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Friday, 29 April 2011

On the Royal Wedding...


William Arthur Philip Louis has found a wife to cheat on, in accordance with the family values of Henry VIII. How can I express how little I give a fuck? The mock national anthem from Human Traffic comes as close as possible. The elephant in the room is class and that I do care about. Of course, we all know that Kate Middleton is a 'commoner' and millionairess descendent of landed gentry and solicitors as well as the odd miner. Notably it is her mother's side, the 'prolier' side, which is scrutinised more by the media than the father's side. Kate Middleton could suffer the modern equivalent of a public execution, death by media, if a past of promiscuity is uncovered by the gutter press. The persistant survival and rigidity of class in British society has yet to be levelled, the bloodlines and property deals of Royalty will dominate the tabloids until a social convulsion brings down the monarchy.
 
Britain is one of the few countries in the world that doesn't have a written constitution, as a consequence the country is typically conservative. Change comes slowly and when traditions are threatened the reaction is often despair. The British throne was once at the apex of capitalist accumulation and imperial expansion. Queen Victoria was important in providing the ruling class with the legitimacy to hold back the tide of mass-democracy, whilst the Empire can be expanded and the Church of England maintained. Today the Royals provide legitimacy for the bourgeoisie, as well as tradition and patriotism to keep the 'commoners' from despair. The ruling class and the dominant ideology have been in crisis, this wedding offers the possibility of rejuvenation. To keep up with old imperial traditions the Chief Torturer of Bahrain attended the ceremony, though Colonel Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad were not welcome. The distinction between these guests is a fine one, between "evil-evil" and "good-evil". Incidentally, April 29th is the same day that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun wed.

The press claim we are 'less deferential' than ever and yet there are thousands on the streets of London. The irony being that Westminster have been trying to drive away homeless people in recent months. Naturally this private occasion demands camping on mass on the Mall, a wave of flag-waving and piss-ups to celebrate the union. It's all about procreation of course! The bloodline must continue! It was 20 years ago that Major declared Britain to be a "classless" society and here we are fawning over a marriage like obedient plebs. Mind you, a nun was spotted wearing tatty trainers and so far 43 people have been arrested including one person who was singing "we are living in a fascist regime" in Soho. Though there were also plans for a mock execution of Prince Andrew. There are 5,000 police officers on the streets with the support of the military in case of an "attack". The EDL pledged to march if the Muslims Against Crusades demonstrated.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Libya without Gaddafi.

"I am the one who created Libya, and I will be the one to destroy it." - Muammar al-Gaddafi

The personalised regime of Colonel Gaddafi has taken a page out of the Israelis' book and resorted to using cluster bombs against the population. The 1.2 million people who have been maimed, mutilated or murdered under him is a long way from the reforms delivered in the 1970s which provided the Libyan people with free health-care and free education. Nasser said of Gaddafi shortly before his death "I rather like Gaddafi. He reminds me of myself when I was that age." By the end of the decade Gaddafi had emerged as the dominant figure from a power struggle in the regime with a faction seeking to embark on greater socio-economic development. With the rival faction crushed, Gaddafi moved to support terrorist groups abroad until he became a scapegoat for the US government and Libya endured a US bombing campaign. The evidence which ties the Libyan regime to the Lockerbie bombing and the disco bombing in Germany is highly questionable. But it is undoubtedly true that Gaddafi supported the IRA and other groups.

And yet we know that the US and the UK, among other states, have intervened to block attempts to charge Gaddafi with the crimes he has committed against his own people. This is just after the international tribunal on crimes committed in Sierra Leone and the trial of Charles Taylor came to an end. All the while the media focus in Britain is still on the matter of al-Megrahi and David Cameron talks as if Gaddafi will face a war crimes tribunal. Keep in mind that it would seem that the Obama administration are bailing out the regime in Tripoli. The Central Bank of Libya has been exempted from the sanctions imposed on the country by the US. Though it is not that the US is looking to prop up the Colonel, the regime is to be reconstituted including the bourgeois tendencies of Benghazi that have agreed to respect old oil arrangements and may have even agreed recognise the state of Israel. It should also be noted that the military leadership of the rebels have links with the CIA.

The National Council in Benghazi is not totally representative of the rebellion as a grass-roots movement for democracy. The National Council consists of professional politicians and military officials, mostly defectors from the Gaddafi regime. As many of the rebels have been maimed and killed in battle, the rebellion overall has lost it's "popular character" in that the real decisions are being made in Benghazi. The rebel forces are being armed with weapons from Qatar and there have been moves to export Libyan oil through Qatar. These are the reasons that the recent summit was held in Doha, it had nothing to do with what might be best for Libyans. Though the possibility of recognising the National Council as the official government of Libya was discussed. It should also be noted that Qatar has been in bed with the US for many years. Qatar was on board with the intervention from the beginning and was one of the biggest advocates of a no-fly zone.

The way in which Qatar has acted is not a simple expression of self-interest, it should be understood as a part of the GCC as well as an extension of US-Israeli interests in the region. The major issues are oil and the tacit alliance between Israel and many Arab states. The fall of Gaddafi is welcome because he has outlived his usefulness, the rebels have seized control of the oil fields in the country and have produced a government which is even more insidiously pro-Western than before. It may even be under this leadership that the country could undergo further neoliberal reforms, which would continue the decline of health-care, education and standards of living. All of which began as Gaddafi sought to improve relations with the West after the collapse of the Soviet Union and had succeeded by the early 2000s. But as the rebel forces might be able to take Tripoli there has been talk of a "boots on the ground" intervention and a partitioned country as previously mentioned.

Whether or not the rebels can actually take Tripoli is the most important factor, a fractured nation could be the result of this conflict and a Gulf emirate model could emerge in the oil-rich east whilst western Libya descends into poverty. This might be seen as a pragmatic solution by the US, Britain and France. A further inflammation of tensions between rival tribes, as well as religious sects, as class interests relate to the geographic situation of particular tribes. This is a serious possibility as a great deal of the oil fields have been secured. A partition along such lines would be a disaster, as similar partitions have been in Ireland, Cyprus and Palestine. Even if Tripoli is taken Libya might only emerge as a bourgeois democracy, at best, with the regime only fragmented and the Colonel deposed. This might make it a wonderful holiday destination for white people, whether or not it would improve health-care in the country is another matter.

The Importance of the GCC.

The Heart of Capitalism in the Middle East.

The Gulf Cooperation Council consists of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. It is generally dominated by Saudi Arabia, which is the largest and most prominent member-state with the biggest oil reserves. As part of globalisation, the GCC is a form of economic integration on the Arab Peninsula. Since 1981 it has moved to a customs union with joint-armed forces and there is now talk of a monetary union. The GCC being the heart of capitalism in the Middle East, itself a huge investor in the global economy with a prominent place in global finance as well as the oil trade. All of these states have a tacit alliance with Israel. Gaddafi has dubbed the council the "Gulf Uncooperative Council" as it recently sided with the US against him. The GCC is actively involved in the exportation of oil from the rebel-controlled east of the country. The GCC organised the recent summit in Qatar and has been supplying the Libyan rebels with arms.

US interests in the region rely on the ability of the GCC to repress opposition in countries like Bahrain. With Saudi Arabia in the lead, the Peninsula Shield Force, the military wing of the GCC has intervened against the uprising in Bahrain with the supposed aim of protecting the country and it's military infrastructure from "foreign interference". Officially, the fear is that the Shi'ite population might be trying to establish an Islamic state in the Gulf modelled on Iran. Interestingly, the GCC was formed in an effort by these countries to insulate themselves from the conflict between Iran and Iraq. Though the GCC supported Saddam Hussein against Ayatollah Khomeini for fear of that the "Islamic Revolution" could spread. In such a scenario the precious oil fields could be threatened, as the people living on the land are predominantly Shi'ite Muslim. When Iraq attempted to annex Kuwait in 1990 the GCC immediately made moves to ostracise Iraq and went on to participate in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq.

The Peninsula Shield Force is a counter-revolutionary force which any uprising will have to confront and fend off in order to succeed. This kind of force is necessary to maintain order as the contradiction between market and mosque can undermine such order. The tendency of the market is towards a secular, relativistic and rational individualism. So long as the hegemony of capitalism is maintained and the population remain obedient to that extent, what goes on behind closed doors is a secondary affair. Secularism and relativism are opposed to the Judeo-Islamic values and beliefs prevalent in a place like the United Arab Emirates. The contradiction emerges as the Islamic establishment is necessary for the market to reign unperturbed. The Saudi Princes can only sit around drinking whiskey and smoking expensive cigars because there is a puritan order that formally forbids this behaviour but permisses the concentration of such immense wealth.

There is something of this contradiction in US foreign policy, in that the support lent to Islamism is in contradiction with the "promotion" of neoliberalism. The economic and spiritual wasteland created by liberal capitalism, leaves people to search for an exclusive identity as a source of meaning. It can be found in nationalist and fundamentalist ideology. Arab nationalism offers a secular model, which would be preferable for capitalism, it also has plans for socialistic reforms and a unified pan-Arab state. On the other hand, Islamism posits an identity based on a rigid interpretation of Islam combined with a promised "rebirth" of the Caliphate through terrorism. A version of either can be utilised provided that it is hollowed out. So long as the Taliban will build an oil pipe-line for Unocal, the bans on all music, art and culture can be tolerated. Similarly, Egypt was rehabilitated after the socialistic reforms were reversed and relations with Israel opened up in the 1970s.

The economic interests of the GCC converge with the interests of the US and Israel, in terms of oil and security. The US Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain for this reason. What is less well known is that Qatar is home to a major outpost of US military coordination, one of nearly 30 similar outposts around the world, as well as a huge air-force from where attacks on Pakistan might have been launched by the US. The GCC played a vital role in the coordination of the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and the bombing of Pakistan. There are also over 100,000 US troops stationed on military bases in GCC states. The major US objectives are to maintain the tacit alliance between Arab states and Israel whilst the extraction of oil can continue, which presupposes a repressed population. With these objectives in mind the US is acting to change the trajectory of the recent uprisings and "guide" the revolutionary fervour in accordance with it's own ends.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Critical Thoughts on the Intervention in Libya.

 "Despotism is a legitimate form of government in dealing with barbarians, provided that the end be their improvement." - JS Mill

Since the UN sanctioned an intervention in Libya to impose a no-fly zone, by shooting down planes and air-strikes against Gaddafi strongholds, there has been word of civilian killings in air-strikes and a great deal of ambiguity in the press about the nature of the intervention. An intervention that is being executed by the US, along with former colonial giants: Britain, France and Italy et al. The no-fly zone has been imposed in the midst of massacres carried out by death squads hired from Serbia by the "Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution". We have seen the way Iman al-Obeidi has been silenced after she claimed to have been raped by the counter-revolutionaries. At the same time the colonial past of Libya should not be forgotten, in the thirty-plus years of Italian colonial rule over 500,000 Libyans died - including 60,000 in concentration camps. The sheer brutality in which Libya was dominated by the Italians can be distinguished from colonial regimes in Egypt and Morocco.

This is the reason, as pointed out by Richard Seymour, that the vilification of Colonel Gaddafi is a way of externalising evil from the West. The man referred to as a "Mad Dog" is to be understood within a historical context, in which he is responsible for his own actions but not the pre-conditions of such choices and decisions. If he had been born into a respectable middle-class family in a country which was not recently ravaged by colonial genocide. But if that were the case he would not be Gaddafi. It is true that the Colonel is a despicable human being who has slaughtered civilians, as well as political prisoners and exiled dissidents in the past. As David Fox insists that we have the right to strike at Gaddafi from the air, conveniently there is no mention of the potential civilian deaths this might incur. Instead The Sun resorts to the line that the death squads of Gaddafi are 'posing' as civilians to evade attacks from "Our Boys". But also that there were 300 civilian supporters, including children, of Gaddafi being used unwittingly as "human shields". So if we kill any civilians, they might not be civilians but if they turn out to be it was Gaddafi's fault anyway.


This is the routine line of the press used reflexively to cleanse "Our Boys" of any responsible for bloodshed and in this case it was deployed in advance by the Right. It has been used to defend the use of white phosphorus in Gaza and Iraq in the past. You might even hear from reactionaries a similar plea to defend war crimes committed in Afghanistan. Terms like "Mad Dog" are applied in disregard of the details, in the same way that Hugo Chavez is repeatedly labelled a "dictator", the BBC labelled Nasser as a "barking dictator" just as the British were about to be humiliated in the Suez Canal. Nasser was a bourgeois nationalist and a dictator, but the policies he initiated were far better for the majority of Egyptians than the infitah reforms of Sadat and Mubarak. Not to mention that it was Mubarak who kept prisons where children could be tortured in front of their parents, but this is conveniently absent in the Western media and Tony Blair still insisted that Mubarak is a "force for good". Incidentally Saddam Hussein, a monster if there ever was one, was described as a "little Hitler" even though all of his atrocities were supported by the US and Britain.

"We have to reserve the right to bomb the niggers." - David Lloyd George

We were also told that it was Saddam who was to blame for the "missing" weapons of mass-destruction. It was also the fault of the Iraqi army that the military targets were situated among civilians, effectively using them as "human shields". When it would be laughable to expect the American government to build administrative buildings and military offices in the middle of a deserted landscape in Utah. This kind of thinking is ignorant the crimes of Fallujah, we ought not elevate it to a level where it can gain a monopoly over the moral high-ground. We should also keep in mind that the West has effectively taken a hypocritical stance of aggression in this instance. There is support for an intervention in Libya as the regime slaughters it's own people, but the US fully supports the repression currently going on in Bahrain and Yemen among other places. The repression has been comparably successful. Western interests are being defended by the cops on the beat, namely the Saudis. Not like in Libya where the decision to crackdown on the population as a whole, not just demonstrations, led to a schism in the regime.

As John Rees pointed out prior to the intervention, the rebels have acquired some air capability which has been overlooked in the media. Numerous officials of government and the military have defected as a result of Gaddafi's horrendous onslaught. A few jets have been shot down by the rebels and hundreds of pro-Gaddafi troops have surrendered. But it might be rash to conclude that the rebels could easily defend themselves from Gaddafi's jets without any assistance. The Left accept intervention from Egypt and Tunisia, in the form of weapons and funding for the rebels, is necessary. We all agree that some kind of intervention is necessary, because a non-interventionist position would presuppose that we had never meddled in Libya in the first place. We're embedded in the situation, Gaddafi emerged as an alternative to pro-Western monarchy and provided crude answers to the legitimate grievances of Libyan people. Let alone the sanctions used to punish Libya, which destroyed the welfare state developed in the 1970s and led to neoliberal reforms in the 21st Century.


We can see the liberal doctrine of interventionism is being reheated and served on plastic plates. Intervention is not inherently imperialist, the context and details matter. After all it is true that the Anglo-French intervention against Germany in 1939 was a reaction to the German invasion of Poland, which was at the time a military dictatorship, this is the closest we've ever come to a just war. It is not that the intervention in Libya fits the model of a just war and Gaddafi is not Hitler. The cause for intervention was to avert a massacre in Benghazi. The intervention in Libya might well lead to a destructive partition which would leave the country torn in two, festering rage between an impoverished west and an oil-rich east. The West might support the rebellion in order to remove the annoying dictator completely, but the air-strikes could escalate into an intervention with "boots on the ground" as the major threat to Benghazi is artillery. The threat of greater civilian casualties would only increase as a result.

Friday, 15 April 2011

A Rally for Cuts and Debt.


The TaxPayers' Alliance have pledged to lend the Rally Against Debt the 'debt clock' it paraded through the streets of London last year in a bid to secure a Conservative victory at the General Election. Ironically this populist rally for less government debt is effectively a rally for more debt per household. The household debt is set to rise from £1,560 billion in 2010 to £2,126 billion in 2015 which would represent an increase of 36%. Since the decline of the workers' share of GDP began in the late 1970s and social mobility has stagnated, the loss in wages had to be substituted for in debt by a great deal of working-people. By 2015 it is projected that public debt will be reduced by £43 billion whilst household debt will have skyrocketed by £245 billion. This should not be a surprise given the situation in the economy, the process of financialisation which was undertaken in the 70s and has intensified over the years. With the 'Big Bang' of 1986 in which Thatcher liberated the financial markets from regulations and taxes, of which UKIP and the TaxPayers' Alliance are admirers.

The fall in aggregate demand created by the financial collapse of 2008 will be made up for through an even greater reliance on debt. Credit is the only way for consumption to increase in a time when there is mass-unemployment, high inflation, stagnant wages and a VAT hike. The cuts will dispossess millions of people of an adequate safety-net which has the potential to force a lot of people to fall back on credit and take on even more debt. Since the financialisation of the economy began in the late 1970s and early 80s debt has been used to substitute for the losses in wages. The economic crises over the last 30 years have been a result of this process of financialisation. The austerity measures are part of an attempt to ensure the survival of the financialised economy we had before the Crash of '08. The prevention of a turn to social democracy, or worse socialism, along with the destruction of the welfare state are a part of this process. The public has to flip the bill for this process at a time when the population has been left jobless by the recession.

The current line about the national debt and the budget deficit exacerbated by the recession blames New Labour for "irresponsible" spending and giving "too much" to benefit claimants. This line reeks of bullshit. Even though public spending is low when compared to the rate of expenditure in the social democratic era which spanned from the 40s to the 70s. The amount of debt is also small compared to the immediate aftermath of WWII, when it was around 260% of GDP and today the debt is 70% of GDP. As right-wingers like to point out, in a war the national debt and budget deficit increases due to the impact of war on a country. This is often used to defend the position that the amount of spending under New Labour was unusual and irresponsible. It is conveniently left out that it is the norm in a recession for a deficit to emerge as public spending, which would normally be sustainable, becomes unsustainable as tax-revenues fall due to the economic collapse. The amount of debt incurred by such crises is then used to justify a series of deep cuts, this has been standard practice for over 30 years.

The joke about tuition fees and cuts to higher education is that the national debt is 70% of GDP and spending on higher education is 0.7% of GDP. So to pay-off less than 1% of the debt students are expected to take on around £30,000 in personal debt. Naturally, the subjects - science and math - prioritised are potentially valuable in Canary Wharf and Wall Street. Similarly absurd are the cuts to benefits which amount to £18 billion over 5 years, supposedly to deter benefit fraud (which costs £500 million a year) and to reduce the deficit. All the while defence has been essentially ring-fenced and the Trident missile programme is being renewed, even though it is under the control of the American nuclear command system and will cost £80 billion to renew. All the while there are billions being accumulated in offshore accounts at the expense of the public, various loopholes in the tax system allow the ultra-rich to get away without paying their full share. The estimates range from £25 billion to £125 billion as to how much this costs the Treasury.

Not that the Labour Party offers an alternative to cuts, it is totally on board with the cuts agenda in a less extreme form. Ed Miliband has only jumped on the back of the anti-cuts movement and sought to use it to further his own political career. Labour stands for across-the-board cuts of 10% rather than 12%, which would hit front-line services and working-people. It should also be remembered that it was New Labour under which the financial crisis came about, as a result of policies which are supported by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats as well. If there had been a Conservative administration in office the Crash would have still occurred. Down to the disillusionment with Labour, as well as the Establishment in general, and the usual herd behaviour amongst voters the outcome of the election was a hung Parliament. Those who claim there is a democratic mandate for a Con-Dem Coalition along these grounds are mistaken, a minority Conservative government maybe but not a coalition.

There may not be an alternative promised among the political class, but there is an actual alternatives to the cuts. At the Glasgow Media Group, Greg Philo has researched the possibilities of a one-off wealth tax of 20% which could wipe the deficit and replenish the government's coffers. It could rake in £800 billion to the Treasury from the £4 trillion in wealth accumulated by the richest 10% in this country. It would stabilise the stock market and the 10% would get their money back in the long-term. Even without this tax public spending can be used to supplement the fall in consumption and investment. Once the economy has recovered and growth is rising, tax-revenues would recover as employment increases and businesses recover. The country's debt could be paid off over time as spending which was temporarily unsustainable once again becomes sustainable. These are just two alternatives to the cuts, which do not exist according to the BBC and the mass-media.

Trickle Down Bullshit!

 
The Right have coalesced to organise the Rally Against Debt, RAD for short, with the media already drawing comparisons between the rally and the Tea Party in the US. According to the Rally against Debt website the march will be "polite" and attended by "civilised people" who consider many government initiatives unworthy of funding. These "civilised people" who want to see public spending slashed include: the TaxPayers' Alliance (who represent less than 20,000 rich people), the UK Independence Party and Toby Young. In other words, the ultra-rich Tory donors and the extremist wing of the Conservative Party gone AWOL have called for a rally to defend the cuts agenda. Oh and the son of Michael Young is involved, the man who coined the word "meritocracy" must be so proud of Toby. There has already been populist talk of the "quiet majority", hopefully that phrase was not an appropriation of Homer's silent majority which actually referred to the dead. Though it might as well as the rally will be minute in comparison to the March for the Alternative.

Supposedly this "quiet majority" is made up of middle-class organisers of free-schools and devotees of supply-side economics, the people who want a small state, that's assuming this "majority" is not the dead. These are the sort of people who favour tax avoidance, apparently, the billions owed to the Treasury will create jobs by being hoarded in an account somewhere. The main organiser behind this street campaign for austerity is Annabelle Fuller, a member of UKIP and adviser to the Party leader Nigel Farage. On Fox News Farage has expressed the view that taxes are "too high" and government is "too big" in the US. Keep in mind this comes from a man who has leached over £2 million in expenses from the EU over the years. UKIP will have it's chance to demonstrate that it really is the Tea Party of Great Britain, even though it will effectively be taking the side of the government and the Europhilic establishment it officially rails against. These people pledge to set an example of "polite" and "civilised" behaviour, followed by the occasional purchase at Fortnum and Mason's.

In the same message on the Rally Against Debt website you can also find further insights into the intellectual inclinations behind the rally. Aside from the obvious implications of leanings towards the hard Right, specifically towards that rightist sector who want to pull out of the EU and sell off everything except the military and the police. In the following claim the trickle-down theory can be detected "Trips to see Vodafone and other high street chains will result in congratulations to the company for providing jobs and growth in the UK." The trickle-down theory holds that by cutting corporation tax and the top rate of income tax, the government can encourage expansion by entrepreneurs, leading to job creation and thereby decrease unemployment. But as pointed out by the public school boys at Private Eye, this is the Vodafone which has got away without paying £6 billion in taxes and has cut several hundred jobs in Britain in recent years. Vodafone is about to close its Banbury call centre, which will cut 400 jobs. 



Conservative MEP and self-described libertarian Daniel Hannan has come out in support of the RAD. We shouldn't forget his verbal assault on the NHS when he appeared on Fox News back in 2009. Not to mention his admiration of Margaret Thatcher and Enoch Powell. The undertones of the rally are Thatcherite and will not go down well. That is just going on the fact that Mrs Thatcher was never more popular than her own party and was removed from power after the mass-demonstrations against the Poll Tax turned violent in 1990. The Conservatives have had to pretend to be those wets Tebbit compared to Nazi collaborators because a Conservative government cannot be elected on an openly Thatcherite platform. So naturally there will be a counter-march to this counter-march organised by the Coalition of Resistance, an umbrella organisation of leftist groups and parties united against the tri-partisan agenda of austerity measures. This development is no surprise as the Coalition of Resistance has been instrumental in the rallies and marches of recent months.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

To Daily Mail Readers Everywhere.

Today there was a demonstration against The Daily Mail and it's malicious slanders against the most vulnerable of British citizens. It was organised by the group 'Claimants Fight Back!' in reaction against the exaggerations and outright lies peddled by the Mail to stir division among the public. A favourite line being that the benefit claimants are pampered and are really just work shy scum. Even though benefit fraud costs £500 million a year and the over-payments cost £3 billion, whilst the cuts to benefits are at £18 billion. The hateful attitude of the reactionary press towards the unemployed is not surprising if you consider that Richard Littlejohn is convinced that Jody McIntyre is not disabled and therefore deserved to be dragged from his wheelchair. So it would seem the understanding of disability accepted by society is not shared by the right-wing media, from which The Daily Mail has consistently tried to distinguish itself as a middlebrow newspaper of Conservative persuasion appealing to the middle-classes. Though it is often accused of being a fascist rag for a reason...
As of 2011 the Mail has a circulation of over 2 million people today, but back in the 1930s it had a readership of around 1.5 million and at the time it consistently supported the rise of National Socialism. The headline "Hurrah for the Blackshirts!" is well known as the endorsement of Oswald Mosley by The Daily Mail in January of 1934. The editorial was penned by Lord Rothermere and in it he praised Mosley's "sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine". The support given to the British Union of Fascists by the Mail is well known. But less well known is that Lord Rothermere was a friend and supporter of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. The fascist leanings of Rothermere were reflected in the pages of The Daily Mail. In 1933 there was the headline which marked the advent of National Socialism in Germany, it read "Hurrah for the Sturdy Young Nazis!" Around the same time Rothermere remarked in defence of the Nazis "The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing on Germany."

This went as far as Lord Rothermere saluting Hitler in July 10 1933 with an editorial article under the banner of 'Youth Triumphant' which went on to be utilised as Nazi propaganda. At the time the British establishment, which went as far as the Royal Family and aristocracy, the commentariat and the literati, were riddled with Fascist sympathisers. From Edward VIII, along with the Duke of Westminster and Duke of Kent, to the flirtations of DH Lawrence and a juvenile Philip Larkin. Hitler once said of Edward VIII "I am certain through him permanent friendly relations could have been achieved. If he had stayed, everything would have been different. His abdication was a severe loss for us." Though a lot of reasonable people thought Hitler was the saviour of Germany, it should be noted that the kind of support lent to the Third Reich by the likes of Lord Rothermere and Prescott Bush. The support of high society and the business community for Fascism has been forgotten. It was IBM which drew up the "traffic management plan" for the Holocaust and the concentration camps were used to produced cars for companies like BMW and Ford.

The Third Reich attracted support among the English middle-class because of its racial romanticism and the promise of an organic society which would arise beyond the commercial and industrial landscape of the times. The class structure would not be demolished but transcended through class cooperation so that the glories of the nation could be realised in a radical alternative to Bolshevik socialism and liberal capitalism. The Jews would be painted as both dangerous radicals and sleazy bankers. Into this tension the Fascist offers an organic order in which individuals, classes, political parties and trade unions are subordinated to the nation as an ethnic entity. The emphasis was on 'Blood and Soil' with the imperative that we "think with our blood". Fascism presented an answer to the working-classes and the middle-classes, it eventually gained the support of the elites, all of which had been devastated by the economic turmoil of recent years. It was a horrible answer, the consequences of which we all know, which was posited as a "third position" to capitalism and socialism. Along with class, individuality and the state, even left and right was to be transcended by racial purity.

The Mail has been involved in spreading propaganda against asylum seekers for decades. In 1938 the scapegoats weren't Somalis but Jews who were fleeing persecution by the Nazis in Europe. The Daily Mail objected to the Jews seeking asylum in Britain: "The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage. The number of aliens entering the country through the back door is a problem to which the Daily Mail has repeatedly pointed." We might want to tell ourselves that the right-wing press were not conducive to the rise of Fascism in Europe and the ultimate consequences of Nazism. As part of the cultural amnesia of post-WWII Britain the tendencies in the Establishment which effectively appeased Hitler, and cheered him on in some cases, have been forgotten. It should be remembered that if there had been a German invasion of Britain, we could have had experienced the kind of occupation witnessed in France. There would have been death camps on British soil and a puppet government in Whitehall. We should never forget that Winston Churchill was a maverick and that is why he is so great.

The right-wing rags have a great deal of influence and shape discourse. We still hear the usual lines that people have the independence of mind to resist propaganda. And yet we have Fox News, which is basically the propaganda wing of the GOP, where Glenn Beck calls Obama a "racist" as well as a "communist". As the Nazi Party knew all too well, big lies are the ones which are believed and swallowed en mass. The mass-media actively disseminates such lies, often in the most sensationalist terms of sex and death, in a bid of competition. We have reached the point that you don't even have to read a right-wing newspaper to come across the latest story. When told that the media is not infuential always remember the words of Hitler in September 1942 ''The attitude of the Daily Mail at the time of our reoccupation of the Rhineland was of very great assistance to us . All the British of the Beaverbrook-Rothermere (The Daily Express and The Daily Mail) circle came to me and said 'In the last war we were on the wrong side'."

Monday, 11 April 2011

A Love Story: Rupert Murdoch and the Establishment.

 The Yuppie Mephistopheles.

Over the last five decades Rupert Murdoch has constructed an international media empire, it began with News Ltd which he inherited in 1953 from his father and he soon sought to expanded the family business horizontally. Politicians fear his wrath as a campaign of vilification backed by Rupert Murdoch is practically unstoppable. David Cameron had a private meeting with Murdoch before being elected Prime Minister, with the full support of Murdoch's media interests in Britain. Even Barack Obama met with Murdoch before taking office and has been the subject of a destructive smear campaign run out of Fox News - accusing Obama of being a socialist - and has openly come out in support of the Republicans for 2012. The current scandal over phone hacking at The News of the World (which began back in 2006) is interesting in this context. When Gordon Brown was Prime Minister and the scandal had just erupted, Murdoch had called for New Labour to back off and then sided against Brown in 2009.

As of last year Rupert Murdoch has contributed $1 million to the Republican Party and given the Tea Party enormous support through his media interests. Just like the way James Goldsmith funded the anti-Communist campaign against unions in Britain back in the 70s. The same framework of a fight of the common man against the liberal elite and the political class is applied by Fox News against the White House to further a right-wing agenda. In the last years of New Labour the right-wing press, led by Murdoch, attacked Brown on numerous incidents. Take "Bigotgate" in which Gordon Brown was caught on tape calling Gillian Duffy a "bigot" because of comments she made about immigration. The 40% of British media owned and influenced by Murdoch led the way in the attack on Brown as an out-of-touch elitist. In a similar manner The News of the World strived to uncover the lies and sordid secrets of the Establishment. The sex life of John Prescott is the business of the public according to The News of the World and any call for his right to privacy is just elitism.

Take the case of Russell Harty, who as he lay dying in a hospital bed from hepatitus found himself hounded by The News of the World. There was an intense undercurrent of homophobia to the media frenzy, which culminated in The Sun blaming Harty for his death just after the funeral in 1988. It was in reaction to the recent attack on the Murdoch empire by the liberal elite, it came in the form of Alan Bennett who pointed the finger at the press and said "The gutter press finished him." Even though reporters had been pursuing Harty in the hospital, posing as doctors demanding to see medical notes and photographers who rented a flat opposite Harty's hotel room, it was decided Bennett had made an outrageous statement. The Sun responded "Stress did not kill Russell Harty. The truth is that he died from a sexually transmitted disease. The press didn't give it to him. He caught it from his own choice. And by paying young rent boys he broke the law. Some - like ageing bachelor Mr Bennett - can see no harm in that. He has no family. But what if it had been YOUR son Harty had bedded?"

Every US President since Truman has met Rupert Murdoch and he has helped elect a few along the way through his media empire. It was Fox News which first declared George W Bush the President-elect and the rival news outlets soon fell in line. The Bush tax-cuts that were supposedly drawn-up to benefit the middle-classes and effectively handed over $1.6 trillion to around 1% of the American population. The surplus nurtured in the Clinton years of austere cut-backs was destroyed by this approach and a huge deficit was soon accumulated. The deficit is used to call for even more cuts to welfare, social security and health-care (notice defence is always excluded) in order for another set of tax-cuts. By 2003 out of the 247 editors, who work under Murdoch as part of his media empire, none came out to oppose the Iraq war and these are supposedly "independent" editors. Even Rupert Murdoch himself has admitted that the corporation actively supported the war until it became impossible to do so - given the level of opposition among the public.   

Buccaneer of the Press.

It wasn't until 1968 that Rupert Murdoch took over The News of the World and plucked it from the arms of an old establishment family. Sir William Carr chose Murdoch over Bob Maxwell, whom Carr hated because he was a Czech, as Murdoch had promised that even after the purchase Carr would continue to have a say in the running of the paper. This appealed to the attitudes of the Establishment at the time. Maxwell warned Sir William Carr that if Rupert Murdoch is allowed to takeover the paper "You will be out before your feet touch the ground" and he replied "Bob, Rupert is a gentleman." But as soon as Murdoch had cornered the shareholders in 1969 Carr was forced out. The Establishment decided that Rupert Murdoch was not a gentleman at all, he was a sleazy and destructive buccaneer capitalist. That same year Murdoch bought The Sun, it would be transformed from a replacement to The Daily Herald to the most widely sold newspaper in Britain.

Then Rupert Murdoch announced he was going to publish the memoirs of Christine Keeler in The News of the World. Keeler had an affair with John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War, in 1963 which scandalised high society and wrecked MacMillan's government. Profumo had since been rehabilitated after he worked for a charity in the East End. The British establishment had forgiven him and the way Murdoch had exumed the Profumo affair was a blatantly cynical decision motivated only by profit. The destruction of one of their own, who had made a "mistake" but had been reformed", was intolerable. The commentariat came to the rescue and the BBC made a more probing look at Rupert Murdoch with David Dimbleby as it's tool for doing so. It was after this rejection Murdoch moved to the US where he would continue his media expansion. From where he would contine to rail against old liberal elites, like the Kennedy family. To obscure a new array of elite interests Murdoch crafted a reflexive populism capable of slinging mud at any opponent.


At the time Rupert Murdoch had been mingling with the Mayfair Set, which included James Goldsmith, Jim Slater, Tiny Rowland, David Stirling (the man who founded the SAS), John Aspinall and Lord Lucan. The role the Set played in the shaping of the political trajectory of the late 20th Century has been well documented by Adam Curtis. Just as Murdoch was rejected by the Establishment so was the Mayfair Set. In the economic turmoil caused by the oil crisis, Slater Walker went bust in 1975 and Jim Slater was bankcrupted. Tiny Rowland was condemned by Ted Heath as the "unacceptable face of capitalism" and moved back to Africa. Lord Lucan disappeared without a trace after killing his nanny. James Goldsmith was left to pick up the pieces, but  followed Murdoch after a petty legal dispute with Private Eye. All of these men were disaffected right-wingers, who believed that the Labour Party and the media had been infiltrated by communists determined to undermine and destroy Great Britain.

Ironically these disaffected right-wingers who would undermine Britain as a nation and as a society in "liberating" the forces of the market and globalisation. Stirling had only succeeded in bringing a great deal of oil money to Britain through arms deals. Slater and Goldsmith smashed the family-ran public companies in order to make a short-term profit. The way Rupert Murdoch pursued his right-wing agenda reduced political discourse to a series of cynical exaggerations, moralising rants and politicised fear. The forces of liberal capitalism lead to a socio-economic, as well as a metaphysical, wasteland in which moral relativism (the very idea Murdoch rails against as "elitist") is nurtured. The market rationality is secular and relativistic, not to mention pragmatic, which has a subversive effect on the moral, religious and political order. This contradiction between the economic and the metaphysical is inherent to capitalism, it is inescapable. Murdoch offers a way of managing this tension, he has the power to reassert morality and nationhood that has been wrecked by the market.

At War with Elites.

The way Murdoch narrativised it, he rejected the Establishment out of a deep-seated understanding of the common man and would never "sell out" to become a "bloody press lord". To get revenge Rupert Murdoch returned to Britain in 1981 and bought The Times, to the outrage of the liberal elite and old 'One Nation' Tories. But the Thatcherites gave the take-over the go-ahead without reference to the Monopolies Commission, which was compulsory under the law. Thatcher made an exception for Murdoch on the grounds that neither The Times nor The Sunday Times made any money and he repaid her with dutiful support. In reaction the BBC, that oh so adversial pack of Oxbridge liberals, decided to shine a light on the business and personal life of Rupert Murdoch in a documentary entitled "Who's Afraid of Rupert Murdoch?" on Panorama. It was a much more hard-hitting look at the man behind the media and was followed by another interview conducted by David Dimbleby. As it turns out, the liberal commentariat hates Murdoch as much as the British establishment.


In 1986 Murdoch had moved all of his operations out of Fleet Street to Wapping. The print unions fell into the trap and went on strike, he sacked them and claimed that the unions were part of the decadent elites. The market system had to serve the people, all obstacles to market forces had to be swept away in the name of this cause. Actually the move increased the value of British papers by over 300%. The lay-offs in Britain were used to cross-subsidise the birth of Fox TV. In 1989 he helped write an editorial to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Sun in which he wrote "The Establishment does not like the Sun. Never has. There is a growing band of people in positions of influence and privilege who want our newspaper to suti their private convenience." By 1991 Murdoch had solidified his position as a global media oligarch and he had the last laugh at Maxwell's expense, who fell off a yacht and drowned. This came after Maxwell had become one of the greatest criminals in the history of business.


As made evident in "Who's Afraid of Rupert Murdoch?" he has been consistently engaged in the take-over of intelligent newspapers only to transform them into cynical right-wing trash. These papers effectively become a propaganda wing for any political party which Murdoch latches onto out of ruthless self-interest. The opposition is immediately subjected to a destructive smear campaign, which abides no rules or moral code. In Britain this helped elect Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair and David Cameron. He was also instrumental in the downfalls of Gordon Brown and John Major (among others). The cunning manner in which Murdoch handles politicians, to benefit his own interests, led to him receiving a massive loan from the US government just after he had endorsed Jimmy Carter. Out of a hatred of what he considered to be elitism Murdoch helped conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic undermine old institutions, which were dominated by old money elites, in order to stamp out the network of opposition to him.

Rupert Murdoch supported the Conservatives in 2010 out of the same ruthless self-interest which caused him to attack Labour in 1992 and secure a Tory victory. Kinnock announced that if Labour won the election there would new ownership stipulations introduced to the market. This could have led to the breakdown of News Corporation which would amount to Murdoch's castration. The Oxbridge liberals at the BBC, who have "fought" Murdoch so valiantly for over 40 years, have now offered themselves up on a platter like the pig who wants to be eaten. Perhaps awaiting the Second Coming of Glenn Beck in the form of Richard Littlejohn? All for the sake of free-choice the BBC seems to have caved in to a policy favouring Murdoch's interests. The BBC is the biggest rival in Britain to News Corp, so it must be undermined, weakened and broken down into edible chunks for a smooth digestion. So a freeze of the license fee would be a good start. The only thing Murdoch hates more is Ofcom and that has been highlighted as a quango ready to be cut.



Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Original Sin of Liberalism.

The Truth as a Whole.

At the origins of liberal thought, in the political writings of a certain anonymous Englishman all the way back in 1691, is the idea of the state of nature and notions of consent. Man is by nature free and equal in the state of nature, in which there was no impartial authority and no solid legal framework to resolve conflict. In order to preserve property and constrain the powers, which might oppress the individual, man entered into a social contract and by consent submit to a government. The writer went on to draw a distinction between expressed and tacit consent. The first of which is obvious, expressed consent is the willful acceptance of society and the state. In exchange for freedom and equality the netural state will act to preserve property, as well as the rights and liberties entrenched in property. Tacit consent is a less simple concept. Everyone who has profited or benefited in any way from the state and society has automatically surrendered equality and freedom in exchange for such rewards.

So in one way or another the people consent to society and the government, all freedom and equality is surrendered for the sake of life, liberty and property. As some critics of Michael Moore will point out, Moore has consented to the system and American society in benefiting so much from it all - so why does he make such terrible films? Next comes the demand that Moore should give all of his money to charity and go to live in Cuba. In other words Michael Moore "consented" to American capitalism when he was born in the US and started to benefit enormously from the system as it had developed. If he wants to criticise America he should give away everything he has gained from living the American dream. This is the line of the American Right, reactionaries everywhere and at the fundamental level of it is the idea of "consent". The assumptions of freedom and equality are embellished throughout liberal ideology, concealed at the base of notions of individual responsibility and meritocracy.


Many of the arguments against positive discrimination and political correctness rest lazily on these assumptions. Affirmative action is often slapped down as putting black people before whites, that in itself is a double-standard and an inequality. This assumes that there were equal in standards and background, when in actuality there is a huge inequality as black people have been disenfranchised and kept in a miserable place. A common argument against political correctness is that while white people are not permitted to use racial slurs, the groups of the ethnic groups often subject to such language are themselves allowed to use the slurs. But there is a difference in context and once again the assumption of equality is false. According to the vague distinction of tacit consent just by the use of money people surrender their equality and freedom. We've all bought into this system of free enterprise and competition, individual freedom and responsibility so stop whining about the crimes of the past and calling for social justice! The historical context of slavery, segregation and racial oppression are removed from the picture.

Look at the grounds onto which the soup-run has been done away with in Westminster, it encourages homelessness and brings more homeless people into the borough so it is being scrapped. The homeless are viewed as a public nuisance and as failed citizens, they were free to work and live normally but failed somehow and are responsible for their own plight. This is consistent with the atomised interpretation of the world which liberals adhere to. This is in denial of the 'Truth as a Whole', so the contextual determinants are removed from view and society becomes a mass of autonomous individuals. Hegel held that there is no phenomenon that can be grasped in isolation because this would ignore the network of relations that constitute such things. To understand the world reasonably is to take into account the context of events. In denial of the 'Truth as a Whole' liberals remove all the contextual determinants which led people to become homeless and instead emphasise the freedom and responsibility of the individual. An informed answer would be to have soup-runs throughout London combined with serious efforts to eliminate homelessness.

If we go further than this to look at the Enlightenment interpretation of history as progress we find this same fundamental problem. The material conditions onto which liberalism is predicated, it's foundations are coated in blood, is the accumulative processes of slavery and feudalism. The debt owed to the suffering of slaves and serfs is quietly kicked under the rug. The advances of Western civilisation are often achieved through slaughter, such advances open up new possibilities of barbarism as well as emancipation. The countless generations butchered and terrorised into subservience to advance the mode of production and amass a vast material resources which enable the emergence of new forms of exploitation. American capitalism is indebted to the genocidal bloodbath and centuries of misery and injustice preceding the Revolution and merely change in form after independence. The liberal order providing retrospective justifications for slavery, low-taxes, the theft of Native American land and the accumulation of capital. The huge debt to the slaves, who built the White House, is the legitimate claim for reparations and positive discrimination.

The Tories are still Blue.

 

Some of you, my fellow coach potatoes, will note the debate over the "Big Society" was reignited with a notable appearance from Phillip Blond on 10'Clock Live back in February and it will no doubt come up again in the future. As the proponent of a new kind of a communitarian conservatism Blond has found himself influential in the Conservative Party in recent years. The impact of the 'Red Tory' has been to shift rhetoric from the "compassionate conservative" limbo to a consistently conservative message. 'Red Toryism' has been posited as a viable alternative to the failures of the egalitarian Left and the pro-market Right, socially conservative but sceptical of neoliberalism. Though the commentariat have yet to buy it and many feel it is simply a "cover for cuts". On 10'Clock Live he took part in a discussion with liberal columnist Johann Hari and Conservative Shaun Bailey hosted by David Mitchell. The clashes between Hari and Blond were notably entertaining, though the government has still failed to promote the "Big Society" especially in this time of public spending cuts. 

The progressive credentials of David Cameron can easily be seen. Cameron is the product of affirmative action for rich white-men, he was born the fifth cousin twice removed to the Queen and got his first job with the Tories after he was recommended by an equerry at Buckingham Palace - not to mention the recent revelations about Clegg's internship. Aligned with the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party David Cameron has joined his German and French cousins in his opposition to multiculturalism. Cameron also maintains the Atlantic alliance between the US and the UK, whilst he is also a friend of Rupert Murdoch as well as to homophobes and anti-Semites in Europe. Never mind his advocacy of small government, austerity and Victorian family values on top of all this. These are not the credentials of a progressive, these are the warts of a reactionary which are hidden behind the well crafted veneer of a youthful, soft and modern conservative. This is an inversion of the 'Nixon in China' principle. Only Nixon, the anti-Communist, could sip tea with Mao and only a progressive can slash and burn the welfare state.

The only sense in which the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats could be considered progressive is in the Enlightenment sense of history as Progress. Conveniently this interpretation of history eliminates the need for radicalism of any kind: We will get there in the end, so why make big changes now? This is compatible with the economics of market liberalism, from which we might hold that there is full employment in the long-run so current trends of unemployment are only temporary. Along this road of Progress towards a liberal utopia, reminiscent of North Oxford, there are numerous obstacles that must be removed swiftly. There are the barbarous ideas and the dangerous enablers of such ideas, in the way that Islamism is supposedly empowered by liberal multiculturalism. Not that there is a need for a common project to unite people, as that would presuppose a different take on history, but rather that a "muscular liberalism" should succeed the multicultural order. Similarly, the culture of dependency has to be jettisoned along with all inefficiencies in the public sector.

Then we have the shattering revelations over the very warm relationship between the Conservative Party and the financial hub of the British economy should not be a surprise to any serious commentator. And if we lived in a free society there would be such a degree of transparency that the ordinary citizen would be informed of all the details, by which I mean all the figures of contributions to the parties. Contributions from the City of London to the Tory Party have risen since Cameron became Party leader in 2005. When David Cameron just came to lead the Party, funds from 'Big Finance' accounted for just less than £3 million which would represent around 25% of total donations. 5 years later and the Conservatives had received over £40 million in funds from Canary Wharf. Though it would be interesting to see the details of all three major parties, as in the US every election is won by the candidate who spends the most on the campaign trail. As I suspect the rich dumped New Labour  in favour of the Conservatives in the run-up to the 2010 General Election.

Keep in mind the strong support Cameron received from over 1,000 business leaders and the blessing of Rupert Murdoch, which may well have swung the election in 2010. Notably Blair received similar support from business leaders before his victory in 1997. The Murdoch media empire has been notably influential in elections for a long time and has acted as a base of media support for Thatcher, Major and Blair. From 2006 to 2009 the contributions added up to £16 million and in 2010 the Party raised £11 million from Canary Wharf - this is equal to the amount Labour raised from Unite from 2006-2009. Until recently this is all we knew about the financial ties to the Conservative Party, but now we know that the donations received by the Party are over £40 million since 2005. Under the leadership of David Cameron financial support procured from 'Big Finance' has literally doubled, the wealthy have leaped from 'Blue Labour' to 'Red Tory'. The same old platform has been recycled and refined slightly, it's pursuit of class interests even more brash and vicious than before.

When asked by Dylan Jones as to what his views on the City, and whether a Conservative Prime Minister can be a meaningful critic of the banks, Cameron responded "I think a Conservative Prime Minister can and should be a friend of business, where you praise and reward good business practice and then feel absolutely free to criticise bad business practice." Cameron went on to clarify that he does not believe the answer to every problem is regulation and legislation. Instead he opts for public debate and advocates responsibility in the business community - this is as shallow as it gets. Note Mr Cameron's words as we can now read of the Black and White Party, formerly known as the Winter Ball, where each of the 900 guests paid a minimum of £400 and went on to bid for City internships which could pave the way for their children to become hedge-fund managers and stock-brokers. Five were sold for £14,000 that night. All together the event may have raised £500,000 for the Conservative Party, funds which will be used to tell us all that "We're all in this together."

The "Virtual Parliament" of investors who vote on government policy minute-by-minute and will seek to undermine particular social policies and reforms - that strikes at the interests of the rich - through capital flight, this is the result of the financialisation of the economy over the last 30 years. We're talking about the global ultra-rich now, the people who have accumulated $40 trillion by 2009. The bailouts of 2008 to 2009 were a way of maintaining high rates of profit which could not be gained from the exploitation of labour. The same can be said of the bailouts of Greek, Irish and now Portugese banks. As a man of corporate public-relations David Cameron knows a good slogan when he sees one, which might explain why he ripped off the Obama theme of "Change". But at a time when profits have to be wrested through accumulation by dispossession we are already seeing the re-use of methods of race-baiting and military aggression. The current global situation could lead to movements for independence emerging in developing countries, as seen in the Middle East recently, as well as attempts by organised labour and the radical Left to fight against austerity.