Friday, 7 February 2020

Windermere's children: What's in a name?

Yesterday I re-watched the BBC 2 programme about the 300+ Polish refugee children  brought to the UK  in 1945 for "rehabilitation" after their incarceration in concentration camps.  For details see this previous post:;postID=8466891997733265179;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=3;src=postname 

and if you missed it I urge you to watch it on

One of the most striking features is the emphasis the children place on their identities, names and families.

The first boy asked to introduce himself automatically uncovers his forearm to reveal his number tattooed concentration camp number.  We get the message of dehumanisation.

One  boy was included in the group at the last minute because another was withdrawn for reasons that I failed to catch.  Unfortunately the "paperwork" wasn't changed and so he was travelling under the others name.  He see him anxiously enquiring as to whether this has been rectified.  I think that by the end of their stay in Windermere it hadn't been but he was assured that: "as the wheels turned and in the fullness of time, it would be.  Welcome to England."

A third boy is addressed by the archetypally insensitive PE master as: "Son."  He responds angrily that he is the son of ***** ***** of Poland. Told that "It's just a phrase," he replies: "Well, don't use it with me."

A modern trend that I find disturbing as that we are urged, and in some cases required, to blur or disguise our identities with "user names."  These are widely used on social media platforms and we can have no idea who is saying what about whom, or being rude to whom and telling lies about whom.  

As Peter Pomerantsev in "This is Not Propoganda" describes, in the fields of "fake news" and opinion distortion the use of fake or untraceable identities is endemic.

This poses  a serious danger to the working of democracy, and is in urgent need of international regulation.

In all spheres, and not just politics, we need to know who is saying what, how they can be contacted for correction if necessary, and, where appropriate, who is financing  them.

Those Polish refugees knew from bitter experience the importance of their identities.  We should take a leaf our of their book.


  1. Contrariwise, the modern world has seen a massive increase in the prevelence of Bulverism, for which one possible cure is the concealment of identity (or at least its disassociation from statements) so that arguments and ideas have to be engaged with on their merits, without reference to the identity of whoever is proposing them.

  2. I agree that EVERYBODY should use their name. It does need regulating. If people believe what they say they should be able to own it. It could also lead to people discussing topics rather than swearing about them. It weakens democracy and the rule of law that we rely on to stay civilised. The slow denigration of 'demos' can lead to anarchy

  3. I haven't heard it called "Bulverism" before, but it is true that many of us attribute at least part of the value of a comment to its author, and we might, just might, analyse statements more carefully if we didn't know who made them, as Anonymous claims.

    For example, I am much more likely to regard an analysis of an economic situation by Krugman or Keegan as being reliable as I am by one from Patrick Minford.

    But this shorthand saves a lot of time and is not a real danger to our democracy (unless such as the BBC give equal time to both views) becasue we can if we wish check the arguments against the facts ant theories used to support them.

    For example, this analysis of the cumulative errors of the effects of Brexit on the UK Economy by Chris Giles shows those of the bank of England, Office of Budget Responsibility and the IMF (jeered at as project fear) all to be within 0.5%, whilst that of "Economist for Brexit" (Soar-Away Britain) to be 3.5% too optimistic. See:

    By contrast, as Nigel Hunter agrees, the bombardment of targetted individuals with specially selected (mis)information without source or substantiation is a serious danger to democracy.

    1. For example, I am much more likely to regard an analysis of an economic situation by Krugman or Keegan as being reliable as I am by one from Patrick Minford

      Well, yes. Obviously if someone constantly spouts things that confirm your pre-existing view of the world, and don't require you to question anything you believe, then you'll be more sympathetic to the next thing they say, as you'll assume it too will be something that plays to your biases. We all do that. It's human nature.

  4. This is how my colleague Wesley Virgin's autobiography begins in this shocking and controversial video.

    Wesley was in the military-and shortly after leaving-he unveiled hidden, "mind control" secrets that the CIA and others used to obtain anything they want.

    As it turns out, these are the same methods lots of famous people (notably those who "come out of nowhere") and top business people used to become rich and famous.

    You probably know that you use less than 10% of your brain.

    That's really because most of your brain's power is UNCONSCIOUS.

    Maybe this conversation has even occurred IN YOUR very own brain... as it did in my good friend Wesley Virgin's brain about seven years ago, while driving an unlicensed, beat-up trash bucket of a car without a driver's license and in his bank account.

    "I'm very fed up with living payroll to payroll! When will I become successful?"

    You've been a part of those those types of thoughts, isn't it so?

    Your success story is going to start. All you need is to believe in YOURSELF.