Property speculators are carving up our cities

By Daniel Margrain

Wed take money off the devil—meet the property speculators carving up your city

In a previous article, I outlined how the creation of a major asset bubble as exemplified by the rising cost of housing, is a deliberate government policy geared towards satisfying the asset diversification needs of the super rich rather than meeting the human need for homes for ordinary people to live in. In other words, the key motivating factor determining the Conservative governments housing policy, is not to end the housing crisis, but to bolster the investment opportunities of the rich which will make it worse.

To this end, the government under former PM David Cameron, almost nine months ago, announced its decision to demolish what remains of council homes and replace them with private housing. The Housing and Planning Bill, which became law in May, is forcing families living in social housing and earning £30,000-£40,000 in London to pay rents nearly as high as those in the private sector. It is also compelling local authorities to sell ‘high value’ housing, either by transferring public housing into private hands or giving the land it sits on to property developers. It is this combination of factors that explains the exponential growth in the construction of new tower blocks throughout London and other major cities.

Mipim UK Property Speculators Convention

A Tory housing policy focused on encouraging safe conditions for foreign investment funds and financial safe havens for billionaires, was the context for the Mipim UK Property Speculators Convention at Kensington Olympia in west London (19-21 October). Sir Edward Lister, chair of the government’s Homes and Communities Agency, explained “We’re involved in bringing parties together, marketing areas to attract the right kind of people to them…We brand local authorities, industries and areas to make them attractive to investors.”

“One of the things that attracts people to the UK is the relative stability,” said John Slade, CEO of BNP Paribas Real Estate in the UK. “But popularity is more important to politicians than the future of our businesses.” “The government remains absolutely committed to ensure that the UK remains one of the most open places for investment,” he said. But investment opportunities are undermined following any attempts by the government to increase supply.

Increasing supply would not only have a detrimental impact as far as large investors are concerned, but will also adversely affect the property investment portfolios of politicians. The 126 MPs who declared that they receive rental income from property, represent over 19 per cent of the house, the vast majority of whom are Conservatives. It’s in the joint interests of MPs and major property developers who lobby on their behalf to continue to push the market further into housing and to loosen planning controls.

 Social cleansing & privatization of space

The impact of the lack of availability of affordable housing (combined with the bedroom tax) is twofold: It results in the effective social cleansing from major cities of the poor and those on middle incomes, and alters former public spaces into sanitized privatized ones. This process not only reduces the demographic mix of locales, but it also undermines social networks and local economies upon which local businesses depend for their livelihoods.

More broadly, the hollowing out of large parts of cities changes our perceptions of what constitutes private and public spaces and for what use the state intends to put them to. The February 13 edition of the Guardian reported on a London rally that protested against the corporate takeover of public streets and squares. Protesters cited London’s Canary Wharf, Olympic Park and the Broadgate development in the City as public places now governed by the rules of the corporations that own them.

The main issues that underpinned the London protests relate to how economic conditions are re-redefining many urban spaces as cultural centres of production. This is leading not to diversification but rather to a uniformity in which the high street, airport, shopping mall, museum and art gallery are increasingly speaking corporate culture rather than aesthetic pleasure.

Privatized public zones are appearing throughout Britain. They include Birmingham’s Brindley place, a significant canal-side development, and Princesshay in Exeter, described as a “shopping destination featuring over 60 shops set in a series of interconnecting open streets and squares”. Intrinsic to the privatization agenda is the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). Introduced by the coalition government, the PSPO is another form of social cleansing that is intended to criminalize those sleeping rough and to drive them from towns and city centres.

In other words, the formal ordering and disciplining of the poorest within urban spaces has had the affect of pushing them to the periphery, out of sight and out of mind of urban powers for whom responsibility is increasingly disavowed. In this way, spaces are shaped by neoliberal economic forces which alter the landscapes of cities and re-package them under the banner ‘urban renaissance’.

Landscapes of power

Begun under New Labour, the ideology that underpins urban renaissance reflects a historical contradiction between planning in terms of social need and the process of competitive accumulation which is expressed in living and working urban spaces. This contradiction can be traced back to the 1947 Town and Planning Act. Although urban planners have often been cast in an heroic role protecting the public from shoddy contractors and the short-term drive for profit by speculators, town planning has been skewed historically by deeply undemocratic practices.

Under Theresa May’s government these undemocratic practices are manifested in the kind of supply-side strategies for urban investment outlined above. Examples are regeneration programmes predicated on place promotion and development with culture, heritage and conspicuous consumption in mind. This vision, in other words, is paradoxically linked to the ideology of progress as seen through the visual lens of economic power.

The expression of this power can be seen in terms of the redevelopment of waterside areas such as London’s Docklands. Although a regenerated or ‘cleaned up’ Docklands maintains some of the visual references of its past, it nevertheless is a space that has lost almost all the social and political symbolism it once carried. It is a view of the past that has lost all power to express what that past meant.

In effect, developers in these circumstances remove all ‘unsuitable’ symbols of the past within the urban landscape and replace them with superficial inauthentic post-industrial elements. They succeed in this ‘Truman Show’ totalitarian image-making by projecting the collective desires of the powerless into a corporate landscape of power.

Back at the convention

Meanwhile, back at the speculators convention at Olympia, Sir Edward Lister, chair of the government’s Homes and Communities Agency, who also happens to consult for real estate giant CBRE, claimed that last year was the best year for house building on record, yet last year under 40,000 new build registrations in the public and affordable sector were made. In the immediate post-war years (1945 to 1951) some 1.2 million new houses were built. In 1968 a record 425,000 homes were built, over 180,000 of which were local authority homes.

Mass council house building is the most effective way to house people but this undermines the profits of private firms. One way they do this is by holding onto land rather than developing it, so that prices are pushed upwards. As prices within the private rental market soar, more firms are trying to get their hands on the profits generated. According to 2015 research from Paragon PLC, the private rented sector (PRS) “is the second largest housing tenure, accounting for one-in-five homes in England alone, overtaking the social rented sector for the first time since the 1960s. This represents a significant increase in the number of households living in private rented homes.” The report added, the PRS has “more than doubled since 2001 and is now the second largest housing tenure…PRS is now home to 4.9 million households.”

Private – good, public – bad 

The increase in private rented dwellings is largely the result of the fact that council housing has been gutted and the majority of people can’t afford to buy their own homes. But investors think that the change in numbers is down to the market reflecting what people want. Tory policy for housing focuses on getting people to buy houses. But this ideological drive is out of sync with the needs of capital. Investors need a political climate in which renting is encouraged. However, the Tories are ideologically tied to a house buying culture. This isn’t the case in countries such as Holland or Germany where government investment in social housing for rent is the norm.

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government annual report into social housing selloffs, of the 21,992 dwellings sold over the past year in the UK, 12,557 were sold by local authorities and 9,435 by housing associations. The local authorities figure is a 1 per cent increase on last year. The housing association figure represents an 18 per cent rise. Government funds for housing associations are drying up. In order to make money these associations are effectively forced to sell their properties to the private sector. The profits gained are then reinvested into their businesses reducing the overall availability of affordable housing stock.

Essentially, housing associations behave like private companies. This process is being accelerated as a result of the Housing and Planning Act which forces local authorities to sell off council housing. The proceeds are then used to encourage housing associations to extend Right to Buy which will reduce the amount of affordable housing stock even further. As long as the Tories remain in power, the likelihood local communities will remain stable and socioeconomically diverse in the not too distant future is remote.



‘I, Daniel Blake’: A tale of Dickensian cruelty in Tory Britain

By Daniel Margrain

The mismanagement of the UK economy by both the New Labour and Tory governments’ that followed the global crash of 2008 led to the poorest and weakest in society disproportionately picking up the pieces by way of savage cuts and austerity resulting from this incompetency. This is the context in which British film director Ken Loach denounced what he described as the UK governments “conscious cruelty” towards the poor following the screening of his latest film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’ at the Cannes Film Festival five months ago. Loach’s questioning of the narrative which suggests that the poor are to blame for an economic predicament beyond their control rather than the vagaries of the capitalist system, is a notion that is widely accepted within the hierarchy of government.

Loach’s film, whose red carpet London premier two days ago (October 18) was attended by Jeremy Corbyn, is story about a skilled working class man who, after having suffered a heart attack, is at the end of his tether as a result of his attempts to navigate an uncaring, remote and labyrinthine ‘work capability assessment’ process integral to the UK benefit system. The scenario is one in which many of us would have experienced directly or known of friends or family who have/are going through a similar nightmare.

Loach’s denunciation of the Tory governments approach to welfare, is predicated on its unnecessary commitment to a supply-side economic strategy centered on ideology rather than pragmatism. Indeed, given the governments awareness of the causal link between their anachronistic work capability assessment programme and suicide rates, the hatred they have towards the poor can be said to be pathological.

Cheque book euthanasia

The governments strategy of ‘cheque book euthanasia’  is, in principle, similar to the way Nazi Germany, over time, created – through a strategy of divide and rule – a climate in which the marginalization and the dehumanization of targeted minorities were blamed for the ills of society. In Germany it was the Jews who bore the brunt of this treatment as the Nazi state methodically marked them out for destruction, first by innuendo, next by legal sanction and finally by the direct action of rounding them up and exterminating them.

Other groups including gypsies, communists, homosexuals and those with permanent disabilities were labeled as being ‘undesirables’, a drain on society and likewise a target for elimination. The process by which the Final Solution was implemented was as gradual as it was deliberate. By cultivating the notion that the unemployed and disabled are somehow ‘undeserving’ is to implant within the wider public consciousness the notion that some human beings are less worthy than others, are not a legitimate part of society and are therefore ‘sub-human’.

I’m not suggesting a direct comparison between Nazi Germany and the contemporary British state under the Tories currently exists. I am, however, arguing that there are disturbing parallels and similar types of trends that blinded Germans to the potential of Adolf Hitler which can be found within our society today. What is certain, is that a universal social security system that has at its basis the proposals set out in the Beveridge Report (1942), has been in steady retreat from the mid 1970s with a greater emphasis on means-testing and exclusion. The Conservative government under David Cameron, and now Theresa May, seem to be taking this ethos several stages further with their Dickensian ‘back to the future’ policy not experienced since the Poor Law of the 19th century and before.

Poor Law

The Poor Law was first established in Elizabethan times as the means of providing relief from local funds for those unable to provide for themselves. In the 19th century it became a national system of state support under which those who could prove they were destitute would receive public assistance on the condition that this assistance included a direct incentive to seek alternative self-support. It was provided on a more punitive (‘less eligible’) basis than the conditions of those in the worst paid employment. This early form of social security often took the form of the harsh conditions of the state institution known as the workhouse. The intention was to make the conditions in the workhouse so harsh that the ‘able-bodied’ unemployed would do virtually anything rather than apply for relief.

The only objective difference between then and the present is there is currently no workhouse in existence. However, there is no logical reason to think that the political establishment will not consider the re-introduction of a variation of the workhouse in the foreseeable future. History has shown that large swaths of the middle classes have been only too willing to succumb to the divide and rule strategies of the ruling elites by pointing their fingers at those less fortunate than themselves as long as they are not deemed to be directly affected by such strategies.

The middle classes of the mid-19th century, for example, had been willing to tolerate the poor living in overcrowded squalor and dying of disease or hunger. But by the late 19th century they understood how diseases could spread from poor to rich neighbourhoods and so pushed for the building of sewage systems, the clearing of overcrowded city centres, the supply of clean water and the provision of gas to light streets and heat homes. Then, as now, the ruling class attitude towards the poor was, at best, indifferent.

Women and children provided the cheapest and most adaptable labour for the spinning mills, and they were crammed in with no thought for the effect on their health or on the care of younger children. If capital accumulation necessitated the destruction of the working class family, then so be it! By the 1850s, however, the more far-sighted capitalists began to fear that future reserves of labour power were being exhausted. In Britain in 1871, the Poor Law inspectors reported:

“It is well established that no town-bred boys of the poorer classes, especially those reared in London, ever attains…four feet ten and a half inches’ in height or a chest of 29 inches’ at the age of 15. A stunted growth is characteristic of the race.”

The Mansion House Committee of 1893 drew the conclusion that “the obvious remedy…is to improve the stamina, physical and moral, of the London working class.”

Robert Malthus

A succession of laws restricted the hours which children could work, and banned the employment of women in industries that might damage their chances of successful pregnancy. In terms of the unemployed, sick and disabled, the ruling and middle classes of the Victorian era argued that they were justified in treating these groups in the manner that they did because they perceived them as a ‘drain on society’ – an argument that was reinforced by the pseudo-scientific writings of the 18th century Anglican clergyman, Robert Malthus.

According to Malthus, population growth will inevitably lead to resource depletion because, he claimed, there is a tendency for the mass of the population to reproduce at a greater rate than the ability of existing populations to produce food under conditions where living standards exceed the bare level of subsistence. It is little wonder that Malthus’s theory of population was invoked by 19th century capitalists and their apologists in order to justify paying workers their bare subsistence and no more. This myth continues to shape the decision-making processes of numerous contemporary social policy-makers and, moreover, legitimized, in part, the thinking that underpinned Hitler’s extermination policy.

Malthus’s theory also provides some insight as to why many people misguidedly believe that the world is over-populated and therefore that the “conscious cruelty” outlined by Ken Loach that continues to result in the deaths of the poor and weak, is deemed to be a price worth paying. Malthus’s theory, in other words, proffers the kind of justification for the attacks by the Tories, their apologists and supporters against some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It is the cruelty and pathological hatred of the disadvantaged by the Cameron and May governments depicted in I, Daniel Blake that won the film the prestigious Palm d’Or at Cannes.

Low-lying fruit

It is this kind of cruelty and pathological hatred of the working class by the ruling class that has continued to resonate throughout the centuries and which Loach has managed to capture so movingly on film. During the press conference at Cannes, Loach related the themes in I, Daniel Blake to a quotation by Bertolt Brecht – ”and I always thought the simplest of words must suffice. When I say what things are like, it will break the hearts of all”.

Loach said that what he tried to do in the film “was to say what things are like, because it not only breaks your heart, but it should make you angry… He continued, “In the places where…[the governments ‘work capability’ assessments] take place, some people who work there have been given instructions on how to deal with potential suicides, so they know this is going on… It is deeply shocking that this is happening at the heart of our world… the heart of it is a shocking, shocking policy.”

Script writer, Paul Laverty said:

“The people who are disabled, have suffered six times more from the cuts than anyone else, and there was a remarkable phrase by one of the civil servants we heard who talked about the cuts, who said “low-lying fruit”, in other words the easy targets. So this story could have been much harsher, it could have been somebody with mental health difficulties… we could have told a story from someone who is much more vulnerable, much more heartbreaking.”

Laverty continued:

“I think it’s very important to remember too the systematic nature of it….talking to whistle blowers, people who worked inside the Department of Work and Pensions… there are several people we met, and they spoke to us anonymously…They said they were humiliated how they were forced to treat the public. So there is nothing accidental about it, and it is affecting a huge section of the population.”

The commercial and critical success of I, Daniel Blake is a testament to the growing awareness of the repugnant way in which the political establishment in Britain treat many of their citizens. Whether the film will be as influential in affecting positive social change as one of Loach’s earliest films, Cathy Come Home, remains to be seen. We can only hope it does.


What the Jackie Walker debacle is really all about

By Daniel Margrain

In an excellent piece published by the Electronic Intifada (April 28, 2016), journalist Asa Winstanley shows how media outlets such as the Telegraph, Huffington Post and the Jewish Chronicle have been complicit in the systematic attempt to disorientate Labour Party members and supporters by either printing misleading misinformation or reproducing unsubstantiated accusations and smears against individuals all of which have contributed to a false media narrative regarding alleged antisemitism within the party.

Also in the piece, Winstanley outlines the links between right-wing, anti-Corbyn Labour and the pro- Israel lobby within the party. He meticulously shows how this lobby manufactured an ‘antisemitism crisis’, pinpointing the individuals involved, the tactics and dirty tricks used and the connections to individuals whose ties lead to pro-Israel groups both in London and Israel. Among the individuals Winstanley highlights are David Klemperer who opposed Corbyn’s run for the labour leadership (but has since been kicked out of the party), and former Israel lobby intern, Alex Chalmers.

Jeremy Newmark & the Jewish Labour Movement

Arguably the most significant and influential figure behind the false claims of antisemitism that Winstanley cited in his piece, is former chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), Jeremy Newmark. It was while in charge of the JLC that Newmark gave evidence at a 2013 Employment Tribunal case alleging antisemitic behaviour by the University and College Union brought by one of its members. The case was dismissed by the judge in its entirety.

Newmark is currently chairperson of the Labour party-affiliated, Jewish Labour Movement (JLM). The JLM is also affiliated to the Israeli Labor Party and the World Zionist Organization. According to the UN, the latter pumps millions into building in the occupied West Bank through its settlement division. Clearly Newmark’s mission in rooting out ‘left antisemitism’ cannot be disentangled from his wider role as sympathizer and propagandist for the Zionist-Israel cause. Winstanley contends that no mainstream journalists “have disclosed Newmark’s long-standing role in the Israel lobby, or his record of lying about antisemitism.”


One particularly pernicious and unfounded antisemitism accusation during the last few weeks has involved long-standing, and until recently, reinstated Labour party member, Jackie Walker, who as the result of comments made at a private antisemitism training session on September 26, was removed from her role as Vice-Chair of Momentum prompting the Labour Party hierarchy to renew her suspension from the party.

Walker stands accused of four things: a) trivializing Holocaust Memorial Day, b) claiming that the threats of attacks on Jewish schools had been exaggerated, c) claiming that she saw no need for definitions of antisemitism and d) commenting on the Jewish role in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Although Walker was factually incorrect about the first point by claiming HMD only commemorated the Jewish Holocaust, it’s nevertheless true that the commemoration is one in which the Jewish narrative dominates. “My aim”, Walker said, “was to argue that there are no hierarchies of genocide; there is no way to quantify or qualitatively describe the indescribable, the indescribably inhumane acts that are part of our histories”.

In relation to the second point, it would appear – by recourse to the relatively small incidences of antisemitic attacks (see below) – that threats of attacks on Jewish schools have been exaggerated, are not unfounded. In terms of the third point, what Walker said was “I still haven’t heard a definition of antisemitism that I can work with”.The context of Walker’s intervention is important: A few minutes before a (Jewish) attendee at the session asked the training session tutor, Mike Katz, of the Jewish Labour Movement, “We don’t know what you’re working from. Do you think you can give us what your definition of AS is?”

Katz replied, “The standard definition of antisemitism is actually the European Union Monitoring Centre….” at which point several other members objected to the use of the EUMC definition claiming it had no status and was deeply flawed. Walker was objecting to a deeply flawed ‘new antisemitism’ or even ‘antisemitic anti-zionism’ definition that is so wide in scope as to encompass political criticisms of Israel.

The fourth reason why Zionists targeted Jackie Walker was because she had the temerity to admit that some of her Jewish ancestors were involved in the sugar and slave trade in the Caribbean and West Indies:

Her position was misrepresented in the Zionist Jewish Chronicle who ran with the sensationalist headlineLabour suspends Momentum supporter who claimed Jews caused ‘an African holocaust’.

On the basis of this egregious lie, the campaign against Jackie Walker, a dedicated and long standing anti-racist activist, began.

Walker says, “My claim, as opposed to those made for me by the Jewish Chronicle, has never been that Jews played a disproportionate role in the Atlantic Slave Trade, merely that, as historians such as Arnold Wiznitzer noted, at a certain economic point, in specific regions where my ancestors lived, Jews played a dominant role “as financiers of the sugar industry, as brokers and exporters of sugar, and as suppliers of Negro slaves on credit, accepting payment of capital and interest in sugar.”

Zionist Labour Movement? 

It’s clear that the treatment meted out to Walker by the the JLM, is indicative of a movement that does not represents Jews, rather, it represents Zionists. The JLM, in other words, is a misnomer. It should be called the Zionist Labour Movement. Jackie Walker, although Jewish, is not a Zionist and is therefore not welcome in the organisation. Non-Jewish Zionists are. The organisation’s own website states:

“The Jewish Labour Movement is also affiliated to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation of the UK, and organise within the World Zionist Organisation… Our objects: To maintain and promote Labour or Socialist Zionism as the movement for self-determination of the Jewish people within the state of Israel.”

Mike Sivier states, correctly:

“This is not about anti-Semitism; it is about removing a person who does not support Zionism from a position of influence.”

Antisemitic incidences

The attacks on Walker (as well as many others in which similar accusations of antisemitism have been invoked), appear to be emblematic of a much bigger problem that goes to the heart of UK-Israel relations. On the surface, the implication appears to be that antisemitism is more prevalent within the Labour Party compared with other political parties in Britain. However, the notion that incidences of antisemitism are more widespread in a party which historically has been at the forefront of anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigns, does not stand up to scrutiny.

How about the claim that antisemitism is more prevalent compared to other forms of racism in British society? Again, the answer is a negative. A 2015 survey by Pew for example, found that seven percent of the UK public held “unfavourable” views of Jews. By contrast, about a fifth held negative views of Muslims and almost two-fifths viewed Roma people unfavourably.

In the aftermath of the massacres in Gaza in 2014, the London Metropolitan police recorded 358 anti-Semitic offences. Two hundred and seventy three of these were online, 36 involved criminal damage and 38 constituted “harassment”. Eleven cases of assault were recorded in which four resulted in personal injury. One hundred and eighty thousand offences in these categories were recorded within the wider population throughout Metropolitan London. In other words, attacks against Jews in 2014 against a backdrop in which Gaza was being pulverized, made up only one in 500 of the total, while they made up around one in 86 of the population of London as a whole.

Community Security Trust (CST) figures for the first six months of this year show a rise of 15 per cent above those from the previous year. But this is from an extremely low base. The actual number of such incidents recorded for the first half of 2016 was 557. And that figure is still below that for 2014 when the Israeli assault on Gaza occurred. So claims that there has been a ‘surge’ in antisemitic incidences in recent years are false and misleading.

Moral panic

In response to a moral panic about ‘left antisemitism’ seemingly expanding without limit, a loosely-knit group of Jewish Labour Party supporters called Free Speech on Israel coalesced for an inaugural gathering in April. The fifteen-member group, which included Emeritus Professor of Operational Research at the London School of Economics, Jonathan Rosenhead, found that over their lifetimes they could muster only a handful of antisemitic experiences between them. And, crucially, although in aggregate they had hundreds of years of Labour Party membership, not a single one of them had ever experienced an incident of antisemitism in the party.

These experiences tally with grass roots activists as exemplified by the findings of a recent UK documentary. Despite filming undercover for six months at political meetings in an attempt to discredit Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary programme-makers could not find a single incidence of antisemitism among party activists. Nevertheless on the BBC Radio 4s Moral Maze programme, former representative of the Zionist Federation, Jonathan Sacerdoti – whose current job title is Director of Communications for the Campaign Against Antisemitism –  claimed that  Jews are being driven “in fear of their lives from Britain to Israel.”


With this kind of highly exaggerated hyperbole, Sacerdoti appears to be confusing Britain’s multicultural, secular and pluralistic liberal democracy with the inherently racist, Zionist entity headed by a Prime Minister who sees himself as the leader of the whole of the Jewish world.  Clearly, it hadn’t occurred to either Sacerdoti or Netanyahu that British Jews are British, just like Black, Asian or other British people. They are not Israeli, and so Zionists can make no legitimate claim to lead or control the Jewish diaspora. To suggest otherwise is to replicate the false racist and sectarian-based meme that Zionists and Jews are synonymous, and therefore to attack Israel is “antisemitism”.

Netanyahu outwardly expressed this Jewish-Zionist conflated racism when he attempted to shift the blame for the Holocaust from Hitler on to the Grand Mufti. From the Zionist perspective, this makes sense given that Muslims are the joint enemy of both the European far-right and their Zionist allies.

The politics of ‘antisemitism’

The notion that British cities are rife with antisemitism, in which boycotts of Israel are regarded as emblematic, is a rationalization that serves a political purpose. Currently, the non-Jewish population of Israel stands at about a quarter of the total and the proportion is growing. The Zionists need to halt the demographic shift and the way to do that is to invent, provoke or exaggerate, in the UK and elsewhere, instances of the “new antisemitism.”

Zionism is threatened from within, so Israel needs a new influx of Jews in order for the Jewish state to survive in its current form. Indeed, antisemitism is the flesh and blood that Zionism and all related industries and institutions connected to it feed off in order for them to be able to continue justifying both their and Israel’s existence. The implied racism inherent in the notion that there is a correlation between Zionism and Judaism, is offensive to the silent majority of Jews who want nothing to do with the supremacist, racist state.

The UK government is losing the moral high ground by seeking to quash anti-Israel boycotts and prevent legitimate political activism more generally. Ultimately, it has to be a legitimate course of action in a democracy for a group of people to be able to pass a resolution condemning a country because they are opposed to its political values. The cynical attempts of right-wing Zionist elements within the hierarchy of the Labour Party to drive a wedge between traditionalists and Blairites, using the specter of antisemitism as their ideological weapon, is an obvious smokescreen as a basis in which to discredit all legitimate support for the Palestinians by influential or prominent figures both inside and outside the Labour Party. The deliberate misrepresentation of the views of Craig Murray by Zionists at the forefront of the anti-Corbyn campaign, is an example of this.

Israel lobby & the CHAC report

The appointment of the ultra-Zionist Mark Regev to the role of Israeli ambassador to the UK, arguably set in motion the failed Corbyn coup attempt in which the openly hostile anti-Corbyn figure John Mann, initially operated as the Zionists principal henchman. It was therefore unsurprising that Mann and the JLM, among others, praised the Commons Home Affairs Committee (CHAC) report ostensibly into antisemitism published a few days ago which all reasonable observers perceive as nothing other than a biased political weapon with which to attack Corbyn’s leadership.

In a Facebook post, Jeremy Corbyn commented on the report:

“Although the Committee heard evidence that 75 per cent of antisemitic incidents come from far right sources, and the report states there is no reliable evidence to suggest antisemitism is greater in Labour than other parties, much of the report focuses on the Labour Party.”

“The Committee heard evidence from too narrow a pool of opinion, and its then-chair rejected both Chakrabarti’s and the Jewish Labour Movement’s requests to appear and give evidence before it. Not a single woman was called to give oral evidence in public, and the report violates natural justice by criticising individuals without giving them a right to be heard.”

“The report unfairly criticises Shami Chakrabarti for not being sufficiently independent. This fails to acknowledge public statements that the offer to appoint Chakrabarti to the House of Lords came after completion of her report, and was based on her extensive legal and campaigning experience.

“Commissioning Chakrabarti was an unprecedented step for a political party, demonstrating Labour’s commitment to fight against antisemitism.”

The pro-Israel lobby, who have a significant financial stake in the Labour Party and whose influence spreads throughout the British political establishment more generally, clearly see Pro-Palestinian Corbyn as an anathema to their wider interests viz a viz Israel. Certainly the Hasbara propaganda web site, UK Media Watch, regard the witch-hunt against Corbyn, as well as the attempts by his detractors to disorientate the membership, as ‘a job well done’.


Politically, the purpose of the misuse of antisemitism by Zionists is to quash all legitimate criticisms of Israel, its oppression of the Palestinian people and, by extension, Muslim/Arab nationalist aspirations more generally. The attacks on Jackie Walker and others are political, a determined effort by the Israel lobby to make Britain’s Labour Party safe for Israel and Zionism. Ultimately, the contrived ‘antisemitism crisis’ within the party is outflanked by the far greater problems it has with modern day Zionist aspirations which are never addressed. Israel’s ‘friends’ within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), for example, continue to remain silent about the illegal ongoing dispossession of Palestinians from their land and the historical Zionist programme of ethnic cleansing of which Plan Dalet, the Koenig PlanOperation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge are historical manifestations.

Ultimately, the real target of the Zionists is not Jackie Walker, but the prospect of a Corbyn-led UK Labour Government, which the Zionists view as a very real threat to their Eretz (Greater) Yisrael project of a territory stretching from the River Nile to the River Euphrates.

Real Truman Show: the corporate branded vision of space

By Daniel Margrain

The Thames in Southwark with City Hall, where campaigners gathered to protest against privatisation of public spaces in London and throughout the UK.


The 1998 film, The Truman Show, directed by Peter Weir, presents a character, Truman Burbank, who unknowingly stars in a 30-year soap opera/reality show about his own life, under a giant dome whose boundaries are hidden from him. The show is broadcast to a global audience of billions.

The fake town Truman lives in, Seahaven, is populated by a massive number of actors playing real people. Seahaven’s creator, director, executive producer, and ‘God’, Christof, is convinced that the deception is benign, because Truman’s life in the synthetic town is far happier than anything he could find in the real world.

Truman has no idea he is living inside a television studio, surrounded by actors. Nor does he know that some 5,000 cameras placed around the town of Seahaven record his life for the TV audience, 24 hours a day non-stop without commercial interruption. The only way that Christof can make money is through product placements which are woven, at times clumsily, into dialogue and scenes that Truman is oblivious to.

As the film progresses, Truman begins to suspect that his entire life is part of an elaborate set. It’s at this point that the shows audience begin to root for him in his quest to uncover his fake existence and to escape from the confines of his virtual reality prison. The viewing audience are able to relate to Truman’s plight because they recognize that they too are trapped by similar forces that they need to be rescued from.

The film works as a satire because the community in which Truman lives his fake existence is very much tied into a corporate dominated world in which the notion of illusion and reality are often blurred. ‘Product placement’ and testimonials for this emerging system of entertainment-marketing capitalism are being seamlessly woven into our lives. Truman’s quest for freedom can be interpreted as the aspiration for authenticity and meaning within a world in which the increasing commodification of all things is a feature of modern life. Was Weir on to something? Is the world in which Truman inhabits more than just a piece of science fiction allegory?

Every institution provides the people who are members of it with a social role to occupy – that’s as true to the role played by say, the church, as it is to the corporation whose goal it is to maximize profit and market share. The economic system of capitalism is predicated on the concept of alienation whereby individuals are totally disassociated from both the products of their labour and from one another. Just like the God figure, Christof, the fictional creator of Seahaven, public relations and advertising industries facilitate the process of disassociation by molding people from a very early age into a desired pattern.

To achieve this, corporations don’t necessarily advertise products, but advertise a way of life and a narrative of who we are as people. The aim is to persuade us that the corporation is virtuous, responsible for the good life and the belief that the future can only be better than the present; that modernity itself means human improvement. However, the contention that “progress is measured by the speed at which we destroy the conditions that sustain life”, puts the lie to such claims. Reinforcing this ideology of progress is the notion that the successful corporations of the future will increasingly focus on branding as their form of production.

Many corporations have already recreated their branded visions as three dimensional representations of real life. A company like Disney, for example, have taken this logic to the next level by building a “town” in the image of their brand – Celebration Florida, which it describes as a unincorporated community of almost 8,000 people, situated on 11 square miles of carefully engineered Floridian swamp.”

The brand image of Celebration Florida is a themed all-American family friendly environment set within a bygone era. Family orientated films are a logical extension of this idea. According to Celebration Florida spokesperson, Andrea Finger, the Disney brand “speaks of reassurance, tradition and quality. And you can see that in this community that we’ve built.”

The Celebration Florida town is essentially an all-encompassing privatized branded cocoon – the real life Seahaven of the Truman Show. Given that the relations mediated between human beings appear to be increasingly intrinsic to the commercial world, could the Utopian Celebration Florida model become a commonplace vision elsewhere? Moreover, can civilization survive on this narrow definition of how humans interact with one another?

The real-life experiences many of us engage in on a day-to-day basis, exemplified by atomized living and the increasing engagement with virtual reality and robotics, is arguably closer to the allegorical fantasy of the Truman Show than many of us are perhaps prepared to admit. Just as Christof wove product placements into dialogue and scenes as part of Truman’s constructed reality, the same processes as part of the marketing tools available to capitalist consumerism are being seamlessly woven into our lives. Jonathan Ressler CEO of Big Fat Inc. concedes that “real life product placement is just that – placing stuff in movies but the movie is actually your life.”

In other words, it’s already the case that people are being subliminally targeted with branding by undercover marketeers on a daily basis. Here’s Ressler elaborating of the themes outlined as seen in the documentary, The Corporation:

The Commodification of life implied by Ressler perpetuates the destructiveness of real social relations by reducing human resource to the same market discipline logic as everything else. There’s an interesting Truman site by a Ken Sanes who says the Truman Show tells us that “if we want to be free and have a chance at an authentic life, we will have to distance ourselves from the safety and comforts of our media-saturated culture and be willing to live in the world as it is”. This raises more questions than answers since it brings into sharp focus the contesting nature of authenticity; of identity and representation and what constitutes democratic urban space and its relation to forms of state power.

In cosmopolitan global cities like London and New York, this relationship highlights the umbilical cord that connects the interests of central government and Mayoralty to big business. The lack of availability of affordable housing in the former, for example, combined with the bedroom tax, is resulting in the effective social cleansing from the city of the poor and those on middle incomes. What determines the government’s housing policy is not the ending of the housing crisis but bolstering the investment opportunities of the rich which will make it worse.

This is what former Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement in January regarding the governments intention to demolish council homes and replace them with private housing was all about. This ethos is central to the proposed Housing and Planning Bill which will force families living in social housing and earning £30,000-£40,000 to pay rents nearly as high as those in the private sector.

It will also compel local authorities to sell ‘high value’ housing, either by transferring public housing into private hands or giving the land it sits on to property developers. What were once public spaces are increasingly being privatized and sold off to foreign investors. This undermines social networks and local economies upon which local businesses depend for their livelihoods.

More broadly, the hollowing out of large parts of not only London but other towns and cities in this way changes our perceptions of what constitutes private and public spaces and for what use the state intends to put them to. The February 13 edition of the Guardianreported on a London rally that protested against the corporate takeover of public streets and squares. Protesters cited London’s Canary Wharf, Olympic Park and the Broadgate development in the City as public places now governed by the rules of the corporations that own them.

The main issues that underpinned the London protests relate to how economic conditions are re-redefining many urban spaces as cultural centres of production. This is leading not to diversification but rather to a uniformity in which the high street, airport, shopping mall, museum and art gallery are increasingly speaking corporate culture rather than aesthetic pleasure.

Privatized public zones are appearing throughout Britain. They include Birmingham’s Brindley place, a significant canal-side development, and Princesshay in Exeter, described as a “shopping destination featuring over 60 shops set in a series of interconnecting open streets and squares”. Intrinsic to the privatization agenda is the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO).

Introduced by the coalition government, the PSPO is another form of social cleansing that is intended to criminalize those sleeping rough in an attempt to drive homeless people from towns and city centres. The formal ordering and disciplining of the poorest within urban spaces in this way, in other words, has had the affect of pushing the poor to the periphery, out of sight and out of mind of urban powers for whom responsibility is increasingly disavowed.

This process is not new. The 19th century architect Nash’s designs of Trafalgar Square, Regent’s Street, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus, for example, created a London that has “the air of a seat of government, and not of an immeasurable metropolis of ‘shopkeepers’ to use Napoleons expression.” This was achieved:

“by demarcating poorer and richer areas, in effect cutting off the rich from the sight and odours of the poor. Nash himself declared that he wished to create a line or barrier between the Streets and Squares occupied by the Nobility and Gentry and the narrow Streets and meaner houses occupied by mechanics and the trading part of the community.”

The governments latest attempts to cut off the rich from the poor through the implementation of the PSPO is, therefore, part of an historical continuum. Central to the enclosure of open fields and common land as part of a series of parliamentary Enclosure Acts in the early 17th century, is the notion that power relations are shaped by neoliberal economic forces which determine and shape elements from the landscape of cities and re-package them under the banner ‘urban renaissance’.

Begun under New Labour, the ideology that underpins urban renaissance reflects a historical contradiction between planning in terms of social need and the process of competitive accumulation which is expressed in living and working urban spaces. This contradiction can be traced back to the 1947 Town and Planning Act. Although urban planners have often been cast in an heroic role protecting the public from shoddy contractors and the short-term drive for profit by speculators, town planning has been skewed historically by deeply undemocratic practices.

The Conservative government under Theresa May is committed to an urban renaissance and renewal policy that is ideologically attached to neoliberalism manifested in supply-side strategies for urban investment. Examples are regeneration programmes predicated on place promotion and development with culture, heritage and conspicuous consumption in mind. The real life Celebration Florida model that literally could have been borrowed from the fictional Truman Show, represents the apex of this concept.

This heritage-based vision, in other words, is paradoxically linked to the ideology of progress as seen through the lens of power. This is best highlighted by Sharon Zukin who, in her book Landscapes of Power, quoted a Disneyland planner:

“We carefully program out all the negative, unwanted elements and program in the positive elements. Disney succeeded on the basis of this totalitarian image-making, projecting the collective desires of the powerless into a corporate landscape of power.”

The expression of economic power is displayed in other ways most notably in terms of the redevelopment of waterside areas. In London, for example, a ‘cleaned up’ Docklands, while maintaining some of the visual references of its past, has lost almost all the social and political symbolism it carried. It is a view of the past that has lost all power to express what that past meant. Is this kind of privatized and sanitized Disney- Truman Show-type environment the kind of society we ought to be moving towards?


Who are the White Helmets & what is their role in Syria?

By Daniel Margrain

In my previous article, I highlighted how a strategy of Western fomented sectarian violence in Syria – through media lies and fabrications – is being used to create divisions and political instability in the country, the objective of which is to justify ‘humanitarian intervention’ and eventual regime change. It would appear that one of the key propaganda tools being utilized by the Western powers in order to achieve this objective is through an ostensibly humanitarian organization called the White Helmets.

Also known as ‘Syria Civil Defence’, the White Helmets were founded and trained under the supervision of ex-British military mercenary, James LeMesurier in Turkey in 2013. LeMesurier also has connections to organizations like Blackwater who are infamous for being death squad outreach assassins. Ubiquitous in the mainstream medias coverage of the aftermath of bomb damage in Aleppo, have been the images of ‘volunteers’ of the White Helmets rescuing young children trapped in the rubble of buildings allegedly bombed by the Syrian government and its Russian ally forces.

Indeed, the group who have some 2,900 members and claim complete neutrality, are said to operate as first responder, search and rescue teams in areas outside of Syrian government control. They are portrayed in the Western media as selfless individuals who rush into the face of danger and feted as being saviours of humanity. Western journalists and human rights groups frequently cite unverified casualty figures and other uncorroborated claims from the White Helmets.

The assumption is they do so on the basis that the media take at face value the organization’s self-proclaimed assertions they are an unarmed, impartial and independent Non-Government Organization (NGO) whose sources of funding are not derived from any of the conflicting parties in Syria. The group have produced a slick website in which they push for a No Fly Zone (euphemism for regime change) in Syria. In addition, their public relations campaigns include what is purported to be a short documentary film – which in reality amounts to a self-promotional advertisment – that was recently shown at a prestigious invitation-only Chatham House event in London. These factors would appear to belie the groups impartial and independent status.

Indeed, further investigations reveal that the White Helmets are anything but impartial and independent. As Max Blumenthal points out, the group was founded in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Office of Transitional Initiatives, an explicitly political wing of the agency that has funded efforts at political subversion in Cuba and Venezuela. USAID is the White Helmets’ principal funder, committing at least $23 million to the group since 2013. This money was part of $339.6 million budgeted by USAID for “supporting activities that pursue a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria” – or establishing a parallel governing structure that could fill the power vacuum once Bashar Al-Assad was removed.

In addition, the White Helmets have received £22m from the UK rising to a probable £32m and £7m from Germany. Other substantial funds come from Holland and Japan. Conservative estimates suggest that some $100m dollars in total have been donated to the White Helmets (aka Syrian Civil Defence).

Real Syria Civil Defence

Sixty years prior to the formation of the White Helmets in Turkey, the real Syria Civil Defence Organization (SCDO) was established. Vanessa Beeley notes, this original Syria Civil Defence Organization works in both opposition and government held areas, unlike the White Helmets who operate solely in the former. The original ‘real’ SCDO is also recognized by the International Civil Defence Organization (ICDO) of which it was a founder member in 1972. Third, the ICDO is affiliated to the UN, WHO and the Red Cross among others. In other words, the SCDO is a fully certified and legitimate civil defence organization.  This is not the case with the White Helmets.

Photographs of the White Helmets on the ground would appear to point to their involvement in acts of terrorist violence that need explaining. Blogger, Robert Stuart, inquired, “What explanations can there be for the preponderance of highly disturbing images and videos of White Helmets such as those below?”


Stuart continues:

“Other instances depict uniformed White Helmets carrying weapons, attending the murder of a young man, giving the victory sign over a pile of dead Syrian soldiers and boasting about throwing the corpses of Syrian forces members “in the trash”.

So why, one may ask, are the tens of millions that fund a fake civil defence organization called the White Helmets not going to the SCDO who rescue people on a daily basis with no recognition from the Western media? Not only are they not gaining any external recognition, but not a single Western corporate media outlet has gone to visit the real SCDO to report on their activities in over five years of war.

Vanessa Beeley

One of the few people to have bucked this trend is British independent journalist, Vanessa Beeley who interviewed the group at their HQ in Damascus shortly before leaving the country last week. According to Beeley, the White Helmets are being used by the West to facilitate the eradication of the Syrian state institution, the real SCDO. Beeley says when the terrorists invaded in 2012 their aim was to usurp the real SCDO who presumably then went on to join forces with their newly formed White Helmet counterparts in Turkey at a later date.

Beeley goes on to say that crew members of the real SCDO in west Aleppo were threatened by the terrorists to help set up the White Helmets faction in Syria. The terrorists, under the guise of the White Helmets, proceeded to “steal SCDO ambulances as well as murdering real SCDO members and kidnapping others”, she said. Beeley continued, “These events were repeated throughout Syria.”

It’s clear then, that if Beeley’s account is to be believed, the White Helmets are at the very least a terrorist support group whose ultimate objective is the overthrow of the Assad government which ties in with the Wests regime change narrative. If, on the other hand, the Western government and corporate media meme that supports the claim that the group are volunteers, as opposed to terrorists or their facilitators is true, it begs the question as to where the estimated $100m donated to them has gone and what it is being used for?

Arms trade front

Concomitant to Beeley’s next assertion is where the answer to this apparent conundrum is likely to be found. Beeley claims that the White Helmets are “a front for the funding of the arms trade.” This claim would tend to augment her broader thesis given that these are the kinds of activities a terrorist group would benefit from. Given the White Helmets are principally a group allegedly trained in Turkey under the auspices of LeMesurier, and they arrive in Syria from that country in trucks, it would be reasonable to assume that their narrative of ‘humanitarianism’ provides a perfect foil for their activities and therefore acts as a conduit to the terrorist held areas through which weapons and equipment can be funneled.

With LeMesurier acting as the alleged kingpin in an operation that has its handle on at least tens of millions of dollars, it’s clear that the White Helmets are far from the kind of indigenous grass roots impartial humanitarian-based NGO depicted in the Western media. Rather, they are a huge organization more typical of a medium sized multinational company.

The public can expect that the media profile of the terrorist-enablers will be amplified exponentially in the coming weeks and months in view of the fact that the Syrian Arab Army and their allies are advancing through eastern Aleppo where they are “routing the US-NATO backed terrorists” that are occupying the area.

Since the 2012 invasion, 600,000 Syrian civilians have fled from eastern Aleppo to the western part of the city. According to the Aleppo Medical Association, around 200,000 currently remain in the terrorist-held east of the city. Approximately 25,000 of the 200,000 are terrorists and their families. The remaining 175,000 are effectively being held as human shields.

Exposing Western propaganda

The fact that 600,000 have escaped into government- controlled western Aleppo counters the US-UK media narrative that says Assad is targeting his own people. Why, in other words, would people under these circumstances go from ‘liberated’ eastern Aleppo into the realm of a ‘murderous tyrant’ in the west of the city? Ninety per cent of internally displaced people driven out of their towns and villages by terrorists – whether described as ‘rebels’, ‘moderates’ or the ‘opposition’ – have gone into government held areas for protection. Seven million Syrian civilians have fled to these areas.

There are three main hospitals in eastern Aleppo and all are occupied by the terrorists who are using the top floors of these hospitals as sniper towers. The Al-Quds hospital which according to mainstream media reports was destroyed in April has been ‘miraculously’ rebuilt in the last few months and is now once again being used as part of the propaganda offensive against the Assad government. The French media claimed the Assad government bombed two hospitals in Aleppo but used images from Gaza.

Meanwhile, according to independent journalist, Eva Bartlett, “Aleppo currently has over 4,160 registered doctors but the corporate media and even some social media sites reproduce propaganda reports that refer to ‘the last doctor in Aleppo'”. US Colonel Steve Warren said, “It’s primarily al-Nusra [Al-Qaida] who holds [eastern] Aleppo”. This would imply that the US wants to protect an area that its own government says is occupied and under siege by Al-Qaida terrorists. As Eva Bartlett puts it, in terms of the media, “there is no consistency, even in their lies.”

Censorship by omission

While the media has been amplifying the propaganda provided to them by the terrorist factions inside eastern Aleppo, as exemplified, for example, by their reporting of the September 18 attack on the aid convoy organized by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, mortars were being reined down on civilians in western Aleppo. Meanwhile, Bulgarian Grad missiles have been fired into the north of the city by Western-backed terrorists.

The media reported the attack on the aid convoy because the White Helmets, their Western government terrorist allies, implicated the Assad government and/or the Russian’s with the attack. However, neither the terrorist attacks in either the west nor the north of Aleppo outlined above, were mentioned in the media.

The dirty propaganda war on Syria is to a large extent underpinned by this kind of media censorship by omission described. But it is also being underpinned by the media’s uncritical glorification of the White Helmets which is why we appear to be witnessing this incredible rush among the media to embellish them with credibility.

The public ought to be concerned about what kind of a tool this organization will be in the hands of whoever will end up taking hold of the next US presidential reigns. But whether it’s Clinton or Trump at the helm, the objective of illegal regime change is already too far down the road for the U.S government with its loyal British servant at its side to change course. This ought not come as any surprise to students of international relations.

Historical pattern

As the historian Mark Curtis acknowledges, the use of terrorists by British governments to initiate illegal regime change follows an historical pattern. “British governments, both Labour and Conservative”, he says, in ‘Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam’, “have, in pursuing the so-called ‘national interest abroad, colluded for decades with radical Islamic forces, including terrorist organisations. They have connived with them, worked alongside them and sometimes trained and financed them, in order to promote specific foreign policy objectives.”

In terms of Syria, it is the White Helmets who will continue to assist the imperial powers in achieving their foreign policy objectives of illegal regime change in the country. Encouragingly, the Wests terrorist-enablers, otherwise known as the White Helmets, missed out on being rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize that they had been nominated for. If they had won, not only would it have been an illustration of a world descending into ever greater madness than is hitherto the case, but it would also have given the terrorist group the legitimacy they crave in the eyes of the world.



The ongoing media propaganda war against Syria

By Daniel Margrain

Thirteen months ago, I highlighted how the mass media began softening the public up for yet another illegal military intervention in another sovereign state – this time in Syria. Rupert Murdoch, who has a direct financial interest in regime change in Syria (see below) oversaw some of the more overt forms of anti-Syrian propaganda as the graphic shows:

The futility of greed

By Daniel Margrain

Whenever I feel a little low and disillusioned with the world, I often re-read the following parable, the clarity of vision of which seems to put everything neatly into perspective.

The Mexican Fisherman and the Investment Banker (Author Unknown)

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”