A Maoist squat in London

balakrishnan
Aravindan Balakrishnan

In December, a court in London convicted a man named Aravindan Balakrishnan of six counts of indecent assault, four counts of rape, two counts of bodily harm, and one count of cruelty to a child under 16. The child was his daughter, Katy Morgan-Davies, formerly known as Rosie Davies, who by the time of Balakrishnan’s conviction was over thirty years old. Until being rescued by police in 2013, she had spent her entire life as part of a cult of brainwashed, browbeaten men and women in a commune in Brixton, south London.

A Maoist commune.

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The onetime site of the “institute”

Balakrishnan was originally from Singapore. He came to London in 1963 and was converted to left-wing extremism at the London School of Economics. (Not a surprising scenario, by the way.) In 1970, he founded a Maoist group called the Workers Institute Marxism Leninism Mao Zedong Thought – Brixton Institute for short – which, headquarted in a squat, ran a bookstore and a “meeting place.” While active in the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist), he began to establish his own group of followers within the Party, whom he persuaded to obey his command and subscribe to his version of Maoist dogma – including his conviction that Britain would soon be “liberated” by Chinese Communists.

Aravindan Balakrishnan
Balakrishnan on a London street

So disruptive was he of the English Communist Party’s order and canons that in 1974 the Party’s Central Committee issued a statement saying that “after 7 years of struggle to unite together in order to strengthen the proletarian revolutionary movement,” it was suspending “Balakrishnan and his clique” from Party membership, because Balakrishnan had “tried to conspire to build a clique of people around ‘his line’ and establish his centre whilst still claiming to be in the Party, continuously saying one thing to the Party comrades and preaching and practising another to younger comrades and comrades under his ‘discipline.’”

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The house in which the commune was located

Balakrishnan established the commune, whose official name was the Mao Zedong Memorial Centre, on the very day, September 9, 1976, when his “beloved Chairman Mao passed away.” The institute was shuttered (or went underground) after a police raid and mass arrests in 1978 –following which both Balakrishnan and his wife served prison sentences for assaulting an officer – but the commune lived on. Residing there with the Balakrishnans were several of his adherents, most of them women and many of them foreign students who “refused to recognise the legitimacy of the state and maintained a hostile attitude towards the establishment and towards the rest of the far-left in Britain at that time.”

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Dudley Heslop, a former member of the cult, with a scrapbook of its bulletins

Balakrishnan – who taught his disciples that Mao was a god and convinced them that he himself was one, too –allowed them to read only a small selection of leftist works, encouraged them to spy on one another, beat them, sexually assaulted them, and claimed to wield an invisible spiritual force named “Jackie” through which he could read their minds. Reportedly, he even “convinced his followers that he controlled the sun, moon and wind” and that any disobedience on their part would give rise to natural disasters. His goal, according to testimony given at his trial by a former cult member, was to create “a cadre of women soldiers who could withstand the sugar-coated bullets of bourgeois culture.” Some of his women eventually became disenchanted and left the commune; others who wanted to leave were actively prevented from doing so.

And what about Katy? We’ll get to her tomorrow.

One thought on “A Maoist squat in London

  1. Varmt var det igÃ¥r, och sol är det redan, nu idag :)Hoppas du fÃ¥r del av solen du med. Tänk om jag kunde komma med en korg full med sol Ã¥t dig 😉 Lite tröst för dumma biajHoslre…..ka en fin dagAnn-Louisekram

    Like

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