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Showing posts from May, 2017

Different Forms Of Power Projection

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The Soviet Union made its first noticeable attempt at territorial expansion. A group was landed by aeroplane on the pack ice at the North Pole where they proceeded to erect a Soviet flag and a portrait of Stalin. This gave concrete substance to a decree of 1926 claiming the region in the abstract. Four scientists were left behind to spend a year at a newly built base, conducting experiments. Of course, the drift of the ice meant that they would have travelled some distance from the Pole over that period. Moscow was not distracted from the normal conduct of business by these excitements and a further 43 Trotskyites were shot in the Soviet Far East for their activities in wrecking the railways.
Belgium was wracked by controversy over an issue that followed the sharp divide between its two linguistic communities that is as bad today as it was then. A bill was presented before parliament granting amnesty to 300 or so citizens sentenced for treason under the German occupation during the Fir…

Communist Buses, Socialist Trams

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The Coronation celebrations had proceeded in the face of a bitter and prolonged strike by London’s busmen. A meeting at the headquarters of the Transport and General Workers’ Union voted to continue the strike but made plain the divisions within the labour movement that it had thrown up. The T&GWU was only notionally the busmen’s representative. In reality the strike was being driven by elements very far to the left, notably the “Rank and File” committee. The busmen were trying to bring the trolley bus and tramway workers out in sympathy but the union’s official leadership was firmly opposed. Ernest Bevin, the general secretary of the T&GWU, was resolutely anti-communist firmly blocked any union support for extending the strike to other transport workers. The busmen were on their own.
On the other side of the Atlantic another bitter industrial dispute presented almost a mirror image with “independent” steel producers holding out against – depending on your stance – union recogn…

Echoes of the Future

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George VI was crowned as King of Great Britain in an atmosphere of public contentment and happiness. After its worst year in a long while Britain's Royal house was showing that things were back firmly on an even keel though an orgy of the glorious pageantry it did so well. The existence of the King's elder brother, which might have been a potent spectre at the feast, was entirely ignored. Almost to the last moment, the politicians had feared that he might somehow contrive to spoil the day. The ceremony passed off very smoothly and the small wrinkles which caused the King agonies – a red thread used to mark the correct way round to place the crown on his head had vanished, prompting some small jiggling at the crucial moment. For the first time ever the ceremony was filmed (this will be shown on BBC Parliament tonight, Friday) although proposals to broadcast it on television did not lead anywhere, prefiguring the might battle fought over televising his daughter’s coronation in 1…

Stalinism Progresses as the Last Symbol of Constitutional Rule in Germany Explodes

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The Spanish Civil War took yet another turn for the worse as a civil war within a civil war developed in Barcelona. The uneasy coalition government had taken shift towards the Communists with the appointment of one of their number as Minister of Justice. They rapidly moved to take over the posts on the Catalan-French frontier previously controlled by anarcho-syndicalist CNT militias and then tried to take control of the Telefonica (telephone company) building in Barcelona, unofficially a CNT stronghold and a source of internal intelligence. Talks between the government and the CNT to restore harmony broke down and massive street protests degenerated into opened armed fighting with several hundred dead. Just as the bombing of Guernica exposed the reality of Franco’s nationalists to the outside world, the Republicans slipped into fratricidal conflict which would see power pass ever more into Communist hands.
Whilst Stalinism headed for domination in Catalonia, Stalin tightened his strang…