Sunday, 31 July 2011

Capitalisme ou Barbarie?

We find ourselves incapable of even imagining another society, a better world and an alternative to capitalism. It is even easier to imagine the end of the world itself than the end of the capitalist system. The motto of the ideological constellation which currently holds us hostage might as well be a pun on the old socialist saying, instead of "Socialisme ou Barbarie" the capitalist can say "Capitalisme ou Barbarie". As the system can only defend itself at this point as the only way, all other roads have led to barbarism, so we must stick to this last route carved out by the managerial aristocracy on the way to a plutonomous future. According to this view, all the "experiments" with socialism have failed and that proves there is no alternative to capitalism available. Any attempts to change the world are doomed to fail, to descend into totalitarianism and horrors beyond our wildest dreams. In Celsius 7/7 the neoconservative Michael Gove posits Islamism as the new great evil of the world, in line with National Socialism and Communism.

Unsurprisingly, the radical Left is the natural ally of radical Islam in the eyes of Michael Gove and for him both have to be combated. First of all, the presupposition is that the problems of the 21st Century are ethical-cultural (e.g. the right to choose, free-speech, niqabs etc.) and that socio-economic issues have been solved. This in itself is a result of the ideological struggle that has repressed the socio-economic dimension in recent decades. For Gove the Left are simply the purveyors of a backward economics that impoverished and killed millions in the 20th Century. So the economic system is unquestionable, the debate is about freedom which is under threat from Islamism. Even though it was the economic crisis of the early 30s that led to the rise of National Socialism and the sustained deprivation under the Tzars which preceded the Russian Revolution. It can hardly be said that the rise of Islamism is unconnected from the failures and collapse of Arab nationalism, which was dedicated to economic justice along secular lines.

The way that the problem of economics has been submerged is befitting in a world in which capitalist realism is prevalent. Mark Fisher defined capitalist realism as "the view that it is now impossible even to imagine an alternative to capitalism. Capitalism is the only ‘realistic’ political economic system, and, since this is the case, all we can do is accommodate ourselves to it." As a product of the emergence of capitalist realism, we seek to solve societal problems within the narrow framework of which we are allowed to think about change. In the midst of crises we seek refuge in a business ontology, in which everything will be remodeled on the practices and forces of the market. This is what lurks behind the austerity measures which are sweeping the Western world right now. The cuts to public spending are an expression of the inability to even imagine a better world, in Britain we dare not tax the 10% of the population who owns £4 trillion in wealth. Instead we revert to the neoliberal shibboleths of austerity measures, debt reduction and fiscal responsibility etc.

In the 21st Century we have found this extends to health-care, education and warfare, but also as far as terrorism. We ought not forget that al-Qaeda is active in private-terrorism which funded by the Saudi bourgeoisie, Osama bin Laden inherited his wealth from his father - who died in a helicopter crash in 1968 - which would swell through lucrative investments over the years. In other words, the attacks on the World Trade Centre were cross-subsided with money extracted from the stock market as well as the generous donations made to the group by wealthy Arabs who are sympathetic to the cause. Consequently, the military-industrial complex has in turn been able to secure greater and greater funding for the stated purpose of "defence". Due to the interconnected nature of high-tech industry and the military in the US the increased funding functioned as a huge injection of capital into the economy. The convergence of interests which benefited from the attacks then went on to invade Iraq on the basis that the war was necessary to prevent another devastating attack on American soil.

The US had made it out of the Great Depression until the early 40s just as the country began to build up for war as Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941. By 1949 the US government was concerned that the country could fall back into economic depression if the military apparatus was dismantled and so Truman opted for perpetual war for perpetual peace. The military functions as a cover for the state-sector of the American economy and has done for a long time. Since then the US has spent over $7.1 trillion on defence and today the US military budget accounts for 50% of military spending in the world. Incidentally, from the end of the Second World War to today the US has "intervened" in over 70 countries around the world. This has played a vital role in the development of the US as a economic superpower, without it Bill Gates and Steve Jobs may not be so wealthy today. It was massive state-intervention which created the internet and computer technology before it was handed over to the private sector. This is the dirty secret of the American economy.

When reminded that "capitalism works" and "socialism fails" we ought to remind the reactionary  that the system only works as long as 3% compound growth can be attained forever. That if we can just find profitable investments for just $1.5 trillion a year and every year forever, even as the amount rises to $3 trillion and beyond, then we let billions of people slip into poverty and starvation. The Right are sceptical of climate change because it threatens growth ad infinitum but are comfortable with Peak Oil because it seems to be another "obstacle" for capitalism to circumvent in order to go on indefinitely. Suppose climate change is a hoax and the energy crisis can be solved, that will not alter the potentialities of capitalism to push onwards to new crises. We may find ourselves in a position where the banks are too big to bailout and we are dragged kicking and screaming into the darkness of the abyss which we have managed to avoid for so long.
At one of his more gloomy moments Karl Marx thought that the class struggle might lead to the "common ruination" of all classes and he did not have the thrill of living in a world of nuclear weapons, chemical warfare and environmental decay. It would seem the infinite growth paradigm is incompatible with a world of finite resources and the ultimate trajectory is fatal in destination. Thus capital is an abstract parasite, an insatiable vampire and a zombie-marker. As Mark Fisher notes "the living flesh it converts into dead labour is ours, and the zombies it makes are us." We are edging ever closer to an unprecedented state of crisis which has been generated by the system and all the while we can envisage the end of the world but not even begin to think about the alternative. The dichotomy of capitalism or barbarism keeps us chained to the status quo. That is the intended goal of those champions of the free-market who cheer on the entrepreneurial spirit of Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch.

Interpellate This!

Ideology is not simply in the heads of human beings it is material in nature, in order for a belief to be held the minds of the masses it must first of all shape the lives of the people as a whole. Only in this way will the ideology retain its hegemonic status and continue to function in spite of what thoughts might go through the heads of certain people. It could be argued that the Saudi state preceded capitalism on the Arabian peninsula and so it played a large role in the way it emerged in the Middle East, though it might be more nuanced to say that the state can be deduced from the structural needs of capitalism. The state-repression in Saudi Arabia has guaranteed the free reign of capital. But it takes more than the repressive agencies of the state (e.g. the military and the police) to protect the social order and to reproduce the existing social relations of production. This is where Islam as ideology comes into the picture as embodied in the institutional forms of the state apparatus, which ranges from the family and schools to corporations and the media.

Osama bin Laden was born into the Saudi bourgeoisie, his father was the head of a company which built 80% of roads in Saudi Arabia and has done rather well out of the relationship between the Saudi ruling class and the US government. The life Osama bin Laden led mirrors the contorted relationship between corporate base and Islamic superstructure in Saudi Arabia, the transition from Saudi oligarch to radical Islamist. Initially it might seem as though a thing is defined by its function in the arrangement, while a hammer may be used to knock nails into wood it can also be used to bash someone's head in. But it is not that the hammer has been removed from it's intended usage, rather it is defined as a torture tool when it is used as one. So we might understood bin Laden's place in ideology as defined not as the "leap" from his privileged origins to his life of fanaticism. Rather we should designate him in regards to what exact function his actions played in the world, the impotence of Islamist Terror and the way al-Qaeda contributed to the ideological constellation in the West.

At the end of the Cold War the grand narrative that the US was in a war with the Soviet Union finally drew to a close as "shock therapy" swept Russia clean of really existing socialism. The interests of capital that were invested in that narrative were now deprived of a way to make sense of the world and, in particular, the actions undertaken by Western governments. Eventually a new narrative had to open up and the attacks of September 11th 2001 heralded a new narrative of the "War on Terror". The ideological development served the Bush administration, the liberal commentariat and even al-Qaeda. It gave the government and the media a meaningful way to report on global events for public consumption. It also sells papers, boosts approval ratings for politicians and provides a way for Islamists to recruit young angry men in the Middle East. The materiality of all of this was the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. Osama bin Laden became the face of international terrorism as the constellation shifted from anti-Communism to counter-terrorism.

Louis Althusser developed a fascinating account of the way individuals become the subjects of ideology. It is through interpellation by the state apparatus in the process of socialisation that the individual is hailed. The individual recognises themselves in this call of a grand Subject capable of legitimately holding them accountable. The grand Subject might take a form appropriate to the context, from God and the Nation to the King and the Ulama. The media, as well as educational institutions and corporations are the materiality of ideology and each is a segment of the state apparatus. Ideology is not just belief in the heads of politicians, it is in the fabric of society and the practices of life on a day-to-day basis. It is more like the Freudian unconscious, it is not just a residue but it is central to the way we imagine our relation to specific experiences. This is the way ideology becomes engrained in the minds of citizens. Only through shaping the material can ideology shape people, so that the system and by extension the world can be understood in unquestionable terms as almost a natural phenomenon.

Ideology does not primarily involve theoretical explanations of 'how the world works', so much as provide accounts of who individuals are and where in the political world such individuals fit. In this ideological process, the relation of the subject to the world can become distorted as the subject is ascribed a functional role (as a citizen, a voter etc.) as if it is chosen by them. Thus, we find a man can go from an upstanding member of society from a respected family to a wanted criminal. The places we hold in such structures are politically decisive, whether it be in the pecking order in a corporation or in kinship as a son or a mother. People will perform as if these roles are the free realisation of their subjective potential. It took many years for Osama bin Laden to go beyond just the conservative reading of the Qur'an which he delved into as a student of economics. The notion of the autonomous individual is a product of ideological misrecognition. As Marx wrote in The Brumaire "Men make their own history, but not of their own free will not under circumstances they themselves have chosen but under the given and inherited circumstances with which they are directly confronted."

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Self-Hating and Israel Threatening?

The anti-Semitism of Zionists.

In the disgraceful history of anti-Semitism there is an irony that the Jews have traditionally been depicted as both upper-class and lower-class, overly intellectual and too earthly, lazy and workaholic. For the Third Reich the Jew represented both the decadence of liberal capitalism and the Bolshevik spirit of socialism, the Fascists offered an alternative modernity devoid of class struggle and affirmed through a rebirth of the nation. For the Nazi conversion to Christianity is out of the question as the "guilt" of the Jews does not need to be proved, the "guilt" resides in the biological constitution of Jewishness. The source of the damnation was not theological but racial. The Jew first appeared as the enemy as the dark ages came to a close in Europe with the role of money in the rapid development of market exchange. The anti-Semitic depiction came in the form of parasites who disrupt the social fabric of society. Later, the wandering Jew came about just as capitalism began to emerge and as society was transformed it began to display the features that were attributed to Jewry.

The form of anti-Semitism prevalent today can be summarised in the words of Croat nationalist rockstar Marko Perkovic "I have nothing against [the Jews] and I did nothing to them. I know that Jesus Christ also did nothing against them, but still they hanged him on the cross."  Then there is the more recent development of Zionist anti-Semitism, which Žižek has pointed to, as the establishment of the Jewish state came so did the emergence of Jews who resist identification with the Jewish state. These are the Jews who insist on the "public use of reason" over the "private" domain offered by the nation-state being constructed in the Middle East. A standard case would be Noam Chomsky who stands against the self-designation of Israel as the state of the Jewish people on the grounds that it is based on the exclusion and oppression of the Palestinians. Chomsky was a Zionist Youth Leader and lived in a kibbutz in Israel for 5 years before leaving out of disgust with the ideological atmosphere of ultra-nationalism and even Stalinist sympathies expressed by some on the Left in those days.

A classic case of Zionist anti-Semitism can be found at where a list of over 7,000 S.H.I.T. (Self-Hating Israel-Threating) Jews can be viewed. The names listed often include detailed descriptions and unflattering photos of the person, along with an email address provided to enable hate mail. It has a lot in common with Red Watch and looks just like a Nazi list of decadent Jewish freaks. You will no doubt find Chomsky and Finkelstein on the list. The Jew who does not identify with the state of Israel is reconstructed along anti-Semitic lines as we can read in the manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik. The latter drew a distinction between "loyal" and "disloyal" Jews which is presupposed by a fundamental rejection of the Jewish contribution to European identity, which is a radical universalism. In Breivik's terms the "disloyal" Jew is a liberal opposed to nationalism and Zionist, for him these Jews are complicit in the multicultural experiment and the rise of cultural Marxism.

The Vilification Industry.

It is this reconstruction of the Jewish critics of Israel along anti-Semitic lines is how the anti-Semites of the Christian Right can support Israel. There's a great deal of projection involved clearly, notice that the Christianists will attack the media and the elites as left-wing whenever criticism of Israel is given public space. The conspiracy theory of Jews ruling the world is ripped from it's context to explain away negative reports of Israel as the plot of a ultra-leftist cabal in media. At the same time, the Christian Right support Israeli expansion out of a perverse attempt to bring about the Rapture which will herald the end for the Jews and the Muslims. Generally, the logic of anti-Semitism remains prevalent in Western civilisation as particular characteristics are still considered "Jewish". We find these features are sometimes morphed to the point that the greedy Shylock becomes the entrepreneurial spirit of Alan Sugar. Apparently, this is a compliment and not a racist insinuation!

Then there is the special case of the vilification of Norman Finkelstein orchestrated by Alan Dershowitz. Finkelstein had slammed the work of Alan Dershowitz on Israel and so Dershowitz went after him. The aim was not to refute Finkelstein's argument, it was to blast him out of the water, ruin his career and muddy the discourse to the extent that there can be no step forward. Dershowitz opted to go after Finkelstein's mother, who is a survivor of Auschwitz and he actually had the nerve to claim that she survived because she was a collaborator with the Nazi regime. It has been described by Chomsky as a "jihad" to try and prevent Norman Finkelstein from being appointed to tenure at DePaul University, a Catholic university, which is vulnerable to accusations of anti-Semitism that Dershowitz certainly has no qualms about making. The use of anti-Semitism as a label to vilify critics is cynically used to shoot out the opposition to the moral degeneracy of the Israeli government.

The consistent line of Alan Dershowitz is that all of the criticism of Israel comes from anti-Semites and self-hating Jews. This is nothing unique on his part, these same claims are often made to undermine the critics of Israel. The double-think here is that if you're opposed to mass-murder then you're a Nazi of course. It is clear that the facts of Palestinian suffering evoke outrage from normal human beings and not from people with a warped view of the world. The fact that (as of June 4th 2011) 124 Israeli children killed by Palestinians and 1,463 Palestinian children killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000 should move a normal human being. The same goes for the Israeli reaction to the deaths of three Israeli citizens as a result of around 2,000 rockets being fired into Israel, the reaction being that which had left over 1,400 Palestinians dead and thousands more injured. Of course, 10 more Israeli soldiers were killed in the mean time and the slaughter was called to a stop just before Barack Obama was inaugurated as President to avoid any embarrassment for the US.

Immodest Proposals?

At the time of the establishment of the Jewish state Hannah Arendt was one of the vocal critics of the particular statist formula that the leadership of the Zionist movement embarked upon. For Arendt the worst model for the Jews to emulate is the racial nation-state because that model had produced the horrors of Nazi Germany. To secure a future free of conflict it seemed imperative to Arendt that the Palestinians and Jews had to have equal rights and recognition as citizens based on justice. Instead of an Israel based on race carved out of the Arab world by force, Arendt proposed an independent state for Jews and Palestinians as part of the British Commonwealth of Nations that would ensure both ethnic groups got a fair deal. A Jewish homeland was a solution to the perpetual "rootless" status of the Jews and a federation amongst the Arabs and Jews in Palestine would be vital for the survival of a Jewish homeland. This was the alternative to the violence that has been used to carve a Jewish state out of a predominantly Arab region.

The concerns Hannah Arendt had about the future character of a Jewish state that had to live in agitation with its Arab neighbours were somewhat prescient. She foresaw that the Jews would have to live surrounded entirely by a hostile Arab population and secluded inside ever-threatened borders. The state would become inward looking to the extent that all other interests are marginalised by "self-defence". We have seen that the social programmes and welfare measures taken in other states have been reduced in Israel in order to raise military spending. The external threats would overwhelm social experiments, which we have seen as the most radical Kibbutzim were suppressed, whilst the military would take the centreplace of political theory and economic development. Israel was once an almost socialistic society for many years, but it is now in a state of immense inequality in which 18 families control 60% of corporate equity. Israel is second only to the US in terms of inequality.

Noam Chomsky has commented that the ideas which were considered Zionist before the establishment of the state of Israel would be considered anti-Zionist today for it is anti-statist. When Noam Chomsky was a Zionist Youth Leader he was for Arab and Jewish working-class cooperation to construct a bi-national socialist Palestine. The establishment of the state of Israel was a day of mourning for Chomsky and his pals. We can see the break between the kind of Zionism that Chomsky was involved in and the trajectory of Israel. In the country inequality has exploded as the military-industrial complex and high-tech industry (which are interconnected) have taken precedent over the welfare state. The wealth generated through financial services, chemical fertiliser and diamonds is concentrated in very few hands. Arendt went as far as to claim that the Jews of Palestine would change character to such a degree that they would no longer represent world Jewry as a whole. We find this is the case as the Israeli government differs greatly in policy to the liberal values of American Jews.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Pat Condell on Norway.

So the face of New Atheism has commented on the recent massacre in Norway perpetrated by a right-winger who was wound up about multiculturalism, radical Islam and cultural Marxism. Pat Condell is probably sincere in his condemnation of the use of violence whilst he speaks of a war between violent barbarians and civilised people. The same can be said of his tirade against the suggestion that the right-wing critique of multiculturalism has contributed to the pool of hate from which Breivik emerged armed to the teeth. The problem being that the ideas expressed in Breivik's manifesto come from the mainstream and can be traced from the standard conservatism to the outer reaches of ultra-nationalism. We find he read columnists Jeremy Clarkson and Melanie Phillips as well as Bernard Lewis, Bat Ye'or, Pamela Geller, Geert Wilders, Daniel Pipes, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the Unabomber. Breivik took the words of the Unabomber and replaced words such as "blacks" with "Muslims" and "leftists" with "cultural Marxists".

So the way that Pat Condell just objects to the implied "complicity" of all critics of Islam in this crime is absurd. It is not the case that the common responsibility falls to neoconservatives, Zionists, right-wing liberals and fascists because of the commonality of ideas, it is the shared ideas which are the problem here. The tendency towards a form of anti-Semitism which hides behind a philo-Semitic love of Israel but draws a distinction between "loyal" and "disloyal" Jews is symptomatic of right-wingers in the mainstream as well as on the lunatic fringe. Then there is the fervent opposition to political correctness and multiculturalism as an outgrowth of a left-wing conspiracy to undermine Western civilisation. You can find plenty of talk about the PC Brigade on the mainstream along with the line that there is a left-wing elite in the shadows of public policy. These lines only become more extreme in tone at the outer-reaches of ultra-nationalism. The same goes for the bile that the Right spews over anything remotely Islamic.

You must notice that the line Condell takes is that the use of violence is counter-productive and will never win over the people. The restoration of democracy in Europe can only come with the mass-support of the people according to him, by which he means the end of the European Union. Only the fanatics believe otherwise, a distinction which Condell uses to separate Breivik off from the discourse which he himself is embedded in on YouTube. It is about method more than anything then and yet he calls for a "defence" of freedom of speech no matter what. He may not have meant those words in any violent way, but it is the case that the radical Right have taken an interest in him and for good reason. The issue for Condell is still Islam in Europe, there is no mention of the media's immediate reaction to the massacre. Instead he rages over the suggestion that the right-wing opposition to multiculturalism might have something to do with this event. He goes onto reiterate the old lines that Islam is a "totalitarian ideology" and a threat to freedom, while political correctness is "cultural Marxism" and multiculturalism is a "lie".

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Breivik's Final Solution.

Contradictions of anti-Semitism.

In the words of Anders Behring Breivik "Were the majority of the German and European Jews disloyal? Yes, at least the so called liberal Jews, similar to the liberal Jews today that opposes nationalism/Zionism and supports multiculturalism. Jews that support multiculturalism today are as much of athreat to Israel and Zionism (Israeli nationalism) as they are to us. So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all culturalMarxists/multiculturalists. Conservative Jews were loyal to Europe and should have been rewarded. Instead, [Hitler] just targeted them all... He could have easily worked out an agreement with the UK and France to liberate the ancient Jewish Christian lands with the purpose of giving the Jews back their ancestral lands... The UK and France would perhaps even contribute to such a campaign in an effort to support European reconciliation. The deportation of the Jews from Germany wouldn't be popular but eventually, the Jewish people would regard Hitler as a hero because he returned the Holy Land to them."

In the prescient words of Theodor Herzl "The anti-Semites will become our most loyal friends; the anti-Semitic nations will become our allies." Here the anti-Semite goes to Israel, just as Nixon went to China! The point being that only Nixon could open up relations with China as he was one of the most strident anti-Communist, whereas a liberal would be labelled a doormat for Communism no matter what came out of the little tea party. However, the European anti-Semites have more in common with the left Democrats of the US who had to prove that they were not communist by becoming fervently anti-Communist. So we note that it was Harry S Truman who initiated what we now know as McCarthyism. Today we find that the forces of anti-Semitism are part of the base of support for Israel in Europe and America. Perhaps the ironic implication of this is that it would take a hardline conservative to ease the treatment of Palestinians along some pragmatic lines. The thoughts of Anders Behring Breivik are not surprising and represent a tendency that runs deep in Europe.

In the shameful history of European anti-Semitism it is the stateless Jew that is the source of so much aggravation and so the Jewish state is an obvious solution to the problem. When the Europeans settled in America this tendency was transmitted across the Atlantic. The issue in the Middle East is the Jewish state and in Arab anti-Semitism it is not the Jew as a stateless and nomadic entity which is seen as a threat. The Democrats ostracised the Left in order to prove themselves to be sufficiently anti-Communist and it would appear that political parties are similar to nation-states. A state has to exclude what it is not in order to define itself as its' opposite. The Jewish state is based on the exclusion of the Palestinians from basic aspects of society and life. To a lesser extent Arab Jews are also excluded. The only way for Israel to remain the Jewish state is to exclude the Arabs and the Muslims, but that has come at a cost of national security over the past 40 years. When a society defines itself through this process of exclusion then it can remain democratic insofar as the political system is predicated on this same process.

It is not a coincidence that The Daily Mail is now a supporter of Israel even though it is the same newspaper that supported Hitler in the 1930s and 40s. It should be noted that the Nazis initially sought the possibility of a Jewish state as a "solution" to the Jewish question and even contemplated founding a Jewish state in Palestine or Madagascar. This was before the virulent anti-Semites of the Third Reich came to another "solution" entirely. Throughout the 1930s The Daily Mail railed against Jewish immigration to Britain and in 1938 it published this "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." It became clear that Hitler was grateful for this support and later said 'The attitude of The Daily Mail at the time of our reoccupation of the Rhineland was of very great assistance to us." So it should be no surprise that we find Nick Griffin is a supporter of Zionism.

Lega Nord's Super Mario.

Behold the fat bastard Mario Borghezio, who once stood in Berlusconi's cabinet as a member of Lega Nord and now has come out to defend the thoughts of Anders Behring Breivik. Borghezio claimed "Breivik's ideas are in defence of Western civilisation." No doubt he has the Islamization of Europe in mind which is leading to the inevitable formation of 'Eurabia'. Notice the focus is on Europe as a kind of organic entity which can be infected by dirty foreigner with an even dirtier culture to purvey. This is no different than the line that the German nation is under threat from a Jewish Communist plot. He also said "Christians ought not to be animals to be sacrificed. We have to defend them." This is just rams home the implications of his earlier statement, it is the standard line of the Fascist, we're under attack and must take drastic actions immediately. All methods are justified in self-defence. For Hitler it was the Holocaust and for Anders Behring Breivik it was the bombing and shooting of almost 100 Norwegians.

The remarks prompted outrage in Italy and widespread condemnation, but Francesco Speroni of Lega Nord came to the defence of Borghezio "I'm with Borghezio. I don't think he should resign. If [Breivik's] ideas are that we are going towards Eurabia and those sorts of things, that western Christian civilisation needs to be defended, yes, I'm in agreement." Keep in mind Borghezio is the same man who once burned the bedding of migrants who had been sleeping under a bridge. Mario Borghezio referred to Ratko Mladic as a "true patriot" and went onto say "The Serbs could have halted the advance of Islam into Europe, but they weren't allowed to do so. And I'm talking of all Serbs, including Mladic." You could easily replace Islam here with Judaism or Bolshevism, replace Serbs with Germans and Mladic with Hitler. This should not surprise anyone, this is a meat-headed shit sack we're talking about! The wider issue is what Borghezio and Lega Nord represent in Italian society, we can find this tendency elsewhere in Europe and it has grown since the recession.

The phenomenon of Lega Nord (which means Northern League in English) emerged in 1991 with the collapse of the Communist Party after the fall of the Berlin Wall led to the break-up of the Soviet Union. The League attracted support from disillusioned conservatives, social democrats and radical leftists let alone plenty of nationalists and the post-fascists of the Italian Social movement. In 1992 it was found that 25% of the supporters were formerly Christian Democrats and 18.5% of former Communists in working-class areas of the North. Bare in mind that the Americans had withdrawn the Cold War level of financial support to the forces of reaction against Eurocommunism. The Communist Party of Italy had tried to take an independent line from the Soviet Union and differentiate itself from Trotskyism whilst looking to base itself on the democratic norms of Western Europe. Once the Communists broke up the Christian Democrats were no longer necessary to prevent the rise of Eurocommunism, which is the reason the Americans and the Mafia had backed the party for so long.

All alternatives to capitalism could be ruled out after 1989 as 'failed experiments' from whence began a post-political order in which liberal values and the market had triumphed. But then the old Establishment was wiped from the table and a space opened up for a new kind of politics. A grand convergence of post-politics and ultra-politics has since occurred within that space, we can trace the meteoric rise of il Cavaliere to the apex of where these two forces meet. Similarly we find Lega Nord's platform is conservative on social and cultural issues, nationalist when it comes to European integration and generally liberal when it comes to the economy. So the cynical opposition to all forms of state intervention is aligned with the affirmation of Judeo-Christian culture and Padanian nationhood. The post-political meets the ultra-political where the deluded and disillusioned coalesce. It's clear that the closed spectrum that runs from technocratic liberal to reactionary populist is too narrow to even seriously address what happened in Norway. We still can't help but blame multiculturalism.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Thatcherism is Alive and Well.

Let them eat cake!

In the midst of the scandal, which looks to swallow News International whole, David Cameron stated, what we all knew, that his government is dedicated to a radical transformation of the way public services are delivered. The stated aim on the tin is greater choice, less bureaucracy, improved services and equal access for rich and poor. The problem being that no one would oppose such things, which is just the point, no doubt this list was carefully constructed by a public relations team. The welfare state and public services are about to torn open to face the full brunt of the market, oh and the voluntary sector as Cameron would add to reassure us of the prospects of privatisation. The suggestion that opening up public services for privatisation is fine because there might be a bit of charity work, and volunteering going on as well, is ridiculous. Just as when the US Supreme Court decided to open the floodgates on campaign funding, a union might be able to contribute to Obama's campaign but it will mostly be corporations that actually flood the campaign with bales of cash.

The Prime Minister stressed that he wanted to put power in "people's hands" and to do so the "grip of state control" had to be loosened. These people are the raiders of the public good remember. This is no different than the Thatcherite rhetoric of popular capitalism which gave "power to the people" by selling off British Telecom for £3.7 billion, the first of a series of privatisations in the 1980s. Soon after the privatisation the workforce of British Telecom was subjected to a witch-hunt against trade unionists. We should also keep in mind when John Major took power after the fall of the Iron Lady in 1990. As Prime Minister John Major soon promised the British people "nothing less than a revolution in the way public services are delivered, it will be the most comprehensive quality initiative ever launched." The market reforms initiated under Major were intensified under Tony Blair and it was applied to almost every aspect of government and public services. We know just how well this turned out.

We're incapable of imagining a better world and instead resort to a business ontology, whereby everything can be better if it is handed over to the markets. The privatisation of British Rail in 1993 was made on the separation of track from train operation in the same way as the model of air transport, which is fundamentally different in terms of infrastructure and engineering. Richard Branson just gobbled down an £18 million dividend from Virgin Trains, which does quite well out of £8 billion of tax-payers' money spent to upgrade the West Coast Mainline. The support for the railways has fallen from £5.2 billion in 2008 and 2009 to £4.6 billion in 2010, whilst the contribution from the private sector is at £459 million and most of which is spent on stock. The state can either under-charge as the private providers pay huge dividends to the investors in the private sector or the private providor hemorrhages cash and the tax-payer has to bailout the franchise. British Rail has been turned into a gravy train and the standard of service has hardly been improved.

Remember the Conservative u-turn on NHS reform, well it turns out to be bollocks. The Tories have refused to scrap the reforms which will rip open the NHS to private competition for the sake of "efficiency" and all the other buzzwords. The so-called "u-turn" of the Coalition has retained the aspect of the reforms that stipulates any private company can be involved in the NHS so long as the firm is a "qualified" provider. So the unelected bureaucrats and unaccountable private companies can still take hold of the health budgets and provide the care. The talk of "choice" is to be feared most, free choice is always invoked but never explained in its most brutal expression: You can either live in a fancy house or under a bridge? What is missing here is the amount of money it involves to buy a nice house in this country? The costs which will be incurred by the NHS reforms are not going to be put forward in advance, this is particularly true of social costs, because no one would sign up to it if that were the case. Just as there will be no mention of the inconvenient truths around the cuts.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Fascism, Regular not Decaf.

The media was somewhat disappointed to find that the slaughter of Norwegian civilians on Utoya Island and the bombing in Oslo was not perpetrated by Islamists. Instead it turned out to be just another angry white man out to "liquidate" an entire generation of future politicians. Oh and he's a fan of Geert Wilders who made contact over the web with fascist groups such as the English Defence League and wanted to make a stand for Europe as a Judeo-Christian civilisation. It is a testament to the state of affairs in Europe that we often hear the political heirs to Hitler and Mussolini calling for a defence of Judeo-Christian values. How dare these people even speak of the Judeo-Christian civilisation?! It is time for us to seriously think about the resurgence of the radical Right with it's promise of an alternative modernity devoid of the class struggle and affirmed through the nation. It is no coincidence that we have witnessed this resurgence just as the economic crisis of 2008 has left us stagnant, bankrupt and disillusioned.

A recent poll conducted by Searchlight has found that 48% of the British people would vote for a radically right-wing political party if the violent xenophobia, football-related thuggery and proto-Nazi regalia was ditched. So we want Hitler without the Holocaust, a decaffeinated fascism. The growing support, which is probably exaggerated, is the result of the financial crisis and the subsequent recession. Similarly, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation has found that 30% of people believe Germany is over-run with immigrants and another study found that 13% of the German people would welcome the rise of a new Führer. So Angela Merkel has announced the "failure" of multiculturalism as Nicholas Sarkozy has banned the Islamic veil and expelled the Roma, whilst Silvio Berlusconi has imposed a state of emergency to combat illegal immigration among other things. The approach of the British government has been to lay into multiculturalism as a "state-sponsored doctrine", to the joy of the BNP and the EDL, in favour of a "muscular" liberalism.

In Europe we find there is a silent rehabilitation of Fascism going on, where Fascism is being defended as not as bad as National Socialism and we are encouraged to forgive Mussolini but not Hitler. The Hungarian government has reformed the laws against Fascist propaganda to outlaw Communist propaganda and Nazi propaganda. All National Socialists are Fascists, but not all Fascists are National Socialists. Thus, Fascist propaganda has been given the green light in Hungary. Just as the UK has introduced an immigration cap and rails against multiculturalism, in order to avoid the horrors of the "extremes" of racism we must resort to a "reasonable racism". This is no better than the way Robert Brasillach came up with a notion of "reasonable anti-Semitism" during the Nazi occupation of France. When we excavate the ideas that lurk behind this attack we should begin in mainstream conservatism and outward to fascism. So we can go from the timid opposition to multiculturalism and political correctness to the militant rejection of Islam and cultural Marxism.

There is no vaccination for Fascism, we can't hold it off with a "moderate" racism that will accomplish the same ends without the Gestapo. As Richard Seymour has pointed out we can still read about the "failure" of multiculturalism that led to the attacks in The New York Times and in The Atlantic how the massacre is a "mutation of jihad" whereby a white man goes ape as a Muslim fanatic would in order to prevent the coming Islamization of Europe. So these outbursts can be avoided if we just act to dismantle multiculturalism in a more 'moderate' way. It is not the case that the Muslim disposition to kamikaze style attacks was "transmitted" into the innocent mind of a blond white European which caused this horrifying atrocity. The worrying presupposition remains Brasillachian in that the radical Right represents the legitimate grievances of working-class people and we must find a "reasonable racism" to resolve such grievances. The media are looking to reconstitute the same line that these events could have been avoided if Norway had been tougher on immigration.

Now we find that the BBC are apprehensive to refer to the Norwegian perpetrator as a "terrorist" and has opted for references to "acts of terror" in Norway in order to maintain the self-serving definition of terrorism, e.g. if you have a beard and you're yelling something in Arabic when you blow yourself up you're a terrorist mate. The euphemism of "international terrorism" pops up to remind us of the threat of al-Qaeda rather than the threat posed by far-right maniacs who have access to firearms and explosives. The commentariat has really showed itself up this time, which set the agenda of the media and the limits of the discussion over the attacks until the murderer surrendered peacefully. The Sun spared no time at all to run the headline "Al-Qaeda Massacre: Norway's 9/11". On Fox News John Bolton stalled until the full facts were known, remaining sceptical until it was proven that it was an angry white man and not a Muslim. The shock-jock Michael Savage went on an appalling rant against Muslims and specifically spewed hate against Muslim immigrants in Norway.

On Newsnight we watched as Jeremy Paxman asked the most feeble of questions to EDL leader Stephen Yaxley Lennon. The line of the EDL has basically been swallowed by the mainstream media, that the grievances of the working-classes are being expressed through a fascist reaction to immigration. So the massacre in Norway is an inevitable bi-product of multiculturalism as white people react to the Islamization of Europe. The only way to avoid more violence is to restrict immigration, put a stop to multiculturalism, political correctness and the fundamentalist practice of Islam. This is the same line that Glenn Beck tows on his radio show. And yet the millionaire funder and strategist of the EDL Alan Lake has said "Apparently, in a long screed Anders Behring Breivik posted on line, he did this attack to protest against the way that Islam is taking over large parts of Europe. By attacking the leftist politicians that are enabling this, the chickens have actually come home to roost – although I’m sure it won’t be depicted that way."

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Republican Hypocrisy on Debt-Ceiling.

Nixon raised the debt ceiling 9 times for a total increase of 36%.
Ford raised the debt ceiling 5 times for a total increase of 41%.
Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times for a total increase of 199%.
George H.W. Bush raised it 9 times for a total increase of 48%. 
George W. Bush raised the debt ceiling 7 times for a total increase of 90%.
The disagreement between the Republicans and the Democrats is over the ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes. The Republican Party want 85% spending cuts and 15% tax increases but the Democrats want 83% in cuts and 17% in tax rises. Of course there are some who want to see 100% spending cuts and no tax hikes at all, those people are fucking mental!

Obamarama - the Republican Drama.

Starve the Beast.

The talks between the Democratic administration and the Republican leadership have broken down just days before the deadline for the decision on the ceiling on borrowing for $14.3 trillion. There is the real possibility of an American default for the first time in the country's history. The results of which could be catastrophic for the US economy and other economies around the world. The shock-jocks and attack dogs have been out of control for years. We can hear Rush Limbaugh yelling that the GOP can't cave in or Obama will be re-elected in 2012. The negotiations will effect the next 10 years of American life, which might be the reason for the stalemate initiated by the Republicans as there could be a Republican administration in office by then. The policies initiated in the next 10 years will effect the pretext for a second Republican term in 2020. A huge surplus would provide the means for another round of tax-cuts, which would in turn create another deficit and the means to cut even further into programmes for the poor.

Just a couple of days ago Larry Elliot thought that the Republicans are not serious about tipping the US economy over the edge and taking the global economy down into recession once more. Rather the GOP will push this as far as they can and walk away after Obama has made major concessions (which he already has). The GOP will allow the debt-ceiling to be raised but in a way which is satisfying for the Tea Party. If the government was actually shut down as it was briefly in the 1990s it functioned to make Bill Clinton look like a statesman and raised his popularity among the electorate. Today 67% of Americans support Obama in his approach to taxes and spending on this issue. It is possible that the Republicans are looking to walk a fine line between a disaster which would only benefit the Democrats and a cop-out that will leave the Tea Party outraged. It is a serious possibility that the GOP are willing to instigate an economic crisis for indirect political gains, Obama has conceded an awful lot already and there will be a Republican administration in office by 2017.

The organs of the Republican machine have been about a "Starve the Beast" fiscal strategy for a long time, which differs from Goldwater conservatism in that taxes are cut in order to secure lower levels of spending. The approach actually generates huge amounts of debt as spending easily exceeds tax-revenues that have been slashed to bits for the benefit of about 1% of Americans. But this is part of the grand plan as the debt then acts as a means to call for more spending cuts. Keep in mind the huge changes in fiscal policy over the past few decades. In 1950 taxes on corporate profits accounted for 38% of tax revenue and by the 1990s it had been shrunk to 10%. Over the same time period income tax for the highest earners was chiseled from 91% in the 1950s to 28% in the 80s, with the 1990s marked out by a moderate tax increase. Now there is a moderate tax rise on the table, as the Democrats are arguing for a ratio of 83:17 cuts to taxes in tackling the debt whereas Republicans think a ratio of 85:15 is optimal. The narcissism of fine distinctions if there ever was one.

The Starved Beast.

So we now know how to contextualise John Boehner when he said "In the end, we couldn't connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country." Keep in mind, Boehner is the man who personally handed out checks on the floor of the House to sway a vote on tobacco subsidies and backed the bailouts as he was in the pocket of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. The "Gang of Six" which Boehner belongs to has put forward a plan to cut $3 trillion in spending and to reduce marginal rates in order to relieve the rich of about $1.5 trillion in taxes. The plan aims to reform social security in that the costs of living will be shifted to the extent that the benefits the elderly receive today will be reduced as they get older and older. It is likely that this would lead to a huge rise in impoverished retirees. The premise of necessity of this deal provides a means through which cuts in social security and health-care can be imposed without any fuss from the public. This is the work of the Wall Street wing of the Democrats and the Republican Party as a whole.

At a time when around 45% of Americans oppose tax-cuts for the rich and 55% oppose tax-cuts for corporations, according to a recent Gallup poll. 71% of Americans and 51% of Republicans are opposed to the way the GOP have acted. It's no wonder when you think about. The American tax-payer pays more income tax than General Electric did from 2008 to 2010, when the company paid no taxes and received $4.7 billion from the IRS as it pocketed $7.7 billion in profits. The company has a team of lawyers and accountants working around the clock on ways for GE to avoid taxes altogether. The asses of non-financial companies are sitting on a cushion stuffed with $2 trillion in inert dollars that produce nothing and only earn a minuscule interest. Just 10% of that sum could be used to pump $200 billion into the US economy. Naturally, the Republicans continue to run with the line that the average corporation is overtaxed and actually pays the majority of taxes in the country.

As Ralph Nader has pointed out the 35% statutory tax rate for corporations is an absolute joke. Most corporations are adept at avoiding taxes and do so on a massive scale. These corporations include: American Electric Power, Boeing, Dupont, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, General Electric, Honeywell, International, IBM, United Technologies, Verizon Communications, Wells Fargo and Yahoo. According to the Citizens for Tax Justice "from 2008 through 2010, these 12 companies reported $171 billion in pre-tax US profits. But as a group, their federal income taxes were negative: $2.5 billion." The actual 35% rate would have raised $59 billion if it had been implemented properly. The highest rate was paid by ExxonMobil over three years it paid over 14%, whilst its net tax rate was a minuscule 0.4% on $9.9 billion in pre-tax profits. Since Obama took office in 2009 as of 2011 there has been a 40% increase in corporate profits. These are the same crowd who'll benefit most out of the "Gang of Six" proposal.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Obamarama - the Deficit Drama.

The Narcissism of Fine Distinctions.

Every serious commentator on US politics is aware of the fact that if you want to know who is about to win the election you should take a close look at campaign funding. Follow the money and you'll separate the loser from the winner in no time. It is the norm in the US that the President is elected from the campaign that receives the most cash. The campaign to re-elect Obama has raised $86 million in the first quarter and the Republican nominees are still in a state of disarray. The GOP is still split between the rightist wing-nut of Bachmann and the unsellable Mormon 'moderatism' of Romney, neither candidate is a realistic contender and collectively the GOP candidates have raised $35 million. There is still time and we'll see if the Republicans can make any headway in coming months, but my guts see a second term for Obama. The current issue of the debt-ceiling has raised signs of what we might see on the campaign trail as well as from the prospective second term for the Democrats.

As pointed out by Shawn Whitney there is not much difference between Republicans and Democrats on this issue. It is only a minor dispute over the extent to which the rich should contribute to the debt reduction plan. Obama has insisted that there will be trillions of dollars in cuts, no doubt to health-care, welfare and social security without scathing the bloated military budget. The military-industrial complex is untouchable because it functions as corporate welfare, whereas 'handouts' for the poor and elderly is too costly for the state to maintain apparently. Obama has tried to win over the Republicans with a round of spending cuts that amount to $4 trillion, though that much could have been raised had the Bush tax-cuts never been renewed under Obama. The Bush tax-cuts which cost the Treasury trillions of dollars over the last 10 years, at first it benefited many Americans but the number dwindled under the Bushites until only the richest Americans reaped the rewards. That's a real sunset policy!

The coalition government of the UK is running with a ratio of 80:20 in spending cuts to taxes, whereas Republicans found a ratio of 85:15 optimal and then walked out of negotiations after the Democrats only conceded 83:17. The kind of changes needed to make up that 17% would mostly come in the form of closing loopholes in the system. There are Republicans who want 100% spending cuts and no tax increases at all. The stalemate raised the prospect of a forced default on America's debts. Even conservatives have criticised the GOP line on the debt-ceiling as childish and ridiculous because they recognise it is not in the interest of the Republican Party to push for an economic disaster. But it is not the first time that politicians have created fiscal crises in order to initiate a wave of market reforms and austerity measures. This is especially true of the "Starve the Beast" approach of conservative strategists, which is a way of increasing debt to provide a pretext for more cuts to services that assist the poor.

The fact that the Democrats conceded almost the entire plan and it wasn't enough for the Republicans is indicative of the dramatic shift in politics that has occurred in the US over the last 40 years. The Democrats are now what used to be considered moderate Republicans while the Republicans have become even more extreme. In the words of Bill Maher "The Democrats have moved to the Right and the Republicans have moved into a mental hospital." To be even more blunt the American political system is a lot like a plane with two right wings. Noam Chomsky once distinguished between the Republicans and Democrats by noting that the GOP represent the business community in general whilst the Democrats are for Big Business specifically. The White House is looking to gain a 'moderate' platform for 2012, meanwhile the Left and the social democrats can go hang. The Democrats are aware that there is nowhere for the 'moderates' to run and Obama's real problem is how to win over enough of the 'crazies' to prop up a platform crafted for the ultra-rich.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sleaze without Sleaze.

Once again it turns out we want the thing itself without the harsh element of it, just as so many of us want coffee without caffeine and Hitler without the Holocaust apparently; in this instance we want the sleaze without sleaze from Murdoch's red-tops. There is a dire need to ask fundamental questions about the nature of the mass-media and the provision of news through corporate structures to the public. The dominant narrative is highly optimistic in that we have managed to ground a beast that was out of control and we can now get back to proper journalism, which will run without corruption and the hacking of phones. It's the classic feel good story. We can still have the tabloids on celebrity sleaze, but without what it takes to deliver the tales to the readers. We have to hold to a radical critique of the mainstream media otherwise we will fall into ideological pitfalls. The problem here is that what has happened at The News of the World was not an aberration, it is an excessive form of what goes on in the mass-media and an outgrowth of the practices prevalent in the press.

As in the case of WikiLeaks there is a potential for the liberal reduction of it to a radical case of investigative journalism, a return to the halcyon days when journalists spoke truth to power and will now restore legitimacy in the media before The News of the World lost it's way. This is often put forth to combat the charge of "terrorism" leveled by the fruit-cakes of the Republican Party. Žižek would point out that the claim that Julian Assange is a "terrorist" in the same sense that Gandhi was a "terrorist" because he tried to stop the normal functioning of the British empire. Assange is trying to stop the normal functioning of information circulation and the way it is monopolised by the corporate media. The characterisation of Assange as the radical journalist is one small step away from the liberal niceties of Hollywood where we find in films such as All the President's Men that the little guy can discover a scandal and force the President to step down. So corruption can reach the very top but because of the democratic features of our society we can find it, root it out and eliminate it.

Whenever we read The Sun we are reading a paper churned out from the presses of News Corporation, a multinational media conglomerate, it is part of a chain of newspapers and media outlets which feature a strong leaning to the Right. We should take into account that the majority of media outlets in the world are large corporations or part of conglomerates. This has the effect of a skewed presentation of facts with respect to particular interests. Especially as the media conglomerates often have exclusive financial interests which may be endangered when certain information is widely publicised. So news items which endanger the financial interests of the media will be subject to greater flak, opposition and even distortion.

The advertising revenue is greater than the sales revenue of newspapers, it is a way of holding down the price of a paper at a level which maintains a high rate of sales and therefore a greater readership than without any advertising. The dependence on advertising revenue differs from the role of sales revenue in that the average reader of The Sun has no way of influencing the content of the newspaper. Even if there is an attempt to build an organised boycott of the newspaper over a particular issue, at best it would lead to a retraction of previous statements and possibly an apology. The advertisers can boycott a particular writer or reporter in a much more effective way, the loss in revenue is much bigger and the message is even clearer than a mass demonstration. This is the reason it took the advertisers to abandon Glenn Beck, the Groucho Marx of the Right, before his show was taken off Fox News. It is important to keep in mind that the advertisements are from businesses in most cases and marketing in general is tied up in its' own industry which caters to business.

In this way the interests and pressures internal to business converge and the reader has no investment in News International and therefore has no real influence on the content of The Sun. The interests that coalesce in media are stacked against the interests of an ordinary person reading a newspaper each morning. This is especially the case if the price of the paper is driven down or even eliminated on the back of advertising revenue and cross-subsidised from other outlets in the same conglomerate. As the pressures of business and the interests mount against the interests of readers, then reporting can be compromised and skewed to a particular set of interests over another. There is a sense then that the end product is composed for the affluent readers who buy the newspaper, while the audience includes the businesses that pay to advertise their goods. News is just the 'filler' to get privileged readers to see the advertisements which are the actual 'content' of the paper. This is true of newspaper that cost money and even more so of free newspapers distributed for people to read on their way home.

As the mass-media is essentially business-run or dominated by the forces of the market there is a constant internal need for a continuous flow of information. A newspaper needs to fill its' pages to maintain a steady flow of advertising revenue and in turn keep sales up. The consumers demand information on numerous worldwide events, some of which unfold simultaneously, which supposedly creates the necessity for major businesses and government sectors to come in where they can provide the material resources needed. The relationship between the media and the government is a contorted one, where we find Andy Coulson jumps from News International to the side of David Cameron and we have also seen John Birt make the leap from the BBC to an advisory position to Tony Blair. According to Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman this includes the Pentagon in the US, with the media commentary on foreign policy being heavily influenced by the military intelligence complex.

These are the reasons that Chomsky once said "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the US media." The government provides the means by which the journalists are able to gain advance copies of speeches and forthcoming government reports, which means that there is a degree of dependence involved in the relationship. The government can schedule its' press conferences at hours which are conducive to the deadlines set in media organisations, press releases can be made in usable language and photo opportunities can be arranged with ease. So naturally the commentariat responds in a favourable manner. At the same time, a reluctance to run certain articles that will harm the interests which are invested in providing them with the resources needed to compete with rivals and function at a high standard of news provider. You'll find this is the case with the BBC, as 24 hour news is a giant echo-chamber and the fall of Basra was reported 17 times before it did.

We now know that after the General Election David Cameron first met with Rupert Murdoch and then Paul Dacre, the editor of The Daily Mail, later that month he met with Lord Burns of Channel 4 and Deborah Turness of ITV News at his country retreat. After that month David Cameron met with News International officials such as Rebekah Brooks, as well as Dominic Mohan of The Sun for a "general discussion" and Cameron later attended the News International summer party where he gave an interview to James Harding of The Times. Take note of the preference for these newspapers in particular. David Cameron later met with the editor of The Evening Standard for another "general discussion" and attended The Times CEO summit where he gave a speech. The Prime Minister attended the summer parties of The Financial Times and The Spectator. In the first 2 months of his premiership Cameron met with 12 media contacts and half of them were officials of News International. Later that year, David Cameron had Christmas dinner with Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch.

In 2010 David Cameron met with numerous members of the commentariat, but only a few were invited to his country retreats namely: Lord Burns of Channel 4, Deborah Turness of ITV News, Lord Rothermere of The Daily Mail, Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch of News International. There is another aspect to this, the way in which the relations between the state and the media is sustained for economic reasons and out of a convergence of interests. As the state can be captured by the economic interests of the ultra-rich then so can the media which falls under the control of private ownership. We found this was the case when Barack Obama apologised to Wall Street for his comments regarding "greedy bankers" and he had to demonstrate his dedication to a free-market in order to keep the business press happy with the Obama administration.

Then there is the flak which could be understood as the simple negative responses to a media statement, an individual or even a specific programme. Though it can take the form of a concerted effort to discredit an organisation or an individual, e.g. when The Sun fabricated psychiatric reports in order to justifiably label Tony Benn as "mentally unstable". A charge that the Murdoch press has reused against leftists continually over the years. It can also be applied to entire media organisations. We can see this whenever The Daily Mail attacks the BBC as left-wing in the same way that was the case when Norman Tebbit labelled the BBC the "Stateless Person's Broadcasting Corporation" because of its' supposedly unpatriotic opposition to the Falklands war. Flak is often an intentional effort to manage public information. The Sun recently dealt some flak against Gordon Brown for statements he made in an interview on phone-hacking. This is a blatant move to influence the discourse over the entire phone-hacking scandal at News International.

As for the independence of public broadcasting it depends on the degree of independence and freedom within the society as a whole. It used to be in Britain and Israel there was only state-television. The BBC remains the agenda-setter of the British media and it functions to limit the scope of the public debate, usually carving out a place for the public as a passive observer in a meaningless discussion over what we should cut and never whether or not we should cut. The coverage of events is usually confined to the centre-right, but it occasionally fluctuates left-wards at which point the reactionary press goes ballistic. The demographics of journalists and reporters at the BBC is predominantly white and middle-class, typically these are Oxbridge liberals. The Board of Governors has always been full of lords, businessmen, former politicians and the archetypal toffs. The principle means of funding for the BBC is the television license, which the Right has railed against because it would prefer the BBC to be ripped apart by private companies.

There was a time when the BBC was a lot more independent than it is today. In the 1980s there were significant attempts by the Thatcherites to undermine the independence of the BBC. The Corporation was labelled the "Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation" by Peter Bruinvels. The Conservative Party derided the BBC as "uncompetitive" and "over-manned" because of the perceived bias against Margaret Thatcher. In 1980 the Thatcherites appointed the aristocrat George Howard, a pal of Willie Whitelaw, because the idea of Mark Bonham-Carter taking the position was intolerable for the government of the day. After Howard followed Stuart Young in 1983, he was the brother of Thatcher's cabinet ally David Young. In 1986 Marmaduke Hussey, the brother-in-law of yet another cabinet member, emerged from a position working for Rupert Murdoch to the chair of the Board of Governors. Hussey soon made sure that Alasdair Milne was out, under Michael Checkland and John Birt the Corporation was restructured in greater accordance with the market.

When Greg Dyke told the truth about the Iraq dossier he was forced out of the BBC and replaced with Mark Thompson as Director General. Thompson is a man who believes so strongly in free choice (though not in the quality of those choices) that he is for the founding of a Fox News style channel in Britain. You should also keep in mind that Mark Thompson was the first Director General of the BBC to meet Ariel Sharon in 2005. This is the same Director General who refused to broadcast the Palestinian charity appeal in the aftermath of the Gaza massacre in which more than 1,417 Palestinian civilians, one-third of them children, were killed by Israeli bombs and bullets. The Israeli body count stood at 13, with over 500 injured. As of July 2011 124 Israeli children killed by Palestinians and 1,463 Palestinian children killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000, a fact that would make Mark Thompson sweat if it was ever muttered on the BBC. If it ever were said there would no doubt be an outpouring of rage from The Daily Mail and other toilet papers.

The state and the interests invested in the state often exploit widespread fears in order to pursue an agenda, which is where the media come in handy. In the 20th Century it was Communism that posed the primary threat to the West and it was portrayed in the media as endangering freedom and rights etc. This portrayal is often used as a means to shoot down those who are too critical of elite interests and it meshes well with those interests in particular. Most recently it has been resurrected to attack the President of the United States, along with a lot of other kinds of attacks on him. For a long time the grand narrative on which the politics of fear thrives was the Cold War and once the Berlin Wall fell there was a dire need for a new narrative to bring meaning to the world for journalists and politicians everywhere. It has been the narrative of the "War on Terror" for the last 10 years and we may be at a point when the narrative closes only to give way for another.