A false reality has contributed to a new political reality

A false reality has contributed to a new political reality

The descent into complex post-factual politics goes some way to showing why Brexit and Trump were so successful, and their opposition so ineffective.

lead lead Nigel Farage is seen in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, NY, USA December 15, 2016. Pool/ABACA ABACA/Press Association. All rights reserved.

 

Nothing is real. A lot of us feel that this is close to the truth right now, waking up each day hoping that it was all a dream. Brexit didn’t happen. Trump didn’t win. Two men of the people didn’t have their picture taken in front of a dictator-esque golden door. But each morning you wake up and realise it is all real, that the world has turned upside down.

The worse thing is that these two events haven’t even happened yet. Britain hasn’t lost access to the biggest market in the world, it hasn’t shut its borders to millions of people it used to consider friends, it hasn’t brought back imperial measurements. And Trump hasn’t torn up the Paris climate deal, he hasn’t built a massive wall/fence.

But they will happen and I, for one, look forward to measuring everything in hands and yards again, just like the good old days. But why did they happen? These were things that seemed absurd when first suggested, but eventually caught the imagination of millions of people and were victorious. One idea, brilliantly shown by Adam Curtis in his film HyperNormalisation, is that nothing is real.

We live in an incredibly complex, interconnected world. The world finance system is a large web running through banks, institutions, countries, companies, people, all built so that the richest few who can interact with it gain the most out of it. With the rise of neoliberalism, the ethos that if business thrives, a country will thrive, took hold and further embedded the importance of finance into our national politics.

Privatisation and tax cuts would be used to show that a country was business friendly, unions would be broken, business friendly policies would be taken up. When this resulted in fewer taxes and greater unemployment, governments would have to borrow to fill the deficit in social spending that this would create. The lenders would be banks, who would place even more business friendly – or growth friendly – conditions on the borrowing countries. This is what is happening in Greece at the moment. This would reduce choice in how a country was run, as the assets that politics haggles over were greatly reduced, set free into the private world. As things worsened for ordinary people, they were being told that their lives and their countries were great. Told they had more freedom than ever at a time when they worked longer for less, when freedom was being taken away by hidden networks of financial power.

Geopolitically, the world was becoming more complex too, with western interests in the Middle East creating a web of truths, half-truths and lies that are impossible to disentangle. Governments were becoming increasingly adept at counter-intelligence. This added to the feeling of helplessness and despair at the complexity of the world, leading people and politicians to retreat into a simplified version of the world of good and evil, right and wrong, left and right. This trajectory carried on until now and is reflected in the increasing popularity of conspiracy theories in the world.

No one believes anything from governments any more. The trajectory is also most eloquently expressed by Vladislav Surkov, Putin’s ‘Grey Cardinal’, who advised Putin to finance both left and right groups within Russia, making people unsure who the real and who the fake opposition was.

Such uncertainty helps to paralyse opposition. Thinking they are playing a game with the same rules, their voice becomes neutered, actions ineffective. These tactics have been used by Russia in what is called ‘non-linear warfare’, which always keeps the opposition guessing at what Russia is doing, allowing Russia to take the advantage. It did this in Ukraine and it is doing this in Syria.

This is only a brief overview of the descent into the complex post-factual politics that we have fallen, however it goes some way to showing why Brexit and Trump were so successful and why their opposition were so ineffective.

They understood two things. The first is that people did not believe what they heard any more, so what they said did not matter. The second is that what mattered was that people wanted change, and it was the direction of change that mattered. They wanted to be able to grasp reality again. People knew that their lives had not improved and that politics as it stood offered them no choice. They also knew that they did not fully understand or trust the world they were living in. So when they were given the option to vote for something that would both bring tangible change, and that would put them on the track to a less complex reality, they jumped at the opportunity.

Fighting under the impression that truth still mattered, and that all the system needed was a little tweak, unwilling to understand the complexity of the world, and the desire for a reality where actions mean something, the opposition failed.

We crave reality but a simplified version of it. That’s why we watch reality TV, follow stars on Instagram, spend hours on YouTube. We are searching for meaning, for reality, trying to forget the unreality of our existence, forget that whatever we do, nothing seems to change.

When we vote, we feel like we are voting for the same thing, we feel like nothing changes, that we are stuck, invisibly bound. Brexit and Trump gave us a way out, a route back to reality and some of us took it. Unfortunately, it’s a simplified version, one that will fall apart and leave us in a broken reality. To fix it, we must fight for a world where our actions can effect positive change.

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President Assad: European States Harm Own Interests by Supporting Terrorists in Syria

President Assad: European States Harm Own Interests by Supporting Terrorists in Syria 

Syrian President Basher al-Assad, in a meeting with a European delegation in Damascus, has slammed European governments for adopting unrealistic and wrong policies toward Syria over the past years, saying the approach has resulted in Europe’s isolation from international efforts meant to resolve the crisis in the Arab country.

During a Monday meeting with a group of parliamentarians from Belgium in Damascus, Assad said that Europeans erroneously decided to support anti-government militants in Syria when the crisis erupted in the country six years ago, adding that the policy had cost Europe dearly and harmed the interests of people across the continent, Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported.

Assad said by adopting wrong policies, Europe “isolated itself and undermined every possible role it could play” in this regard.

Assad said politicians in the West never cared about the interests of their own people when it came to winning elections, stressing that the approach had “led to the emergence of European policies that are dissociated from reality.”

He said that the approach had also caused the EU to lose its traditional role and position in the world of diplomacy.

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Source: Press TV

EU finally recognises the USA as a threat

US under Trump among external threats to EU – council president Tusk

European Council President Donald Tusk has called the US under President Donald Trump one of the external threats to the EU along with China, Russia and radical Islam.

The senior EU official added that the bloc must take “spectacular steps” to avoid disintegration. He said that if this did not happen, separated European nations would become dependent on the US, China and Russia.

Tusk said the EU could capitalize on Trump’s trade strategy to boost European economic ties around the world.

The remarks were made in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, where Tusk was meeting leaders of the three Baltic states. His speech mirrored an open letter to European leaders he had written earlier, ahead of a summit in Malta on Friday.

Tusk believes that the EU is currently facing a threat unprecedented since the since the signature of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, which founded the European Economic Community, EU’s predecessor.

“For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multipolar external world, so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Euroskeptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy,” he said in the letter.

Tusk said that in addition to external threats, the EU has to deal with domestic nationalism, “national egoism,” a “decline of faith in political integration” and rising doubts about “the fundamental values of liberal democracy.”

Tusk warned against seeing any potential end of the EU as a positive development.

The disintegration of the European Union will not lead to the restoration of some mythical, full sovereignty of its member states, but to their real and factual dependence on the great superpowers: the United States, Russia and China,” Tusk wrote to EU leaders. “Only together can we be fully independent.”

The European Council president suggested that the EU should borrow the American motto: “United we stand, divided we fall.” Variations of the phase have been used since antiquity, although its American roots date back to a pre-Revolutionary song by John Dickinson, one of the Founding Fathers.

While Tusk’s criticism of Trump is among the most vocal by EU officials since the Republican’s election, he is far from being alone. Earlier, Guy Verhofstadt, the EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit, said Trump and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, are determined to break up the European Union.

Verhofstadt identified three major threats to the EU, with radical Islam and Russia being the first two.

“My impression is we have a third front undermining the EU, and that is Donald Trump, who … has spoken very favorably that other countries will want to break away from the EU, and that he hoped for a disintegration of the EU,” he added

USA doesn’t like the EU because it’s the biggest trade block in the world. Trump continues that work

The USA has tried hard to destroy the EU, creating refugees, sanctions against Russia, creation of Ukraine fascist state

Donald Trump takes SWIPE at EU by dismissing Brussels as a ‘CONSORTIUM’

DONALD Trump has taken a swipe at the European Union by blasting the bloc as a “consortium”.

He made the stinging jibe during a joint press conference held in Washington with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Mr Trump described brexit as a “wonderful thing” and said it hinted at his shock victory in the US presidential election some months later.

He blasted the EU while discussing his attempts to be approved for a development in a European country – presumed to be Ireland, where he owned a development on the west coast but was denied permission to massively expand it.

He said: “I had a very bad experience. I had something when I was in my other world. I have something in another country and getting approval from Europe was very very tough.”Getting approval from the country was fast, easy and efficient. Getting the approvals from the group, I call them the consortium was very, very tough.”

Theresa May with Donald Trump

He added: “Brexit was an example of what was to come. I happened to be in Scotland when brexit happened and we had a vast amount of press there. I said Brexit is going to happen. It was scorned in the press for making that prediction.”

Donald Trump speakingSKY NEWS

Donald Trump speaking about the EU this evening

“Low and behold the following day it happened. I think Brexit is going to be a wonderful thing for your country. I think when it irons out you’re going to have your own identity. You’ll be able to make free trade deals without having somebody watching you.”

‘The Euro’ by Stiglitz: Even fake leftists say ‘exit’

January 29, 2017

by Ramin Mazaheri

‘The Euro’ by Stiglitz: Even fake leftists say ‘exit’

“The Euro”, both the monetary system and the book of the same name by Nobel-Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, can appear complicated.

Take heart from Noam Chomsky, who wrote that nothing in the social sciences cannot be understood by the average bus driver in a couple of minutes – this is not calculus or physics, after all.

Give me just three paragraphs to simplify everything:

Stiglitz successfully makes two indisputable academic assertions: The euro has failed in its promise to bring about prosperity and security, and that there is nothing in its organizational structure which allows for the possibility for change.

Take a moment and realize these do not constitute an attack on the euro – these are clear facts, the former of which is clear to anyone. You’ll have to take his academic word for the latter assertion, unless perusing the euro’s structure is your idea of a fun Saturday night.

After covering the entirety of the Eurozone crisis from France, it is impossible to refute my assertions that the Eurozone has failed to bring about prosperity and security for the average Frenchman, and that there is nothing in the mainstream political structure which allows for the possibility for change.

Trust us. The first part is the main part, anyway.

I thought I’d revisit Stiglitz’s book, seeing as how the National Front’s Marine Le Pen may win the presidency in a few months largely thanks to her promise to leave the euro.

It’s vital to realize that it is not just right-wing ignoramuses like me and Le Pen who want out of the Eurozone – a mainstream, Nobel Prize-winning economist has reached the same conclusion. What I am saying here is: You don’t have to agree with us, but you cannot denigrate euro-exiters by calling us stupid or racist like you did Brexiters or Trumpers – at some point you have to openly debate.

“The Euro” is very good and worth reading. If you want know the truth about the Eurozone, read the analysis of someone who has no personal stake in it, like Stiglitz.

But believing that the euro should continue should be referred to as “Islamic market fundamentalism”, not because it has one single thing to do with Islam, but because then it would hit home with the average Westerner just how fanatical “market fundamentalism”, or “neoliberalism” truly is.

Such a term should make the deranged ideological basis of the Eurozone crystal-clear: Neoliberals are not at all constrained by the facts of 25 years of failure in Africa, a lost decade in Latin America, and nearly-lost decade in the Eurozone – Stiglitz makes this point repeatedly throughout the book.

What Stiglitz fails to do is to point out that the simple root of the Eurozone is capitalism and that this is the ideology which must be questioned, not simply its capitalist variant of neoliberalism.

I can easily relay a bunch of his facts, combine them with my on-the-ground experiences and convincingly make the urgent case that the Eurozone is flawed and must be abandoned or replaced.

But this is not that column.

I want this column to be about something else, and I will get right to the heart of the matter:

Stiglitz is about as leftist an economist as the mainstream media is permitted to report on.

That is why my headline calls him a “fake leftist”- I don’t think any economist would call him a “leftist economist”, but for all intents and purposes he is as economically left as the average person can find without caring enough to dig deeper.

Stiglitz is on the left of the right-wing; which makes him a centrist-tending-right. That he is consistently presented as a “progressive” economist is the mistake this column seeks to make right.

And like so many “progressives” who fall short of real leftism, even Stiglitz cannot believe his own eyes or his own words.

Fake progressives always let them off the hook

So many times in “The Euro” Stiglitz delivers a devastating conclusion about capitalism, only to immediately lets it off the hook by claiming bafflement as to how this could possibly happen. This failure is intellectually indefensible, intellectually unsatisfying, regressive and violently damaging. This passage is, unfortunately, typical.

“Austerity has always and everywhere had the contractionary effects observed in Europe: the greater the austerity, the greater the economic contraction. Why the Troika would have thought that this time in Europe it would be different is mystifying.”

It is not mystifying – this is what capitalism does over and over. Just as they sought in Africa and Latin America, neoliberals want to impose labor code rollbacks and deregulate; in Europe they wanted to end the gains Europeans have fought decades to win. It has worked in France – Hollande rammed through the “Macron Law” last year despite mass protests, and he arrested thousands of demonstrators to achieve it.

Time after time Stiglitz presents a devastating indictment which totally attacks the premise that capitalism is concerned with good governance and promoting even basic equality, only to soft-pedal backwards.

“But the eurozone programs have been a success, in the sense that the German and French banks have been repaid….Perhaps the real goals of Germany and the other creditor countries have indeed been achieved.”

For those not following Europe closely, this is exactly what has happened since the European Sovereign Debt Crisis began and why people have lost faith in the Eurozone: the rich countries of France, the Netherlands and Germany have no solidarity with the average Eurozone citizen at all (which is endemic in capitalism), and are ruthlessly waging economic colonization against the poorer nations (which is endemic in capitalism). It is the banks of France and Germany which have been bailed out, not the average indebted person in Greece or Finland, as Stiglitz repeatedly proves.

Spain and Ireland didn’t even need a bailout in 2009: They had a fiscal surplus and healthy debt-to-GDP ratios, but not anymore. Greece is now actually running a fiscal surplus! No matter – they are slated to be paying back banks further west and north for perhaps decades.

Stiglitz says these things, backed by academic facts, all the time in his book.

And yet with that seemingly ironic “perhaps the real goals” statement –a question mark is missing, which must be a grammatical error because it is clearly a question – Stiglitz simply ends the matter and moves on to a new topic. Tellingly, it is “The Need for Growth”.

Perhaps if Stiglitz were not trapped by capitalist ideology, by capitalism’s obsession with growth, he could have pursued his own hypothesis (which matches with reality) even further. But he didn’t, he dropped the potato once it got hot, or he doesn’t realize he has a capitalist-programmed obsession with “growth”.

A cynic might say that this was the intent of the law: to preserve power relations. But I am convinced that the rule in Europe was driven more by ideology and misguided economic beliefs than narrow self- interest.”

It is not at all cynical to say that capitalists in the Eurozone have not yet rectified a long-standing criticism by the left: that capitalism needlessly and inefficiently promotes international competition and imperialistic rivalries. Leftists have said this for decades, are saying it now, and will say it forever until 1) capitalism stops doing it, which they won’t (can’t) or 2) capitalism finds a solution to this problem, which they can’t (won’t).

Either Stiglitz, with all of his honorary degrees, has not read basic leftist economist thought, or he has forgotten it, or he has ignored it in the confirmation bias of his definitely non-progressive adoration of capitalism.

Like all capitalist promoters, and like all mainstream media members who live in a 24-hour news cycle, instead of taking a longer view Stiglitz is guilty of viewing the Eurozone as some sort of isolated case in capitalism when the moment arrives from clear conclusions and logical condemnation. He remains in his ivory tower, and his telescope does not take in the full historical view.

“Its construction (the ECB) was based on ideological propositions that were fashionable at the time (Stiglitz is discussing the ECB’s mandate, which is limited to only inflation, and not growth, employment, etc.) These beliefs, however, are increasingly questioned, especially in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis.”

An obsession with inflation is not a “fashion”: this is a fundamental concern of capitalism throughout its history. Why? Inflation is called “the great leveler” for a reason – it reduces the values of the most immense fortunes. The rich have far more to lose than anyone else from inflation!

It also reduces debts, so God send us inflation! At least for the poor debtors, who will be able to pay off their burden and stop being tortured.

Inflation also reduces the power of interest – without that power, bankers/moneylenders will have to actually work for a living, which is why they fear it so.

Finally, lacking the stability provided by communistic cooperation, an inflation-induced downturn also spells chaos, and that could force a revolution and compel the wealthy to flee to some other country with only a part of their ill-gotten gains (see revolutions in Russia, China, Cuba and Iran for examples).

Stiglitz knows that for all these reasons an obsession with inflation is fundamental, not fashionable.

“The dismal (economic) forecasts made it clear: the Troika’s grasp of the underlying economics was abysmal”.

Really? All those eggheads with their salaries so much bigger than mine don’t understand their own domain?

The problem here is not that people with a PhD do not “grasp” their own field – the problem is their ideology.

It is not a conspiracy of stupidity or a confederacy of dunces – it’s the promotion of capitalism over communism.

The ideology of communism shows clearly that the Eurozone was indeed a conspiracy – a money-lending cartel on the grandest scope. And why would such a scope be out of the reach of banks whose yearly gross corporate product can exceed half of all nations in the world?

Stiglitz says that from 1999-2007 the Eurozone had a short period of success – “divergence reigned” – i.e., rich countries loaned to poor Eurozone members (economic redistribution). But what happened is those loans were called in during a crisis, and they could not be repaid.

We know that bankers routinely aim for such a scenario to happen. What happened in the Eurozone has happened all over the 3rd world during the 2+ centuries of European-led imperialism – indebted countries were picked apart by foreigners.

To say that the bankers/Eurozone planners/Troika didn’t know what they were doing is pathetic. Stiglitz has too much sympathy, perhaps, or not enough contempt for negligence.

Was it just an accident, a slip, that they opted for a property tax that would have inflicted pain on ordinary Greeks, rather than one that would have hit the oligarchs?”

This is – somehow – an honest question from Stiglitz, and a less ideologically-rigorous reader will be lulled into complacency and sympathy for those who are orchestrating the re-colonization of Greece.

Stiglitz poses the question but he never takes a stand. This is as far as a person like him is willing to go – fake leftism. The leftism that nobody wants to associate with. The leftism that loses. The leftism that embarrasses leftists to say that they are leftists.

To take a stand would force Stiglitz to change his fundamentally pro-capitalist view, and it would risk all those honorary degrees. (I have a t-shirt which reads “Where’s my bailout?”. Where’s my honorary degree, huh? Hundreds of unpopular leftist reports and French tear gas attacks don’t cut it, eh?)

For those who do go further we conclude: “No, it was not an accident! It happens all the time. Such pro-oligarchy decisions are routine in capitalism. This is just one measly little example you have publicized and you haven’t even interpreted it correctly, Dr. Stiglitz, PhD, Esq, Rev., DDS,!”

Why care about ‘alternative facts’ when ideology is neglected?

Facts don’t matter because in the social sciences ideology filters everything, people. Again, this is not calculus or physics – if it was, then economic policy wouldn’t be disputed and austerity wouldn’t still be reigning.

The capitalists have an ideology and they won’t call it “Islamic market fundamentalism” so they call it “neoliberalism”, and it is the foundation of the Eurozone.

You want to be a capitalist and not an “Islamic market fundamentalist”, you complain? The Eurozone is necessary, you say?

Fine. Let’s judge the Eurozone on your own neoliberal terms: As a capitalist you obviously accept that economic downturns and depressions are simply a part of life, and you are willing to make everyone suffer the consequences.

But the judge of any capitalist policy is how long and how deep your capitalist downturns are, and by this fair gauge the EU has totally failed. This will be a lost decade. I pity the poor and unemployed youth because they are suffering for the refusal to accept the facts which impose a change of ideology.

There is an alternative to the Eurozone – it has not been decreed by God. As Stiglitz writes, monetary systems come and go. If structural limitations prevent us from changing the euro then the euro has to go.

Capitalist reader, even your emperor is cold from wearing no clothes: Germany has averaged 0.8% annual growth since 2007 – that is failure, and this is your leader and success story?

Joe oughtta know better

But Joseph Stiglitz, with all his egghead degrees that make him so much smarter than me and your regular bus driver, should know extremely well how capitalism ravages everything because isn’t he reading economic literature from the left at least some of the time?

That is not clear. But I say Stiglitz should know better because he is from Gary, Indiana, my former hometown.

Gary, if you don’t know, is the American industrial hellhole par excellence. It is the poorest, Blackest, most violent city in America, per capita. White flight, racism, capitalism, pollution, drugs, guns, blocked futures – it all the stuff nobody wants.

You cannot compare it with a stereotypical Soviet-era counterpart because there is humiliating racism, deadly violence and crack instead of vodka.

Gary truly is the foul, steel-fume belching armpit of America. Most people in nearby Chicago are too frightened to even stop there for gas…and mainstream media/politicians couldn’t care less.

Gary’s dismal past, present and future should have been enough for Stiglitz to renounce capitalism, but it wasn’t.

Like most “progressives” who do not go far enough to make any real or lasting difference, the tone throughout his book is that Stiglitz “sincerely cares”. He really, truly does and…this only makes him more enlightened than your average, selfish fascist.

Like most of his fake-leftist peers he never discusses “class”, but loves to discuss the environment. And if there was an economic component to transgender bathroom rights I’m reasonably sure Stiglitz would have focused on that as well.

He – by blinding himself to a true leftist interpretation – by being content with being “mystified” in the most non-poetic ways in the most dismal of “sciences” – he creates a false impression of what “progressive” should truly mean.

The best that such a half-hearted progressive like Stiglitz can do is provide us ammunition for the struggle – and he does in “The Euro”.

This makes him without fault, but it does not earn him great praise. Somebody in his influential position should break free of his mainstream confines and propose real solutions instead of trying to fix what he clearly knows is fundamentally broken: capitalism.

Being “mystified’ should not earn you prizes in economics – the people deserve immediate solutions.

The Euro has proven there is no “Third Way”

Urbane, cultured, human rights-loving Europe has not been able to show that one is able to combine a capitalism and communism in a capitalism-centered system.

This is exactly what the Euro was supposed to do. Capitalism is simply too strong and must be confined in a drastic manner.

The Eurozone has allowed European imperialism to turn on itself. This should be as crystal clear to you by now as it is to an increasing number of Eurozone citizens.

What is working, and even despite the global recession, is combining capitalism and communism in a communism-centered system.

China is booming; Cuba has had steady 2% growth since the Great Recession started, despite the genocidal blockade; since 1989 in Iran (communism’s ignored victory) only one country in the world has increased their Human Development Index more – South Korea.

Destroy the euro, yes, because it has been created in a way so that it is possible to reform, as Stiglitz repeatedly demonstrates. It was an economic union before there was a political union, and the pain of muddling through to finally get that political union correct is going to hurt hundreds of millions of people for decades – that price is too high.

There has to be another way, even though pro-euro people repeatedly cry TINA: There Is No Alternative. The euro was, after all, created in 1992 – the USSR was over and so was “history”. This anti-democratic philosophy has been inscribed in the euro’s genetic structure, per Stiglitz .

But the only way any pan-European project can ever possibly succeed – and Stiglitz repeatedly notes this as well – is through solidarity.

What he doesn’t say is that there is no pan-national solidarity ever in capitalism.

He holds up the US model as an example, but the US has always been, fundamentally, the same country. It’s not as if the US merged with Native American tribes or territories of freed Africans. Europe requires their own solution, not just a US copy, just as Cuba requires their own model, Iran their own model, etc.

The euro has undoubtedly decreased the sentiment of solidarity so vital to something like the euro ever having a chance of working. Greece distrusts Germany, Germany distrusts Portugal, France distrusts everybody including other Frenchmen, etc.

There can be no doubt about that. The capitalist euro project has ruined European solidarity, and I – intrepid reporter on the ground – can report to you that I see no “solidarity boom” on the horizon. I see the far-right, racism, protectionism and closing of borders. Why? Well, the euro has failed to bring about prosperity and security, dummy – you can even ask a capitalist reactionary like Stiglitz!

Modern history proves that any sort of solidarity – especially pan-national or racial – requires a commitment to communist ideology. The USSR was the only empire built on affirmative action, after all.

Communism is the only way forward, as we’ve all known for decades. The question, if there is one, is not “if” but “how much”.

Stiglitz, and his fundamentally pro-capitalist fake leftist ilk, can see that but they look away.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

Mainstream British Press Propaganda Ramps Up Dangerous War Rhetoric against Russia

Mainstream British Press Propaganda Ramps Up Dangerous War Rhetoric against Russia

By Graham Vanbergen,

Screen-Shot-2017-01-18-at-08.54.52

The British press are in full hysteria propaganda mode when it comes to demonising our new greatest threat on planet earth; not climate change, a global pandemic, international terrorism, or America’s new foe in the South China Sea – but Russia.

The Telegraph 31/12/16: “Systemic, relentless, predatory’ Russian cyber threat to US power grid exposed as malware found on major electricity company computer.”

The Independent 13/12/16: “Highly probable Russian interfered with Brexit referendum.”

The Express 15/01/17: “Russians forcing RAF to abort missions in Syria by ‘hacking into’ their systems”

The Guardian 14/01/17: “Senior British politicians ‘targeted by Kremlin’ for smear campaigns”

In all of these newspaper reports, and there are plenty more of them, not a single scrap of actual evidence other than hearsay is published. In the case of the Express story, it’s allegations are backed up with the statement “It is entirely feasible that Russia has targeted Tornadoes and Typhoons in this way,” said air defence expert Justin Bronk, of the Royal United Services Institute think-tank.” This is not evidence.

In the case of the Telegraph, this fairy-tail has been 100% debunked as pure propaganda and the original report from the Washington Post ended with a full-on apology by its editor. The Telegraph has printed no such amendment or apology for its totally fictitious article.

The Guardian’s headline is pure misinformation as it’s sole point of evidence is an MP (Chris Bryant), explaining that incumbent Foreign Office ministers could not speak out on the (Russian hacking) issue because of security connotations, and said:  “Any minister who goes into the Foreign Office and has responsibility for Russia, they [Moscow] will be, in any shape or form, trying to put together information about them.” As if to strengthen the ‘evidence’, Bryant says he is “absolutely certain that Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Alan Duncan who has the Russia brief, and [Brexit secretary] David Davis will have been absolutely looked at.” This is not evidence.

The funny thing is this; the story may be true and quite probably is, but so what.

In October 2015, Britain’s own spy agency confirmed it was spying on Britain’s MP’s and at the time was given court immunity when challenged. It determined that MPs’ communications were not protected from surveillance by intelligence agencies. This case came about because Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Baroness Jenny Jones and former MP George Galloway, that revelations from Edward Snowden, showed MPs’ communications were being spied on by GCHQ despite laws protecting them.

Around the same time we learn that a well known paedophile ran a lodge set up by GCHQ for its spies to monitor important political ‘targets’ ie our own MP’s and other public figures.

Back in 1983 Margaret Thatcher used Britain’s latest and most advanced surveillance system named ‘Echelon’ (Read: ECHELON – The Start of Britain’s Modern Day Spying Operations) to Spy on Government Ministers’. It was an American design and the first major state surveillance system using satellite and IT systems to spy worldwide. Indeed Echelon was originally created in the 1960s to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies throughout the Cold War by Britain and America. All of this data being shared with America – and whichever way you look at it, is a foreign government.

America’s NSA monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders in another Snowden leak three years ago. Germany’s Spiegel reported in 2014 that “Documents show Britain’s GCHQ signals intelligence agency has targeted European, German and Israeli politicians for surveillance.” So distrustful of the British that Chancellor Merkel announced a counter-espionage offensive designed to curb mass surveillance conducted by the US NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ.  Today it is reported by IntelNews that the “discord between British and German intelligence services, which began at the same time in 2014, allegedly persists and now constitutes the “biggest rift between the secret services” of the two countries “since World War II”.

Just six months ago we found out that “GCHQ and NSA routinely spy on UK politicians’ e-mails” that included privileged correspondence between parliamentarians and their constituents and before that, internal MI5, MI6 and GCHQ documents reveal routine interception of legally privileged communications. The information obtained was exploited unlawfully to be used by the agencies in the fighting of court cases in which they themselves were involved.

Amazingly, we recently find out just last week that Israeli embassy staff, quite likely Mossad operatives – “are working with senior political activists and politicians in the Conservative and Labour parties to subvert their own parties from within, and skew British foreign policy so that it benefits Israeli, rather than British interests.” And yet, there has been little comment in the British press about foreign infiltration of government minsters by Israel.

If Russia were not spying on our MP’s, they would be the only ones not at it. No-one trusts anyone. Spying is old news and fully expected. We are ALL being spied on nowadays.

The British press are complicit in their reckless rhetoric designed to instil fear into the population with dangerous propaganda that could easily lead to tensions becoming so dangerous that a real ‘hot war’ starts. Whilst America is shielded by continental Europe and the Atlantic ocean, Britain could be used as a pawn to be sacrificed on the international chess-game of winner-takes-all. We have no ‘special-relationship’, there never has been one, and an irresponsible press being a mouthpiece that ramps up the stress between the US/NATO and Russia is absolutely against the interests and national security of Britain.

As Laurence Krauss’s (chair of the board of sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and is on the board of the Federation of American Scientists) article last October alarmingly points out – “Trump has said he would consider using nuclear weapons against ISIS and suggested that it would be good for the world if Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia acquired them.” Trump could be one seriously dangerous individual for world peace – who knows!

So much for Trump but as Krauss goes on to say that “In general, during the Obama presidency, we have only deepened our dangerous embrace of nuclear weapons. At the moment, around a thousand nuclear weapons are still on a hair-trigger alert; as they were during the Cold War, they are ready to be launched in minutes in response to a warning of imminent attack.” 

Who in their right mind would support this lunacy?

Theresa May may not frighten Europe but the UK’s prime minister frightens me

Back to 1971: she may not frighten Europe but the UK’s prime minister frightens me

Theresa May sets out her view of what kind of country she wants Britain to be.

Theresa May’s speech – image, number 10.

Theresa May’s historic speech at Lancaster House will go down as one of the last manifestoes of English imperialism and perhaps its final call. The latter depends on the response of the other European powers as well as Scotland and whether they have the will and capacity to call her bluff. 

The ostensible purpose the speech was to set out the U.K.’s Brexit strategy. But May stated at the start, “That means more than negotiating our new relationship with the EU. It means taking the opportunity of this great moment of national change to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be”. Her answer, “I want us to be a truly Global Britain”.

She mentioned “Global Britain” eleven times. The phrase was branded on the lectern as well as the wall behind her. If it strikes you as more than accidental that “global” alliterates with “great” you would be right. For the phrase Global Britain is capitalised in the official text of the speech on the Downing Street website. Global is not used as a regular adjective, it has become part of the country’s proper name. It is no longer credible to boast of ourselves as Great Britain. But rather than lose the imperial brand, we can replace it with Global. Greatness modernised!

There was another twist to the imperial subtext when she addressed herself directly to “our friends across Europe”. She wanted to explain to them – the audience was made up of ambassadors from EU countries – the reason for the referendum’s outcome is that the country wants “to restore, as we see it… national self-determination…”. Coming from the mouth of Downing Street, which has had to grant national self-determination to many a colony, usually under duress, this a provocative dig at the imperial pretentions of the EU. It is an endorsement of Brexit as a liberation from an occupying power. And it plays that familiar gambit of bullies everywhere, it makes out that Britain is a victim.

At the start of her description of the kind of country she wants us to self-determine, May said, “we will put the preservation of our precious Union at the heart of everything we do. Because it is only by coming together as one great union of nations and people that we can make the most of the opportunities ahead”. And, “A stronger Britain demands that we do something else – strengthen the precious union between the 4 nations of the United Kingdom”. She mentions three of the nations by name, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There was no mention of the fourth. Yet at the end of this section she spoke in a commanding, possessive tone, saying the government was determined that there will be no new barriers “within our own union”.

Then she added, and, “as we do this, I should equally be clear that no decisions currently taken by the devolved administrations will be removed from them”. This looks like a gesture of respect if not generosity. In fact it is an outrageous claim. It presumes she has the unilateral power to reduce the authority of the “devolved administrations”, should she so wish. Who is occupying whom in this case? It is not just up to her as to whether decision making will be “taken” from the Scots and the Welsh, or without the agreement of Dublin from the Northern Irish. Nor are they simply “devolved administrations”, these are governments authorised by their own parliaments. This is not an acknowledgment of other governments within the Kingdom but of “devolved governance”, as if to recall the phrase of Enoch Powell’s “power devolved is power retained”.

What we are witnessing in Theresa May is an English voice, full of its own conceit, presuming itself to be in sole charge of its  “precious union”, so as to bend Britain to its will. Doing so, she told the Europeans, because:

Our political traditions are different. Unlike other European countries, we have no written constitution, but the principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty is the basis of our unwritten constitutional settlement. We have only a recent history of devolved governance – though it has rapidly embedded itself – and we have little history of coalition government.

This sets her face against any constitutional reform at this moment of profound change. We are not going to update the UK or become a modern country with a written, democratic constitution. We will stay as we are. The reference to coalition is a signal to her own party that we don’t want any more of that if we can help it – and there will be no change to the voting system. It is also an aggressive push back against Scotland too.

But Scotland today enjoys a government based on popular not parliamentary sovereignty. Its constitution is not yet written down in an independent document, however, its powers are codified, its legal tradition is rooted in Europe’s codified one, and its parliament is permanent. As Adam Ramsay set out in an openDemocracy article widely read in the approach to Scotland’s independence referendum of 2014, it is not Scotland that’s different it is Britain that’s bizarre.

The prime minister called for both sides in the coming negotiations between the UK and the EU to show “imagination”. If Europe’s leaders were to show some real imagination and stop pushing Scotland out of the EU against its wishes, they would offer it generous economic terms to ensure it remains. If they did, Theresa May’s proclamation of continuity would be just words.

She is aware of this vulnerability. Hence the extraordinary threat that she made, behind her smiling pitch for a free trade agreement. Agree, or it will prove to be “an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe”. Because if the EU does not do as she wishes, it “would jeopardise [its] investments” in Britain as well as its trade with “one of the biggest economies in the world”. So there! 

She backed up her menacing talk by claiming, “if we were excluded from accessing the single market – we would be free to change the basis of Britain’s economic model”. As Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform notes, this is a hollow threat. If she tries to turn the UK into a low-regulation Singapore undercutting the EU, the prime minister will upturn the one set of positive changes she pledges for Britain after Brexit: robust workers’ rights and – perish the word – a European industrial strategy.

The more significant incoherence is institutional. Whatever the tensions in negotiation with the EU, Global Britain, she says, will be unified at home, “Because after all the division and discord, the country is coming together”.  In May’s view, “The referendum was divisive at times. And those divisions have taken time to heal. But one of the reasons that Britain’s democracy has been such a success for so many years is the strength of our identity as one nation…”.

Hold on, “one nation”? This is the same person who in the same speech refers to “the 4 nations of the United Kingdom” and our “union of nations” has collapsed them into one? Some cognitive dissonance.

One nation style unity is on the way because, “the importance we attach to our institutions means that when a vote has been held we all respect the result. The victors have the responsibility to act magnanimously. The losers have the responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the outcome. And the country comes together”.

This is a very striking claim. May supported Remain but she speaks here as if she is a victor. But where is the magnanimity? the word implies not simply telling the losers to accept the outcome, but stretching out to them with some concessions to meet their concerns. Yet she makes not the slightest concession to anyone this side of UKIP. This is not a formula for coming together or unity. After May made her first speech about Brexit in October last year, I showed how the Daily Mail had taken power. When they are magnanimous, she will be. Until then, if you are not with her, you are an enemy of the people.

Which brings me to the NHS. The word ‘England’ may have been missing in her utterly English presumption about the country’s sovereignty, but its absence is an old trick. What is more surprising is the absence of any reference to the NHS. The campaign for Brexit was notoriously tattooed with a pledge to pump money into it. If there is one institution everyone, whether Remain or Leave, attaches importance to it is the Health Service. About this, and its desperate need for funds there is silence. Under Blair, New Labour pledged to bring UK expenditure of the NHS up to European levels, of over 10 per cent of GDP. Current projections seem to suggest it will sink back to below 7 per cent by 2020. Is this a preparation for the prime minister’s threat to alter the country’s “economic model”? Inflicting calamitous harm on the institution that most unites the country, in “one of the biggest economies in the world”. It does not make sense – unless the Daily Mail has taken over your brain.

The media understandably focused their response to the speech on the big story of what Theresa May is saying about Brexit. But her setting out “what kind of country we want to be” is as important. At the start she heralded a “great moment of national change”. Yet she is not proposing that Britain changes the way it is governed one bit. Instead of offering the Scots a federal settlement, giving the English who drove Brexit a voice (see Nicholas Boyle’s recent philippic), proposing an inventive solution for Northern Ireland, and acknowledging that London, a world city with its own directly elected mayor, voted to remain by 60:40, she insists we can make our greatness global and appears to want to take the country back to 1971, if without its then troublesome trade unions. Her Daily Mail approach has led the prime minister to place too much emphasis on firmness. What works for a headline does not good policy make. Every holder of her office is now haunted by the way Margaret Thatcher reshaped the country. But Thatcher’s conviction was harnessed to a formidable programme of genuine domestic transformation and a new culture of government, whether you liked it or not. There is no such depth to May’s announcement of her beliefs.

Anthony Barnett is writing THE LURE OF GREATNESS: England’s Brexit & America’s Trump

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