Tag: news

Brimstone & bloodied hands

 

By Daniel Margrain

The decision of the UK government yesterday evening (December 2) to extend its war on terror into Syria with no coordinated strategy in place to defeat ISIS, will almost certainly be as catastrophic as Tony Blair’s decision in 2003 to commit British troops to Iraq. The notion that MPs could have genuinely been persuaded by Cameron’s line of reasoning for another illegal war is as inconceivable as MPs during Blair’s reign being unaware of either Scott Ritter’s findings stating that by 1998 Saddam had effectively been disarmed, or the subsequent public pronouncements of Colin Powell and Condaleeza Rice that were made on the back of them that preceded the infamous 45 minute claim.

The Prime Minister’s justification for sending more of our troops into harms way – which, significantly, was rejected by the Foreign Affairs Committee – was predicated on the dubious and frankly laughable claim of the existence of 70,000 “moderate rebels”. On Sunday’s (November 29) edition of the BBCs Marr programme, Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, when pressed by presenter Andrew Marr to clarify who these rebels were, replied that were comprised solely of anti-Assad, Free Syrian Army forces.

However, early on December 1, Lt Gen Gordon Messenger, the deputy chief of the defence staff, appeared to have contradicted Fallon by refusing to confirm whether any of the alleged 70,000 fighters were members of more extremist groups such as the Islamic Front and Ahrar al-Sham. The fact that no clarification by Cameron was given to MPs regarding the source for the 70,000 figure or its composition, is not a sufficient enough basis for MPs to be able to make an informed decision about such an important life and death issue.

A major argument of those who defend the decision to extend the war, is premised on the claim that the attacks against ISIS in Iraq have not resulted in a single civilian casualty. Numerous conservative MPs have been afforded air time in the media to pontificate such an absurd claim without, to my knowledge, any serious challenge from journalists contradicting it. In under ten minutes of researching credible civilian casualty figures in Iraq resulting from coalition bombs, I learned that eight named children and two women had been killed in just one strike on Fallujah in a single day on November 26.

The public are being denied critical information by the mainstream media in order for them to be able to counter government propaganda and thus to challenge their MPs about their decisions for the case for war. But the same cannot be said of these MPs who themselves ought to be seeking to challenge such fundamental misconceptions and misinformation. Feigned ignorance is not a defence against complicit hands metaphorically covered in the blood of innocent victims.

The use of the government’s “precision” Brimstone missiles that will kill many more innocent men, women and children than the tragedy of Paris that gave rise to their use in Iraq and now Syria, will be the direct consequence of the deceptions of politicians’ and the shortcomings of journalists who failed to challenge their rationale for war.

If the government were serious about obliterating the existential threat they claim ISIS represents, then they would not be aligning themselves with allegedly 70,000 unidentified “moderates” who, as Patrick Cockburn contends “are weak or barely exist”. On the contrary, they would be aligning themselves with the forces on the ground that are resisting ISIS most effectively. These groups, as Peter Hitchens acknowledges, are the Syrian Kurds, the Syrian National Army, Hezzbollah and Iran – all of whom are being backed by Russian air power. However, this sensible coordinated strategy is being usurped by Cameron’s non-existent one, upon which, in their infinite wisdom, the majority of MPs voted.

The second explanation as to why the government’s decision to extend the bombing into Syria is not motivated by the need to destroy ISIS, is the duplicitous approach they have adopted in respect to their dictatorial regional allies in the Gulf peninsula who are among their biggest recipients of weapon deals. There is evidence that powerful actors within Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who are among the most brutal regimes on earth, have been facilitating funds and arms to ISIS and their affiliates that result from these deals.

Consequently, figures suggest ISIS alone has at least 80,000 fighters up from last year’s estimates of around 20,000 to 31,500. No matter how this is spun, the situation can only be interpreted as being an example of state sponsored terrorism that has had serious blow-back consequences. A former US military chief goes as far as to admit that the Iraq invasion had spawned ISIS.

Nafeez Ahmed notes that in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September 2014, General Martin Dempsey, then chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked by Senator Lindsay Graham whether he knew of “any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL”? Dempsey replied: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.” In other words, the most senior US military official at the time had confirmed that ISIS was being funded by the very same “major Arab allies” that had just joined the US-led anti-ISIS coalition.

If the major imperial powers were serious about undermining the terrorists, they would start by ensuring that their regional allies stop providing monetary, military and logistical support to them and their affiliates. Often overlooked is the fact that NATO member Turkey has also played a pivotal role in funneling arms to the various extremist factions as well as actively facilitating ISIS oil sales through the country. The reason Turkey shot down the Russian jet was to deter the Russian bombing in the Nusra Front-controlled border region. All this, as Nafeez Ahmed points out:

“….. begs the question as to why Hollande and other Western leaders expressing their determination to “destroy” ISIS using all means necessary, would prefer to avoid the most significant factor of all: the material infrastructure of ISIS’ emergence in the context of ongoing Gulf and Turkish state support for Islamist militancy in the region. There are many explanations, but one perhaps stands out: the West’s abject dependence on terror-toting Muslim regimes, largely to maintain access to Middle East, Mediterranean and Central Asian oil and gas resources.”

Naturally, both Russia and its allies on the one hand, and the U.S and its allies on the other, have geopolitical interests’ diametrically opposed to one another. But the point is, Russia’s principle motivation leads them to destroying ISIS with the view to maintaining Assad’s grip on power, whereas the West’s motivation lies elsewhere.

The West have spent well over $5 trillion on waging their “war on terror”. Over that period, US State Department data shows that terror attacks have skyrocketed by 6,500 percent, while the number of casualties from terror attacks has increased by 4,500 percent.

*2004 terrorism estimates from CIA figures.

As Nafeez Ahmed pointed out, journalist Paul Gottinger, who analysed the data, noted that spikes in these figures coincided with military intervention: “…. from 2007 to 2011 almost half of all the world’s terror took place in Iraq or Afghanistan – two countries being occupied by the US at the time.” And in 2014, he found, “74 percent of all terror-related casualties occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Syria. Of these five, only Nigeria did not experience either US air strikes or a military occupation in that year.”

This would appear to be consistent with Ken Livingston’s contention, for which he was much maligned, that our military intervention in Iraq in 2003 had a direct bearing on the attacks in London on July 7, 2005. Moreover, it would also tend to support his view that the forthcoming air strikes in Syria will increase the threat of terrorist attacks here. Former British ambassador, Oliver Miles recently commented:

The [current] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy – and in particular our Middle East wars – had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here.”

Under such circumstances, it might well be reasonably argued, as former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford has, that Cameron’s warmongering deceit is criminally negligent. It’s absurd to argue that the way to thwart transnational terrorism committed by organised groups of individuals on European soil is to bomb innocent people in nation states’ in the middle east.

Warmongering Blairites like Hilary Benn are incredulous that anybody should oppose the bombing of the 600,000 population of Raqqa, in the hope, as Craig Murray put it“of hitting 8,000 ISIS personnel carefully dispersed among them.” Conservative MP John Baron’s reasoned arguments and appeal to colleagues, below, ended up being futile but at least he and the minority of other MPs who opposed more war for the benefit of the arms industry who lobby Cameron, appear to have a conscience:

Embedded image permalink

Philip Hammond’s commendation to his opposite number, Hilary Benn, that his pro-war speech was “one of the greatest in parliamentary history”, is illustrative of how democracy is little more than lip service to power underpinned by a self-serving Red-Tory opposition. Craig Murray hit the nail on the head when he said“the odious Blairites are the most self-centred, selfish and indeed sociopathic group ever to have a serious presence in the UK parliament.”

The truth is, the general public are, as was the case with Iraq, being systematically lied to. After numerous hours of debate in parliament, it is clear that Cameron’s case for bombing that will now begin within hours of this article being published, had not been made. The decision by the British parliament to ostensibly bomb ISIS by an overwhelming parliamentary majority of 174, is not supported by the majority of the British people and is based on a charade whose real purpose is illegal regime change.

In a recent article, journalist John Pilger quoted the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas who last year revealed that “two years before the Arab spring”, he was told in London that a war on Syria was planned. “I am going to tell you something,” he said in an interview with the French TV channel LPC, “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria… Britain was organising an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate… This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned.”

 

 

Cameron & Hollande increase the risk to our safety

By Daniel Margrain

That the overtly aggressive Western foreign policy of vengeance and the violent rush to bomb takes priority over the more conciliatory approach of attempting diplomacy, is depressing. But to do so in the knowledge that such a policy is both counterproductive and disproportionate is unconscionable. I’m not suggesting that Cameron and Hollande have deliberately set out to provoke terrorist atrocities on the streets of our cities, but their policies in the middle east unquestionably promote and exacerbate them.

It’s inconceivable that the political establishment are unaware that the violence of terrorists and the violence of the state are mutually reinforcing phenomena. So why, in their infinite wisdom, are the political establishment continuing the discredited ‘war on terror’ strategy if not to perpetuate the vicious cycle of death and destruction that the likes of Cameron and Hollande claim they want to eradicate?

Since the onset of the Iraq debacle, war and terrorism has spread exponentially but judging by the hawkish rhetorical flourishes of Cameron and Hollande one might have been led to believe otherwise. Yesterday, both leaders hardened their warmongering rhetoric as though in denial while the rest of the world looked on with incredulity. Even the right wing commentator Peter Hitchens acknowledges that “rhetoric and militancy have not done very much for us in the past. Why should it be different this time?”

The hardening rhetoric must be seen within a context in which the numbers of armed officers in Britain has fallen over the last five years, in addition to the refusal of ministers to rule out further cuts to the British police in general. It seems undeniable that the combination of more bombs allied to increasing austerity, will potentially put the British people at a greater risk from terrorism .

One might reasonably argue that mistakes at the top of government can be made, but to repeat them over and over again, in the hope that the result will be different, is a sign of madness. Fighting a war with bombs against an unidentifiable and highly mobile enemy whose sleeper cells are spread throughout the planet, is akin to arguing that the Hydra can be obliterated in the marshes of Lerna.

Every time the head of one of the principal beasts is decapitated, it mutates and multiplies into a far bigger entity whose tentacles and reach spread among their martyrs’ in ways that our leaders cannot seem to be able to comprehend.

A 14 year long Western war of terror has terrorized the oppressed to the extent that many more want to fight back than was the case prior to the atrocity in New York. The strategy of invasions and regime change has been an unmitigated disaster and yet our leaders’ are apparently oblivious to the fact that the war can never be won by what is effectively a policy of indiscriminate bombing.

Surely, it’s reasonable to surmise that the purpose of such a misguided foreign policy strategy of state violence that has demonstrably failed time and time again, is to maintain the establishments grip on political power thereby ensuring that the aspiration towards the reordering of society along more egalitarian lines are minimized.

A policy that effectively promotes and exacerbates terrorism means that the question of whether such an outcome is the intention of leaders’ like Cameron and Hollande is moot. The fact is the cycle of violence doesn’t stop with the dropping of ‘precision’ bombs on ‘terrorist targets’ whose collateral damage has historically killed more innocents than did the terrorist atrocities in Paris many times over.

It’s a sad and depressing reality that the kinds of barbaric acts witnessed in the French capital have been exploited politically by the establishment in order to justify their retaliatory rhetoric and subsequent violence. This in turn ensures that a system in which the military elite and arms manufacturers who lobby their governments for the purpose of maintaining their exalted financially privileged position, is sustained.

The logical corollary that arises from this mutually beneficial relationship, is that the protection of civilians on the streets of cities like Paris and London are not necessarily a priority for our leaders. This is because the deaths of civilians by terrorism is arguably regarded by the likes of Cameron and Hollande as a political price that’s ‘worth paying’ in the short term, with the view to securing their geo-strategic interests in the longer term.

Any rational analysis shows that acts of terrorism cannot seriously be regarded as an existential threat to the power of the state. The Paris attacks, for example, killed 0.01 per cent of the population of the city. To put it into context, many more people die each year in traffic accidents in France than were killed in the atrocity.

The disproportionate amount of media coverage devoted to Paris reached saturation point in the days that followed, which is partly a reflection of the nature of rolling 24 hour news. Of course geography and cultural affinity played a major part in the decisions of editors to give so much coverage to the drama, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that only a fraction given over to Paris was given to the terrorist atrocity on the Russian airliner which, it must be reiterated, resulted in more deaths.

The wall to wall coverage serves a political purpose which is the promotion of the idea that the suffering of people in places most of us are more readily able to identify with, matter more than those we don’t. This is all part of a media narrative that reports the victims of war and terrorism as though, as John Pilger put it, they are “worthy and unworthy” – the former being innocents killed on ‘our’ side while the latter are those of our official enemies.

This is all part of a much broader media system of propaganda which consistently conflates inappropriate militarism and its symbols with notions of unflinching patriotism. The displaying of national flags plays a very important role in this regard, especially after national tragedies.

For instance, the public were encouraged to adorn the French flag and sing the French national anthem at the England versus France football international at Wembley Stadium a few days after the Paris atrocity as an act of solidarity. But there were no similar calls following the terrorist atrocities in Beirut that happened just a few days before.

The purpose is to try and convince the public to support yet more ineffectual and immoral bombing of innocent people in a far away country in the hope that the people go along with the lie that this strategy has reduced the number of deaths caused by terrorism and is therefore making us safer.

 

Democracy & the media.

By Daniel Margrain

Representative democracy is bad for parliamentary democracy because it implies the shifting of power from the elite towards the masses. People power has the potential to tear down the ivory towers of privilege that the rich construct for themselves which is why the establishment is fearful of such an eventuality. The extent to which a political system that functions to support the lifestyles and privileges of the elite ensconced within these towers is determined by the level of passivity and apathy of those on the outside.

Due to the UK’s appalling electoral system, a right wing government in the UK exercise absolute power with just 24.4 percent of those eligible to vote. The attitudes of many of the 38% who did not vote at all in the last general election towards the entire political class, was a combination of indifference, passivity and apoplexy.

Many others who were politically active and mobilized were nevertheless resigned to the fact that the deeply corrupt and flawed ‘winner takes all’ system does not give them a political voice within parliament. The end result of the combination of all these factors, is a system that’s corrupt and rotten to the core.

Although the government’s legality cannot be called into question, it’s legitimacy most certainly can. A government’s legitimacy rests on the popular consent of the governed. It’s clear that the Tories austerity measures that consist of deepening and widespread cuts will do far more harm to far more than the 24.4 per cent of the population that supported the government during the last election. To that extent, there are valid questions to be asked about what right the conservative government has to rule.

With Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity showing few signs of subsiding, we seem to be returning to the feelings of optimism and confidence of the kind witnessed during the 30 year post-war settlement period. Public mobilizations that question and demand more from the system, initiate a crisis in democracy for our unrepresentative leaders, establishment figures and their corporate mainstream echo chambers’ who don’t know quite how to react to the potential threat to their own distorted vision of democracy. This vision can accurately be defined as being reminiscent of the feudal system. As Noam Chomsky put it:

On the one hand, we have the King and Princes (the government). On the other, the commoners. The commoners may petition and the nobility must respond to maintain order… Real participation of “society” in government is nowhere discussed, nor can there be any question of democratic control of the basic economic institutions that determine the character of social life while dominating the state as well, by virtue of their overwhelming power.

Chomsky was actually referring to a 1975 Trilateral Commission report about the nature of American democracy by author Samuel Huntington, but he might as well of been discussing the UK political system of governance in 2015. Political ‘outsiders’ like Jeremy Corbyn and the newly appointed, Ken Livingstone, are regarded as a threat to the narrow careerist interests of not only the Blairite political elite within the Parliamentary Labout Party, but also the metropolitan London media elite of ‘insiders’ who sing to the Blairite-Tory tune.

As Medialens have suggested, this is reflected in an obvious media bias that favours the Red-Tory consensus outlook which can be gauged simply by comparing the tone and intensity of media attacks on both Corbyn and Livingstone against the more conciliatory and friendly approaches of those who don’t rock the metaphorical boat. Of all the preposterous apocalyptic media attacks and McCarthy-style guilt by association smears on Corbyn thus far, the piece titled Will a Corbyn victory be the end of Labour? by Rachel Sylvester in The Times on September 1, written during the build up to the Labour Party leadership election, surely takes the award for the most idiotic. Sylvester comments:

“Just as the Vikings and the Mayans brought about their own extinction by destroying the environment on which their cultures depended, so the Labour party is threatening its survival by abandoning electoral victory as a definition of success. If Labour chooses Jeremy Corbyn – a man who will never be elected prime minister – as leader next week, its end could be as brutal and sudden as those other once great tribes.”

One question arises from Sylvester’s piece. How can an attack by the mainstream media on an authentic voice of Labour values possibly be regarded as the ultimate threat to Labour values?

Sylvester’s smear was just the beginning of a widespread barrage of abuse that has come the way of the ‘outsiders’ since Corbyn’s historic election victory. The Telegraph’s November 18 edition went as far as to use the fascist language of Goebbels when referring to Corbyn’s long-standing ally. “Ken Livingstone is a hate-filled cockroach” was the headline. The latest smear from the Guardian, adding to their already long list, was their description of Corbyn as “like a good Marxist” who “is securing his revolution from within.”

Nick Cohen preposterously claimed that “Jeremy Corbyn is one of the most dishonest politicians you will see in your lifetime”, while the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg’s transparently biased interview with the labour leader was little more than a scornful attack on his stance on nuclear weapons. Her incredulous responses to his reasonable points, belies the BBC’s claim that it is impartial. Analysis by Medialens show how “mainstream media performance alternates between two distinct modes of reporting”. They point out that:

“the first, ‘fig leaf’, mode presents a view of the world that is overwhelmingly biased in favour of the powerful interests that control, own and support the media, and of which it is a part. Within this bias, room is made for powerful nods and gestures in the direction of honesty and balance.”

An example of this mode was Kuenssberg’s token gesture during the Corbyn interview in which she used the phrase “some voters may think…” which was clearly intended to give the impression of balance as a means of offsetting her aggressive line of questioning in response to Corbyn’s reasonable commitment to the spreading of international law that preceded it. The impression given is that we live in a free and open society where genuine dissent is tolerated.

Medialens continue:

“The second, ‘full propaganda’, mode involves straight forward, no holds barred bias. This is seen in time of war, on royal occasions, on the anniversary of great military victories, and at times when leaders pass away.

On these occasions, balance and impartiality are deemed unnecessary, disrespectful, unpatriotic, irresponsible, even treacherous…Mode 2 reporting, then, sets an essentially totalitarian standard against which public and journalists alike judge media performance…The most powerful weapons in support of mode 2 performance are patriotism and shame…”

Andrew Neil’s impassioned eulogy during the opening sequence of the BBCs flagship political discussion programme, This Week broadcast on November 19 is an example of the second, “full propaganda” mode. Neil’s linking of the nuclear power state to a succession of great French thinkers was his way of showing support for Hollande’s foray into bombing its former colony. Neil’s “inaccurate nonsense in the form of nice memorable words strung together with angry sad words” was critiqued in a brilliant piece of polemical writing by Frankie Boyle.

What both Boyle’s article and the Medialen’s analysis highlight, is that parliamentary democracy in the absence of a democratic media creates the illusion of popular consent while enhancing the power of the state and the privileged interests protected by it.

The battle for media control is akin to the analogy of the fight for territorial domination between two wolves. One is an evil wolf: anger, envy, sorrow, greed, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is the good wolf: joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The one that wins is the one that is fed. Democracy is that way. The wolf that wins is the one we feed. And media provides the fodder.

‘No one is left to speak for me.’

By Daniel Margrain

The systematic redistribution of wealth from the poorest to the richest which began under Thatcher, continued under Blair and currently is increasing at a pace under Cameron, is emblematic of the relationship between welfare state retrenchment and the notion of the role of the state as facilitator of welfare handouts to the corporate sector.

Farm subsidies, public sector asset stripping, corporate tax avoidance and evasion, government share giveaways and housing benefit subsidies are just some of the ways in which the richest 1,000 people in Britain have seen their wealth increase by a massive £155bn since the economic crisis of 2008.

Meanwhile, in June this year, the UK government announced £12 billion of welfare cuts that included the abolition of working tax credits to the poorest and the top down reorganisation of the NHS brought about by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act which removes the duty of the Secretary of State for Health to provide a comprehensive service. The act requires up to 49 percent of services to be tendered out to “any qualified provider” . This will rapidly lead to the privatisation of the NHS in England and Wales.

The punitive attacks on the unemployed, sick and disabled have been stepped up resulting in 500,000 people using food banks in addition to increasing rates of depression, anxiety and incidences of suicides among those on benefits. In social care, a combination of cuts of around 30 percent to local authority budgets since 2010, increasingly restrictive eligibility criteria for services, and inadequate personal budgets will leave millions without the support they need.

Finally, the reduction in housing benefit to the unemployed allied to the bedroom tax is a double whammy that has resulted in growing rates of homelessness and/or the social cleansing and displacement of entire communities, many of them long established.

What are these attacks on the welfare state about? The government have long argued that they are needed in order to reduce the budget deficit. But on the very same day that the bedroom tax was announced in parliament (estimated to “save” the Treasury £480 million) the top rate of tax in the UK was cut from 50 percent to 45 percent, resulting in a loss of revenue of £1 billion.

The only rational explanation is that “austerity” is being used by the Tory government as a pro-corporate ideological weapon against both the welfare state as a concept and the general population who, in one way or another, rely on it in some shape or form. Those affected are not just the poor and traditional blue collar workers but also the lower ranks of the middle classes highlighted by the fact that the cuts are now beginning to have political repercussions within David Cameron’s own Oxfordshire constituency.

An obvious example of how Tory cuts are beginning to impact on the community at large, is in the field of social care for the elderly. In an increasingly aging society, the pressure on the social care system will become more acute as demand for its services increase. But a service motivated by profit is necessarily compromised in terms of its ability to provide a universal service of care predicated on need.

Another example, are the government’s proposals to cut the police budget by 40 per cent with the predicted loss of some 22,000 front line police officers to be replaced by private security firms. These firms will be drafted in by communities in suburbs and villages to fill the gap in neighbourhood policing left by the budget cuts. In an Essex seaside town, more than 300 residents have effectively been forced to club together to pay for overnight private security patrols.

The implications of the drive towards a privatized police force motivated primarily by profit are clear. The tendency would be for any crime not committed on the patch where customers pay privately for their service to be ignored or underplayed. The potential for the creation of protection rackets and vigilantism exists in situations where people who are not in a position to be able to afford for protection live near to people who can.

Justine Greening’s Kafkaesque contention on last Thursdays (November 5) Question Time programme that the reduction in policing in areas where crime is falling, justifies cuts to those areas, illustrates further the political undermining of the concept of universal provision. It’s my view that outsourcing is part of the Tory strategy to run down public services as the precursor to their dismantling prior to them being sold off. In fact, as Noam Chomsky put it, this process is standard practice:

“[T]here is a standard technique of privatization, namely defund what you want to privatize. Like when Thatcher wanted to defund the railroads, first thing to do is defund them, then they don’t work and people get angry and they want a change…
That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.”  

What underlies the privatization strategy are the various vested interests involved. For instance, the husband of the woman responsible for cutting police budgets – Home Secretary Theresa May – is a major shareholder in G4S. Moreover, 70 MPs have financial links to private healthcare firms, and more than one in four Conservative peers – 62 out of the total of 216 – and many other members of the House of Lords “have a direct financial interest in the radical re-shaping of the NHS in England.” 

For the Tory government, the ideological crux of the matter is that profit maximization for the corporations they represent is regarded as taking priority over the concept of a properly functioning and accountable welfare state and public sector. Profit has become the guiding principle for the organisation of society from which everything is judged including perceptions of success and happiness.

This is reinforced daily on television programmes and in the lifestyle sections of magazines and newspapers. Moreover, power that profit implies, is linked to the concept of biological determinism in that it tries to convince us that the social order is a consequence of unchanging human biology, so that inequality and injustice cannot be eliminated.

Any rejection of this model is regarded by the apologists for the system as being the fault of the individual and not the social institutions or the way society is structured. The solution is thus to change – or even eliminate – the individuals, not to challenge the existing social structures.

It’s the current form of social organisation that biological determinism reinforces which ensures the David Cameron’s of this world secure their place at the top of the food chain. It also highlights to the rest of us the artificial limits that the system driven by profit imposes.

Price of everything, value of nothing.

By Daniel Margrain

Ever since the Red-Tory government of Tony Blair stepped up the Thatcherite ethos of the British state as purchaser rather than direct provider of services, the outsourcing of these services has continued apace. This neoliberal ideology has, in turn, increased the proletarianization of not just traditional blue collar roles but white collar middle class professions as well.

The intensification of work and the insecurity of working life, short-term and part-time contracts, flexible shift patterns, mushrooming ranks of middle managers and supervisory staff, constant testing and assessments, punitive disciplinary codes, long working hours, short holidays and relentless ‘downsizing’ have materially and dramatically worsened the experience of going to work for many people.

Whereas forty years ago working as teacher or health professional was widely regarded as a stimulating and well paid job that offered a great deal of autonomy, they are now roles that provide a diminishing social and economic status in which the workers concerned have little or no control in their day to day activities.

As the experience of work has become increasingly harsh and coarse for the vast majority, life for the minority of the ruling class and upper ranks of the middle class has taken a completely different trajectory. Just as we entered the 21st century, government figures revealed that Britain’s biggest earners were enjoying their largest share of national income since the Thatcher years.

Within the space of about ten years, the multiple of chief executive pay to average pay for FTSE companies, has moved from 69 times, to 149 times. And that’s just a comparison with average pay, not those paid at the very bottom of the scale which also does not reflect company performance. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) has argued that unless the pay discrepancies are tackled, “by 2030 the UK will have returned to Victorian levels of inequality.”

With Victorian levels of inequality comes a Victorian paternalistic ideology that dominates the governing classes in which the ‘socially excluded’ must be helped to help themselves. Those who refuse to ‘modernise’ must be swept aside. But the maligned are not just the poorest but increasingly extend to enemies of ‘reform’ among the less well off sections of the middle classes.

These are the kinds of people who cannot rely wholly or mainly on private provision for such essentials as health care, pensions, education, care of the environment and transport. They too depend on the welfare state. The scientific work measurement practices of Taylorism traditionally associated with blue collar occupations are becoming a feature of white collar jobs too.

Although some heads of department and heads in schools, lecturers, middle ranking civil servants, managers in local councils and health professionals regret the passing of the public sector ethos even as they preside over its destruction, others like Dr Rob Galloway are beginning to make a political stand against the top down reorganization of the National Health Service (NHS) and the kinds of changes to working conditions that Taylorism implies.

This feeds into the attitudes of the wider public who recognize the connection between the deteriorating working conditions of health professionals, the downward spiral of the NHS in general (both of which are politically and ideologically driven) and their own working conditions and experiences.

The deliberate running down of the NHS is predicated on its eventual privatization related to the fact that 70 MPs have financial links to private healthcare firms. The carving open of the NHS for exploitation by private interests undermines the longstanding obligation of the UK government to provide universal health care free at the point of delivery. The creeping implementation of the former will ensure the ditching of the latter.

On March 20, 2012, MPs passed the Health and Social Care Bill despite the fact that it was not mentioned anywhere in the 2010 Conservative election manifesto, or that nearly every professional medical body fought against it. It was clear that the reason why the Tories were silent on the issue was because to highlight it would have been electoral suicide.

The coalition agreement between the Tories and the Lib Dems of May 2010 had promised: “We will stop the top-down reorganisation of the NHS.” That promise has been well and truly smashed. The NHS bill was opposed by 27 professional medical bodies, including the Royal College of GPs, the BMA and the Royal College of Nurses: that’s all but one of the relevant medical bodies.

Researcher Éoin Clarke has produced a map of England showing the areas affected so far by the NHS carve-up. One of the major corporate players is Virgin Care who won a £500 million contract to provide community services across Surrey and began running these services, as well as the county’s prison healthcare. Hundreds of donations from private healthcare firms to Tory coffers can be viewed here.

Moreover, the website Social Investigations has compiled an extensive list of the financial and vested interests of MPs and Lords in private healthcare. This list, says the site, “represents the dire state of our democracy”. Andrew Robertson, the blog’s founder observes that more than one in four Conservative peers – 62 out of the total of 216 – and many other members of the House of Lords “have a direct financial interest in the radical re-shaping of the NHS in England.” 

These unelected peers – with personal interests in insurance companies, private healthcare and private equity groups – were able to help push through a bill from which they will now profit. If they had been elected local councillors, such personal interests would have debarred them from voting. The Tory top down reorganization of the service while spun as a necessary precondition for its survival as a free at the point of delivery service, is in reality the precursor to its demise.

The Tories’ privatization objectives will be made smoother following the introduction of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, the purpose of which, if finalized, will be to grant big business the right to sue governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secret panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections.

The mechanism through which this is achieved is known as investor-state dispute settlement. It’s already being used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people and the living planet. It could also be used to smash any attempt to re-regulate the banks, to renationalize the railways, to leave fossil fuels in the ground and to save the NHS from the kind of corporate control envisaged by the Tories.

Just as the government attempted to hide from the public their intentions for the NHS prior to the 2010 general election and then subsequently spin their way out of the reality faced by junior NHS doctors, they are also maintaining their silence over the proposed undemocratic TTIP agreement which will be used to further their privatization agenda.

Netanyahu’s Holocaust revisionism and Hitler’s collaboration with Zionists.

By Daniel Margrain

Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert last week confirmed what everybody except neoNazi Holocaust deniers and neoZionists like Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu have long understood when he said that the “responsibility for the Holocaust lay with the Germans.” Netanyahu’s offensive and slanderous contrarian view made during an address to the 37th Zionist Congress, came after a day of violence that saw five Palestinians, including alleged attackers, killed in the occupied territories and an Israeli killed in a traffic incident in the West Bank.

In his speech, Netanyahu focused on incitement, saying Palestinian incitement could be traced back to before the creation of the Israeli state, and claimed that a Palestinian religious leader had encouraged Adolf Hitler to carry out the Holocaust. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, “flew to Berlin,” Netanyahu said. “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews.” “And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.”

However, contrary to Netanyahu’s account, there is not a single reference in the entire text of the official record of the conversation between Adolf Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini to “Jew burning”. The fact that most Holocaust scholars insist the first death camps were formed before the 1941 meeting between Husseini and Hitler would seem to suggest that Hitler’s plan was already in place by the time they met.

But just as significant, Netanyahu’s lies underscore the secret history that ideologically links Zionism to Hitler fascism. This includes outright collaborations with the Nazis predicated on the notion that the formation of a Zionist state would be part of the system of colonial domination of the rest of the world.

In setting out the Zionist programme, the father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl in a 1896 pamphlet called The State of the Jews, called for a Jewish state to be set up in an under developed country outside Europe with the backing of one of the major imperialist powers in order to support the former’s colonizing of it. To achieve this aim the Zionists aligned themselves with notorious anti-Semites that included Count Von Plehve, the sponsor of the worst anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia.

In 1933, The Zionist Federation of Germany sent a memorandum of support to the Nazis and later that year the World Zionist Organization congress defeated a resolution for action against Hitler by a vote of 240 to 43. The author Ralph Schoenman notes in the Hidden History of Zionism:

Throughout the late thirties and forties, Jewish spokespersons in Europe cried out for help, for public campaigns, for organized resistance, for demonstrations to force the hand of the allied governments – only to be met not merely by Zionist silence but by active Zionist sabotage of the meager efforts which were proposed or prepared in Great Britain and the United States.

The dirty secret of Zionist history is that Zionism was threatened by the Jews themselves. Defending the Jewish people from persecution meant organizing resistance to the regimes that menaced them. But these regimes embodied the imperial order which comprised the only social force willing or able to impose a settler colony on the Palestinian people. Hence, the Zionists needed the persecution of the Jews to persuade Jews to become colonizers afar, and they needed the persecutors to sponsor the enterprise.

Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first leader, wasn’t satisfied with the arrangement that followed the 1947 partition of the country into separate Jewish and Palestinian states by the leading imperial powers. This was despite the fact that the Jews comprised just 31 per cent of the population but had been given 54 per cent of the fertile land. The end goal for Ben-Gurion and the Zionists was the aspiration towards the establishment of Eretz Yisrael (Greater Israel) – a fascistic concept no different in principle to the aims of the Nazi’s.

The Zionist project could only be completed if the Palestinian’s were expelled from their historical homeland. In 1948 this policy was put into effect. Just as Ben-Gurion needed the persecution of the Jews in order to justify his colonization of a foreign land, Netanyahu needs to persuade modern day Israeli Jews of the racist revisionist myth that rejects Hitler’s main responsibility for the Holocaust.

Netanyahu’s outrageous speech effectively lets Hitler off the hook with the aim of putting the blame for the suffering of the Jews and Hitler’s Final Solution on the shoulders of the Palestinian people so as to self-justify his continued obliteration of them.

When in 2005 Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, allegedly denied the Holocaust, there was legitimate uproar and worldwide condemnation and media saturation coverage of his comments. This is in sharp contrast to the lack of mainstream media coverage following Netanyahu’s remarks that were no less offensive and outrageous.

Given that Netanyahu underplayed the role Hitler played in the Holocaust, neither he, or his fellow Jewish extremist fundamentalists, have any wriggle room with which to critique, with any credibility, Holocaust deniers ever again.

Muesli and the Mob

By Daniel Margrain
Alan and Gary Keery

There appears to be an existential crisis at the heart of society epitomized by seemingly never ending periodic economic bubbles that come around roughly every five to ten years. Miss the opportunity to surf the wave, and its unlikely you will ever be in the position to ride it again. The backdrop to this story relates to a ‘mob’ who attacked the well publicised Cereal Killer Cafe run by a group of privileged hipsters in a former run down working class district in east London.

Passing the White Collar Factory in nearby Old Street Station, a group of about 200 demonstrators made their way east to their intended target in this now fashionable part of town. As a symbolic extension to the bubble economy of the 1980s exemplified by job insecurity, deregulation and financial speculation, the White Collar Factory that produces Apps as opposed to tangible products is regarded by many disenfranchised locals as being symptomatic of the societal malaise that’s sweeping the post industrial city in which increasing wealth is becoming consolidated in fewer and fewer hands. A tweet from Cereal Killer Cafe said:

“Tonight we were attacked with paint and fire by an angry mob of 200. Riot police are on the scene.”

The vandalism of the cafe by the mob appears to be a direct reaction to the process of gentrification and growing inequality that the Cereal Killer Cafe is emblematic of. I can recall something similar happening shortly after I arrived in London in the late 1980s where class warriors would regularly smash up symbols of the City elite like Jaguar’s and Porches. So this is nothing new, rather it’s currently being played out at a cafe in east London frequented by well to do kids who pay over the odds for cereal and a splash of milk. According to the BBC website:

“The demonstration was organised by a group called Class War, which was protesting against unaffordable London housing. A statement on their website reads: “We don’t want luxury flats that no one can afford, we want genuinely affordable housing… we want community.Working class people are being forced out of our homes but we won’t go out without a fight.”

The backdrop to the demonstration is Margaret Thatchers famous phrase, “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.” The implication is that community impedes the ability to maximize profits of the individual. Central to this philosophy is the lack of any notion of collective social responsibility and community. According to Thatcher, people are inherently individualistic and driven purely by selfish desires personified by greed.

Under Thatcher, working class people were given the opportunity to buy council owned properties at discounted rates subsidized by the tax payer. But those who typically bought them were the people who made and built things. Consequently these were the people who were made redundant in the new service-based abstract economy. The people who took advantage of the growth in blue collar unemployment were the white collar rich who bought up the homes the poor could no longer afford to keep.

The sons and daughters of the people who bought them are the main beneficiaries of this process. These include the hipster generation who own businesses like Cereal Killer Cafe in Shoreditch. So the younger generation of the poorest families who missed out on the Thatcher/Blair ponzi scheme bubble are the mob who vandalised the property of the hipster generation owned by the richest.

Naturally, all this has been exacerbated by the exponential rise in land values and the regeneration of former economically depressed city pockets like Shoreditch aided by the increased investment in the built infrastructure of these areas and the improved rail and road links into them.

In an article written shortly before the mob attack on the Cereal Killer Cafe, author Charles Hugh Smith predicts more ‘Days of Rage’ to come. “The resistance will take the form of subverting the signifiers of wealth that exemplify the few who have benefited so greatly while everyone else lost ground”, he says.

He continues, “The rage of the masses who have been losing ground while the Financier Oligarchs, the New Nobility and the technocrat class reap immense gains for decades has been suppressed by the dream that they too could join the Upper Caste. But once the realistic odds of that happening (low) sink in, the Days of Rage will begin.”

People can’t attack the banks directly because of the nature of the surveillance state outlined by Edward Snowden who has uncovered the facts determining how tracking phones and wireless devices (your laptop) from a plane works. Snowden also explains that the same technology is used by our own government to monitor us at home.

So the targets on the future days of rage will likely be businesses, cars, houses and other displays of material wealth. As Smith points out, levels of rising inequality outlined in the graphs below are likely to give rise to more days of rage in the coming months and years:

The top 1% skim 23% of all income:

While the top 5% has enjoyed substantial income gains over the past 45 years, adjusted for inflation, the bottom 90% have lost ground:

The contempt many of the new Thatcherite hipster generation have for the poor, as demonstrated by their tasteless ‘in your face’ gimmickry which the Cereal Killer Cafe exemplifies, was bound to have the kind of knock on effect that resulted from it. Just as the initiation process of the Bullingdon elite is to fuck the head of a dead pig and burn £50 notes in front of the homeless, so it was the case during the bubble period of the 1980s that the wealth and lifestyles of the rich were celebrated with gratuitous excess.

The common theme here is the notion of the importance of the individual over that of collective responsibility of the many. This is what the rich and establishment promote on a daily basis and is symptomatic of an embedded non empathetic culture that displays utter contempt for those less fortunate. If you have empathy you might actually care that your actions have consequences.

But conversely, if you don’t, then you will be able to sleep easily at night knowing, for instance, that your decisions resulted in the deaths of thousands or, in the case of Blair, hundreds of thousands of innocent people. This might explain why leading establishment politicians, bankers and lawyers attend elite public schools where empathy is drummed out of them.