the office of the Mayor of Leningrad (later St Petersburg), a man with close ties to the elite of Russian organised crime.

Putin’s subsequent close ties to Russian oligarchs (many of them Jews, including some of the world’s leading promoters of ‘Holocaust’ education such as Roman Abramovich and Moshe Kantor) are too well-known to need further discussion here.

For the purposes of this article, the important point is that these many Jewish connections will have reinforced Putin’s obsession with the Second World War and his obsession with restoring Soviet-era Russian prestige by wiping Ukraine off the map and making Russia’s south-western borders similar to those of the Soviet Union.

Racial nationalists are a long way from power, though interest in our ideas and our ideological heritage has spread considerably in recent years. If we are to continue to build on that heritage we must avoid the wishful thinking that has led so many on the Alt-Right to see Putin as some sort of hero, simply because he has outraged sections of liberal opinion.

If we are to maintain and extend the relevance of our ideas, we must build on a foundation of truthful and honest analysis, not wishful thinking. That means dissociating ourselves firmly from Putin’s brutal aggression and territorial aggrandisement. It also means recognising that – even aside from the particular transient problems presented by today’s Ukrainian government, whose leaders are quite obviously hostile to our entire world-view – the complex and tragic history of Ukrainian nationalism itself reveals many pitfalls, some related to personal vanities, others to chauvinist ideologies.

We cannot easily dismiss this chauvinism as petty. For countless numbers of Central and Eastern Europeans, speaking the wrong language (or even the wrong dialect) or having the wrong religion would have meant for generations that they and their children would be excluded from decent jobs, and possibly face worse forms of persecution.

“No brothers’ wars” is an easy slogan, but a difficult reality. As with so many other areas of our racial nationalist struggle for the true Europe, we cannot expect an easy victory. Perhaps there will be no victory in our lifetimes. But I’m confident that we are now beginning to attract the calibre of activist who can make very significant progress in laying the foundations for that victory.

Those foundations cannot include a morally and politically toxic association with Vladimir Putin and his apologists.

Ghislaine Maxwell – daughter of notorious Mossad agent Robert Maxwell – guilty of trafficking teenagers

Shimon Peres (above right) former and future Prime Minister of Israel, pays his respects to Robert Maxwell’s daughter Ghislaine at her father’s funeral on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, in November 1991. Maxwell was a long-term operative of Israeli intelligence.

Within the last hour Ghislaine Maxwell – daughter of the notorious fraudster, arms dealer and Mossad agent Robert Maxwell – has been convicted by a New York jury on five criminal charges including “sex trafficking of a minor”, which carries a maximum prison sentence of up to forty years.

This verdict will lead to many pages and hours of print and broadcast media analysis.

Whether the role of Israeli intelligence in the Maxwell family saga will be properly examined is, however, doubtful!

So for the benefit of H&D readers we publish here the review by our assistant editor Peter Rushton of the most recent book about Robert Maxwell.

As you might expect, this review contains meticulously researched facts that you won’t get from the mainstream media!

Abu Dhabi Sheikh buys 50% of “racist” Israeli football club

Sheikh Hamad (above right) with Beitar Jerusalem owner Moshe Hogeg in Dubai last week after signing the deal for Abu Dhabi investment in the “racist” Israeli club

A member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, has bought 50% of the Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem, pledging an investment of more than 300 million shekels (£68 million) over the next decade.

The Abu Dhabi royals already own Manchester City of course, as well as the likes of New York City FC, Melbourne City, and Mumbai City.

And their Israeli move is consistent with the decision earlier this year by the United Arab Emirates (which includes Abu Dhabi) to develop diplomatic and economic ties with Israel.

What will surprise a few people is that it should be Beitar of all clubs. Not only does it have a “racist” (i.e. anti-Arab) reputation, but even the club’s name is a clue as to its political roots.

Betar was the Zionist youth movement founded by Zeev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and it went on to be closely aligned with the Jabotinsky wing of Zionism and associated terrorist groups such as the Irgun. During the mid-1940s MI5 had an informant inside Betar monitoring the group’s terrorist links, and Betar organised terrorist training camps in New York’s Catskill mountains.

Betar activists in Berlin, 1936, during a period when the National Socialist Government actively encouraged militant Zionist groups.

Some other Israeli football clubs have names linked to the rival, more ‘moderate’ wing of Zionism led by Jabotinsky’s enemy David Ben Gurion and rooted in the labour movement – e.g. Hapoel Tel Aviv and several other clubs with Hapoel (i.e. ‘Worker’) in their names.

But then I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. These Arab sheikhs are interested only in power and money. Whereas the Labour/Hapoel types used to be the Israeli mainstream, and the ‘right-wing’ used to be marginalised – it’s now the ‘right-wing’ under Netanyahu and his Betar/Beitar allies who have the power.

Trouble is, that might not carry on for much longer, especially now that Netanyahu’s pal Trump is out of power. The Israelis might ditch Netanyahu and go back to some form of liberal/leftist government in the Ben Gurion tradition – in which case it would be Hapoel Tel Aviv, or perhaps Maccabi Tel Aviv or Maccabi Haifa, who would be the diplomatically correct team for kosher Arab royalty to link with!

Rolf Hochhuth – ally of David Irving and target of secret British propagandists – dies aged 89

Rolf Hochhuth (above right) who has died aged 89, seen here in London in 1966 with the British historian David Irving.

Provocative German playwright Rolf Hochhuth died on May 13th at his home in Berlin, aged 89.

His death came just as the latest edition of Heritage and Destiny was going to press, featuring a two-part exposé of the conspiracy by secret British agencies at the end of the 1960s to smear Mr Hochhuth and the British historian David Irving.

This full extraordinary story is based on very recently released documents from the Information Research Department, a secret Cold War propaganda unit that was dissolved in 1977 and whose records remained highly classified until earlier this year. The IRD files were read by H&D‘s assistant editor days before the UK’s National Archives closed down due to Covid-19.

Hochhuth had made himself a target of IRD and associated agencies including MI5 and MI6 because of a play in which he alleged official British complicity in the death of Poland’s wartime leader Gen. Sikorski, in what was officially declared an accidental plane crash off Gibraltar in July 1943.

David Irving carried out extensive research to assist Hochhuth in writing this play Soldaten (‘Soldiers’). It was commissioned by London’s National Theatre but banned by the theatre’s board (and later by the Lord Chamberlain) in 1967 at the instigation of prominent establishment figures.

Soldiers also explored the morality of RAF area bombing strategy and the culpability of Winston Churchill and his scientific adviser Frederick Lindemann (Lord Cherwell).

Hochhuth in 2005

Rolf Hochhuth’s death has been widely reported in the German press, though so far only by the Daily Telegraph in the UK.

Despite his friendship with Irving, which dated back to 1965, Hochhuth was very much a man of the left. His best-known play The Representative (Der Stellvertreter) dealt with the Vatican’s alleged knowledge of the presumed wartime murder of six million Jews in the ‘Holocaust’. It is presumably for this service to ‘Holocaust history’ that the German government paid tribute to the “iconoclastic” playwright, saying he had “never ducked a confrontation” while “loving provocations and remaining true to himself”.

Similarly the Central Council of German Jews called Hochhuth a “courageous taboo-breaker” who had “touched off an overdue debate in Germany” about the Vatican’s role. Notably the AFP press agency report on Hochhuth’s death avoids all mention of the Sikorski saga.

Poland’s wartime leader Gen. Sikorski, seen here (second left) at a tank demonstration in Surrey, February 1941 with (centre) Winston Churchill, (second right) Gen. Charles de Gaulle, (far left) Royal Armoured Corps commander Lt. Gen. Giffard Le Quesne Martel, and (far right) Gen. Andrew Thorne (GOC Scottish Command).

These official German and Jewish spokesmen might change their tune once they get to see H&D‘s new two-part series about Hochhuth and Irving. Will official spokesmen – Jewish or Gentile – welcome re-examination of Sikorski’s death; the various associated issues of murderous rivalries and official lies concerning Poland’s exile government; its military, intelligence and propaganda forces; and the Faustian pact with Stalin?

And who was the Hungarian Jewish journalist who began his propaganda career inventing stories about Adolf Hitler as early as 1932, then worked for IRD in their campaign against Hochhuth and Irving in the late ’60s and early ’70s?

The first episode of this stranger-than-fiction tale, based on top secret documents many of which have never been reported before, is in the May edition of Heritage and Destiny, available now.

Coronavirus predicted by nationalist science writer 14 years ago

As we all struggle to comprehend the scale and nature of the coronavirus crisis, it is interesting to look back at an article published fourteen years ago by the nationalist journal Scorpion.

This was written by a well-known nationalist activist who had a regular column in Scorpion under the pen-name ‘Loki’, and who presently contributes regularly to H&D under a different name.

Aside from formatting, we reproduce this article here unchanged – with thanks and acknowledgments to Scorpion – as our contribution to continuing discussions about the social/political implications of the present crisis.

Click here to read Loki on Health.

Loki on Health

reproduced with acknowledgments to The Scorpion, where this prescient article appeared in 2006

One advantage of submitting one’s copy to the Scorpion at (or beyond!) the ragged edge of the Editor’s forbearance with deadlines is that it does enable a certain topicality. So that I can open my remarks on the threat to the health of humanity posed by our present socio-economic system with the Dead Swan of Fife.

This is not the title of a sombre tone poem by some Scottish Sibelius, nor a dolorous ballad from the repertoire of Anne Lorne Gillies or Andy Stewart, but a deceased, and indeed somewhat decomposed, specimen of Cygnus cygnus found on a beach in the former Scots Kingdom of Fife a few days ago as I write. Although actually a whooper, it ended up as a very mute swan nevertheless bearing tidings of doom and despondency to be trumpeted throughout the media even unto the very gates of DEFRA (the British bureaucrats responsible for those relicts of our countryside not yet built over by the myrmidons of the sinisterly-named Office of the Deputy Prime Minister).  

The Dead Swan owed its unhappy state to an avian influenza virus, H5N1, which, having despatched a few dozen hapless Vietnamese and Turks who had evidently become overt-intimately attached to its principal host, wildfowl and poultry,  had been borne on migrating wings ever closer to our sceptred isle. Amid mounting media hype, usually of the form – page 1: NO NEED TO PANIC AS DEADLY BIRD FLU GETS NEARER (see pages 2-9 for further sundry scare stories and panicky reportage of the issue). 

This is of course the latest of a steady series of similar pandemic scares in recent years, from SARS to AIDS. Your author still has a London Sunday Times magazine issued in 1986 purporting to contain reportage from the AIDS-ravaged Britain of the mid-1990’s: millions dead, not a family in the land untouched etc etc. Sadly for such Government-sponsored prognostications, AIDS stubbornly refused to behave in the predicted Politically-Correct equal opportunity manner. Retreating into a bigoted epidemiology characterised by racism, sexism and homophobia. Disproportionately afflicting Africans, male homosexuals and women, even sinking to prey on disadvantaged drug-injectors. Shocking! Still, what can one expect of a mere virus…?

All, thus far, have proved specious. After the headlines and the hype departed, humanity carried on much as usual. So, nothing to worry about then? 

Sadly, not quite. Indeed, not at all. Regardless of how often or how speciously the media little boy cries “wolf!” there really is a big, dangerous beast out there. One we are pretty certain, sooner or later, to unleash on ourselves with apocalyptic consequences retroactively justifying every lurid headline and purple passage. As with almost every pestilence and plague throughout history, it will be in a sense self-inflicted, the price of the way we live. But not, this time, the unavoidable price, if we are prepared to change the way we live just a little. If we don’t, we will collectively deserve all we shall, sooner or later, get. 

First, it’s time to get to know Pestilence, the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse. His colleague Death is several hundred million years old, introduced to our ancestors when they ended the arithmetically confusing practice of multiplying by division (binary cell-splitting or metazoan vegetative budding) and subcontracted reproducing to a minority of germ cells, leaving the rest to perish in an ageing body. Famine is probably an even more venerable fellow, manifesting himself to the first primitive mote of life to run out of primordial soup. War in the sense of battles between rather than within social groups of the same species introduced himself to our apish ancestors some millions of years ago. Ants and termites made his acquaintance much earlier. But, although he has been about since the first phage viruses began to afflict bacteria possibly billions of years ago, and pressed his unwelcome attentions doubtless upon our ancestors for much of the time since, Pestilence pretty much left our own personal ancestors alone for the past few million years, until relatively very recently.

The reason is that our ancestors, from perhaps 2 million to around ten thousand years ago, followed a lifestyle Pestilence found decidedly unconducive to his activities.  We were not herd animals, on and amongst whom pestilential pathogens could themselves graze, assured of finding another host when they used up the current one, either by rendering it deceased or immune. Our hominid, and Palaeolithic human, ancestors were thinly spread across the land. Living in bands of at most 200 individuals, each defending a tribal hunting and gathering territory and meeting in larger numbers only infrequently. A situation not conducive to plagues. If disease did break out in one band, it might well infect all its members quite quickly. But such an infection would have run its course, killing or rendering immune and pathogen-free those infected, before they were likely to have met anyone else to infect. In fact, extreme isolation is not necessary – if conditions were such that each person whilst infectious on average infected less than one other, any disease would, sooner or later, die out even if it managed to spread amongst more than one band. 

As was doubtless the sad (if one can spend sympathy on bacteria and viruses) fate of whatever disease organisms managed from time to time to jump the triple barrier that guards one species from the diseases of another. A barrier comprised firstly of the need to physically get from one host of one species to one of another. Not easy in the millions of years when humans generally only got close to other animals immediately before and during killing, cooking and eating them (which incidentally is why you won’t get bird flu from eating cooked chicken!). Secondly the disease has to actually survive and reproduce in the new host, without being simply swatted by the immune system that stops us being eaten, for example, by our own gut bacteria and the countless others that land on and in us constantly. This is especially difficult for viruses – bacteria basically just divide and multiply given a suitable food source, and we are quite suitable to many. But viruses, thousands of times smaller than bacteria, have to hijack a host cell, subverting it into making copies of the virus, before they can breed. Subversion which is highly selective in terms of whose cells can hear, and whose are deaf, to its genetic siren song. So the new disease has actually to succeed in making us ill. Thirdly – and this is the Third Barrier the H5N1 viral Bane of the Dead Swan of Fife has yet to cross – it has to be able to spread from one human to another before the first human is dead or all the germs invading him and her have been slain by the body’s very effective defences.  Having got that far, almost all diseases to afflict our pre-agricultural ancestors simply died out after a brief local epidemic when they ran out of new hosts having the dual desiderata of being both still alive and not already immune.  

To survive as a disease of human or humanlike hunter-gatherers, a pathogen had to gang exceeding warily. Being quite infectious, but not virulent, nor provoking a strong immune response. Subtly lurking in its hosts for decades, and killing, even debilitating most of them slowly or not at all. 

The result is that, as genetic evidence has revealed, only one major affliction of historic humanity ever managed to inflict itself on us lastingly before we started writing our first histories. Tuberculosis. Human TB, alone of all ills to which mankind is heir, is most closely related to its counterpart in our nearest nonhuman relatives, chimpanzees. And its genetic clock shows human and chimp TB diverged when humans and chimps themselves did. It was a disease of our common ancestors, several million years ago. Its practice of lurking, latent, in infected victims for years, even decades, before becoming active and infectious when their immune systems weakens for any reason means it can become endemic even amongst hunter-gatherers. The same genetic clock, the accumulation of random mutations in non-critical genetic material ticking away in lineages of life after they have divided, that shows TB is the one major indigenous human disease shows that pretty much every other human disease is little if at all older than recorded human history. Many are much younger. 

The reason is that both epidemic disease and recording history sprang from the same source. The “Neolithic Revolution”, the adoption of agriculture, the replacement of hunter/gatherers over wider and wider areas by farmers, leading in turn to towns, cities, civilizations, literacy and recording history. .  Pestilence likes farmers. 

There are a lot more of them to prey on, for a start. Even Neolithic-level farming can support tens of times, up to a hundred times, more people per square mile/kilometre than hunting and gathering.  People living cheek-by-jowl in villages, and soon towns and cities, in herds hundreds and even thousands strong. Amongst whom even the most virulent plague can spread quickly enough to be likely to find a fresh host before the current one has died or defeated it. Whilst an endless supply of interesting new diseases is assured by people living in close association and proximity, over long periods, with other species whose herding or flocking behaviour long enabled endemic diseases to evolve for them. Early farmers shared their homes with pigs and cattle (often housed at the other end of their houses or in a ground-floor byre under the living floor) with ducks and chickens underfoot (much as in those areas of SE Asia in the news lately for deaths from SARS and avian flu, by no coincidence whatsoever).

The result was that disease after disease crossed the species barrier from domestic livestock to man. Smallpox was originally the cowpox of cattle. The same species’ rinderpest mutated into human measles. Jumping the species barrier a second time to become canine distemper. Pigs contributed whooping cough – again passed on in turn to poor old Fido, who has got the short end of the stick medically speaking from being Man’s Best Friend.  Falciparum malaria was originally a disease of birds. The human form evolved from that found in ducks and chickens. Different strains of influenza have repeatedly crossed the species barrier to man from their original hosts in pigs and ducks. Southern China and Vietnam, where both pigs and ducks are kept in intimate proximity with impoverished peasants in unhygienic huts, has for this reason repeatedly contributed flu pandemics to the sum of human happiness. To help them make this contribution to mankind, said peasants have cultivated a taste for delicacies made from uncooked duck blood and similar suitably infectious tit-bits.

Agriculture, and the urbanisation it enabled, also allowed species we didn’t intend to share our space with to make themselves at home amongst us anyway and share their exciting diseases. Bubonic plague, for example, was in origin a disease of rats.     

Throughout the last few thousand years, disease after disease has crossed the species barrier and sparked pandemic after pandemic. In each case, the story is the same. Animal diseases were repeatedly exposed to potential human hosts living in intimate and insanitary conditions with their original hosts. Given the very short generation times of germs – some bacteria go through one generation every nine minutes – they evolve rapidly. Mutant strains arise all the time. In situations of frequent opportunities to infect humans, any mutant able to take advantage would prosper. At first, again and again, they would find themselves trapped in a human host, able to multiply and exploit him or her, but with no way of spreading out of the body they were in should it die on them or become able to kill them off. The only escape was a lucky mutation that could escape into another human. With populations in each infected hosts in the high millions and generation times in minutes, such mutations were generally not long in coming. And another new plague was unleashed on humanity…

With, in general, initially devastating effects on populations with little or no natural immunity or resistance. Mortality rates frequently of 25-75% in the first epidemic. Effects mitigated over time in the interests of the disease rather than humanity. Because the disease organism’s best long-term interests lie in farming rather than exterminating its food supply – us! Killing the host before he has time to infect anyone else is clearly a bad career move, which has spared us so far from the likes of the Ebola virus which do this. But even slaughtering the human host herd to the extent that the population drops below the minimum necessary to maintain the disease as endemic amongst it is also inefficient. Although it’s also inefficient to fail to harvest the maximum sustainable yield of germs from the bipedal food supply. On the other side of the evolutionary battle, a virulent disease is actually breeding, and socially selecting, its hosts for resistance to it – it is only the survivors of its attacks, or those who avoided infection, who survive to carry on their kind and/or their healthier way of life. 

The result is that, over time, evolution causes a gradual reduction in the virulence of each disease. And a progress away from devastating but intermittent plagues thereof to a permanent low-level endemic presence. Rinderpest, for example, is widely thought to have crossed the species barrier to become human measles in the 2nd Century AD, causing the devastating plague that caused over 25% mortality in the Roman Empire in the late 160’s AD, in the process ending the relatively idyllic Antonine apogee of Rome. After which it became endemic, with new mutations able to overcome immunity to earlier variants breaking out in a series of plagues of steadily decreasing virulence until, within a few centuries, it became what it was until the recent MMR vaccine came on the scene – a harmless (with the odd tragic exception) disease contracted by virtually every child in the host population, who thereafter became immune, and surviving at a stable level on that basis.  

Such human-adapted diseases can still wreak havoc on populations that have co-evolved with them. When Europeans reached the Americas and then the Pacific Islands, they inflicted a string of new diseases on the natives. Some, like smallpox, were still pretty dangerous even to Europeans, with mortality rates approaching 50%. Among the urbanised Neolithic populations of Mesoamerica those rates hit 95%. The 5% survivors of course passed their higher (though not total) degree of resistance to their descendants. But their society had been destroyed, easy meat for the Conquistadores. Even diseases fairly harmless to Europeans, like measles, could cause significant mortality in populations that had never been exposed to them. Lower mortality, demonstrating that the relative harmlessness of the disease in long-exposed populations was due not only to the hosts evolving resistance but to the pathogen evolving to be less lethal. An example of coevolution in action fascinating unless you happen to be a 19th Century Hawaiian!         

So the Dead Swan of Fife is not mere media hype. The fear that a new disease – or in this case a new variant of an old disease – will cross the species barrier from its non-human host and become an initially very deadly disease of people is well-founded. It is, as we have seen, the way we got pretty much every other disease to which humanity is now heir. From smallpox – first recorded in scabs on an Egyptian mummy from the 17th Century BC – to polio – the first epidemic of which was as recent as 1840, although it’s not yet clear which animal species we got that one from – and including wave after wave of New Improved Flus. Sooner or later – and more likely sooner than later – it will certainly happen again.     

The trouble is that next time, or at least one of the times in the next decade or two, this happens it will be a disaster on an unprecedented scale. Because of the way we live now. 

Disastrous disease epidemics, as we have seen, are already a result of changed human socioeconomics. Before we invented agriculture, they just didn’t happen. Now we have invented globalisation, they are about to get worse. A lot worse. 

Why? The simple answer is that there are more people than ever before, they move around more and faster than ever before, and the short-sighted selfish greed that is the ruling ethos of globalisation has made it much more difficult in a number of ways for us to defend ourselves against new diseases (and indeed made them more likely to arise).     

The unprecedented swarming mass of humanity, which has more doubled in number in the last 50 years to over 6,000 million, provides a feast for new pathogens as never before. Every year there are 74 million more juicy humans to prey on, an entire large European nation full – although the additional arrivals are not Europeans, of course. This seething biomass bred by Western medical and agricultural technology the prevailing ideology of the West caused to be sold, and sometimes given, to the rest of the World without thought of the consequences, beyond short term profit.   

Now they seethe like maggots, eating up the rest of the living world. Living in swarming squalor in their sewer-free shanty towns and favelas, sitting ducks for the next major pandemic and an ideal breeding ground for such a new human pathogen. The epidemiological antithesis of their ancestral scattered bands of Palaeolithic hunters.

Their sheer numbers also mean people are pushing ever deeper into formerly thinly peopled wildernesses, some of which, such as African rainforests, are rich reservoirs of potential pathogens, currently preying on species such as chimps genetically very similar (98%) to us, making the species barrier the germs have to jump temptingly low. To help the germs even more, the African rainforests are now being raided on an ever growing scale for “bushmeat” to be sold and eaten in the vast squatter camps around the continent’s cities. Chimp meat is, apparently, a particular – if 98% cannibalistic! – delicacy, as is that of various monkey species. From one of whom has already come AIDS. So as to enhance our experience of potential disease diversity here in Britain, recent Court cases reveal that Africans have been smuggling chimp and other bushmeat into Britain, where it is apparently a prized delicacy at a number of African restaurants in London. 

However, were any such diners to go down with some exotic germ here, they could be assured of swift and professional medical care. Not so in the teeming slums back home where most such prime cuts are more usually consumed. There any alien pathogens will be given every chance to try again and again to cross the species barrier to infect humanity in a medicine- and hygiene-free germ-friendly environment. Swarming with potential prey, their immune systems weakened by poor nutrition and in many cases in Africa AIDS. Welcoming any initially diffident bacterium or virus anxious to seek asylum from a rainforest animal host being hunted to extinction as its habitat is destroyed in the welcoming and abundant pastures provided by Homo sapiens – overwhelmingly Africa’s commonest large mammal. Though it would be churlish to pass over the peasantry of East and South-East Asia, living cheek-by-jowl with their pigs and ducks, in their efforts to help Mr Pestilence mount his horse for another good gallop through humanity.   

In fact, he has got his foot in the stirrup a few times already of late. Lassa, Ebola and Marburg viruses have all managed to evolve strains capable of infecting humans and spreading from one human to another. However, so far every outbreak has aborted itself because the viruses turn their human hosts into a bag of goo too quickly to allow effective transmission to a wider public. Any mutation of these viruses that makes them just slightly less deadly and they will be in business.  They don’t have to be any less deadly – and so far few have survived infection with Ebola or Marburg. They just have to be deadly a little more slowly, to take a few hours more to kill. And once these delightful creatures do manage mutate to epidemiological effectiveness (or maybe it will be something else not yet heard of, but we can count on  ex Africa semper aliquod something rather nasty  in the coming years) our delightful global Free Market economy will be there to waft Pestilence wherever he wants to go.

For not only is the vast human population swarming through the last wild refuges of exotic viruses and bacteria unprecedented. So is the speed and volume of human movement around the world. Fleets of jumbo jets roaring hither and yon in the service of the free movement of labour in the global economy.  So that a germ that was caught in a village in Gabon or a shanty town around Lagos or a street in Shanghai in the morning can be coughed out into a crowded London Tube, Paris metro or New York subway carriage the same evening. 

When the last big killer hit Europe, the Black Death in 1347, it took some years, and many thousands of germ generations, to spread West from its origin in China, giving the germ and its new host some chance to adapt to each other. Even then, one European in three perished. Now a germ can be in the heart of Europe and North America only a few tens of cell divisions, or in the case of a virus copyings by host cells of its genetic code from its first deadly incursion into our species. 

No-one is going to stop the carrier if the next Black Death from walking through Passport Control at Heathrow if his papers are in order even if he is looking a little peaky. Any suggestion of thorough medical checks or even quarantine periods on people entering the West from Third World plague danger zones would be howled down. 

Ostensibly, but doubtless effectively, with the parrot squawk of “racism” – though such controls would, to work, have to be applied with the same indifference to race, nationality and ethnic origin that most (though as AIDS shows not all) plagues themselves show.  But actually because they would interfere with the vast profits to be made by the multinational combines who own the West from shipping people quickly and freely around the world. Third World labourers to the West to be exploited in dirty, dangerous and low-paid jobs that no Western worker would do – unless they were made cleaner, safer and better-paid, and where’s the profit in that? And Western managers to run “offshoring” operations in the Third World, milking the low-paid labour at source. But if they carry on, one day they will get something very different from profit from the Third World.

The BBC recently released on DVD its chilling 1975 series Survivors, showing exactly the sort of pandemic plague this article is talking about in action. Then it was portrayed as an escaped Chinese germ warfare agent. But very likely Nature can still show human folly a trick or two here. But the opening sequence, showing the Death spreading around the World in days in a mix of footage of jumbo jets overhead and passport stamps at airports, is even more apposite today, when air travel is vastly greater than it was thirty years ago. Nor is the sequel depicted, of the swift collapse of government and civilization as all but one in ten thousand perished in weeks, dated in the least either. That mortality rate would be unprecedented in the history of humanity. But so is our current social situation, in ways that make such a killer plague far likelier than it was in the past. 

In fact, before the present day, Survivors’ plague, The Death, was, ironically, too deadly to spread around a world in which travellers were slower, better controlled, and fewer in number. More than a few decades ago, and Western Governments would have the time and the will to close their borders effectively as the Death rolled closer, to slam the gates in the face of onrushing Pestilence. With peoples who, as the patient endurance of the privations of the last World War by the ordinary people on both sides showed, were capable of reserves of discipline, dedication to the common cause and courage in crisis one suspects would be sought in vain amongst the consumerist hordes of their descendents, brainwashed into the selfish short-sighted greed that is the underlying ethic of 21st Century Western “civilization”.

Indeed, a few decades ago, not only would the next great plague of mankind be less likely to get into Western nations, there is a much greater chance it could have been beaten back even if it had done so. For the ingenuity and technological brilliance that is one of the better aspects of our civilization had, by the early 1940’s, come up with antibiotic “magic bullets”,  stunningly effective against bacteria if sadly not viruses. But being able to beat bacteria alone secures us against the Black Death, and leprosy, and even the ancient human killer tuberculosis. Combined with widespread vaccination, which does work against viruses, this lead the US Surgeon-General in 1962 to proclaim that humanity had won its war against Pestilence. 

Sadly, he reckoned without Pestilence’s good pal, Greed. And a socioeconomic system built on the mobilization of greed, and Greed’s ally Selfishness. The antibiotics, as everyone knew from the start, would eventually lose their effectiveness if they were used carelessly and promiscuously. So long as they were only deployed to save lives actually under threat and in controlled circumstances where the patient could be compelled to take the full course so there were no bacterial survivors of the attack, they would keep their effectiveness. Let them be used indiscriminately in doses not high enough or continued long enough to stamp out all the attacking germs, and some more antibiotic resistant germs would survive to pass on their resistance. Evolution by natural selection works if the best adapted organisms to a new environmental challenge – even if not yet fully adapted – get a chance to survive and breed. And, each generation, even better adaptation to the challenge was rewarded with better breeding success. With generation times in minutes rather than years, microbes can evolve fast and far – if they are given the chance.    

Capitalist greed gave them that chance. The antibiotics were soon the preserve of giant multinational pharmaceutical companies. Who saw there was no profit in hoarding them and using them sparingly so as to preserve their effectiveness. The more widely they were used, the more they sold. Helped by the fact that it was discovered that putting antibiotics into animal feed in the burgeoning factory farms enhanced yields of eggs, milk and meat. To the point that today 70% of all antibiotics made are not used to treat disease but are used in agricultural food production – fed to battery hens and pigs and the like. Much of the rest is wasted in, for example, bactericidal washing-up liquid and tissues. This was combined with the deliberate fostering of selfishness in the interests of profit, under the guise of “human rights” serving “freedom”. So that compelling tubercular drug addicts and Haitian illegal immigrants in New York to complete their courses of antibiotics was deemed an “infringement of their human rights”. 

The upshot was that bacteria were allowed to accustom themselves to antibiotics, constantly and widely exposed to dosages enough to favour resistant strains but not enough to kill them before their resistance had evolved to be complete. Thus Capitalism created MRSA – a strain of the ubiquitous bacterium of boils and zits, and wound infection and septicaemia, Staphylococcus aureus immune not just to methicillin but, in time, to every known antibiotic. Whilst tubercular trash of society exercising their “human right” to stop bothering to take their medication any more once it had cured their symptoms but before it had killed off the last most antibiotic resistant holdouts of TB germs in their bodies has bred a TB which is now almost as resistant to treatment as it was a century ago.    

Compulsory universal vaccination exterminated viral scourges such as smallpox altogether by the late 1970’s (apart from inside sinister secret US and Soviet Government labs). But again the pervading social spirit of selfishness promoted to create profitable consumer populations insidiously undermined the eradication of other viral plagues. 

To work, vaccination has to cover at least 95% of the host population, so the virus cannot find enough vulnerable hosts to sustain itself in the population. But it is not itself without a cost. Sadly, a very small proportion of those immunised are seriously harmed or even killed by the vaccine. Fewer than the disease used to maim and kill. But in today’s self-centred society the “rights” of the individual prevail against the good of the people as a whole. So, for example, a scare – later found to be unfounded anyway – alleging a link with autism caused British parents to opt their children out of the MMR vaccine. Which they were allowed, selfishly, to do. The result is that measles was not eradicated but broke out anew, and recently the first British child for decades died of the disease, whilst others were blinded or brain damaged because social selfishness backed by the courts allowed the eradication campaign to fail. In a different society – or our own a couple of generations ago – parents would have ensured their children’s vaccination out of social duty. Those few children who did die from the vaccine would be seen in the same light as soldiers who perished in battle or firemen who died on duty, as having given their lives nobly for the greater good of  the whole, by their sacrifice saving the lives of the far more children who would have perished had the populace not been protected by vaccination.      

One might think that, with antibiotics growing less and less effective and vaccination less and less universal, and with a general awareness, as the Dead Swan showed, of the danger of a new pandemic plague, those responsible for finding new drugs would be concentrating their efforts on better antibiotics to fight bacteria and cheaper antiviral drugs to fight viruses. But the big profits for the pharmaceutical companies to whom such research has largely, in the privatised market-run world of today, been abandoned do not lie in pills taken briefly to defeat a deadly germ. They lie in those taken lifelong to stave off a lesser chronic ill – a gyppy stomach or a creaky joint. Or mood-altering drugs to help people cope with their crazy world. Or perhaps really expensive and profitable pills to save a few from cancer rather than cheap and unprofitable ones to save many from germs.  So antibiotic research languishes and  resistant strains rampage through homes and hospitals. Necrotising fasciitis anyone?

So we are right to fear the message the Swan of Fife died to bring us. Modern, cosmopolitan, global market society is making the worst pandemic disaster in human history much more likely, and making it much harder to resist it when it comes. The global market is playing a game of Russian roulette with Pestilence. He pulls the trigger on the revolver’s chamber loaded with AIDS. Click! Spin the magazine. Pull the chamber loaded with SARS. Click! Ebola virus. Click! H5N1 flu. Who knows? The hammer is still falling on the chamber. But sooner or later- BANG!     

The last great pandemic, that caused by a new flu train in 1918, killed more people  in four months than perished in the four years of  the First World War. 80% of the United States soldiers who did not come back from serving in World War One died of this flu after the Armistice rather than in battle before it.   The next, spreading much faster amongst a much more closely connected world with lots more people in it, will doubtless kill many more people. Perhaps most people. Though almost certainly not all people. But quite possibly civilized society, which will collapse if enough of its productive people perish. We do not know how many individuals comprising a society need to die to bring down civilization with them. 50%? 75%? 90%? We may be about to find out…

Yet the predicament humanity has got itself into in the first decades of the 21st Century is so grim that such a pandemic is not the worst thing that could – and probably will – happen to us. Our teeming population eating the Earth like locusts has started a race to get us by all the Four Horsemen. Pestilence, as we have seen, is currently a few lengths in the lead. But, as we turn farmland into desert ever faster each year, partly from exhaustion of the soil in the Third World but increasingly in coming decades due to climate change brought on by our greed and filth, Famine is coming up strongly on the stand side. As rising sea levels force entire nations such as the Bangladeshis to pour inland seeking new land for their hundred millions and drought in a warming world displaces billions in Volkerwanderungen to dwarf those which flooded over and drowned the Roman West , War is beginning to spur on his steed strongly. Add the wider spectre of top tier biosphere collapse brought on by the mass extinction of other species at the hands of the spreading plague of excess humanity on a scale already surpassing that when the dinosaurs departed, and Death, currently hanging back and saving his mount’s wind in the certainty that he will get us all in the end individually anyway, must be the bookies’ favourite to sweep ahead in the final furlong and claim our entire species as his prize. 

Unless Pestilence rides a clever race and claims enough of us now to deny his fellow Horsemen their prey later. We are in such a plight by now, caused at root by far too many people, that a pandemic that killed enough people now might save us from worse to come. 

Not too many people, everywhere, though to collapse that Western technological civilization which, once it has sloughed off its Capitalist carapace, still offers the last best hope for the long term future of our species.  Indeed, resolute, determined and disciplined action in the face of pandemic might save one or a few Western nations more or less intact, whilst the rest of humanity perished. The survival of that part of human civilization which has stabilized its population already, freed from the certainty of being swept away in a tide of the desperate rest of humanity as it dragged us all down to disaster, might well be the last best hope of mankind. 

The tragedy of our current plight is that, for humanity as a species to survive the next thousand years, most humans must die as soon as possible in the next hundred. If he can do that for us, without reducing the survivors to savagery, perhaps Pestilence is our friend after all, and the Dead Swan’s message is one of hope in the hour of our coming desperation.       

Gangster president declares war on Iran

Donald Trump with IRA terrorist godfather Gerry Adams. Trump now seeks to emulate his old friend’s record of brutal and shameless murder.

Gangster president Donald Trump has this morning effectively declared war on Iran by ordering the murder of Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the most significant state-sponsored assassination since Czech SOE agents killed Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 – and the most significant such assassination ever to take place outside wartime.

It is immaterial whether Trump’s action was dictated by his slavish devotion to the State of Israel, or was partly inspired by the need to distract attention from his own impeachment for criminal misdeeds.

During his election campaign four years ago, Trump gave American voters the impression that he would end the era of US entanglement in foreign conflicts. Instead he has today embroiled the US in what will be a far more serious conflict than the Iraq and Afghan wars combined.

The US now stands alone, without its NATO allies, as even the British Foreign Office rushes to distance itself from the White House Godfather.  The only cheers have come from Trump’s fellow crook Benjamin Netanyahu and the neocon cabal whose influence Trump once promised to end, but who now enjoy more control over US foreign policy than under Reagan, Clinton, or Bush.

Donald Trump’s political tutor was mafia lawyer Roy Cohn, seen here with (left to right) Donald Trump, nightclub owner and crook Steve Rubell, and Trump’s first wife Ivana.

Nationalist-Populist Success in Uruguay

Conservative presidential and vice-presidential candidates Luis Lacalle Pou and Beatriz Argimón

The latest country to be touched by the growing national populist wave is Uruguay, the most European country in South America in ethnic make up.

Until the 1970s the centre left Partido Colorado (Reds) and the centre right Partido Nacional or Blanco (Whites) alternated in office, but between 1973 and 1985 Uruguay was under military rule, as the armed forces struggled to repress the extremely violent Marxist-Leninist Tupamaro guerilla movement.

After democracy was restored in 1985, former Tupamaros formed the so called Frente Amplio (“Broad Front”), which has held power for the last fifteen years. Its “achievements” include inviting Syrian “refugees” and African immigrants to settle in the country to solve the problem of a lack of diversity.

Curiously, these changes have been accompanied by an explosion of violent crime in what was once South America’s most peaceful society, though the Frente Amplio’s belief that criminals are the victims of social injustice has certainly contributed more to the crime wave than the limited non-white immigration that Uruguay has experienced so far.

This month however a newly formed populist and nationalist party Cabildo Abierto has scored notable successes, taking a little over 11% of the votes cast, eleven of the 99 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and three of the thirty seats in the Senate.

Styled the “Vox” of Uruguay by the press, following the electoral successes of the Spanish national conservative party, it is in some ways more interesting than Vox itself, since Cabildo Abierto has adopted a mixture of socially conservative policies, notably on crime and immigration, but also strongly opposing abortion, combined with “left wing” economic policies, strongly referencing distributist ideals and supporting generous social provision for the poor, though not the work shy.

It is not therefore surprising that while some of its cadres come from the “traditional” parties (notably former Blancos, who think that their old party is now too socially liberal), and its leader, General Guido Manini Rios, was commander in chief of the Uruguayan Army till he was cashiered last year for criticising the vindictive policy of the Frente Amplio towards retired officers who had used vigorous methods to obtain intelligence from captured Tupamaros in the 1970s, much of its electorate is very working class and it is winning votes principally from disillusioned ex-supporters.

Readers who can speak Spanish will find its web site here.

A patriotic mural celebrates the 33 militant nationalists who sparked Uruguayan independence in 1825.

At the time of writing, it seems that the candidate of the Partido Nacional has won a very close fight with the Frente Amplio in the second round run off for the presidency. The PN candidate has been endorsed by a five party coalition including Cabildo Abierto. Uruguay’s elections court has yet to scrutinise some 30,000 questioned ballot papers before the result if officially declared.

In a world where national populism is thriving so near to us as the Pas de Calais, and so far away as Uruguay, the question must be asked, why not here in Great Britain?

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