Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Remembering Czech Student Jan Palach who set himself alight for freedom

 20-year old Czech philosophy student Jan Palach died on January 19 1969 after suffering for three days in hospital from self-inflicted third-degree burns. On January 16 1969, Palach, a quiet student of philosophy standing at the top of Wenceslas Square, at the foot of the steps of the Czech National Museum, poured petrol over his head and lit it on fire, five months after Soviet tanks had rolled into Czechoslovakia to end a swelling reform movement, to protest against the lack of freedom and the passivity of its citizens, hoping to inspire compatriots to stand up to their occupiers,.His act was modelled on the  1963 self-immolation of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thin Quang Duc in Saigon, protesting at the Vietnam war.
During an interview in the hospital and in his suicide letter, he called for a strike and expressed dissatisfaction with the resignation of citizens toward the regime’s policies.“People must fight against the evil they feel equal to measure up to at that moment,” he managed to say, With 85 percent of his body covered in third degree burns, he passed away in the hospital three days after his self-immolation attempt.He had made the ultimate sacrifice. Palach left a short and succinct suicide note  at the site explaining the motives for his actions. Ominously, he signed his suicide note 'Torch Number One', giving the impression that he was part of a larger group, which in fact  did not exist.
He left a letter at the site explaining the motives of his final act: 

 “As our nation is living in a desperate situation, and its reconciliation with fate has reached its utmost stage, we have decided that in this way we will express our protest and shake the conscience of the nation …ˮ

It did. Following Palach’s self-immolation, many Czechs and Slovaks went on hunger strike; others took to the streets. They insisted that Palach’s calls, expressed in his farewell letters, to abolish censorship and stop the dissemination of the Soviet propaganda publication Zpravy should be heeded.
 In death, Jan Palach would become known as “the conscience of the nation”, hailed as a martyr of exceptional courage and character. He is held up as the national symbol of the Prague Spring, a period of political liberalization and mass protest in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic that lasted approximately seven months, from January 5th to August 21, 1968.  The Prague Spring began with the election of reformist Alexander Dubček as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). In August that year, the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact members invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress the reforms. The week after the invasion saw nonviolent resistance spark across the country, and the beginning of a massive wave of emigration, due to the suppression of speech, media, and many other freedoms. Jan Palach became a symbol of that resistance,
Palach’s funeral at Prague’s Olšany Cemetery on January 25 turned into a huge demonstration of opposition against the Soviet Union's crushing of the liberal reforms of the Prague Spring, attended by at least 200,000 people. Protests and services of remembrance took place across the country, with people shouting anti-communist and anti-Soviet slogans.

The authorities allowed these demonstrations and marches to take place, sensing the need of the people to voice their discontent. But soon, marches were broken up as the regime reasserted its control. Palach’s grave in Prague, which was attracting far too many visitors, had become a shrine adorned with flowers, candles and poems.During October of 1973, without asking the family’s permission, the Secret Police had him cremated and replaced Palach with the body of an elderly lady in the Olšany grave. His ashes remained with his mother in Všetaty. The police would not even allow her to put the urn in the local cemetery until 1974. The Secret Police watched his grave, forbidding followers from placing flowers on Palach’s resting place. Palach’s ashes were transported to Olšany, Prague in 1990. 
Palach wrote in his suicide letter that he did not want others to follow his example. Yet some did not heed his warning. The day after Palach’s death Josef Hlavatý committed an act of self-immolation in front of a memorial to first democratic Czechoslovak president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk in Pilsen. Notably marking a month after Palach’s funeral 18-year old Jan Zajíc, a former friend of Pelach's poured gasoline on himself at Wenceslas Square on 25 February 1969, In his suicide note, entitled ‘Torch no.2’, Zajic wrote:

 ‘I am not doing this to be mourned, nor to be famous, and I am not out of my mind, either. With this act, I want to give you the courage to finally resist letting yourself be pushed around by a few dictators.’

Other deaths by fire took place in Jihlava and Košice. The self-immolation trend was not limited to Czechoslovakia, though. Students in other Communist countries also attempted suicide in this way.It was later copied by a wave of Indian students who set themselves alight in 1990 in protest at changes in quota systems for entry into university and the civil service.In Britain in 1993, Graham Bamford, a 48-year-old former haulage contractor, burned himself to death outside the House of Commons to protest at the horrors of Bosnia. It was later echoed at the start of the Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia, which began after street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in December 2010..
After Palach’s courageous death, however the situation in Czechoslovakia did not improve.His act failed to overturn the consolidation of power by Soviet-backed hard-liners who brought a period of repression that lasted until the end of communist rule in 1989. Th protests and Palach's demands went unheeded. Censorship remained in place and the Soviet occupiers continued distributing, their propaganda publication. Nothing had changed and the Czech and Slovak drifted in apathy,.
Tet Jan Palach;s name  though became a key point of reference in seminal events leading up to the fall of communism, with rallies in his name crucial in mobilising support outside dissent circles.Twenty years later, anti-Communist dissident Vaclav Havel was detained as he laid a flower at the top of Wenceslas Square to commemorate Palach on January 16, 1989, sparking thousands of demonstrators, mainly students,  to flock to Wenceslas Square every day for a week  in what  later became known as ' Palach week.' Lots of people consider these gatherings to his memory to have been a dress rehearsal for the Velvet Revolution the following November that brought down Czechoslovakia's communist regime, which saw Havel  becomming the country's president, with many seeing this as the ultimate testament to Palach's legacy.
Following the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, a bronze cross honouring both Palach and Jan Zajic was embedded into the ground on Wenceslas Square, as if melting into the pavement, on the exact spot where Jan Palach had staged his desperate protest. A small memorial with Palach’s death mask adorns the façade of Charles University’s Faculty of Philosophy, and the square on which the building is situated is named after him. Squares in Rome and Luxembourg also bear the martyr’s name. Streets named after Palach can be found in Luxembourg, France, Poland, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. There is even a Palach memorial inside a glacier tunnel in Switzerland. 
Palach’s self-immolation has been widely referenced in music, literature, poetry, movies, and other cultural forms.Songs and poems have been written about Palach.The music video for the song “Club Foot” by the band Kasabian is also dedicated to Palach. Written by Charles Sabatos, the book Burning Body: Icon of Resistance: Literary Representations of Jan Palach also carries his memories.  A radio play and a documentary also focus on the Všetaty native. In 1991 President Havel posthumously awarded him a medal for serving democracy and upholding human rights,
He was also immortalised by the 2018 movie named after him, starring Czech actors. The movie is currently available on Netflix in Czech with English subtitles. More information on the movie can be found here.
Palach’s  incredible sacrifice was not in vain. He stood up to the harsh regime while others merely accepted the political situation. He gave his life because he believed in democracy and human rights.Though his immediate political goals failed, Jan Palach inspired and steeled the resolve of countless others to fight for freedom during the two decades of ‘Normalisation’ that followed the crushing of the Prague Spring. And for this he will never be forgotten.

                                           Jan Palach Memorial, Prague, Czechoslavakia

Monday, 18 January 2021

Honoring the Rich Radical Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.


Civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King is honored with a holiday across the US on the third Monday of January, between 15-21, every year since 1986 - three years after president Ronald Reagan wrote the holiday into law.This year’s official holiday is Monday, Jan. 18th. Countries outside the US also recognise the life and achievement of Martin Luther King Jr.
On this day we remember his life and work, celebrate the victories of the civil rights movement, and reflect on what still needs to be done in the pursuit of racial justice. However MLK Day will be celebrated unlike any year before due to the rising tensions growing in the United States. Due to COVID-19, outcries for social justice, and political unrest people will have to celebrate MLK Day a bit differently this Jan. 18, 2021.This year the typical forms of remembrance — i.e. marches and parades,will have to be placed on pause.
Martin Luther King was an American Baptist minister and activist who was born Jan. 15, 1929 in Atlanta  and became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement. From the mid-1950s until his death in 1968 King sought equality and human rights for African Americans. Through peaceful protests, he and his followers fought for all victims of injustice and the economically disadvantaged. King was the hidden motivation behind many watershed events  
He rose to national prominence when he led the boycott of the 1955 Montgomery’s transit system after Rosa Parks, an African-American, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus. King later in 1957 helped form  the Southern Christian Leadership Conference serving as its first president. With the SCLC, he helped organise the non-violent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He also helped to organise the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
On October 14 1964 King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combatting racial inequality through non-violent resistance. In 1965, he helped to organise the Selma to Montgomery marches, and the following year he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing.
In the final years of his life, he expanded his focus to include opposition to poverty and the Vietnam War. On March 29 1968, King went to Memphis, Tennessee, in support of the black sanitary public works employees, who were represented by AFSCME Local 1733, King was killed by an assassin .at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on 4 April 1968 and died later that same day at St Joseph's Hospital. News of his death was followed by riots in many US cities.
American white supremacist  James Earl Ray was convicted of assassinating Martin Luther King Jr, entering a guilty plea to forgo a jury trial and the possibility of a death sentence, and was sentenced to 99 years' imprisonment.This sentence was extended to 100 years after Ray and six other convicts temporarily escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, in Tennessee, in 1977, only to be captured three days later. He died on 23 April 1998, aged 70.
MLK Day is a federal holiday, though it was not made official until 18 years after his assassination.
Efforts to honor King with a federal holiday began just months after his death. Those efforts failed, as did a 1979 vote by Congress that came after King's widow, Coretta Scott King, spoke out in favor of the day. Momentum for the holiday grew in 1980 when entertainer Stevie Wonder released "Happy Birthday" in King's honor, leading to a petition calling for MLK Day.
In 1983, 15 years after King's death, 22 senators actually voted against an official holiday honoring him. The North Carolina senator Jesse Helms undertook a 16 day fillibuster of the bill claiming that King's "action-oriented Marxism" was "not compatible with the concept of this country" He was joine in his opposition by Senators John McCain, Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassly, among others. Ronald Reagon reluctantly signed the legislation, all the while grumbling that he would have preferred 
 a day similar to Abraham Lincoln's birthday, which is not technically a national holiday. 
To this day, after  MLK Jr. Day, was formally recognised  we often are presented with a sanitized, nonconfrontational version of Dr. King that is a far cry from the radical activist who was reviled during his time for his powerful justice work. Whether these misconceptions are promoted by those who are genuinely unfamiliar with Dr. King’s true history or by those who seek to silence today’s black activists with his more “acceptable” example, one thing is clear: there is a whole lot more to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring legacy than we are taught in school.
The reality is that Martin Luther King held revolutionary ideals rooted in the 18th-century vision of freedom and equality and grounded by a Christian theological vision of social justice. With these ideals, he and his fellow civil rights workers intentionally created national discomfort in cities, north as well as south, throughout the 1960s. 
We should  not forget that  King told the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) board on March 30, 1967, "The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism."
Just a few days later, on April 4, 1967—exactly one year before King was assasinated he delivered an infamous speech at Riverside Church in New York City condemning the Vietnam War. He called for an end to the "nightmarish conflict" as well as for the nation to "undergo a radical revolution of values," saying in part:;

"A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love."
 Holding true to his principles is what compelled him to take a deeply reflective antiwar stance in the era of the Vietnam War. King articulated the great revolutionary hope that human beings might one day live in a world of individuality, mutuality and respect.
King’s ideals were also derived from a human rights tradition rooted in the long fight against slavery. He recognized that many before him had paved the way for him and his contemporaries to take up the fight for freedom and equality. He felt duty-bound to keep antiracist protests and democratic freedoms alive in the United States even as the forces of Cold War geopolitics were distorting them in the greater part of the world, in the name of political freedom. On MLK Day, it is worth remembering his stirring, passionate condemnation of U.S. militarism,and his arguments about why opposition to it can't be extricated from anti-racism or anti-poverty activism. Mainstream media outlets will remember King’s “I have a dream” speech, but forget that he also said, We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are all tied together.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is also a fine opportunity to note that King belongs to a pantheon of famous historical figures who were, to the surprise of many admirers, committed socialists. King questioned the “captains of industry” and their ownership over the workplace, the means of production (“Who owns the oil?… Who owns the iron ore?”), and believed “something is wrong with capitalism. "There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.
Martin Luther King Jr as part of a wider movement, standing alongside socialists such as Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin , and A Phillip Randolph in not just attempting to dismantle the Jim Crow system, but replacing it with an egalitarian social democracy, committed to building a broad movement to overcome the failings of capitalism and achieve both racial and economic equality for all people,
He also sacrificed his life to continuous political struggle. His dream sometimes became a nightmare and was met with frustrated reactions that at times were vitriolic, scornful and violent. For his militancy King was hounded by the FBI , denounced as a communist, n bombarded with death threats,
It is sad to recollect that most of the American public, either because of fear or complacency, accepted the forms of inequalities that had been heaped upon racial minorities in their country as though they were ordained by God. Only 22% of Americans approved of  the freedom rides fighting segregated transportation. King, however, sustained a utopian vision of what life could be like for all Americans and people around the world if national leaders and common citizens alike exercised our political will for the common good. 
Though Martin Luther King Day is an American holiday, the man himself was thoroughly international.
He had long supported anti colonial struggles in developing countries, His political thoughts traverses all borders.Like so many strugglers in the long fight against racism, King appreciated that it was, at it's heart a global project.  Many years later  despite some victory's and gains, the march for equality is unfinished, and for some his dream is unrealised, take for instance the case of the Palestinians who are daily imprisoned.
We cannot  let go of Dr King's dream, because, surely it is everybody's dream, we must continuously try to change the world, remember those in the U.S.A fighting for jobs and freedom, a land  still lanquishing to find itself, while perpetrating injustice, discrimination and inequality. A country that imprisons more  of their citizens than any other country in the world. African Americans in particular, though they are 12% of the population, make up 38% of the state prison population, despite their crimes being no different from their white and hispanic counterparts.
Sadly King's legacy was gravely dishonoured every day that bloody Donald Trump sat in the Oval Office. Yet despite this  Dr King's words can still be  be both sobering and inspiring, his words are a timeless representation of the struggles that disenfranchised people face. As the fight against white supremacy, militarism, and economic inequality continues, it’s important to remember that while King stood for hope, he also stood for action. Today’s Black freedom movement stands firmly in King’s legacy, and should be recognised as such.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor … it must be demanded by the oppressed!” King determined. Reminding  us that “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at during times of challenge and controversy,” He also warned us that “We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools, and  that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."  These are revolutionary times,” King declared. “All over the globe, men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born.”
 More than 50 years after his death, Martin Luther King Jr's rich radical  legacy and his words live long in the memory of millions worldwide because he put forward a vision of a society that provides equality for people of all races and backgrounds.This is the cause that King spent his life fighting for, and it is one we should recommit to as we honour his legacy. The power of his words speak as much to the present day as hey did to the turbulent times he witnessed.
 Lets continue to honor this champion of the poor and the oppressed,in our  actions and deeds. In the face of continuing  cruelty and injustice, speak out, and speak up, for surely history will judge us all for our silence.  Here is an old poem of mine in his honour

Strength to Love

Martin Luther King had a dream
That still today stirs our conscience,
He rejected violence to oppose racial injustice
Spread a message of peace, love and understanding,
His only weapons were his words and faith
As he marched in protest with his fellow man,
A force for good, but radical with intention
Pursued civil disobedience was not afraid
                                            of confrontation,
We are all born equal under skin
This noble struggle never stops within,
The causes of poverty must still be eradicated
There is so much more room for change,
As fresh iniquities call, lets keep hope alive
Standing firm let our voices ring out,
Keep sharing deeds of deep principle
In the name of pride and in the name of love,
We are all still citizens of the world
As Martin Luther carries on reminding,
“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.
The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.”
We must continue to resist and overcome
“Let justice roll on like a river, 
righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
One day soon, all our dreams will be realised.


Sunday, 17 January 2021


(Thanks to G. L. Wilson )

last night I could not sleep
though dreams called
drifting through liminal spaces
spinning and turning
through chambers of time
corridors of navigation
the stars above cried
as the cosmos roared 
and the rain sliced through moonlight
between the dark shadows cast
I remained calm and focussed
as the ocean turned below my feet
finding glimpses of the unknown
whiplashing breezes compressing broken thoughts.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Remembering Chartist leaders found guilty of high treason in Newport Rising of 1839

The People’s Charter had been launched in the spring of 1838 to demand universal male suffrage and other egalitarian electoral reforms. - See more at: http://www.internationalsocialist.org.uk/index.php/2013/11/on-this-day-4111839-the-newport-rising/#sthash.1XaXbYTG.dpuf
The People’s Charter had been launched in the spring of 1838 to demand universal male suffrage and other egalitarian electoral reforms. - See more at: http://www.internationalsocialist.org.uk/index.php/2013/11/on-this-day-4111839-the-newport-rising/#sthash.1XaXbYTG.dpuf
The political movement of Chartism developed following the 1832 Reform Act due to the widespread disappointment at the provisions in the act.  In June 1836 the London’s Workingmen’s Association was formed and in 1838, the members launched a People’s Charter and National Petition which called for radical changes to the way in which Britain was governed.  Supporters of the movement were from then on known as Chartists.  
At the time only 19 percent of the adult male population of Britain could vote. The Chartists wanted the vote for all men (though not for women) and a fairer electoral system. They also called for annual elections, the payment of MPs, and the introduction of a secret ballot.Working conditions in many coalfields and ironworks in South Wales were harsh, and there was often conflict between workers and employers. Much of the working class population were living in poverty, but without a voice in politics, and they did  not feel they could change their situation, Given these circumstances, it was no surprise that Chartism developed quickly. In the summer of 1838 a Working Men's Association was formed in Newport, Monmouthshire to publicise the People's Charter.  
Within six months, the radical leader John Frost https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2017/05/john-frost-radical-chartist-leader.html  estimated that there were between 15,000 and 20,000 Chartists in the county of Monmouthshire. Chartism fought for democratic demands, but it was not solely a democratic movement, it was a revolutionary class struggle to change society. William Price, https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/william-price-441800-2311893.html a Pontypridd Chartist leader said: "Oppression, injustice and the grinding poverty which burdens our lives must be abolished for all time."  
 The People's Charter called for six reforms to make the political system more democratic, namely:
  1. A vote for every man twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and not undergoing punishment for a crime.
  2. The secret ballot to protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.
  3. No property qualification for Members of Parliament in order to allow the constituencies to return the man of their choice.
  4. Payment of Members, enabling tradesmen, working men, or other persons of modest means to leave or interrupt their livelihood to attend to the interests of the nation.
  5. Equal constituencies, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing less populous constituencies to have as much or more weight than larger ones.
  6. Annual Parliamentary elections, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since no purse could buy a constituency under a system of universal manhood suffrage in each twelve-month period.
Tensions rose after the government turned down the mass petition for the Charter, presented to the House of Commons with over 1.25 million signatures.Leaders like John Frost and Henry Vincent called for 'physical force' to obtain the Charter, and to add further fuel to the indignation felt in May 1839  eloquent public speaker  Henry Vincent,https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2018/05/henry-vincent-1051818-2912-1878-radical.html well known locally for his speaking tour of South Wales a year earlier, on 2 August all of 20 miles away in Monmouth was arrested for making inflammatory speeches. When he was tried on the 2nd August at Monmouth Assizes he was found guilty and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment. Vincent was denied writing materials and only allowed to read books on religion.
Chartists in Wales were furious and the decision was followed by several outbreaks of violence. John Frost called for a massive protest meeting to show the strength of feeling against the imprisonment of Henry Vincent. Frost's plan was to march on Newport where the Chartists planned to demand the release of Vincent.
On 4 November 1839,  some seven or eight thousand men from nearby iron and coal-mining villages assembled and  roused with much anger  marched into Newport ,and attempted to take control of the town. They marched to  Westgate Hotel, where they had heard that after several more arrests, local authorities were temporarily holding several chartists, began chanting "surrender our prisoners". However the authorities in Newport  had heard rumours that the Chartists were armed and planned to seize Newport. Stories also began to circulate that if the Chartists were successful in Newport, it would encourage others all over Britain to follow their example, so were waiting for them. Troops protecting the hotel were then given the order to begin firing into the crowd, killing at least 22 people, and another fifty being wounded and resulted  in  the uprising being bought to an abrupt end. Among the injured was a Chartist named John Lovell, who was shot in the thigh and badly wounded. It would be the last large scale uprising in the history of  mainland Britain.

                                                   the attack on Westgate Hotel
Following the Newport defeat, South Wales was placed under martial law and hundreds of Chartists arrested or forced into hiding.Within days  many of the alleged the ringleaders including Frost were arrested and in December"True Bills" for High Treason were found against 14 men and more than 40 counts for sedition, conspiracy, riot and burglary.

The 14 men committed for Trial were:

John Frost, age 54, a draper, Newport

Zephaniah Williams, age 44, an inn keeper, of Blaina

William Jones, age 30, a watchmaker & beer house keeper, of Pontypool

Charles Waters, age 26, a ship's carpenter, of Newport (formerly Chepstow)

John Lovell, age 41, a gardener, of Newport

Jenkin Morgan, age 40, a milkman, of Pillgwenlly

Richard Benfield, age 20, a miner, of Sirhowy

John Rees, age 40, a miner, of Tredegar

James Aust, age 25, a gardener, of Malpas (formerly of Caerleon)

Solomon Britton, age 23, a collier, of Garndiffaith

George Turner, age 37, a collier, of Blackwood

Edmund Edmunds, age 34, a mine agent, of Pontllanfraith

and, to be tried in their absence:

John Rees, (Jack 'the Fifer'), a stonemason, of Tredegar

David Jones, (Dai 'the Tinker'), of Tredegar

- but the two were never captured

The Trials commenced on 31st December 1839 - and all fourteen men faced the Death Penalty. 

 South Wales Chartist Song, 1839, to rally support for John Frost and other imprisoned leaders of the Newport Rising 1839. 

Uphold these bold Comrades who suffer for you,
Who nobly stand foremost, demanding your due,
Away with the timid, 'tis treason to fear—
To surrender or falter when danger is near.
For now that our leaders disdain to betray
'Tis base to desert them, or succour delay.

A Hundred years, a thousand years we're marching on the road 
The going isn't easy yet, we've got a heavy load 
The way is blind with blood and sweat & death sings in our ears 
But time is marching on our side, we will defeat the years.

We men of bone, of sunken shank, our only treasure death 
Women who carry at the breast heirs to the hungry earth 
Speak with one voice we march we rest and march again upon the years 
Sons of our sons are listening to hear the Chartist cheers 
Sons of our sons are listening to hear the Chartist cheers.

 John Frost's trial was heard first and this ended on the 8th January. Zephaniah Williams, on the 13th January and William Jones, on the 14th January. All three were found "guilty, with mercy".[This meant that although they were sentenced to death, the final decision to allow mercy was with Her Majesty and her Government] 
John Lovell, Charles Waters, Jenkin Morgan, Richard Benfield and John Rees - on the advice of their counsels, Messrs, Stone & Skinner, were urged to plead guilty in the hopes that the Crown prosecutors could prevail upon the Judges to set the death penalty aside in their cases and on the 15th January 1840, they appeared together in court and pleaded guilty. The remaining four Chartists in Monmouth gaol - James Aust, Solomon Britton, George Turner, Edmund Edmunds - were brought before the bar and to everyone's amazement, the Attorney General withdrew all charges against them and they were freed with a verbal admonishment.
On the 16th January 1840, John Frost, Zephaniah Williams and William Jones were sentenced by the Lord Chief Justice Sir Nicholas Tindal:

"After the most anxious and careful investigation of your respective cases, before juries of great intelligence and almost unexampled patience, you stand at the bar of this court to receive the last sentence of the law for the commission of a crime which, beyond all others, is the most pernicious in example, and the most injurious in its consequences, to the peace and happiness of human society - the crime of High Treason against your Sovereign. You can have no just ground of complaint that your several cases have not met with the most full consideration, both from the jury and from the court. But as the jury have, in each of those cases, pronounced you guilty of the crime with which you have been charges, I should be wanting in justice to them if I did not openly declare, that the verdicts which they have found meet with the entire concurrence of my learned brethren and myself.

In the case of all ordinary breaches of the law, the mischief of the offence does, for the most part, terminate with the immediate injury sustained by the individual against whom it is levelled. The man who plunders the property, or lifts his hand against the life of his neighbour, does by his guilty act inflict, in that particular instance, and to that extent, a loss or injury on the sufferer or his surviving friends. But they who, by armed numbers, or by violence, or terror, endeavour to put down established institutions, and to introduce in their stead a new order of things, open wide the flood-gates of rapine and bloodshed, destroy all security of property and life, and do their utmost to involve a whole nation in anarchy and ruin.

It has been proved, in your case, that you combined together to lead from the hills, at the dead hour of night, into the town of Newport many thousands of men, armed, in many instances, with weapons of a dangerous description, in order that they might take possession of the town, and supersede the lawful authority of the Queen, as a preliminary step to a more general insurrection throughout the kingdom.

It is owing to the interposition of Providence alone that your wicked designs were frustrated. Your followers arrive by day-light, and after firing upon the civil power, and upon the Queen's troops, are, by the firmness of the magistrates, and the cool and determined bravery of a small body of soldiers, defeated and dispersed. What would have been the fate of the peaceful and unoffending inhabitants of that town, if success had attended your rebellious designs, it is impossible to say. The invasion of a foreign foe would, in all probability, have been less destructive to property and life.

It is for the crime of High Treason, committed under these circumstances, that you are now called upon yourselves to answer; and by the penalty which you are about to suffer, you hold out a warning to all your fellow-subjects, that the law of your country is strong enough to repress and to punish all attempts to alter the established order of things by insurrection and armed force; and that those who are found guilty of such treasonable attempts must expiate their crime by an ignominious death.

I therefore most earnestly exhort you to employ the little time that remains to you in preparing for the great change that awaits you, by sincere penitence and by fervent prayer. For although we do not fail to forward to the proper quarter that recommendation which the jury have intrusted to us, we cannot hold out to you any hope of mercy on this side of the grave.

And now, nothing more remains than the duty imposed upon the court - to all of us a most painful duty - to declare the last sentence of the law, which is that you, John Frost, and you, Zephaniah Williams, and you, William Jones, be taken hence to the place from whence you came, and be thence drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, and that each of you be there hanged by the neck until you be dead, and that afterwards the head of each of you shall be severed from his body, and the body of each, divided into four quarters, shall be disposed of as Her Majesty shall think fit, and may Almighty God have mercy upon your souls."

These three chartist leaders were the last men in Britain sentenced to be "hanged, drawn and quartered.
                                          Zepaniah Williams, John Frost, William Jones
 John Frost, Zephaniah Williams, William Jones - were returned to Monmouth Gaol to await public execution.  The Government had decided that an example should be made of three members of the lower middle classes for having misled thousands of workmen into taking insurrectionary action against Queen and State.
The severity of the sentences shocked many people and thanks to the vigorous lobbying and protests  in support of the convicted Chartists, it led to to their sentences being commuted to transportation for life.
When they actually received a total pardon in 1856. Jones stayed in Australia as a watchmaker and Williams stayed in Tasmania, where he subsequently made his fortune discovering coal. However, John Frost, who had worked as a school teacher in Tasmania, returned to Britain, where he received a triumphant welcome in Newport.
The Newport rising was a turning point for the Chartist movement. In response to the conditions, Chartists in Sheffield, the East End of London and Bradford planned their own risings. Samuel Holberry led an aborted rising in Sheffield on January 12th 1840; police action thwarted a major disturbance in the East End of London on January 14th, and on January 26th a few hundred Bradford Chartists staged a failed rising in the hope of precipitating a domino effect across the country. After this Chartism turned to a process of internal renewal and more systematic organisation, but the transported and imprisoned Newport Chartists were regarded as heroes and martyrs amongst workers. 
'Physical force Chartism' was no longer popular however, and an uprising of the size seen in Newport for the time being has never happened again. However the movement gained strength and popularity throughout Britain and although it failed its purpose at the time, five of the Six Points of the original Charter which the Chartists had campaigned for have since been conceded, only the demand for Annual Parliaments not so far being accepted. 
A beautiful mural depicting four scenes from the Newport Rising, located in a pedestrian underpass in the city, was  shamefully destroyed in 2013 to make way for a shopping center.https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/destruction-of-chartist-mural.html Despite this nearly two centuries after the drafting of the People’s Charter, long may the Chartists struggle and its leaders be remembered who helped give voice to the discontent of the time in their struggle for democracy. 

Thursday, 14 January 2021

The Waiting Game

These are dark days, torn and broken
America now, a ticking time bomb, 
A nation on the brink of martial law
It's populace under house arrest,
Imploding on multiple fronts all at once
People  losing all sense of reality, 
Their Constitution now bruised and battered
Clouds of  reason erased and shattered,
Stained by White Supremacist- in Chief 
Impeached for incitement  of insurrection,
I am sick of eyes so dark they can''t relate
And the  hands that sought to desecrate,
A cruelty of vision, that created  division
Leaving five dead, caused by spiteful emission,
Countless more in the days and months ahead
The consequences of his superspreader event,
Under infected skies, pandemic runs its course
As hollow undignified man offers no remorse,
It's a perilous waiting game for now
Time for  healing winds of change to blow,
The need for peaceful thoughts and reflection
The blind to accept result of Presidential election,
Keep the darkness of hatred from calling once more
Retrieve the sense of intellect and seek to restore,
Beyond emboldened discordant voices, dispense some cure
So this  'land  of the free, home of the brave' may endure,
For the stars and stripes to fly with pride again
Truth to become the victor, to erase all hurt and pain.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

£30 food parcel Boris Johnson Tories profiting/stealing food from hungry children in a pandemic


 An image of a food parcel shared by one parent (RoadsideMum/PA)

A furious mum has slammed the free school meals scheme after she says she was sent just a few pounds worth of food to feed her children for 10 days.
Parents of children who would normally qualify for free school meals have been given the option of food parcels or vouchers as schools close for remote learning.
Going by the Twitter handle https://twitter.com/RoadsideMum the unnamed woman shared a photo of a delivery which she estimated cost £5.22, rather than the £30 vouchers she is entitled to.
It shows  items including bread, cheese, two carrots and a tin of baked beans, with the mum writing:

: “2 days jacket potato with beans, 8 single cheese sandwiches, 2 days carrots, 3 days apples, 2 days soreen, 3 days frubes.

“Spare pasta & tomato. Will need mayo for pasta salad.

“Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest.”

She added : Public funds  were charged £30,  I'd have bought this for £5.22. The private company who have the free school's meals contract  made a good contract here, 

By midnight on Tuesday (January 11), the image had been shared more than 15,000 times on Twitter and the issue has been roundly condemned, after all these are starvation rations. Ir's a disgrace.

 The Manchester United Striker and food poverty campaigner Mark Rashford 23  said :

‘children deserve better’ as he shared images of cheap food bundles meant to keep families fed for days. Those eligible for free school meals are entitled to £30 food vouchers while classrooms are closed, but some parents have been sent food hampers that cost a fraction of that price. 

One of the images Rashford shared was intended to feed a family for three days and included just four apples, a tin of beans, a few cartons of juice and some snacks. Rashford tweeted: 

‘3 days of food for 1 family… Just not good enough.’ 

 In another tweet he added: 

‘Then imagine we expect the children to engage in learning from home. ‘Not to mention the parents who, at times, have to teach them who probably haven’t eaten at all so their children can… We MUST do better. This is 2021.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/12/free-school-meals-marcus-rashford-slams-not-good-enough-parcels-13887567/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

The Manchester United Striker and food poverty campaigner said ‘children deserve better’ as he shared images of cheap food bundles meant to keep families fed for days. Those eligible for free school meals are entitled to £30 food vouchers while classrooms are closed, but some parents have been sent food hampers that cost a fraction of that price. One of the images Rashford shared was intended to feed a family for three days and included just four apples, a tin of beans, a few cartons of juice and some snacks. Rashford tweeted: ‘3 days of food for 1 family… Just not good enough.’ In another tweet he added: ‘Then imagine we expect the children to engage in learning from home. ‘Not to mention the parents who, at times, have to teach them who probably haven’t eaten at all so their children can… We MUST do better. This is 2021.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/12/free-school-meals-marcus-rashford-slams-not-good-enough-parcels-13887567/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

Rashford tweeted: ‘3 days of food for 1 family… Just not good enough.’ In another tweet he added: ‘Then imagine we expect the children to engage in learning from home. ‘Not to mention the parents who, at times, have to teach them who probably haven’t eaten at all so their children can… We MUST do better. This is 2021.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/12/free-school-meals-marcus-rashford-slams-not-good-enough-parcels-13887567/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

Rashford tweeted: ‘3 days of food for 1 family… Just not good enough.’ In another tweet he added: ‘Then imagine we expect the children to engage in learning from home. ‘Not to mention the parents who, at times, have to teach them who probably haven’t eaten at all so their children can… We MUST do better. This is 2021.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/12/free-school-meals-marcus-rashford-slams-not-good-enough-parcels-13887567/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

Today the government said it was 'urgently' looking into claims free school meals parcels only contain a few pounds worth of food.

Schools are given a grant from the Government, which they can spend on getting vouchers for pupils or getting a contractor to supply parcels.

Until this week suppliers were working on costs of £2.34 a day per student, but on Friday the government increased this by £3.50 a week.   

The company behind the lunch in question is Chartwells, which  has Tory links and is the education catering specialist of £24.8billion-earning Compass Group UK & Ireland. They have said they would investigate.

But many others took to Twitter to upload  their own images of food packages received, some of which were far worse,  not all from same company but helping to expose the Tory's complete failure when it omes to issuing food contracts, handed out without a care to  their  friends to the detriment of those who rely on these services the most.

In 2021 it  is truly outrageous and unacceptable that families are being sent such inadequate food parcels, in the latest episode of public contracts being handed over to Tory donor companies profiteering from the pandemic. There is no way that the contents of the boxes being investigated was valued at anything like the £30 taken from the public purse, so questions must be answered by Chartwells and the Government about where the rest of the money has gone. 

The Government must urgently step up and ensure that meaningful and adequate free school meals are provided, or provide families with the cash to manage this themselves. No one should be profiteering from our hungry disadvantaged children. This needs to be sorted out immediately, it's not as if it's an isolated incident, the cruelty and mismanagement of our Government is off the scale. 

Can't we just give families the £30 and treat people with the bloody respect they deserve. Cut out for good, the private businesses who are currently profiteering from families in need, 

The Tory government has meanwhile condemned the contents mentioned as "completely unacceptable" With a Downing Street spokesperson  saying the Department for Education will  tell the company responsible that " boxes like this should not be given to families."

I would argue that it is our rotten government that is not acceptable. Chartwell's should be stripped of their contract .Enough is enough.

£30 food parcel Boris Johnson' Tories  profiteering'stealing from hungry children in pandemic (Artist Taxi  Driver)


Here is link to company involved, if you wish to contact them further :-

And please sign the following petition :-

Make access to food a legal right - no ne in the UK should go hungry


She added: ‘Public funds were charged £30. I’d have bought this for £5.22. The private company who have the free school meals contract made a good profit here.’ Footballer Marcus Rashford, who successfully lobbied the government into continuing free school meals for children through the summer and Christmas holidays, described the parcel as ‘unacceptable’.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/12/free-school-meals-firm-with-tory-links-shamed-over-30-shopping-basket-13887331/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

She added: ‘Public funds were charged £30. I’d have bought this for £5.22. The private company who have the free school meals contract made a good profit here.’ Footballer Marcus Rashford, who successfully lobbied the government into continuing free school meals for children through the summer and Christmas holidays, described the parcel as ‘unacceptable’.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/12/free-school-meals-firm-with-tory-links-shamed-over-30-shopping-basket-13887331/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

She added: ‘Public funds were charged £30. I’d have bought this for £5.22. The private company who have the free school meals contract made a good profit here.’ Footballer Marcus Rashford, who successfully lobbied the government into continuing free school meals for children through the summer and Christmas holidays, described the parcel as ‘unacceptable’.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/12/free-school-meals-firm-with-tory-links-shamed-over-30-shopping-basket-13887331/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

She added: ‘Public funds were charged £30. I’d have bought this for £5.22. The private company who have the free school meals contract made a good profit here.’ Footballer Marcus Rashford, who successfully lobbied the government into continuing free school meals for children through the summer and Christmas holidays, described the parcel as ‘unacceptable’.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/12/free-school-meals-firm-with-tory-links-shamed-over-30-shopping-basket-13887331/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

She added: ‘Public funds were charged £30. I’d have bought this for £5.22. The private company who have the free school meals contract made a good profit here.’ Footballer Marcus Rashford, who successfully lobbied the government into continuing free school meals for children through the summer and Christmas holidays, described the parcel as ‘unacceptable’.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/12/free-school-meals-firm-with-tory-links-shamed-over-30-shopping-basket-13887331/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Palestinian Human Rights Defender Issa Amro convicted by Israeli military court


 An Israeli military court on Wednesday convicted  Palestinian rights activist Issa Amro of offences in the occupied West Bank, his lawyer said. Amro was convicted on three counts of protesting without a permit, two counts of obstructing security forces and one count of assault. his lawyer said,  Amro denied the charges,
Amro denied the charges, which included protesting without a permit, obstructing Israeli soldiers’ activities in the flashpoint city of Hebron and assaulting a Jewish settler.
The charges date back to 2010, according to a statement put out by his supporters, which said sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 8. It was not clear what kind of sentence he might receive.
The longtime Palestinian activist and organizer in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Issa  is a prominent human rights defender who has been recognized by the European Union and the United Nations,  and is a founding member of many non-violent organisations in Hebron who work peacefully against Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Amongst these organisations include the the Hebron branch of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), https://palsolidarity.org/  and Youth Against Settlements, a group that organizes non violent demonstrations and direct actions against the violent  settler encampments that are protected by heavily armed soldiers who frequently harass Palestinian residents in the city. He is also the founder of ‘Humans of Hebron’,http://humansofhebron.weebly.com/ which seeks to humanise the Palestinians of his city who have endured 53years living under Israel’s military boot.
Every year, Youth Against Settlements organizes a week of activities calling to open Shuhada Street. Once the city’s main commercial strip, Shuhada Street was closed off to Palestinians in 1994.Issa  inspired by the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi who he has been compared to and that of  Martin Luther King,  advocating civil disobedience and non-violent and pro-active measures to document and protest against the Israeli occupation in Hebron and the West Bank. 
Amro has been identified increasingly over the years as a targeted activist, and  he is frequently detained, arrested, and harassed for his work in the occupied territories.often after confrontations with settlers in which he says he was attacked and beaten. The Palestinian Authority detained him for a week in 2017 over a Facebook post critical of President Mahmoud Abbas .
Hundreds of hard-line Jewish settlers live in the heart of Hebron in enclaves guarded by Israeli troops. The city has a population of over 200,000 Palestinians, and there is a long history of tensions between the two communities.
 Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war, and the Palestinians want it to form the main part of a future state. Most countries view the presence of nearly a half million Jewish settlers in the West Bank as a violation of international law and an obstacle to peace. Israel disputes this, citing biblical and historical connections to the territory, as well as security needs.
Amro's supporters say the charges are linked to his participation in various peaceful protests over the years. They said the assault charge stems from a previously closed case in 2010 in which Amro allegedly shoved someone during a scuffle in which he said he was assaulted.
Amnesty International said in a statement ahead of Wednesday's hearing that Amro faced “politically motivated charges for his peaceful activism against Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlements.
Amnesty also said it would consider Amro a "prisoner of conscience" if he was convicted, and has expressed fears that Amro's  conviction would lead to further suppression of Palestinian  voices against the occupation. 
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war, and the Palestinians want it to form the main part of a future state. The Palestinians view the presence of nearly a half million Jewish settlers in the West Bank as a violation of international law and an obstacle to peace.
“It doesn’t make sense to punish someone for non-violent resistance,” Amro told Reuters. “The Israeli military system exists only to oppress Palestinians and restrict freedom of speech.”
Amro was convicted on six of 18 charges against him, in incidents that occurred between 2010 and 2016, his lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said.
Lasky said it was hard to predict whether Amro would face prison time, but that a Palestinian in a similar case received a 10-month term.
Amro said his next Palestinian court hearing is on January 20.
Most countries view settlements Israel built on West Bank land captured in a 1967 war as illegal. Israel disputes this, citing biblical and historical connections to the territory, as well as security needs.
 Issa is not a criminal but a human rights defender who uses principles of non-violence that can only be commended. He and  all other  human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories I believe should be able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities, including through the exercise of their right to free assembly, without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.  
 Amro is one of dozens of leaders across the West Bank and East Jerusalem who are using nonviolent tactics, civil disobedience, and direct action to challenge Israel's occupation. The work of these activists has gone nearly unrecognized,  but for years he and others have been courageously  carrying on with this work regardless of the consequences. Currently it seems that Issa is being used as an example to instill fear in other activists who resist the occupation. 
Solidarity with Issa and all others put under similar situation, His case another example of widespread targetting of human rights activists using old and exaggerated charges in a military court system whose conviction for Palestinians  is over 99%,

Monday, 4 January 2021

C.L.R. James : Revolutionary Socialist Historian & Thinker ( 4/1/1901 - 31/5/1989)


Cyril Lionel Robert James, anti-colonial activist, novelist,  socialist historian, revolutionary thinker, journalist and cricket aficionado, universally known simply as ‘CLR’ was born on the fourth of January 1901, in a small town called Tunapuna, 8 miles along the road from Port of Spain,  the largest city of Trinidad and Tobago then a colony of the British Crown. CLR’s father was a teacher, and his mother a habitual reader who helped to foster her son’s passion for literature. His strict upbringing made sure that CLR won an exhibition to enable him, at the age of nine, to attend Queen’s Royal College, the leading school on the island. 
 James, as a boy growing up in a small colonial society.considered  himself as a black Englishman. He absorbed everything  that European civilization offered to him. He  immersed himself in its history and literature, in its classical foundations, in its art and music, but st the same time he rebelled against his formal schooling, and the authority of Queen's Royal College,
Although he might have been an outstanding scholar CLR, having succumbed to the temptations that the game of  cricket offered, did not achieve all he might have at school. He was a good cricketer, a useful opening bowler and a competent batsman, although he never appeared at First Class level,  he develped a encyclopedic knowledge of the games history and sent as much time on the playing field as possible.
The island had several cricket clubs and membership was restricted based on colour, ethnicity and status. One was reserved for the wealthy whites, another for the impoverished blacks, one for the Asian middle-class, another for their black counterparts, one for the Catholics and finally another for the local police force. This system of division jarred with the  edicts of fair play that James had grown to embrace, and these brushes of white racism and prejudice struck James as a violation of the best qualities of English culture: It  "Just wasn't cricket,!!
 CLR’s first career was as a teacher, for a time at his alma mater where, amongst others, he taught the future Test cricketers Victor and Jeffrey Stollmeyer, and the man who would later lead Trinidad to independence, Eric Williams. During the 1920s CLR pursued his interest in cricket, and became a close friend of the great all-rounder Learie Constantine. He also did some writing in the press, and developed his interest in Marxism and his support for Andre Cipriani, a French Creole who built a strong labour movement in Trinidad. 
 Aside from his growing local reputation as a cricket reporter, James had begun, during the 1920s, to write fiction. It was in the style of the novels and short stories of the metropolitan writers, and yet its subject matter, barrackyard life, was new and authentically Caribbean. James was drawn to the vitality of backstreet life, particularly to the independence and resourcefulness of its women. It became the creative source for his first published pieces. La Divina Pastora (1927) and Triumph (1929) establish James’s potential as a novelist. Moreover they reveal the foundation of James’s imaginative skill in his close observation of the raw material of human life. This closeness to the lives of ordinary men and women was something James consciously developed; but he never shook off his sense of being an outsider, of looking on rather than being a participant in the vibrancy of the barrackyard communities.
James married his first wife, Juanita Young, in Trinidad in 1929, but his move three years later when he was 31 to Britain with the intention of becoming a novelist  led to their estrangement.
Learie Constantine, by now one of the world’s best cricketers, invited CLR to join him in Nelson where he was a huge star in the Lancashire League. Part of the reasoning behind the move was to assist CLR to assist Constantine with writing his autobiography. When he arrived CLR had with him the initial manuscripts of two books, the first was the autobiography which, as Cricket and I, appeared in Constantine’s name in 1933. The other book was a biography of Cipriani. 
Having arrived in Nelson Constantine introduced CLR to Neville Cardus. Cardus was shown a piece written by CLR after catching sight of the then 59 year old Sydney Barnes in a Lancashire League match. Much impressed Cardus made sure the piece appeared in the Manchester Guardian in September of 1932, and CLR was taken on to the newspaper’s staff. 
 His job as a cricket reporter on the Manchester Guardian increased his public profile, helping him, at first, to publicise the case for West Indian independence;he published The Case for West Indian Self-Government in 1933, but soon James was swimming in much stronger political currents. His experience of living in Lancashire had exposed him to the industrial militancy of working people. It was also during this time that James began to study seriously the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky; and the response of his Nelson friends to his developing political ideas acted as a useful reminder of the deeply rooted radicalism in the lives of ordinary men and women. He was made aware, too, of the constant conflict between their pragmatic political sense and developed perspective on the world and the positions taken by their so-called leaders. This division marked James deeply, establishing a creative tension in his own political work for the rest of his life.
James’s move to London in 1933 marked the beginning of his career as a leading figure in the Trrotskyist movement, ferocious in  denouncing Stalin's crimes, and James and his fellow Trotskyites remained opposed to Stalinism and offered virulent critiques of the system throughout the 1930s. 
In London, he was invited to join the Friends of India Society and to lecture on any subject connected with the West Indies at the Indian Students’ Central Association. James also attended several meetings of the India League. He joined the League of Coloured  People and wrote for their journal The  Keys. He associated with other black anti-colonialists of the time, such as George Padmore,, Amy Ashwood Garvey and Ras Makonnen. As a Trotskyist, James attracted the attention of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch. A 1937 Special Branch report shows that James was a regular visitor to Balkrishna Gupta, an Indian Trotskyist who was reportedly linked to Nehrhu. In 1938, James was living with Ajit Mookerjie Ajit Roy), a Trotskyist law student at LSE and friend of Gupta, on Boundary Road, London. James and Mookerjee formed the Marxist Group in 1935 and later the Revolutionary Socialist League. 
Thnoughout this time, James became increasingly conscious of black struggles around th world. When the Italian gascists invaded Ethiopia in 1935, he helped organise the International African Friends of Ethiopia,. The Ethiiopian cisis of 1935 was a turning point,  as James was forced to confront the equivocation of the British labour movement, His essay Abyssynnia and the Imperialists (1936) was an early acknowledgment  of  the British labour movement in the face of imperialist aggression in Africas and African descent in the struggle for freedom.
James would go  on  to draw upon his extensive historical research into the 1791 San Domingo slave revolution. led by Toussaint L’Ouverture raised very concretely the question James was seeking to address in his revolutionary politics – not just the nature and course of revolution itself, the changing relationship between leaders and the people; but the dynamic of the struggles situated at the peripheries and those located in the centre.  In 1936 he decided to produce a play, Toussaint L’Ouverture, from his drafted manuscript, casting Paul Robeson in the title role. It was a magnificent part for Robeson, given the severe limits he found as a black man seeking dramatic roles; but there were other political considerations which lay behind James’s decision to stage the play at London’s Westminster Theatre. It was planned as an intervention in the debates surrounding the Ethiopian crisis
James presented to his audience a virtually forgotten example from the past – of slaves, uneducated and yet organised by the mechanism of plantation production itself, who, in the wake of the French revolution, rose against their masters and succeeded not only in winning their freedom; but, in going on to defeat the might of three colonial powers, secured their victory through independence. At the centre of this outstanding struggle in revolutionary history was the figure of Toussaint L’Ouverture. He was the natural focus for a dramatic account of these tumultuous events; and James’s play focused upon his rise and fall as leader of the slaves. Drama was a form for which James had a particular feel. His lifelong interest in Shakespeare was based on the dramatic quality of the work; and James recognised that theatre provided the arena in which to explore “political” ideas as refracted through human character. It was through the juxtaposition of personality and events that James sought to highlight some of the broader historical and political themes raised by the San Domingo revolution. He hoped to make his audience aware that the colonial populations were not dependent upon leadership from Europe in their struggle for freedom, that they already had a revolutionary tradition of their own. 
It  would be a very productive  period for James, In addition to his cricjkt  reporting and political organiising, James began to produce books at a remarkable pace. In 1936 he published Minty Ally. about life in the slums of Trinidad. Then  came World Revolution, am analysis of the Third International and a scathing account of Communist policy under Stalin. And during 1938 , while working with Padmore to launch the journal  International African Opinion , h finished his masterpiece , The Black Jacobins that combined Marxist  ananalysis with a novelists talent and a detailed knowledge to create a mostly critical  portrayal of  L'Oubertture's role in the San Domingo revolt. James revealed gow the French and Haitan revolutions interaxted abd predicted that thee would be similar upriaings i Africa during the years to come. A book that helped transform the writing of history – and history itself. Decades before historians such as Christopher Hill and EP Thompson began producing ‘history from below’, James told of how the slaves of Haiti had not been passive victims of their oppression but active agents in their own emancipation. In telling that story, he inspired a new generation of Toussaint L’Ouvertures, leaders of the new anti-colonial struggles.
Not long adter that book appeared James  was invited to tour the United States by the Socialist Workers' Party to support the cause of Black workers. As he tavelled throughout the country, audiecnces  black and white , crowded to hear him. James could speak for hours without notes, quoting facts and documets from memory . Listeners sat enraptured by his knowledge and skill.  
At a meeting in Califorinia in the spring of 1939,  he. met his second wife Constance Webb, an American model, actress and author, He decided to extend his visit, 
In April 1939 he  went to meet LeonTrotsky, in Coyoacán in Mexico , in preparation for this, he submitted “Preliminary Notes on the Negro Question”suggesting in these that the SWP should help in “the organisation of a Negro movement” to fight for civil and political rights and the opening of those trade unions that still discriminated against back workers. They discussed the conditions for the Socialist Workers Party launching a revolutionary organization for Black workers in the United States . Trotsky and James conducted a series of minuted conversations which together were to form the basis of the revolutionary Fourth International’s policies on the black question and the forms of organisation it required to be a pioneer of black liberation. Trotsky agreed with James’ suggestion of an independent black organisation in principle, but questioned whether it could be a mass movement in existing conditions. He even suggested that if other parties formed such a movement, Trotskyists might enter it as a faction.  James commented in a letter that Trotsky “is the keenest of the keen on the Negro question” and that “He agreed almost entirely with my memo on the Negro question”.
Unfortunately, these positive developments were cut short. The Trotskyist movement was just about to undergo a damaging split over the Russian Question: what was the class character of Stalin’s totalitarian dictatorship in the USSR? Could it still be described as a degenerate workers’ state as Trotsky insisted, that is, a state with post capitalist planned property but a bureaucracy that had politically expropriated the working class? Major leaders of the SWP, Max Shachtman and James Burnham, developed the view that it was a new form of class society, bureaucratic collectivism. James went with them in the split of 1940 though he was to return to the SWP after the second world war, albeit as a proponent with Raya Dunayevskaya of their own  theory of “state capitalism” 
James and Webb married in 1946  and their son , C,L,R Jr , familiarly known as Nobbie was born in 1946,However in time James's activities won the attention of the FBI. Declared a subversive and  undesirable alien, Jame was arrested in 1953 at the time of the McCarthy and jailed for several weeks on Ellis Island. As a result the couple were forced to seperate, hr was subsequently deported, while Webb remained in New York. 
He returned to England for a bit  and began to report on cricket for the Manchester Guardian once more marrying Selma Weinstein in 1955,  who he  remained with until 1980. Then in 1958 at which point he was invited by his former pupil Eric Williams to return to Trinidad as independence beckoned. The job he took was a opportunity to influence events as editor of  the political newspaper The Nation
After leaving  The Nation, having fallen out with Williams on questions of the creation of a federation in the West Indies and a US Naval Base in Trinidad. He returned to London in 1962.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s CLR moved between the UK, the US and Caribbean and also spent time in Africa where he was involved in independence movements that swept through that region as well as the Caribbean. As a West Indian deeply-infused with Western culture, he sought to carve out a space of independence while still maintaining his love for what he saw as a series of cross-national ideals.
In 1963 he would publish Beyond a Boundary, a memoir and social commentary, that explored the place of cricket in West Indian and British society and its role in empire, family, masculinity, race, class, national culture, colonization, and decolonization.  The work is widely viewed by critics as one of the best sports books ever written.
As the political climate eased in the 1960's, U.S, authorities, allowed him back into the country to teach. Throughout the 1970's, he lectured on numerous campuses, and for several years he was a professor at the University of the District of Columbia (then called Federal City College). He lectured widely and wrote extensively on a diverse array of topic ranging  from  Black liberation to contemporary philosophy, culture, politics, radicalism, and revolution, and even touched on the anti colonial potential of cricket. 
Revolutionary though he might be, James always remained something of a Victorian gentleman, But however repectable he was in his personal manners, he remained focussed on the creative and disruptive forces st the bottom of society,of society.
"Ordinary working people in factories, mines, fields and offices ," he once wrote. " are rebellling every day in ways of their ow invention...Always the aim is to retin contol over their conditions of life and their relations, with one another. Their strivings have few chroniclers."
James returned to this theme in countless articles and lectures, and many of his books published over the last decades of his life were collections of such work. His approach to the questions of revolutionary politics acquired a distinctive stamp through his attempt to integrate the struggles of the colonial areas into the European revolutionary tradition. 
After  returning to live in Britain, a group of admirers, mostly young and black, gathered around him, heralding him as a sage.In 1981 CLR turned 80 and was invited  by the  London by the Race Today Collective to make a short series of speeches. It was then that he decided to relocate to London, and he rented a small one bedroom flat above the Race Today Collective offices in Brixton. He wrote for the organisation’s journal. The man who The Times dubbed the Black Plato was 88 when he died in Brixton  on the 31st of May 1989.
During his  last years James  had often reflected  upon his life's course, riding the gentle wave of academic fame thrown up for him by the storms of Black power, and surrounding himself with eager young associates. Although his strength had been slowly slipping away, he could in conversation often startle his visitors with the brilliance of his insight, his grasp of the details of history. and with the accuracy of his analysis of contemporary events. He remained a revolutionary to the core, 
His body was returned for burial in Trinidad, the island of his birth. His tombstone is designed as a book, opened to a page from Beyond a  Boundary:
 "Times would pass, old empires would fall and new ones take their place, the relations of countries and the relations of classes had to change, before I discovered that it is not the quality of goods and utility which matters, but movement; not where you are or what you have, but where you have come from, where you are going, and the rate at which you are getting there.
 His death coincided with the explosion of popular forces across China and eastern Europe which shook some of the most oppressive political regimes in human history. These momentous events, calling into question the structure of the modern world order, throw into sharp relief the life and work of one of this century’s most outstanding figures. For James was pre-eminently a man of the twentieth century. His legacy reflects the scope and diversity of his life’s work, the unique conditions of particular times and places; and yet at its core lies a vision of humanity which is universal and integrated, progressive and profound.
Further Reading:
James, C. L. R. 2005 [1963]. Beyond A Boundary. Yellow Jersey Press, London.
James, C. L. R. 1989 [1963]. The Black Jacobins. Vintage, New York. [First published in 1938]
Henry, Paget, and Buhle, Paul (eds) 1992. C. L. R. James’s Caribbean, Duke University Press, Durham
James, C. L. R. 1992. The C. L. R. James Reader (edited by Anna Grimshaw) Wiley Blackwell, Oxford.

 Online Collections:

C.L.R. James Archive at Marxists.org