Novel on Paris Commune, review


This August 2015 video from Britain is called Liberty’s Fire by Lydia Syson and The Quietness by Alison Rattle.

By John Green in Britain:

Days of the Commune come thrillingly to life

Thursday 24th March 2016

Liberty’s Fire
by Lydia Syson
(Hot Key Books, £7.99)

WRITING fiction for teenagers is a particularly difficult task. Pitching a story so that it does not come across as too childish, or reeks of the musty adult world, takes great skill.

The question becomes even more acute when the subject matter is historical. How can a writer bring history alive for a younger generation without over-simplifying or becoming bogged down in explanatory detail? And then there is the gender question — do you offer romance or swashbuckling action?

Lydia Syson manages to achieve a delicate balance between all those contending issues in this novel about the Paris Commune.

Liberty’s Fire may take a while to get off the ground but the reader is very soon swept up into the turmoil, drama and conflict during the siege of Paris in 1871 when the reactionary French government, led by Adolphe Thiers and supported by his erstwhile enemy the Prussians, crushed the popular take-over of the city.

The Commune was the first workers’ revolution with a radical, socialist agenda. It lasted for just over two months and was suppressed with the utmost brutality by the French ruling class. Between 20-35,000 people were killed, with 4,000 deported to the French colonies and many more imprisoned or driven into exile. Marx and Engels viewed the Commune both as an event that validated their theories and as an experience from which the working-class movement could learn.

Syson brings this pivotal episode of 19th-century history glowingly alive.

Through the eyes of the young violinist Anatole and the orphaned working-class girl Zephyrine, both recent arrivals in the city, we experience the refusal of Parisians to accept the French government’s servile capitulation.

Instead, they decide to run the city themselves.

The couple, meeting on the street in unusual circumstances, soon fall in love. Both are unwittingly sucked into the turmoil and soon become actively involved in the defence of the Commune.

With its defeat, Anatole manages to escape to exile to England via Geneva, while Zephyrine is transported to New Caledonia.

Romance is at the centre of a book which even so never becomes sentimental.

The love story is firmly embedded in the historic fabric of the events, with the reader learning about a historical process while following the riveting fate of the two protagonists.

There is a marked feminist element, with strong women playing central roles, not as mere decoration, and perhaps this may make it a novel which appeals more to girls than boys.

But, as the anniversary of the Commune is marked over the coming weeks, this is a great read for young people — and adults for that matter — irrespective of gender.

Lydia Syson will be discussing her work as part of the Children and Socialism series of events at the Marx Memorial Library, Clerkenwell Green, London EC1 on March 31, details: marxlibrary.org.uk.

French people demonstrate for free speech


This video from France says about itself:

France: Thousands protest extending state of emergency in Paris

30 January 2016

Thousands of left-wing activists and members of leftist syndicates and organisations gathered in Paris on Saturday to protest against the proposal of extending of the state of emergency in the city and the concept of ‘deprivation of nationality’ for persons who are assumed to be terrorists by the French government in the future.

Bastien, activist (French): “I am here to protest against the state of emergency and for the deprivation of nationality for bi-national persons (born in France) that has been planned … . That’s important because we saw a lot of things during the state of emergency, some people got house arrest without reason, some rallies were prohibited, some people were arrested just for protesting peacefully. That shocks me.”

The pretext for these anti-democratic measures is the horrible murders in Paris; not by demonstrators, but by a small clique of criminals from France and Brussels. These perpetrators are dead. The state of emergency does not harm these perpetrators. It harms free speech for everyone. It meant police force prevented hundreds of thousands of people from demonstrating against climate change and pollution by corporations like Volkswagen. It meant that the Volkswagen and similar corporate fat cats could lobby politicians in smoke-filled backrooms, without countervailing power of protesters in the streets of Paris. It meant police attacks on pro-refugee demonstrations. It means attacks on workers’ rights, etc.

British government not helping Paris ISIS victims


This video from Britain says about itself:

Paris terror attacks survivor British women say Islam and migrants must not be blamed

15 November 2015

British women who survived Paris terror attacks say Islam and migrants must not be blamed

Christine Tudhope and Mariesha Payne that when they first heard gun shots they thought it was firecrackers and part of the show

The Scottish survivors of the Paris terror attacks first thought the shots were firecrackers and part of the show.

The pair have also spoken out to say that Muslims must not be blamed for the atrocities.

Christine Tudhope, 34, said she initially thought the gunfire was the sound of firecrackers, but then Mariesha Payne, 33, saw bullets hitting the stage.

Speaking to Sky News as they arrived from Paris at Edinburgh Airport they said they thought the bangs were part of the show.

Mariesha said: “People gasped thinking it was part of the show.

“A second round went off, most people ducked, but I just said run, just get out of here.”

The pair hid from the Paris gunmen in a cellar and had to listen to the massacre for three hours.

Now the pair have urged that Islam should not be blamed for the attacks.

Christine said: “It has nothing to do with Islam. It is just mindless terrorism. The Islamic community will condemn this just as much as us.

Mariesha agreed saying: “This is nothing to do with the majority of immigrants.

Migrants are fleeing this. This is their life – daily.”

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Still No Aid for Isis Victims

Saturday 16th January 2016

Nov 13: Paris is attacked. Dec 2: Britain bombs Syria. Jan 14: Guns cleared for 600 PCs [see also here]

A SURVIVOR of the Paris shootings was left high and dry yesterday after Westminster suits told her she’d have to wait for compensation — because they still haven’t officially declared the murderous rampage a “terror attack.”

Christine Tudhope, from Fife, and her friend Mariesha Payne were enjoying the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan, Paris, on November 13 last year when Isis-affiliated gunmen stormed the hall and killed 89 people.

When they realised shots were being fired, the pair ran and hid in the cellar for three hours. They heard the sounds of shooting, screaming and the crash of dead bodies hitting the floor. At one point gunmen walked close by the room — the hideaways could hear them on walkie-talkies telling French police that they had hostages.

Ms Tudhope, a PR officer at Heriot-Watt University, made a claim for compensation with the Victims of Overseas Terrorism Compensation Scheme, which was set up by the Tory-led coalition in 2012.

But she received a letter last week stating: “The scheme only applies to an incident which the Foreign Secretary has determined a ‘designated act [of terrorism]’. The incident in which you sustained injury has not been designated.”

The government lists terrorist acts that can be claimed for on its website.

These include the hostage crisis in Algeria (2013), the kidnap of Setraco employees in Nigeria (2013), the attack at Westgate shopping centre in Kenya (2013), the attack at the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia (2015) and the attack at Port El Kantaoui in Tunisia (2015).

But more than two months after becoming the most infamous European attack for a decade, Paris is yet to make the list.

Labour MP Paul Flynn told the Star that he was “bowled over by the depths of government imbecility” in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office dragging its feet even though it only took hours last month for MPs to vote for Syria air strikes.

The motion was passed in the Commons with a huge majority of 174 six weeks ago.

Mr Flynn, a vocal opponent of war who represents Newport West, added: “This was an act of terrorism and there is no room for debate. What else could it be?

“This is typical of the moronic state of government. They declare war in a couple of hours and take a decade to deal with the implications after tying themselves up in gobbledegook regulations.

“This case sounds like another piece of bureaucratic unnecessary complication which is clogging up the system and the swift administration of compensation.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman told the Star: “The Foreign Secretary’s approval of the designation process was a formality required under the legal process. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority will now take this forward.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the letter sent to Ms Tudhope was “clumsily worded.”

Charlie Hebdo cartoonist against Islamophobia, bombing Syria


This video from the USA says about itself:

Peaceful Mosques Terrorized By Right Wing Extremists

16 November 2015

After the shootings and terrorism in Paris there’s been an outpouring of support in the US for our friends in France. However, there have also been some not so pleasant responses that have led to terroristic threats on mosques.

Dutch cartoonist Willem Holtrop lives in France. He draws for Charlie Hebdo weekly, and is one of the survivors of the bloody attack on its office.

Translated from an interview with him, today by Dutch NOS TV:

He doubts strongly that it [the violence] has to do with religion. He has firsthand experience of how ordinary Muslims suffer from the radicalism of a minority. … “Normal Muslims say those guys have not understood anything about Islam. They are in trouble, they are continually asked to justify themselves. ‘This is not us’. Of course it is not them. They feel increasingly like being suspected. I feel very sorry for those people.”

“Among us on the island [in Brittany where Holtrop lives] lives a builder who has the same name as one of those killers,” he continues. “He has had enough of seeing his name constantly on television. They can believe whatever they want, but they should not kill us. The ordinary Arab grocer around the corner is a friend.” …

He had his doubts when French President Hollande immediately uttered the word war and the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte followed him in that. “I think that’s a strong word. And then immediately bombing Syria, I do not really like that. Half of the victims are usually innocent people. It just makes more evil people in the world. You cannot bomb the inspiration for terrorism away.”

Were French intelligence forces complicit in the Charlie Hebdo attacks? Here.

COP21 Paris conference and birds


This video from Paris in France says about itself:

9 December 2015

COP21: Patricia Zurita, CEO of BirdLife International talks about the nature based solutions to climate change.

More BirdLife reports on this conference are here.