A Note on “Mear One” And Jeremy Corbyn

From California, a distress call on Twitter from street artist “Mear One”:

A UK politician has reignited a smear campaign against me and a mural I painted in Shoreditch over 5 years ago depicting a group of banksters playing a game of monopoly on the backs of the working class. @Lukewearechange @davidicke @DollarVigilante

Reaching out to David Icke for help is perhaps not the most sensible move for someone credibly accused of anti-Semitism, but “Mear One” – aka Kalen Ockerman – shares Icke’s view that the world is full of shadowy elites and supernatural powers, clues to which he sees in phenomena such as the ancient elongated skulls of the Paracas culture.

Thus it is not a great surprise that the artist’s critique of capitalism is conspiratorial, and fixated on the idea of particularly malign individuals manipulating the world through secret networks. Mear One’s Shoreditch mural  appeared to portray generic “greedy bankers”, although he has since clarified that the figures are “Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan, Aleister Crowley, Carnegie & Warburg” – only two of these are Jewish, but his caricatures focus on physical features that obviously recall anti-Semitic cartoons.

In another version of the same work, apparently titled False Profits, the artist presents a different line-up. As listed by a retailer selling prints of the image, the figures in this version are:


The print version also includes another, ghostly, set of figures standing behind them:


Mear One’s mural obviously reflects his belief that the world is controlled by an elite conspiracy of Jews and Freemasons; as such, it is difficult to sympathise with his complaint that he is the victim of a “smear campaign”.

Those who propound views of this sort sometimes complain that they are not being anti-Semitic because they are not claiming that all the world’s Jews are in on the conspiracy, which is instead a “clique”. But as I’ve noted before, this distinction is meaningless. “Rothschild” conspiracy mongering emerged out of explicit anti-Semitism (as discussed by Brian Cathcart here), and as a paranoid pseudo-explanation for human affairs it is the gateway back into back it. This process is evident from Mear One himself, who when the mural was removed back in 2012 stated that “some of the older white Jewish folk in the local community had an issue with me portraying their beloved #Rothschild or #Warburg etc as the demons they are”.

As has now been widely reported, the mural is currently controversial again due to a comment about it made by Jeremy Corbyn in 2012, long before his unexpected rise to leader of the UK Labour Party. Corbyn, responding directly to a Facebook post by the artist, notoriously compared it to Diego Rivera’s lost mural from the Rockefeller Center. Corbyn has a long history of anti-racist activism, and he has never expressed “Rothschild”-type conspiracy views, but obviously this comment was not to his credit. Presumably he simply saw a generic anti-capitalist cartoon, but he ought to have been alert to the anti-Semitic caricatures, and wary of the crudeness of the image. The depiction of the pyramid and Eye of Providence behind the bankers ought to have set off a “crank radar”, at the very least.

Worse, though, is that Corbyn didn’t just miss the obvious – he knew that objections had been made, but he didn’t bother to look into them before giving the work his vote of confidence. This suggests a doctrinaire character – someone whose judgements are based on preconceptions rather than the specific evidence in specific situations. Perhaps the demands and responsibilities of being Leader of the Opposition are broadening his outlook, but if so it will be a late blossoming.

“Rothschild” conspiricism has been festering within parts of the UK Labour Party – I looked at a couple of examples here and here.

UPDATE: Mear One has now written a defence of his mural, which has been published on David Icke’s website:

I decided the only platform, apart from my own, that I will choose to speak through is this one. I thank David Icke and Gareth Icke and their team for allowing me this opportunity to offer my side of the story, uncut and uncensored, for those who are awoken.

…Mayer Amschel Rothschild once said, “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.” Using this as my ideological starting point, I chose to depict the likenesses of such early turn of the century Robber Barons, specifically Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Warburg, as well Aleister Crowley who was a kind of philosophical guru to the ruling elite of that time and a well-known Satanist. 

In fact, the quote attributed to Mayer Amschel Rothschild first appeared in English in 1913, a hundred years after his death, and there is no evidence of a German original – but either way, the idea that it amounts to a revelation that explains the workings of the world is a wild extrapolation.

Crowley was an anti-Semite (“Israel has corrupted the world, whether by conquest, by conversion, or by conspiracy. The Jew has eaten his way into everything”), and as such his appearance as one of Mear One’s villains might be evidence in the artist’s favour. However, within the conspiracy milieu Crowley’s “Satanism” is conflated with the Jewish mystical tradition via Hermetic Qabalah; and his role in the mural is simply as a sinister association that underscores the moral turpitude of the depicted bankers.

In reality, Crowley didn’t know these people, and if he held influence over bankers one wonders why it was that he died in reduced financial circumstances.

UPDATE 2: Mear One’s sequence of “Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Warburg, as well Aleister Crowley” has led to some of the figures in the mural being misidentified, as in the annotated version below. Crowley is obviously the bald character (although he’s a bit thin), but he is here mistaken for Andrew Carnegie; knocking on from this, Carnegie becomes Paul Warburg and Paul Warburg becomes Crowley. This obscures the overemphasis on Warburg’s nose.


3 Responses

  1. I think that the fractional reserve banking system whereby new bank money can be just issued as loans, at the stroke of a pen, needs to be looked at, as, among other things, it distorts supply and demand. Murray Rothbard (Jewish) calls it into question, as did Ludwig Von Mises (Jewish) and Frederick Von Hayek (Jewish). Conspiracy? No: they are all openly against it. WE GET THIS JEWISH CONSPIRACY NONSENSE ON THE RIGHT, OR RATHER FAR RIGHT, TOO. But like all folks, the Jews have a diversity of viewpoints; that is why we must all stand up for freedom of speech and association.

  2. I believe the fact Jeremy Corbyn supported Mear One was meant in the spirit of advocating free speech where silence may have been preferable. The fact he was basically forced into recanting his previous support just demonstrates to me a man who is not well schooled in the seedier aspects of politics but I’m damn well convinced the vicious attacks upon him are co-ordinated by the media and the far right. Which brings me to the demonstrations organised by the Jewish Board of Deputies attended by the hopeless opportunist David Lammy MP even as those ‘Deputies’ declared a potential Corbyn Labour government somehow spelled doom for Britain’s Jews (and which I perceive probably spells the beginning of the end of Lammy’s political career- and should). Apart from the always infuriating inference that said Deputies somehow speak for all Jews ( most certainly not me) such outbursts like this just re-inforce the disgusting manner in which they remained mute, when the media indulged in the most disgraceful coordinated and oh-so-subtle anti-Semitic attacks upon the last Labour leader Ed Miliband. Their silence spoke volumes.

  3. You make it very hard to understand the identities. Not least by saying “Crowley is obviously the bald character”, when 4 of the 6 are bald. I presume you identify them as follows: Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan, Crowley, Carnegie and Warburg.

    As for “anti-Semitic cartoons”; you can recall what you like, but if Jew and gentile are being treated equally alike then these caricatures do not show either prejudice or discrimination against anyone. You take no account of this and thus appear to be saying that an artist can legitimately lampoon white Anglos but not Jews. How come?

    You also resort to an outright libel when you speak of “his belief that the world is controlled by an elite conspiracy of Jews and Freemasons”. In fact it is obvious throughout that the criticisms are irrespective of whether or not his subject is a Jew. If this makes him an anti-Semite, then by the same token he must also a misandrist.

    It is this sort of misquote and guilt by association which has been the foundation of the nefarious and malicious campaign against the Labour Party. Thus it is ironic that you should declare that ” it is difficult to sympathise with his complaint that he is the victim of a “smear campaign”” when you yourself are one of the perpetrators.

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