Category Archives: European history

The Threads of Intolerance within Contemporary Liberal/Radical Fervour

A Letter on Justice and Open Debate …. Harpers’ Magazine, July 7, 2020 ……………..
……… The letter below  will be appearing in the Letters section of the magazine’s October issue. We welcome responses at letters@harpers.org

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

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Authoritarian Populism is the Danger Ahead

Ahilan Kadirgamar, in Daily Mirror, 6 July 2020, where the title runs “Regimes in Times of Crisis: Authoritarian Populism, Bonapartism and Fascism”

The crisis we face now is like a tectonic shift in the economy. Global production, the labour used for it, and the demand to realise it, are all in free fall. What will be the political consequences, and what kind of regimes will emerge out of such a deep crisis?
In Sri Lanka, as we approach a significant parliamentary election, my question is not about the character of the parties and the personalities of the candidates that may win or lose. The victory of the SLPP and its consolidation is a bygone fact; that battle was lost with the presidential election last November.

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Adieu! Galle Fort’s Burghers …. A Swansong in the Late 1980’s

This extended Video Clip recorded in the late 1980s takes many of us back to disappearing slices of life and its interactions within the Galle Fort, an arena that has been altered in ,but nevertheless retains its old world charm even today — while boasting astronomical land prices.

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Smashing Statues: Issues of Sense and Sensibility … and Nonsence

Rihaab Mowlana, in Lifelk, 19 June 2020, where the title runs thus “Are We Erasing History?”

The statue of Thomas Jefferson, the founding father who also enslaved more than 600 people, was toppled in Oregon, while the statue of navigator and coloniser Christopher Columbus was ‘spray-painted, set on fire and thrown into a lake’. In England, the Statue of Edward Colston suffered a similar fate, resulting in ‘the boarding up of the Cenotaph in Whitehall and Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square’. In many parts of the world, the predicament will befall many such monuments.

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A Statue Obliterated in Bristol: Radicals for Floyd in Righteousness against the Slave Trade

Gurminder K. Bhambra, in New York Times, 12 June 2020, with this title “A statue was toppled. Can we talk about the British Empire? “

The statue of the slave trader Edward Colston falling into the water on Sunday after protesters in Bristol, England, pulled it down.Credit…Keir Gravil, via Reuters

BRIGHTON, England — Tens of thousands of people protested in British cities in solidarity with those rising up against police brutality against black Americans in the past week. They highlighted similar injustices in Britain. Protesters in the city of Bristol drew connections between a white police officer’s killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, and the histories of colonialism and the slave trade. On Sunday, they toppled the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader, trampled over it and rolled it into Bristol Harbor.

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Reading Roberts on Sri Lanka’s Socio-Political Ailments: A Letter to Roberts

Drawlight, 10 June 2020

Sir: I have read through and consider this an excellent summary of the key issues,[1] particularly for those who are not very knowledgeable about history and of the sort who are busier protesting matters that have no relevance to them (the current trend among especially the youth in Sri Lanka on social media bandwagoning on BLM issues in the US simultaneously ignoring the more immediate realities of fellow Sri Lankans engaged in modern day slavery in the Middle East and other countries).

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Colossal Kills on All Fronts in 1944/45, World War II

Michael Roberts

In venturing into reflections on VE Day commemorations, by pure chance I stumbled on You Tube reviews of the ways in which German POWs were dealt with in Britain during and after the war. This data base also provides partial information on the enormous loss of life on the various moments in the Western front as the Allied forces advanced on Germany after D Day in June 1944.

 Hitler Germany’s greatest reach 1942

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Australian Nationalism and the Ideology of Sacrificial Devotion

Michael Roberts, being an abridged version of an old article presented in the Library of Social Science run by Richard Koenigsberg and others.

Addressing the practices of remembrance in Australia, Richard Koenigsberg has noted the irony that a battlefield defeat at Gallipoli in World War One, 1915, served a people as an emblem of nationhood: the “Australian nation, came into being on the foundations provided by the slaughter of its young men.”

There is more irony. The commemoration of Australian courage, sacrifice and manliness at Gallipoli (and subsequently on the Somme) was threaded by tropes of youthful innocence that drew on classical Hellenic motifs. While the monuments and epitaphs that were crafted in Australia to mark this event were manifestly Greek in form. The gendered masculine metaphor, in turn, was often embodied in the seminal image of a full-bodied blonde young man. “Archie Hamilton” in Peter Weir’s classic film Gallipoli was/is one such trope (and he died of course).

“Archie”

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VE Day, 8 May 1945 …. as Nazi Germany Surrenders: In Pictures

The King and Queen of Britain with Winston Churchill in between and Princess Elizabeth nd Princess Margaret on the flanks

 Churchill waves to the crowds below

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Mr WJF Labrooy: A Historian Teacher from the Top Drawer

Basil Labrooy responding to a request from Professor KM de Silva**

William Justin Frank La Brooy (referred to as Justin) was born on 21.10.1910. in Tangalle.  He was the 5th child of Frank La Brooy (proctor in Tangalle) and Maud (nee Poulier). His father was from Colombo where he had attended Royal College before training in Law. His mother was originally from Kandy where she had briefly worked as a teacher before marrying Frank in her late teens.


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