Paul Foot

Paul Foot

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The capitalist disaster is all around us, clear to see. But for most people capitalism is 'the best system we've got'. Before they destroy capitalism, they want to know - what can they put in its place? There is an alternative way of running society which is worth fighting for. It is called socialism.

Socialism is built on three principles, all vital to one another.

The first is the social ownership of the means of production.

Many people take this to mean the ownership of all property by some Big Brother state. They look around in their homes and see a few treasured possessions. Furniture, a television set, a washing machine, perhaps a car or some books. They do not see why they should give these things up to some bureaucratic state, or to anyone else for that matter.

Nor should they. And here is the first big misunderstanding, carefully nursed by the supporters of capitalism.

They deliberately ignore the obvious difference between people's possessions and the means of producing these possessions.

If you own a washing machine, you do not get richer because you own it. On the contrary, you probably pay out large sums every month in hire purchase commitments. Even when you've finished buying it, there's no extra income to you from having that washing machine. But if you own shares in Hoover, you grow richer because other people are buying washing machines.

The means of production are the factories, the machines, the chemical plants, the printing presses, the pits, the building materials - all the things which produce wealth. It is the ownership of all these by a small handful of people - or by a state which is run on behalf of that small handful of people - which leads to the inequalities and the chaos of capitalist society.

If the means of production are owned by society as a whole, then it becomes impossible for one group of people to grow rich from other people's work.

It removes the compulsion for industries and services to compete with one another for the general wealth. It makes it possible to plan the resources of society according to their needs. The problem which dogs all businessmen: 'who is going to buy back the goods', and the slumps which that creates no longer arise. If, by mistake, too many goods are made or too many services are provided, then they can be given away or slowed down, and something else started. But there is no question of throwing millions of people out of work, or leaving machinery idle, or throwing food down mineshafts. These could not be possible, because the driving force of the production plan is human need.

Under socialism there is no stock exchange, no moneylenders, no property speculators, no landlords - no one getting rich out of someone else's needs. All these are replaced by plans which are drawn up to meet the means of production with people's needs.

They should put up a tent outside the Home Office to accommodate people protesting about miscarriages of justice. I spent some time there last week protesting, with lots of others, on behalf of the three men who've spent 15 years in prison for the murder of the newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater. I was last there on the same issue in June, when a batch of powerful new evidence, all of it pointing to the men's innocence, was handed in.

In the five months since, the Home Office hasn't ordered a single new inquiry or interview. Earlier this month, as we prepared for a week-long vigil of protest, some official stirred. A Home Office spokesman tells me: "We're in the process of getting details of inquiries we want to carry out." Last week, coinciding brilliantly with the vigil, came an ITN scoop exposing grotesque discrepancies between police custody records and their reports of interviews with Pat Molloy, whose confession was crucial to the prosecution case. The new evidence was further proof that the police account of Molloy's confession was a load of concocted drivel worthy of the West Midlands Serious Crimes Squad...

There have now been six secret police inquiries into this case involving four forces - Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Warwickshire and Merseyside. The last took 21 months. Surely it's time to dispense with this secretive, time-wasting and utterly unsatisfactory method of investigation, and reopen the case in public.

The late Lord Beaverbrook used to scoff at journalists who consult old cuttings. Newspapers, he insisted, are read and then cast aside. Who cares a hoot what they said years or even days ago? Nothing better proves his theory than the coverage of the Lockerbie disaster. Five-and-a-half years ago, the entire press was proclaiming that the Lockerbie bombing was carried out by, er, a Palestinian gang, based in Syria, paid for by the Iranian government. An interminable series in the Sunday Times in late 1989 named the gang, its leader, its bomb-maker and the Palestinian who had bought clothes in a Maltese boutique which ended up in the bomb suitcase. The same story was conveyed a year later to an even wider public in a massive Granada reconstruction, Why Lockerbie?

... When two Libyans were charged in November 1991, the US and British governments' propaganda machines worked night and day to rubbish the story they had so successfully peddled. Pretty well the entire media in Britain and the US complied. Libya was denounced with the same stale invective previously reserved for the Iranians and Syrians. None of the facts had changed. The only change was political. The new enemy of the western powers was their former favourite, Saddam Hussein. In the Gulf war for a new world order, the ruthless Syrian dictator Assad was a vital ally. Iran was neutral. It was suddenly obvious that neither of these two governments could possibly have had anything to do with Lockerbie.

This awful cynicism is now at last being exposed. Some credit goes to a few journalists like Gerry Northam of BBC Radio's File On Four who stuck to Claud Cockburn's invaluable advice never to believe anything until it is officially denied. Most of the hard work, however, has been done for nothing by the British relatives who formed UK Families Flight 103 to demand to know what happened to their loved ones: people like Dr Jim Swire, a GP from Bromsgrove, who lost his daughter Flora; Martin Cadman, a marketing consultant in Norfolk, who lost his son Bill; Pamela Dix, a publishing editor from Woking, who lost her brother, Peter. They are disgusted by the diet of lies, half-lies, contradictions and cover-ups served up by ministers and officials.

This month they launched a petition to the European parliament calling for a statement about Lockerbie: a statement which they hope will lead to a proper inquiry.

The most powerful case for individual terrorism comes from the Old Testament. It is the story of Samson, the mighty warrior who was betrayed by his lover, and then blinded and imprisoned by his enemies, the Philistines.

Moshe Machover, an Israeli dissident, sends me the relevant passage from the Book of Judges, chapter 16, reminding me that the story is widely taught to Israeli children "as an act of heroism on Samson's part". Moshe prefers to read it as a "useful antidote against Islamophobia and Judaeo-Christian arrogance".

Certainly the Philistines in the story, as they taunt and mock the tortured warrior, come across as almost exact replicas of the Murdochs, the Conrad Blacks, the BBC foreign news chiefs and everyone else who refuses to understand the difference in the Middle East between the violence of conquerors, exploiters and oppressors on the one hand and the violence of the conquered, exploited and oppressed on the other.

On the night of their triumph over Samson, the Philistine leaders celebrated and got drunk. ... "And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, of the one with his right hand and of the other with his left. And Samson said: 'Let me die with the Philistines.' And he bowed himself with all his might and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life."

I agree with Moshe that this story is a moving reminder to tyrants that their power and arrogance can never be taken for granted, but I think it would be a pity if all those Israeli schoolchildren, or anyone else for that matter, took it as an argument for individual terrorism.

As a guide to that question, I much prefer the advice of Leon Trotsky who became a socialist largely out of hostile reaction to the individual terrorism and assassinations practised by so many rebels against Russian tsarism in his youth ... "In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes toward a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish their mission." Trotsky wrote that nearly 100 years ago, long after the Old Testament. And he was even closer to the truth than Samson was.

Benn's description of (his wife Caroline's) death on November 22 2000, with all her family around her, is almost too sad to bear. A couple of weeks later, on December 12, the diary records: "A letter arrived in the mail this morning to Caroline Benn signed by a senior Labour peer. It was an appeal for money and was asking "Ms Benn" if she would like to remember the party in her will." The diary goes on: "It is really a silly thing to do." Silly? It was a disgusting, utterly contemptible thing to do and is only credible in the vulture culture that poisons the current leadership of the Labour party.

But Tony Benn is almost immune to the slings and arrows of New Labour. Every time I am lucky enough to speak on the same platform, I find myself pondering why he is so good at it, and I so bad. I think at last I have worked it out. While I engage in mockery and polemic, he prefers to lay off the personalities and concentrate his humour and forensic skill on ideas and issues. And if that means that he too often has a generous word for politicians I find detestable - Norman Tebbit, for instance, and even Ian Paisley - well, that is a small price to pay for such an indomitable and exuberant political spirit.

Though I stridently opposed the policies of the Wilson and Callaghan governments, it never occurred to me not to vote Labour. There was easily enough distance between the Labour governments and their Tory predecessors to make the choice automatic. Now the situation is different. Exactly what has changed?

Last week, I went to Hackney's excellent Arcola theatre to see a play by my friend Andy de la Tour. The play, Question Time, is about a Blairite cabinet minister whose father is an old engineering trade unionist. Labour governments, the minister argues, have constantly to make compromises with reactionary policies in order to stay in office. Asked when Labour ministers' compromises turn them into Tories, the old man replies: "When they no longer see them as compromises - when they believe Tory policies are better." That time has come, or nearly come.

The tragedy is not that New Labour ministers are making concessions - but that they heartily believe in their Tory policies. In these circumstances the argument that hostility from socialists to a Labour government paves the way for a Tory victory is weaker than ever. For if there is no discernible difference between the Labour government and the Tories, why should people vote at all?

He was, without doubt, the finest campaigning journalist of his generation. He had everything - a ferociously forensic brain, deep compassion, a prodigious capacity for work, great courage, a healthy and permanent distrust of politicians of any party, a sharp wit, a devastating pen and principles as deep, wide and awe-inspiring as the Grand Canyon.

Paul Foot, who has died aged 66, was everything that is best in our gnarled old trade, and he graced it for five decades with stories and investigations that tumble down the years. Hanratty, the Poulson scandal, the Carl Bridgewater murder, the Birmingham bombings convictions, Jeffrey Archer - he kept on coming back to that one - Jeremy Thorpe, John Stalker and the Northern Ireland shoot-to-kill inquiry, Lockerbie and the Libyan connection, or lack of it, the strange death of "God's banker" Roberto Calvi, all topped up with a circus of conmen and get-rich-quick spivs from the City, second-rate, hypocritical politicians and any other phoney who felt the glint of Foot's big specs upon them...

For the last years of his life, he was confined to walking with two sticks, a result of almost dying from an aortic aneurysm. But his enthusiasm and brain were undimmed and, in spite of his disability, he remained entirely without self-pity, while working back at the Eye and as a Guardian columnist.

In a world where allegiances, principles, prejudices and beliefs change with easy cynicism, Paul Foot was a steadfast beacon of integrity. He may have tilted at a few windmills, and his politics remained unapologetically tangled in the barricades of the 1960s. Yet, like Shelley's west wind, he was a "spirit fierce", who stood against the vested interests of the corrupt, the power hungry, the liars, cheats, hypocrites and shysters. He did not always win, but the great and good thing was that he never stopped trying, and our trade was immeasurably more noble for it.

I first met Paul Foot in the very early 1960s: he was in the Glasgow Young Socialists, I was in the Newcastle Young Socialists, and we were poles apart. He came from a posh, Oxford University, Liberal background, and I was the son of a coalminer, who had never read a book. He moved to London, I moved to London and he was to prove utterly decisive in my life.

What brought us together was that we were both obsessed with the same idea - of how to get socialist ideas across. We had both become members of what was then the International Socialists group - now the Socialist Workers party - but we, and a few other people, thought that the far left was stuck in the dark ages. It had to become more accessible.

By the early 1970s, Paul was at the height of his mainstream career; he had already published four books, he had won the What The Papers Say Journalist of the Year award in 1972, and was a key writer on Private Eye. He had, in short, made a name for himself - and I wanted him to give it up and work for Socialist Worker for a pittance.

He was worried about his family commitments, but he was not worried about money, or his house, or his property - he never was. He came to the paper, and working with him, an intellectual who encouraged everybody, was a joy.

Much later, I became his lawyer. Together, we continued to crash into legal battles. But what struck me then, as before, was that even Paul's enemies liked him, even if they sometimes seemed to be jealous of him. They looked at him, and then looked into themselves, and, I suspect, started thinking about just where, besides the money they had made, or the status they had achieved, they had taken a wrong turning.

One side of this was the way people sought to rationalise - or marginalise - Paul's revolutionary ideas by joking about them, as a way of pulling him back into the fold. But he was not for taking back into the fold. His radicalism was not an optional extra, it was absolutely central to the identity of that wonderfully witty and humane man.

The only thing he ever had, always, were his books. He really did live only for today - but that was so we could change tomorrow.

In 1976, five years before he published his book Red Shelley, Paul Foot gave his first talk on Percy Shelley at what was then the International Socialists' Easter rally in Skegness. Here was Paul, this handsome man in his prime - but, then, he was always handsome, and always in his prime - breathing life into the dead poet. All his brilliance was there, his fieriness, his disgust with hierarchy, his passion for truth, justice and equality, and his endless enthusiasm for life. The audience was on its feet roaring approval before the last word was out.

Paul was not only clever, he was the funniest person I ever met. He amused us. He was irreverent. He was passionate about what he believed in, but never lapsed into the high moralism, or the dreary incantations, of those people with vision who think they know best. We laughed with him and at him, and he laughed at himself.

Even in these last years, when he was in constant pain and walked with great difficulty, he never complained, forever making fun of himself and his disability. He was sometimes tactless, clapping his hand over his mouth and rocking with laughter because he had put his foot in it, but there was no malice in him - his tactless moments may have been occasionally exasperating, but they were clownish.

His mimicry of the pompous was wonderful. He had three voices - a reedy, unreconstructed, pantomime dame voice for silly women, a low, plums-in-the-mouth one for pompous men, and a scratchy, all-purpose Ealing studios one for everyone else. The plummy voice was not unlike his own, an anomaly in a man for whom class was never a barrier.

So vivid were his thoughts, and so caught up was he in them, that sometimes he appeared not to be listening; his eyes would seem to close. Infuriated, one would accuse him of not listening and, even more infuriatingly, he would then repeat, word for word, what you had said.

We have lost the most inspiring revolutionary socialist of our times, one of our greatest journalists and, for that legion of friends, our dearest and funniest companion. For his partner Clare, their 10-year old daughter Kate, and his three sons, John, Matt and Tom, the loss is unimaginable. Entirely without pretension or self regard, no friend was ever more generous, more loyal or more fun. He is the most loved man I have ever known.

It's with great sadness and a feeling of enormous emptiness after learning of the sudden death of my dear friend Paul Foot, that I write. It was 24 years ago I first met Paul. At the time, I was fighting to prove the innocence of my son and his co-accused in the Bridgewater Four case.

I explained my plight, and Paul quickly became involved in my fight - at a time when it was unfashionable for a journalist to do so. He was such an enormous inspiration - he was the one person who inspired me to fight a system which was reluctant to pursue justice in any form.

When all I was feeling was hopelessness and despair, he helped me along - he changed my life. Paul's lasting legacy to me and many others was to stand up and fight for what you believe to be right. He was responsible for giving many ordinary innocent people and their families hope - and in many cases their freedom. He was my hero. I miss him already.

Paul Foot was a very special journalist. A rigorous, forensic, hardworking reporter, he was also a politically committed polemicist; an activist for whom party and politics were central but whose writing was always alert to the pitfalls of group-think; and a columnist who wrote with such a lack of pomposity and lightness of tone that he could turn the most unsexy subjects into sparkling prose.

For a man with an unfashionable belief in the importance of class politics, Paul Foot was also the least sectarian of men, whose wit, humour and humanity made him a permanent optimist about the state of the world. Some people found it hard to understand how a man born into such apparent privilege remained loyal to the Socialist Workers' party (and its forerunners) for some 40 years. But it is a misreading of the man to characterise him as a toff whose political convictions were some kind of eccentric add-on. Whatever it might have cost him in terms of his career, he stuck with his party because he believed his politics had to be grounded in collective action, however marginal the vehicle.

That belief in rooted politics underpinned his journalism, which has graced the pages of the Guardian for the past decade. Until he almost died with a ruptured aorta in 1999 - an event from which he never fully recovered - he spent many hours cheerfully tramping round the country, speaking at meetings, sometimes large, often small, at which he encountered many of the people whose stories then fed his writing. He was an electrifying and inspiring speaker - and like everything he did, his oratory was laced with wicked humour.

Paul Foot was rightly praised following his death last week. As so many people pointed out, he was a brilliant journalist who was prepared to campaign relentlessly on behalf of unpopular and unglamorous causes. No matter how obscure or petty the injustice, once he was convinced that a wrong must be righted, he was prepared to spend endless hours - months, years even - fighting the case.

The fact that a freelance journalist of avowedly leftwing sympathies should be accorded long, laudatory obituaries in every serious paper says a great deal about Foot's unique status and the depth of appreciation for his journalism. The range, volume and sincerity of the tributes have rarely been equalled.

There are, of course, detractors. One critic emailed me a lengthy diatribe which poured scorn on virtually all of Foot's efforts, and I suspect that there are others - especially of a rightwing persuasion - who would have gone into print in similar fashion had they not obeyed that dictum about not speaking ill of the dead.

What is certain is that there are plenty of media theorists who do not have much time for the kind of journalism practised by Foot because it was unashamedly partisan and passionate. He did not try to be objective or balanced. His polemics were laced with sarcasm. He did not conceal his political agenda, usually choosing to take up cases which matched his views.

Those who would denigrate him on such grounds miss the point and, most importantly, misunderstand the lameness of those arguments on behalf of impartiality. Foot understood that claims to journalistic objectivity are utterly false. As Harry Evans, the luminary ex-editor of the Sunday Times, once pointed out: "Facts may be sacred - but which facts? The media are not a neutral looking glass: we select what we mirror". And Evans is no Trotskyist.

Foot was, in fact, part of a rich journalistic tradition of radicals going back to Paine, Wilkes, Cobbett, Carlile, Feargus O'Connor, Richard O'Brien, and more recently, George Orwell, James Cameron and Claud Cockburn. It lives on with Foot's friend and former Daily Mirror colleague John Pilger, and the Independent's Robert Fisk. All of these men were and are practitioners of what has been clumsily, but rightly, called the "journalism of attachment", writing against the prevailing political climate in order both to inform readers and to urge them to change their minds.

Paul Foot: a rediscovered interview

Paul Foot, who died in 2004, was a prominent journalist, writer and revolutionary socialist. Here we present an interview conducted by James Bowen and Claire Donnelly first published in Impact, the University of Nottingham student paper, in March 1996.

Paul Foot speaking at Students Fighting For Socialism, ULU 28th November 1998. Image: Steve Eason.

Foot was perhaps best known for his investigative journalism. Amongst the cases of miscarriage of justice he took up were those of the Bridgewater Four, convicted of murder in 1978, and the Birmingham Six, who were falsely identified as responsible for an IRA pub bombing campaign in 1974. Yet his newspaper columns also brought attention to countless everyday cruelties visited on working class people by successive Tory – and Labour – governments. Foot always sought to reveal through his subject matter the irrational and iniquitous nature of capitalist society.

A tireless expounder of socialist ideas in books such as Why you should be a socialist, Foot was also a captivating speaker. A fine example of his style can be heard in his discussion of the revolutionary poet P. B. Shelley. In the interview reproduced below he offers some candid opinions about how the Left should communicate its message.

The interview was conducted at the tail-end of John Major’s Tory government, a few months before New Labour’s landslide victory. It reflects Foot’s deep pessimism about the prospects for genuine change under Tony Blair’s leadership and more generally through Parliamentary channels.

Its central focus is the revelations of the Scott Report into arms sales to Iraq, which had been published a month earlier. As David Boothroyd explains,

In November 1992, the trial of three directors of engineering company Matrix Churchill for violating the ban on arms sales to Iraq collapsed, after it became clear they were encouraged to flout the ban by the Ministry of Defence. This led to a political scandal and an inquiry led by Lord Justice Scott after three years of hearings and deliberation, the Scott report was published on 15 February 1996.

The build-up to the report saw the Major government accused of deliberately restricting access for Labour opposition spokesman Robin Cook (who was allowed only three hours to view the 1,806 page report early on the day). In a variation from normal practice, the sitting was adjourned for ten minutes to allow MPs to claim a copy before the President of the Board of Trade Ian Lang made a statement.

Immigration and the British Labour Movement

From International Socialism (1st Series), No.22, Autumn 1965, pp.8-13.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

1. Imperialism and Racial Ideologies

Ever since the start of industrial history the ruling classes have sought propaganda methods to divert the attention of the workers from the ineptitude and savagery of capitalism. Imperialism and Race have been used with recurrent fervour for this purpose – and with great success. Both issues are closely interlocked. Hand in hand with propaganda about the glories of empire – so assiduously used to drug the militancy of the worker in the last century – went the notion that those conquered by British marauders were in some way intrinsically inferior to them. For the British such notions were tinged with colour. For the colonised peoples were almost all black or brown, while the British colonists, including those in Australia and America, were white. Thus all white men were great men, and all black men were ignorant illiterate savages. This was no accidental conclusion. It was the deliberate propaganda of 19th century imperialists.

It was, no doubt, their countrymen’s success in the business of robbing and plundering overseas which provoked the native Briton to an instinctive dislike of those who came from overseas to join him at work. The French Protestants or Huguenots who fled from Catholic terror at the start of the British industrial revolution were treated – despite their undoubted talents both as artisans and Protestants – suspiciously and even with open violence. Similarly the hundreds of thousands of Irish who came across the Irish sea – driven by imperialism and its famines – were met with undisguised hostility. The working people of Glasgow, for instance, organised an annual treat, which they called Hunting the Barney. After a jovial march through the slum closes of the city, the gentle folk would seek out an Irishman and murder him for sport. [1] Similar outbreaks of crude violence and anti-foreigner propaganda far more savage than anything we know today were commonplace, particularly in the West of Scotland and on Merseyside. Delicate priests would issue from their studies the religious ‘justification’ for such racial intolerance, which was not confined to the ‘lumpen’ mob. Often the most militant, most politically conscious of the embryonic working-class organisations showed most bitterness against the foreigner. To some extent, this was caused by the employers, who, at the time of strike, made common practice of journeying to Ireland and recruiting Irishmen for their factories, mines and mills at half pay. The starving Irishmen were quite prepared to brave the militancy of the English or Scottish trade unionists for a loaf of bread. Often, they paid for their daring with their lives.

Such antipathy infiltrated the minds of even the greatest socialist theorists. Frederick Engels wrote of the Irish immigrant in Manchester that ‘his crudity places him little above the savage’ and made it plain that no revolution could depend on this half-savage for support. [2] Some years later Ben Tillett summed up the dilemma of the international socialist in a speech on Tower Hill. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘you are our brothers and we will do our duty by you. But we wish you had not come to this country.’ Despite the resentment of the working class and the chauvinist bourgeoisie against the immigrant, the politicians were not worried. Throughout the whole of the nineteenth century there were no powers for the Government to control immigration, no powers to deport immigrant criminals nor any demand for such powers. During this period the entire world could, in theory, have come into Britain free of restriction. The reasons for this liberalism were part economic, part political. Economically, Britain was by far the leading capitalist nation, and as such believed firmly in Free Trade. The winners of any race are, by nature, opposed to handicaps. With Free Trade and the free movement of goods went the free movement of that valuable commodity – labour.

Similarly, politically, British politicians, not unfairly, regarded themselves as revolutionaries – champions of the new, dynamic capitalism bitter enemies of the decaying feudalism which still hampered so many countries in Europe. Liberals held out their hands, grandiloquently, to political refugees from feudalism, and gloried in the ‘right of asylum’. Mazzini and Garibaldi, bourgeois revolutionaries par excellence, were welcomed as refugees into Britain, and Gladstone stomped the country pouring out invective against the inhumanity of the Italians in their dealings with Neopolitan political offenders. Palmerston forced the Portuguese into an amnesty for political prisoners. Yet at the same time both statesmen nodded their heads wisely as the convicted patriots (bourgeois revolutionaries also) of the Young Ireland State trials at Clonmel (1848) were deported by the British Government to Tasmania. They welcomed revolutionaries against feudalism in other lands but they deported revolutionaries against imperialism.

Even worse for these gentlemen was the emergence of men and women who called themselves revolutionaries, but who seemed uninterested in the struggle between capitalism and feudalism. These people – ‘anarchists’ or ‘nihilists’ as they were usually called – were opposed not so much to feudalism in one country as to capitalism in all countries. Moreover they were gaining access to Britain by quoting the right of political asylum. A man called Marx, for instance, had lived in Britain for 34 years, as a political refugee, yet his propaganda, apparently, was directed against the British Government as well as the German Government!

Other European countries had taken action against anarchists from 1860 onwards, and after the Extradition Act of 1870 Britain promised to keep a close watch on the ports for any incoming ‘anarchists’. At the same time the economic basis for free immigration was being gradually undermined. America, Sweden, France, Germany, Japan – all were gaining in competitive strength. The British slumps in the 1870s and 1880s were the deepest of the century, and pressure groups arose, particularly among Midlands Tories, for restrictions on goods to protect Britain against her competitors. With the demands for protection went demands for the control and sifting of immigration labour.

Such demands coincided with the persecution of Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the consequent exodus of destitute political refugees, heading mainly for America. In the twenty-five years from 1880 to 1905 some 100,000 Jews settled in England, mainly in the East End of London. It was against the Jews that the reactionary Tory rump directed most of its propaganda, resulting in a Royal Commission in 1903.

The Royal Commission effectively destroyed all the allegations against the Jews which were current on the extreme Right. The Jews, said the Commission, were not markedly more criminal or diseased than the indigenous population their houses were overcrowded – but no more so than many houses of English people in other areas. The shocking conditions in which they lived were common throughout the English working class. Nevertheless the Commission (with two out of seven members dissenting) advocated immigration control.

Balfour’s Tory Government, relieved by an excuse to introduce worthless and pointless legislation after long years of misrule, hastily drew up an Aliens Act. But so powerful was the Opposition from the Liberals that they were forced to withdraw it and bring forward another Act in 1905. This was opposed again, but was finally passed under the guillotine. The Act gave Home Office officials the right to refuse entry to ‘destitute’ aliens on grounds of poverty or disease.

The Labour Party, small as it was, had split over the Aliens Act in 1904, three of its Parliamentary Members opposing the Act, and three abstaining. But in 1905 all six voted against the Act. In a powerful speech Keir Hardie described the Bill as ‘fraudulent, deceitful and dishonourable’. He demanded its replacement by an Unemployed Workmen’s Bill and asserted that ‘there is no demand for this Bill from the working classes’. [3] The Aliens Act became law in August, and in December the Liberals swept into office. They were forced then to manipulate the Act which they had so bitterly opposed, without, apparently, any opposition from the Labour Party, which had grown considerably in Parliamentary strength. Yet it was not until 1911, when Mr Winston Churchill went down to Sydney Street, there to watch heroically while several foreign anarchists were burnt to death, that the Liberals finally gave in to the Tory extremist pressure and promised stricter immigrant legislation. The Liberal Government of the time lasted five years before stiffening restrictions they had opposed while the Labour Government of 1964-65, in not dissimilar circumstances, has waited nine months.

Indeed the Liberal Government refrained from further legislation until 1914, when they hurried through an emergency Aliens Act, intended only for wartime. Such was the monstrous chauvinism of the First World War, however, that the 1914 Act was re-enacted permanently in 1919. The Act gave powers to the Home Secretary arbitrarily to deport all foreigners in Britain, and to his officials to refuse anyone entry on their own initiative. Foreigners in Britain, under the Act, must register with the police and inform them of any movement from district to district. The Act is still in effect today. It is this Act under which Soblen was deported and Delgado was refused leave to land. It is the most savage Act dealing with foreigners in the industrial world, outside Russia, China and Eastern Europe.

2. Labour Party Reactions

The Labour Party at the time unanimously opposed the Act. Josiah Wedgwood, for instance, the Labour Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, spoke in terms which were at the time widely accepted throughout the Labour Movement:

‘We believe that the interests of the working classes everywhere are the same, and these gentlemen (the Tories) will find it difficult to spread a spirit of racial hatred amongst those people who realise that the brotherhood of man and the international spirit of the workers is not merely a phrase but a reality.’ [4]

Yet the ‘international spirit of the workers’ was to vanish fast from the Labour benches. In the election at the end of 1924 in which the first Labour Government was flung from office, there were two main issues. The first was the ‘Red Letter’ alleged to have come from Zinoviev. The second was alien immigration. From constituency to constituency the Tory candidates raised the issue of immigration, indicating that Labour policy was to ‘Let Them All Come’. To which the Labour leaders argued strenuously that this was not the case. If anything, they boasted, Labour had naturalised fewer foreigners than the Conservatives!

Thus, when the Tories hammered the point home soon after the election by moving an adjournment motion for tighter immigration control, Labour collapsed officially. They put up a London ILP-er called John Scurr to move an amendment, not opposing control, as in 1919, but opposing harsher measures. Scurr himself was an internationalist, and, goaded by the Tories during his speech, he slipped into internationalist terminology:
‘We are all internationalists,’ he shouted.
Hon. Members: ‘All of you?’
G. Lansbury: ‘Yes, and why not?’
Scurr: ‘We are not afraid to say that we are internationalists – all of us. (Laughter). The boundaries between nations are artificial.’

No one can relate what that laughter represented. Perhaps it was provoked by the expressions on the faces of Labour leaders as they watched Scurr throwing away hundreds of votes by standing up to the racists.

As Tory pressure continued, so the Labour Party retreated further. By the time the Labour Government took office in 1929, they had rejected all traces of internationalism in their attitude to aliens. Indeed it was a Labour Home Secretary, John Clynes, who laid the ghost of the ‘right of political asylum’ with his contemptuous refusal to allow Leon Trotsky to enter Britain, on the grounds that ‘persons of mischievous intention would unquestionably seek to exploit his presence for their own ends’.

Thus the attitude of the Labour Party – and the trade unions – throughout the twenties and thirties remained thoroughly restrictionist. The old concepts of internationalism which had inspired so many of its members at the outset were very quickly forgotten – and were never again revived. Even the so-called ‘Left’ of the Party, symbolised by the formation of the Socialist League in 1935, stuck firmly to the chauvinist example set by Clynes and Macdonald.

These traditions clung grimly to the Labour movement immediately after the election of a Labour Government in 1945. Indeed nothing demonstrated more clearly that the Labour leaders of that time were nonplussed by capitalist development than their attitude to aliens. Cripps, Dalton and company were as convinced as any revolutionary socialist that a slump was inevitable, and that they could do nothing to prevent it. Thus when a few back-benchers, including James Callaghan, called for a Government policy of recruiting labour abroad, Cripps and Dalton turned them down on the grounds that the foreign workers would present a serious problem when (not if) the slump came.

Yet as it became clear that full employment – through no action of theirs – was here to stay, the Government was forced to look abroad for more workers. They were hampered by the ludicrous bureaucracy of the Aliens Act, which made any voluntary mass influx of foreigners impossible. Rather than repeal the Act, however (and give the impression of solidarity with the foreign workers), the Government moved outside it and established special schemes known as the European Volunteer Worker schemes. Under these schemes, the Government recruited about 250,000 displaced workers from Europe, including about 100,000 Poles, many of whom were in this country after the war and were reluctant to return to Stalinism in their homeland. A vicious campaign against the Poles, whose terms would bring a flush of pleasure to the cheeks of any modern racialist, was waged by the Communist Party and their two Parliamentary spokesmen, William Gallacher and Phil Piratin. Gallacher and Piratin never missed an opportunity to point out that the Poles were dirty, lazy and corrupt and should go back to their own country. [5]

The terms under which these European Volunteer Workers came to Britain were extremely harsh. There was no question of the families, as of right, joining their menfolk, and the wives were allowed in only if they could prove that they too would get a job. If the workers fell ill, they were deported. When a Ukrainian boy who had fallen off a lorry and lost his sight while working as an agricultural labourer was deported to Germany, Mr Ernest Bevin brushed the matter aside with the homily, ‘These people have only been brought here to save them from forcible deportation to the Soviet Union and they have no claim as prisoners of war to remain here.’ Thus spoke the humanitarian Methodism to which the Labour Party owes so much of its heritage.

This grisly process of contract labour could not last for ever. The expanding economies of Germany, France, Switzerland and Belgium quickly mopped up not only the remaining supply of displaced workers in Europe, but also the millions of workers who fled, helter-skelter, from the new Workers’ Paradises in the East. For a short time it looked as though the British economy would be throttled by a shortage of labour. What saved it was a historical accident of imperialism.

3. ‘Commonwealth’ Immigrants and Labour’s Collapse

For the old robbers and imperialists who had crossed the high seas in search of new forms of exploitation in the nineteenth century, had, as a demonstration of their good manners and better feelings, imposed on their subjects the privilege of British citizenship. The only recognisable right of a British citizen in a colonial country was to come to Britain free of the harsh restrictions of the Aliens Act. Thus from 1948 onwards, workers in the West Indies, and, later, peasants from India and Pakistan began to make use of their sole privilege and seek work in Britain. Unlike aliens, and unlike European Volunteer Workers, these new workers could at will bring with them, or summon after them their wives, children and parents.

The Labour Government, under whose auspices the process of Commonwealth immigration started, was happy to sit back and do nothing about it. But large-scale immigration did not begin until 1954. Between 1954 and 1961, when the Conservative Government first introduced a Bill to control Commonwealth immigration, some 200,000 coloured migrants entered the country. They were by no means all unskilled labourers. Many were skilled, white-collar employees – trained doctors, nurses, teachers and the like. Yet the majority of the migrant workers found their way (totally unaided) to the buses of London, the hospitals and engineering shops in the Midlands, and the mills of the West Riding and Lancashire.

The initial reaction of the Labour movement was to do and say nothing. There is no official Labour statement on the matter until 1958, and the trade union conference confined themselves to general anti-racialist resolutions without reference to the specific social problems of immigration. Indeed the earliest demands for immigration control – in 1954 – came from Mr John Hynd, the Labour MP for Sheffield, Attercliffe [6], and Mr Patrick Gordon Walker, the Labour MP for Smethwick. [7] The Labour Party in Parliament confined itself to sporadic questions about ‘integration’ from the back benches. In 1958, however, inspired by the Notting Hill riots and a back-bench Private Member’s Motion the Labour Party took a firm stand on the control question. Just as in 1905, and in 1919, their attitude was total opposition to control, but immediately their reasons for such an attitude differed sharply from the previous occasions. Thus Arthur Bottomley, Front Bench spokesman on Commonwealth questions, spoke out in the House on 5 December 1958:

‘We on this side are clear in our attitude towards restricted immigration. I think I speak for my Right Honourable and Honourable friends by saying that we are categorically against it . The central principle on which our status in the Commonwealth is largely dependent is the “open door” to all Commonwealth citizens. If we believe in the importance of our great Commonwealth we should do nothing in the slightest degree to undermine that principle.’

Gone was the argument of Keir Hardie that control was ‘deceitful’ in that it did not solve the problems of the working class gone was the argument of Josiah Wedgwood that ‘we believe that the interests of the working classes everywhere are the same’. A new element had crept into the discussion. It was ‘our great Commonwealth’.

Bottomley’s ‘categorical’ opposition to control of Commonwealth Immigration was repeated officially in 1960 and half-way through 1961 by Party leaders, although the matter was never discussed at Party Conference. When the Tories, bowing beneath the pressure from the constituencies and the small, well-organised right-wing group in Parliament, introduced a Bill to control Commonwealth Immigration, the Parliamentary Labour Party decided by a substantial majority to oppose it. Their opposition was prolonged and principled. In Parliament, they fought every line of the Bill, plugging it with huge gaps which they were later, in power, to close. Outside Parliament, they launched a campaign against the Bill, which fired the enthusiasm of all the principled sections of the movement, including, even, the Young Socialists.

Yet it was the arguments used which, in the long run, proved catastrophic for Labour. True, Gaitskell, Brown and Gordon Walker all emphasised that control did not solve the real social problems which gave rise to resentment against the immigrants. But the fundamental argument which ran through every speech and every article in opposition to the Bill from official Labour and from all sections of the Parliamentary Party heralded Bottomley’s rallying cry about ‘our great Commonwealth’.

‘It is rather moving. I found when I was there that they look on us as the Mother Country in a very real sense . I simply say that we are the Mother Country and we ought not to forget it.’ [8]

Thus Arthur, later Lord, Royle:

‘The second reason why they come here is that they are loyal members of the Commonwealth and turn as of right to the Mother Country to obtain the things which the Mother Country alone can give them.’ [9]

‘I do not care whether or not fighting this Commonwealth Immigration Bill will lose me my seat, for I am sure that this Bill will lose this country the Commonwealth.’ [10]

One of the main wrecking amendments to the Bill was moved jointly by Mr John Biggs Davison and Mr Robin Turton of the Tory extreme Right and Mr Michael Foot and Mr Sydney Silverman.

The old internationalism with which Labour had fought the Aliens Acts had vanished without trace. In its place was this crude and reactionary maternalism. For loyalty to the Commonwealth, whatever the progressive terms in which it is phrased, is nothing more nor less than inverted imperialism. Those who ask for special privileges for Commonwealth citizens are accepting that people who have been conquered by Britain should be treated more leniently than people conquered by a foreign power.

Since so much of the Labour Opposition depended on this maternalism, it was not long before the entire case, which, at the time of the Second Reading of the Bill (November 1961), was reinforced with strong and principled arguments, degenerated utterly. By February 1962, Labour back-benchers were moving amendments to the Bill that people who had fought in the war should be allowed to come into Britain free. By November 1963, when Labour was forced to oppose the continuance of the Act, Wilson (much more reactionary and opportunist on this issue than Gaitskell) could complain about the ‘loopholes’ in the Act which his own Party had created. Wilson’s only grounds for opposing the continuance of the Act on that occasion was that the Tories had not ‘consulted’ the Commonwealth Governments. Keeping out the blacks seemed to Labour in 1963 a perfectly reasonable proposition, provided the blacks were told about it in advance.

Although the Labour ‘line’ now appeared consistent, the whole of the argument was now about the Commonwealth. No longer did Labour members insist that control would not solve the real social problems, or that it was a sop to racialists. Thus what little meat there was in the Labour case in 1961-2 had disappeared completely a year later. It needed only a final shove to push Labour off their nominal opposition to the Immigration Act.

The man who gave the shove was a young schoolteacher who lived in Smethwick, whose name was Peter Griffiths. Griffiths, cast precisely in the Joseph Chamberlain Midlands Tory tradition (which has for fifty years attracted considerable working-class support), could not regard himself as likely ever to be persona grata in the Tory hierarchy. He has a strong Midland accent, and he is a crude reactionary. Unless he could win Smethwick for the Conservatives, his chances elsewhere would be minimal. He watched with interest then as the Birmingham Immigration Control Association moved into Smethwick in 1961, and, helped by able local propagandists, succeeded in exciting hundreds of working-class people in Smethwick against the immigrant. Griffiths adopted their techniques and their propagandists over a powerful two-year anti-immigrant campaign and took the seat off Labour in a swing of 7.2 per cent – against a national swing the other way of 3.5 per cent. The highest ‘swing’ to the Tories anywhere else in Britain was 3.5 per cent (in neighbouring West Bromwich).

Griffiths proved that a concerted anti-immigrant., racialist campaign, if given time, can explode the solidarity with Labour of the working-class electorate. Labour took the hint. No sooner had they settled in office but they started to tighten the controls. Gunter announced on the 17 November 1964 that there would be no more ‘C’ vouchers (for unskilled immigrants) issued, unless the prospective immigrant could show that he had fought in the war. On 5 April Soskice was promising stricter controls within the existing legislation and in mid-July, the Government finally announced a ‘quota’ system by which no more than 8,000 voucher holders would be allowed in each year from the Commonwealth. The Labour Government’s attempt to gloss over this collapse with ‘integrative measures’ and a Race Relations Act have failed miserably. Throughout, they have been compromised. The Race Relations Bill, for instance, does not deal either with housing or with employment – the two main areas of discrimination – and is in the main a restatement of the Public Order Acts, 1936.

4. Conclusions

Three crucial lessons for the Labour movement and the class it represents arise from this brief history. First, there is the unusual power and strength of racialist propaganda. Reactionary propaganda, in normal circumstances, has a political effect only within the limits of economic circumstances. Yet racial propaganda can move for long periods beyond the bounds of economic circumstances, and, further, can give otherwise impotent politicians enormous power and influence. The example of the Southern States of America hangs threateningly over the British working class. For in the period immediately after the Civil War, the Populist movement began to forge the links between white and black workers which, if completed, could only have had revolutionary consequences. Negro delegates were elected to all the State legislatures, and the leading working-class organisations joined with the Negroes to outvote, and eventually, they hoped, to overthrow the traditional ruling class in the South. Tom Watson, the Populist leader, called again and again to ‘our friends’ the Negroes, with whom the ‘poor whites’ must unite to overthrow the despotism of the planter. Observers in the South at the time noted with amazement that the incidence of racial discrimination in the South was less even than in New England, the traditional home of Northern abolitionism. The revolutionary consequences of the links between the poor white and the Negro were not lost on the two political parties, the planters or indeed the Northern Liberals. Thus it was that towards the end of the last century the great campaign was started by politicians from both Republican and Democratic parties (particularly the latter), by the planters, and – if only by their acquiescence – the Northern Liberals, to split the new alliance. With the poll tax, the white primary and a constant stream of anti-black propaganda they turned the poor white against the Negro, until poor old Tom Watson was shouting racist drivel with the rest of them. Having once staved off the revolutionary potential of a multi-racial working class alliance, however, the propaganda and the race-hatred could not stop itself, and reached proportions which were unacceptable, not only to the Northern Liberals, but also to the Southern ruling class itself. It is worth remembering that the membership of the Klu Klux Klan is almost entirely working-class.

Thus, also, in South Africa the intelligent capitalists are crying for an end to the colour bar and to a system of exploitation which allows for a relevant division of labour. They are held back by white workers who will strike rather than accept black men alongside them in the factory. The racial prejudice which the ruling class has unleashed to split the workers knows no master. It distorts the capitalist pattern out of all recognition. It is quite useless for socialists to sit back and say, ‘The capitalist system, in the long run, will unite the different racists in the process of production.’ Racist propaganda can, at will, divide the class even while the process of production unites it. Thus it must be met with fierce propaganda from the other side. Further, racialist propagandists are never satisfied. They thrive on acquiescence. In the years 1920-1926 – a period of intense racist propaganda – more aliens left the country than came in. The Control Acts of 1916 and 1961 were followed, not by acquiescence, but by renewed racist propaganda by the extremist politicians.

Secondly, there is the need for ‘integration’. The word is much abused, used far too often in a ‘teach them to live like us’ meaning. No progressive, much less socialist, is going to be associated with moves to rob people of their culture and customs. Nor, on the other hand, will he spurn the opportunity to counter the ludicrous propaganda about the immigrant community which is common gossip in many ‘affected’ working-class communities. For instance, there are very few statistics to show higher rates of crime or of disease among coloured immigrants in Britain. In the first two and a half years of immigration four Indians and six Pakistanis have been deported for criminal offences (compared, for instance, with 378 Irish), and the rate of venereal disease among Asians and the rate of tuberculosis among West Indians are in both cases lower than the rates in the indigenous population. Crime and disease among immigrants, where they are exceptionally widespread are directly due to the foul, insanitary conditions in which they are forced to live.

The foulest lie of all is the connection which is drawn between the immigrant population and the housing shortage. It is necessary constantly here to emphasise contribution. Housing shortages and the like are quite unrelated to the numbers of people in the planning area, since all these people, or almost all, are contributing to the general levy of production (or have contributed or will contribute). Take away the immigrant community and you take away their contribution to the social services, which, if anything, is slightly higher per head than that of the indigenous population. A higher proportion of immigrants are at work than the indigenous population, and many of them have entered the country as fit and available workers, whom the capitalist State is not forced to ‘educate’ or pay out family allowances for. Constantly, remorselessly the point must be driven home: modern capitalism, for all its apparent slumplessness, has not started to provide even the most basic social services for the people who produce its wealth. The number of people in any given area is quite irrelevant to the state of those services, whose shortage is entirely due to an economic system which produces wealth for the benefit and superiority of a class. Finally, there is the problem of immigration control. The matter is crucial, because it is in terms of control that the issue is always discussed, and it is under the ‘realistic’ demands for control that the racists launch their most powerful propaganda. Against the argument for control, which is accepted by some 80 per cent, if not more, of the British working class there is one defensive argument, and one offensive.

The defensive argument stems from the one iron law about international migration since capitalism began – that migration corresponds almost exactly to the economic situation in the receiving country. Thus the ‘right’ of Commonwealth immigration, although in existence for some 200 years, was not used until 1948 because there was no security of employment in Britain. Similarly, during the fifties the ‘net’ immigration into Britain from the coloured Commonwealth levelled out at some 40,000 per year during 1955, 1956, and 1957. Yet in 1958 and 1959, for no legal or administrative reason, it dropped to 20,000 a year. This was the direct result of Mr. Thorneycroft’s recession at the end of 1957 which resulted in the then highest unemployment since the war. Since the Commonwealth Immigration Act, Irish immigration, which remains uncontrolled, has corresponded almost exactly to the rise and fall of vacancies in Britain, as indeed has Puerto Rican immigration into America which is also, for similar reasons, uncontrolled.

Even if we accept all the capitalist premises, then, immigration control has nothing to do with ‘flooding the labour market’ or any such nonsense. Automatically, immigration corresponds to the needs of the economy. Similarly, in close capitalist logic, immigration does not in any way aggravate the shortage of social services, since the immigrant brings with him not only his body, which has to be housed, but also his work, which helps to build the house. Immigration control is not a creature of logic, even of capitalist logic. It has nothing to do with reason, even capitalist reason. It is a direct product of and capitulation to reason’s opposite, prejudice.

Yet this argument pales into insignificance before the real, offensive socialist argument which concerns the man who is being controlled. Upon what basis is the Indian or the Pakistani or the Jamaican refused leave to better himself by migration? The methods of immigration control reveal its true nature. People are kept out because they are sick because they have in the past committed crimes because, above all, they are unskilled. Yet these are the people who most need to migrate, who most need the better services and training facilities which migration brings. Why then keep them out? Simply (get out those manifestos again) because that is the method which ‘most benefits Britain’.

Immigration control is chauvinist legislation. It cannot be contemplated by an international socialist, for its whole rationale is founded on the nation state and the feverish competition in which that nation state is engaged. This struggle between nation states has two main effects. It splits and divides workers from their main objectives, and, in the long run, weakens their strength all over the world. Second, it continues the ruthless division between former imperialists and former colonial subjects. While the battle between nation states continues there remains no chance for a switch in resources from the ‘developed’ to the ‘underdeveloped’ world.

The chauvinist tradition in the British Left is today its greatest enemy. It is this tradition which drives ‘extreme’ Left-wingers in Parliament and outside to talk of immigration control as ‘planning’ and something which should therefore be welcomed. ‘Planning’ to these people is national planning: Neddy, the Coal Board, British Rail and the nationalisation of steel. The restricted immigrants get no benefit from the overall ‘plan’. But they can be forgotten. They are not British. As Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker wrote to his former constituents:

‘This is a British country with British standards of behaviour. The British should come first.’

The inhumanity and chauvinism of the Methodist Left can best be summed up in their overnight conversion to immigration control on the basis that this is ‘planning’ for a better Britain. Of course, they all want international planning one day. In the meantime they are happy with the national plan. In their heart of hearts, they are hoping for the sun. In the meantime they will continue to pray for, and urge on the rain.

The only possible attitude of an international socialist is outright opposition to immigration control. Yet it is only by taking the argument two stages further that such a position will ever convince the working class. First, that the socialist case does not stop with opposition to control: that the process whereby the employers of one country go out (as for instance the German employers go to Turkey) to recruit thousands of workers en masse, uproot them from their homes, house them in ghettos, use them as cheap labour to soften the militancy of indigenous workers – this process has nothing whatever to do with international socialism. Socialists must make it clear that they are looking for a system where people are not forced through economic circumstances to leave the homes and cultures they know and understand: that under international socialism, movement between countries is free, of course, but it is in the real sense voluntary.

Finally, opposition to immigration control must not become the sole province of well-meaning liberals who ‘believe’ in the fundamental equality of God’s children. Socialists must make it clear that they are opposed to anti-immigrant propaganda, opposed to immigration control, not for any abstract principle, but because of the need of workers of all nationalities, to forge a weapon which, unlike immigration control, will carve out the highest standards of life and living for all workers.


1. See James Handley, The Irish in Scotland.

2. Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class, 1844.

3. House of Comment, 2 May 1905.

4. Ibid., 22 October 1919.

5. See the debate on the Second Reading of the Polish Resettlement Bill, Ibid., 12 February 1947.

6. Ibid., 5 November 1954.

7. See Smethwick Telephone and News Chronicle, 12 November 1954.

Foot (n.)

"terminal part of the leg of a vertebrate animal," Old English fot "foot," from Proto-Germanic *fōts (source also of Old Frisian fot , Old Saxon fot , Old Norse fotr , Danish fod , Swedish fot , Dutch voet , Old High German fuoz , German Fuß , Gothic fotus "foot"), from PIE root *ped- "foot." Plural form feet is an instance of i-mutation.

The linear measure was in Old English (the exact length has varied over time), this being considered the length of a man's foot a unit of measure used widely and anciently. In this sense the plural is often foot . The current inch and foot are implied from measurements in 12c. English churches (Flinders Petrie, "Inductive Metrology"), but the most usual length of a "foot" in medieval England was the foot of 13.2 inches common throughout the ancient Mediterranean. The Anglo-Saxon foot apparently was between the two. All three correspond to units used by the Romans, and possibly all three lengths were picked up by the Anglo-Saxons from the Romano-Britons. "That the Saxon units should descend to mediæval times is most probable, as the Normans were a ruling, and not a working, class." [Flinders Petrie, 1877]. The medieval Paul's Foot (late 14c.) was a measuring standard cut into the base of a column at the old St. Paul's cathedral in London. The metrical foot (late Old English, translating Latin pes , Greek pous in the same sense) is commonly taken to represent one rise and one fall of a foot: keeping time according to some, dancing according to others.

In Middle English also "a person" (c. 1200), hence non-foot "nobody." Meaning "bottom or lowest part of anything eminent or upright" is from c. 1200. Of a bed, grave, etc., from c. 1300. On foot "by walking" is from c. 1300. To get off on the wrong foot is from 1905 (the right foot is by 1907) to put one's best foot foremost first recorded 1849 (Shakespeare has the better foot before , 1596) Middle English had evil-foot (adv.) "through mischance, unluckily." To put one's foot in (one's) mouth "say something stupid" is attested by 1942 the expression put (one's) foot in something "make a mess of it" is from 1823. To have one foot in the grave "be near death" is from 1844. Colloquial exclamation my foot! expressing "contemptuous contradiction" [OED] is attested by 1923, probably euphemistic for my ass in the same sense, which dates to 1796 (also see eyewash).

c. 1400, "to dance," also "to move or travel on foot," from foot (n.). From mid-15c. as "make a footing or foundation." To foot a bill "pay the entirety of" is attested from 1848, from the process of tallying the expenses and writing the figure at the bottom ("foot") of the sheet foot (v.) as "add up and set the sum at the foot of" is from late 15c. (compare footnote (n.)). The Old English verb gefotian meant "to hasten up." Related: Footed footing.

Revere was just a cog, although an important one, in an elaborate warning system

Longfellow also records Revere as arriving in both Lexington and Concord, when in fact Revere was captured outside of Lexington and never reached Concord (although his companion Dr. Prescott did). Perhaps most important is the fact that Longfellow presented Revere as a lone rider in opposition to the might of the British Empire, when in fact Revere was just a cog, although an important one, in an elaborate warning system set up by the Sons of Liberty to spread an alarm quickly and efficiently.  

Unlike some historical events, a great deal is known about Paul Revere’s ride, derived largely from his own accounts – the draft and finished version of a deposition taken soon after the Revolutionary War broke out, and the 1798 letter to Dr. Jeremy Belknap referred to above. On the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere was sent for by Dr. Joseph Warren, the last major patriot leader left in Boston and a personal friend of Revere’s. When he arrived at Dr. Warren’s surgery, Revere found out 1) that British regular troops were preparing that evening to march into the countryside, probably to Concord, Massachusetts, to capture or destroy military stores that had been gathered there. This was no surprise, as such a movement had been expected for several days. 2) Dr. Warren informed Revere that he had just received intelligence from his own spy network that the troops planned to stop in Lexington, Massachusetts, on the road to Concord and arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock, patriot leaders who were staying in a house owned by one of Hancock’s relatives (As it turned out, this intelligence was inaccurate). Dr. Warren �gged” Revere to stop in Lexington and warn Adams and Hancock to get out of the way of the British troops. Warren also informed Revere that he had already sent one messenger to Lexington – a Mr. William Dawes – who had taken the longer land route out Boston Neck, around Back Bay, and over the bridge into Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Harvard College.

Paul Foot - History

The sham ’left’ is peopled by a host of competing organisations, and though the SWP are currently being promoted by the bourgeois media as the whizz-kids among them, it is as well to take a look at some of the other main contenders and show how they stand in relation to the SWP, and what real alternative, if any, they offer to it.

To begin with the ’left’ of the Labour Party, there will of course always continue to be quite a bit of ’left’ posturing among some elements of this imperialist party in their jockeying for position. There might even be a possibility that this could one day split it in two (or more), in which case the SWP and their kind could well be expected to get some of the pickings. If the SWP’s style of politics was given a boost of this kind, would the resulting political creation present any real alternative to today’s Labour Party? We hope we have said enough on the SWP’s attitude to such key issues as nationalisation, the trade unions, etc., to show that in general the political line would remain pretty much the same as that of the Labour right on fundamental issues (though of course with more ’left’ trimmings). As for the style of work of SWP MPs, it is likely that their relationship with their constituents would remain that which exists “between social worker and client”, as PF puts it (p.52). (Indeed, the adoption of this style of work – i.e. avoidance of fundamental political issues and concentration on ’do-gooding’ – has already earned the SWP the nickname among some Marxist-Leninists of the ’Social Workers’ Party’.) In general, any such unholy alliance would just be one more chapter in the dismal tale of Trotskyist efforts to ’poach’ on Labour Party contacts to try to compensate for the fact that they do not themselves have their own roots among the working class.

Moving on from the Labour Party to the ’Communist Party of Great Britain’, we find that PF has some biting criticisms to make of this revisionist party: itseeks, he says, “with less and less enthusiasm to make gains in local and national elections. In the trade unions, its eyes are fixed almost exclusively on the offices which it has captured and hopes to capture, whether by election or by appointment and intrigue” (p.74). He fails to establish, of course, that the SWP has made any really decisive break with such methods, and those who have experienced SWP activities in trade unions will realise that such self-righteousness about the CPGB is hypocritical. There are, however, differences between the sham socialism of PF and the SWP and that of the CPGB.

If one examines, for instance, the CPGB’s programme, The British road to socialism, one will find that it does, unlike SWP literature, make a gesture towards providing a class analysis of British society. This analysis, however, is a legacy of the previous period of the party’s history, and has now been doctored to leave a two-class’ analysis, with the middle class more or less defined out of existence, etc. It is thus little more use than the kind of thing one gets from the SWP. But though The British road and other CPGB documents may in a superficial way look more Marxist (by thus including some gesture towards discussing classes, etc.) this only makes the CPGB more pernicious. For the policies of the CPGB are more consistently reactionary than those of the SWP. The SWP, as illustrated by PF’s pamphlet, is a party of petty-bourgeois vacillation – a stance that does not exclude the possibility of sometimes taking the side of (vacillating over towards) the proletariat. The CPGB, by contrast, represents the interests not of the petty-bourgeois, but of monopoly capital, of the imperialist big bourgeoisie.

The CPGB, unlike the SWP, never vacillates over to support for the world’s proletariat, no matter how wavering. It supports one of the two imperialist superpowers (the Soviet Union), and its vaunted ’Eurocommunism’ has made very little difference to this standpoint. It is true that the CPGB offers ’evidence’ of an independent stance vis-a-vis the Soviet Union (e.g. its criticism of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and its calls for more human rights inside the Soviet Union), but this is very little to set against its defence of Soviet aggression and imperialist exploitation in the third world and Eastern Europe. For instance, the CPGB unashamedly supported Soviet involvement in India during the period of the Indira Gandhi dictatorship, and whitewashes Soviet aggression in Africa today.

PF does at least voice a general opposition to the rule of the New Tsars, which he describes as “tyranny and exploitation” (p.67), (though as we have seen he vitiates this standpoint by also including in his condemnation the Soviet Union of the previous era, when it was an anti-imperialist force). Our altitude to such opposition to the New Tsars should be the same as our attitude to all bourgeois liberal opposition to reactionaries. First, we support it as far as it goes. Secondly, we criticise it for not being rigorous enough – by failing to expose the imperialist nature of the Soviet Union, such liberal opposition confines itself to repudiating effects, not the cause.

As regards the CPGB’s standpoint on domestic issues, it is chiefly distinguished by managing to have a line on the Labour Party that is even more catastrophic than that of PF and the SWP. The latter’s policy is expressed in their self-contradictory slogan of 1974: ’Vote Labour without illusions’. The CPGB’s more blatant posture can only be described as ’Vote Labour with illusions’! (The CPGB’s recent offshoot, the ’New Communist Party’, makes a big fanfare of opposing the more obviously revisionist features of the CPGB’s line on domestic affairs. However, this is merely a cover for its even greater subservience to the Soviet Union.)

Passing on from the Labour Party and the CPGB, we come to a group called the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). At first sight this group would seem a more promising contender for the title of ’socialist party’ according to the criteria we have used. For instance, the CPB (ML) makes mouthings about the need to seize state power, and, its originators having been anti-revisionist critics of the CPGB (which its leader left largely as a result of the Sino-Soviet split), it pays some lip-service to socialist China, Albania, etc. Unfortunately, however, this group never managed to shake itself free from the legacy of ’economism’ which it inherited from the CPGB. It would therefore be hypocritical of us if we criticised the SWP for this erroneous tendency while at the same time allowing it to pass in another group just because it should dub itself ’Marxist-Leninist’.

To put the SWP in its place, the CPB (ML) probably does more to propagate economism among the working class than does the SWP, which is largely based on students and white-collar workers. This is due to the comparatively wide influence of the CPB(ML)’s leader, Reg Birch, among some sections of the working class – he is a veteran figure in the Labour movement, holds high office in the TUC, etc. Like the SWP, the CPB(ML) doggedly propagates the view that “economic struggles are themselves political” (and like the SWP, by “political” it means ’socialist’). Also like the SWP, it holds a ’two-class’ view of British society, with the only difference being that it is more explicit: for instance, students are unashamedly labelled “part of the working class”, and student grants have thus even been described by them as wages paid to apprentice workers! Like the SWP, the CPB(ML) refuses to acknowledge the profound formative influence on British society of imperialism. Once again, however, the difference between the SWP (which seems to be merely ignorant of the question) and the CPB(ML) is that the latter is more explicit and conscious in taking this standpoint – for instance, any reference to the existence, or even the possibility, of a ’labour aristocracy’ tied to imperialism and maintained on the basis of imperialist superprofits (a suggestion that probably wouldn’t strike most SWP members as sufficiently comprehensible or interesting to goad them into words) sends the CPB(Ml.) hopping mad. This elementary and fundamental idea of Leninism is indignantly repudiated by the CPB(ML) as an “insult to the working class”. Like the SWP, the CPB(ML) has a patronising attitude towards third world liberation struggles. It is true that, unlike the SWP, it pays some lip-service to their significance, but this virtue is more than cancelled out by its line that the British working class is the most ’advanced’ in the world because it is the oldest, most “experienced”, etc. – a line which is, as we have seen, pure Trotskyism. Like the SWP, the CPB(ML) praises economic actions by workers to the skies, calling those struggles its leader favours “guerilla struggle” and thus attempting to associate them with the victories of third world liberation movements – a gimmicky formula distinguished from the economism of the SWP only by greater cheek. Like the SWP, the CPB(ML) refuses to debate with those who seek to reason with it, with the difference that the SWP’s tactics in this respect (changing the subject, “despondent silence”, etc.) are a gentlemanly affair compared with the tactics to which the CPB(ML) has been known to resort to suppress criticism. Perhaps the most notable difference in the practice of the two organisations is that whereas many SWP members and associates have been active in anti-racist activities, the CPB(ML) has an exceedingly poor record in this respect, and has in general ignored racism altogether (perhaps it regards discussion of racism as another “insult to the working class”?). A secondary difference between the two is in the style of their pronouncements, for the CPB(ML) has a weird and cryptic language that is all its own. In spite, however, of the apparently better credentials of the CPB(ML), it is clear that on most fundamental issues facing the working class in Britain today, the aggressively ’workerish’ CPB(ML) and the more middle-class and smooth-talking SWP in fact put forward a line that is surprisingly similar.

Moving on from the CPB(ML), we come to the host of Trotskyist organisations. Most of the smaller ones are made up only of members of the middle strata of society, particularly students, and are extremely sectarian. To say something about all these groups would take a book twice the length of this one. The two largest, the International Marxist Group and the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, might seem to offer an alternative to the SWP, so we will say a few words about them.

The WRP are certainly among the most obnoxious, most sectarian Trotskyists. They use various gimmicks, such as discos, to recruit young people, whom they then proceed to train by isolating them from opposing views, pumping them full of sectarian rubbish, and keeping them so busy – particularly in flogging their daily rag, News Line – that they don’t have much chance to stop and think about what they have got themselves into. They are generally humourless, extremely intolerant of criticism and have a marked weakness for blaming every set-back for the working class on ’Stalinist betrayal’.

The IMG are a lot less sectarian than the WRP and, at the present time, than the SWP – they have resisted the temptation to which these other organisations have yielded to declare themselves ’the Party’ which all others should follow. Unlike SWP and WRP members, it is quite possible to discuss politics with their members without them falling silent, sulking or flying off the handle, though they often have a weakness for arguing in page references.

Both the WRP and the IMG claim to be Trotskyist (though they each deny the other is) and are British sections of different Fourth Internationals. They stick more or less to the old Trotskyist dogmas about ’permanent revolution’, the ’impossibility’ of beginning to build socialism in one country, the insistence that revolution everywhere must only take place at one leap – straight into socialism, etc. Both have campaigned in support of the Labour Party in previous elections and fostered illusions about it. Both defend the Soviet social-imperialists, saying that the Soviet Union is still a ’workers’ state’, even if it is ruled by a ’Stalinist bureaucracy’, so that in any conflict between the two superpowers, they always defend the social-imperialists, and make out that the Soviet Union is still better than the western imperialists. These are only some of their most obvious counter-revolutionary features, but from these it should be clear that they are not a real alternative to the SWP.

Having made some remarks on these fake socialists, we are obviously going to be asked the question: ’What would we put in their place?’ By way of an answer, we can now point to a small but vigorous Marxist-Leninist movement which, though still divided into various groups, has recently come to grips with a number of questions regarding methods of organisation and is in a much better state than it was, say, two years ago. Unlike the situation among the Trotskyist groups (which generate a couple of new splinter groups every season) the tendency among the various Marxist-Leninist groups is to merge, and the prospects of forming a single, united leading core in the near future are good.

At the current stage of the British revolution, the class-conscious vanguard of the working class has yet to be won over to scientific socialism, and the small revolutionary groups that exist are as yet disunited on various matters of importance. This situation dictates two urgent tasks: bases must be formed among the industrial working class, a task which at this stage must be the central (some would say the only) task of mass work (in contrast to its dissipation by the SWP and other such opportunist groups among students and white-collar workers): and, as the other major task intimately linked with this one, great attention must be paid to ideological struggles so that the Marxist-Leninist groups can work towards unity on a principled basis.

Marxist-Leninists in Britain do not claim to have all the answers there are still many problems to be solved. But at least the Marxist-Leninists are generally ready to recognise problems of the class struggle in Britain and the world they are ready to be self-critical and correct errors when they make them and they are armed politically and ideologically with the rich theory of Marxism-Leninism – scientific socialism – which is the instrument with which they will comprehend the world about them, and, linking theory with practice, work out a correct strategy and tactics for the revolutionary struggle for a socialist Britain.

To conclude, then, the bourgeoisie has invented sham products of every kind, from synthetic caviar to soya-bean ’mincemeat’. Surely socialism of all things is proof against such counterfeit? But no, they have sham socialism in store as well. We hope our analysis of the SWP’s supposedly ’socialist’ recipe will have helped our readers to develop their ability to distinguish the genuine from the sham.

The Blunt Reason Misery Had To Change It's Most Gruesome Scene

When you think of Rob Reiner&rsquos 1990 adaptation of Stephen King&rsquos horror novel Misery, what&rsquos the first thing that comes to mind? It&rsquos that brutal "hobbling" scene, right? A moment so vicious it&rsquos become synonymous with the film. In the book, however, it plays out very differently, but the producers had to make a change because no one wanted to work on their movie.

In the novel, Annie (Kathy Bates in the movie), doesn&rsquot bash Paul (James Caan) with a sledgehammer, she straight up cuts off his foot with an axe and cauterizes the wound with a propane torch. However, according to Yahoo, who recently dug into what has become an iconic moment in movie history, actors and directors who were interested in working on Misery kept bailing because of the brutality of this particular moment.

George Roy Hill (The Sting was attached to direct, but left because he couldn&rsquot see himself filming "calling &lsquoaction&rsquo" on that scene. Rob Reiner was a producer at the time, and after the troubles finding people to helm Misery ultimately took over the duties himself, though they still had issues finding actors. Warren Beatty was lined up to play Paul, a romance writer who has the misfortune to meet his biggest fan in the most twisted way possible, but opted out over concerns with this scene.

As you well know, they dialed the violence back some. Instead of lopping the foot off at the ankle, Annie places a board between Paul&rsquos legs and smashes his joints with a sledgehammer. But even though it was restrained some from the original version, the scene gave many performers pause. In addition to Beatty, the list of actors who almost played Paul reads like an all-star roster and includes Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Redford. That&rsquos an impressive, and a little bit insane, line up of could-have-beens.

In case it&rsquos been while, take a look at the final scene as a refresher.

Even though it may have been toned down a bit, the scene is still plenty brutal. As it is, it&rsquos become a notorious bit of cinema, and has been referenced in everything from The Simpsons and The Critic to Gilmore Girls and countless other shows and movies.

I know it&rsquos not &mdash no matter how broken an ankle is, there&rsquos potential for it to heal, while a severed foot isn&rsquot coming back &mdash but somehow by changing the scene, Reiner and company almost made it even more brutal and nasty. Maybe it&rsquos just that we see limbs get severed in movies all the damn time, but there&rsquos something particularly visceral and disturbing about breaking bones, especially in this graphic manner. In reality it&rsquos really no contest, but cinematically speaking, there&rsquos a very good reason why this moment sticks with so many of us.





  • Arrive in Greece late afternoon/evening.
  • After meeting your JE Tour Director at the airport, you will transfer by coach to your hotel.
  • Enjoy some evening free time in the city and see some of the famous ancient sites at night.
  • You will enjoy dinner and devotions to close the day.


  • Breakfast
  • Your group will follow the route of the Via Egnatia and the area of Amphipolis to see the famous funerary Lion of Amphipolis and the site of Philippi, the location of the first Christian Church of There, you will visit the Baptistery of Lydia near the river where Paul made his first converts on European soil, and your visit will continue to the ruins of the Forum of Philippi, the Christian Basilicas, and the “Prison of Paul.”
  • Later your group will travel to Kavala (formerly the ancient Neapolis), where Paul first set foot on his way to Philippi in 50 A.D.
  • Free time for Lunch
  • Return to Thessaloniki
  • Tour the old town of Thessaloniki: Visit the White Tower, the Byzantine walls of the Acropolis, the Arch of Galerius, the Rotunda and most admired Christian churches, the Hagios Demetrios and Hagios Sophia.
  • You will enjoy dinner and devotions to close the day.


  • Breakfast
  • Depart for Athens
  • Stop in Veria, one of the largest towns in the region, where you will view the Bema of St. Paul, a monument to Paul.
  • Stop along the way for lunch
  • Check into your hotel and enjoy dinner.


    • Breakfast
    • Today the group begins a 3-day cruise that follows Paul’s journey.
    • Shuttle into the city from the port to Mykonos, famous for its gleaming white-washed buildings and windmills.
    • You can explore the island city on your own or include the following excursion:
      • Your group will continue by ferry this morning to the island of Mykonos. You will venture inland from the port and stroll through the labyrinth of Mykonos’ colorful alleyways then walk to the Castro area to see the Paraportiani. Later, the group will visit Little Venice, where the waves of the Aegean lap at the sidewalk cafés.
        (Let you JE Travel Specialist know if you would like to include the excursion.)
      • Dinner on the ship


      The Helicopter: A Hundred Years of Hovering

      To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

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      credit Image: Tomomarusan

      One hundred years ago Frenchman Paul Cornu piloted a twin-rotor helicopter of his own design, and rose about one foot (0.3 meter) off the ground. He hovered for about 20 seconds. Or he didn’t. A century after that maiden flight, some engineers and historians question whether Cornu’s craft could have taken wing as he described it.But despite the skepticism, most helicopter historians – especially in France – still mark the first helicopter flight on Nov. 13, 1907. That makes this centennial the perfect time to take a look back at the long history of stationary flight, from its roots in ancient China, to concept vehicles being touted as the flying cars of the future.Left: Circa 400 B.C., Chinese Bamboo Helicopters For many Westerners, the myth of Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun on manmade wings, represents the dreams and the dangers of flight. But a century before the earliest mentions of Icarus in ancient Greece, Chinese children were already playing with kites and spinning bamboo propellers. While the kites had religious significance, and rockets became favored by the military, the flying propellers remained mainly toys. Children sent them aloft by spinning the central stick between their palms.

      credit Image: Manuscript B, folio 83 v., Courtesy of Biblioteca Ambrosiana

      1483 to 1486, Leonardo da Vinci’s Vite Aerea — the Aerial Screw Trade from the Far East resulted in the Chinese toys reaching Europe in the early Renaissance, likely inspiring Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) to create a drawing called the Aerial Screw. "I believe that if this screw device is well-manufactured, that is, if it is made of linen cloth, the pores of which have been closed with starch, and if the device is promptly reversed, the screw will engage its gear when in the air and it will rise up on high," da Vinci wrote in a note next to the drawing, according to the National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, Italy.

      credit Image: IBM Corporate Archives
      1483 to 1486, Aerial Screw is Flightless =
      description Leonardo da Vinci drew a number of designs for flying machines, including ornithopters, which mimic bird flight, and the Aerial Screw. The designs assumed, incorrectly, that one or more human pilots could generate enough power to lift the machine into the sky. While the design indicates that four men could turn the screw using a pumping action, the machines would never have been able to generate enough lift to get off the ground, according to experts.
      credit Image: Aircraft Development Lab

      July 1754, Mikhail Lomonosov’s Aerodynamic Three centuries passed before another major milestone in vertical flight appeared. Looking for a way to loft meteorological instruments into the air, noted Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov designed a model that used two propellers rotating in opposite directions on the same axis. The coaxial design offsets the torque created by a single propeller – a situation that would have caused the device to spin in the opposite direction of the propeller blade. Lomonosov demonstrated a model powered by a clock spring to the Russian Academy of Sciences in July 1754. Questions remain whether the device managed to lift itself during the demonstration or whether it was supported by a string.

      1784, Launoy and Bienvenu Recreate Helicopter Toy =
      description Naturalist Christian de Launoy and his mechanic Bienvenu, about whom very little is known, presented a coaxial model of a simple helicopter powered by the tension in a bow. "When the bow has been bent by winding the cord, and the axle placed in the desired direction of height – say vertically, for instance – the machine is released," the pair told the French Academy of Sciences in 1784."The unbending bow rotates rapidly, the upper wings one way and the lower wings the other way, these wings being arranged so that the horizontal percussions of the air neutralize each other, and the vertical percussions combine to raise the machine. It therefore rises and falls back afterward from its own weight." Image: O. Chanute, Progress in Flying Machines
      credit Image: Wikipedia
      1799, Sir George Cayley, Father of Aviation, designs glider =
      description While reports of gliders appeared in China (fifth century B.C.) and Moorish Spain (A.D. 875 A.D.), Cayley is widely recognized for discovering the four principle forces of flight – weight, lift, drag and thrust – and their relationship. The baronet also designed a familiar-looking airplane – consisting of a single wing, rear stabilizers and a vertical fin. He used the design to create the first glider to have a well-documented manned flight. A full-scale model of the glider – or "governable parachute," as it was called – carried one of Cayley’s employees aloft in 1853.

      credit Image: All the World’s Rotorcraft
      1843, Cayley’s "Aerial Carriage" Sir George Cayley searched for a way to propel his heavier-than-air vehicles. He tried to create a rudimentary engine fueled with gunpowder, but the invention did not work reliably. He decided to design around his lack of success with engine power by revisiting da Vinci’s ideas of a human-powered machines. He came up with the concept of the "Aerial Carriage" in 1843, consisting of four umbrella-like propellers that would rotate for lift, but it never successfully hovered or flew.

      credit Image: Famille d’Amécourt
      1863, Call them "Helicopteres" One vertical-flight enthusiast, Gustave Vicomte de Ponton d’Amécourt, designed a model flying machine using coaxial propellers and a coiled spring for propulsion. While that model could fly, another version using a steam engine had failed. Ponton d’Amecourt called his machines "helicopteres," a word derived from the Greek adjective for "spiral" and the noun "pteron," meaning "wing." Ponton d’Amecourt and his group of enthusiasts inspired Jules Verne to add helicopters to his stories.

      credit Image: Stephen Pitcairn, Pitcairn Aircraft Company
      1880, Thomas Alva Edison Fails With Helicopters =
      description Inventors who focused on helicopters during the latter half of the 19th century were stymied by the lack of powerful, but lightweight, engines to turn their helicopters’ rotors. Among the early engineers, Thomas Edison was the first American to attempt to further the study of helicopters by focusing on the engines. The inventor – known for successfully creating the long-lasting light bulb and the phonograph – tried to power his models with an early internal-combustion engine that used guncotton for fuel, but an explosion in his lab convinced him to switch to an electric engine. He concluded, however, that the design required higher-performing rotors. Here, Edison (left) stands with test pilot James G. Ray in 1930, in front of an autogyro created by Pitcairn Aircraft.
      credit Image: Courtesy of Andrew Nash
      1886, Jules Verne Depicts the Albatross Flying Ship =
      description The push to create heavier-than-air vehicles caught the imagination of many 19th-century citizens, among them the famous writer Jules Verne. In his book, Robur-le-Conquérant (or Robur, the Conqueror), published in 1886, Verne envisioned a flying ship named the Albatross that could fly through the air by using 37 helicopter-like propellers. Robur uses the ship to launch attacks against his enemies.
      1903, Wright Brothers Fly at Kitty Hawk =
      description Wilbur and Orville Wright designed and built the first airplane to attain powered flight, four years before the first helicopter inventors could claim such a feat for vertical flight. The self-trained engineers steadily improved the design, from a kite in 1899 to three gliders and then three powered airplanes in 1903, 1904 and 1905. By their final flight, they had improved the design to the point that extended flights, fully controlled by the pilot, were possible.
      credit Image: FlyingBike

      August 1907, The Bréguet-Richet Gyroplane No. 1 Brothers Louis and Jacques Bréguet began work on their version of a helicopter in 1905 under the tutelage of Professor Charles Richet. In late summer 1907 – sources vary on whether it was Aug. 24 or Sept. 29 – the machine achieved its first vertical ascent, hovering off the ground for two minutes. However, the craft – christened Gyroplane No. 1 – needed four men to steady it, as the primitive helicopter lacked any way to control its flight. The craft had a 45-horsepower engine, just powerful enough to hover.

      1907, Paul Cornu, inventor and engineer =
      description Like the Wright Brothers, Paul Cornu was a bicycle maker and engineer. Born in 1881 in Glos-la-Ferrière, France, to a family of 13 children, Cornu had an interest in inventing and drawing early in life. He worked with his father in the family transport company, but because of Cornu’s interests, the business eventually transitioned to bicycle design and repair. In the early 1900s, Cornu had his eye on winning the Deutsch-Archdeacon award – the X Prize of its day – a purse of 50,000 francs funded by two Parisians for the first heavier-than-air vehicle to complete a 1-kilometer circuit. While other inventors looked to win the prize with a primitive airplane, Cornu decided to focus on creating a helicopter capable of the flight. Yet he failed to develop a workable craft in time – the award was won on Jan. 13, 1908, by Henri Farman using one of the earliest airplanes. Cornu died on June 6, 1944, when his house was inadvertently bombed by Allied forces on D-Day.Photo: Getty Images
      credit Photo: Getty Images
      1907, Paul Cornu: First to Hover? =
      description Using 100 francs borrowed from friends, Cornu built a life-sized version of a 25-pound helicopter model that he successfully flew in 1906. On Nov. 13, 1907, Cornu’s twin-rotor craft flew for about 20 seconds, rising about one foot (0.3 meter) off the ground. The vehicle’s rotors were mounted outrigger-style on either side of the steel-frame-and-wire contraption. A 24-horsepower engine powered the propellers. Cornu’s helicopter had no effective way to control its flight, a fact that led engineers to abandon the design after a few flights. Whether Cornu’s helicopter flew as described is now doubted by many helicopter historians. An

      leishman/Aero/Cornu.pdf engineering analysis (.pdf) of Cornu’s helicopter has concluded that the machine could never have flown, even taking into account so-called ground effects, which give low-hovering craft an extra boost. "There is a discrepancy between what he claimed to have done and what was technically possible," says Roger Connor, curator of the vertical-flight collection at the Smithsonian Institution and the chair of the American Helicopter Society’s history committee.
      1908, First manned flight in the United States =
      description Emile Berliner, who created the gramophone (disc-record player) and founded the Victor Talking Machine Co., was also an avid helicopter inventor. Berliner created a 36-horsepower engine and used two of them on a platform designed by John Newton Williams. The craft reportedly lifted both men about 3 feet off the ground, but likely had to be steadied. Berliner, went on to build several other helicopters, and also suggested the use of an auxiliary tail rotor – a standard feature of helicopters today – to stabilize flight. Image:

      ekatz/scientists/electrochemists.htm Evgeny Katz’s History of Science
      1920s, Juan de la Cierva =
      description Born in 1895, Juan de la Cierva is credited with pioneering many of the necessary systems for controllable helicopter flight. In 1920, the 25-year-old Spanish engineer started work on a strange mechanical manticore: an airplane with the wings replaced by a non-powered propeller. By 1923, his latest aircraft – called Autogiro No. 4 – flew a 4-kilometer circuit around Madrid. Ironically, the Spanish engineer questioned whether helicopters could ever be successful, as he believed they were too complicated to fly reliably. De la Cierva died on Dec. 9, 1936, when his plane crashed on takeoff from London. Photo: Bruce H. Charnov, From Autogiro to Gyroplane: The Amazing Survival of an Aviation Technology

      1923, de la Cierva’s flight As helicopter historians begin to question the veracity of Paul Cornu’s achievement in 1907, de la Cierva’s flights in 1923 are increasingly considered to be the start of the helicopter era. Despite the strange configuration of the autogiro, de la Cierva pioneered the use of hinged rotor blades to stop the vehicle from tilting, as well as creating workable controls for lateral motion and pitch and yaw. On Jan. 17, 1923, de la Cierva took his first flight in Autogiro No. 4, considered to be the first controlled helicopter flight. Photo: Bruce H. Charnov, From Autogiro to Gyroplane: The Amazing Survival of an Aviation Technology

      credit Photo: College Park Aviation Museum
      1924, Berliner Helicopter, Model No. 5 =
      description Following Emile Berliner’s nervous breakdown in 1914, son Henry Berliner continued to work on helicopters. The Berliners created a coaxial helicopter in 1920 that managed to move forward several yards, representing the first manned, controlled helicopter flight in the United States. In 1924, the pair’s research culminated in a hybrid helicopter that used the fuselage of a Neuport 23 biplane and wing-mounted rotors to create a vehicle that could move at about 40 mph, rise to an altitude of 15 feet and turn with a radius of 150 feet. The craft was demonstrated in front of Navy officials and the press on Feb. 24, 1924.
      credit Photo: Stahlkocher
      1937, Heinrich Focke and the Fa-61 =
      description Born in Bremen, Germany, in 1890, Heinrich Focke in 1923 founded the Focke-Wulf airplane company, which manufactured most of Germany’s aircraft during World War II. He also began working on helicopters in the 1930s. After being ousted from his previous company by the shareholders, Focke, along with German engineer Gerd Achgelis, set up another company, Focke-Achgelis, which focused on helicopters. Together, they created an aircraft – the Fa-61, also known as the Focke-Wulf 61 – that looked superficially like Cierva’s autogiro, but had powered rotors rather than a propeller that rotated with the relative wind created by forward motion. The Nazi propaganda machine heralded the Fa-61 as proof of German air superiority, and footage of the helicopter flying around a sports stadium proved to the world that the Germans did have a lead in the technology. Focke died in 1979.
      credit Photo: Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum
      Igor Sikorsky, Father of Helicopters =
      description Born in Kiev, Russia (now Ukraine) on May 25, 1889, Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky became interested in flight at an early age. Both parents were physicians, giving Sikorsky the scientific grounding that he needed to develop aircraft ideas inspired by Leonardo da Vinci and Jules Verne. At age 12, he built his first flying model of a helicopter. After studying at technical institutions in Russia and France, Sikorksy worked on early helicopter designs but gave up on vertical flight in 1909. He returned to Russia to work on airplanes, creating several models. His first, the S-5, flew in 1911. After being ousted from Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution, Sikorsky eventually immigrated to America in 1919. It took him four years to raise enough money to start his own aircraft company, which created several successful airplane models. In 1931, he again started working on helicopter designs, pioneering many improvements to rotorcraft, including the single rotor present on almost all of today’s helicopters. He often referred to the helicopter as the "automobile of the future." He died Oct. 26, 1972.
      credit Image: Hiller Aviation Museum
      September 1939, Sikorsky’s VS-300 =
      description In 1938, United Aircraft – which had bought Sikorsky’s company – granted him permission to create an experimental helicopter design. Eschewing the coaxial rotors that had been used up to that point, Sikorsky used a single three-bladed main rotor and a two-bladed vertical rotor on the tail to offset torque. On Sept. 14, 1939, Sikorsky himself took the prototype on its first flight. The helicopter, known as the VS-300, hovered several times, but was tethered to the ground. Originally dubbed "Igor’s Nightmare" by Sikorsky’s mechanics because of the problems trying to reduce the helicopter’s vibrations, the aircraft made its first free flight in May 1940. A year later, it went on to break the world helicopter endurance record – previously held by the Focke-Achgelis Fa-61 – by staying airborne for 1 hour, 32 minutes, 26.1 seconds.
      credit Photo: Jay Hendrickson of the Platt-LePage Aircraft Archives
      June 1941, Platt-LePage XR-1 =
      description The design of the Focke-Achgelis Fa-61 inspired two American engineers, W. Laurence LePage and Haviland H. Platt, to design a helicopter with a rotor on either side, designated the XR-1. Driven by the German’s lead in helicopter technology, Congress passed a bill assigning $2 million to jump-start helicopter research in America. LePage, who had previously worked on a number of autogiro designs at Pitcairn Autogiro Company and Kellett Aircraft Corp., formed a company with Platt and in July 1940 won a $200,000 contract (though the amount would eventually reach $500,000) with the Army Air Corps to build the XR-1. The helicopter was piloted around a test circuit on June 9, 1941, reaching speeds nearing 100 mph. A number of problems plagued the XR-1: The helicopter was hard to control and suffered from severe vibrations (a problem that plagued other contemporary aircraft), and the design had poor visibility of what lay beneath the aircraft. The latter was resolved by covering the nose in Plexiglas, a feature still used today in many helicopters.
      credit Photo: Mark Pellegrini
      1942, Focke-Achgelis Fa 330A =
      description When the Battle for the Atlantic turned against the Nazis in World War II, the German Navy asked Focke to create a surveillance craft that could be deployed quickly from submarines, so that German U-boats, which had to patrol areas of the ocean far from coastlines, could detect possible convoy targets and Allied patrols. Focke came up with the Fa 330, a gyro kite that didn’t have an engine but would be towed by German U-boats. The aircraft flew high enough to boost the scouting range, had excellent stability and could quickly separate from the submarine in the case of an emergency or an attack on the U-boat. Unfortunately for the Germans, the craft also had a large radar signature, which made it impractical for use in the Atlantic, where Allied patrols had upgraded radar capabilities. In the end, the Reich only manufactured the gyro kite in limited quantities and only for use in the Indian Ocean.
      credit Photo: Dane Penland, Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
      1942, Igor Sikorsky’s XR-4 =
      description Based on his success with the VS-300, the U.S. Army Air Corps gave Sikorsky a $50,000 contract in December 1940 to build an easily manufactured version of the aircraft. Sikorsky demonstrated his new aircraft, designated the XR-4, in January 1942. Eventually, the XR-4 would be used in amphibious and shipboard operations as well as rescue missions. The U.S. and British military bought dozens of the XR-4 series. With the helicopter, Sikorsky established himself as a leading innovator in helicopter design by the end of World War II. The XR-4 is considered America’s first production helicopter.
      credit Photo: Piasecki Aircraft Co.
      1943, Frank N. Piasecki and the PV-2 =
      description Born in Philadelphia in 1919, Frank Piasecki earned degrees in both mechanical and aeronautical engineering by age 20. In 1940, Piasecki cut his teeth in the helicopter-design world when he worked on the Army Air Corps’ first contracted helicopter, the Platt-LePage XR-1. In 1943, to solve problems he witnessed in the XR-1, Piasecki developed and flew the PV-2. While on a much smaller budget than Sikorsky, Piasecki was able to create a helicopter that had a more stable flying experience. The same year, with only 15 hours of flight time, Piasecki received the first helicopter license given out by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. Despite his early focus on personal aircraft, Piasecki went on to create the workhorses of the cargo helicopter fleet, innovating the fore and aft rotor.
      credit Artist’s Conception: Mario Merino,
      1944, Heinkel Wespe "Wasp" Early VTOL design =
      description With the air superiority of the German Luftwaffe being eroded in 1943, the Nazi military commanders looked for ways to solve two problems: improving defenses to restore its command of the air, and design aircraft which would not be hobbled by the bombing of its airfield. A proposed solution included a vertical rocket plane, the Bachem Ba 349, but also a design for an aircraft, the Henkel Wespe, that could take off vertically using a large central rotor, a design known as a coleopter ("sheath-winged"). Originally conceived in 1944, the Wespe – and its sister design, the Lerche II ("Lark II") – were never built.
      credit Photo: U.S. Army Aviation History website
      1947, Larry Bell and the UH-47 =
      description Larry Bell founded Bell Aircraft in 1935, but his company was struggling by the beginning of World War II, and Bell decided to start investing in helicopter design. The Bell Model 30 first flew in December 1942, but both the 30 and its successor, the Model 42, failed to sell well. Bell rethought the design, adding seating for two and a more powerful engine, and christened the result – finished in 1947 – the Model 47. The helicopter sold very well in the commercial market, and military interest soon followed. During the Korean War, the H-13 – as it was designated by the military – evacuated more than 15,000 wounded.
      credit Image: Piasecki Aircraft Co.
      Piasecki’s "Flying Banana" (1947) =
      description Driven by the need to increase the carrying capacity of the helicopter, and criticism that it hadn’t made good use of the innovative machine, the U.S. Navy funded a number of designers who had not signed contracts with the Army Air Corps. , Piasecki’s company received a contract from the Navy in 1944 to build what at the time was the world’s largest helicopter. Piasecki used his experience with the XR-1, which he noticed flew better sideways than forward, and his success in developing the dynamically balanced rotor on the PV-2, to develop a design with tandem fore and aft rotors. The result was the XHRP-X "Dogship," which was also called the "Flying Banana" because of its shape. It first flew in 1945 and had over three times the payload of any other helicopter flying, satisfying the Navy’s requirement for a minimum 1,800-pound useful payload. The XHRP-X went into production in 1947. Photo: Hiller Aviation Museum
      Stanley Hiller, Aviation Entrepreneur Born in November 1924, Stanley Hiller had the entrepreneurial gene. By the time he was 16, he’d established Hiller Industries to build model-car kits. But less than a year later, he switched to airplane parts as World War II heated up, and earned his first million. Hiller became a top defense contractor, supplying the military with several versions of his aircraft and developing some less-conventional designs, including the Hornet, Rotorcycle and the Flying Platform. With his popular UH-12, which the U.S. military used in Korea and Vietnam, he also became the first American manufacturer to figure out how to produce helicopters without reliance on government funds. Civilian versions of the craft were used by ranchers, police departments and the media. Hiller died in 2006.

      credit Photo: Museum of Flight
      1950, Hiller’s Hornet, a helicopter with ramjet In 1948, following French innovations in the use of ramjets on aircraft, Stanley Hiller began to experiment with mounting the simple jets on the tips of a helicopter’s main rotor blade. Hiller aimed to manufacture the helicopters for $5,000, making personal ramjet-powered helicopters practical and affordable. The first prototype, designated the HJ-1, flew in 1950. Hiller’s plans to ramp-up production were scuttled when the Korean War caused military demand for the company’s utility helicopters to skyrocket. Hiller convinced the U.S. Navy to purchase three of the ramjet-powered helicopters, which the military dubbed the HOE-1. During operation, the small helicopter proved to have some significant problems, however, including the rotor hitting ground personnel and the ramjets creating a bright ring of fire that could be seen easily during night operations.

      credit Photo: Sun ’n Fun Fly-In
      May 1951, Lockheed and Convair get contracts to build VTOL Using designs captured from the Germans, the U.S. Air Force and Navy crafted two design studies in 1947 for creating a fixed-wing vertical-takeoff-and-landing, or VTOL, aircraft. The goal of the project was to build a fighter that could protect convoys but not require a large landing area. In May 1951, both Lockheed and Convair won contracts to build prototypes of the aircraft, which resembled squat fighter planes standing on their tails. The Navy, however, gave Convair the only engine rated for vertical takeoffs and landings, allowing its aircraft – the XFY-1 Pogo – to make several vertical ascents and multiple transitions to horizontal flight. The Lockheed XFV-1 used a less-powerful engine and never made a vertical takeoff, but was fitted with landing gear and made 32 horizontal flights.

      credit Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
      March 1953, Kaman K-225 Performs Loop Engineer Charles Kaman improved on another German design, Anton Flettner’s Al-232, a helicopter that used two coaxial blades to fly. Dubbed a "synchropter," the aircraft saw limited used by the Germans during World War II. Kaman took the design and modified it in many ways, but most significantly, he added a jet-turbine engine, replacing the old reciprocating piston engines used by previous helicopters. The addition of the turbine engine made the Kaman K-225, and future helicopters, safer, more reliable and easier to maintain. Turbine engines also increased performance, allowing the Kaman K-225 to successfully fly through an intentional loop in March 1953. The design, however, had a significant flaw: It moved at only three-quarters of the speed of contemporary rotorcraft.

      credit Photo: Hiller Aviation Museum
      1955, The Segway of Helicopters In addition to vertical takeoff and landing, a number of other innovative helicopter designs appeared during the 1950s. Among the most radical was a flying platform that used the pilot’s natural balancing reflexes to control direction, a technology known as kinesthetic control and made popular most recently by the Segway Personal Transporter. The idea was first suggested by engineer Charles Zimmerman, who called it the "flying shoes." Hiller’s company signed a contract with the U.S. Army in September 1953 to build a variant of the concept, dubbed the "flying platform." On Jan. 23, 1955, the Zimmerman-Hiller Flying Platform took its first free flight. Of the six flying platforms built, the whereabouts of four are currently unknown.

      credit Photo: U.S. Army Aviation History website
      October 1956, Bell UH-1H (The "Huey") Flies Made a legend by such shows as M.A.S.H., the UH-1H – commonly known as the "Huey" – became the workhorse of the Vietnam War. Following experiences in the Korean War, the U.S. Army sought a medical evacuation helicopter for battlefield use. Bell Helicopter won the contract, and the Bell Model 204 had its first test flight Oct. 23, 1956. Designated by the Army as the HU-1H – thus the nickname "Huey" – and later designated the UH-1H, the helicopter became a veritable Swiss Army knife: ferrying the wounded, troops and cargo around Vietnam for all branches of the military. The helicopter also changed the way that troops were mobilized for quick assaults on military targets. Nearly 900,000 wounded were transported by helicopter in the Vietnam War, 50 times more than the Korean War. (M.A.S.H. – a dark comedy set during the Korean War – used the Huey in the title credits, even though the helicopter had not been built at the time of the conflict.)

      credit Photo: Piasecki Aircraft Co.
      1958, Piasecki’s Flying Jeep The U.S. Army awarded Piasecki Aircraft a contract in 1957 to develop a fast, low-flying aircraft that could act as a "flying jeep." Piasecki’s design, which first flew in October 1958, used a fore and aft rotor to create a vehicle that could travel at over 60 mph and at an altitude of about 2,500 feet. The second version of the flying jeep, or AirGeep as Piasecki called it, could fly at over 80 mph and carry five people. Both versions of the AirGeep were true flying cars, not hovercraft, as they did not rely on so-called positive ground-effect forces to keep them aloft. They did, however, each have powered wheels for maneuvering on the ground. They were also very stable and could be used as weapons platforms. Yet, the Army eventually scuttled the project in favor of more-conventional battlefield helicopter designs.

      credit Photo: U.S. Army Aviation History website
      1976, Sikorsky "Black Hawk" Helicopter The U.S. Army requested a new design for a utility transport helicopter in 1972. It granted the contract to Sikorsky for its S-70 family of helicopters in December 1976. Designated by the Army as the UH-60 "Black Hawk," the helicopter has a unique flattened appearance because of the requirement that it fit in the transport hold of a C-130 Hercules cargo plane without removing the rotors. The helicopter has a number of interesting safety features, including a crash-resistant cabin, landing gear that can cushion a hard landing, and two engines, either of which can keep the aircraft aloft on its own. Today, the Black Hawk is the most popular helicopter in the U.S. military, with more than 2,400 in use, according to the Smithsonian Institution.

      credit Photo: U.S. Army Aviation History website
      1982, Hughes "Apache" Helicopter The U.S. Army requested proposals in 1972 for a helicopter gunship whose form was dictated less by the Vietnam War and more by the perceived need to destroy Soviet tanks. Nearly a decade later, the Pentagon granted the contract to aircraft-maker Hughes to build the AH-64 "Apache" helicopter. The development of the Apache was controversial, because it cost far more than previous contracts. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the helicopter performed well as both a tank killer and fast-assault vehicle.

      credit Photo: Jamie Darcy, Naval Air Systems Command
      1989, Bell-Boeing V-22 "Osprey" Tiltrotor Craft The joint U.S. military services began development in 1981 of a hybrid helicopter and airplane that could carry more and move faster than a typical helicopter. The V-22 Osprey used tilting rotors to vertically take off and then move to horizontal flight, where it would use its airplane-like aerodynamics to move faster and lift more. Full-scale development began in 1986 with Bell Helicopter and Boeing working on different parts of the hybrid helicopter, known as a tiltrotor aircraft. Although the Osprey completed its first successful test in March 1989, the Pentagon only signed off on production for the aircraft in 2005. Like the Apache program, the project’s high costs and long development time has opened it to criticism.

      credit Image: Philip Carter
      2006, Hummingbird Hovers Using concepts pioneered by early VTOL aircraft, aeronautical engineer Philip Carter is designing a plane intended to excel at acrobatics. The inventor says on his website that that the plane, dubbed the Hummingbird, will be able to perform maneuvers impossible for other aircraft – including the ability to hover like a hummingbird. A radio-controlled model of the plane flew in 2006.

      credit Photo: Moller International
      Hover Car, Moller International Dreams of a personal sky car continue to lure inventors. One engineer, Paul Moller, has designed three vehicles that he claims could fit the bill. Moller plans to sell the M400 Skycar, a tricked-out cherry-red VTOL vehicle, for $500,000 – about the price of a high-performance helicopter. The saucer-like M200 hovercraft sells for $90,000 to $450,000, but is based on older technology. Moller’s claims of popular personal aircraft for the future, however, have gotten his company into trouble. In 2003, Moller International settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission for false and misleading statements. "(I)n reality, the Skycar was and still is a very early developmental-stage prototype that has no meaningful flight testing, proof of aeronautical feasibility, or proven commercial viability," the SEC wrote in a settlement with the company.

      credit Image: Sky WindPower
      Flying Windmill for Energy Production The concepts embodied by Cierva’s autogiro continue to appear today. One startup, Sky WindPower, believes that a four-rotor tethered windmill could be lofted 15,000 feet into the air and both keep itself airborne and generate power using the more predictable winds in the high atmosphere. Bryan Roberts, the inventor of the airborne windmill and a professor at the University of Technology in Sydney, has designed a wind-powered generator that weighs 1,100 pounds and uses four 35-foot rotors. Roberts believes that a flock of 200 such windmills could provide as much electricity as the United States’ most productive nuclear reactor.

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      Legends profile: Paul Arizin

      In the early days of the NBA a handful of pioneering players laid the groundwork for what would become “modern” basketball. What Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Cy Young were to baseball, these early hoopsters were to the game of basketball. One such player was Paul Arizin.

      Playing in an era of old-fashioned, two-handed set shots and slow-up offenses, Arizin burst into the league in 1950 with a repertoire that included a daring new weapon: the jump shot. By the time Arizin was leading the league in scoring as a second-year player with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1952, only a few other players had mastered the shot.

      In addition to his unrivaled shooting accuracy, “Pitchin’ Paul” was a great leaper, a slick ballhandler, and a tough defender — an early version of Michael Jordan or Sidney Moncrief. During basketball’s equivalent of baseball’s low-scoring Dead Ball Era, Arizin averaged at least 20 points for nine straight seasons, a remarkable achievement at a time when only a handful of players averaged 20 points or more in a season.

      In 10 seasons with the Warriors, Arizin made the NBA All-Star team every year, won two scoring titles and an NBA championship ring, and recorded the third-highest scoring average in the newly formed league. Along with George Mikan, Bob Cousy, Larry Foust, Bill Sharman, Dolph Schayes and teammate Joe Fulks, Arizin was a pioneering force in a circuit that was decades behind baseball and football in popularity. Arizin and those other stars gave the fledgling NBA the boost it needed to achieve respectability.

      Arizin was the original grunter. Because of a chronic sinus problem, he wheezed and groaned as he ran down the court or whenever he left the ground to launch one of his trademark jumpers. An unruly cowlick springing from the back of his head added to an unmistakable court presence.

      Arizin was born in South Philadelphia in 1928 to a French father and an Irish mother. He went to La Salle High School, which shared a campus with La Salle College. In high school Arizin tried out for the basketball team, but his coach didn’t think he was good enough. As a senior he was cut after playing sparingly in a few games. Undeterred, Arizin joined intramural, church and independent leagues, competing in gyms and halls throughout the city. At one point he was playing on six or seven teams at the same time and sometimes played two games a night. “I just did it because I loved to play,” he told The Christian Science Monitor many years later.

      It was at this time that Arizin discovered the jump shot. “It came by accident,” he said. “Some of our games were played on dance floors. It became quite slippery. When I tried to hook, my feet would go out from under me, so I jumped. I was always a good jumper. My feet weren’t on the floor, so I didn’t have to worry about slipping. The more I did it, the better I became. Before I knew it, practically all my shots were jump shots.” Ceilings in some of the halls were low, forcing Arizin to fire line drives into the basket. That shot, with its low trajectory, remained a part of his arsenal throughout his career.

      A fine student, Arizin enrolled at Villanova University in the fall of 1946 and began to study chemistry. He continued to play in various basketball leagues, which at the time were stocked with men just returning from military service in World War II. Wildcats coach Al Severance saw Arizin play and offered him a scholarship to join the varsity squad in his sophomore year.

      It took Arizin a few weeks to get his bearings at the collegiate level. He made only spot appearances in the first seven games. In the eighth game he went scoreless, but he collected 10 points in the ninth game, against Manhattan College. By the end of the season Arizin, playing center, had pitched in a team-high 267 points to help the Wildcats to a 15-9 record.

      Arizin averaged 22.0 points during his junior year, only his third season in organized basketball. In one game he scored 85 points only Frank Selvy (100) has scored more points against a non-Division I opponent. The 22-3 Wildcats advanced to the 1949 NCAA Tournament, where Arizin pumped in 30 points in a matchup with All-American and future NBA star Alex Groza in an 85-72 loss to eventual-champion Kentucky. In the consolation game against Yale, Arizin scored 22 points against All-American Tony Lavelli while holding Lavelli to only eight points.

      As a senior Arizin’s 735 points were just five points shy of a new national scoring record, and his average of 25.3 points was the second-highest ever posted at the time. Only three years removed from the dance-hall leagues, the All-American Arizin led Villanova to a 25-4 record in 1949-50 and was named College Player of the Year by The Sporting News. He had led the Wildcats in scoring in each of his three years with the team, averaging 20.0 points over 80 contests. Villanova retired his No. 11 uniform. Arizin also excelled in the classroom, graduating with honors.

      The Philadelphia Warriors made Arizin a territorial selection in the 1950 NBA Draft. He earned $9,000 per year as a rookie, comparable to what other former collegiate stars were making. In 1946-47, the Warriors had won the first title in the history of the league (then called the Basketball Association of America), but the year before Arizin was drafted the team had slumped to 26-42.

      In 1950-51, Arizin sparked a 14-game turnaround and helped the Warriors return to the top of the Eastern Division. He averaged 17.2 points and a team-high 9.8 rebounds, ranking among the league’s top 10 in both categories. Arizin would undoubtedly have been a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year honors, but the award wasn’t created until 1952. In the first of his nine All-Star Game appearances Arizin contributed 15 points. However, in the 1951 NBA Playoffs, the high-scoring Arizin and teammate “Jumpin’ Joe” Fulks couldn’t lift the Warriors past the Syracuse Nationals, who swept a best-of-three Eastern Division Semifinal series.

      Pitchin’ Paul achieved stardom in only his second year as a pro. He erupted for a league-high 25.4 points per game-only Mikan and teammate Fulks had ever recorded higher averages. Arizin also emerged as one of the league’s strongest rebounders, with 11.3 boards per game. His career-high .448 field-goal percentage was among the best in the league. Arizin played with 63 minutes in a triple-overtime affair against the Minneapolis Lakers on Dec. 21, 1951, a record for most minutes played in a single game that stood for almost 40 years. In his second All-Star appearance, Arizin posted 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field and added 6 rebounds en route to winning the game’s MVP Award. The East won the game, 108-91. During the postseason, the Nationals again stymied the Warriors in the opening round.

      Fans and sportswriters alike were awed by Arizin’s graceful and fluid play, and particularly by his sweet jump shot. In the words of one Philadelphia writer, “Flicking the ball on the crest of his leap like a man riding an invisible surf, this is Arizin’s moment of expression.” Not even superstars like Schayes and Bob Pettit, both considerably taller than the 6-foot-4 Arizin, could put up a strong defense against his deadly jump shot. He could score from the inside as well and Arizin’s spectacular drives to the hoop made him one of the most acrobatic players of his day.

      Arizin, at the age of 24 and nearing his prime, was plucked out of the NBA by the Marine Corps before the 1952-53 season. He served for two years during the Korean War but still managed to maintain his skills while in the military. During Arizin’s absence the Warriors posted abysmal records of 12-57 and 29-43. The team also lost living legend Joe Fulks, who retired at age 32.

      In 1954, Arizin made a triumphant return to the league, placing second in the NBA in scoring (21.0 ppg) behind new Warriors center and future Hall of Famer Neil Johnston. Arizin also returned to the All-Star Game he would not miss another midseason classic for the remainder of his career, although he sat out the 1960 contest because of an injury. But despite a number of fine individual performances, Philadelphia’s 33-39 record was not strong enough to earn the team a spot in the playoffs.

      In 1955-56, Philadelphia finally became a winner. Four Warriors — Arizin (24.2 ppg), Johnston (22.1), forward Joe Graboski (14.4), and playmaker Jack George (13.9) — placed in the league’s top 20 in scoring. Rookie Tom Gola from La Salle, another future Hall of Famer, gave the Warriors an additional boost with his scoring, rebounding, and ballhandling prowess. The well-rounded Warriors finished the year with a league-best 45-27 record. In the postseason Philadelphia edged Syracuse in five games in the division finals and routed the Fort Wayne Pistons, four games to one, in the NBA Finals to win the franchise’s second title in 10 years.

      Arizin won his second league scoring title the following season with a 25.6 average. He added 7.9 rebounds per game and shot .829 from the foul line to earn a spot on the All-NBA First Team. However, with Gola taking his turn in the U.S. military, the Warriors fell to third place in the division with a 37-35 record and were swept in the first round of the playoffs by rival Syracuse.

      Arizin averaged 20.7 points in 1957-58 and scored 24 points in the NBA All-Star Game. He reached the 10,000-point mark the following season, accomplishing the feat faster than any player before him. His 26.4 scoring average in 1958-59 was the highest of his career, although he lost the scoring title to Pettit, the explosive forward of the St. Louis Hawks.

      In each of Arizin’s final three seasons, Philadelphia came in second behind the powerhouse Boston Celtics in the Eastern Division. During those years, Arizin continued to average at least 20 points and to place among the league’s top 12 in scoring. The addition of Wilt Chamberlain to the team in 1959 helped give the Warriors one of the league’s most explosive offenses. But Boston’s superior team play kept Philadelphia from returning to the top of the league until the late 1960s.

      On Dec. 1, 1961, Arizin scored 33 points in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers to become only the third player to reach the 15,000-point plateau, after Cousy and Schayes. Following the 1961-62 season the Warriors moved to San Francisco. At age 34 Arizin still had at least one good season left, but he decided to retire and remain in Philadelphia.

      Arizin left the NBA having amassed 16,266 points (22.8 ppg), 6,129 rebounds (8.6 rpg) and 1,665 assists (2.3 apg) in 713 games — all with the Warriors. In 49 playoff games, Arizin averaged 24.2 points and 8.2 rebounds. But Pitchin’ Paul wasn’t ready to put away the basketball just yet — he played in the Eastern Basketball League from 1962 to 1965.

      In 1970, Arizin was named to the prestigious NBA Silver Anniversary Team. Seven years later, at age 49, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame along with former teammate Joe Fulks. In 1996, he was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

      In an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, Arizin looked back on his unlikely rise to NBA stardom: “People ask me to describe how I feel, and I think the easiest way is to put the question back to you. How do you think being enshrined here with all these illustrious names feels to a guy who back in high school was only playing intramural ball?”

      Watch the video: Paul Foot Investigates..Irish Border Farce!