Category Archives: Referendums

Britain demands a second referendum

Last Saturday at least half a million people marched through London demanding a second referendum on Brexit. I don’t blame most of the people who voted for Brexit, and therefore created this mess. For the most part they did not know what they were doing. Most had been lied to or deceived by ignorant or treacherous MPs, and horrendously misled by the mainstream media.

Democracy is a wonderful thing, but it’s wholly dependent on people receiving good information. Although very little good information was available prior to the referendum itself this was not the main problem. The main problem was the decades of xenophobic anti-EU bile churned out by the gutter press beforehand. This was proved by the fact that one of the main claims of the Leave campaign was to “take back” control of Britain from the EU. If people’s minds had not already been horribly poisoned against the EU, why should “taking back” control from it have been a major issue? Not that it was ever a truthful cause, because we the people have never had much control of our government anyway.

Smearing the EU, which so many politicians and the gutter press have amused themselves doing for so long, is an effective distraction. It tries to blame Europe for the considerable failings and treachery of our own government, and the mainstream media. It wasn’t Europe’s fault that Britain involved itself in the illegal wars that caused the mass migrations from the Middle East and Africa which helped to fuel the Brexit xenophobia; and Europe had nothing to do with shutting down our A&E wards, stealing billions of pounds from pensioners, scrapping free university education, establishing sinister secret courts, or wasting trillions of pounds on bankrupt banks – for example. Our government, to whom Brexiteers want to “give back control”, did all these things and much, much more all by themselves.

The EU is not perfect. It could and should be much improved. But the simple fact is that it’s in Britain’s best interests to remain part of the EU. Our physical and economic security is much greater if we remain part of Europe.

Although I can’t prove it, I have long believed that the USA has been trying to break up Europe for some years now. By the turn of the new millennium the EU had become a major economic player, and the US perceived it as a significant challenge to its global economic hegemony. Iraq, for example, won UN approval in October 2000 to sell its oil in Euros, rather than US dollars – which is not something the US would take lightly – and we all know what happened to Iraq very soon afterwards. It was therefore highly likely that the US would try to remove the EU as an economic competitor. What better way than to cause it to break up and fragment? Perhaps it’s only coincidence, but Nigel Farage, the most significant face behind Brexit, appears to have much closer ties to the US than to Britain, and seems strangely close to Donald Trump.

We desperately need another referendum on leaving the EU – one that requires at least half of British voters to support any decision to leave, not just a simple majority of however many votes are cast.

 

The British Government’s Approach To Brexit Is Slovenly, Chaotic And Delusional

The rallying cry of the Brexiteers prior to the European Union membership referendum was “take back control”. This slogan resonated with those who felt ignored, not listened to and struggling to pay for the necessities of life. They wanted to deliver a slap in the face to the country’s elite who were urging them to vote remain. The leave campaigners managed to convince enough people that being in the EU is the reason for their misery.

With that, plus the promise of £350 million a week for the NHS if we left the EU, the Brexiteers won. However, the latest twists and turns in the Brexit negotiations have shown that the EU is in the driving seat and in control of events with Britain having to make concession after concession even before moving to trade talks. Britain is losing control. Extra money for the NHS, forget it; it is not going to happen.

And what about the thorny Irish problem? Britain has to find a solution that satisfies the Republic of Ireland and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The Republic wants the status quo to continue, namely a frictionless border with the north and freedom of movement across the whole of Ireland. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will not accept special treatment for Ireland; it wants whatever applies to Northern Ireland to apply to the whole of the United Kingdom. Let us not forget that the DUP is keeping the government in power following a bribe of £1billion.

The Republic of Ireland is strongly supported by the rest of the EU which will not accept any compromise that is not acceptable to Ireland. The Brexit Secretary, David Davis (he of the phantom Brexit impact assessments) assured the house of commons that Northern Ireland would not be treated as a special case and whatever arrangement agreed for Northern Ireland would apply to the whole of the UK. Does that mean the whole of the UK must stay in the customs union and the single market? Theresa May, however, has ruled that out in an attempt to placate the hard Brexiteers,

As I write this (8 December 2017) it seems that an agreement has been reached with the EU that no hard border should exist between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; however, the devil is in the details. How that translates on the ground will be the subject of intense negotiations, spanning the British government, the EU, the DUP, and the Republic of Ireland. Good luck with that! What a mess!

What about the divorce bill? Remember Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, told European leaders to “go whistle” if they expected Britain to pay. Now it seems the UK has agreed to pay a figure between £35bn and £39bn and with that the European negotiators agreed to move to phase two, namely, trade, which may take years. So on what basis did Mr. Johnson made his whistling remark? Did he not know that there are legal commitments binding on the UK to pay a substantial divorce bill? It is all indicative of the lack of foresight and the cavalier delusional mindset of the Brexiteers.

An objective observer will be at a loss to see what advantages Britain will be gaining on leaving the EU. Britain in the EU has had its cake and eating too, having all the privileges of membership and avoiding the two negatives by (a) not being in the Eurozone and thus in control of its currency and (b) in control of its borders by not being in the Schengen area.

It is now becoming blindingly obvious that another referendum on EU membership is necessary as the complexities and the negative consequences of leaving are mounting up. The Labour Party should now join forces with the Greens and the Liberal Democrats and demand another referendum prior to Brexit. Not to do so is a dereliction of duty towards the people of Britain.

Britain outside the EU will be losing control rather than taking it back. The misery that drove people to vote Brexit was not caused by the EU but by free-market economics and Tory-imposed austerity. This combination has seen wealth being siphoned upwards from the many to the very few at the top.

The Careful Craft

“The truth, carefully crafted, is the biggest lie of all.”

One of the most important lessons to be learned from the Brexit fiasco has scarcely been picked up on, and that lesson is this: the mainstream media are not only wholly unfit for purpose, they are primarily responsible for this unfolding slow-motion catastrophe. It’s not just the misinformation that was widely pedalled at the time of the UK referendum on Britain quitting the EU, it was the years, and years, and years of misinformation before that which did the real damage.

This issue about our mainstream media is desperately serious. People cannot form sound opinions or make good decisions unless the information they receive is beyond reproach. The overwhelming majority of us obtain most of our information about the world around us through the mainstream media, therefore it’s abundantly clear that the duty to provide good, faultless information is a very serious responsibility. But the hard fact is that day in and day out, year in and year out the mainstream media not only fail in this critical duty, their output frequently borders on criminality. The evidence for this is so voluminous that it actually provides a good example of the expression about not being able to see the wood for the trees: there is so much proof of the routinely irresponsible, occasionally-criminal activities of our news providers that it’s difficult to see the fact, and effect of it.

It’s not the purpose of this article to provide detailed and comprehensive examples supporting my case; such proofs are easily found elsewhere. But it is, of course, relevant to cite a few examples. Once people see the truth, there’s no further need to keep on proving it. Like the little boy who pointed out that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes, doing it once was sufficient.

Journalism is, or should be, a fine and very important vocation. There have been a number of truly great journalists, people who value the truth, together with a sense of humanity above all else; people who frequently endanger their own lives in order to try to communicate to us the awful truths they witness, and the importance of those truths to humanity. Phillip Knightley was one such journalist. He wrote a book titled “First Casualty”, which is an excellent comprehensive account of the routine deceits and deceptions of news providers, and those who control them, going back to the very earliest days of newspapers. One of the numerous examples he provides is an account of a cinema newsreel that was shown to British audiences during the Boer War at the dawn of the twentieth century. It purported to be film of a savage Boer attack on a largely defenceless British Red Cross tent. What those cinema audiences didn’t know was that the film was a fake, shot with actors on Hampstead Heath, a suburb of London.

Falsehood in Wartime is a book written by Arthur Ponsonby, and published just after the First World War. It’s a fairly comprehensive account of some of the outright lies told by the press about the war, whose purpose was to trick the British people into supporting what everyone now knows was an horrific and unjustifiable abomination.

These are just two sources of the abundant proof which supports the central argument of this essay: that our mainstream media must be completely reformed. There are many other sources of proof of this need: Chomsky and Herman, for example, William Blum or John Pilger. Nor is this a case of isolated historical wrongdoing that should be consigned to the history books because it was once a problem that’s now been eradicated. Media Lens, the most excellent media watchdog in Britain, continues to document some of the many current lies and deceptions of today’s so-called “news” providers. Media Lens’ tireless efforts provide a continuous litany of examples of the deliberately cynical manipulation of information by those we trust to tell us the truth.

The impending disaster of Brexit is a shining victory for Britain’s tabloid press, because it is they who, over many years, decades even, have poisoned the minds of British voters. It’s the tabloid press that never miss an opportunity to stoke the flames of racism and xenophobia, so that when the economic austerity policies so loved by capitalists inevitably inflict hardship and suffering on the poorest and weakest sections of society, their anger and frustration can be easily directed to focus on immigrants, asylum seekers, and “foreigners” generally. There’s no escaping the fact that most of those who voted for Brexit did so for xenophobic reasons, blaming Eastern European workers for the economic austerity policies of British elites. This distraction of voters’ attention away from the real causes of Britain’s economic woes was the singular achievement of the tabloid press – which, unsurprisingly, are mostly owned by the same elites who benefit from the distraction.

The mind-numbing banality, stupidity and outright lies that have long passed for news in the tabloids influenced and changed the so-called “serious” broadsheet papers about fifteen years ago, when they began to use the tabloid format. But it wasn’t just the size of the pages that followed tabloid form, the quality of journalism in the broadsheets quickly deteriorated too, adopting the sensationalist style of what was known, with good reason, as the gutter press.

Local newspapers, radio and TV news all copied the growing trend. “Dumbing down” became a widely recognised phenomenon all over the country. The editor of the local newspaper where I once had a weekly column told me that I should imagine the readers of my articles all lived on the most deprived council estate in the town (a mere 5% or so of the actual population), suggesting that my pieces should not be intellectually challenging. I pretty much ignored him.

The fact that a sizeable number of people are clearly impervious to the best efforts of the mainstream media to treat them like dribbling idiots is always a source of comfort to me, for that shows there is hope. When the iniquitous Blair regime frogmarched Britain into an illegal war with Iraq in 2003, for example, it relied on, and received, wholehearted unquestioning support from all the mainstream media. But even so, over a million people marched through the streets of London protesting what they knew was wrong. The majority of Britain’s politicians, and nearly all the nation’s press, lied, and claimed to believe the lies of the US empire, but still a million people marched.

The Brexit referendum was quite different. For that, both of Britain’s main political parties advised voters to remain in the EU. So too did the US, the IMF and World Bank. But Britain’s main tabloid papers all promoted the “leave” campaign. Most British voters will usually support the status quo, and seldom go against their rulers. So the only plausible explanation for them defying their leaders must surely be that they believed the vitriolic misinformation and outright lies about Brexit that were published in the most widely-read tabloids. To repeat myself, however, it wasn’t just the misinformation and lies about Brexit that did this, but also the years and years of racist and xenophobic bile produced by the tabloids long before the referendum that had already prepared the ground. For years beforehand the tabloids churned out countless sensationalist stories about immigrants defrauding the welfare system, for example, or about new European rules that appeared to be ridiculous. Many of these stories were no doubt based on truth (although many were not), but their unimportance and extreme rarity, compared with the far greater number of cases where immigrants benefited society, and European rules helped protect the weak, were invariably ignored altogether. And, of course, the real cause of Britain’s economic woes – a corrupt and criminally irresponsible system of government, was hardly ever suggested. Thus were the minds of British voters softened up to believe that their hardships will all disappear by the simple expedient of Britain quitting the EU. “Taking back control” was one particularly false slogan that was widely promoted by the Bexiteers and their propagandists. It’s highly significant that the one individual who, perhaps more than any other was responsible for Brexit, Nigel Farage, ran for the hills and immediately quit the leadership of UKIP, his political party, once the result was in. Not for him the task of resolving the disaster he almost single-handedly created – with the full support of the tabloid press.

So there can be no real argument about the detrimental effect of the mainstream media in general, and the tabloid press in particular. This communication system, upon which most voters totally rely for their information about the world around them, is not only wholly unfit for purpose, it is also deceitful, dishonest and often criminally culpable. It’s obvious that it must be changed.

Some might think that this is an argument for censorship. It isn’t. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are absolute fundamentals in a free society, which is the only acceptable type of society. Furthermore, censorship of the media is simply unnecessary. All we need is, firstly, proper education of the citizenry to better understand the role of news providers; and secondly, a state-operated public information service whose standards are second to none, and beyond any reasonable reproach in terms of accuracy and ethical values.

At the moment we have nothing like this. Our citizenry are poorly educated in the cynical wiles of government and their active complicity in providing poor information; and the one public information service we have, the BBC, has never been anything other than a solid supporter of Britain’s corrupt and frequently criminal system of government.

The privately owned media should always be free to produce whatever rubbish they like; but the people should be properly educated to recognise rubbish, and to be careful about what they believe. The public information service should be driven by two goals – to produce the truth, and to provide it with a humane perspective. This is no trivial matter.

The BBC frequently promotes itself as being honest and impartial in its news reporting, as do many other so-called news providers. But there are countless examples which disprove this claim, and Media Lens, for example, has a sizeable catalogue of proofs. One standard trick used by these honest purveyors of “news” is the telling of the half-truth, whereby they relate with a fair amount of accuracy one side of an issue, but ignore, minimise or distort any other side that doesn’t conform to their propaganda model. Take, for instance, the many British wars the BBC has reported on over the years. From their positions as routinely “embedded” with the British army, they provide endless coverage of a war through the perspective of the troops. This creates a massive popular base of support at home for the war. What the BBC almost never does is provide the perspective of the victims of the army, or challenge why there’s a war at all, why British troops are even in some foreign country killing defenceless people. There are countless examples of this. What we need is a news provider that tells the real truth about war – the real reasons wars are fought, and the many horrors inflicted on the many victims of wars – on all sides.

A properly organised state news provider would do this, as well as the many other serious issues which are currently improperly reported, or hardly reported at all – the disastrous effects of capitalist economics, for example, or the catastrophic situation with our fragile, overpopulated planet’s dying ecosystem – all things the BBC routinely fails to do.

Although our education system is also a major problem in that it fails to teach people how to think rationally, and how to search for truth, and how to apply a sense of humanity to knowledge, the single most important area for reform is our so-called news providers. Because even with poor basic education, people could soon begin to properly understand the world as they grow into adulthood if the world was always being properly explained to them by a thoroughly reliable public information service.

The great journalist John Pilger recalled the words of American journalist TD Allman who once said,

Genuinely objective journalism’ is that which ‘not only gets the facts right, it gets the meaning of events right. Objective journalism is compelling not only today. It stands the test of time. It is validated not only by “reliable sources” but by the unfolding of history. It is reporting that which not only seems right the day it is published. It is journalism that ten, twenty, fifty years after the fact still holds up a true and intelligent mirror to events.  (My emphasis).1

That says it all in a nutshell. Those words should be the guiding principle of a new public information service, and engraved on the hearts of everyone who works there – but perhaps add the word “humane” to the type of mirror we use.

During a recent BBC “news” bulletin the presenter was talking to a couple of politicians about Brexit. He asked one of them if he thought that voters had properly understood the issues involved before they voted. The politician waffled and never answered the question. The answer was, of course, no they didn’t, and still don’t.

A couple of days later, the same BBC newsreader said the programme would be discussing the subject of “fake news”, and asking whether viewers would recognise fake news if they saw it. The answer once again is, in the main, no they wouldn’t. The question was related to the supposed influence of the Russian government in the election of Donald Trump, and the Brexit result. The “news” item focussed on information obtained mainly through social media – especially twitter feeds – and never went anywhere near the far more important role of mainstream news providers. It was actually a little gem of fake news in its own right.

Although the misinformation and outright lies of most of the mainstream media are frequently infuriating to endure, I wouldn’t support any move to silence them – because we don’t need to. What we do need is a properly-funded, properly effective public information service.

  1. Hidden Agendas, John Pilger, p. 525.

From Gandhi to Catalans, the Revolutionary Movement of Peacemakers

As Trump’s dangerous move on Iran’s nuclear deal and his provocative reaction to North Korea undercut diplomacy, tension is rising for World War III. Discord in the international community has been amplified in conflicts of identity politics across America. Greed and power-seeking leaders’ ambition for profits never end. With ever-increased military budgets, combined with tax cuts for the rich and slashes in health care and public funds, the legacy of imperialism is carried on. Uncertainty created by economic stagnation is generating frustration and anxiety, which is turned into anger and fear. These emotions are then channeled to harness a false sense of nationalism and white supremacy.

In the air of hostility that surrounds us, it is tempting for people to shun those who have opposing views and to respond to hate with even more hate. Resistance can easily be relegated to reactionary rallies. Protests quickly turn into an ideological battle of us versus them, which often results in violence. Yet for real social change to happen, it is imperative for all of us to overcome this loathing toward different views and work together.

There is a force within each person that can counter the hatred that seeks to separate us. Mahatma Gandhi recognized this as the power of peace and applied it to create nonviolent civil disobedience that led to India’s independence from British rule. Now, more than a half century later, a similar peaceful resistance has emerged.

Recently, leading up to the independence referendum on October 1 in Catalonia, Spain’s richest province, Spanish police engaged full force to stop the voting. WikiLeaks founder and editor in chief Julian Assange, who has remained confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than five years, acknowledged the peaceful act of self-determination by the Catalonian people in facing this police violence. Calling it “the most disciplined Gandhian project since Gandhi,” he said that “its results will spread everywhere.” Peace is a revolutionary force that largely remains untapped. How can social movements be created by this innate transformative power and bring harmony to this divided world?

The great law of peace

The same force of peace that guided Gandhi to fight against the oppression of Britain was present at the beginning of the United States. In history classes, many learned about the American Revolution and the War of Independence, where founders bravely fought for separation from King George. We all know America was founded on revolutionary spirit, but little is known about the quiet strength behind a fiery passion of war at the birth of a nation.

Early colonists, after settling into this New World, interacted with indigenous people. Historians have consistently noted how the original framers of the US Constitution like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin greatly admired the core concepts of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and their democratic governance that was based on a vision of peace. So what does peace mean?

From Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace to John Lennon’s popular song Give Peace a Chance, the word “peace” is in our everyday vocabulary. Many of us make slogans, carry banners of peace, and march in the streets. In our culture, peace seems to have become a mere symbol and has come to simply indicate the opposite of violence or a lack of conflict. Native Americans had a different conception of peace. Philosopher Jacob Needleman1 described how to them, it is “not as something passive, not as a mere absence of conflict, but as a force that can harmonize the actions and impulses of human life in all their multiplicity and opposition to each other” (p. 215). Peace, to Native Americans, is at the center of their way of life.

Needleman recognized how this peace diverges from European religious and ethical principles that work in duality and supports the “radical separation of the good (however it is understood) and the evil (that which resists the good)” (p. 198). He noted how peace conceived by Native Americans acknowledges interconnectedness of good and evil and it “includes all the forces of life,” even “what we often call ‘evil’” (p. 195). He then described for them “to be at peace means to be at peace with one’s conscience” (p. 196).

The First Nation’s conception of peace calls on each to recognize and respect each other’s differences, even the opinions and viewpoints of those we disagree with or condemn. The Great Law of Peace protects independence and individual liberty, while at the same time bases decision-making processes on consensus rather than majority rule. This wisdom of peace was not only at the root of Native American governance, but also influenced the formation of the US government—in particular, the key concept of decentralized power that was secured by the separation of power and checks and balances incorporated into the US Constitution.

Lost ideals and call for love

This peace placed at the foundation of America is a radical acceptance of differences that recognizes all equally in their uniqueness. Out of this fertile soil that embraces diverse seeds sprang the sprouts of inalienable rights. These include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that were promised in the Declaration of Independence.

Yet this revolutionary idea of peace that enlightened the mind and lit the hearts of early settlers seems to have been cast off by the shadow of the old world of monarchy. As Frederick Douglass reminded us in his famous speech “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” America became “false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.” From the onset, with internal contradictions in the genocide of natives, slavery of Blacks, and the oppression of women, the nation diverged from the ground upon which it stood. The promise of equality in the Declaration became empty words. History, with absence of authors who can take responsibility for their creative power, remained asleep to its potential and fell prey to the darkness within.

As the republic expanded, with a focus on material happiness and short-term pleasure through acquisition, the force of peace retreated into the background. Yet it continued to speak to the hearts of ordinary people who still listened to the cries in the wilderness, awakening impulses for social change.

In the 1840s, women’s suffrage gained strength. Through the emergence of feminism, nature began to speak its silent language of peace. Some recognized the influence of the Iroquois principles of democracy, in which women played an important role. In the mid-1950s, mass protests erupted against racial segregation and discrimination in the southern states, which launched the nationwide civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. found the power of peace that Gandhi had discovered. In his effort to liberate Black people in the struggle for civil rights, he inspired the nation through a true message of peace—its unifying force of love even for one’s enemies. In his speech delivered in 1957 in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. King said:

Somewhere, somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.

Such is the decentralized power of peace. It inspires all to yield the urge for power in order to open a space for others to come forward, a principle necessary for democratic dialogue.

Rage against the machine

The ’60s brought the further destruction of the democratizing force of peace and at the same time created a resurgence of peacemakers. As the country engaged in military action overseas, the opposition to US involvement in the Vietnam War quickly organized anti-war protests. Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1969 at Woodstock struck a chord in the hearts of many, letting people hear “the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air” over Vietnam.

As the nation began seeking for answers blowing in the wind, a massive student movement kicked off at UC Berkeley. In the launch of the free speech movement (FSM), Joan Baez, who led the first group of protesters into Sproul Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, echoed Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence. She reminded the crowd of the commitment to act with love in the heart and that students were going to be “nonviolent in thought, word, and deed”.2

The clash of two forces became visible in images of flowers placed in gun barrels. As the youth turned to the hardened America represented by armed police, for a moment a breath of peace was brought back to resuscitate this dying culture. Yet this power of peace upheld by childlike innocence alone was not enough to confront the growing beast of the military industrial complex, which with its insatiable hunger consumes all into its soulless capitalism. As Mario Savio, the spokesperson for the FSM depicted in his passionate speech in December 1964, the “operation of the machine becomes so odious.”

As the rise of corporate power rolled back most progress that consumer advocate groups had made, the rage against this machine was quietly building up. Decades later, a call for an uprising came from southern Mexico, one of the poorest parts of the world, where indigenous people were treated like animals and abandoned by Western neoliberal economic policies. On January 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect, the people in Chiapas revolted against the Mexican government. This ignited the revolutionary power of peace on the streets of Seattle in 1999. The protest against the World Trade Organization (WTO) spawned a cycle of global social justice movements. Yet this victory was short-lived and the enthusiasm for a different world was crushed by the Bush era’s “war on terror” and a draconian crackdown of dissent, creating a chilling effect and moved society toward a more authoritarian state.

The age of cypherpunk

In the moral ice age of the post-911 world, a new front of courage emerged from the internet. In April 2010, with the release of the “Collateral Murder” video, an unknown website burst onto the global stage. When the government’s internal mechanism of checks and balance had been broken, WikiLeaks opened an avenue for a new accountability. Through this whistleblowing platform, patriotic and liberty-loving men and women found a way to restore the peace of a nation by each choosing to be at peace with their conscience.

Empowered by the vision of cypherpunks, a group that advocates social change with the use of strong cryptography, WikiLeaks engaged in nonviolent information warfare, freeing speech that is censored and oppressed. With its radical acceptance of speech in all forms, backed by innovative technology, WikiLeaks made the First Amendment available to the whole world.

From the election in Kenya and the Icelandic revolution to the Arab Spring and Occupy movements, WikiLeaks’ publications sparked contagious courage, helping open a future where ordinary people armed with knowledge began claiming the power of peace that was for so long stripped away and denied. History that was awakened through this courage is still moving.

Now in Catalonia, as Assange observed, significant events were happening that would change the “relationship between population and state in Western Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall.” As the Spanish government seized election literature, shut down websites, and threatened politicians as well as the offices of newspapers, the Catalan president gave his people instructions on how to circumvent this blockade and obstruction of free speech. Assange then noted: “When #Catalonia‘s press is Tweeting how to use proxies to avoid voting censorship we are in the age of cypherpunk.” He then provided technical support for people in Catalonia to communicate and organize securely, as they faced Spanish oppression for their right to vote for the referendum.

Currency of radical acceptance

The unchecked power of the dominant elite continues, engaging in the suppression of free speech through economic censorship. Along with control of public media and police, the Spanish government has been trying to seize control of Catalonia’s finances. Assange, who had firsthand experience of this kind of financial warfare with private companies’ illegal banking blockade of WikiLeaks, called people’s attention to the network of resistance that has been steadily growing online.

The invention of Bitcoin was the holy grail of cypherpunks. With features of permissionless, censorship resistant, and unseizable transactions, it was envisioned to become stateless currency that preserves the individual liberty of all. The white paper of this revolutionary decentralized money was published in 2008. It became operational in 2009.

The Iroquois’ law of peace codified in the wampum belt is now being coded into software. It becomes an armory that is made much more secure and immutable to any foreign or domestic attacks. Here, the First Nation’s vision of great peace that inspired its democratic confederation seems to have found its realization in the open source protocol of the consensus algorithm. Security expert and author Andreas M. Antonopoulos calls Bitcoin’s governance model “leaderless”—that which creates decentralized power. He describes how the system motivates people to come to consensus at a very high level and decisions are made by the circle of five constituents: miners, developers, wallets, merchants, and users.

As the era of cypherpunk opened up, the tyranny of the incumbent legacy system gathered up its power to define a new digital age on its own terms. Western liberal democracy, with the arms of technology and transnational corporations, has now expanded throughout the world, placing all into an elaborate web of a financial industrial complex. In this artificial machination of the world, money that has been used as a weapon to wage war and exploit can be automated, with humans no longer in charge. With mass surveillance and control, it can create a total dystopia. Here, the Great Law of Peace enshrined in a piece of mathematics can offer a shield for ordinary people to defend themselves against the sword of power that seeks to control and enslave all living beings into institutional hierarchies.

With Bitcoin, the First Amendment becomes an app that can be distributed across borders indiscriminately to anyone, including those condemned as enemies. Stewarded by developers around the world committed to the shared ideals of cypherpunk, Bitcoin makes its transactions from country to country, from belief to belief, from opinion to opinion, and traverses the way of peace. Having demonstrated its unbreakable integrity for the last eight years, the protocol of radical acceptance continues to evolve, providing an alternative to tyranny without fighting, by each engaging in the creative act of innovation.

As governments all over the world become destructive and old systems begin to crumble, new networks are being made by linking the knowledge of computer science with the wisdom of the First Nations, who have lived in harmony with nature. Now, the West and natives, two minds from the same roots that once diverged paths can come together to begin a new civilization. By each choosing freely to chart the way of peacemaking, social movements can be created. People walking side by side bring this world toward a more perfect union, founded upon a principle of equality that allows everyone to be free.

  1. Needleman, J. (2002). American soul: Rediscovering the wisdom of the founders. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
  2. Nagler, M. N. The search for a nonviolent future: A promise of peace for ourselves, our families, and our world. Maui, HI: Inner Ocean, 2004, p. 202.

Cataluña Libre?

Yesterday’s historic vote – the Referendum decided by the Government of Cataluña, called illegal by the neoliberal Rajoy Government of Madrid – turned into an event of abject police violence against masses of unarmed voters. The Referendum may have been illicit according to the Spanish Constitution, but voting in a referendum as an expression of opinion is a human right, regardless of whether the central government of Madrid would, or would not, accept the result of the vote.

In the early Monday morning hours, the Catalan Government issued statements saying that about 2.3 million Catalans, 42.3% out 5.3 million eligible voters, cast with 90% a ‘yes’ ballot for Independence. Without the violent interference of the national police and civil guard, the Catalan Government estimated that at least 80% of eligible voters would have cast their ballot.

Clearly, the Spanish Government’s demonstration of ruthless and brute force was, and is, a reminder that in Europa fascism is alive and well, that Generalissimo Franco in Spain is not dead. Brussels, miserable, spineless puppets to the transatlantic empire and the European oligarchy, remained shamefully silent – arguing it was a Spanish internal affair, as if Spain, a full member of the EU, wasn’t a European Union’s ‘internal affair’.

At the end of the day of the Referendum, October 1, President Rajoy had the audacity to declare literally that there was no referendum taking place in Cataluña. He congratulated and thanked the Spanish police to protect law and order in Barcelona and elsewhere in Cataluña and to uphold the Spanish Constitution. Yet, the media showed and reported all-day long violent police battles against peaceful voters. The forceful, riot-clad Spanish police smashed windows and broke into schools where voting booths were located, attempting to prevent voters from voting; they also removed and destroyed ballot boxes.

At the end of the day nearly 1,000 people – 844 officially – were injured by national police force, extreme violence, by utterly harmful and potentially deadly rubber bullets and batons smashing indiscriminately into nonviolent unarmed voters, including elderly people, women and children. There were hundreds of thousands of people, families who came with kids to this historic event, some camping since Friday in the schools to make sure that their right to vote was protected.

Since the Catalan police decided a hands-off policy, not to interfere with the referendum, but rather to protect the voters from possible violence, the fascist Rajoy Government sent in police and the civil guard from other parts of Spain to prevent the vote from taking place. Their brutal and excessive violence against unarmed voters was shocking. They clearly had firm instructions for their brutality from their masters in Madrid – the very masters that congratulated them for carrying out their duties. It was a horrible sight to see.

President Rajoy, lauding the violent police that left hundreds of injured, many seriously wounded, is yet another testimony that fascism in Europe is growing. Franco’s blood must be running in Rajoy’s veins. Brussels, the headquarters of the European Police state – of the growing European military regime – already today engulfing the bulk of the 28 EU member states, concurred with this violence by remaining disgracefully silent.

Let’s look a bit closer at some of the reasons behind this crackdown on people who were merely intent in expressing their opinion – a full human right, according to the UN Charter.

Cataluña, with a population of about 7.5 million (out of Spain’s 46 million) and a surface of about 7% of Spain’s 506,000 km2, contributes about 20% to Spain’s economic output, produces 25% of Spain’s exports, receives 23.5% of Spain’s foreign tourists, and 57% of  Spain’s foreign investments. There is a lot to lose by Cataluña’s secession.

Cataluña today receives about 1,800 euros per capita in tax devolution from Madrid, but contributes at least double that amount to the Spanish Treasury. This imbalance has long been a sore thumb in the relations between Barcelona and Madrid. But Rajoy’s PP (Partido Popular) Government has always staunchly refused any dialogue for more autonomy and more financial justice.

Spain’s northern Basque Region fought for decades (1959-2011) for independence. The Spain-ETA armed political conflict, also known as the Basque National Liberation Movement, caused hundreds of violent deaths. When they finally reached disarmament and a peace agreement in 2011 with the central government in Madrid, they settled for a considerably fairer fiscal agreement with Madrid.

Looking at history, Cataluña became part of Spain in the 15th century under King Felipe VI and Queen Isabella. In the 20th Century, under the Spanish Republic, Cataluña, with her own culture and language, received full autonomy in 1932. It was abolished by Franco when he came to power in 1938. After Franco’s death in 1975, Cataluña regained temporary autonomy which lapsed in 2006, when a Spanish High Court challenged the Statute of Autonomy and ruled some articles of the Statute ‘unconstitutional’. That was the time when the most recent Catalan Independence Movement began. Since then several mock referenda took place, including the latest in 2014, when 80% of those who voted (about 30% of eligible voters) opted for independence.

The October 1st, 2017 Referendum was the first serious attempt at secession since 2006. Though not conforming with the Spanish Constitution, the forceful and violent suppression of the people’s freedom of expression was a grave human right’s abuse. It will most likely backfire – badly.

This fierce oppression by Madrid, the unwillingness for dialogue, has definitely turned most Catalans against Madrid and for independence. A few weeks ago the polls in Cataluña indicated a close call with a slight edge for those who wanted to remain with Spain. After threats from Madrid for weeks and the violent police crackdown of yesterday’s election, at least 80% of eligible Catalan voters now seek independence. A similar trend could be found within Spain. A couple of months ago, 10% to 20% of Spaniards were neutral or favored independence for Cataluña. After yesterday’s police fiasco, close to half of Spaniards in solidarity with their Catalan brothers support Cataluña’s independence.

The fight is by no means over after Madrid’s violent attempted oppression of the vote. We can just hope that civil war can be avoided.

Is Brexit Ready to Exit?

A year ago the UK voted to leave the EU after a stupid, unnecessary referendum.  And although Brexiteers pronounced this an ‘overwhelming’ result, the true facts were that, out of the total electorate, 37 per cent voted Leave, 35 per cent voted Remain, and 28 per cent didn’t bother to vote.  Hardly overwhelming.

Not only that, but it has emerged that the Brexit campaign was funded by some secretive and dodgy deals.  The campaigns on both sides misled the public with the result that people voted without understanding the issues.  So where are we now?

The United Kingdom is in a large hole, and Theresa May’s Brexit team just keep on digging, regardless of what is happening to the nation, the citizens, the impoverished ‘you and I’ who are increasingly having to use food banks, live on the streets of rich cities, or live with their family in a bed-and-breakfast hotel room.  Not that it matters to senior Tory MPs who are well supplied with private funds.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, has just enlarged the hole – Boris never worries about where he puts his careless feet.  As part of the process of leaving the EU, the UK has to settle any financial obligations and commitments it has made with the EU.  This is part of the ‘divorce’ settlement and might be a sizeable sum. Johnson said the EU could ‘go whistle for it’.  A diplomat he is not.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier carefully explained the situation.  This is not a price charged by the EU for leaving the EU.  It is not the EU trying to ‘punish’ the UK or ‘demanding’ an extortionate sum.  But the UK must acknowledge the obligations it has signed up to.  Until that is sorted talks on the future relationship with the EU cannot proceed.  “I cannot hear any whistling,” said Barnier, “only a clock ticking.”  A quiet hint, perhaps, that Johnson and his colleagues are wasting Barnier’s time?

In the last few weeks major voices have been saying we made a mistake.  There are calls for, at the very least, a ‘soft’ Brexit – the Norway option, wherein the UK would be a member of the European Economic Area with access to the Single Market.

‘Hard’ Brexiteers insist we must leave both the Customs Union and the Single Market, even while arrogantly claiming the UK should keep the benefits of staying in both.  But leaving the Customs Union means we can never trade with any EU country.  Do they even understand that?  Michel Barnier says not.

And people are changing their minds.  As more facts come out about what we’d lose, and how far away any realistic trade deals are; as EU workers leave the UK, leaving damaging gaps in our hospitals, schools, universities and businesses; as prices rise and wages stagnate, ever more people regret voting to leave.

It can be hard to understand what pro-Brexit people were thinking when they voted Leave.  Take the Brexit-voting farmer Harry Hall, who now complains he’ll go out of business because he won’t be able to access the 2500 EU workers he needs to pick his fruit.  And in case you’re wondering, such farmers can’t persuade British workers to fill the jobs – too much hard work for a nation that has got used to a soft life.

Many of those reluctant workers will have voted to leave, and if we do leave the EU they’ll moan when they can’t afford to buy the fruit and vegetables they won’t harvest.  Harry Hall says his vote was about ‘sovereignty’.  Like so many Leave voters, he had been led to believe by the Brexiteers that the EU had somehow stolen the UK’s sovereignty.

But we have never been without our sovereignty – that has always been a massive red herring trailed by people who quite simply don’t like ‘Johnny Foreigner’, and want something to blame for everything wrong in their lives.  Even the government with its cabinet of hard Brexiteers now admits we never lost our sovereignty and have stopped claiming we’re ‘getting it back’.  Bit late to admit that now, isn’t it?

Nobody but Theresa May and her cronies have ever believed ‘Brexit means Brexit’.  It was nothing more than a meaningless phrase from a meaningless Prime Minister.  Asked to explain it she could only, endlessly, repeat it, making it obvious that neither she nor her cabinet (or indeed her weird wardrobe) actually knew what to do.

Once Article 50 was triggered, committing the UK to leaving Europe, and May’s useless team of ‘negotiators’ were staring at the vast problem of trying to divorce our country from the best trading partner in the world, May started to intone ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ in answer to any awkward questions – well, any questions at all, really.  She is notable for not answering questions.  Mrs May, no deal is a bad deal.

She is sartorially as well as politically challenged.  Many of her suits look like material boxes hiding the body inside.  Her skirts are tight as well as short.  When she sits down she displays far too much middle-aged thigh.  But the key to her state of mind are the necklaces she sports.  Starting with strings of round beads like ball bearings and the occasional chain, as Brexit approached the ball bearings grew and the chains had larger links.  In the closing days of her disastrous general election campaign, the ball bearings were approaching golf-ball size and the chain had VERY LARGE links.

Her Chancellor Philip Hammond says the ‘people want a sensible Brexit’.  Actually – no.  By now a slowly growing majority seems to be saying there is nothing at all sensible about Brexit.

Dominic Cummings, one of those who headed the Leave campaign, admits that leaving the EU might be an error.  He has even labelled those in government as ‘morons’.  Business leaders are demanding an indefinite (like forever?) delay in leaving the Single Market.  More than 2 million UK workers are with companies that rely on EU funding, and over 40,000 Britons who live in the UK but work in Europe could lose their jobs.  None of those had crossed the government’s radar.

The problems associated with leaving the EU look very messy and will damage all our lives.  As more people waver, those wedded to the dream of Brexit are becoming much more angry, defensive and loud in their demand for a complete severance from the EU.

One year on from the EU referendum, I found myself standing on a bridge over a busy main road, waving EU flags.  The response from the drivers below was telling.  Yes, many cars ignored us but there was a surprising amount of reaction from both Remain and Leave people.  Hitting the car horn was popular.  Remainers gave a quick series of jolly toot-toot-toots. Leavers expressed their displeasure with prolonged angry blasts.

Remainers gave the thumbs-up to us and our flags.  Families driving to and from the coast waved up at us, husband and wife in front and children’s’ hands sticking out of the back windows.  Now, a thumbs-down from the Brexiteers would be okay, but as I said, they are angry, so it was pumping fists, V-signs and the finger – not just rude but crude.

They are seeing the possibility of their dream fade.  They know by now they won’t get the Brexit they want.  I could see that from where I stood on the bridge.  The wavers and thumbs-up outnumbered the Brexiteers by quite some margin.  A majority of people now back a second referendum.  And our future starts to look a little more positive.

And what should the Labour Party be doing?  Some Remainers point accusing fingers at Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying he wants a ‘hard Brexit’  The fact that such a thing would seriously hit the rights of the average UK worker, which surely must be against his principles, is not taken into consideration.

It is true that he appears not to think too much of the EU, but which bits of it are we talking about?  He is, after all, an internationalist.  Many people, including myself, look at some aspects of the EU and despair.  It is in desperate need of reform, something that Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has supported, alongside Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis.

People worry that Corbyn and his Party are doing nothing, standing aside while the Tory government stumbles towards a Brexit disaster.  But, really, what could or should they do at this precise point, when things are changing around them?

Of course, some call for another referendum, seeing that the last one was so dishonest and disastrous.  But that would still leave us with those Tory/UKIP people constantly creating divisive trouble – something not to be desired if this divided country wants to be at peace with itself.

Corbyn has been widely reported in the mainstream media as being anti-EU.  He himself has been silent on the matter. Prior to the referendum he appeared to be campaigning on the basis of ‘yes’ to EU and ‘yes’ to reform of the EU, but that was barely mentioned by the media.

His silence is not appreciated by many people.  Is he sitting on the fence?  However, the Labour Party does have some very anti-EU members and the last thing people want is a Labour equivalent of the Tory anti-EU MPs making trouble.  So, while Theresa May and her hated team make such a mess of Brexit, Labour need do nothing but sit back and watch the Tories destroy their own party.

There is a further point.  Since Corbyn, totally out of the blue, became leader, many more people have become members of his Party.  And millions registered to vote after May called the June general election, particularly young people.  Many back Labour, but they also back the EU, which they see as their future.

Corbyn believes utterly in democracy.  He has campaigned against nuclear weapons all his life and while he personally wishes to see an end to the UK’s Trident nuclear missile programme, the Party policy is to renew Trident – because that was what members voted for at the Labour Party Conference.  So what he could do, seeing that he is the leader of a party with several hundred thousand members, is to set up an on-line poll of those members on whether they now want to leave or stay with Europe.  A poll of such proportions would have far greater weight than the usual poll of 1000 or 2000 people.

If the majority of those members vote to stay with the EU, then Corbyn’s democratic principles and belief in the membership will demand that Labour must lobby, agitate, work flat out to prevent Brexit – for the sake of our rights, our businesses, our jobs, our EU residents and neighbours, our environment, and all those other things that should make living in this country worthwhile for the 99% (the Tory Party being firmly wedded to the 1%).

If Corbyn regards the 2% majority vote for Leave as a democratic result that must be upheld, then surely even a low percentage of members in favour of remaining would demand that Labour fights in their interests.

With the government in such disarray and trying every dirty deal to stay in power, it can’t be long before another election and a government headed by someone who much prefers real, non-confrontational diplomacy.  And then, cap in hand and with much humility, something that has been entirely missing from the Tory Brexit team (the Tories being noted for entitlement) we may get to stay in the EU.

Elections: Absenteeism, Boycotts, and the Class Struggle

The most striking feature of recent elections is not ‘who won or who lost’, nor is it the personalities, parties and programs. The dominant characteristic of the elections is the widespread repudiation of the electoral system, political campaigns, parties and candidates.

Across the world, majorities and pluralities of citizens of voting age refuse to even register to vote (unless obligated by law), refuse to turn out to vote (voter abstention), or vote against all the candidates (boycott by empty ballot and ballot spoilage).

If we add the many citizen activists who are too young to vote, citizens denied voting rights because of past criminal (often minor) convictions, impoverished citizens and minorities denied voting rights through manipulation and gerrymandering, we find that the actual ‘voting public’ shrivel to a small minority.

As a result, present day elections have been reduced to a theatrical competition among the elite for the votes of a minority. This situation describes an oligarchy – not a healthy democracy.

Oligarchic Competition

Oligarchs compete and alternate with one another over controlling and defining who votes and doesn’t vote. They decide who secures plutocratic financing and mass media propaganda within a tiny corporate sector. ‘Voter choice’ refers to deciding which preselected candidates are acceptable for carrying out an agenda of imperial conquests, deepening class inequalities and securing legal impunity for the oligarchs, their political representatives and state, police and military officials.

Oligarchic politicians depend on the systematic plundering Treasury to facilitate and protect billion dollar/billion euro stock market swindles and the illegal accumulation of trillions of dollars and Euros via tax evasion (capital flight) and money laundering.

The results of elections and the faces of the candidates may change but the fundamental economic and military apparatus remains the same to serve an ever tightening oligarchic rule.

The elite regimes change, but the permanence of state apparatus designed to serve the elite becomes ever more obvious to the citizens.

Why the Oligarchy Celebrates “Democracy”

The politicians who participate in the restrictive and minoritarian electoral system, with its predetermined oligarchic results, celebrate ‘elections’ as a democratic process because a plurality of voters, as subordinate subjects, are incorporated.

Academics, journalists and experts argue that a system in which elite competition defines citizen choice has become the only way to protect ‘democracy’ from the irrational ‘populist’ rhetoric appealing to a mass of citizens vulnerable to authoritarianism (the so-called ‘deplorables’). The low voter turn-out in recent elections reduces the threat posed by such undesirable voters.

A serious objective analysis of present-day electoral politics demonstrates that when the masses do vote for their class interests — the results deepen and extend social democracy. When most voters, non-voters and excluded citizens choose to abstain or boycott elections they have sound reasons for repudiating plutocratic-controlled oligarchic choices.

We will proceed to examine the recent June 2017 voter turnout in the elections in France, the United Kingdom and Puerto Rico. We will then look at the intrinsic irrationality of citizens voting for elite politicos as opposed to the solid good sense of the popular classes rejection of elite elections and their turn to extra-parliamentary action.

Puerto Rico’s Referendum

The major TV networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) and the prestigious print media (New York Times, Washington Post, and Financial Times) hailed the ‘overwhelming victory’ of the recent pro-annexationist vote in Puerto Rico. They cited the 98% vote in favor of becoming a US state!

The media ignored the fact that a mere 28% of Puerto Ricans participated in the elections to vote for a total US takeover. Over 77% of the eligible voters abstained or boycotted the referendum.

In other words, over three quarters of the Puerto Rican people rejected the sham ‘political elite election’. Instead, the majority voted with their feet in the streets through direct action.

France’s Micro-Bonaparte

In the same way, the mass media celebrated what they dubbed a ‘tidal wave’ of electoral support for French President Emmanuel Macron and his new party, ‘the Republic in March’. Despite the enormous media propaganda push for Macron, a clear majority of the electorate (58%) abstained or spoiled their ballots, therefore rejecting all parties and candidates, and the entire French electoral system. This hardly constitutes a ‘tidal wave’ of citizen support in a democracy.

During the first round of the parliamentary election, President Macron’s candidates received 27% of the vote, barely exceeding the combined vote of the left socialist and nationalist populist parties, which had secured 25% of the vote. In the second round, Macron’s party received less then 20% of the eligible vote.

In other words, the anti-Macron rejectionists represented over three quarters of the French electorate. After these elections a significant proportion of the French people – especially among the working class –will likely choose extra-parliamentary direct action, as the most democratic expression of representative politics.

The United Kingdom: Class Struggle and the Election Results

The June 2017 parliamentary elections in the UK resulted in a minority Conservative regime forced to form an alliance with the fringe Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a far-right para-military Protestant party from Northern Ireland. The Conservatives received 48% of registered voters to 40% who voted for the Labor Party. However, 15 million citizens, or one-third of the total electorate abstained or spoiled their ballots. The Conservative regime’s plurality represented 32% of the electorate.

Despite a virulent anti-Labor campaign in the oligarch-controlled mass media, the combined Labor vote and abstaining citizens clearly formed a majority of the population, which will be excluded from any role the post-election oligarchic regime despite the increase in the turnout (in comparison to previous elections).

Elections: Oligarchs in Office, Workers in the Street

The striking differences in the rate of abstention in France, Puerto Rico, and the UK reflect the levels of class dissatisfaction and rejection of electoral politics.

The UK elections provided the electorate with something resembling a class alternative in the candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn. The Labor Party under Corbyn presented a progressive social democratic program promising substantial and necessary increases in social welfare spending (health, education and housing) to be funded by higher progressive taxes on the upper and upper middle class.

Corbyn’s foreign policy promised to end the UK’s involvement in imperialist wars and to withdraw troops from the Middle East. He also re-confirmed his long opposition to Israel’s colonial land-grabbing and oppression of the Palestinian people, as a principled way to reduce terrorist attacks at home.

In other words, Corbyn recognized that introducing real class-based politics would increase voter participation. This was especially true among young voters in the 18-25 year age group, who were among the UK citizens most harmed by the loss of stable factory jobs, the doubling of university fees and the cuts in national health services.

In contrast, the French legislative elections saw the highest rate of voter abstention since the founding of the 5th Republic. These high rates reflect broad popular opposition to ultra-neoliberal President Francois Macron and the absence of real opposition parties engaged in class struggle.

The lowest voter turn-out (72%) occurred in Puerto Rico. This reflects growing mass opposition to the corrupt political elite, the economic depression and the colonial and semi-colonial offerings of the two-major parties. The absence of political movements and parties tied to class struggle led to greater reliance on direct action and voter abstention.

Clearly class politics is the major factor determining voter turnout. The absence of class struggle increases the power of the elite mass media, which promotes the highly divisive identity politics and demonizes left parties. All of these increase both abstention and the vote for right-wing politicians, like Macron.

The mass media grossly inflated the significance of the Right’s election victories of the while ignoring the huge wave of citizens rejecting the entire electoral process. In the case of the UK, the appearance of class politics through Jeremy Corbyn increased voter turnout for the Labor Party. However, Labor has a history of first making left promises and ending up with right turns. Any future Labor betrayal will increase voter abstention.

The established parties and the media work in tandem to confine elections to a choreographed contest among competing elites divorced from direct participation by the working classes. This effectively excludes the citizens who have been most harmed by the ruling class’ austerity programs implemented by successive rightist and Social Democratic parties.

The decision of many citizens not to vote is based on taking a very rational and informed view of the ruling political elites who have slashed their living standards often by forcing workers to compete with immigrants for low paying, unstable jobs. It is deeply rational for citizens to refuse to vote for within a rigged system, which only worsens their living conditions through its attacks on the public sector, social welfare and labor codes while cutting taxes on capital.

Conclusion

The vast majority citizens in the wage and salaried class do not trust the political elites. They see electoral campaigns as empty exercises, financed by and for plutocrats.

Most citizens recognize (and despise) the mass media as elite propaganda megaphones fabricating ‘popular’ images to promote anti-working class politicians, while demonizing political activists engaged in class-based struggles.

Nevertheless, elite elections will not produce an effective consolidation of right-wing rule. Voter abstention will not lead to abstention from direct action when the citizens recognize their class interests are in grave jeopardy.

The Macron regime’s parliamentary majority will turn into an impotent minority as soon as he tries carry out his elite promise to slash the jobs of hundreds of thousands of French public sector workers, smash France’s progressive labor codes and the industry-wide collective bargaining system and pursue new colonial wars.

Puerto Rico’s profound economic depression and social crisis will not be resolved through a referendum with on 27% of the voter participation. Large-scale demonstrations will preclude US annexation and deepen mass demands for class-based alternatives to colonial rule.

Conservative rule in the UK is divided by inter-elite rivalries both at home and abroad. ‘Brexit’, the first step in the break-up of the EU, opens opportunities for deeper class struggle. The social-economic promises made by Jeremy Corbyn and his left-wing of the Labor Party energized working class voters, but if it does not fundamentally challenge capital, it will revert to being a marginal force.

The weakness and rivalries within the British ruling class will not be resolved in Parliament or by any new elections.

The demise of the UK, the provocation of a Conservative-DUP alliance and the end of the EU (BREXIT) raises the chance for successful mass extra-parliamentary struggles against the authoritarian neo-liberal attacks on workers’ civil rights and class interests.

Elite elections and their outcomes in Europe and elsewhere are laying the groundwork for a revival and radicalization of the class struggle.

In the final analysis class rule is not decided via elite elections among oligarchs and their mass media propaganda. Once dismissed as a ‘vestige of the past’, the revival of class struggle is clearly on the horizon.