Why are many of WW2 generation worried about the rise of fascism?

Quote

At a time, when those British soldiers killed in war are remembered, it is salutary to focus on why many of the WW2 generation are so nervous about the parallels between the 1930s and now.

“What no one seemed to notice,” said a colleague of mine, a philologist, “was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing to do with knowing one is governing.

 What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. …

 This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. 

 ’They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945′ – Milton Mayer  University of Chicago Press. Reissued in paperback, April, 1981.

Does that sound familiar?

Nevertheless, David Malone updates to the current era:

‘Repression is so last century.’

Why repress when you can simply drown it out.  All it takes is for the media outlets to be owned by a few powerful and like-minded friends.  A few media moguls and corporate giants, whose plastic pundits raise their voices while the dolly bird presenters flash their thighs.  It’s all so full throttle and frantic, and charged with desire and greed.

Anyone who disagrees is a conspiracy theorist.  Anyone who breaks ranks is a whistleblower and whistleblowers are domestic terrorists, dysfunctional loners with personality problems and axes to grind.

When the truth is vilified, hunted, gagged and goaled, then the State has chosen to go to war with the nation.

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/06/secrets-and-lies/

Bernadette Meaden agrees:

When the history of this particular period is written, people will marvel at what the Conservatives have achieved. To lose an election, scramble into office, and then go on to change society so significantly in a few short years shows, it has to be said, quite some chutzpah….

It is so much easier for a government when Ministers can tell lies which go unchallenged, become accepted ‘facts’ and are repeated ad nauseam to justify ‘difficult decisions’. Perhaps the classic example of this is Grant Shapps’ widely publicised statement that almost one million disabled people had dropped their benefit claims when tests became tougher. This was completely untrue…There was an effective media blackout on this development.

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18586

David Malone adds:

Our ‘Betters’ have found Goebbels was wrong.  You don’t have to protect the people from the consequences of the lies you tell them, as long as you can blame those consequences on someone else.  On unforeseen global economic forces, on conniving foreigners who devalue their currency, or terrorists or whistleblowers.  Or even the people themselves for taking on debts they couldn’t afford or on ‘necessity’ and ‘precedent’ – the bond holders cannot be made to pay – it goes against international precedent.

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/06/secrets-and-lies/

That certainly sounds like George Osborne’s stranger-to-the-truth explanations.

On top of all this, we have the Big Brother revelations of Edward Snowden about mass surveillance.  (Goebbels eat your heart out.)  This should have been no surprise.  Zbigniew Brzezinski was writing, as long ago as the late 70s, about the problems for the power elite of controlling the masses in an age of information and communication.  David Malone again:

In a democracy rule is by consent. In a dictatorship it is by control.

Which do we have in the West?  It seems to me, it is no longer clear.  We certainly still have the rituals of rule by consent.  But behind the elected front men and women is a shadow state.  Its people ritually swear allegiance to those we elect.  They declare themselves there to serve and protect.  But when it is us they spend their time spying on, whose interests are they protecting?  Can you really serve those you do not trust?

In 2008 we discovered that behind the banking system we knew about, there was a vast shadow banking system whose size most of us never suspected.  In 2013 we have glimpsed not only the scale of the shadow state but the degree to which it, like the shadow banking system, is out of control and not working for us at all.

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/07/nsagchq-the-new-praetorians/

Chomsky of course has no illusions about our living in a Democracy.  He calls the present system RECD – really existing capitalist democracy – pronounced ‘wrecked’.  In other words, our ’democracy’ is government by the wealthy for the wealthy, a plutocracy.

In the work that’s essentially the gold standard in the field, it’s concluded that for roughly 70% of the population – the lower 70% on the wealth/income scale – they have no influence on policy whatsoever. They’re effectively disenfranchised. As you move up the wealth/income ladder, you get a little bit more influence on policy. When you get to the top, which is maybe a tenth of one percent, people essentially get what they want, i.e. they determine the policy. So the proper term for that is not democracy; it’s plutocracy….

 http://www.chomsky.info/talks/20130617.htm

 

In fact a number of analyses have identified that it is only a handful of individuals, fewer than 200, that ‘rule the world’.  Real News 24 writes:

Some people have started realizing that there are large financial groups that dominate the world. Forget the political intrigues, conflicts, revolutions and wars. It is not pure chance. Everything has been planned for a long time.

 … In short, the Federal Reserve is controlled by four large private companies: BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard and Fidelity. These companies control U.S. monetary policy (and world) without any control or “democratic” choice. These companies launched and participated in the current worldwide economic crisis and managed to become even more enriched…. The same “big four” control the vast majority of European companies counted on the stock exchange.

In addition, all these people run the large financial institutions, such as the IMF, the European Central Bank or the World Bank, and were “trained” and remain “employees” of the “big four” that formed them.

http://www.realnews24.com/the-large-families-that-rule-the-world/

Particularly focus on ‘It is not pure chance. Everything has been planned for a long time.’

The release of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet papers from 1983, confirm that all this coalition government’s determination to dismantle and privatise the NHS/ public services, are just the end game that the Conservatives had in mind 30y ago.  We are experiencing ‘disaster capitalism’ as described by Naomi Klein.  The economic crisis caused by the banks in 2008 is being used to justify implementing IMF-style liberalization of the UK for the benefit of the transnational corporations.

In Europe, the ‘crisis’ is being similarly used to dismantle the welfare net and force through federalization.  The Brussels Business Documentary (Corporate Europe Observatory) charts the corporate capture of the EU, initially by the industrialists of the European round Table, and now by the vast body of lobbyists that rival the Washington contingent.

http://corporateeurope.org

THE BRUSSELS BUSINESS DOCUMENTARY

 

The next stage of neoliberal/neofeudal corporate supremacy is the rushing through (by 2014) of the US-EU Free Trade Deal, which will allow corporations to force governments to change any of their domestic legislation which is inconsistent with ‘liberalisation’… employment and environmental protection, banning of GM crops, and so on.

Michael Meacher writes:

‘It says a lot about democratic accountability that the most profound and far-reaching issues are not discussed in Parliament.   It was true of the decision in the UK to build the first atomic bomb.  It was true of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment in the 2000s which aimed to give the world’s rich countries the right to draft universal investment laws which would guarantee corporations unconditional rights to conduct financial transactions which could not be challenged by governments or citizens.   And it is true now of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which US and EU trade negotiators are currently trying to bring to fruition.   It too, if carried through, will allow international companies to hold governments to account, rather than the other way round, if they believe that governments are introducing environmental, social or labour standards which unreasonably impinge on their commercial prospects.

Of course in selling the idea to the (gullible) public, not a word is said about this.   Instead we are told that it will increase transatlantic economic growth by 1-2% a year and that that will increase incomes by several hundred pounds a year.   What is not mentioned, even if you believe the salesman’s patter about the benefits, is that the increased incomes will accrue very largely to the holders of capital, not to ordinary folk to any noticeable degree.   But the real impact is felt on democracy.   There is a touching faith that everyone in the West accepts that democracy is the foundation stone of our society and culture and the immoveable basis of our rights for justice and redress.   But the capital holders, the corporate class, have never accepted this – and nor really have the ideological wing of the Tory party.’

http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2013/11/us-eu-trade-deal-is-next-stage-of-neoliberal-corporate-supremacy-but-not-discussed-in-parliament/

‘Fascism should more appropriately called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power’ – Benito Mussolini

Gramsci, imprisoned by Mussolini, wrote shortly before his death in 1937:

 ”The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.”

That was true then and is true now.

Addendum:

The academic, Lawrence Britt composed a list of 14 characteristics common to the fascist regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and several Latin American regimes.  It is a frankly alarming list to read with the Coalition Government in mind.  http://rense.com/general37/fascism.htm

See also Think Left’s

Why should we be very concerned about the current US/EU Free Trade Agreement?

Not one will be forgotten: the lies that take us to war

Quote

Not one will be forgotten: the lies that take us to war

By CJ Stone, previously published here 

War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.

George Orwell

For the past weeks I’ve been delivering British Legion letters to the people of Whitstable.

You will have seen them. The envelope shows a picture of a bunch of First World War British Tommies, kitted out ready for war, with their helmets and their rifles, smiling and carefree, on their way to the front. It’s obvious that none of them have seen any action as yet or they wouldn’t be smiling. By the end of the war most of them will be dead, wounded or severely traumatised.

Above the picture are the words “Over one million men fell”, and below it, “Not one shall be forgotten.”

One forgotten

How disingenuous this sentiment is. It is obvious that we’ve forgotten them or we wouldn’t still be sending our troops to foreign parts in order for them to kill and be killed.

How many more of the dead must we remember before we realise that war is always the problem, never the solution, and almost invariably based on lies?

The world’s first national propaganda organisation was the Ministry of Information in the UK, created during the First World War in order to mobilise public opinion in favour of the war.

One of its great achievements was in characterising the Germans as barbarians. It called them “the Hun” and, in one famous case, accused them of having bayoneted babies during the invasion of Belgium in 1914. That was a lie.

Later the lie was repeated. In 1990 an anonymous female calling herself Nayirah told the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in the USA that she had seen Iraqi soldiers throw Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, where they would be left on the floor to die. The testimony was used by the President of the United States to justify American involvement in the First Gulf War.

That too turned out to be a lie.

We all remember the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Apologists for the Second Gulf War now characterise that as a mistake, saying that everyone agreed that Saddam was hiding weapons. This is another lie. I remember seeing reports at the time clearly debunking the evidence, while Robin Cook, Leader of the House of Commons, resigned saying he did not believe there were any weapons. Later David Kelly came out with talk of the evidence being “sexed-up”.

Both Robin Cook and David Kelly died in mysterious circumstances.

More recently there is evidence that the threatened slaughter of civilians in Benghazi, on which the 2011 No Fly Zone over Libya was based, was also a lie.

Lies, lies and yet more lies.

Now here is the truth. War is profitable. War makes money, for the arms industry, for the weapons manufacturers, for the security services, for the sub-contractors employed to rebuild the country. War is essential for the capitalist economy. It is through war that public money is funnelled into private hands. Without war, all the research and development into the high tech industries couldn’t take place. We’d have no computers, no internet, no digital revolution. War is the means by which public finances can be put at the service of the private economy. It is Military Keynesianism.

Keynesianism argues that a constant injection of public money into the economy is necessary for economic stability. In post-war states, that meant money for infrastructure projects, for hospitals and housing, for the welfare state. Military Keynesianism has no need of such wasteful expenditure. Why put money in the hands of the people? It uses the state machine to siphon the money directly into private hands using security issues as its means. Hence the need to keep us constantly on the alert. Hence the need for lies.

It’s the same people who argue for deregulation and privatisation of our public services who also drum up the hysteria about foreign threats and the need to combat terrorism. You want to know how to stop the threats against us? Stop threatening them. You want to know how to stop terrorism? Stop participating in it.

The latest war in Syria is just another in a long line of manufactured threats, and there’s already been a number of notable lies.

One of them was the massacre at Houla. The first time we heard about it was when the media reported that 108 civilians in the village had been killed by shell fire. To illustrate the atrocity the BBC showed a photograph of several rows of dead children wrapped up ready for burial. Except that it quickly emerged that these photographs weren’t from Houla at all, but had been taken in Iraq almost a decade earlier.

‘Somebody is using my images as a propaganda against the Syrian government to prove the massacre’, said photographer Marco Di Lauro, whose photo it was.

Nevertheless the propaganda onslaught continued, for several weeks, suggesting that the Syrian government had been involved in the murder of civilians. It was only later that the truth emerged, in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, that actually the victims had been pro-government Alawites murdered by the rebels and then used as anti-government propaganda. Needless to say, while the initial reports were front page stories, the later retractions were buried in the small print or not mentioned at all.

More recently we’ve had the story of the chemical attack on Ghouta, which I’ve written abouthere. This has also been exposed as a lie.

So next time you hear of a supposed threat from an embattled, weakened and severely impoverished third world nation, remember: War  is the mechanism by which our masters control us. It is the means by which we are enslaved.

Harry Patch, Britain’s last fighting Tommy, said of War that it is legalised mass murder.

And while it is legitimate to think of the dead of the two World Wars at this sombre time ofremembrance, it is also right to temper our reflections with the knowledge that the justification for most of these wars has been based upon fabrications, and that our soldiers did not die for freedom, or democracy, or any of the other platitudes, but to serve the interests of the few.

Support the Labour Assembly against Austerity Campaign

Quote

Labour Assembly Against Austerity

Published by Socialist Economic Bulletin

Labour Assembly Against Austerity

Speakers


9am – 5pm, Saturday 9th November
Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX

Speakers include:

 

Ken Livingstone
Owen Jones
Francesca Martinez
Steve Turner (Unite)
Ann Pettifor

Diane Abbott MP
Katy Clark MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Frank Dobson MP
John McDonnell MP
Michael Meacher MP

Professor Keith Ewing
Tosh McDonald (ASLEF)
Peter Willsman (CLPD)
Adrian Weir (Campaign for Trade Union Freedom)
Catherine West PPC
Cat Smith PPC
Murad Qureshi AM
Heather Wakefield Unison

Shelly Asquith
Daniel Blaney
Michael Burke
Mike Hedges (Unite)
Conrad Landin
Cllr Alice Perry
Christine Shawcroft (NEC)
Cllr Kate Taylor
Marsha-Jane Thompson (Defend the Link)

Sessions:

  • The economic alternatives to austerity
  • Housing – solving the crisis
  • No to privatisation – keep health and education public
  • Opposing austerity – defending public services and the welfare state
  • Defend the link – defend trade union rights
  • No scapegoating – immigrants and claimants are not to blame
  • Fund public services not war
  • Ending austerity – Labour policies to win in 2015

£10 full price / £5 concessions
Register now

Visit LabourAssemblyAgainstAusterity.org.uk

Speakers

Labour Assembly Against Austerity -  a forum for Labour Party members to discuss alternatives to austerity and the policies Labour needs to stimulate growth, jobs and rising living standards.

The Labour Assembly Against Austerity is an initiative of Next Generation Labour in support of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity movement and is supported by Unite, UCATT, BECTU, CLPD, Labour Representation Committee, Left Futures, Chartist, Labour Briefing Co-op, Morning Star, Red Labour & Sinistra Ecologia e Liberta UK.

Policy Making through a Public Prism

Quote

Policy Making through a Public Prism 

By Tony Stoller

In this lecture, Tony Stoller, Chair of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, considers the relationship between popular discourse and policy-making. Drawing upon recent examples from a wide range of sectors, including adult social care, welfare reform, housing and broadcasting, he assesses the impact of giving undue priority to managing public debate over the task of designing and delivering effective policies.

Extracts

We no longer inhabit the age of mere ‘Government by spin’. What we have now is a completely new paradigm for public policy-making, dominated and managed by what we can call the ‘new elite’. It is a coalition of politicians, policy wonks, commentators, journalists and media owners, who both shape and comment upon policy. They are the masters now, and they jointly take part in a symbiotic dance, which the public is encouraged to believe they are part of, but from which they are in reality consciously excluded. 

For the moment, let us just say that we can now identify the closest of inter-relationships between many media owners and commentators on the one hand, and elected politicians, policymakers and some senior officials on the other, going beyond anything which had been normal practice in the past. Within this ‘new elite’, think tanks have taken over much of the policy-proposing role of the professional civil service, as the latter’s numbers are reduced. That potentially widens the circle of policy-making, and is proving valuable in the devolved administrations in that way, but it also means that a century and a half of civil service expertise is being sidelined. Add to that the extraordinary revolving doors between posts in Government, think-tanks, special advisers, media and regulation, and you have a new paradigm run by a ‘new elite’.

The changed relationship between those whose job it is to make policy, and those whose nominal role is to report on and criticise it, is undermining our ability as a nation to formulate, properly debate, and then implement public policy. 

The language of ‘benefits’ and the ‘welfare state’ have become ‘dog-whistle’ words of implicit abuse. Politicians assert that housing benefit is designed for “those who lie in bed with the curtains drawn”. Those on benefits are ‘scroungers’, ‘benefits cheats’, and the like. The picture we have of those who are poor is that provided by television programmes like Shameless, reinforced by the patronising toleration of stereotypes by members of audiences in television programmes from Question Time to The Jeremy Kyle show.

The media presentation of ‘facts’ which are nothing of the sort exacerbates the problem. For instance, we all read about, and eventually subliminally come to believe in, the supposed massive problem of teenage girls who get pregnant in order to get themselves local authority housing.

The concern is also over the partial use of statistics, promoted as part of this managed discourse rather than as grist for genuine debate.

What actions can we undertake to manage the new policy-making paradigm for the common good?

First, we must return to policy-making properly based upon valid data; insist that that data is effectively open source, available un-packaged by opinion to those who wish to participate in the debate; and ensure that we are informed by those voices that are usually unheard. 

The second task for all of us is to prevent the Leveson report, and the action which should follow from it, being undermined by the very processes which it has exposed.  

Third, we need to be alert to the growing trend to let go the impartiality requirements on broadcasters. 

And last, we need to help the public as a whole to understand social media, to appreciate its strengths and weaknesses; to know what represents a genuine view ‘trending’, and what has been artificially set up to appear as such; to realise that there are those around who regularly offer to sell us another hundred or thousand followers. The social media could be about a genuine upwelling of public opinion, but they are open to manipulation as never before. 

Gresham College Lectures 

The transcript and downloadable versions of all of the lectures are available from the Gresham College website:
http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and…