Christian doctrine summarized

Christian doctrine summarized

Today’s news brings us reports that the Church of England’s gentle attempts to frontload the new Star Wars movie with a one minute long advert for their brand of authoritarian fantasism have fallen flat, in what everyone (even Richard Dawkins, apparently) is calling a defeat for free speech. In a stunning moment of unexpected bravery from our corporate overlords, the bosses of three different cinema chains have told the CofE to get fucked. Rather than being horrified by this slow slide into oppression, I am very happy, and extremely angry that the CofE felt they had the right to pull this nasty piece of totalitarianism on the British public. Before you start hyperventilating, dear reader(s), let me explain …

I’m not an easily offended man, I think, and I think I’ve been on the record as supporting free expression for all religions. I’m an atheist but I don’t subscribe to the “Militant Atheist” school of “thought”, which holds that religion is a childish emotional prop and that society should and will grow past it. I respect individual religious belief, I think religions should have freedom in public life and I’m not especially bothered by the special place that some religious institutions hold in public life – e.g. the christian churches of various denominations in various nations, Islam in Turkey, etc. In the modern era I really don’t see religion as a big threat to our continued progress towards enlightenment, and I have no problem with its open expression and with its historical contributions being recognized. I’m also, I think, on record here as saying I suspect that a lot of the militant atheist spokespeople are sexist, racist bigots who are especially fond of using their atheism as a cloak for their obvious anti-Arab or anti-Islamic racism, and I don’t think that their aggressive tactics do atheism any favours. To the extent that atheism is a movement (it’s not) we don’t need these people as our chief representatives. However …

The Church of England, because it has a huge and privileged position in the British intellectual world. It is the establishment church, meaning the head of the church is also the head of a nuclear-armed state. It owns most of the publicly-run schools, and I can personally attest to the way it used those schools to exclude other religions from discussion, to misrepresent them and to force us to learn and recite its doctrine. It gets free public air time for Sunday worship and special events that no one else gets, and its religious events are the key public holidays, during which time it gets almost untrammeled access to both state and private television and radio. Despite this near constant exposure of a large portion of the population to its propaganda message, and despite the fact that the major media organizations treat the corrupt content of that message with kid gloves, it is still losing the intellectual battle with atheism, agnosticism and who-gives-a-fuckism. So, having lost that battle, and aware of that, they are now going to start forcing adults who have graduated from their schools and escaped their slimy clutches to sit through a minute of unbridled power worship before they can enjoy some actually good fantasy.

Why should we put up with this? Why should I be forced to endure that horrible piece of authoritarian “poetry” when I have already been forced to recite it every morning for the first 17 years of my life? If I am not voluntarily reciting it then there is a simple reason: I think it sucks and I don’t want to. So don’t make me read it again, if I never have to read that horrible little cry for help ever again in my belief-free existence I will be a happy man. And most importantly, what gives the church the arrogance and sense of superiority to think that it’s okay for them to afflict me with this crap during my daily activities? Every time I go to a hotel in the English speaking world I’m given a free bible [another public service extended exclusively to the christian church by private companies], hasn’t the church worked out that if I wanted to read that prayer I would?

Most people understand that if you have told someone something a certain number of times and they still don’t believe it or don’t want to hear it, it’s time to stop yelling at them. Apparently the luminaries at the head of the Church of England have yet to learn that lesson, and think they have some special right to lambast us with their brand of patriarchal authoritarianism just once more, because that one more minute will get us back. The thought of sitting there, waiting to watch something I really want to watch, while for one minute this old man lectures me on how much I should love a god I don’t believe in, makes me so angry. It’s a direct reminder that these evil old men still own my society; an attempt to force me back to being my 8 year old self, shivering and powerless in assembly hall while I wait to be free of their pointless rituals. How dare they do this?

Some random dude at the Guardian is complaining that the real reason the cinemas refused is because they’re scared the illuminati might force us to listen to a muslim prayer in the future, and then they’ll be forced to play it if they also play the christian one. For me personally a passage from the Quran is largely meaningless, and if I listen to it it won’t make me angry because I have no historical association with Islam (though I guess this depends on the prayer they choose!) But for the record I think that Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and everyone else should steer well clear of my precious pre-Star Wars advertising time. I also really want to hope that this is not the reason the cinemas said no, but rather that they, like me, are horrified at the thought of allowing any church to preach to us for a minute before a movie. I’m glad they don’t need the money that badly!

The sooner the Church of England is out of schools and television altogether the better. It’s a dying institution that is propped up by the state and the buttresses of history, but its days are numbered. This desperate, mean-spirited lashing out at non-believing adults needs to be stopped early, and rather than seeing this decision as “nonsense on stilts” or some kind of blow to free speech we should recognize that it is a huge victory for modern values over superstition and authoritarianism. Well done those British cinema chains, and shame on the Church of England for thinking that such a move would ever be okay.

Where did I put that thermometer ...?

Where did I put that thermometer …?

Our heroes have arrived, bedraggled and cowed, at the remote and frozen outpost of Niscorp 1743. They have come bearing a pair of cryogenic medical pods that contain trafficked humans from Dune, who the Confederate Navy has charged them with retaining until they can find the organization that was smuggling them. They also came bearing a crate of laser carbines, their only profitable salvage from within the wrecked and drifting space station at Dune. With little hope of profit or benefit in Niscorp, they were contemplating traveling on to the nearby pirate planet, The Reach, to try and trade their laser carbines there, but traveling to The Reach without a contact is not entirely wise, so first they thought they would rest and see what options they could hunt out from Niscorp.

They docked at the bottom disc of the Niscorp starport and told the waiting harbour master that they were carrying humans rescued from the wreckage of Dune. After filling in a few customs forms they were allowed to move on to the residential area, where they were assigned spacious quarters on the outer edge of the residential disc. This disc was spinning fast enough to mimic Niscorp gravity (about 0.6 standard) so they could see the planet drift by every couple of hours, gleaming pearly white in their viewing monitors before it slid away to reveal a cluster of small moons, and the distant, pale watery yellow disc of Niscorp’s weak sun. The characters were not interested in the view however. Leaving Ahmose to her own devices, Alpha and Simon Simon traveled down to an area near the central spindle of the starport, where they had been told they could find a tavern for traders and soldiers call The Bullseye.



The Bullseye was so-called because from its position near the spindle one could look down the length of the central spindle, seeing the wider rings of the other two discs hanging in the sky like two roundels on a target. Located between the central spindle and the accomodation section, it was a natural stop-off point for people working in the inner sections of the starport, either Niscorp mercenaries or travellers on less savoury missions – a perfect location to find people with information about traveling to The Reach.

When they arrived at the Bullseye it was quiet, in a lull between happy hours, and only a few people were gathered there: a group of three Niscorp marines at a table in the centre of the floor; an older man reading a tablet and sitting in front of a huge viewscreen that looked out through the rings to the looming opalescent arc of Niscorp itself; and a man who looked like staff sitting under a cascade of low-grav hanging plants and working on a tablet. The bar’s three famous staff – Annie, Angie and the Stoat – were all there and cheerful, and soon had Alpha and Simon Simon seated with drinks of their choice. Simon Simon chose to drink a specialty, Glacial Ambrosia, which is a kind of smoothy made from milk taken from genetically engineered spider/yak creatures that can graze on cliff faces and produce high fat milk. The drink is served on a chunk of glacial ice that, in this instance, was a deep blue in colour – the Stoat informed Simon Simon that his ice chunk was estimated to be 100,000 years old, before flouncing away to clean the bar (again).

While they drank they watched news – some kind of report about a volcanic flank collapse on a planet some years’ travel distant, that had produced a 300m high tsunami which killed millions – and chatted with the Niscorp mercenaries, who were forthcoming with information about how boring the planet and the starport were. Finally they discovered that the man sitting by the viewscreen was interested in traveling to the Reach.

Michael and his tides

They approached this man, who welcomed them to his table and introduced himself as Michael. Alpha immediately noticed that this man had a filling in his tooth – of noble metal, no less! – which could only suggest that he must be a remnant, as even in the Rim it was unheard of and considered uncouth to have fillings. He spoke to them in a quiet, accentless voice using slightly archaic Confederate Standard, that had a kind of poetic lilt to it. All of his conversation, even about simple things like his plans for the day, was shot through with references to the “tides of time and space,” the “hidden currents,” and “depths of time and space” that soon had them convinced that he must be a priest of some barbaric ocean world. He didn’t enlighten them on his origins, but did tell them that he had business on “the third pearl” at The Reach, where he had a contact. He had business in Niscorp that would last another week or so, but after that he was “ready to flow with the tides,” were a “barque” to be available.

Taking this as a sign of business, they asked him what he would give them for passage. His offer: he would give each of them a single Soul Locker on arrival. Soul Lockers are some kind of priestly magic that enables people to be brought back from the dead provided the Soul Locker is used within a few hours of death, the deceased’s head is (largely) intact, and medical equipment is on hand to ensure that once revived the unfortunate Soul Locker beneficiary does not immediately expire again. Alpha and Simon Simon had never heard of such a thing, but the certainty in the man’s voice and his strange semi-mystical rantings convinced them he must be genuine, and they accepted his offer. A trip to The Reach was thus organized.

The advocate and the administrator

Having secured this next stage in their lives, Alpha and Simon decided it might be wise to do something official to avoid getting charged with human trafficking, a crime so heinous to the Confederacy that anyone convicted of it receives a prison sentence so long they will need to be resleeved in order to complete it. They spent an afternoon with an advocate, arranging various forms and entitlements that essentially declared them to be carrying a rescued human to a suitable point of relocation. Provided they renewed their forms at each starport they visited, offloaded their human cargo to a “suitable” medical establishment within a “reasonable” period of time and did not sell him at any point, they were safe from charges of human trafficking. This also meant that their ownership of the cryo-frozen Remnant was now in the official Confederacy computer system, so that if the people who smuggled him out of Dune were actually confederate officials they would soon learn of his whereabouts. The chase had begun.

When they returned to their rooms they found an invitation lodged in their system. A local research administrator called Adam Sanders had need of their services, and would like to meet them for dinner to discuss his plans. Would they like a visit planetside for a completely safe two weeks of work? Safe work … sure …

They met him at a cafe called the Iceview, a slowly revolving bar that served mostly local food and offered a stunning view of the surface of Niscorp 1743 from every table. Adam had already prepared a plate of grilled local ice crab, an insectoid thing that lived in the shoreline of the open seas of the equator and offered a delicate, succulent flesh high in minerals and vitamins, and very low in fat. There were also shreds of a type of squid that, eaten raw, had a flavour like blue cheese due to the chemicals it absorbed from the tainted atmosphere. They chewed on rubbery, stinky squid and discussed business.

Adam’s problem was simple but delicate. He was a research administrator for an agrichem business called Evergreen Chemicals, that had a couple of research bases on the glaciers of Niscorp 1743. Recently one of these projects, a major undertaking in ice-fast algae cropping, was reaching a critical point, and interest within the company had grown considerably. Unfortunately the lead computer manager at the base had killed himself skiing, and had to be sent offworld to be resleeved, a process that could take months. In the meantime the research base computers were not being operated. Soon after the computer operator was sent away for a resleeve, a small team of corporate researchers had “coincidentally” made plans to arrive at the Niscorp starport – they were due perhaps 4 days hence. In most corporations this would be very convenient – Adam would be able to press one of them into service to protect the computers – but not in this corp. Evergreen adhered to a philosophy of evolutionary growth, meaning that rival research teams competed with each other and used any strategies to beat rival research teams, including espionage, with losers in these competitions being axed. Of course being sacked was of no concern to Adam, but losing the fame and respect gained from this research project was. So he wanted a small team of non-corporate people to visit his research base, and have their computer operator run the computer for the two weeks that the research team would be in-system. He had seen in the crew manifest that Simon Simon had a CISCO certificate, so he would give Simon Simon full access to the research computer for two weeks, and in exchange the PCs would camp out in the research base. This was a zero risk job – any attempt at computer intrusion would be purely electronic, since the corporation’s evolutionary growth philosophy did not extend to tolerating physical attacks. All they would need to do is wait in the base and respond to any computer intrusions.

In exchange for this service, Adam would give them access to the Niscorp 1743 starport training facilities for a week, and they could improve their zero-g and space combat skills.

Of course they said yes. They told Michael to wait for his trip to The Reach, and 4 days later they were hurtling down to the Behemoth Tides in a Niscorp shuttle.


Luminous Chitin Giants

The PCs arrived at the town of Radiance in the mid-afternoon, with many hours of light still available. The flight took a few hours, and the last part saw them skimming the edge of the glacier where it crumbled into the equatorial sea. Great plates of ice floated loose in the water, barely moving under the sluggish wash of Niscorp’s weak tides. As they flew along this frozen wasteland their attention was drawn to a single iceberg, perhaps a couple of hundred metres long, that was rocking uncharacteristically in the still waters. After perhaps 30 seconds of slow yawing it suddenly surged upward, and they saw their first Behemoth. The iceberg revealed itself to be just a large, uneven hump on the back of some enormous beast, an insectoid monstrosity that must be several kilometres long. This beast was emerging from the water slowly, huge unblinking eyes staring up at them as its massive, multi-mouthed head sliced through the tiny waves. All along its body rose a steaming mist as it breathed out, and then it sank slowly beneath the surface, its body coiling slowly behind it so that for several minutes as their flyer roared past they watched it seemingly endless body uncoiling above the surface, finally slipping below with the lash of a massive, chitinous tail. In its wake a mass of roiling water rolled outward, splashing around the ice and rolling towards the shore – a Behemoth Tide. Awestruck, they finished their journey in silence.

At Radiance they found themselves in a huge luxury apartment overlooking the open water of the bay. They explored its many rooms and helped themselves to its fine wines, then stood on the balcony looking out over the curve of the bay, trying to decide which of its distant icebergs might be a Behemoth. They were due to set off for the research base in a few hours – what harm could it do to explore that bay, and find another, get a closer look? They bundled into the flyer and set off.

The flyer had a special Behemoth-hunting mode, which they set as they hurtled down over the frozen white sweep of the glacier towards the grey sea. After a moment of searching it found them one, a few minutes’ hypersonic flight down the beach, and they were off. The flyer brought them in in a wide circle, explaining the science of the Behemoth as it did so. They saw it lying there on the water surface like a gigantic alien crocodile, chitinous back stretched out for two kilometres in the bay, waves gently washing across its body. Its head and many limbs hung below the surface like reefs of shadow, and one huge, lazy eye lay closed at the waters’ surface, half above and half below the water. Their flyer flitted across the face of this beast like a fly buzzing past a sleeping alligator and came to a stop some distance from its lidded eye. On their cue, it fired a beam of light in some kind of rousing pattern at the beast’s face, and then began rising quickly from the surface. That giant eye stirred slowly open, the huge shell-like lids sending wave-sized ripples out across the calm sea, and a huge, multi-lensed eye slowly emerging from the water to watch them. The whole beast stirred from its rest and began to move. First the head rose, lifting straight out of the water to reveal three more hideous eyes, all unmoving fly-like balls of darkness. Somewhere inside the body of the thing faint lights glowed, and the shadowed limbs began to flicker in the water. Waist-high waves of water rolled away from its stirring head, and then it began to submerge. First it rose up a little, revealing huge expanses of chitinous shell that crawled with strange parasites and beached fish-like things; then the head dipped, and it began to slide under the chilly surface, disappearing into the deep at an almost glacial speed. Finally its huge tail rose out of the water, each of the many frond-like flukes at its tip the size of an urban train, and then they two were gone and all that remained of the vast beast was a ring of agitated water, waves the size of train carriages rolling out in every direction. Ice rocked, and insectoid birds were disturbed as the waves tumbled out towards the distant shore.

Humbled by this monstrous thing, they returned to their apartment to prepare for the next stage of their journey.

The Research Base

A few hours later they were heading across the glacier to the distant ice base, which was perhaps an hour away. The light was beginning to fade but still they had several hours before sunset. They sped through a valley that was lit up with sparkling floating algae, turning in rainbow spirals as it rose in late afternoon thermals, and flew low over perfect ski slopes that stretched for kilometres in every direction. Once they fancied they saw a skiing party, hurtling down one of those slopes in an arc that must have already been cutting for minutes across the snow, judging by its length. Then their flyer brought them into the ice-fast algae research base, a compound surrounding a large cave cut into the side of a glacier. They set down just outside the base and alighted, snug in their vacc suits against the cold and the tainted air. Feeling unsteady in the low gravity, they walked carefully through the powdery snow to the compound wall, a simple construction of blocks of ice. The gate was slightly ajar, and getting no response on the intercom by the gate they pushed through, entering unannounced. Inside the wall was a small snowy compound, mostly empty but for a few snow-travel vehicles. At its far side it extended inside the glacier wall, where a large cavern had been cut into the ice. Here was the main building of the research base, a large plasteel structure fitting snug into the rear third of the cave. They marched steadfastly in, trying not to bounce too much in the low gravity, to the doorway of the building. This door was also slightly ajar, and the lights inside the building were off. It was dark, and seemed strangely open to the elements.

They started to get a bad feeling about this.

Simon Simon and Alpha went in first[1], pushing the door open and stepping into the darkness, their vacc suit lights cutting orange arcs through the dark and foggy air of the research base. They saw glimpses of some kind of fight, and blood on the floors, but before either of them could properly investigate – or even turn on the lights – something fell on Alpha from above, striking hard into his shoulder. He felt a deep, intense stabbing pain and then the horrible pressure of a flood of some disgusting fluid being injected into his chest. Staggering back, he flailed at the thing but he couldn’t hit it. In the harsh light of his suit lamp Simon Simon saw a scene of horror: Alpha lay on the ground struggling beneath a gigantic spider-like creature, its body the size of a human and its many horrid legs spread out all across the walls and floor around him. Simon Simon struck it with his cybernetic rippers, which drew its attention from Alpha. With a series of disgusting chittery clattering sounds it rapidly turned in a half circle, revealing a head with four large eyes, each separately controlling a vicious stabbing stinger about the size of a sword blade, moving independently and questing grotesquely for a new target. It leapt and smashed one deep into Simon Simon’s shoulder, felling him and injecting him full of some vicious, horrible poison[2].

Fortunately, Ahmose was there, and she could strike the beast with her blade from the side. Barely injured, it turned on her, but it couldn’t penetrate her combat armour. Meanwhile Alpha was scrabbling away from it on the floor, shooting it with his pistol, while Simon Simon also backed away and desperately tried to access the computers. He quickly turned on all the lights and checked for any other spiders, finding no other signs of movement. He also found a gun turret in the ceiling, which he activated. As Ahmose and the spider hacked at each other he fired a burst from the gun. Unfortunately it was a shotgun-type door defense system, and he shot Ahmose as well as the spider. Ahmose hacked a bit more, and now the spider began to look damaged. Finally Alpha, panicking, unloaded the entire clip from his pistol into the beast, and managed to get a good, solid hit on it, blowing its face away and finally bringing it down[3].

Once the spider was down Simon Simon leapt on it and began stabbing it repeatedly, wailing madly, until Ahmose could draw him off and calm him down by getting him to look at the computer. As the computer work brought him back to his senses he explored its records, finding surveillance video. Meanwhile Alpha and Ahmose searched the research base and soon found what they had dreaded. A nest of strange webs and ice in the far side of the room held the frozen corpses of both the researchers, festooned with pearl-coloured spheres of goo that were obviously eggs. They had been ambushed and dragged, paralyzed, to the webbing, where the spider had laid its eggs. Fortunately for them both they had died soon after the paralysis, so only were alive for perhaps a couple of hours in that horrific prison.

Their research project, clearly, had died with them.

The Ice Oracle

Once Simon Simon found video of the ambush they put in a call to Adam to tell him the grim news. They were unsurprised to find him ecstatic at the information – it meant he no longer needed to defend the research project from the rival team, and could become a hero by finding the spider and calling in the PCs to clear the nest. He could now officially hand over the research project to the team who had just arrived at the starport, and remain as administrator of the new project. He could also now legitimately claim to have sent the PCs in to find out what had happened to the research team, rather than to control the computers. Everyone could win!

Alpha and Ahmose, looking at the sad corpses of these men, were not convinced that everyone had won, though they were cheered to hear that the men could be resleeved in a few months. Meanwhile Simon Simon was furiously hacking deeper into the computer system using his access privileges, thinking that there would be one more winner from this sad catastrophe: his AI, which he was now embedding into the Niscorp computer system, to grow slowly into an Oracle.

Simon Simon needn’t have rushed. Adam asked them to stay there a few days to “secure” the base while he organized things at the Starport, and so Simon Simon had time to carefully and systematically seed the computer system with the beginnings of his Oracular Mother. He identified a connection between the system and the planet-side computer network centred in Radiance, one which would ultimately enable his Mother to invade that computer system too. It would take months, but some time in the future he could return here to his Oracle. His network had begun to spread, and now it had a centre.

While Simon Simon did this Alpha investigated the spider a little more, and determined that it was a species not yet known to science. When they returned to Niscorp starport, they would be able to begin the process of getting this spider named after them. For now it was Unidentified Xenotype XZ1847936 Niscorp, but soon it would be Alpha Ahmose Simon’s Spider.

The evening before the research crew came to relieve them they stood in silence before the bodies of the two dead men, pistols in hand, and watched as the spider hatchlings slowly wriggled out of their egg sacs and began blindly groping across the bodies that they instinctively expected to find, still living, waiting for them to feast upon. Ahmose raised a glass of ice wine, and all three of them gave a silent toast to the grandeur and excitement of science.

Then they started shooting.

fn1: Only two players were engaged in this session, and so I assumed the fighter, Ahmose, was not there. Unfortunately things rapidly went pear-shaped, and Ahmose had to suddenly be present.

fn2: See! At this point Ahmose was needed. The poison causes instant loss of an action, and major penalties if you fail an endurance test (neither player did). The injuries from the stinger were enough to almost knock both players out in one hit each. Traveller combat is nasty.

fn3: Traveller has really interesting autofire rules. Basically every gun as a rate of fire (ROF) stat. When you go full auto you roll as many d6s as the ROF stat, and arrange them into pairs as you like. This means that you can easily roll a double 6, which almost guarantees a hit. Alpha has no pistol skill so shoots at -3, and the ROF is is only realistic chance of hitting. In this way autofire benefits people like Alpha, because the rules stipulate that skill levels above 1 do not apply to the roll. I think the biggest ROF in the standard rulebook is 8, so you basically get to roll 4 attacks and organize the dice as you want – this will almost guarantee two hits with an assault rifle. Two hits with an assault rifle will kill almost anyone, even in heavy armour.

In case you missed it, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been accused of face-fucking a dead pig. Apparently the pig was roasted, and this all occurred in his university days as part of a (presumably unsuccessful) attempt to join some repulsive British fraternity. Aside from the excellent twitter humour that ensued, and despite the delicious prospect of a Prime Minister (any Prime Minister, really) having to publicly deny face-fucking a dead pig, this seems like the kind of story that we really should not be reading – it’s unbelievable that this is even news, because where any man decides to put his (no doubt very small!) weener should be a matter between him and the unfortunate recipient, provided all involved in this exchange of policy are consenting. If David Cameron leaves office with a bukkake pig as his greatest legacy, I think it’s safe to say that Britain will have got off lightly, except for the massive increase in NHS costs devoted to counselling all those who had to imagine such a horror and were left mentally ruined by the visions.

What’s depressing about this news story is the thing that the press have completely failed to care about. It’s clearly a story being released publicly for revenge by Paddy Ashdown, some kind of rich arsehole who also happens (shock!) to be a Conservative Party member and who has written a new biography dishing the dirt on Cameron for the apparently openly-stated reason that he gave the Tories 8 million pounds and didn’t get a Cabinet post.

That’s right, David Cameron’s awkward teenage fumblings with his first love are being spread across Britain’s tabloids and becoming international news because some rich arsehole is angry that he was refused a cabinet place after he gave 8 million pounds.

Isn’t that bribery? Shouldn’t the openly-avowed existence of such a promise constitute evidence of, at the very least, attempted bribery? Shouldn’t the police be paying Mr. Ashdown a visit, to have a quiet word about the truth of these claims he made that he tried to buy a cabinet position? If word reached the UK press of some Russian oligarch[1] turning vindictive because his 8 million rubles didn’t get him a cabinet position, that would be seen as strong evidence of corruption and bribery. In the UK it’s … unmentionable. Heaven forbid that we look at the actual political relations being bought quite openly over the table, when there’s a dead pig to be fucked.

Of course this isn’t surprising. This is the same country where a newspaper was able to hack into a dead girl’s phone, possibly disrupting a criminal inquiry; where its senior staff threw away a computer with evidence of illegal phone hacking and were never convicted of perjury; where its staff were able to bribe police in order to hack the phone of a future head of state and a serving Prime Minister; but no one was successfully convicted of any crime, and no one charged with treason even though the company in question is foreign-owned. It’s a country where a single man was able to rape hundreds of children in hospitals and prisons and police repeatedly backed away from investigating him. It’s a country where a single black cab driver was able to rape upwards of 100 women over a 10 year period, and even though the police received multiple complaints never be investigated. It’s a country where police can murder a middle-aged man in front of hundreds of witnesses, and not even be charged with any crime. Of course you can openly brag about attempting to bribe a Prime Minister in Britain, even make money from a book about it, and not be investigated by the police – or even have your bribery remarked upon as such by the newspapers who are lapping up your pig-fucking stupidity.

This little piece of bribery is being announced in the same month that the pig-fucker general is planning to pass legislation to ensure that unions can’t donate money to a political party unless they get the permission of their members to do so, with the express purpose of starving the Labour Party of funds from working people. Because in Britain, only rich people should be allowed to buy cabinet positions. It’s okay to spend 8 million pounds of your own money buying a cabinet position, but completely unreasonable to use a couple of pounds of your member’s money supporting a political party that protects their interests.

The only good thing to come of this is the realization that Cameron has principles: whether or not he fucked a pig, he won’t sell a cabinet place for even 8 million pounds. According to our rich and truthful raccoteur, Margaret Thatcher claimed that Cameron didn’t stand for anything, but I beg to differ with the sainted Tory Goddess. His parliament is a deeply, viciously ideological parliament, and he stands for a lot of things. And it appears that one thing he includes in his list of strong political positions is not giving up cabinet seats to rich men with deep pockets. Good on him! Now charge the man with bribery and be done with him.

[For the record: I don’t believe Cameron fucked the pig. It’s none of my business if he did or didn’t fuck a dead pig, since as far as I know it’s not a crime, but I think he didn’t fuck the pig, and anyway it was like a lifetime ago. I’m also suspicious about his membership of the Bullingdon club. The Bullingdon club is founded on a deep hatred of working people, and I don’t think Cameron shares that hatred. I’m not even convinced that he simply doesn’t care about them. To quote Suicidal Tendencies: “Just because you don’t understand it don’t mean it don’t make no sense.” Cameron’s political ideals are completely antithetical to the rights and interests of working class people but that doesn’t mean they aren’t genuinely held out of a genuine belief that he can do right by those people. I recently read a report that he bailed on the Bullingdon Club as soon as he found out what they do, and I can’t judge one way or another but I can see how this is possible. The fact that he hasn’t ever had to defend his supposed membership of this nasty little fraternity says a lot more about the press than it does about him!]

fn1: People in Russia who spread their riches around for political benefit are “oligarchs”. In the UK they’re “grandees”. What does that tell you about the honesty of our news services?

Cut it off!

Cut it off!

This weekend with our group numbers severely depleted by extra-curricular activities we ran a Warhammer 3 (WFRP3) one-shot, with me GMing. I dug up the Warhammer 2 supplement, Children of the Horned Rat, which is a truly excellent piece of work and contains a neat little adventure at the end, Slaves of Destiny. Of course I ran it in WFRP3, because the Warhammer 2 system, though atmospheric, sucks. My players generated a pair of Dwarven heroes, with 5xp each, who were:

  • Raknar, a pit fighter, armed with a two-handed flail and clad in piecemeal chain-and-breastplate
  • Dvumir Brick-hearted,  an Ironbreaker, of course indistinguishable from all other Ironbreakers on account of his suit of Gromril armour

These two were marching west to Nuln late in the summer, having spent the summer fighting Orc nests in the Razkar mountains. They had acquitted themselves heroically and as a consequence were due to collect a prize and be honoured in Nuln. With no particularly pressing need to be anywhere, they were marching at a comfortable Dwarven pace (12 hours a day without stopping) from settlement to settlement, mostly following the main west road but, at the time the adventure starts, detouring on a narrower local road to the south due to flooding of the main road.

They were just passing around a small embankment when they stumbled on two beastmen munching on the body of a dying man. One beastman was a wargor, one a gor. It was a scene of horror, with the smaller gor chewing on a severed hand, and the larger wargor crouched above the still-twitching body, loops of the man’s guts hanging from its snarling lips. They both turned to look at Raknar and Dvumir at the same time, and with yells and snarls battle was joined.

The larger gor charged forward but didn’t engage immediately, instead stopping to let rip a terrifying roar. Raknar and Dvumir, though shaken, were not broken by the 3m tall beast’s frenzied snarling, and fell into a pattern of battle they were well used to. Dvumir presented shield and armour to the fore, taking the blows that the beast would rain down upon them, and Raknar, partially protected by his heavier friend, unleashed furious blows with his flail[1]. He broke the smaller Gor with two swings of that mighty chain, but even with Dvumir fending off and disrupting the heavier wargor’s attacks, Raknar still took a heavy beating before he finally managed to find a weak point and smash the wargor’s thigh, bringing it down. He then smashed the thing’s head in like a huge, overripe melon, and the battle was done.

Two dwarves beating a beastman Wargor adn Gor on a country road – alone! Very impressive![2]

They searched the bodies, and found only a most repulsive bejewelled necklace festooning the Wargor’s privates; this they carefully removed and sacked, to be cleansed by a priest at a nearby town. They then searched the body of the now-dead human, finding nothing except a few supplies, a few coins, and a letter. Of course they read the letter:

Dear A,

I had plans to pay you back but my last instalment is delayed. Dotterbach is sore beset by chaos and trade nigh impossible these last days. My payments being dead, I beg of you a small extension. Pray take no harsh measures against me ’till Chaos be vanquished! Help being hard to find, I pray you show respect to a town in dire need of mortal kindness.



A town in need of aid from Chaos! What more could our pair of glory hounds want on a sunny late summer’s day than to find such a missive? (Except perhaps that the letter itself be slightly less blood-splattered).

Our heroes set off to the town of Dotterbach, which was three days’ easy march from the scene of the killing. By the time they reached Dotterbach Raknar was fully recovered, and three days later they stood on the hill near the town, looking over a pleasant hamlet bathed in late afternoon sunlight, a stream running through the middle of extensive sheep fields and a small cluster of houses. As idyllic a place as any might expect in these dark days of the Late Imperium – but what horrors lurked within?

Revolting slaves

Find-find, quick-quick!

Find-find, quick-quick!

Entering the town, they noticed that even though the sun had not yet set all the residents were indoors, doors shut despite the pleasant late evening warmth, and some peering uncomfortably out from behind their blinds and curtains. The town was silent where it should have been buzzing with the bleating of sheep returning to the fold, the streets empty of children at play or the sounds of people returning from work. Something was obviously amiss. They stopped at the tavern, The Naked Sheep, to find lodgings and a meal, and here fell quickly into conversation with the tavern owner, Abelhard. They were his sole guests, and he was forced to unlock the front door to let them in, but was welcoming enough when he realized that they were adventurers in town with a purpose. He told them the sorry tale of Dottenbach’s recent woes.

About three weeks ago sheep and goats from the town began to go missing, and about two weeks ago the miller and his family all disappeared. The people of the town bore up under this threat and fear for another week or so but the sheep kept going missing, and then strange sounds began to be heard at night – scratchings and the sounds of creatures moving around, sniffing at doors and windows. Now the townsfolk are trapped inside until the sun is high in the sky, and much of the work on preparing the summer’s shearings for market has been interrupted, leaving the townsfolk worried about their winter stores. No one is willing to work in the mill – or even knows how – so the fancy wool carding machine in the basement of the mill sits idle and the flour stores are beginning to run low. Then, about three nights ago, the head of the militia, sergeant Dilmar, was killed while patrolling some fields at the edge of town. Now the militia are in disarray and the townsfolk terrified. They need heroes to rescue them from some force of chaos that stalks their lands!

A good thing our stunty team were on hand. They offered to fix everything right in the morning, and sidled off to bed. During the night Raknar had a terrifying nightmare of crows eating sheep, and in the morning he woke convinced that the evil afoot was, in fact, a-wing, and the problem lay with crows[3]. Dvumir, in contrast, slept like a log and woke none the wiser to any events that might have unfolded during the hours of darkness. Still ignorant of the true cause of the towns troubles, they set off to meet Kaspar, the merchant whose letter they held.

They met Kaspar in his small manor house, which would be considered tatty and drafty in the towns of the north but here was no doubt prized as a genuine palace. He was warm and welcoming, and explained the situation with the letter very simply: he took a debt from a shady person, Mr A, a while back, and is unable to make his final repayment due to the troubles besetting the town. He expects now that, his man having not got through to Vinsilles, Mr A will be sending some men to have a chat with Kaspar. Kaspar made clear that he would appreciate any help in dealing with those men that the PCs might be willing to offer, and also told them to go and speak with the dubious Friar Eckel if they wished to help the town. Friar Eckel was a mendicant priest of Sigmar who had moved into the house of the mayor, Hofstetter, after he died, and was now making free with the mayor’s belongings, and possibly enjoying other privileges bestowed by the mayor’s wife, as well as increasingly acting like the de facto town leader. Kaspar explained this to them in obvious distaste.

They visited Eckel, and soon confirmed that he was both a coward and a lying scoundrel, making free with the town’s wealth and probably having his wicked, lascivious, very non-Sigmarite way with the mayor’s widow. Fortunately, however, a coward and his money are easily parted when a dwarven pit fighter raises his voice, and they left the mayor’s house with the information they needed, and 40 gold coins’ advance payment on the task of saving the town.

Their first stop was the mill, which was empty as expected. A quick search of mill and stable confirmed their suspicions, that the miller and his family had fled, taking their wagon and most of their most precious possessions with them. But why? Searching the grounds they found a clue soon enough – in a goat paddock behind the mill they found a metre-wide hole that opened into a tunnel leading into the moist earth. Being dwarves, they entered it without fear, and headed down this narrow and cramped tunnel into darkness. It stank like a charnel house, and they had to wrap cloths around their faces to keep out the stench, as well as lighting a candle against the inky black.

After about 10 metres’ descent they entered a low cave, perhaps 10m in diameter, with a muddy and filth-encrusted floor that was scattered with half-devoured corpses of sheep and bones. The stench came from here, and here too were the cause of the lost sheep. Six wretched, horribly disfigured and mutated men charged out of the shadows to attack our heroes. These pathetic men bore terrible scars and hideous warpings of flesh and bone, and they keened in rage as they attacked.

Moments later they were dead.

Raknar and Dvumir were searching the few scattered possessions of this motley band when they pulled back a filthy rug to reveal a seventh man, cowering amongst bags and sacks. He sprang back at their approach and yelled “Don’t I beg you! I am a man not a monster!” Since he was speaking Reikspiel with a reasonable accent they assented to give him a few moments of life to explain himself – and thus did they hear his terrible story.

The men they had killed were skavenslaves, the mutated and warpstone-afflicted toilers of the skaven under-empire. The man had been abducted perhaps 3 months ago from the streets of Nuln by a gang of skaven clanrats, and through trade, conflict and theft he had passed through many hands until he ended up in a warren near Dotternbach. Here he had been intended as a future mutant, to be put to fighting in the slave pits or working in some hideous mine, but while he waited he was kept near these six skavenslaves. They had found a way to escape, and when they fled he came with them. At first they threatened to kill him (skavenslaves become as warped as their masters, and have no mercy for each other), but they decided to keep him alive as a bargaining chip. He now lay in fear of his life again, because recently they had seen giant rats skulking amongst the hamlet, sure proof that a skaven slave-hunting gang was nearby looking for them – had the dwarves not found him he would surely have been offered as tribute or bait by the skavenslaves. The skavenslaves had not killed anyone in the town, though – they had taken only sheep, because they were desperately hungry. Their captive suspected that the skaven slave-hunters had killed Dilmar, and worse was to come – now that the slaves were dead they would no doubt attack the town to capture replacements.

Raknar and Dvumir looked at each other in the foul, dank gloom. The town stood in great threat – and they two were all that stood between humanity and a tidal wave of chittering, ravenous rat-horror.

The time had come to act!

[And here ended the session …]

fn1: basically Dvumir is incredibly hard to hit but can’t do much damage, while Raknar is more vulnerable. So the pattern is for Dvumir to act first with Improved Guarded Position, which makes Raknar harder to hit, and then Raknar to use Thunderous Blow. With this strategy Dvumir is almost impossible to hurt – he has soak 10 and defense 3, and anyone attempting to hit him will do so against 3 challenge dice and 5 misfortune dice (once defense and specializations are taken into account). But even attempting to attack Raknar they then face an extra challenge die on all attacks. It worked quite well.

fn2: Actually indicative of a problem in WFRP3, that the monster action cards are underpowered compared to the PC cards. I should have given the Wargor the Reckless Cleave card, but I didn’t do any preparation for this session and haven’t played WFRP3 for a year, so I forgot about this problem. And anyway if Raknar had been hit once more he’d have been unconscious, which would have left Dvumir in big, big trouble …

fn3: Chaos star on the observation check!

The final roll call

The final roll call

So we were sent in by ‘is high and mighty lordship to kill the Swine Prince. Ain’t nuffink to it, ‘e says, not that ‘e’d know since ‘e don’t never go down there ‘isself, prefers to stay all lordy and poncey in the ‘ighest room of the inn but ‘e sure ain’t shy about sendin’ in others to clean up his sweet dad’s mess. “Singular and unsettling rumours abound,” says ‘e in ‘is oity-toity way, “Of an experiment of my father’s that went awry, and in the doing of it trapped some antediluvian outsider in the grossly misshapen body of a tortured pig. It falls upon thee – ” oh yes ‘e likes ‘isself some Shakey Spear does our lordship, ” – to cleanse the warrens of this foul monstrosity. Be warned, it is accompanied by a much smaller, runt-like pig that it is said to hold very dear and precious, and one should not harm the little one until the big one is done for. Or so I have heard in talk about the hamlet, from those who came before you.”

So that’s that, there’s the promise of a fat stash of glinties and a nice little magic ring when we get back wiv the Swine Prince’s ‘ead, so off we go. It’s a slightly dodgy marchin’ order this day because all the Vestals are down the brothel lickin’ wine off the tits of their fallen sisters, and the last crew wot got back from some big reccie job think this kind of slaughter and jiggery-pokery is beneath them, everyone says they’re gearin’ up for an attack on the Necromancer ‘isself. Wot means it’s me, Gael, your very one and only Plague Doctor; then there’s Thibault, the Occultist wot gives me the creeps and gets a leery look in ‘is eye every time ‘e calls down those ribbons of extra-dimensional ‘orror; then we’ve got Gomboult the Crusader, ‘andy chap to ‘ave around in a pinch though ‘is sermonizing and heretofores get a little bit tiring down there in the deeps; and at the front we’ve got Mr. Middleton ‘isself, Man-at-arms, wot everyone says made a motzah smackin’ Russky arse in the Criminalean, though I don’t credit it myself – methinks ‘e’s put in a few years’ time at the bars and flophouses round the Criminal Sea, but not so much elbow grease on the front line, if you get my drift.

The plan woz pretty simple stuff. Mr. Middleton and Gomboult stand at the front, whackin’ anythin’ wot gets in arms reach; Thibault stands at back where every Occultist luvs to be, workin’ ‘is Wyrd Reconstruction on anyone wot ‘as the misfortune to get bit, and occasionally ‘aulin’ those extra-dimensional death ribbons out and whackin’ the enemy’s arse with ’em – ‘e calls it Abyssal Artillery, but I just call it the Tentacle Slap. Thibault’s Wyrd Reconstruction works a charm for stitchin’ up big cuts but it’s a bit … unreliable, and sometimes it, ah, it makes ya ooze, know wot I mean? But I’ve got a sovereign remedy for when mortal bits come unstuck, so on the occasion that ‘is Reconstruction goes wrong I ‘astily throw on a bit of Battlefield Medicine, and when I ain’t patchin’ up Thibault’s extra-dimensional mistakes I’m givin’ the same sovereign remedy for acid, poison and other cuts – ’cause my medical skills are rough but effective, don’t ya know? – and the rest of the time I’m lobbin’ little grenades of unpleasant goo at wotever takes my fancy.

And there’s a lot down there in the warrens that you want to cast some acid on, if you get my drift. This day it woz extra mean, wiv all manner of nasties crawlin’ out of stone and sewer to whale on us, but we made it right through a real long set of tunnels to where we fought that old pig might be. Sad to say, but Thibault got done in by a nasty little spider right outside the Swine Prince’s lair, just took one dram too much spit from the nasty bugger and I didn’t get to ‘im in time. ‘E’s an Occultist too so ‘is eyes went real wide right before ‘e went, and he started beggin’ us “No! They’re coming! Don’t let them take me! These aren’t the angels I was promised!”

‘S kind of funny when you think about it, innit? Those Occultists make some kind of skeezy deal with the Big Gentleman At The Tentacle Farm, and ‘e promises ’em glory and power and greatness, but they die faster ‘n anyone else and they all do that little chorus ‘o regret right before the end. Whenever a new one turns up I wonder if I should point out to ‘im my ‘istory of watchin’ his colleagues die gibberin’ in terror at their Inky Boss, but I just don’t ‘ave the ‘eart, me. No, and I figure they can’t back out o’ the deal anyway – why spoil it for the little blighters? Maybe if they didn’t all come from stinkin’ Eden College, wiv airs o’ nobility about ’em, I might be a little more forthcomin’ wiv me tears, but I can’t bring meself to shed none for such as them. Still, he stitched me up good a few times, didn’t ‘e? Shame to see ‘im go like that, all smeared wiv spider goo and smokin’ and cryin’ and beggin’ his mummy to save ‘im from the big scary octopus. You’d ‘ve thought his teachers might ‘ve shown ‘im a picture of his boss, eh?

Anyway so once we’d given Thibault a proper burial (well akchually we woz pretty close so we just stripped ‘im of ‘is stuff), we girded ourselves and went in for the Big Pig. ‘E was slummin’ it inside this mighty girt cave wot woz completely stinkin’ of pig shit and dead bodies and there woz a dozen corpses and ‘im and ‘is little bum-buddy chowin’ down on the remains ov wot looked like a grave robber though I can’t be sure, on account of it bein’ ‘alf-eaten and smeared in pig shit. But Mr. Middleton, ‘e’s all gee’d up for a stoush after Gomboult gave us all a mighty inspirin’ speech at the camp, and so ‘e yells “I’m gonna make you squeal like a pig under a gate!” and then the shit-show’s on for real like, innit? And the little pig-runt goes and cowers be’ind ‘is master, who is like this towerin’ pig from another dimension, my friend, ‘e is absoLUTEly monstrosterous. ‘E must ‘ave been 20 feet ‘igh and 10 feet wide, and ‘e was standin’ on two legs and ‘oldin’ this massive meat cleaver wot could carve a whale in twain, and ‘e’s got this feral glint in ‘is massive piggy eye, and ‘e don’t squeal but grunts and roars and comes shufflin’ forward but Gomboult and Mr. Middleton are all gee’d up for a fight an’ let me tell you it was quite a stoush. But the little runt pig would throw mud on us and wotever one the mud stuck to, the Swine Prince would rain a storm of meat-chopper death on ’em, and I ‘ad me work cut out keepin’ ’em patched up enough to go back into the fight.

We did wot we were warned and didn’t ‘it that little runt, though once or twice Mr. Middleton let rip wiv a sly spankin’ just to remind ‘im whose boss, but the little runt didn’t do nothin’, and we woz startin’ to look good. But then the Big Pig dropped such a storm ‘o choppery on us that you would not ‘ave seen your way through it no matter wot, and when the mud and pig-shit ‘ad settled both Mr. Middleton and Gomboult were lookin’ seriously the worse for wear, and there were bits of ’em fallin’ off. I patched up Gomboult, and Mr. Middleton went valiant back into that fight, and got in a big ‘it, but then the Pig rained down more o’ that stompage just as Gomboult was wadin’ back in, and when the festerin’ slime was cleared Mr. Middleton ‘ad become unfit for ‘uman consumption, if you get my drift. ‘E woz just bits of old campaigner, rainin’ down on us. But this made Gomboult quite the mad Crusader, mortal wounded though he woz after that last rain ‘o death, and before I could patch ‘im up ‘e ‘ad charged forward and let rip such a blow wiv ‘is sword that the Swine Prince didn’t ‘ave no chance, and fell dead as a Sunday sucklin’ roast, right there at our feet. Victory!

But then no sooner ‘ad we felled the big bastard than that little pesky runt came heelin’ over the corpse, set down in front of us and let rip with the most god-awful pig squeal you ‘ave ever ‘eard. And wot wiv Gomboult bein’ in a right mortal state, he just upped and died there on the spot. That squeal ‘ad some infernal power in it, ‘coz it turned my legs and arms to jelly and I couldn’t do nothin’, not even run away through all that swirlin’ mud and Middleton mush. And ‘e just kept screamin’ at me till I passed out!

So I’m glad you found me when you did, sirs, ’cause it’s mighty stinky in their and I could’a drowned in the mud, but I’m sad to tell you I’ve got nothin’ left in me. I’m done for, I’ve already lost most of meself in that there mud. You’ll find the Swine Prince just down there in the hollow, dead as a demon doorknob and stinkin’ up ‘is own mud pit. As for that runt, if you find ‘im, kick ‘is arse for me. But I’ve got nothin’ left to run on. I’m just one more corpse for the wagon now …


When I grew up, this freak was considered cool

When I grew up, this freak was considered cool

Growing up in working class Britain in the 70s and 80s meant being submerged in a soup of -isms. My family were deeply racist, sexist, and even though my father was seriously disabled by polio as a child, he and all his friends and family had a deep and abiding hatred of the disabled. They also hated children. “Children should be seen but not heard” was a catechism in my extended family, along with a wide range of repulsive opinions about black people, Asians, and any other foreigners. Special hatred was reserved for women from any of these groups, and their many failings were a common topic of conversation. This wasn’t some kind of background opinion, dragged up only to comment on e.g. news items, or the particularly bad behavior of a specific member of these many classes of people. Rather, it was a kind of current of hatred flowing just below the surface of ordinary life, something that could bubble up into conversation unbidden, so that race and gender were inserted into even the most banal of conversational topics. The sex and race politics of my kith and kin were not just a kind of theoretical infrastructure; they were the dressing on the stones, the decoration on the walls, and the general substance of every day life. It was hard for any time to pass before someone declared a judgment on someone else, usually someone not white or not male, and that judgment was born of fury and hatred, not just clashing political perspectives or remote ideals.

When I was a child all this seemed normal, and after I left my childhood behind and my family and class with it, I was mystified by the intensity of my childhood’s racial and sexual background, but I assumed maybe it was something aberrant about my immediate environment, or maybe I was just too sensitive to it. Some of the more reprehensible aspects of my childhood just seemed normal and it took me a long time to realize they weren’t, and although I eventually started discovering a lot more sexual abuse and violence in my friends’ family pasts than I had originally expected, I didn’t put it all together.

Then the Jimmy Savile case happened, and I think I started to understand at least some of where I came from. Jimmy Savile was Britain’s most prolific child abuser, sexually assaulting at least 200 people, at least 6 of whom were under the age of 10 and the vast majority of whom were children. He was a famous DJ and television superstar, a household name in the UK and much-loved, but he turned his fame into a tool to assault and rape hundreds of girls. He also used his fame to secure protection against prosecution, destroying any case against him and becoming good friends with highly-placed police and politicians. He had regular meetings with Prince Charles, and was on good terms with a great many powerful figures in the NHS, where he used a few hospitals as his personal hunting ground. He had a set of keys to one hospital that he raised a lot of money for, and his own room, and used his freedom of movement to sexually harass nurses and assault sick and disabled children. Were you to write a crime novel about this man its sheer preposterousness would make it unpublishable, but his crimes were definitely real, they spanned the whole country and his network of sycophants and supporters was spread through the police, the criminal justice system, the health service and even the royal family.

If you watch any video of Jimmy Savile now, it should be perfectly clear that he is a freak, a weird and disturbing man with a creepy manner and obvious signs of personality disorders. The way he speaks is so completely disengaged from the interviewer, so self-aggrandizing, so threatening, that there has to be something deeply wrong with him. But in the 1970s and 1980s this poster-child for sexual abuse and misconduct was a household name in the UK.

How did that happen?

It wasn’t just Jimmy Savile, though. Other DJs and public figures connected with him have now been identified as prolific child abusers, and the UK parliament is finally getting around to considering an inquiry into a sex abuse ring amongst parliamentarians and judges that may have been implicated in the murder of a child in housing set aside for high profile political figures. Jimmy Savile was good friends with senior figures from the South Yorkshire Police Force, who are infamous for their attack on miners at the Orgreave mine during the miner’s strike, and for concocting fake evidence about the Hillsborough tragedy – the documentary on Savile claims he hosted them at his house, and that they quashed investigations into his activities. North and West Yorkshire police have also been implicated in this cover up of his activities, and of other paedophile rings operating in their areas. The South Yorkshire police were also responsible for investigating the Rotherham child-exploitation ring that ran through the 1990s and 2000s; unsurprisingly, they did not just fail to break this ring, but dismissed sexual assault complaints from children because these children were judged by the police to be consenting to the assaults. Of course the victims of the Rotherham abuse were homeless children – poor and in protection, just like Savile’s primary victims.

In many ways these children- Savile’s victims and those of the Rotherham scandal – were very similar to me. I avoided being put into protection, but I came from the kind of family background where this kind of thing was all too common. At the age of 10 or 11 I was wandering the streets alone (or in the company of my brother) with much older girls until very late at night, perhaps 10 or 11; on one occasion when I was perhaps 10 or 11 I went on a double date with my brother and two girls perhaps two years older than us, who told us about a recent date one of them had been on where she was directly asked to give head. We didn’t think this unusual because we were all sexually active by then, though none of us had any clue what we were doing. Many of the girls were involved with much older men, and all of us were completely unsupervised. My brother ended up becoming entangled with criminals, and was taken from my family into care for four years – my family abandoned him and took me to Australia, a decision I thought was completely normal until I spoke about it with Australians years later and they expressed shock and amazement at my parents’ callousness.

Were my parents callous, or were they normal?

I think I grew up in a culture steeped in child abuse, where children are considered a burden and exploitation of children is normal. I think our society had no protection against predators at all, even lauded them, and the social structures of my society were set up to ensure that predators found and protected each other. It’s no coincidence that the people who protected the Rotherham rapists also protected Jimmy Savile, fabricated horror stories against dead soccer fans and striking workers who they attacked brutally. This is why Johnny Lydon knew about Jimmy Savile for years and did nothing, and when he openly stated in a BBC interview that he knew what was happening it was cut and nothing was done. This is why Jimmy Paige was openly fucking a 14 year old and bragging about it in interviews, and no one was doing anything. Children were to be used – Savile himself was a Bevin boy, and there are rumours of a bad relationship with his mother that he may have found recompense for in necrophilia – and there was no protection or regard for their safety. Sure, if you were a rich and powerful person you could protect your own children, but this was just a personal effort, a rock against the tides.

My parents were not rich and powerful. They were poor and weak.

I think British culture in the 1970s and 1980s was built around power, abuse and exploitation. Not just economic but real, immediate and physical, of the weak by the strong. This is the society in which my parents were adults, the society I was raised in. I think that this environment of open abuse, disempowerment and corruption informed the attitudes my parents and peers had – it was a society built on the open, naked exploitation of others, on finding someone who was lesser than you and fucking them, metaphorically or better still physically. It was a society of men and for men, but especially for the rich and powerful men who could fuck, take and kill. Somehow I managed to slide through this without getting hurt, even though I was the prey in this environment – they got my brother but they didn’t get me. I think this was just luck. I made it to 13 unscathed and my parents moved to Australia, and it was like a burst of sunlight into a shadowed life, though I didn’t know it then. I don’t have any evidence, but I think Australia’s attitude towards children was different, more loving and cherishing. I was still unsupervised and wild and at risk, but I think Australia was more protective. I was better educated in the risks, and teachers at my school noticed me and tried to help me. They didn’t just see me as working-class cannon fodder, but as an actual human with aspirations and a future. Later, when I started working in drug and alcohol, the Woods Royal Commission identified patterns of sexual abuse and cracked down on them, introducing wide-ranging protections against child abuse (in 1996) that were still lacking in Britain when I moved there in 2008. Jimmy Savile was still alive when Australia introduce full-powered, fully-supported mandatory child abuse reporting requirements for teachers, medical staff and police. Had he been Australian his legacy would have been dragged down and destroyed long before he died, and he almost certainly would have died in prison.

I don’t know, of course, and this blog post isn’t really intended to be a comparative study in fuckedness. What’s clear to me now though is that there was something deep and dark flowing beneath the surface of British society when I grew up – a society of power and exploitation, where one’s worth was set by who one was better than, and people exploited those they were better than – some kind of toxic mixture of class, crippled sexuality, shame and horror. I don’t know how it came about or how it can be fixed, but its central symbol is Jimmy Savile, a sick, cigar-reeking old man stalking the halls of a cancer ward, trying to fuck desperately sick children, while politicians and royals and police and judges and television celebrities all protect him. This is a man who put his hand up a child’s skirt on live TV, you can see her recoil and try to get away, who was never touched by the law for even the smallest of his crimes. This environment of exploitation, rape and power is the reason my family and peers were so deeply, negatively and pathologically hateful of anyone beneath them: because they and their children were the hated, vulnerable victims of multiple tiers of society lying above them, that were protected by multiple layers of legal, professional and class power, and the only dignity available to them had to be stolen from someone else.

Rotherham shows that Britain hasn’t come to terms with this yet, and won’t for some time to come. I hope the coming inquiry into political sexual abuse will help them to drag this stuff out into what little light there is in British life, but I doubt it: British high society never punishes its own. I think it will be a long time before Britain can solve these problems, and I think until it does its working class will continue to have a rich and deep vein of hatred and racism running through it, because without people to sneer at and hate the working class of Britain – and especially its poorest, unemployed class – have no path to dignity that they are able to comprehend within their own social context.

Until Savile was revealed for the sham rapist that he is, I hadn’t really thought about the cultural context of my own childhood sins and vulnerabilities. I still don’t know how to put it all together, those confused fragments that I experienced by myself or with my brother in the wilds of Britain’s post-industrial wasteland after dark, and how they relate to that bigger, larger and much darker world of power and exploitation that was crouching just out of my field of vision. I wonder if anyone else has or can. But I think until someone does, Britain will remain broken.

This weekend I read the Turner Diaries, a famous and influential right-wing apocalyptic insurrection fantasy written in 1978. I picked up this nasty little piece of racist literature because of the recent events in the US, thinking to get a bit of background on the white nationalist terror threat in the USA, but I was amazed reading it by the similarities in ideology, vision and practice between US white nationalists terrorists and “Islamic State” (ISIS). In this post I want to review the book and explore some of these similarities.

Background: Don’t try this at home

The Turner Diaries were written in 1978 by William Luther Pierce, founder of a white nationalist organization called the National Alliance, and quickly became an inspiration for many white nationalist terrorists. The most striking influence was on Timothy McVeigh, whose truck bombing of a federal government building in Oklahoma City in 1995 almost exactly mirrors the first major action described in the book, but the Diaries also inspired many other people: the Anti-Defamation League has a page on the Diaries that charts their widespread influence in the white nationalist movement. I first discovered them in my early twenties, when I had a lover who grew up amongst Australia’s neo-Nazis, and although too young at the time to understand their politics was familiar with much of their iconography and inspirations. For many years the book was on sale at a famous alternative bookstore in Melbourne, Polyester, though I imagine it’s unavailable now if the warning on the internet archive version is any guide:

Ownership of this book might be illegal in the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. You must be at least 21 years or older in order to read this book because of the sexual and violent content. Parental Discretion is Advised!

Fortunately it’s not illegal in Japan as far as I know, and really easy to read on a smartphone, so a few hours later here I am better educated and definitely more disgusted. I read this book so you don’t have to, kids.

The book is the literary equivalent of found footage, purporting to be diaries from a revolutionary war in the USA that were found about 100 years later, and cast light on central events of the time through the eyes of an activist who rose to legendary status in the movement through his sacrifice. It is short, and has that property of narrative coherence and good pace that makes it a page turner (or, I guess, in the modern era, swiper) even though its characterization is shallow and its story devices occasionally ridiculous. No one in this story is likable – and trust me, until you read what these people think and are willing to do, you really haven’t plumbed the depths of what unlikable means – but the plot will keep you involved in their horrid schemes and potential successes even while you are mentally urgently in need of serious disinfection. I guess this is why it was popular with the kind of “visionaries” who blow up kindergartens

The diaries describe the actions of members of a racist insurrectionist movement called “the Organization” that starts off small and ultimately takes over the US and then the world, using a mixture of terrorism and then nuclear warfare. To give an idea of the vision that this book describes:

  • Once they win the USA they solve “the Chinese problem” by nuking everything between the Urals and the Pacific Ocean, creating what they call the “Eastern Wasteland”
  • They don’t have a racial model based on heirarchies and slavery, as the Nazis did: anyone not white is killed across the whole planet. There are no untermenschen here, just white people and dead people
  • They “win” their battle with the US government by starting a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, leading to the destruction of most major cities in the USA and the death of upwards of 60 million people, but they consider to be a worthwhile sacrifice

Being found footage, this book has parenthetical notes describing the “past” depicted in the book: this includes a note telling the reader what “negroes” are, since this race has been exterminated from the entire planet. The book also has a couple of chilling asides in which the diarist describes Nazi Germany as good and decries the fact that they were stopped in their project. It also has a vicious scene where every mixed-race, non-black and non-white person in California – i.e. every Asian, every American of southern European descent, every native American and anyone of dubious heritage is marched into a canyon and murdered. This is racial purity of the most extreme form, and make no mistake: this was the visionary novel that America’s white nationalist terrorists were inspired by.

It also has some ridiculous plot devices, such as the silly idea that the white nationalist Californian enclave is able to start a nuclear war with the Soviet Union but doesn’t itself get nuked back to the stone age.  But for analytical purposes, I’m willing to overlook these slips in the interests of understanding exterminationist ideology.

The Diaries’ Similarities with ISIS

The Diaries have certainly stood the test of time, in that some of the scenes described in them have been enacted by various terrorist groups over time. Obviously they have a striking similarity with the Oklahoma bombing, since they inspired it, but that is just the start of their inventiveness. Other similarities include:

  • The Organization detonates a huge bomb on September 11th that kills 4000 people and leaves a part of a city burning for several days
  • They attack a newspaper they dislike, culminating in killing its editorial writer [at his house, not the offices, but I think the similarities should be clear]
  • They deploy a dirty bomb to render a major power station inoperable
  • Beheading is one of their favourite tactics once they become operational in the field

The tactics described in the Diaries also have specific commonalities with ISIS tactics. In addition to the beheadings, they are very fond of filming executions and broadcasting them:

That’s where we were taking the big-shots to be hanged: the well-known politicians, a number of prominent Hollywood actors and actresses, and several TV personalities. If we had strung them up in front of their homes like everyone else, only a few people would have seen them, and we wanted their example to be instructive to a much wider audience. For the same reason many of the priests on our lists were taken to one of three large churches where we had TV crews set up to broadcast their executions.

This is a new, very modern phenomenon in mass murder, which we see from ISIS a lot. Government regimes like to hide their massacres, but terrorists need to broadcast them. Note also the choice of targets: not agents, technical staff and those who are implacably ideologically opposed to the force, but people whose actions and lifestyles represent a moral transgression. States kill people who threaten them materially, or fit into a category of useless people conveniently-scapegoated; modern terrorists murder people who have symbolic value, but who might otherwise be valuable. Their ideology doesn’t care whether you could be converted to the cause and used, because it is far more interested in making a spectacle out of punishing you for your transgressions.

These transgressions, note, are racial, or derive from crimes against race that the “criminals” didn’t even know were illegal until the new order swept over them – just as many of ISIS’s victims didn’t know they were doing anything wrong until ISIS arrived. On Monday you’re a tobacco salesperson, on Tuesday you’re a criminal about to be executed. This is ideological purity at its craziest.

Descriptions of cities “liberated” from racial miscegenation by the Organization also seem eerily similar to what we have heard of ISIS territory. They are depopulated, full of dead bodies, and struggling to find food and basic supplies, often for weeks, as the Organization is tiny, rules by terror and doesn’t have the manpower to maintain security and distribute food. It has also made clear that it isn’t interested in capitalism or markets, and its activities are completely disruptive of any kind of economic activity. At one point – having nuked much of America – the Organization’s enclaves are so desperate for food that they cannot take in even white survivors. Here is their solution:

In Detroit the practice was first established (and it was later adopted elsewhere) of providing any able-bodied White male who sought admittance to the Organization’s enclave with one hot meal and a bayonet or other edged weapon. His forehead was then marked with an indelible dye, and he was turned out and could be readmitted permanently only by bringing back the head of a freshly killed Black or other non-White. This practice assured that precious food would not be wasted on those who would not or could not add to the Organization’s fighting strength, but it took a terrible toll of the weaker and more decadent White elements.

Welcome to your racially-pure wonderland, honky… The similarities between this desperation and the desperation we are told is common in ISIS-held areas is noticeable. These people think they hold the key to the promised land but their millenial rage has so destroyed the world around them that they cannot help their own.

The “terrible toll of the weaker” alluded to in the above passage is another common element of ISIS and Organization tactics, though it points more to a moral than an organizational failing. Both organizations have an ideology of purity so extreme and powerful that they have developed a position of harsh judgment on almost everyone they are supposed to be helping. It is very clear in the Turner Diaries that the Organization considers the majority of white people to be stupid chumps who have brought about their own decay, and they are responsible for their own bad position through a lack of racial awareness. Although salvation of the white race is their aim, they don’t have any sympathy or compassion for individuals. The Diaries’ putative writer and his girlfriend at one point manage to ambush four black men and two “white sluts” with them, and kill all six, even though two are white, because those two have degenerated – no effort is made to explain to them how they have transgressed against a code they didn’t even know existed. This is early in the book; later this scales to the complete destruction of New York, the white population of which is dismissed because it allowed itself to be miscegenated. There are several passages in the book that justify this in terms of both racial survival and moral laxity: only those white people who can show they are able to “wake up” to the sick and insane racial fantasies of the Organization are guaranteed salvation, with the rest only offered salvation where it is convenient. This is very consistent with ISIS’s extreme ideology, which both punishes people for any kind of minor past infractions against a strict religious standard, and treats Sunni adherents as cheap collateral in its war goals: those who didn’t think to get enlightened and join ISIS are expendable, because they don’t have the purity and commitment that would justify any effort to spare them.

Finally, there is a similarity in targets. In addition to newspapers and politicians, the Organization targets actors and actresses, supreme court justices, and conservative politicians. There are multiple passages in the book railing against conservative politicians, who are racist but not willing to make the extreme steps necessary to see in the new world order. This is similar to ISIS, who consider Hamas and the Islamic Brotherhood to be apostates for considering the use of democracy or negotiation to achieve their aims. The Diaries have an early scene where a cell member is revealed to be “merely” a conservative: they execute him because he doesn’t support their nihilistic form of revolutionary activity. Later on, too, they have to fight a military enclave in Washington State that is run by “conservative” military folks, who want to restore the constitution: they deal with such anathema in an appropriately brutal way. All rival political ideologies, no matter how similar to theirs in goals, are judged impure and dealt with in the same vengeful and exterminationist way. The battle between the Organization and “conservatives” (and libertarians!) in the Diaries is similar to that between ISIS and al Qaeda. There is also a striking similarity in attitude towards people who share the Organization’s broad beliefs but were willing to compromise in order to get rich – these men get very short shrift, and strike me as very similar to the way some of the Sunni sheikhs were treated by ISIS.

The eternal terrorist

This would be simply fanciful rhetoric, except that the Diaries have inspired serious terrorists, and are very popular amongst white nationalists: they represent a real and genuine expression of the vision and goals of the white nationalist movement, which is also the oldest terrorist threat in the USA. The KKK, the original white terrorist movement, formed during the reconstruction era and was around until the end of the civil rights movement, only to be replaced by the network of arseholes that produced Timothy McVeigh. Since then the movement has subsided, and seems to have collapsed into just lone wolf idiots, but historically it was the greatest threat to American domestic security for 100 years. Now a similar movement of nihilistic, destructive purity has arisen in the Middle East, with similarly apocalyptic and violently exclusionary goals, and most analyses of this phenomenon are treating it as if it were unique. My reading of the Turner Diaries suggests that it is not unique at all: it is actually a sadly derivative form of terrorism, just terrorism, with the same ideological framework as white nationalism, and remarkably similar targets. Of course it has been more successful than white nationalism in the USA, but that’s because it sprang up in a situation closely resembling chapter 25 of the Turner Diaries rather than chapter 1.

I don’t know what produces this apocalyptic vision of society, and this antagonistic understanding of the causes of society’s problems, but it looks to me like a lot of terrorists hold it in common, and that people as vastly different as Baghdadi and Turner can have a very similar vision of who their enemies are and how to deal with them. It must be something very common to the human condition, and I don’t know what should be done about it, but my reading of the Turner Diaries, and my understanding of their influence, tells me one simple thing: ISIS aren’t new, or alien to western experience, although we might like to think so. They share a lot with the dark heart of our own racist past, and maybe if we look back there we can find ways to stop these movements from happening in future. Maybe the enemy really is us.


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