The Past Lives On: The Elite Strategy To Divide and Conquer

“They call my people the White Lower Middle Class these days. It is an ugly, ice-cold phrase, the result, I suppose, of the missionary zeal of those sociologists who still think you can place human beings on charts.  It most certainly does not sound like a description of people on the edge of open, sustained and possibly violent revolt,” wrote the marvelous New York journalist, Pete Hamill in “The Revolt of the White Lower Middle Class” in New York magazine.  He added:

The White Lower Middle Class? Say that magic phrase at a cocktail party on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and monstrous images arise from the American demonology. Here comes the murderous rabble: fat, well-fed, bigoted, ignorant, an army of beer-soaked Irishmen, violence-loving Italians, hate-filled Poles. Lithuanians and Hungarians….Sometimes these brutes are referred to as ‘the ethnics’ or ‘the blue-collar types.’ But the bureaucratic, sociological phrase is White Lower Middle Class. Nobody calls it the Working Class anymore.

He wrote that on April 14, 1969. Yesterday. Little changes.

Transferred from NYC to the middle of the country half a century later, these people are referred to as Trump’s “deplorables.” They come in baskets, as Hillary Clinton said.  And even though they represent nearly half the voting public in the last two presidential elections – 70+ million Americans – their complaints are dismissed as the rantings of ignorant, conservative racists.

Name calling substitutes for understanding. This is not an accident.

Like Hamill, I am a NYC born and bred Irish-American – my working-class Bronx to Pete’s Brooklyn. We both attended the same Jesuit high school in different years. Unlike Hamill, known for his gritty street reporting, because I have been a college sociology professor, I could falsely be categorized as a northeastern liberal intellectual oozing with disdain for those who voted for Trump.  This is false, because, like Hamill, I see it as my intellectual duty to understand what motivates these voters, just as I do with those who voted for Biden.

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, nor did I vote for Joseph Biden, or Hillary Clinton in 2016.  I am not one of those sociologists Hamill refers to; I use the term Working Class and am acutely aware of the social class nature of life in the U.S.A., where the economic system of neo-liberal capitalism is constructed to try to convince working Americans that the system cares for them, and if they grow disgusted with its lies and inequities and rage against the machine by voting for anyone who seems to be with them (even a super-rich reality TV real estate magnate named Trump who is not with them), they are dumb-ass bigots whose concerns should be brushed off.

The truth is that both the Trump voters and the Biden voters have been taken for a ride.  It is a game, a show, a movie, a spectacle.  It hasn’t changed much since 1969; the rich have gotten richer and the poor, working, and middle classes have gotten poorer and more desperate.  Those who have profited have embraced the fraud.

The Institute for Policy Studies has just released a new analysis showing that since the start of the Covid-19 “pandemic” in mid-March and the subsequent transfer upwards of $5 trillion to the wealthy and largest corporations through the Cares Act, approved 96-0 in the U.S. Senate, 650 U.S. billionaires have gained over a trillion dollars in eight months as the America people have suffered an economic catastrophe.  This shift upward of massive wealth under Trump is similar to Obama’s massive 2009 bailout of the banks on the backs of American workers. Both were justified through feats of legerdemain by both political parties, accomplices in the fleecing of regular people, many of whom continue to support the politicians that screw them while telling them they care.

If the Democrats and the Republicans are at war as is often claimed, it is only over who gets the larger part of the spoils. Trump and Biden work for the same bosses, those I call the Umbrella People (those who own and run the country through their intelligence/military/media operatives), who produce and direct the movie that keeps so many Americans on the edge of their seats in the hope that their chosen good guy wins in the end.

I am well aware that most people disagree with my analysis.  It does seem as if I am wrong and that because the Democrats and their accomplices have spent years attempting to oust Trump through Russia-gate, impeachment, etc. that what seems true is true and Trump is simply a crazy aberration who somehow slipped through the net of establishment control to rule for four years.  To those 146 + million people who voted for Biden and Trump this seems self-evident.  But if that is so, why, despite their superficial differences – and Obama’s, Hillary Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s for that matter – have the super-rich gotten richer and richer over the decades and the war on terror continued as the military budget has increased each year and the armament industries and the Wall Street crooks continued to rake in the money at the expense of everyone else?  These are a few facts that can’t be disputed. There are many more. So what’s changed under Trump?  We are talking about nuances, small changes.  A clown with a big mouth versus traditional, “dignified” con men.

If you were writing this script as part of long-term planning and average people were getting disgusted from decades of being screwed and were sick of politicians and their lying ways, wouldn’t you stop the reruns and create a new show?  Come on, this is Hollywood where creative showmen can dazzle our minds with plots so twisted that when you leave the theater you keep wondering what it was all about and arguing with your friends about the ending. So create a throwback film where the good guy versus the bad guy was seemingly very clear, and while the system ground on, people would be at each other’s throats over the obvious differences, even while they were fabricated.

Variety is necessary.  You wouldn’t want to repeat the film from 2008 when a well-spoken black man came into town out of nowhere to clean up the mess created by the poorly spoken white sheriff who loved war and then the black hero went on to wage war in seven countries while his fans sat contented in the audience loving the show and making believe they didn’t see what was happening on the screen even though their hero jailed whistle blowers and greatly expanded the surveillance state right in front of their eyes.

No, as the years passed, those two guys turned out to be buddies, and their wives hit it off, and a famous photograph appeared of the good guy’s wife hugging the bad guy, which was not a good thing for the script that has the Republicans warring against the Democrats.

A new story line was needed. How about an opéra bouffe, someone suggested, and the rest is history. Or pseudo-history. This is the real matrix. The most sophisticated mind control operation up to this point, with the coronavirus lockdown added to propel it to what the producers hope is a conclusion.

What more can I say?

Billy Joel said it:  “JFK blown away.”

The Towers pulverized. David Ray Griffin told us the truth repetitively.

Minds of this generation destroyed, as Allen Ginsberg said in Howl: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.”

It’s been many generations now.  There has been a form of social madness growing over the decades and it is everywhere now.  Look at people’s faces, if you can see them behind the masks; everywhere the strained and stressed looks, the scared rabbit eyes that you see on the wards of mental hospitals. The look that says: what the fuck has happened as they stare into a blank screen in a tumbling void, to paraphrase Don DeLillo from his new book Silence, where people speak gibberish once their digital world is mysteriously taken down and they wander in the dark.  We are in the dark now, even though the lights and screens are still shining for the time being.

Let those who think I am wrong about Trump and Biden being players in the same show, consider this. If Trump is truly the opponent of the Deep State, the Swamp, the corrupt establishment, he will pardon Julian Assange, Chelsey Manning, and Edward Snowden who have been persecuted by these forces.  He has nothing left to lose as he exits stage right.

The journalist Julian Assange has done more than anyone to expose the sick underbelly of the gangster state, its intelligence and military secrets, its illegal and immoral killings. That is why he has been hounded and locked away for so long. It’s a bipartisan persecution of an innocent man whose only “crime” has been to tell the truth that is allegedly the essence of a democratic society.

Chelsey Manning has also suffered tremendously for exposing the savagery of U.S. military operations.

And Edward Snowden has been forced into Russian exile for telling us about the vast global surveillance systems run by the NSA and CIA to spy on the American people.

Three innocent truth-tellers at war with the Deep-State forces that Donald Trump says he opposes.

If he is what his supporters claim, he will pardon these courageous three.  It’s all in his power. A simple, clear message as he goes out the door. If by the smallest chance he does pardon them, I will be very happy and publicly apologize.  If he doesn’t, as I expect, please don’t say a word in his defense.  My ears will be stuffed with wax.  For he won’t, because, like Biden, he is controlled by the very forces that these truth-tellers have exposed.

But back to the working class “deplorables” that voted for Trump. They aren’t going anywhere.  Their grievances remain. For decades, under Democratic and Republican administrations, their lives have been hollowed out, their livelihoods taken as corporate thieves have ravaged their towns and cities by closing down the factories where they worked and sending them overseas for greater profits. Small farmers have been “liquidated” for agribusiness.

As always, the coastal urbanites have considered rural people stupid, uncouth, and clownish, as the words clown, boor, and villain have all originally meant farmer or countryman or lower-class peasant.  Such hidden etymological social class prejudices have a way of persisting over the years.

Towns and small businesses disappear, traditional values are ridiculed, drug addiction and suicide increase, the fabric of traditions crumble, etc.  This list is long.  The people who voted for Trump feel betrayed; feel like victims. Of course, as Pete Hamill wrote of the NYC white working class in 1969, there are racists among them, and with all racists, they have their reasons, but these reasons are poison and despicable. But overall, these Trump voters are, in Hamill’s words, “actually in revolt against taxes, joyless work, the double standards and short memories of professional politicians, hypocrisy and what he considers the debasement of the American dream.”  Any politician, he added, who leaves these people out of the political equation, does so at a very large risk.  That risk has been growing over the decades.

Yet desperate people do desperate things, and for many Americans these are desperate times.  Everywhere you look, there are long lines at food pantries and soup kitchens.  The unemployment numbers are staggering. Homelessness. Suicides.  Drug and alcohol addictions rising.  Clear signs of social disintegration.  This is true not just in the United States but is happening around the world as neo-liberal economic policies are exacerbated by the widespread lockdowns that has given rise to massive protests worldwide, protests that the corporate press has failed to publicize since doing so would give the lie to their promotions of the lockdowns.

In England, the Mirror newspaper just printed the legendary Australian journalist John Pilger’s article about his 1975 interviews with impoverished English families with this lead:

John Pilger interviewed Irene Brunsden in Hackney, east London about only being able to feed her two-year-old a plate of cornflakes in 1975. Now he sees nervous women queueing at foodbanks with their children as it’s revealed 600,000 more kids are in poverty now than in 2012.

Vast numbers of people are suffering.

Many Trump voters no doubt know that Trump was never going to save them. But he said the right things, and desperation and disgust will grasp onto the slightest will-o’-the-wisp when disbelief in the whole rotten system is widespread.

Let’s not bullshit: everyone knows the game is rigged.

Trump is a liar.

Biden is a liar.

Great Britain’s Boris Johnson is a liar.

Fill in the names of the political charlatans.

The system is built on lies to keep the illusions brightening the screen of the great picture show, what Neil Gabler has rightly called “life the movie.”

Biden voters no doubt desperately hope that we can go back to some semblance of “normal,” even while knowing this is a losing game. Many of them try hard to conceal their true feelings, that their hatred for Trump and their love of living in times when imperialism is concealed as democracy is what they want. They don’t want to know. Concealment of the atrocious underbelly of normal is their hope and desire, even while they too are being fleeced and secretly know that the “new normal” will be far from their restorative dreams.  There are exceptions, of course, true believers who think Biden will significantly change things, but I would say they are a very small minority.  Many Biden voters say they have voted for the “lesser of two evils,” an old, worn-out excuse that in a rigged system will perdure.

Little changes. The past lives on.

Next year’s Academy Awards will be interesting.  A wit I know suggested that perhaps Trump and Biden will be nominees for the Best Actor in a Leading Role and they will tie for the Oscar.  That will be the second time that has ever happened.  The first was in 1932 when Fredric March and Wallace Beery shared the award.  March starred in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Beery in the boxing film, The Champ.

Both winners will be announced as starring in the same film, confusing the audience until it’s named: The American Nightmare.  Then raucous cheering will erupt from the jaded audience.  Dr. Jekyll will embrace Mr. Hyde and the melded Champ will take a bow as he winks for the cameras.

The post The Past Lives On: The Elite Strategy To Divide and Conquer first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Is the Nationalist tide receding?

Nationalism—placing the interests of one’s own nation above the interests of other nations—has been a powerful force in world affairs for centuries.

But it seemed on the wane after 1945, when the vast devastation of World War II—a conflict fostered by right wing, nationalist demagogues—convinced people around the globe of the necessity to transcend nationalism and encourage international cooperation.  Indeed, the widespread recognition of the interdependence of nations led to the creation of institutions like the United Nations (which established a modicum of global governance) and the European Union (which established a regional federation).

Thus, it came as a shock when, during the second decade of the twenty-first century, a new generation of nationalists, invariably right wing populists, made startling political breakthroughs in their countries.  Feeding on popular discontent with economic stagnation and widespread immigration, nationalist demagogues like Matteo Salvini of Italy, Viktor Orban of Hungary, and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands stirred up mass support.  In Britain, Nigel Farage’s new United Kingdom Independence Party spearheaded a campaign for a British exit from the European Union, leading to passage of a June 2016 Brexit referendum.  In France, Marine Le Pen, leader of the neo-fascist National Front, who focused on what she termed a battle between “patriots” and “globalists,” came startlingly close to election as her country’s president in 2017.  Another flamboyant nationalist leader, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, campaigning under the slogan “Brazil Above Everything, God Above Everyone,” was elected his nation’s president with 55 percent of the vote in 2018.

Perhaps the best-known of the new crop of nationalist leaders, as well as a keen inspiration to them all, was Donald Trump, the surprise victor in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  Adopting the slogan “Make America Great Again” during his election campaign, he spelled out his nationalist views even more plainly at a December 2016 rally of his supporters.  “There is no global anthem,” he declared.  “From now on it is going to be:  America First.  Okay?  America First.  We are going to put ourselves first.”  Contemptuous of the United Nations, he told it off with remarkable bluntness in September 2019.  “The truth is plain to see,” he informed the UN General Assembly.  “Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their own country first. . . .  The future does not belong to globalists.  The future belongs to patriots.”

This attack upon the very basis of institutions for international cooperation and global governance was not just rhetorical.  During his presidency, Trump had the U.S. government pull out of the UN Human Rights Council, abandon UNESCO, defund UN relief efforts for Palestinians, withdraw from the World Health Organizationand invoke sanctions against top officials of the International Criminal Court.  He also withdrew the United States from key international nuclear arms control and climate agreements.

Recently, however, the nationalist wave appears to be receding.  Although Britain’s ruling Conservative Party took up the Brexit torch, it proved unable to facilitate Britain’s departure from the European Union.  Today, more than four years after nationalists’ referendum victory, Brexit talks are stalled.  In France, Le Pen’s National Rally party (which replaced the National Front) was trounced in the July 2020 local elections, and polls indicated that, in the 2022 presidential election, she would lose once again to the internationalist Emmanuel Macron.  Similarly, in Brazil, President Bolsonaro made almost daily Facebook Live broadcasts this November, encouraging his supporters to back specific candidates in local elections.  Subsequently, most of them went down to defeat.

From the standpoint of the new nationalists, their most disastrous defeat occurred in the United States, where, in November 2020, President Trump lost his bid for re-election.  Despite numerous nationalist antics during his campaign, such as hugging and kissing the American flag, Trump was defeated by the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, by more than 6 million votes.  Moreover, Biden was a strong supporter of multilateralism and, as the New York Times noted in a front-page article shortly after the election, “makes no secret of the speed with which he plans to bury `America First’ as a guiding principle of the nation’s foreign policy.”  In fact, Biden was already committed to having the United States resume support of the United Nations, rejoin the World Health Organization, and re-enter nuclear arms control and climate agreements.

Furthermore, global cooperation and institutions retain widespread support among the people of the world.  A Pew Research Center poll of 14,276 people across 14 nations during the summer of 2020 found that 81 percent believed that “countries around the world should act as part of a global community that works together to solve problems,” while only 17 percent thought that such countries “should act as independent nations that compete with other countries and pursue their own interests.”  When it came to the United Nations, a 2019 Pew survey of 34,904 respondents in 32 countries found that a median of 61 percent had a favorable opinion of the world organization.

Most Americans shared these views.  The summer 2020 Pew survey found that, among U.S. respondents, 62 percent had a positive view of the United Nations, compared to 31 percent with a negative one   Indeed, a February 2020 Gallup poll discovered that 64 percent of U.S. respondents wanted the United Nations to play a leading or a major role in world affairs.

Polls also found that world public opinion toward the European Union was quite positive—even, ironically, within Britain, where support for Brexit sank below 40 percent by November 2020.

The continuing popularity of transcending nationalism should not surprise us, for it coincides with the fundamental necessities of today’s world.  After all, how can the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, the nuclear arms race, and numerous other worldwide problems be handled effectively without strengthening global cooperation and governance?

The post Is the Nationalist tide receding? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Establishment Journalists are Piling On to Smear Robert Fisk Now He Cannot Answer Back

Something remarkable even by the usually dismal standards of the stenographic media blue-tick brigade has been happening in the past few days. Leading journalists in the corporate media have suddenly felt the urgent need not only to criticise the late, much-respected foreign correspondent Robert Fisk, but to pile in against him, using the most outrageous smears imaginable. He is suddenly a fraud, a fabulist, a fantasist, a liar.

What is most ironic is that the journalists doing this are some of the biggest frauds themselves, journalists who have made a career out of deceiving their readers. In fact, many of the crowd attacking Fisk when he can no longer defend himself are precisely the journalists who have the worst record of journalistic malpractice and on some of the biggest issues of our times.

At least I have the courage to criticise them while they are alive. They know dead men can’t sue. It is complete and utter cowardice to attack Fisk when they could have made their comments earlier, to his face. In fact, if they truly believed any of the things they are so keen to tell us now, they had an absolute duty to say them when Fisk was alive rather than allowing the public to be deceived by someone they regarded as a liar and fantasist. They didn’t make public these serious allegations – they didn’t air their concerns about the supposedly fabricated facts in Fisk’s stories – when he was alive because they know he would have made mincemeat of them.

Most preposterous of all is the fact that the actual trigger for this sudden, very belated outpouring of concern about Fisk is a hit-piece written by Oz Katerji. I’m not sure whether I can find the generosity to call Katerji a journalist. Like Elliot Higgins of the US government-funded Bellingcat, he’s more like an attack dog beloved by establishment blue-ticks: he is there to enforce accepted western imperial narratives, disguising his lock-step support for the establishment line as edgy, power-to-the-people radicalism.

Anyone who challenges Katerji’s establishment-serving agenda gets called names – sometimes very rude ones. Fisk is just the latest target of a Katerji hatchet job against any journalist (myself, of course, included) who dares to step outside of the Overton Window. That these “serious” journalists think they can hang their defamation of Fisk on to anything said by Katerji, most especially the thin gruel he produces in his latest article, is truly shameful. If their concerns really relate to journalistic integrity and reliability, Katerji would be the very last person to cite.

Katerji’s prime area of western narrative enforcement is the Middle East – perhaps not surprisingly, as it is the place where there is an awful lot of oil that western states and corporations are desperate to control. But one should not ignore his wide-ranging efforts to boot-lick wherever he is needed on behalf of western establishment narratives.

Here he is desperately trying to breathe life into two fairy tales: that the election of the leftwing Evo Morales as Bolivia’s president was fraudulent, and that Morales was forced to resign last year rather than that he was ousted in a CIA-backed military coup. Notably, Katerji was clinging to these discredited story lines as late as last month, long after even the liberal corporate media had abandoned them as no longer tenable.

Katerji was also, of course, an enthusiastic recruit to evidence-free establishment smears that Labour was overrun with antisemitism under the leadership of the leftwing Jeremy Corbyn, the very same anecdotal claims promoted by the entire corporate media.

Not only that, but he even had the gall to argue that he was speaking on behalf of Palestinians in smearing Corbyn, the only leader of a major European party ever to champion their cause. Labour’s new leader Keir Starmer, like most other politicians in the wake of the Corbyn episode, has all but disappeared the Palestinians from the political agenda. Katerji must be delighted – on behalf of Palestinians, of course.

But Katerji’s beef with Fisk derives chiefly from the fact that the Independent’s foreign correspondent broke ranks with the rest of the western press corps over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Katerji is part of what – if we were being more brutally honest about these things – would be called the west’s al-Qaeda lobby. These are a motley crew of journalists and academics using their self-publicised “Arabhood” to justify the intimidation and silencing of anyone not entirely convinced that ordinary Syrians might prefer, however reluctantly, their standard-issue dictator, Bashar al-Assad, over the head-chopping, women-stoning, Saudi-financed jihadists of Islamic State and al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria; or who question whether the western powers ought to be covertly funding and backing these extremists.

Exercise any doubt at all on either of these points and Katerji will lose no time in calling you an “Assadist”, “war crimes denier”, “antisemite”, “9/11 truther” and worse. Then in yet more evidence of a circle jerk, those establishment blue ticks, even ones beloved by much of the left, will cite his smears as proof that you are indeed an Assadist, war crimes denier, and so on.

Here are just a few examples of Katerji engaging with those critical of the imperial western narrative on Syria, so you get the idea:

Back in 2011 and 2012, in what looked like the possible eruption of an Arab Spring in Syria, the arguments of Katerji and Co. at least had an air of plausibility. But their real agenda – one that accorded with western imperialism rather than an Arab awakening – became much clearer once local protests against Assad were subsumed by an influx of jihadi fighters of the very kind that had been labelled “terrorists” by the western media everywhere else they appeared in the Middle East.

Inevitably, anyone like Fisk who adopted a position of caution or scepticism about whether the majority of Syrians actually wanted a return to some kind of Islamic Dark Age incurred the wrath of Katerji and his cohorts.

But Fisk infuriated these western al-Nusra lobbyists even further when he visited the town of Douma in 2018 and raised serious questions about claims made by the jihadists who had been ruling the town that, just before Assad’s forces drove them out, the Syrian military had bombed it with chemical gas, killing many civilians. The story, which at that stage was based exclusively on the claims of these head-chopping jihadists, was instantly reported as verified fact by the credulous western media.

Based solely on claims made by the al-Qaeda franchise in Douma, President Donald Trump hurriedly fired off missiles at Syria, in flagrant violation of international law and to cheers from the western media.

Fisk, of course, knew that in discrediting the evidence-free narrative being promoted by the western press corps (who had never been in Douma) he was doing himself no favours at all. They would resent him all the more. Most of his peers preferred to ignore his revelations, even though they were earth-shattering in their implications. But once the official watchdog body the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued its report into Douma many months later, implicitly backing the jihadists’ version of events, Fisk’s earlier coverage was snidely dismissed by fellow journalists.

Sadly for them, however, the story did not end there. Following publication of the OPCW’s Douma report, a number of its senior experts started coming forward as whistleblowers to say that, under pressure from the US, the OPCW bureaucracy tampered with their research and misrepresented their findings in the final report. The evidence they had found indicated that Assad had not carried out a chemical attack in Douma. More likely the jihadists, who were about to be expelled by Assad’s forces, had staged the scene to make it look like a chemical attack and draw the US deeper into Syria.

Of course, just as the corporate media ignored Fisk’s original reporting from Douma that would have made their own accounts sound like journalistic malpractice, they resolutely ignored the whistleblowers too. You can scour the corporate media and you will be lucky to find even an allusion to the months-long row over the OPCW report, which gained enough real-world prominence to erupt into a major row at the United Nations, including denunciations of the OPCW’s behaviour from the organisation’s former head, Jose Bustani.

This is the way frauds like Katerji are able to ply their own misinformation. They sound credible only because the counter-evidence that would show they are writing nonsense is entirely absent from the mainstream. Only those active on social media and open-minded enough to listen to voices not employed by a major corporate platform (with, in this case, the notable exception of Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail) are able to find any of this counter-information. It is as if we are living in parallel universes.

The reason why Fisk was so cherished by readers, and why there was a real sense of loss when he died a month ago, was that he was one of the very few journalists who belonged to the mainstream but reported as though he were not beholden to the agenda of his corporate platform.

There were specific reasons for that. Like a handful of others – John Pilger, Seymour Hersh, Chris Hedges among them – Fisk made his name in the corporate media at a time when it reluctantly indulged the odd maverick foreign correspondent because they had a habit of exposing war crimes everyone else missed, exclusives that then garnered their publications prestigious journalism awards. Ownership of the media was then far less concentrated, so there was a greater commercial incentive for risk-taking and breaking stories. And these journalists emerged in a period when power was briefly more contested, with the labour movement trying to assert its muscle in the post-war decades, and before western societies were forced by the corporate elite to submit to neoliberal orthodoxy on all matters.

Notably, Pilger, Hersh and Hedges all found themselves struggling to keep a place in the corporate media. Fisk alone managed to cling on. That was more by luck. After being forced out of Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspaper for breaking a disturbing story in 1989 on the US shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane, he found a new home at Britain’s Independent newspaper, which had been recently founded. As a late-comer to the British media scene, the paper struggled not only to make money but to create a proper, distinctive identity or gain any real visibility. Fisk survived, it seems, because he quickly established himself as one of the very few reasons to buy the paper. He was a rare example of a journalist who was bigger than the outlet he served.

Readers trusted him because he not only refused to submit to his peers’ herd-think but endlessly called them out as journalistically and intellectually lazy.

Those now trying to tarnish his good name are actually inverting the truth. They want to suggest that support for Fisk was cultish and he was hero-worshipped by those incapable of thinking critically. They will say as much about this piece. So let me point out that I am not without my own criticisms of Fisk. I wrote, for example, an article criticising some unsubstantiated claims he made during Israel’s massive bombardment of Lebanon in 2006.

But my criticism was precisely the opposite of the blue-tick crowd now traducing him. I questioned Fisk for striving to find an implausible middle ground with those establishment blue ticks (before we knew what blue ticks were) by hedging his bets about who was responsible for the destruction of Lebanon. It was a rare, if understandable, example of journalistic timidity from Fisk – a desire to maintain credibility with his peers, and a reluctance to follow through on where the evidence appeared to lead. Maybe this was a run-in with the pro-Israel crowd and the corporate journalists who echo them that, on this occasion, he did not think worth fighting.

The discomfort Fisk aroused in his peers was all too obvious to anyone working in the corporate media, even in its liberal outlets, as I was during the 1990s. I never heard a good word said about Fisk at the Guardian or the Observer. His death has allowed an outpouring of resentment towards him that built up over decades from journalists jealous of the fact that no readers will mourn or remember their own passing. Fisk’s journalism spoke up for the downtrodden and spoke directly to the reader rather than, as with his colleagues, pandering to editors in the hope of career advancement. In the immediate wake of his death, his colleagues’ disdain for Fisk was veiled in weaselly language. As Media Lens have noted, the favourite term used to describe him in obituaries, even in his own newspaper, was “controversial”.

It turns out that the term ‘controversial’ is only applied in corporate media to political writers and leaders deemed ‘controversial’ by elite interests.

This was unwittingly made clear by the big brains at the BBC who noted that Fisk ‘drew controversy for his sharp criticism of the US and Israel, and of Western foreign policy’. If Fisk had drawn ‘controversy’ from China, Iran or North Korea, the ‘weasel word’ would not have appeared in the Beeb’s analysis…

In corporate media newspeak, ‘controversial’ can actually be translated as ‘offensive to power’. The term is intended as a scare word to warn readers that the labelled person is ‘dodgy’, ‘suspect’: ‘Handle with care!’ The journalist is also signalling to his or her editors and other colleagues: ‘I’m not one of “them”!’

The journalists who now claim Fisk was a fraud and fantasist are many of those who happily worked for papers that readily promoted the gravest lies imaginable to rationalise an illegal attack on Iraq in 2003 and its subsequent occupation. Those publications eagerly supported lies supplied by the US and British governments that Iraq had WMD and that its leader, Saddam Hussein, was colluding with al-Qaeda – claims that were easily disprovable at the time.

Journalists now attacking Fisk include ones, like the Guardian’s Jessica Elgot, who have been at the forefront of advancing the evidence-free antisemitism smears against Corbyn. Or, like the Guardian’s Hannah Jane Parkinson, have engaged in another favourite corporate journalist pastime, ridiculing the plight of Julian Assange, a fellow journalist who puts their craven stenography to shame and who is facing a lifetime in a US super-max jail for revealing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even the Guardian’s Jason Burke, who claims to have experienced Fisk’s lying first-hand while working for the Observer newspaper in 2001 (as was I at that time), has been unable to come up with the goods when challenged, as the pitiable Twitter thread retweeted here confirms:

Noticeably, there is a pattern to the claims of those now maligning Fisk: they hurry to tell us that he was an inspiration in their student days. They presumably think that mentioning this will suggest their disillusionment was hard-earned and therefore make it sound more plausible. But actually it suggests something different.

It indicates instead that in their youthful idealism they aspired to become a journalist who would dig out the truth, who would monitor centres of power, who would comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. To do, in fact, exactly what Fisk did.

But once they got a footing on the corporate career ladder, they slowly learnt that they would need to adopt a more “nuanced” approach to journalism – certainly if they hoped to progress up that ladder, earning the right to their blue tick, and gaining a big enough salary to cover the mortgage in London or New York.

In other words, they became everything they despised in their student days. Fisk was the constant reminder of just how much they had sold out. His very existence shamed them for what they were too cowardly to do themselves. And now in death, when he cannot answer back, they are feasting on his corpse like the vultures that they are, until there is nothing left to remind us that, unlike them, Robert Fisk told uncomfortable truths to the very end.

UPDATE:

As a reader service, I will do my best to update you on the blue ticks, especially the Guardian’s, so keen to “just add their voice” in defaming Fisk. If you see any more, please send them my way via Facebook or Twitter.

Notice how confidently these journalists join the denunciations of their dead colleague, even though the biggest “adventure” most of them have ever experienced is an all-expenses lunch at El Vino’s.

Adam Parsons, Sky’s Europe correspondent:

Tim Shipman, political editor of the Sunday Times, formerly of the Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail and Express:

Oliver Kamm, columnist and leader writer for The Times, formerly a City banker:

The post Establishment Journalists are Piling On to Smear Robert Fisk Now He Cannot Answer Back first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why the Cosmic Kite Never Fell: Football and Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona of Argentina holds the World Cup trophy after defeating West Germany 3-2 during the 1986 FIFA World Cup Final match at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico on June 29, 1986. (Photo by Archivo El Grafico/Getty Images)

In Argentina, beatification and canonisation can happen to living figures.  Unlike the officialdom of the Catholic Church, the processes take place in accordance with an insurgent popular will.  The death of various public figures – Carlos Gardel for tango; Evita Perón for politics; Diego Maradona for football – merely reassures them the status of popular saintliness.  Essential in the make-up of such a figure: a flawed, distressed character; usually of humble origins; a stroke of charisma, even genius; a rascal’s talent to seduce.

Diego Maradona, footballer with the No 10 shirt, had oodles of all of those traits.  It was on the field where he expressed himself best, so much so that he was lauded, if not as a god of sorts, then certainly the emissary of one.  As with so many figures who become premature monuments and plinth displays, the process off the field of performance is cruel, a disfiguring form of sinning saintliness. But on the field, the figure of Maradona beguiled.  As he described it, “When you’re on the pitch, life goes away.  Problems go away.  Everything goes away.”  His technique entailed hypnosis with feet and legs, a dynamo of deceiving genius.  When he played, he moved laws and assumptions.  During the 1986 World Cup tournament in Mexico, one he made his own, his performances were never just pitch-confined.  In them, Argentina saw catharsis.  Rivals such as England saw a bedevilling cheat.

It came in that most written and talked about of encounters.  June 22, 1986.  The quarter-final.  England and Argentina, locked at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.  Maradona breaks the drought with his first goal.  Some confusion over the scrappy method of execution: offside?  “Or was it a use of a hand that England were complaining about?” wondered Barry Davies in his BBC commentary. The Uruguayan, Victor Hugo Morales, was less equivocal and more spiritually honest in his famous narrative: “handball!  Goal!  Goal!  Goal!  Goal for Argentina!”  He conceded that the English had grounds to protest but knew where his allegiance lay.  “The goal was scored using a hand, I celebrate it with all my soul, but I must say what I think. I hope you tell me, from Buenos Aires, if you’re watching the game, if the goal was fair, though the referee has given it.”  He sought God’s forgiveness for his remarks.

Within a few minutes, the Sky God again prevailed upon, this time to be thanked.  From poacher, Maradona had turned artist, using the dribbling, bewildering seduction of the gambeta.  Morales was ecstatic.  “Genius!  Genius!  Genius!  Genius!  He’s still going… Goooal!  Sorry, I want to cry!  Good God!  Long live football! … The greatest solo goal of all time.  Cosmic Kite, which planet did you come from leaving so many English players behind, and in this process turning the country into a clenched fist shouting for Argentina!”  God was thanked profusely, “for football, for Maradona, for these tears and for this score line: Argentina 2 England 0.”

A football chant was given birth to, one recalled by the Argentine anthropologist Eduardo Archetti.  It was richly crude and unforgiving, featuring Britain’s prime minister and victor over Argentina in the Falklands War of 1982.  “Thatcher, Thatcher donde estas?  Maradona, Maradona te anda buscando, para metértela por detras!” (Thatcher, Thatcher where are you?  Maradona is looking for you to screw you from behind!)

In his autobiography Yo Soy El Diego (I am The Diego), Maradona recalled being a surrogate, avenging warrior for his country.  “Somehow we blamed the English players for everything that had happened, for everything that the Argentinian people had suffered.  I know that sounds crazy but that’s the way we felt.  The feeling was stronger than us: we were defending our flag, the dead kids, the survivors.”  An analysis published in one of Spain’s leading newspapers, El País, went so far as to see Maradona as a hero no less significant than “the legendary liberator from colonial rule, General San Martín.”

The football authorities have never stopped weighing in on the significance of the moment.  The contrasting ways the goals were scored, suggested Mark Biram, were dichotomous of Argentina itself.   He quotes Maradona’s 1986 teammate, Jorge Valdano, who assessed the first goal as the result of characteristic deceit, creole cunning and sharpness.  “Argentina is a place where deceit has more prestige than honesty.”  But the second goal was a product of another, flair-filled side, “one of virtue and ability.”

In 1984, Maradona made the journey from silverware heavy Barcelona to silverware bereft Napoli.  The fee then would not seem so eye-popping now: £5 million.  He was also unduly optimistic, a point he made in Asif Kapadia’s 2019 documentary.  “I expected peace.  The peace I didn’t have in Barcelona.”  But things started oddly; expectations not met.  “I asked for a house, I got a flat.  I asked for a Ferrari, I got a Fiat.”  What he gave to Napoli was worth its weight in gold and, it should be said, sanity.  The club won its first ever Serie A title in 1987 because of the exploits of the Scugnizzo Napoletano, that naughtiest of naughty rascals.

Maradona’s miracles began to compete with the city’s established patron saint, San Gennaro.  But yet to become a fully-fledged figure of sinning saintliness, there was more room to err.  At the club, things turned tempestuous.  By the late 1980s, Maradona wished to leave.  Napoli shut the door on such suggestions.  The player took to drugs under the stifling shadow of organised crime.  In 1991, he was suspended for 15 months following a test showing traces of cocaine.  The Cosmic Kite suffered a gradual, health plagued decline as he fell to earth.  In an interview with Argentina’s Tyc Sports in 2014, he rued his fall towards addiction: “I gave my opponents a big advantage due to my illness.  Do you know the player I could have been if I hadn’t taken drugs?”

At his passing, the mayor of Naples, a politician sensing a moment, was keen to draw upon and imbibe the Maradona legend.  “I ask,” requested Luigi de Magistris, “that our stadium, which has witnessed so many of his successes, bear his name.  It will be called the Diego Armando Maradona.  The people want it.  They spoke unanimously.”

Roberto Saviano, who made his name with Gomorrah, a work on the Camorra crime network, was less opportunistic though no less indulgent in the memory of the Argentinean.  Themes of sin pickle it: Maradona was the means of the city’s redemption.  “Redemption, because a southern team had never won a Scudetto, a team from the south had never won the UEFA Cup, or even been the centre of the world’s attention.”  The greater footballer might have gone for Juventus, the star club of the Serie A galaxy; he, instead, picked Napoli.

Broadcasters, commentators and players across the globe will recount memories of the Cosmic Kite like sips of holy water and pieces of blessed bread.  Sporting stars of codes beyond football will pay their respect to him as, indeed, they already have.  The words of Charles Baudelaire, noted in the opening of Emir Kusturica’s tribute from 2008, are appropriate.  “God is the only being who, in order to reign, doesn’t even need to exist.”  Cosmically, the kite never fell.

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The Slow-motion Assassination of Julian Assange

Lifesize bronze sculpture featuring (L-R) former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and former US soldier Chelsea Manning convicted of violations of the Espionage Act, on May 1, 2015 at Alexanderplatz square in Berlin. (AFP Photo / Tobias Schwarz) © AFP

Another Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed by an elaborately planned and executed ambush. The complexity of the attack and the resources required to carry it out strongly indicate a state actor. Fingers of blame quickly pointed at a likely assassin: Israel. The United States was probably in some form of collaboration since it is widely considered that before Israel carries out such killings it informs the US.

Assassinations are nothing new to Israel or the US. The US admitted to the assassination of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani earlier in 2020.

At the time of this writing, no one has admitted to the extra-judicial killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Usually targeted killings are carried out in the dark.

Currently, there is an attempt using the machinery of the state to try and beat down a man in the darkness of Belmarsh prison and a British kangaroo court in London. Big media, however, has marginalized coverage of the Assange case even though the outcome is bound to have an enormous impact on journalism.

Despite whatever charges Julian Assange may be accused of, it is well known that the WikiLeaks publisher was targeted for exposing the war crimes of the US government. In an upside-down Bizarro World, the screws are being ever so gradually tightened on Assange by the war criminals and their criminal accomplices. It is, in fact, a slow-motion assassination being played out before the open and closed eyes of the world.

Following the geopolitically coordinated undertaking to abrogate Assange’s asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange was arrested and imprisoned in Belmarsh maximum security prison for the relatively minor charge of skipping bail.1 He continues to be held pending an extradition request from the US for violating its 1917 Espionage Act for “unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defense.”

Incarceration has been woeful for Assange in Belmarsh. The UN special rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Nils Melzer, has been highly critical of the treatment of Assange, describing it as “psychological torture.”

Since 2010, when Wikileaks started publishing evidence of war crimes and torture committed by US forces, we have seen a sustained and concerted effort by several States towards getting Mr. Assange extradited to the United States for prosecution, raising serious concern over the criminalisation of investigative journalism in violation of both the US Constitution and international human rights law.

Since then, there has been a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation against Mr. Assange, not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, Sweden and, more recently, Ecuador.

Melzer has called for the “collective persecution” to end.

The medical profession has also spoken out against the mistreatment of Assange. A top medical journal, The Lancet, carried the message of 117 physicians in its headline: “End torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange.”

The US extradition case against Assange was pursued during the Trump administration, but one should not expect clemency for Assange from president-elect Joe Biden. Biden has argued that Assange is “closer to being a high-tech terrorist than the Pentagon Papers.”

One brave Democrat, though, has bucked her party’s mainstream. The Hawaiian congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced H.R. 8452, the Protect Brave Whistleblowers Act. Gabbard also called for the immediate dismissal of charges against Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

Recently, circumstances have become bleaker for Assange because of a reported COVID-19 outbreak where “at least 56 people in his house block in Belmarsh prison, including staff and inmates, were found to have been infected.”

Wikileaks earlier reported that Assange, along with almost 200 other inmates of his house block, have been under lockdown since November 18.

Australia has done nothing for its citizen Assange. Australia is said to function at the behest of the US. This is so much so that Australia has put itself in a precarious economic situation with its largest trade partner, China. Furthermore, Australia has a long history of its own war criminality that it ignores.

What should people of conscience do? People opposed to war crimes; warring in general; persecution of publishers, journalists, and whistleblowers; and people who support freedom of the media and the right of the public to be informed should be doing what they can to bring about pardons for Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and other politically targeted prisoners of conscience.

Assange’s greatest “crime” was to reveal the US military establishment’s insouciance for innocent human life by releasing the video Collateral Murder.

What about those of us who claim to stand for social justice and peace? Do we not have a responsibility to do what we can to stymie the stealthy assassination of a man by the military-industrial-governmental complex for exposing its murderous nature? Bystanding is immoral and cowardly. Do something; there are simple things that anyone can do. Write letters. Sign petitions. Speak out. Saving Assange, Manning, Snowden, and others persecuted by governments is saving our humanity; it is saving ourselves.

  1. For events preceding Assange’s stay in the Ecuadorian embassy see the timeline.

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Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as “Feeding the World”

The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of rich and powerful land speculators and agribusiness corporations. Smallholder farmers are being criminalised and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. They are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion.

In 2014, the Oakland Institute found that institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity and pension funds, are eager to capitalise on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class. Financial returns are what matter to these entities, not food security.

Consider Ukraine. The organisation Grain found that in 2014 small farmers operated 16% of agricultural land in that country, but provided 55% of agricultural output, including: 97% of potatoes, 97% of honey, 88% of vegetables, 83% of fruits and berries and 80% of milk. It is clear that Ukraine’s small farms were delivering impressive outputs.

Following the toppling of Ukraine’s government in early 2014, the way was paved for foreign investors and Western agribusiness to take a firm hold over the agri-food sector. Reforms mandated by the EU-backed loan to Ukraine in 2014 included agricultural deregulation intended to benefit foreign agribusiness. Natural resource and land policy shifts were being designed to facilitate the foreign corporate takeover of enormous tracts of land.

Frederic Mousseau, policy director at the Oakland Institute, stated at the time that the World Bank and IMF were intent on opening up foreign markets to Western corporations and that the high stakes around the control of Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector, the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, constitute an overlooked critical factor. He added that in recent years, foreign corporations had acquired more than 1.6 million hectares of Ukrainian land.

Western agribusiness has been coveting Ukraine’s agriculture sector for quite some time, long before the coup. That country contains one third of all arable land in Europe. An article by Oriental Review in 2015 noted that since the mid-90s the Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council had been instrumental in encouraging the foreign control of Ukrainian agriculture.

In November 2013, the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation drafted a legal amendment that would benefit global agribusiness producers by allowing the widespread use of genetically modified seeds. When GMO crops were legally introduced into the Ukrainian market in 2013, they were planted in up to 70% of all soybean fields, 10-20% of cornfields and over 10% of all sunflower fields, according to various estimates (or 3% of the country’s total farmland).

Interestingly, the investment fund Siguler Guff & Co acquired a 50% stake in the Ukrainian Port of Illichivsk in 2015, which specialises in agricultural exports.

In June 2020, the IMF approved an 18-month $5 billion loan programme with Ukraine. According to the Brettons Wood Project website, the government committed to lifting the 19-year moratorium on the sale of state-owned agricultural lands after sustained pressure from international finance. The World Bank incorporated further measures relating to the sale of public agricultural land as conditions in a $350 million Development Policy Loan (COVID ‘relief package’) to Ukraine approved in late June. This included a required ‘prior action’ to “enable the sale of agricultural land and the use of land as collateral.”

In response, Frederic Mousseau recently stated:

The goal is clearly to favor the interests of private investors and Western agribusinesses… It is wrong and immoral for Western financial institutions to force a country in a dire economic situation amidst an unprecedented pandemic to sell its land.

But morality has little to do with it. The September 2020 report on the grain.org website ‘Barbarians at the barn: private equity sinks its teeth into agriculture’ shows that there is no morality where capitalism’s profit compulsion is concerned.

Private equity funds – pools of money that use pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, endowment funds and investments from governments, banks, insurance companies and high net worth individuals – are being injected into the agriculture sector throughout the world. This money is used to lease or buy up farms on the cheap and aggregate them into large-scale, US-style grain and soybean concerns. The article outlines how offshore tax havens and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has targeted Ukraine.

In addition to various Western governments, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the foundation’s endowment, is also investing in private equity, taking positions in farm and food businesses around the world.

Grain notes that this forms part of the trend whereby the world of finance – banks, funds, insurance companies and the like – is gaining control over the real economy, including forests, watersheds and rural people’s territories.

Apart from uprooting communities and grabbing resources to entrench an industrial, export-oriented model of agriculture, this process of ‘financialisation’ is shifting power to remote board rooms occupied by people with no connection to farming and who are merely in it to make money. These funds tend to invest for a 10-15 year period, resulting in handsome returns for investors but can leave a trail of long-term environmental and social devastation and serve to undermine local and regional food insecurity.

This financialisation of agriculture perpetuates a model of farming that serves the interests of the agrochemical and seed giants, including one of the world’s biggest companies, Cargill, which is involved in almost every aspect of global agribusiness.

Still run as a privately held company, the 155-year-old enterprise trades in purchasing and distributing various agricultural commodities, raises livestock and produces animal feed as well as food ingredients for application in processed foods and industrial use. Cargill also has a large financial services arm, which manages financial risks in the commodity markets for the company. This includes Black River Asset Management, a hedge fund with about $10 billion of assets and liabilities.

A recent article on the Unearthed website accused Cargill and its 14 billionaire owners of profiting from the use of child labour, rain forest destruction, the devastation of ancestral lands, the spread of pesticide use and pollution, contaminated food, antibiotic resistance and general health and environmental degradation.

As if this is not concerning enough, the UN Food and Agriculture is now teaming up with CropLife, a global trade association representing the interests of companies that produce and promote pesticides, including highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs).

In a 19 November press release issued by PAN (Pesticide Action Network) Asia Pacific, some 350 organisations in 63 countries representing hundreds of thousands of farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and other communities, as well as human rights, faith-based, environmental and economic justice institutions, delivered a letter to FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu urging him to stop recently announced plans to deepen collaboration with CropLife International by entering into a formal partnership.

HHPs are responsible for a wide range of devastating health harms to farmers, agricultural workers and rural families around the world and these chemicals have decimated pollinator populations and are wreaking havoc on biodiversity and fragile ecosystems.

Marcia Ishii, senior scientist at PAN North America, explained the serious implications of the proposed collaboration:

Unfortunately, since Mr. Qu’s arrival at FAO, the institution appears to be opening up to deeper collaboration with pesticide companies, which are likely to exploit such a relationship for bluewashing, influencing policy development and enhancing access to global markets.

She went on to state:

It is no surprise that FAO’s recently appointed Deputy Director General, Beth Bechdol, comes to FAO with a history of close financial ties to Corteva (formerly Dow/DuPont).

The FAO has in recent years shown a commitment to agroecology but, in calling for an independent FAO, Susan Haffmans from PAN Germany, argues:

The FAO should not jeopardize its successes in agroecology nor its integrity by cooperating with precisely that branch of industry which is responsible for the production of highly hazardous pesticides and whose products contribute to poisoning people and their environment worldwide.

The July 2019 UN FAO High Level Panel of Experts concludes that agroecology provides greatly improved food security and nutritional, gender, environmental and yield benefits compared to industrial agriculture.

Agroecological principles represent a shift away from the reductionist yield-output chemical-intensive industrial paradigm, which results in among other things enormous pressures on human health, soil and water resources. Agroecology is based on a more integrated low-input systems approach to food and agriculture that prioritises local food security, local calorific production, cropping patterns and diverse nutrition production per acre, water table stability, climate resilience, good soil structure and the ability to cope with evolving pests and disease pressures.

Such a system is underpinned by a concept of food sovereignty, based on optimal self-sufficiency, the right to culturally appropriate food and local ownership and stewardship of common resources, such as land, water, soil and seeds.

However, this model is a direct challenge to the interests of CropLife members. With the emphasis on localisation and on-farm inputs, agroecology does not require dependency on proprietary chemicals, pirated seeds and knowledge nor long-line global supply chains.

By seeking to develop a formal partnership with the FAO, CropLife aims to further entrench its interests while derailing the FAO’s commitment to agroecology. This much has been apparent in recent times with US Ambassador to the FAO Kip Tom having attacked agroecology –  and like CropLife members – he perpetuates the myth (recently debunked by Dr Jonathan Latham in the new book Rethinking Food and Agriculture of impending disaster if we do not accept the chemical-industrial paradigm.

Whether it involves farmers in India recently taking to the streets to protest against legislation that will throw the sector wide open to foreign agricapital, land acquisitions in Ukraine or struggles for land rights and seed sovereignty (etc) elsewhere, it is clear that a small cabal of unscrupulous global agribusiness giants are driving and benefitting from deregulated capital flows, peasant displacement, land acquisitions and decisions made at international and national levels via the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

The web that global capitalism weaves in a quest to seek out new profits, capture new markets and control common resources (commonwealth) is destroying farmer livelihoods, the environment and health under the bogus claim of ‘feeding the world’.

Those farmers who survive the profiteering strategies of dispossession and imperialism are to become incorporated into a system of contract farming dictated by global agri-food giants tied to an exploitative food regime based on market dependency and corporate control. A regime that places profit ahead of biodiverse food security, healthy diets and the environment.

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Australian Politicians Continue to Misread the Changes in the Nature of Relationships in their Area

Australia is currently undergoing a wave of shocked realisation that for multiple years in Afghanistan some of its troops behaved outside what we are told is normal behaviour, and killed innocent young men. How could they do such a thing? And all done beyond the sight or knowledge of any soldier of higher rank than Sergeant! The public acknowledgment that its soldiers are less than perfect has led to a wave of political and upper military gnashing of teeth and solemn vows that the guilty will be punished.

Who do they think they are kidding? War crimes are part of waging war. Australian troops committed war crimes in Vietnam, admittedly now in Afghanistan, and undoubtably in Syria and Iraq, two other ongoing wars in which Australian troops are involved, although one would hardly know it from reading the local newspapers or watching the nightly television news.

The report that has just been (partially) published, revealing the latest catalogue of this behaviour, took four years to produce. It will likely be as many years again before any soldier faces a trial. There has been no explanation as to why this investigation, headed by a Supreme Court justice (and reserve military officer) has taken so long. The accused in the Nuremberg and Tokyo war crimes, each of vastly greater size than this latest Australian effort, were tried, convicted and where appropriate executed in a fraction of the time the present inquiry has taken in Australia.

For all the handwringing that is now going on, the fundamental issues have not even been touched upon, this alone discussed or resolved. The fact that the present revelations are very likely to go down a very long memory hole is evident from what the report, and more especially the decisions upon the report, are carefully avoiding. That is, why is Australia even involved in this fake war that has now been going on for at least 40 years and showing no sign of ending in any foreseeable future.

Let us just start at the official beginning of this current war, ostensibly because the Taliban government of Afghanistan at the time (an historical fact allowed to fade into insignificance) reportedly refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in New York City and Washington DC.

In fact, the Taliban government, not unreasonably, asked for evidence as to bin Laden’s responsibility for the events of 9/11. The Americans refused and attacked anyway, dragging their loyal acolyte Australia along with them. To this day, no such evidence has been produced and neither is any likely to be produced. The evidence is overwhelming that the buildings destroyed on 9/11 had been pre-wired, including WTC7 which was never hit by any flying object, much less an aeroplane, and collapsed in its own footprint at free fall speed just after 5 pm on the day of 9//11.

This factual history is not new, and these facts have persisted despite constant attempts by the mainstream media to wish them away. After all, if the buildings came down through pre-set explosives, the whole story of Muslim hijackers goes down the proverbial and with it the justification for the attack on Afghanistan and much else that has ensued for the past 19+ years.

We now also know that attacking Afghanistan was discussed at the first cabinet meeting of the then newly elected Bush presidency in early 2001. Another fact kept well away from the mainstream media because it raises too many questions.

If 9/11 was not the real reason for invading Afghanistan in late 2001, then what was? The answer is twofold: drugs and geography. First, let’s look at drugs. The Taliban government had virtually stopped the production of opium in the areas of Afghanistan they controlled in 2001. Given Afghanistan’s role as the world’s principal supplier of the commodity, the Taliban government was, to put it mildly, very bad for business.

It is a well-established fact that one of the immediate consequences of the successful United States led invasion in October 2001 was in immediate restoration of the poppy crop. That now stands at record levels and provides a very nice supplement to CIA funds, another fact carefully avoided by the mainstream media.

All of the Allied troops assisting the United States in its control of Afghanistan, including Australia, play their part in safeguarding the crop from attack, harvesting it, and passing it on for processing into heroin and hence export to the ever-voracious markets in Europe and North America. That export crop is worth billions of dollars a year to the CIA and associated groups and they are unlikely to give it up willingly.

The other compelling reason for the United States presence in Afghanistan is geography. Afghanistan shares a border with seven other nations, none of whom are on good terms with the United States, and all of which the United States covets as weapons for its ongoing war against Russia and China.

When one looks at the geopolitics of the region it is not difficult to infer that geography was and remains the main reason for the United States invasion. Geography (and the arms trade) was the main reason the British fought three wars there in the 19th century.

The fact that the United States has supplanted the United Kingdom as the principal foreign power in the region is merely changing one colonial oppressor for another. The role and the objectives remain precisely the same as they have for at least 200 years: western control of valuable land located close to China and Russia. As the French would say, plus ca change, plus ca la meme chose (the more things change the more they remain the same).

Which brings me back to the role of the Australians. That remains unchanged. They are, as they have been for the past 60 years, the United States’ lacky in whatever scheme the United States dreams up in its attempt to roll back the irresistible rise of China. Such loyalty is now extracting a price from the Chinese who have systematically shredded an ever-growing number of key Australian exports to that country.

This has led to much local outrage and protestations of innocence, which are as convincing as Australian claims in Afghanistan they are helping to train Afghanistan fighters. Some very big chickens are coming home to roost and Australia is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Alternative markets for the 40% of Australian exports that go to China will not be replaced in the immediate future.

Australian Ministers are making all sorts of protestations and trying to put a brave face on what is, in fact, an almost unmitigated disaster. There is a lot of pain yet to be felt by the Australian public. Protestations against China will gain no traction because the real root of the problem lies in Australia’s unwavering adherence to the United States viewpoint. That is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. There is a great deal more pain on the way for Australian consumers.

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The Art of Political Lying

A young Queen Anne  (Photo: Wikimedia)

With idle tales this fills our empty ears;
The next reports what from the first he hears;
The rolling fictions grow in strength and size,
Each author adding to the former lies.
Here vain credulity, with new desires,
Leads us astray, and groundless joy inspires;
The dubious whispers, tumults fresh designed,
And chilling fears astound the anxious mind.

From Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” XII. 56-61 (completed in 8 CE) as told in Jonathan Swift, “The Art of Political Lying” The Examiner

While the foundations of the USA tremble under the force of unprecedented vote fraud, color revolutionary operations, and the danger of a renewed fascist takeover of the Wall Street-Big Tech-NSA/FBI/CIA combine, certain facts must be separated from fiction.

  • Despite the corporate media announcements of Biden’s victory, the fact is that things are far from certain as President Trump has made the point that he will fight all cases of blatant vote fraud which have appeared across 8 states.
  • Despite corporate media assertions to the contrary, there are indeed growing mountains of evidence that vote fraud has occurred among democrat-controlled swing states which have either given tens of thousands of Trump votes to Biden via “glitches,” blocked republican observers, used rosters replete with dead voters, modified dates on ballots or hundreds of thousands of mystery ballots appearing out of thin air in the middle of the night tipping the scales for Biden.
  • Every opposing narrative to this political lie is being surgically shut down, such as the immense censoring of the President’s Twitter account and cancelling of the “Stop the Steal” Facebook group that garnered over 350 000 members in only 24 hours. Meanwhile MSNBC, CBS, NPR and NBC have decided to take the unprecedented action of censoring the President’s press conference of Nov. 5 which raised serious questions about the legitimacy of the fraudulent votes.

While more cases of fraud can be listed here, and here, and here, and here, and here, the political situation is so tumultuous that I think it is important to take another approach to the historic moment we are currently living through by reviewing a parallel moment of great potential which was squandered three centuries ago.

Jonathan Swift and the Battle for Britain’s Soul

On November 9, 1710, the Satirist and political organizer Jonathan Swift wrote a pamphlet called the Art of Political Lying providing a decisive blow against the proto-deep state of the 18th century which had only recently taken control of the Island (Britain) during the 1688 Glorious Revolution and 1694 creation of the Bank of England.

In 1702, a young Queen Anne took the throne of England, and it was here that a clash occurred which was nearly entirely written out of history. From the moment the Venetian Party of England orchestrated the 1688 coup: wars, speculation and usury became the driving force of Britain. The long-hoped for peace with France organized by the great Colbert and his mentor Cardinal Jules Mazarin years earlier was lost and a new epoch of forever wars began to dominate British Foreign policy and British spending. It was in this new war economy that the bill to charter the Bank of England was passed. Under this bank, monetary policy became tied to the creation of ever-growing debts without providing the means to pay them off.

While many informed citizens today may be aware of this fact, and even comprehend the parallels to the takeover of the United States by international financiers during the 1913 creation of the Federal Reserve, very few people have come to realize that there was a valiant fight in opposition to this 17-18th century coup from which could teach us much of what organises today’s world.

The Republican Resistance

In opposition to the City of London-based deep state, an anti-imperial faction had been organized around the Speaker of the House of Commons Robert Harley (1661-1724) who worked closely with an influential network of collaborators who did much to resist the empire which had not yet consolidated its migration from the swamps of Venice to more secure grounds in the City of London.

Harley had worked closely with his advisor Daniel Defoe (1) and other Tories to counter the monstrous Central Bank of England with a National Land Bank in 1696. The Land Bank was designed to serve as a tool to generate credit for manufacturing, internal improvements and centers of education across Britain with a focus on long term projects that generated real wealth. Harley’s group also worked tirelessly to establish peace treaties with France in order to create a climate of stability needed for investments into the real economic sector to occur rather than leak money into wars of death and destruction, and in many ways this form of political economy served as a precursor to the later system that arose under the guidance of Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton.

Sadly, Harley’s Land bank was soon taken over by speculators and run into the ground as the Venetian Party deep state continued to rise in power.

When William died in 1702, Princess Anne became Queen and the cabal of Britain’s Venetian Party (then operating under the banner of the Whig Junto) continued to exercise vast influence over affairs of state driving the nation into ever deeper unpayable debts and war.

As the late historian Graham Lowry brilliantly demonstrated in his book How the Nation Was Won, tides began to turn against the Venetian Party Whigs by 1710 as Queen Anne had come to realize how she had been deceived by her close confidante Sarah Churchill, who together with her husband John Churchill (aka: Lord Marlborough) had gained full control of the British armies, siphoned millions of pounds from war profiteering, and insider trading in the City of London while gaining castles more luxurious than those owned by the royal household itself. (2)

Queen Anne Drains the Swamp

After eight years of manipulation, the Queen had decided that she had enough and on September 20, 1710, she dissolved the Parliament and began draining the swamp under the guidance of Robert Harley whom she promptly made Prime Minister (then called “First Minister”), Chancellor of the Exchequer (1710-11) and Lord High Treasurer (1711-1714). Before the Parliament was reconvened, the majority of John Churchill’s Whig allies were forced to resign in disgrace while Sarah Churchill was removed from her position as “confidante”, having been replaced with Abigail Masham, a key figure in Harley’s republican network of court insiders.

As Lowry demonstrates, Harley’s co-conspirators centered in the Scriblerus Club led by the satirist and Irish statesman Jonathan Swift who arrived in London weeks before the humanist counter-coup was unleashed and remained Harley’s chief advisor and propagandist from August 1710 until 1713. Other members of the Scriblerus Club included Queen Anne’s physician John Aberthnot, poet Alexander Pope, playwright John Gay, philosopher/statesman Henry St. John and Thomas Parnell (to name a few). An important characteristic of all these figures was that they were cultural warriors of the highest level whose poetry, plays and music was inspired by the intention to uplift the minds and morals of the people.

Describing Harley’s efforts to finally end the forever wars with France that ultimately resulted in the 1713 Treaty of Ultrecht and revive his 1696 plans for a National Land Bank (though this time with an international colonial infrastructure development orientation under a government-run South Sea company to counteract both the Bank of England and also the British East India Company), Swift wrote in his 1714 Memoires: “Mr. Harley, to give credit to his administration, resolved upon two very important points: first, to secure unprovided debts of the nation and secondly to put an end to the war.”

Much like today’s easily bewildered world, press agencies of 1710 were too often used by the forces of evil to make black appear white, up appear down and right appear wrong. Slanders and mistruths were soon spread across the press of Harley’s corrupting influence on the Queen and the population was soon induced to riot and even burn effigies of both the Queen and Harley in public squares.

In the face of this battle over information, Swift wrote The Art of Political Lying which some historians have called “the most influential pamphlet in British political history.”

The Art of Political Lying

In this biting essay, the satirist lays bare the techniques of mass manipulation artfully stating:

Although the devil be the father of lies, he seems, like other great inventors, to have lost much of his reputation, by the continual improvements that have been made upon him. Who first reduced lying into an art, and adapted it to politics, is not so clear from history, although I have made some diligent inquiries. I shall therefore consider it only according to the modern system, as it has been cultivated these twenty years past in the southern part of our own island… the moderns have made great additions, applying this art to the gaining of power and preserving it, as well as revenging themselves after they have lost it; as the same instruments are made use of by animals to feed themselves when they are hungry, and to bite those that tread upon them… It can conquer kingdoms without fighting, and sometimes with the loss of a battle. It gives and resumes employments; can sink a mountain to a mole-hill, and raise a mole-hill to a mountain: hath presided for many years at committees of elections; can wash a black-a-moor white; make a saint of an atheist, and a patriot of a profligate; can furnish foreign ministers with intelligence, and raise or let fall the credit of the nation. This goddess flies with a huge looking-glass in her hands, to dazzle the crowd, and make them see, according as she turns it, their ruin in their interest, and their interest in their ruin.

Although weakened and bruised, the Venetian Party both in England and its French Jesuitical allies made every attempt to thwart Harley’s designs for peace with France from 1710-1713 beginning with a March 8, 1711 assassination attempt on Harley. Concerned over Harley’s slow recovery and doubting the loyalty of Harley’s physician whom many suspected of being an asset of Marlborough, Swift published a widely read poem:

To Mr. Harley’s surgeon
On Britain, Europe’s safety lies
And Britain’s lost if Harley dies;
Harley depends upon your skill
Think what you save or what you kill.

Luckily Harley recovered and peace negotiations recommenced after several months, but soon it became clear that the Duke of Marlborough, still controlling the British armies and working closely with Dutch mercenaries was not going to let peace win without a fight, announced that he would soon take Paris, and commenced a vicious attack on the French town of Bouchain causing the Queen to write to Harley saying:

The Duke of Marlborough shows plainer than ever by this new project his unwillingness for peace, but I hope our negotiations will succeed and there it will not be in his power to prevent it.

Here Swift’s razor-sharp pen was again deployed to expose the military industrial complex of London when he published the immensely popular book Conduct of the Allies on November 23, 1712. In this short work Swift wrote:

We are destroying many thousand lives, exhausting our substance, not for our own interest, which would be but common prudence; not for a thing indifferent which would be sufficient folly; but perhaps to our own destruction which is perfect madness.

Swift attacked that carnage caused by “that set of people who are called the monied men; such as had raised vast sums by trading with stocks and funds and lending upon great interest and premiums; whose perpetual harvest is war.”

Citing the 50 million pounds of unpayable debts incurred by Marlborough’s war with France Swift called out the “conspiracy on all sides to go on with those measures, which must perpetuate the war.”

This immensely popular pamphlet went through three editions in only three months and invoked such indignation among the population that the heroic image of the Duke of Marlborough portrayed by the media was torn to shreds and vast support was won for the peace process. In her December 6 speech opening of the Parliament, Queen Anne stated:

I am glad that I can now tell you that not withstanding the arts of those who delight in war, both place and time are appointed for opening the treaty of a general peace.

Not only did peace negotiations finally move forward, but the Queen convened a House inquiry into Marlborough’s siphoning of funds and war profiteering resulting in his being stripped of all offices on December 29, 1712 and replaced with Harley’s long time ally James Butler (2nd Duke of Ormonde) as Commander of the Army.

The next 18 months were some of the most intense in British political history with continuous battles waged to sabotage the peace process from oligarchical representatives within both England and France itself. Much like today, these oligarchs and their upper level managers were always more interested in keeping the world at constant war, underdeveloped and stupid in order to maintain a global hegemony above nations. While the Duke of Ormonde maintained a neutral position in France during the long drawn out peace negotiations, dark things were occurring in France.

The Venetian Party Strikes Back

From the first week of the treaty negotiations throughout the subsequent two months, over four consecutive heirs to the French throne died of the same mysterious symptoms leaving a Duke of Orleans and a Jesuitical cabal who controlled the ailing King Louis XIV in a strategic position of power never before seen in French history. When Harley’s lead peace negotiator the Duke of Hamilton was deployed to take his new position as Ambassador to France, a duel was arranged resulting in Hamilton’s successful killing of one of Marlborough’s chief henchmen General McCartney (3). However, when McCartney’s second then stabbed an unsuspecting Hamilton to death minutes later, Marlborough quickly demonstrated his guilt as he promptly packed his bags and fled to Holland, not to return until August 1, 1714… the day Queen Anne died.

Upon the queen’s death (most likely due to poisoning under the hand of her new physician Daniel Malthus – great grandfather of the misanthropic high priest of depopulation, Thomas Malthus), the Venetian Party took full control of Britain and never let go again.

With the ascension of George Ludwig to the throne in 1714, the satanic Hellfire Club rose in prominence, Marlborough was re-instated to all of his former positions, Robert Harley was imprisoned in the Tower of London and the economy was driven into a new epoch of colonial exploitation. Wars were unleashed abroad as the South Sea Company was turned into a speculative bubble that soon burst by 1720 tearing down the British people while enriching City of London insiders in the same way that Wall Street cleaned up bankrupt assets for pennies on the dollar in 1929. Under the control of the British Africa Company and Board of Trade, the poisonous slave trade came to dominate the 18th century and a newly enforced era of divide to conquer tactics was unleashed in full force.

Writing years later of the events of 1710-1714 after he had long returned to a new base of operations in Dublin, Jonathan Swift wrote a poem reminiscing of this period of hope and tragedy:

And oh! How short are human schemes!
Here ended all our golden dreams.
What St John’s skill in state affairs
What Ormonde’s valour, Oxford’s cares
To save their sinking country lent,
Was all destroyed by one event,
Too soon that precious life was ended
On which alone our weal depended.

Concluding Thoughts

It may not be clear why this history lesson is important for us today.

The reason is simple: You are living in history. And unless we come to terms with the longer waves of the past, we will forever be incapable of shaping our destiny in any meaningful way.

Donald Trump has made it clear that he will not be giving into the political liars who have conspired to steal the American election and return the republic to the status of imperial deep state war machine which the world knew over the course of the past 50 years and unless the president is successful in the coming battle in ways which Queen Anne, Robert Harley and Swift were not then there is good reason to presume that the future will be darker than you would care to imagine.

The post The Art of Political Lying first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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The post System Fail #5: Sick of Winning first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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