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Medical librarian, member of the University and College Union; father of four, grandfather of one. Author: The EU - bad for Britain; Britain, Italy, Germany and the Spanish civil war; Reg Birch - engineer, trade unionist, communist.
Belgian journalist Michel Collon has written a splendid book denouncing NATO's war against Yugoslavia.
Collon notes that the CIA and the German intelligence service armed the KLA, the Croats, the Slovenians, and Bosnia's Muslim separatists, all before the wars started, and later too, even after the UN had imposed an arms embargo. In 1994 the US government gave the green light to covert Iranian arms shipments to Bosnian Muslims.
The war was not about any attempted Serbian genocide. As the German Foreign Affairs Ministry reported in 1999, "there exists no State plan, neither now nor earlier, to persecute an entire ethnic group." The only multiethnic country in the region now is - Serbia. One inhabitant in five is not Serbian. It has the largest number of refugees in Europe, one million people who have fled from Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia - territories run by NATO.
The war was about imposing capitalism. President Clinton said on 23 March 1999, "And if we're going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be a key ... Now, that's what this Kosovo thing is all about." Two former US Secretaries of State, Warren Christopher and William Perry, wrote, "The alliance needs to adapt its military strategy to today's reality: the danger to the security of its members is not primarily potential aggression to their collective territory, but threats to their collective interests beyond their territory." They admit that NATO serves US corporations' foreign interests.
The Rambouillet Accords stated, "the economy of Kosovo will function in accordance with free market principles. ... There shall be no impediments to the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital to and from Kosovo." The New York Times denounced Milosevic's determination to `keep state controls [of industry] and his refusal to allow privatization'. The Washington Post observed, "Milosevic failed to understand the message of the fall of the Berlin Wall ... while other communist politicians accepted the Western model ... Milosevic went the other way."
The war was waged against civilians. General Herteleer, Chief of Staff of the Belgian Army, said, "Maybe we do have to make the bombings felt by hurting the Serb population itself. Let's inflict losses on them. Let's hit them where they're comfortable."
The US press agency UPI reported in 2002, "NATO's 1999 Kosovo war destroyed key infrastructure like the Novi Sad oil refinery, Radio Television Serbia, roads, bridges and more. The subsequent imposition of Western politics in the reconstruction plans was neither unexpected nor short lived." Western companies were to gain, not the country's people. The World Bank representative said in 2002, "At least 800,000 Serbian workers in public services and state-run enterprises must be laid off."
In this magnificent, thoroughly-researched book, Grover Furr examines Leonid Nikolaev's murder of Stalin's close colleague Sergei Kirov on 1 December 1934. Furr uses new evidence from those parts of the Russian archives that have been released, and materials from the Trotsky Archive at Harvard University and the Volkogonov Archive, which prove that Nikolaev acted as part of a Zinovievist terrorist group.
With Stalin's support, Kirov had broken Grigory Zinoviev's hold over Leningrad and replaced him as First Secretary of the Bolshevik Party in the city. The Opposition could not defeat him politically, so they decided to kill him.
Khrushchev told the 1960-1961 investigation, run by the Party Control Committee (KPK), to blame Stalin for the Kirov murder. But it could produce no evidence to this effect and had to conclude that Stalin was not involved.
Khrushchev then adopted the `lone gunman' thesis. Furr analyses Matthew Lenoe's book The Kirov murder and Soviet history, published by Yale University Press in 2010, and Alla Kirilina's book Rikoshet, published in 1993, which both argued this thesis.
The Zinovievist-Trotskyist opposition believed that Stalin had betrayed the revolution, that he was the grave digger of the revolution as Trotsky called him, so they felt they had to remove him. As Valentin Astrov, a follower of Bukharin, stated, Bukharin said in January 1930, "it would be necessary at any cost to remove Stalin."
This had to mean by assassination, since the only alternative was to win a majority of the Party Congress or Central Committee, which the opposition could never achieve. After the demise of the Soviet Union, Astrov denied he was coerced into making this statement.
The truths about the conspiracies were revealed step by step in the December 1934 trial of Nikolaev, in the Moscow trials of August 1936 and January 1937, the Tukhachevsky affair of May-June 1937, and the trial of March 1938.
Zinoviev's collaborator Lev Kamenev admitted on 23 July 1936, "we, that is the Zinovievist center of the counterrevolutionary organization, the membership of which I have named above, and the Trotskyist counterrevolutionary organization in the persons of Smirnov, Mrachkovskii and Ter-Vaganian, agreed in 1932 about the union of both, i.e. the Zinovievist and Trotskyist counterrevolutionary organization for cooperative organization of terrorist acts against the leaders of the CC and first of all against Stalin and Kirov."
The Harvard Trotsky Archive provided further evidence that the Zinovievist-Trotskyist bloc existed from 1932 onwards. For example, Trotsky's son Sedov wrote to Trotsky in mid-1932 that the bloc "is organized. In it have entered the Zinovievites, the Sten-Lominadze group and the Trotskyists ... The declaration of Z. and K. concerning their enormous mistake in '27 was made during negotiations with our people concerning the bloc ..."
The Archive also provided proof that Trotsky communicated with the bloc's members, including Karl Radek, Sokol'nikov, Preobrazhenskii and Kollontai, despite his lies to the contrary to the Dewey Commission and in his Bulletin of the Opposition. Trotsky's letter to Radek of 3 March 1932 was a directive to `remove the leadership'. Furr also relates how this Archive has been purged, as the Trotskyist writer Pierre Broué admitted, presumably to hide even more incriminating materials.
Zinoviev said on 28 July 1936, "I must add that a plan was developed for hiding the traces of the crimes that were under preparation by the united Trotskyite-Zinovievite center. The forcible removal of the leaders of the Party and government had to be very carefully disguised as White Guardist acts or acts of `personal vengeance'." Zinoviev admitted that Nikolaev attended a meeting of the Leningrad centre of the Opposition. All this is strong evidence against the thesis that Nikolaev was a `lone gunman'.
From the interrogation of Genrikh Yagoda, People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, on 26 April 1937:
"Question: You had materials about the active terrorist centers?
Answer: I had.
Question: Kirov was killed by them?
Answer: By them.
Question: You concealed the activity of these terrorist organizations?
Answer: I did."
Under Russia's 75-year rule, materials on Kirov's murder and Nikolaev's trial should have been released by now, but they haven't - why not, if they support the Khrushchev/Gorbachev line that Nikolaev was a `lone gunman'? So this hidden evidence must show that it was true that the Trotskyite-Zinovievite bloc was guilty of Kirov's murder.
Khrushchev never managed to bring forward from the archives any evidence that pointed to the defendants' innocence. In 1956 he ordered the KGB to destroy the records of the surveillance operation against the Zinovievists.
The notion that Nikolaev acted alone and that the Zinovievist-Trotskyist bloc was a fiction is part of the anti-Stalin paradigm which has structured the West's historiography of the Soviet Union for 90 years. This paradigm is a key part of anti-communist, pro-capitalist politics. Furr has put together the evidence that proves the existence of the bloc and its responsibility for Kirov's murder.
This is a vivid account of the appalling Nazi occupation of Europe's eastern lands. Lower focuses on the Zhytomyr region of Ukraine. She examines how "Nazi-style militarism, colonialism, and genocidal population policies came together in one particular place and how the indigenous population there coped and, in inconceivably large numbers, tragically died under German rule." The Nazis killed 4.1 million Ukrainian civilians and destroyed more than 700 cities and 28,000 villages.
The Nazis used the worst colonial practices - forced population movements, slave labour, violence, racism, and mass murder - in Eastern Europe. As she remarks, "In carrying out their war of extermination in the East, Nazi leaders effectively marshalled a deep-seated German contempt for the `inferior' peoples of the East."
Lower points out that "During the Cold War, German scholars, politicians and Russian-German émigrés in America lobbied on behalf of the ethnic Germans who suffered under the Soviets, while they ignored the significant role the Volksdeutsche played as collaborators in the `Final Solution' and other Nazi occupation policies in the East." Lower details the Ukrainian nationalist organisation's `collaboration with the Nazis and perpetration of atrocities against Poles and Jews'.
In his book on the Ukraine, Harvest of Sorrow, the Foreign Office propagandist (and Thatcher speech-writer) Robert Conquest had devoted just one sentence to this genocidal Nazi occupation, calling it `a period between two waves of Red Terror'.
By contrast, Lower concludes, "what the Nazis attempted to achieve in the region and how they implemented their imperialistic, criminal policies represented a dramatically different episode in Ukraine's history, unlike the Stalinist campaigns of the 1930s and the subsequent, relatively relaxed Soviet policies of the postwar period. The Germans introduced familiar colonial forms of rule as well as initiating revolutionary racial programs that were genocidal. The first step, as the Nazis saw it, in fulfilling their utopian plans for the East was the destruction of the Jews."
She sums up, "In Ukraine's history of man-made disasters, mostly imposed from the outside, the Nazi occupation stands out as the worst episode."
This remarkable and harrowing book is a study of the Nazis' genocidal rule over the Ukraine from 1941 to 1944, which killed 4.1 million people. Hitler's view was, "The destruction of the major Russian cities is a prerequisite for the permanence of our power in Russia." Erich Koch, Reichskommissar for Ukraine, aimed to `smash Ukrainian industry and drive the proletariat back to the country'. Berkhoff describes what he calls the Nazis' `genocidal massacre' of Soviet POWs.
He points out that by contrast, the Soviet authorities appealed to `the self-esteem, independence, and trustworthiness of ordinary people'.
Appallingly, elements in Ukrainian society collaborated with the Nazi occupier. Orthodox Church leaders in the Ukraine condemned not the Holocaust but `Jewish-Bolshevism'. A Ukrainian Nationalist leaflet of 1941 said, "Moscow, Poland, the Hungarians, Jewry are your enemies. Destroy them." Ukrainian nationalist leaders admitted that the Ukrainian Insurgent Army policy was to `exterminate Ukraine's national minorities'. In 1943, Ukrainians killed more than 15,000 Poles living in the Ukraine.
Berkhoff sums up, "the Nazi regime in the `East' was driven by the Nazi conviction that Ukraine was, or should become, a clean national minorities' slate for the German people. ... This extreme German nationalism combined with anti-Bolshevism, anti-Semitism, and a racist view of the `Russians', and the results were terror, murder, massacre, and genocide."
In his book on the Ukraine, Harvest of Sorrow, the Foreign Office propagandist (and Thatcher speech-writer) Robert Conquest had devoted just one sentence to this genocidal Nazi occupation, calling it `a period between two waves of Red Terror'.
But Berkhoff concludes more accurately, "never before in the history of Ukraine did so many social and ethnic groups suffer so much during one period."
Nouriel Roubini is Professor of Economics at New York University's Stern School of Business, and Stephen Mihm is Associate Professor of History at Georgia University.
We are in a second great depression. Crises under capitalism are not black swans but white swans, from the 1630s tulip mania, the 1720 South Sea Bubble, the 1819 crash, the 1825 global crisis (triggered by the Bank of England), further crises in 1837, 1857, 1866, 1873, 1893, 1907, 1920-21 to the Great Depression of 1929-33.
Post-1945, capital controls and the separation of investment banking from commercial banking brought growth and stability, for a time. Then came more crises, getting ever larger, till the current depression.
What the authors call the `cancerous growth of finance' created `a global financial system that was subprime from top to bottom'. As a banker said, "We are in a minefield. No one knows where the mines are planted."
It is a systemic failure, despite efforts to blame the poor, homebuyers, the public in general, subprime borrowers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Chinese savings, etc. The authors point out, "The huge growth in the subprime market was primarily underwritten not by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac but by private mortgage lenders like Countrywide. ... overblown claims that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac single-handedly caused the subprime crisis are just plain wrong. ... All of these factors - financial innovation, failures of corporate governance, easy monetary policy, failures of government, and the shadow banking system - contributed to the onset of the crisis."
Superlow interest rates, Quantitative Easing (printing money to give to bankers) and the growing carry trade in dollars are now fuelling a huge new global bubble in risky assets. Don't forget that when the carry trade in yen unravelled in 2008-09, it wrecked Japan.
The authors insist that banks' creditors must be forced to take losses. Governments must not socialise the debt, as was done in Ireland. Central banks must stop taking taxpayers' money to prop up illiquid and insolvent firms. Goldman Sachs has got more than $60 billion from the taxpayer. It should be broken up, like all the other firms that are `too big to fail', including RBS.
The authors warn, "Nor will any amount of budget cutting and austerity solve the problems of Greece, Ireland, and possibly Portugal and Spain."
Paul Preston is the finest historian of modern Spain. This is a harrowing account of the brutality and sadism unleashed by General Franco's coup against the elected Spanish government.
In the resulting war, 200,000 people were killed on the battlefield. Another 200,000 were killed, either murdered or executed after the flimsiest of legal process, 150,000 by the rebels and 50,000 by Republicans. Franco lied that the Republic had killed 470,000 people.
Preston contrasts the rebels' programmatic violence with the Republic's episodic violence. The rebels aimed to kill "without scruple or hesitation those who do not think as we do", said coup director General Emilio Mola.
Preston notes, "In general, Francoist `justice' attributed all deaths to a deliberate policy of the Republican government and the Generalitat. This was simply not true and a projection on to the Republicans of the rebels' own murderous intentions." (Similarly, Franco accused the Republic of military rebellion!)
Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode said that Franco "is worse than the Reds." Preston writes of the rebels' `programme of extermination', of `Franco's slow war of annihilation' and of `the official encouragement of atrocities in the rebel zone'.
Preston observes, "While the rebel authorities actively sanctioned atrocities throughout the war and after, it was precisely the Republican government's opposition to them that limited them to the first five months of the war." The Republic tried to control the anarchist checas, death squads.
The rebel forces massacred peasants, workers, civilians and prisoners, raped working class women, mutilated casualties, and murdered the wounded. The rebels used atrocity stories - false of the Republic, true of the rebels - to whip up hatred and justify mass murder.
The rebels killed priests and nuns who opposed them; they burned down churches, where Republicans were inside them. Many priests backed the rebels and joined in the repression. The Daily Express and the Daily Mail backed the rebels; the Daily Mail's reporter was embedded with Franco's forces.
The Spanish communist party alleged that there were fifth columnists inside the anarchist trade union movement the CNT. Preston comments that the `accusation was in fact entirely justified'. Italian agents infiltrated the CNT and Nazi agents infiltrated the Trotskyist POUM.
In March 1937 hundreds of CNT members abandoned the battlefront, went to Barcelona, and recruited 5,000 CNT members into a new body called the `Friends of Durruti'. Andreu Nin, head of the POUM, welcomed this treachery.
Preston remarks on "the conflict between the advocates of revolution and those who believed that priority should be given to the war effort. The notion that its culmination in the so-called `May events' was a carefully laid Stalinist plot has no basis."
Nin said that the working class had solved the problem of religion by not leaving a single church standing. Preston observes, "the assassination of priests and the burning down of churches were given an idealistic veneer by anarchists as the prior purification necessary for the building of a new world, as if it was that easy to eliminate religion." Likewise, shooting the whole ruling class would not make a revolution.
The border area La Cerdanya was run by an anarchist criminal. The anarchist FAI `presided over a network of terror throughout Catalonia' and carried out massacres.
Throughout the war, the British government pretended to be neutral, while assisting Franco as much as it could. Its `Non-Intervention' policy enabled the German and Italian interventions which took Franco to victory. At the war's end, Colonel Casado, the leader of the coup which ended the Republic, escaped to Britain on a British warship, along with the leader of Madrid's notorious anarchist checa.
Grubacic sums up what US/EU imperialism has achieved in the Balkans: "Torture in the name of democracy. Occupation in the name of freedom. Bombing in the name of humanitarian intervention. Protectorates in the name of state-building. Wars of terror in the name of a war on terror."
The USA has always wanted to get a US military foothold in the Balkans. Now it has the huge new military base of Camp Bondsteel, Europe's Guantanamo.
NATO bombs in 1999 of Yugoslavia caused $50 billions' worth of damage. The bombing was illegal, but set a precedent for `humanitarian' intervention without a UN mandate.
The UN Charter does not allow the Security Council to set up any international body. Yet the Security Council set up the Hague Tribunal, citing Article 29 of the UN Charter as its warrant. But Article 29 only allows it to set up a `subsidiary body'. An international court must be an independent, not a subsidiary, body. So the Tribunal is illegitimate.
The USA forced Serbia to extradite its president Milosevic to the Tribunal. But under the 1975 European Convention on Extradition, states have the right to refuse extradition of their own citizens, even those accused of severe breaches of the laws of war (Article 6, paragraph 1a).
Germany's recognition of Croatia in 1991 started the disintegration of Yugoslavia into six fragments. The EU opposes united nations as a threat to its powers. Western media and the ultra-left echo the EU - that nations and nationalists are the enemy. Anarchists like Grubacic and Noam Chomsky aid the US/EU destruction of nation-states. Grubacic calls for `a balkanised Europe of regions', an exact echo of the EU. He urges the partition of Kosovo (pages 197-8), as does Chomsky (pages 203-4).
The six fragments are in chaos. Unemployment in Bosnia is 40 per cent plus, in Kosovo 40 per cent and in Serbia 30 per cent. In 2001 Serbia's crash programme of privatising all socially owned property virtually deindustrialised it. One million workers lost their jobs, 70 per cent of the population are in poverty.
Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi is a war criminal, with links to the criminal underworld (so say secret NATO reports), head of a human organ and arms ring, and he was a leader of the terror group the KLA. Criminals also rule Montenegro.
The problem is not some innate Balkan/Serbian proclivity to violence, but US/EU imperial violence, intervention and occupation. The EU and the USA have no right to decide the future of these countries. The peoples are right to oppose the EU, capitalism, privatisation, the US/EU occupations of Kosovo and Bosnia, and `humanitarian' imperialism.
Tadeusz Kowalik was for many years an activist in Solidarity. In this revealing book, he shows the effects of Solidarity's efforts to overturn socialism. He also shows how, after the counter-revolution, Solidarity attacked the Polish working class and embraced capitalism.
Since the restoration of capitalism, Poland has suffered 25 years of economic stagnation, mass unemployment and poverty. In 1990 industrial output fell by 30 per cent. Unemployment rose from nearly nothing to 3 million, where it has stayed ever since, leading to Europe's largest peacetime emigration, of two million people. Harvard `expert' Jeffrey Sachs had forecast unemployment of `less than 200,000'. In 1989, real wages fell by 34 per cent. Private farmers' incomes fell by 40 per cent.
By 2006, Poland's employment rate was 54 per cent. Its unemployment rate was 16 per cent, its youth unemployment 40 per cent. Only 13 per cent of the unemployed got any benefits.
Polish governments have imposed deindustrialisation and cut R&D, leading to a low level of technology. The country has a high level of imports (56 per cent of the domestic market), causing huge trade deficits and debts.
The government's effort to cut its deficit by cutting welfare spending added to the deficit, and to unemployment. By contrast, when Sweden's unemployment reached 13 per cent, in 1993, the government there raised spending. This increased the deficit, but cut unemployment.
Poland's counter-revolution shifted wealth from the poor to the rich and increased poverty. Privatisation was a huge scam: public assets were sold off at 10 per cent of their value, to benefit looters, foreign and domestic. 12 per cent of the population live below the subsistence level, 58 per cent below the social minimum. Two million children are undernourished. Women earned just 57 per cent of men's earnings.
Poland is one of the most unequal countries in the EU. The 2009 Index of Social Justice ranked Poland 26th, after the UK at 21st. Poland's leaders strive to make the EU members' economies even more Thatcherite.
Solidarity carried out a return to 19th century capitalism, making Poland a colony of both the EU and the USA, which proved that Solidarity it was always more a Thatcherite political party than a trade union.
This is a major new work by one of our best economists. He urges us to focus on rebuilding manufacturing industry, to escape `the vicious circle of import-led stagnation' and to reject TINA fatalism.
Competitive pricing is vital. Between 1952 and 1979, Japan's export prices rose by just 33 per cent, Britain's by 380 per cent. No surprise then that between 1953 and 1969 Japan grew 10 per cent a year, Britain 2.8 per cent. In Britain, "With sterling too strong, imports were encouraged and domestic production discouraged. Too much investment went abroad. Too few talented people went into industry and commerce."
Britain produces only 20,000 engineering graduates a year, of whom nearly a quarter are in non-graduate or unskilled jobs. Many who graduate here are from China and other countries. Germany produces 50,000 a year, Japan 100,000, the USA 137,000, and China 352,000.
Mills notes that in the 1990s, "labour's bargaining position ... had already been undermined by increasing unemployment in Europe and rising immigration in the USA." On the effects of large-scale migration, he points out, "Those in the developed world with a low income tend to find their earning capacity reduced while the pressure generated on housing, infrastructure and other social resources generally increases, especially in countries or urban environments where the population density is already high. At the same time the poorer countries from which migrants tend to come can ill afford to lose the skills and abilities of the sort of people who most want to migrate."
A 1995 IMF study found that inflation at less than 8 per cent a year did not cut growth or increase unemployment. Inflationary surges have not been caused by changes in the money supply but by the USA's wars against Korea and Vietnam, and by oil price rises. They have also been short-lived. Our money supply increased by 15 per cent in 1931-32 and by a further 19 per cent in 1933, yet inflation was no problem.
Devaluations, like Argentina's in 2002, increase GDP, industrial output, investment, wages and living standards, and cut unemployment.
In 1931 the British government devalued the pound by 24 per cent against all other major currencies, and by 31 per cent against the dollar. As a result, the economy grew 4.6 per cent a year from 1932 to 1937, the fastest ever; manufacturing output rose by 48 per cent and 2.7 million new jobs were created, half in manufacturing. By contrast France in the 1930s refused to devalue: its GDP fell by 17 per cent, industrial output fell by 25 per cent, investment fell and unemployment rose.
In the 1950s (largely before the EEC's creation on 1 January 1958), France's economy grew by 56 per cent, Italy's by 80 per cent, West Germany's by 115 per cent, and Britain's by 30 per cent. France's industrial output grew by 89 per cent, Italy's by 131 per cent, Germany's by 148 per cent, and Britain's by 28 per cent. This led some in Britain to urge us to join the EEC: did they believe in growth by association?
But the closer the ties, the worse the performance. EEC total GDP growth from 1950 to 1969 was 5.5 per cent a year. When the currencies were linked through the `Snake', from 1969 to 1975, average growth fell to 3.7 per cent, from 6.9 per cent to minus 1.2 per cent. After the Snake's demise, growth was 3.6 per cent a year between 1976 and 1979. Under the Exchange Rate Mechanism, 1979-93, growth was just 2.1 per cent a year, falling from 4.7 per cent to minus 1 per cent. From 1993 to 1997 growth was 2 per cent a year.
The euro was set up in 2000, and from then to the 2007 crisis, Eurozone growth was just 2.2 per cent a year. In 2008, there was nil growth. In 2009 its GDP fell by 4 per cent, far worse than any other region of the world. In 2010, growth was just 2 per cent and in 2011 it was 1.5 per cent. The Eurozone did not grow at all in 2012's first quarter, it fell by 0.2 per cent in the second and by 0.1 per cent in the third. The euro's strength on foreign exchanges, buoyed by Germany's superior export performance, prevents the EU's other members doing well in world markets.
Norway, outside the EU, had the OECD's highest growth rate in GDP per head between 1973 and 1992, at 71 per cent. Britain's was just 31 per cent, the EU's 41 per cent.
The City of London has run our economic policy since the 1950s, keeping finance as king over industry. It calls the pound `weak' if it's low, `strong' if it's high.
We need to devalue by 20-25 per cent. Portfolio foreign direct investment needs to be discouraged, not encouraged. We need to sell pounds and buy foreign currencies. We need a reflationary policy to weaken the balance of payments and increase the deficit, until the pound's value falls. We need to encourage a drop in our credit rating, to help to lower the pound's value.
Mills concludes, "the choice will be between the single currency breaking up to allow for large-scale devaluations in the weaker Eurozone economies or severe deflation and austerity in the weaker countries as far ahead as anyone can see." Currencies will fall, either by choice, in an orderly way, or, after a long and damaging delay, in a rout.
This excellent book, like Dr Offit's successful Autism's false prophets, exposes the dangers of choosing faith-based medicine rather than evidence-based medicine. Dr Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Before vaccination, in the USA, measles killed 500 children a year; whooping cough infected as many as 147,000 people each year between 1940 and 1945 and killed nearly 8,000 a year; polio killed 1,000 children a year, and diphtheria killed 12,000 people, mostly young people. In epidemics of mumps and bacterial meningitis, hundreds more suffered and some died.
The claim that whooping cough vaccine, not whooping cough itself, causes permanent brain damage is just plain wrong. But the scare about the vaccine in England in 1973 led to the immunisation rate falling from 79 per cent in 1972 to 31 per cent in 1977. Subsequently, 100,000 children got whooping cough and 600 died.
By 1976, the USA had only 1,010 cases of whooping cough, the lowest number ever reported. But in 2010 California suffered the largest and deadliest outbreak in more than fifty years. 9,000 people were diagnosed with the disease, and ten infants died of it.
Some alternative medicine practitioners oppose vaccination. Rudolf Steiner, for instance, wrote absurdly that vaccination `interferes with karmic development and the cycles of reincarnation'.
Contrary to the deniers, vaccines are tested for safety in larger numbers of people for longer periods than any drug. Vaccines do not have a high rate of serious side effects. Vaccines don't contain dangerous quantities of dangerous ingredients. Vaccines prevent some very serious illnesses.
Dr Offit urges US states to end health laws that allow religious exemptions even for lifesaving medicines (and for vaccines), which exist in all US states but three.
It is often claimed, ironically, by well-funded advocacy groups backed by very rich personal-injury lawyers, that big pharma engages in illicit marketing practices for vaccines. But there is no example of this.