Dialogue with an Anti-Corbyn Labour supporter

Quote

(Published now, rather than when it was written because it lost relevance when…  given the convenient coincidence of Article 50 and two tricky by-elections…. a second coup looked all too likely.  This threat has fizzled out for the moment, although another attempt to unseat Jeremy Corbyn may well materialise if Labour loses in Stoke and/or Copeland.  Posting now was also prompted by John McDonnell’s warning  ‘This daily grinding out of distortion and attack can undoubtedly have its effect on our standing in the polls and in turn on the morale of some of our supporters, who are not always close to the action and may not be experienced in past trade union or political campaigns’.)

Dear Person,

We met the other day, and you told me that you had only joined the LP to vote against Jeremy Corbyn,

I asked you if you had actually seen any of Jeremy’s speeches or the debates in the leadership contest?

You did have the grace to look shamefaced as you shook your head… Then you countered:

“But, but I do read the ‘good’ newspapers, the leftwing papers like the Guardian and the i”

Rendered speechless at the idea that the Guardian or the i were leftwing, I stuttered:

“Did you really think Owen Smith was more electable… a man who makes penis jokes??”

But what I should have said was:

Reporting in the MSM is largely without reference to context or history… and typified by criticisms such as Corbyn’s lack of success in winning back Scottish votes. This is reductive to the point of misleading but not new. However, there have been a number of recent academic led studies which have looked at media bias and concluded that the coverage of previous Labour leaders were ‘nowhere near as destructive, as vicious and as antagonistic as is the case now with Corbyn’. One such study indicated that 75% of press coverage misrepresented him and expressed serious concern for its impact on the democratic process.

Furthermore, many of these stories have been fed to the media by hostile members of the LP elite who are rabidly anti-Corbyn, and acting against the expressed wishes of the overwhelming majority of the LP membership.

They justify their behaviour by arguing that Corbyn is unelectable and not a good leader. However, this is hardly convincing when it is clear that they will fight tooth and nail to make it impossible for another more (in their view) ‘plausible’ but similarly leftwing candidate to replace Corbyn. For example, they could agree to reduce the number of nominations required from the PLP to stand for the leadership, from the current 35 to 5.

But they won’t do that because, just like Hilary Clinton, they believe that ‘it’s their turn’ and that the LP can return to being two shades left of the Conservatives and it will suddenly be electable.

This is the complacency and out of touchness that led to Donald Trump being elected. And a fact, that Peter Mandelson acknowledged when he blamed three terms of New Labour for Brexit and a majority rejecting globalization.

But in any event, the undue focus on Corbyn also ignores the plight of neoliberal social democratic parties globally.  As Stephen Bush wrote in the New Statesman:

Across the continent, just two centre-left parties regularly outpoll Corbyn’s Labour: the Portuguese Socialists and the Italian Democrats, the latter of which averages 30 per cent on a good day. And of the two politicians held up as examples by Corbyn’s internal opponents – Matteo Renzi of Italy and Manuel Valls of France – one suffered a self-inflicted defeat in 2016 and the other looks likely to join him in 2017.

Labour’s Corbynsceptics have not yet accepted that the party’s problems do not start or end with the leader. They describe him as an insurmountable obstacle to victory in 2020, but the bigger problem for them is that he has also proved an insurmountable obstacle to their thinking about the party’s long-term future.

http://www.newstatesman.com/2017/01/jeremy-corbyns-internal-critics-have-compelling-diagnosis-they-dont-have-cure

 

It’s not that I have an uncritical relationship with the current Labour leadership but I’m not going to jettison Corbyn and co with all their really good points and policies when there is no comparable candidate who would get the nominations required.   Furthermore, I have no doubt that JC is staying on for the same reason. I don’t know how on earth he stands the constant twisting of facts, delegitimisation and misrepresentation.

Then you would have replied:

172 MPs passed a vote of no confidence in Corbyn!

And I would have suggested that you read this review of Gaye Johnson’s book with its introduction by the late Michael Meacher:

A systematic analysis of the biggest internal coup d’etat in the history of the Labour Party. It contains a wealth of hitherto unreported material of how this was achieved. The Blairite machine gathered and fostered its own panel of ultra-reliable potential candidates (often special advisers of existing MPs) and helped to train and prepare them for the day when winnable seats might become available, exactly as the Blairite ‘Progress’ faction continues to do within the party to this very day.

And the legacy of this takeover remains. The leader may be Jeremy Corbyn, but the MPs, party officials, leaders in local government and many more remain the excrescence of a bygone era. Party employees especially have a long history of right-wing bias and working against left-wing candidates. A former Party Director of Communications openly boasted in 1998 of how he had worked to label the Grassroots Alliance slate for the NEC as “hard left”. Party staff are known to grade Conference delegates according to their loyalty to the leadership and harass delegates about how to vote. Staff themselves were pressured to behave in a certain way by the increased use of short-term contracts.

Many of the powers of the NEC were delegated to hand-picked subcommittees in the New Labour era. Labyrinthine policy filtering mechanisms were introduced, undermining the sovereignty of Party Conference.

http://www.organizedrage.com/2016/12/book-review-new-labour-was-gain-worth.html

 

Then I could have said:

The pivotal moment was the PLP coup when the rebel MPs revealed their true colours, either politically or indeed in moral cowardice.  It was much more important for the prime movers to remove the leftwing leadership than it was to hold Cameron and Osborne to account for their gross irresponsibility and hubris.  It said it all.

At that point, many in the LP membership realised that these rebels MPs were not on the same side as themselves and that being elected on another neoliberal, New Labour platform was worse than useless.

Blair, Brown, Mandelson and the rest, were able to do things that the Tories would not have been able to do and we let them because they did increase funding public services  but in reality it was not enough… and the door was left wide open for the Tories to walk through in 2010 and defund, sell-off and privatise.

As for Jeremy Corbyn’s electability, a friend wrote to me:

Most people want a more equitable distribution of income and sourcing of tax, adequate funding of the NHS, increased public sector funding and management of social care, and investment in services and job creation, support for the integration of migrants and prevention of their exploitation, and that a Labour Government would deliver them. None of these measures is ideological, and the people supporting them within the party or in the population are not ideologues. They are ordinary people, and they rather like Jeremy Corbyn because so is he.

I agree.  And thank you to the Person who I met the other day, who told me that they had only joined the LP to vote against Jeremy Corbyn.  You showed me how unerring George Orwell and Chomsky were in recognising that the propaganda of the elite is contained in the quality press, aimed squarely at the educated middle classes.  Needless to say I think there are a lot of people out there who need to take their blinkers off.

https://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/pdf/JeremyCorbyn/Cobyn-Report-FINAL.pdf

 

 

 

 

The way to win is to attack the opposition’s civilian population

Quote

August 6, 1945, the United States used a massive, atomic weapon against Hiroshima, Japan. This atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, flattened the city, killing tens of thousands of civilians. While Japan was still trying to comprehend this devastation three days later, the United States struck again, this time, on Nagasaki. ( 9th August 1945)

68 years on from Hiroshima, The Nuclear Madness Remains

 

The 69th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reminds me of Chomsky’s observation that the way to win a war is to attack the other side’s civilian population … it worked in Japan, and (particularly at the moment) it is obviously the strategy.

More than ever before, we are being brought face to face with the horrors of the bloodshed.  The genocidal intent of the Israelis in Gaza, the barbarism of ISIS in Iraq, the murderous gas pipeline power struggle in Syria, the little reported ethnic and cultural ‘cleansing’ of the Donbass region of Ukraine and many unreported massacres in the Congo, Sudan and more.

Chomsky illustrates the effectiveness (and hypocrisy) of the strategy in recent piece about downing of the passenger plane in the Ukraine:

Every literate person, and certainly every editor and commentator instantly recalled another case when a plane was shot down with comparable loss of life: Iran Air 655 with 290 killed, including 66 children, shot down in Iranian airspace in a clearly identified commercial air route. The crime was not carried out “with U.S. support,” nor has its agent ever been uncertain. It was the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes, operating in Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf….It was a major factor in Iran’s recognition that it could not fight on any longer, according to historian Dilip Hiro. 

http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/44265-outrage.html

Naturally, if it is ‘their’ forces, it is described as a massacre and an outrage, but if the killing is from ‘our side’, it is simply collateral damage, unreported or reported as if legitimate.

This is not new, as Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed details in his lecture ‘The Hidden Holocaust’, reposted below.  Historically, this was the pattern of colonisation.  Millions of indigenous peoples were systematically exterminated and their cultures erased.  The remaining population was cowed and of necessity compliant.

But the killing continues.  It may be overt as in Gaza, Donetsk or Iraq… or it may be hidden in the statistics about ever increasing global poverty or the million children who die every year from Malaria or from the unrecorded effects of sanctions or from polluted environments or the people dispossessed of their land by corporations or poverty wages or by removing social security or from climate change.  None of these need be happening.

Nowadays, colonisation is less about occupying a land mass and more about controlling the economy. For example, in order to eradicate the socialism of Allende and impose strict free market-oriented neoliberal economic reforms, the US-backed Pinochet’s armies killed or ‘disappeared’ at least 3,000.  These were representatives from the cultural world, intellectuals, university staff and students, forcing 200,000 Chileans into exile – up to 80,000 people were interned and as many as 30,000 were tortured during the time Pinochet was in government.  The proposed trade deals, TTIP, TPP and TISA are the latest way to achieve the same, by setting corporate rule above national governments, to the detriment of ordinary people and threat to the most vulnerable.

But in addition to all of this, the other side’s ‘massacres’ are exploited to persuade populations that their side are the ‘good guys’  and if required, they should go and fight…  Pearl Harbour and 9/11 spring to mind.  Jim Grundy writes of the start of WW1:

A hundred years ago today the most advanced military machine in the world, the Germany Army, invaded its neighbours.  Within 48 hours, the first massacres of civilians took place, not by accident but as a matter of deliberate policy. Thousands were to be murdered in the coming weeks.  British public opinion, that had not been sympathetic to Serbia after the Sarajevo assassinations, was appalled by the stories of mass murder committed against a defenceless population.  The British State might have gone to war to protect the European balance of power, its own imperial interests but the reason for war was clear to most British people – the avoidance of the fate meted out by an aggressive military power to women and children here at home.

 

Massacres and atrocities are brilliant tools for galvanising ordinary people into the required behaviour…  Capitulation to stop the killing, compliance on the part of the oppressed and public support for conscription, surveillance and draconian security clamp-downs.  The global power elites need to convince us because they cannot further their own interests, without our being frightened or fooled into backing them.  Don’t believe the hypocritical and sanctimonious talk about the outrage of killing civilians.  It is palpably untrue.

As Chomsky says – Israel could “defend” itself by withdrawing from territories it illegally occupies.

When the powers-that-be talk about security, it is not for you and me .. the security they mean is security for the rich and powerful to stay rich and powerful.

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed : The_Hidden_Holocaust

 

Political analyst on security, conflict and global crisis. Director of Institute for Policy Research & Development, London. Author of “The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry” (Duckworth, 2006) and “The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism” (Arris, Olive Branch, 2005).

‘Manufacturing Consent’

Currently, there are at least two shocking news stories which have been little represented on the BBC or in the national MSM.  One is the decision of two health trusts in Northern Ireland to entirely stop providing statutory residential care for the elderly.  The other is the House of Lords vote which failed to kill off the controversial section 75 of NHS competition regulations.

Martin Rowson depicts the reporting failure in his cartoon, described by cif commentator lightacandle:

BBC News Invisibility Cloak – on the Lords sell off of the NHS – yes they ignored that one completely – as usual. The Lords now being a vulture friend of fat cat, seeing as one in four have interests in private health too. And what fools are we to allow it to go on…

It also happens to be the 25th anniversary of the publication of ‘Manufacturing Consent’ which examined the role of the mainstream media: 

The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Herman%20/Manufac_Consent_Prop_Model.html

The video clip below is an interview with Edward S. Herman (who co-authored the book with Noam Chomsky) which commemorates the anniversary.  Speaking a few days ago, Edward Herman says to The Real News:

“All the problems of the propaganda media model we talked about in the book have grown worse”.

In 1992, Edward Herman wrote in ‘Beyond Hypocrisy’:

Dissenters are excluded in the normal sourcing and processing of news, so that freedom of speech is perfectly compatible with systematic barriers to views that jar and threaten. Reporters are forced to work within the limits imposed by the market system in order to survive and prosper in the media organizations….

Despite these structural facts, it is frequently asserted and has become a conservative cliché that the mass media, especially network TV and the leading establishment dailies, are both “liberal” and “adversarial” to established authority.

That certainly echoes the Tory view of the BBC.  Furthermore, Herman proposed two laws; a ‘power law of access’ and an ‘inverse power law of truthfulness’ which are interrelated.

 The structure of power that shapes media choices and determines who gains access also affects truthfulness in the mass media.

Those who have assured access can lie; the more powerful they are, the more easily they can lie and the less likely it is that their lies will be corrected.

The higher the rank the more “credible” the statement; the more credible the speaker, the greater the freedom to lie.  

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Herman%20/UnfreeInfo_Herman.html

 

Those who try to disprove the lies of the powerful have their limited access further reduced because their discordant messages would offend the powerful.  In any event, the messages of the weak and powerless can be largely ignored without cost to the mass media (whose biases would incline them toward avoidance anyway).

In his interview with The Real News, Edward Herman reiterates his view that ‘The media are simply part of the political force… lies are not contested.. the MSM does not allow alternative viewpoints .. We need a democratic order where the public’s interest feeds into the media.’  He considers that new media like The Real News show potential, but still believes that funding is needed for more investigative journalism.

Who on the left would disagree?

“Manufacturing Consent” 25 Years Later

TheRealNews·

Published on Apr 19, 2013

1988 Noam Chomsky Interview on How Dissident Movements drove Government Underground

Quote

Noam Chomsky Interview with Bill Moyers (Improved Quality) Part 1

Taken from Bill Moyers program “A World of Ideas” aired on PBS back in 1988.

Popular movements of the 1980s drove US government underground.  There was a cleavage between the institutions and the people.  Reagan’s government was start of ordinary people not feeling reflected by Government or the media.  Candidates for political positions only listened to the polls so that they could say what they needed to say to get elected.  After that, they would do what they wanted.  Democracy is more than just casting a vote every 4 years.

 

On Propaganda
Noam Chomsky interviewed by unidentified interviewer
WBAI, January, 1992
The logic is clear — propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state and that’s wise and good because … the common interests elude the bewildered herd, they can’t figure them out. The public relations industry not only took this ideology on very explicitly but also acted on it… and its commitment all along was to controlling the public mind…. in 1935, labor won its first major legislative victory, namely the right to organize with the Wagner act, and that raised two serious problems.  For one thing, democracy was misfunctioning, the bewildered herd was actually winning legislative victories, and it’s not supposed to work that way.  The other problem was, it was becoming possible for people to organize, and people have to be atomized and separated and alone.

http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/199201–.htm