It’s you, Conservative government. Please stop.

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It’s you, Conservative government.  Please stop.

By julijuxtaposed – first posted 7.10.15

Please, Conservative Government, stop putting Britain’s people down.  It is fatuous, unpatriotic and downright rude.  You are our government; our leaders and representatives.  You are privileged to hold the highest offices of public service.  Why do you disrespect us so easily?  Don’t you like us?  Are we embarrassing you?  Why do you keep speaking at us and about us as though we were the ones who are letting you down?

Stop selectively comparing us to other countries and other people to bully us and mask your inadequacies.  This inferiority complex is yours.  It is insulting and becoming tiresome to hear you carping on with your political envy.  If their peoples work longer, earn less and have fewer rights, then that is not a competition I wish to enter.  In fact, I would prefer that you openly disapproved of such economies.  But stop, too, this flippantly pitting of our regions, counties and cities against each other.  Stop expediently pointing generalised and judgemental fingers at people.  And, please, stop expecting us to be grateful for your mean-spirited crumbs.  It is our bread that you are eating.

And stop peddling paranoia to the xenophobes and stop perpetuating scarcity myths over resources that you are squandering.  We do not lack the means but that you lack the political will.  We do not lack compassion but you lack integrity.   We do not lack aspiration; we do not lack gumption and we do not lack self-respect but that you would strip us of dignity and decent opportunity.  We do not lack social cohesion but that you keep fostering fear, division and discontent.

Who is in charge of our country’s finances?  Who is formulating our country’s policies?  Who is devising our country’s laws?  YOU.  Who has been in charge for the last five years?  YOU.  Who, in that time, didn’t build enough housing; didn’t train sufficient doctors, nurses, teachers…?  Who has denigrated and undermined public service?  YOU.  Who has introduced welfare reforms without first creating an economy in which this is justifiable?  YOU.  Who perpetuates a socio-economic system that requires the exploitation of your own citizens?  YOU.  Who makes blanket policies based on simplistic and insulting stereotypes?  YOU.  Who is blithely building on and recreating the same conditions that got us into such a fix in the first place?  YOU.  Who has bent over backwards to accommodate the hyperbole of bigots and Chicken Littles?  YOU.  Who governs by dubious moral whim?  YOU.  Who gambols greedily around on the world stage like an oversized and untrained puppy, begging to join in, no matter the recklessness and disingenuousness of the cause?  YOU.

Who is ignorantly and wickedly cutting away at the very heart and soul of Britain?  YOU.

Who is the biggest threat to the security of our isles, our economy and our families?  YOU.

YOU.  YOU.  YOU.

You are the Government.  You are responsible for the tone, content and quality of your narrative and you are responsible for the consequences of your governance.  What we really lack is the practical wisdom, maturity and the competent service of an honourable leadership.  Change your attitude and behaviour.  Stop.  Turn around or get out of our way.

Michael Parenti – Lies, War, and Empire (2007)

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Michael Parenti – Lies, War, and Empire (2007)

The superb Michael Parenti at Antioch University in Seattle – as relevant in 2014 as in 2007.

Lecture 1 hour then Q&A.

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

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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.

The West Protests Too Much

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The West Protests Too Much

First posted on September 13, 2013 by Julijuxtaposed

It’s about regime change – No!  Wait – It’s absolutely not about regime change – except for the Assad must go bit.  It’s about security.  No, wait a minute: it’s about punishment.  Or was that national interest?  You want to arm the rebels?  Even things up a bit?  Which rebels?  You know discernment isn’t your best faculty, don’t you?  What?  Oh, it’s about credibility.. Huh?  Sorry, I must have misheard…  Did you say credibility?  What about the boots on the ground?  Yes, I know what you said but is that still ‘a go’ anyway?

Just how stupid do the Dear Leaders think we are?  As stupid as them, apparently…

It’s ok for the American, French and British regimes to throw their weight around but when Putin does it it’s suddenly very bad form.  Now, I’m no fan of the Putin Regime.  I’m no fan of the Cameron Regime, either – or Obama’s. (I also don’t presume that any leader is representative of his/her citizens or subjects either.  Those days seem long gone, if they ever existed.)  People who agree with the verbal contribution coming out of Russia’s mouth are being deliberately treated as though s/he were a fool who has somehow forgotten or lovingly overlooked Putin’s domestic record and his nation’s history.  It’s a good enough proposal that everyone wants to take credit for it but, oh dear, oh dear!  How embarrassing for the warmongers: it’s Russia’s coup and Putin knows how to play chess…

The Western powers do protest too much.  Except when it comes to China, of course.  Funny that…

We are not ignorant of the double standards within the Putin Regime any more than we are ignorant of ours: every pointing finger; every snide remark can be turned back in accusation to our own Regimes.  The irony is simply inescapable:

Obama says that America is ‘exceptional’ but he and his Regime seem to have confused the meaning with ‘take exception to’ and ‘make exception for’.  I suppose it goes some way to explaining why the US shies away from the International Criminal Court; or why no one can have chemical weapons except them – and perhaps Israel: the former not thus far having destroyed theirs and the latter, not having even ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Netanyahu wants Syria stripped of chemical weapons and for the world to ensure that those who use Weapons of Mass Destruction pay a price, but will Benjamin go first?  Not likely.  Apparently he’s special.

Now, I’m as horrified by chemical/biological weapons as the next Being.  I shouldn’t even need to clarify that, should I?  But then, I didn’t think I’d have a need to say I’m no great fan of Putin.  Or that I didn’t support Saddam just because I was against invading Iraq…  Naturally I would like to see these chemical weapons gone (along with many other types) but why being gassed is deemed more terrifying or horrific than being gang-raped or having your jaw blown off is a little curious.  Is it a numbers thing, because I hear that missiles are also problematic on that score…

Russia is denigrated over and over again while big, powerful, enigmatic and economically threatening China is left largely alone.  Russia is castigated time after time for her use of the UN veto and yet the US has exercised a veto fourteen times since 1991 (in 13 cases to shield Israel, as it happens), while Russia has used it nine times.  Personally, I would shut up about that, wouldn’t you?  Apparently it is Russia having vested interests which has put Syria in a worse condition because, well, the varied interests of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, the UK, the EU, the USA and Israel couldn’t possibly be factors as well, could they?  Russia is a bad bear for propping up her economy by propping up the Assad Regime and yet the US and her willing buddies were and still are more than content to support any old despot if it’s expedient to their own purposes.  But god forbid anyone should mention the West’s own very sordid continuum of interest in the region.  The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

Throughout ‘modern’ history the Western powers have made it their primary business to stomp around the world in the name of ‘national interest’.  It’s what empires do before they die.  They’re the ones, mostly, who stir the shit and start the wars; they’re the ones who invade governed and ‘ungoverned spaces’, who plunder, manipulate and oppress; they are the ones who enable fantastical profiteering and then have the audacity to call it help.  Follow the money.  Follow the vested interests.  The connections stem from the usual suspects nearly every time.  Self-Service is what they mean.

Obviously none of us ordinary people has access to a map.  The geo-strategic implications are way over our heads.  It couldn’t possibly be about preserving the petrodollar and the fiat global economy in order to maintain a monopoly over energy resources by perpetual conflict, could it, now…

Unless Assad prevails and the world washes its hands instead of pretending to wring them as he re-subjugates the Syrian people, everyone knows the negotiating table is at the end of this.  Why we can’t skip straight to that part and prove ourselves good students of history and civility is because the usual suspects keep placing pathetic obstacles in the way.  Iran is the ultimate goal of the neo-cons, therefore Iran is the convenient scapegoat for the block.  Removal of Assad is the goal, therefore he is the block.  Yet having Assad (or his successor) at the table is not a threat if he is calmly negotiated out of the equation.  How ridiculous to arbitrarily omit either party from discussion.  And how disingenuously self-righteous to mask the myriad agenda as moral high ground.

One certainty is that, regardless of who used chemical weapons, bombing in the name of saving lives is so ludicrous as to be an insult to the intelligence of every rational mind.  Whether military force is used or not, these powerful monsters are adept at creating win-win scenarios – it’s not over by a long way – and they seem quite immune to collateral damage in any form.  Not one of the vested interests gives a stuff about the actual Syrian people – just as they don’t give a stuff about their own citizens.

Poor old The West!  So sure of its superiority; so uptight; so impressed with its own collective ego that it doesn’t occur to these neo-liberal bozos that they are the real danger to world peace; that they move against Humanity.

The Dear Leaders need us to avoid nuance in favour of dumb simplicity.  They want us to pick a side and they want it to be the side they choose – until they change their minds.  They need our memories to be short, our minds maleable and our overwrought hearts to be easily manipulated.  But we are not all stupid.  And we are not just ‘war-weary’.  Dear Leaders: we are spin-weary.

How much longer?

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How much longer?

First posted on May 16, 2013

I look to the mainstream media for some honest reporting and perspective – Ha!

I look to the Opposition for some counter-arguments, some persuasive alternatives – Ha!

And I look to the Government – yeah, that body of representatives whose wages we pay to manage our common affairs and interests on our behalf. That bunch of cretins who fought tooth and nail for the chance to be in charge and will no doubt convince themselves to try again in 2015. Ha!

For how much longer do the good people of this country have to bang on about the need for repairs and new infrastructure? I shan’t patronise with a list, for it is endless – and the number of people ready, willing and able to participate in such large and essential projects is also becoming endless. But you don’t need me to explain about the scourge of unemployment, the reasons for underemployment, the plight of our untrained and despondent youth, the complete and utter waste of brain and brawn…

How many times do the good citizens of this country need to suggest the lowering of house prices – both for sale and rent? How many times do we need to explain that the landlords are the rentiers; that the surveyors and mortgage companies determine what a property is worth?

How many people need to be made homeless before it’s acknowledged that there are not enough affordable houses? How much longer will the Government get away with this bedroom tax abomination, given that for many, that bedroom is not an extra room at all and in light of there being no alternative housing for those who would be happy to downsize?

For how much longer are the lucky employers of this country going to have their wages bill subsidised by the government in the form of tax credits? For how much longer will the taxpayers put up with their hard-earned contributions going to this curious and very uncapitalist subsidisation of wages?

When is someone going to say that paying some poor sop a pittance to look after someone else’s kid so the parent can go and work for another pittance is just plain crazy and mostly serves a cold and futile ideology? Where on earth did this obsession come from that every single adult must work in some governmentally recognised capacity for it to even be considered a worthwhile occupation?

When is someone going to tell that Iain Dontcare Smith that a few disabled people aren’t going to save the economy by being made to work at some meaningless job which still requires loads of government subsidy because employers tend to have to be blackmailed into employing them? Whose needs is IDS serving?

When is someone going to ram this empty but plainly loaded “make work pay” phrase up the ivory towers of these disingenuous MPs? We all know it’s not about getting a wage you can live on, but about reducing benefits to a level on which you obviously can’t. Given the magnificent economic incompetence of this Coalition, this is a nasty attitude at best.

But then, when is the good British public going to tell this government that all their welfare reforms are cruel, given the economic climate? That if you want to weed out the genuinely feckless or lazy, you have to provide a climate in which they become self-evident rather than merely accused as such by carping government ministers and high-horsed media stenographers. Apparently “welfare’ shouldn’t be a lifestyle choice” but who is in charge and who hasn’t provided any real alternatives? When will the public ask whose “choice” it actually is?

When will the good people remind this government and media that Brits are perfectly happy to do the jobs immigrants do, that it’s not the nature of the job but the deliberately low wages these jobs come with? When will the public realise that it’s only possible to live on such poor wages when you’re single and prepared to share your accommodation with 20 other people because you imagine and hope that this will be temporary? When will government and media acknowledge that it is policy and slack stewardship which create the climate possible for both immigrants and British citizens to be exploited and undercut in their wages, working conditions and accommodation?

And when, oh when will the good people of this country stop blaming immigrants and Europe for all the ills which plague this nation? When will it realise that Europe doesn’t just hand down some edict which can’t be questioned or modified – that governments are largely free to interpret most EU guidelines in their own ways and that that is exactly what they do. It’s called expedient political gaming when a government claims its hands are tied by Europe.

When are the good people going to tell this government that they know who makes the rules by which HMRC must operate? The likes of Amazon and Google are doing what any business would be sensible to do: maximising their profits and paying out as little in tax and other overheads as they can get away with. Who sets the rules? Who decides what ‘evasion’ is and what is ‘avoidance’?

When are the good people of this country going to rail at the government for its bigotry and ineptitude? When are the rational citizens going to declare war on short-sighted, ignorant, crass and divisive policies?

I’m not looking for answers here. This is just a rant. Like you, I already know what I want most of the solutions to look like.

Manufacturing Consent for Invasion of Iran?

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Manufacturing Consent

By CJ Stone

Previously Published By  CJ Stone, Hubpages

One of the most important books of the last 100 years is Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky.

The book is an analysis of the media industry, and the various ways in which our news is distorted to create or maintain a particular world-view.

We believe we have a free press. What Herman and Chomsky show is that the press is effectively a propaganda outlet for the state-corporate interpretation of events.

The phrase “the manufacture of consent” was originally used by Walter Lipmann in his 1922 book Public Opinion. In fact the term “public opinion” when used by Lipmann is a euphemism for propaganda, since the book is about the control and manipulation of public opinion, not about attempting to follow it.

Lipmann’s basic idea is that the “bewildered herd” have to be lead by a political elite who use the power of the mass media to construct a version of reality which is in the interests of the elite. The book is a detailed exposition of how this can be achieved. It remains an influential book in the Public Relations industry.

Dodgy dossiers

We all remember the ways in which the news was spun in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003: the weapons of mass destruction deployed within 45 minutes, Saddam Hussein seeking nuclear material from Niger and all the rest, none of which turned out to be true.

You also may remember that when Tony Blair appeared before the Iraq inquiry he said that he would have taken us to war anyway, regardless of the excuse.

The reason I am reminding you of this is that we are again subject to a propaganda onslaught, this time about the nuclear threat posed by Iran.

A new International Atomic Energy Agency report talks of the “possible existence of undeclared nuclear facilities and material” in Iran.

On the basis of this George Osborne has just announced that Britain will stop business transactions with all Iranian banks, while the USA is putting sanctions on its petrochemical industry.

It’s that small word “possible” I would like to draw your attention to.

In fact the report acknowledges that low-grade nuclear material produced as a by-product of Iran’s atomic energy programme is accounted for and is not being diverted for weapons manufacture.

Nothing has substantially changed since the last IAEA report, with the exception of material from a solitary laptop, allegedly supplied to the Agency by a Western intelligence source, whose provenance has not been established.

All of this is following on from that frankly insane report in October about a plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador using hired Mexican drug-trafficking assassins.

It’s at this point that I’d like to remind you of the dodgy dossier – information gleaned from a disaffected taxi driver, and cut and pasted from the internet – which made up the bulk of evidence in the run-up to the war on Iraq.

This is what Herman and Chomsky are referring to when they talk of “the manufacture of consent”. This kind of information doesn’t have to be true, it merely has to be repeated often enough and loud enough for people to start to believe that it is true.

Facts

Now let’s strip away the rhetoric and look at the facts.

Since 1945 the United States has invaded or been involved in conflicts in70 separate countries.

Iran has invaded no country in the last 200 years.

The United States has military forces stationed in 150 countries around the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf States, all of which border Iran.

Iran has no armies stationed anywhere outside its own territory.

Twice since the Second World War the United States has made direct military interventions on Iranian soil: once in the form of a coup de’etat against the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, in 1953, and once by backing Iraq’s brutal and bloody invasion in 1980, during which chemical weapons were deployed.

Iran has never invaded the United States.

The United States has an arsenal of 5,113 nuclear warheads.

Iran has no nuclear weapons.

I’ll leave it up to you to work out who the actual threat is.