All posts by Andre Vltchek

Propaganda! Pardon me, is mine really bigger than yours?

They say Propaganda! In the West, both the mainstream media and even some of the so-called progressive outlets are shouting: “Those Russians and Chinese and the others like them, they are at it again! Their vicious propaganda is infiltrating our democratic, freedom-loving countries, spreading confusion and chaos!”

Yes, ban or at least curb RT, contain TeleSur, and if at all possible, throw Press TV to the dogs. And put the writers of NEO, Sputnik, Global Times and other foreign outlets on that proverbial Western mass media ‘no fly list’.

How truly democratic. How open-minded, how ‘objective’!

It goes like this:

“We have been indoctrinating the entire Planet for centuries, mostly unopposed, but if anyone dares to bite back, we will do our best to discredit, even to muzzle them, in no time.”

Then if you protest, if you dare to say that kicking out and gagging alternative media sources stinks of the lowest grade of censorship, and of imposing some sort of monopoly on propaganda, you’d be shouted at: “What do you know about propaganda? You really want to see some hard-core propaganda, look at those colorful military parades and political speeches coming out from Pyongyang!” Naturally, these are taken out of context and presented (or framed) in a certain way, and only after that are they always readily available on the BBC and other, should we say ‘reputable’ and ‘objective’, European and North American television channels.

What you will not be told is that if you happen to live in New York or London, Paris or Sydney, Munich or Madrid, you yourself are most likely in the highest bracket of propaganda consumption in the world; that, in fact, you could easily be a true propaganda junkie – hooked on it, fully dependent on it, seeking it, even regularly demanding it, at least subconsciously.

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Propaganda, what is it really?

We all ‘propagate’ or ‘propagandize’ something. At least we publicize what we think and believe in our emails, we are spreading it in the pubs, or while out meeting friends and loved ones.

Some of us do it professionally. We write essays, books, give speeches, make films. We go to politics. We join revolutionary movements. We want to change the world. We speak, write about what we believe.

It is all propaganda — spreading our ideas, trying to influence others. What is done in the church or mosque, is clearly propaganda as well, although it is rarely defined as such publicly.

All of us have some opinions, some worldview. You know, at least some very basic one… Or when it comes, for instance, to the mainstream media outlets, their bosses and owners definitely have quite clear designs, opinions and goals (employees, those journos sitting in plastic cubicles, are simply doing their well-paid job of presenting the ideas of their masters in a standard, elegant and grammatically correct prose).

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In brief: whenever we want to influence the world, we try to ‘package’ and present our thoughts beautifully, extracting the most powerful and attractive parts and passages of our ideals and principles.

There is nothing wrong with that. We communicate, we propagate our thoughts and dreams, as we are trying to improve the world. Such propaganda is, I believe, healthy.

The true problem begins when the same tactics and techniques are used for something absolutely destructive and objectively evil: like colonialism, racism, imperialism or the attempt to control and plunder entire nations and continents. And an even greater problem arises, when it happens with almost unlimited funding, and as a consequence, some of the most capable brains get involved, including those of the communication experts, educators, and even psychologists.

When such a scenario develops, it is not suddenly anymore about ‘discussion’ and ‘finding the best way forward for our humanity’. It is about total, full control of people’s brains, about the elimination of all alternatives.

That is brutal, fatal propaganda. And it is exactly the propaganda which has been domesticated in the West, and is rapidly spreading its metastases all over the world.

If unchecked and unchallenged, such developments may lead to the absolute destruction of humans’ ability to think freely, to compare and to analyze, but it may also eradicate the ability to feel, to dream and to dare.

This most likely is the aim of Western neo-colonialism. Its ‘success’ depends on the total, dogmatic cultural and ‘intellectual’ monopoly imposed by Europe and the United States on the rest of the world. Such a monopoly can only be attained through a one-sided interpretation of current affairs as well as world history.

The main goal is the absolute and unconditional control of the Planet.

After the destruction of the Soviet Union and during the rapid pro-market reforms in China (and the Western infiltration of China’s education system) in the same period of time, the West came extremely close to achieving its goal.

The world fully abandoned to Western imperialism and market fundamentalism, began suffering from a monstrous wave of privatization, theft of natural and other resources, and consequent social collapse of entire huge nations, from Russia to Indonesia.

Then ‘something happened’. The impact on the Planet became so devastating that many parts of the world abruptly stopped following the Western dictate. Russia had risen to its feet. China, under the guidance of the Communist Party and especially under the leadership of President Xi, returned to ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’, putting a much greater accent on the quality of human life, culture and ecology, than on financial markets. Latin America began its new wave of the struggle for independence against the US and its own European elites. Many other countries, from Iran to South Africa, Eritrea, Syria and DPRK, refused to surrender.

They got demonized by Western propaganda, demonized day and night, systematically and relentlessly.

Whoever has stood for the interests of his or her people, be they a Communist, a socialist, a patriot, or even a populist, has been incessantly smeared, ridiculed and humiliated. President Assad or Ahmadinejad, Putin, Xi, Duterte, Zuma, Maduro, Castro, it mattered nothing how popular they were at home; it matters nothing! Simple as that: Whoever stands tall and fights for his people, faces character assassination in the Western media, which, in turn, directly or indirectly controls most of the media outlets in the world!

To get all of the patriotic and progressive leaders out of the way openly serves the interests of the Western Empire and its business offshoots.

No one has doubts about this anymore. It would take tremendous discipline not to see it.

Yet the opposite is being constantly repeated by the Western television stations, newspapers, magazines, and even the universities.

Ignoring facts, manufacturing conspiracy theories, denying that white is white, black is black, refusing to admit that human blood is red, that our hearts are on the left, and that above all, people are desiring their own identity, culture, justice and safety, isn’t this the highest level of propaganda, of indoctrination, of total brainwashing?

Those who are trashing ‘state-owned’ and ‘state-sponsored’ media outlets in non-Western countries, should be asking some very essential questions: “Is there any difference between those ‘private’ or ‘state’ media outlets in the West? Is there any substantial ideological drift between the CNN, BBC, The Independent, The New York Times, France/24 or DW?”

In Europe and in North America, as well as in their ‘client’ states, business interests control the government. They are actually the ones who are electing, or call it ‘selecting’ the government. Private or state-funded, the Western mass media is towing the same line. It is part of the apparatus.

In non-Western countries, the state-supported media outlets are beginning to propagate various new lines, mostly defending and highlighting the interests of their own countries, which in a way is a revolutionary development.

So, there is finally some global competition, isn’t there, dear comrades imperialists and capitalists? But what do we see… suddenly you don’t like it? You want your global monopoly? Is that your idea of freedom and ‘free competition’? You want your propaganda to be the only one on Earth!

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Several years ago, when I was making the film and writing a book with Noam Chomsky (On Western Terrorism – From Hiroshima To Drone Warfare, Pluto Press), we spoke a lot about Western propaganda.

Noam brought to my attention that Nazi Germany was extremely impressed by the U.S. advertising industry.

Then, in a way, Western propaganda also became shaped by shameless advertising production, by brainless and outrightly deceiving commercials. The continuous downpour of pseudo-reality has been melting away all human decency and rationality ever since.

I have written about this issue a lot, too, particularly in the pages of my book Exposing Lies of The Empire.

Television, Hollywood, but also indoctrinating, intellectually sterilizing and the grotesque way of ‘spreading knowledge’ by the North American and increasingly also by the European universities – it all has very little to do with the reality in which the world is living, as well as with the true concerns of the people; with their hopes, fears, and desires and aspirations.

Western commercials, entertainment, educational institutions – these are all powerful tools of propaganda. They propagate, force and inject into human sub-consciousness extremely primitive, false but powerful messages: “No matter what, our present arrangement of the world is correct and just. Our economic and social system is the most natural in the world. Our political system is not perfect, but it is the best nevertheless.”

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Noam Chomsky seemed to be fascinated with my past, and for some good reasons: I myself was totally indoctrinated, endlessly brainwashed by Western propaganda, when I was a child, and then a very young man.

I was born in the beautiful city of Leningrad, Soviet Union. My mother is a Russian-Chinese architect, father a Czech scientist. I grew up in Pilsen, in then Czechoslovakia. Pilsen was only 60 kilometers away from Bavaria. To be a ‘dissident’ there, at the age of 15 or so, was absolutely obligatory, otherwise one would have been considered an absolute loser, even a freak. That was naturally hammered into our brains by the BBC, Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, West German television channels like ARD and ZDF. We were all listening to Radio Luxemburg, to Bavaria 3, we read ‘samizdat’ literature.

Pilsen is a little town of 180,000 people, known for its heavy industry and beer, but when I was a child, it had a permanent opera house, countless libraries including a science one, several small avant-garde theatres (which, yes, all tried to put on stage something that could be read ‘between the lines’), great bookstores, 6 cinemas, including an excellent cine-club where we basically saw all the great existential and experimental films from Europe, Japan, U.S. and Latin America.

Communist Czechoslovakia was to some extent, gray, but extremely well educated, cultural and actually, really fun.

When I first visited Italy, I was shocked by its slums around Naples, by the sad lot of African immigrants. But I was conditioned to see the world as it was presented by Western propaganda. I protested against the ‘occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union’, because that is what the World Service of the BBC prepared me to do. Despite being educated on great literature, poetry and music, I saw Rambo as a freedom fighter, and Maggie Thatcher as a liberator of the ‘free world’.

I still somehow believed in the ideals of the Soviet Union, in the internationalism. But my brain was fried – it was a goulash that consisted of pseudo images coming like an avalanche from the West, and of solid and the not too colorful reality of socialist Czechoslovakia.

My two Czech uncles were true internationalists, and they built sugar mills, steel mills, pharmaceutical factories and other great things in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and China. They did it with honest zeal and the love for humanity. I considered them to be two losers, idiots, ‘fanatics’. In reality, they were great people, and I was simply sick, brainwashed and blind then!

Then, as now, Western propaganda spat at everything pure, altruistic, and honest. Western media is scared of true heroes, of people who are helping others to gain independence, of strong, truly free men and women.

I emigrated. I wrote total shit, my first book of poetry, I got involved in the Solidarity movement in neighboring Poland, hit the bottle while chain smoking some 50 cigarettes a day, and emigrated. Or more precisely, I was kicked out, or whatever… You know, a Soviet kid in Czechoslovakia, writing dissident stuff… It was embarrassing, so they just suggested I go to the West, where I loved it so much.

I went. To make my story short, after I got my political asylum in the US, I was at Columbia University Film School in New York City, when the U.S. performed its first strike against Libya.

That week was crucial. Film Faculty students quickly clarified to me, what was going on, in regard to Libya. Then, in the pub, they asked me about those ‘bread lines’ in Czechoslovakia. I humbly explained about all the sorts of delicious fresh-baked breads available in Pilsen, but they couldn’t believe me. They kept asking about censorship… I was much better read than they were, and apart from Hollywood productions, I had seen more great films, but that, again, was shocking to my new friends.

From the windows of East Campus, we watched the endless fires burning in Harlem. It was pre-Clinton Harlem, real tough stuff.

All around me, in New York, I saw misery, despair, discontent, but also total obedience and resignation. But there was no ‘going back’.

I began visiting Harlem, by car service, as no yellow cab would take me there. I discovered a little wonderful jazz club, the Baby Grand. I would drink there and listen to jazz, and at night I’d cry holding onto the owner, a big African-American mama. I still remember one night; puke all over the floor, and spilt beer. “I was so stupid!” I howled! “I was such a fool!” She caressed my hair and repeated: “Hush… It could be much worse. My people have had it much, much worse… Be strong, young man!” I was 19… Or 20, I forgot. In Harlem, they clearly explained to me, what it is America.

Later I was married into a multi-millionaire’s family in Texas, and I saw what was going on ‘inside’. The oil, the hatred of ‘big government’. As a simultaneous interpreter (I was moonlighting doing that work, supporting my writing), I was present during some of the most horrible negotiations between the Western ‘private sector’ and what was then left of the Soviet Union, and then Russia. What the West did to my country, to the Soviet Union and then to Yeltsin’s Russia, was theft, just shameless looting. In those days, I was making over 1,000 dollars per day, ++. I quickly understood what capitalism was, and imperialism. I wanted to die. I almost killed myself. I ran. I ran away from all that. I ran to Peru, to write about then the most brutal civil war on Earth. I hit the road. I shed all my identity. I became an internationalist. And I never stopped being one.

And I never returned to Europe or to the United States in order to live there. I only come to show my films, to launch my books, or to give one or two insulting speeches, as I did two years ago at the Italian Parliament in Rome.

It took some time to understand. I did. After living and working in more than 160 countries, after listening to tens of thousands of real stories, after almost losing my life on at least ten occasions, I understood.

I understand perfectly well, and I despise profoundly, what Western propaganda has done to the world. And I fight it, with all my might, day and night, for those millions, for billions of boys and girls, who are now, like me so many years ago, getting thoroughly indoctrinated, lobotomized and brainwashed by brutal professionals in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles.

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I say and write what I want to say, what I want to write.

I also say and write what thousands of people whom I have met, in Asia, Oceania, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, want me to convey. They cannot do it themselves, they are too lost, too debilitated, too confused. They tell me the stories, not even hoping that anything can ever change or improve. They believe that their misfortune is permanent and fatal.

Then, I write my ‘propaganda’ pieces! I take sides. I speak of the horrors created by the Western neo-colonialist regime. Am I ‘subjective’? You bet! And I am telling you openly that I am.

I am an Internationalist, a Cuban-style internationalist. I am not hiding what I am. It is all honestly spelled out in my essays, in my profiles, in my books.

I ‘propagandize’ what I think, in what I believe. In fact, I’d much rather be called a ‘propagandist’ than a journalist, which is, lately, synonymous with ‘the oldest profession’.

People who are like me, are free, and they write, speak, make films, precisely as they want.

If we join the Russians, Chinese, Cubans, Venezuelans – we do it because that is what we want, because we think that what they are doing right now is generally right. It is not a job, it is a struggle, a battle, a true life!

Tough, not easy, but life, which I’d never trade for anything else.

But they, our adversaries in the West, those journos, are simply cowards, hypocrites or much, much worse!

They pretend that they are ‘objective’, while no ‘objectivity’ can really exist in this time and age, particularly not in the West. They are hiding their true shameful trade behind their impeccable Oxford accents. They are still getting great mileage from being white.

They simply lie, openly and shamelessly, solely by refusing to openly admit who is paying them, what is expected of them, and what would happen to their careers in case they’d dare to tell or write the truth.

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My propaganda is my own. Or it is designed (by myself) to help my comrades, and the countries and governments that I admire and support.

Am I fully objective? Please read this carefully: “NO! Definitely not. And I am not aiming at any false objectivity! I select the places where I go, I select the stories that I want to cover. That is how I ‘maneuver’ politically. But once there, once at the frontline, I tell the truth, and I produce images that simply cannot lie!”

My opponents from the Western mass media, from their governments, multi-nationals and advertising companies, are lying day and night. And they never admit what game they are playing.

That is why their propaganda is ‘bigger’ than mine.

I freely write what I think is correct, and my readers are reading my stuff freely (or sometimes even despite great obstacles).

My adversaries from the West, are using the lowest state and business apparatus, even fear, to penetrate people with their lies. They have psychologists, demagogues, business gurus at their disposals: to help with spreading their fabrications all over the world.

Technically, they are so good at what they are doing that even the poorest of the poor, even those who have already been robbed of everything, are readily buying into their ‘worldview’. Just go to Kenya or to Indonesia, go to the slums there, and you will see.

For many of the victims, the greatest honor is still to become as indoctrinated (and well-spoken) as those who have already robbed the world of almost everything.

This, my dear Comrades, is an outcome of perfectly successful and evil propaganda!

I’m terribly sorry, but I’m sticking to my own. My propaganda may be perhaps transparent, Imperfect and raw, but it is sincere.

And I’m not afraid, at night, to look at the mirror!

World is Burning while Western Left is Quarrelling

It really is a shame, and it is tiring, but it is actually nothing new: there is now total disarray amongst those countless ‘progressive’ and ‘semi-left’ Western intellectuals, publications, movements and political parties.

Cowardice, bloated egos, lack of discipline and intellectual pettiness are often to blame, but that is not all.

It is now absolutely clear that the Western left lost patently and shamelessly. It has almost no power, it has no courage to fight or to take risks, and it counts on no real political following in Europe, North America, Australia or New Zealand. ‘The masses’, those proverbial ‘oppressed masses’, have lately been electing and voting in various semi-fascist populists, unapologetic right-wing demagogues, and mainstream pro-business brutes.

Entire Marxist ‘theoretical certainties’ have been collapsing in front of our eyes. Or at least they have been in the West.

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To a great extent, what is now happening is absolutely natural. The European left betrayed as early as in the 1980’s, by becoming too soft, too undisciplined, too cautious and too self-centered. It put pragmatism above the ideals. It rapidly adopted the lexicon of the liberal ideological establishment, complete with Western perceptions of human rights, democratic principles and political correctness. It ceased to be revolutionary; it essentially stopped all revolutionary activities, and it abandoned the core element of any true left-wing identity – internationalism.

Without at least some basic internationalist principles, the left is now essentially reduced to some sort of local trade union level: “Let us fight for better labor conditions and health care at home, and to hell with all that neo-colonialist plunder of the world which is expected to pay for almost all of our benefits. As long as we eat well and have long vacations, why should we rebel, why should we fight?”

The Western left has also failed to honestly address global history and especially the role which both Europe and North America have been playing in it. Many so-called ‘progressive’ Western thinkers have essentially adopted the imperialist rhetoric and revanchist interpretation of various key historic events, hence becoming ‘anti-Communist’ themselves.

After that, almost everything was lost, went down the drain.

Revolutionary flags were burned, at least metaphorically. Good old slogans were ditched. Then, instead of marches and violent demonstrations and clashes with the authorities representing the regime, increasingly comfortable couches in front of the latest high-definition television sets got quickly filled with millions of flabby over-indulgent bodies.

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Now really ugly fights over the shrinking pie are raging. Theoretical Trotskyists and theoretical Maoists are at each other’s throats. There are, of course, Leninists, and others, many others.

Things went much further, still: these days, in the West, most ‘progressives’ go ‘by the issues’, refusing to commit to anything greater, full-heartedly. This position is increasingly in vogue, and it essentially shouts: ‘I have my own philosophy. I don’t need any ideology at all.’

No revolution has ever been won like this. But in the West, there is no desire for true revolution. Belonging to left is mainly just a pose, with a social media account and a selfie. It is not serious, and it is not intended to be.

There are, of course, Anarcho-syndicalists with their air of superiority and lofty theories that would be outrightly rejected and laughed at by the great majority of the truly oppressed people in places like Asia or Africa.

Lately, I don’t even know, anymore, who is who, in that small and petty world. I am not monitoring it, I hardly participate in theoretical discussions.

I write, using basically just two publications as my platform, from which my writing goes to the world, in various languages.

But that ‘small and petty world’ is obviously monitoring me. And what it sees, it does not like.

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After launching with one of the mightiest publications in the West (I don’t really want to name the publication, but my readers, most likely know which one I’m talking about) some 300 essays in the last 7 or 8 years, I was literally dumped by it at the very end of 2017. I will never find out the real reason, but most likely it was due to my ‘too left wing’ convictions, and too anti-Western, too open rhetoric. And, yes, there was actually some hint: The editors did not like it that I write for ‘Russian state-sponsored media’, which in turn has some links to allegedly radical left-wing sites in the U.S.

In the eyes of the anti-Communist, ‘we-go-by-the-issues’ Western media, any ‘state sponsored’ or ‘state controlled’ media is bad, extremely bad!

Even if it belongs to those countries that are heroically fighting against Western imperialism, trying to save our Planet. Or perhaps it is considered especially bad if it belongs to such countries. It obviously applies to the Chinese, Russian, Venezuelan, Cuban, or Iranian media outlets. In summary – it applies to all media worldwide that is fighting to prevent the Western monstrous imperialist endgame from taking place; to the media that is fighting with force and zeal, and with (lately) tremendous success.

Instead of obediently waiting for the Western right or Western left, to define the world, now the Chinese, Russians, Latin Americans and the Middle Easterners are suddenly daring to re-define events that are taking place on this Planet. They are interviewing Westerners themselves, while holding a mirror to those monsters that became both the European and North American societies.

And instead of letting only Westerners speak, there are suddenly African, Asian, Russian, Arab and Latin American people appearing in front of the cameras.

Instead of that ‘noble’ “look what we are doing to the world”, the true victims but also true revolutionaries are leading passionate debates.

Instead of some PhD professor in London debating whether China is truly Communist or not, it is now Chinese people speaking up, clarifying what their own country is and is not.

And the Western left does not like it. It is clear that it does not like such developments at all.

The Western left ‘does not like any state-sponsored media’. It does not like it when others are speaking. Well, it may be even deeper than that: it appears that it does not really like anyone who is really fighting and who is winning: it does not like the left that is actually holding power!

Because the Western left is much more part of the West than of the left.

Because deep down, it is comfortable, even obsessed with its exceptionalism.

Because despite those horrid centuries of colonialist and imperialist plunder of the world by Europe and North America, it does not truly believe that the crimes were committed because of Western culture and way of thinking.

Because, deep down, it really does not think that the non-Western nations and their media and thinkers are capable of defining and describing the world accurately, or even describing their own countries accurately. Non-Westerners simply cannot and should not be trusted. Only Western intellectuals have some sort of inherited right to make fully qualified decisions on such important topics as: whether China is Communist or not, whether Russia under President Putin is a progressive country or not, whether Iran is socialist or just a brutal religious state, whether Assad’s government is ‘legitimate’, whether the North Korean leadership is ‘insane’ or whether President Maduro of Venezuela ‘just went too far’.

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As the world is finally preparing to defend itself against the inevitable Western aggressions, as the people of Asia, Russia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East are discovering their own voices silenced for centuries by colonialist barbarity, as it is while the governments of these countries are making such discussion platforms possible, the Western left is howling at the moon, beating its chest in self-righteous narcissist gestures, and essentially insulting those who are fighting, standing tall, building much better world and yes – governing!

In several countries of South America, the left has recently been defeated precisely because it was too influenced ‘ideologically’ (or more precisely, ‘anti-ideologically’) by those weak, obsolete and overcautious Western pseudo-revolutionaries. Latin Americans should not, and hopefully will not, make similar mistakes in the future.

No revolutionary country can aim at perfection, yet. Revolution is not a bed of roses, said Fidel. Defending one’s country against brutal foreign invasions is not always a pretty business: it is thoroughly messy and bloody stuff.

The weak and soft-skinned Western left can demand from non-Western revolutionary governments both ‘purity’ and a ‘silk-gloved-approach’, simply because it has no idea (or it doesn’t care) what it is like to govern in countries consisting of millions of men, women and children who have been forced to live in absolute shit, after being robbed of everything by European and North American slave drivers. One simple mistake which those governments make, one sign of weakness, and their countries will go up in smoke, end up in ruins, in oblivion: like Iraq, like Afghanistan, like Yeltsin’s Russia, or like China during the “century of humiliation”.

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The ‘over-sensitivity’ of the Western left is actually only a façade, it is not real.

Just as an example, the editors of the above-mentioned magazine, which has so unceremoniously stopped publishing my work, never showed any interest in my well-being or safety. I think if I would have dropped dead in one of the war zones I have covered, they’d hardly notice. Articles and essays signed by me would simply stop coming. Everyone is, after all, replaceable. To offer any support would be below their dignity. But to ask, regularly, for the reader’s financial support, never has been.

The ‘State-sponsored’ media in the revolutionary countries does treat their people differently. At least some of it does.

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And quarreling goes on. I lost interest in the details. It is all time consuming and irrelevant.

In the meantime, I feel more and more comfortable writing for those new and proud media outlets, worldwide, edited far away from the West. I like it when my comrades are getting strong, when they are winning. I want them to govern and to govern well. And I want their countries to survive.

Things are that simple!

It is a great honor to show my films on TeleSur and Al-Mayadeen, to write for the New Eastern Outlook, China Daily, Countercurrents, and Russia Today. I enjoy appearing live, regularly, on PressTV.

I feel that each word that I write and utter through those media outlets is intended for my friends, for my comrades, for our struggle and for a much better world.

And let me repeat: I want my friends and comrades to win, to succeed, and yes, to govern!

The Western left can keep quarreling, chewing itself: ‘Who said what? Who is real left and who is not? Who is pure Marxist and who is simply some social democrat?”

Not all Western left media outlets are as described above. There are still some wonderful writers and editors in the West, too. But the overall situation in Europe and North America is deteriorating.

The governing and struggling revolutionary and internationalist left in the independent countries does not usually have time for lofty debates. We have Moscow, Beijing, Caracas, Havana, La Paz, Damascus and many other wonderful cities behind our backs – to defend. We will deal with the theory later, much later, after we win, after there is real peace, accompanied by justice, after all of us on this planet can proudly be what we really are – ourselves and defined by ourselves!

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• First published in New Eastern Outlook

U.S.: War Dog Wants to Bite, but What and How?

It could be truly comical, if it were not to be so dangerous for millions of people living all over the world. The Empire, once mighty, ruthless and frightening is now jumping around like a dog infected with rabies; it is salivating, barking loudly, its tale is stiff between its legs.

It snaps left and right, and periodically it is even trying to bite a piece of Moon off. But the Moon is far, too far, even for the best armed and the most aggressive country on Earth.

Iran is much closer, and so are North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Russia, China, Pakistan and other nations that have managed to land themselves on that proverbial shit list of the neo-colonialist World Order, manufactured by the West.

The General Manager of what the West likes to define as the “Free World”, is increasingly behaving like a hooligan and racist, insulting African countries which have survived both genocide and the slave trade, and which have been, for centuries, colonized, plundered and enslaved first by various European ‘enlightened’ states, and later by the coordinated efforts of the Western governments and multi-national corporations.

He is also offending and intimidating millions of Latin Americans; people of the Western Hemisphere who have been, for ages, falling under the infamous ‘Monroe Doctrine’ of U.S. foreign policy. The summary of that Doctrine has been basically this: do as we say and what is in the interests of the West, or we’ll overthrow your governments, murder your leaders or even directly invade your shores. Now ‘illegal immigrants’ from these countries are most likely going to have to leave the United States. Because they are poor (logically they are, after centuries of oppression and terror from the North), because they are not white, and because they are ‘uneducated’, or in summary, because they are not ‘Norwegians’ (the Manager would prefer Norwegian migrants).

Insulting people and nations is one thing, but bringing the world near a nuclear war is something quite different.

Increasingly it appears that the possibility of a new and horrid conflict (or conflicts) is nothing hypothetical. It is an absolutely realistic scenario, a great possibility, considering both the state of mind of the Manager, and even, progressively, the state of mind of the Western public, who seem to be totally out of touch with their position in the world and even with their own history.

In the meantime, a gruesome war dog is jumping all over, pointing in different directions, ready to bite, to devour, to bring to an end life itself on our Planet.

Who will be its first victim?

Is anyone ready to yield to a brutal force, to surrender out of fear, to accept the morbid, repulsive fate of conquered and broken nations like Afghanistan, Libya or Iraq?

Would any government be so insane as to allow the West to ‘liberate’ its people?

I don’t think so; not anymore. All the examples are just too horrid. It is better to fight a war, to fight for one’s freedom, than to become a colony, a broken, humiliated and usurped land. I saw what they have done to Afghanistan, to Iraq, to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I saw and I wanted to puke from what I witnessed, but instead wrote an 800-page accusation, from all over the world, called Exposing Lies Of The Empire.

The West has already run out of credit. There is no trust in it left. The entire world knows perfectly well what it is like to be colonized and controlled by both Europe and the United States.

The dog of war is searching for some weak point, where its fangs can begin tearing flesh apart. But suddenly, it seems that there is none. All points are hardened, tough.

Russia and China are standing firm and tall, their diplomats literally humiliating their counterparts from Western Empire by composed, powerfully sophisticated and refined behavior. But the militaries of both peaceful but mighty nations have recently been on constant alert: ready to defend their own people, and humanity.

Iran and North Korea are not yielding either. Syria is beginning to rebuild, despite the fact that the subversion, armed and supported from abroad, has not yet been fully defeated. Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia are still there, standing upright, definitely not on their knees.

Suddenly, no one is ready to surrender. This is the first time in history that the Empire has faced such scorn from the rest of the world.

The more solid is determination of various countries not to allow themselves to get colonized, the more insane is the St. Vitus Dance of the West becomes.

The unwillingness to lose great privileges as well as the ‘ruling position’ of the world (including the ‘right’ to tell the rest of the world what is ‘correct’ and what is not) is also clearly embedded in the positions of various European and North American pseudo-left-wing publications, movements and parties: they were always ready to shed tears over the fate of the poor and oppressed people anywhere in the world, or ‘fight against war/for peace’, but they have been greatly allergic to those non-white nations that have been bravely proclaiming their right to march on their own path, or practically: to choose their own political and economic systems, as well as their way of life.

Imperialism, chauvinism and the cultural superiority complexes of the West have many different forms and shades. Almost no individual there is immune to these ills, if one doesn’t count those very few pure men and women who could be defined as internationalists. There are some of them even in the U.S., in the U.K. or France, but not many; not many at all.

In the past, those countries that were on the hit list of the Empire could only count on themselves. Lately, this has changed dramatically: now they can also count on each other.

And that is why the Empire is going to lose! There is already a global coalition against its terror. It is still forming and defining itself, but it is already strong.

The Empire knows that it will lose; it knows it intuitively, but it is still in denial.

It may still ruin dozens of millions of human lives, before it is over. Most likely, it will. But the era of darkness, of those monstrous centuries of colonialism, will soon be ended.

*****

The citizens of the West should finally think about their own history. They should do some serious learning, educating themselves. Most of them are fully ignorant, including those holding various degrees. What have their countries done to Russia, to China, to Iran, to Korea, in fact to the entire Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and to what is now called Latin America?

The atrocious history of the West is flowing into present, and if the course is not dramatically changed, it will keep flowing into the future.

Accumulatively, we are talking about hundreds of millions of human lives destroyed by the West throughout its colonialist and imperialist reign. Some statisticians are already talking about 1 billion.

This cannot be taken back, but the trend can be stopped.

The West has absolutely zero moral mandate to tell any country of the world how to behave. The world, despite the systematic brainwashing, is beginning to realize it.

If the West continues to bully its former and present victims, things will only backfire.

Europe, North America and their allies (partners in crime) should simply sit on their backsides, weep and throw ashes on their heads, in shame and grieve over the horrors they put our planet through, for several centuries.

Instead the West is running around, barking, showing fangs, shitting itself out of fear that it may lose its control over the world and could finally be forced to play by the international rules.

It doesn’t even occur to it that it should, instead, get quickly admitted to a mental institution for particularly violent and sadistic patients.

Its Manager is not an anomaly. He was put there, ‘where he is’, by the people. Many of his dreams and desires are identical to those of the masses.

In the West, he is not the first Manager of this sort, and he is not the worst. He is part of that long tradition of tyrants. And this tradition has to stop, very soon, in order for our Planet to survive.

These are brutal, dangerous and testing times. The ill, aggressive monster should not be allowed to totally destroy the world. Those who are already standing, should never surrender. Others should join. The survival of our civilization is at stake!

• First published in New Eastern Outlook

Hotel Intercontinental Siege: Is Kabul Falling?

Afghanistan is now facing mortal danger. It has to survive, but it is not clear how it can manage.

Hotel Intercontinental in Kabul, which was attacked by gunmen last Saturday, used to fit like a glove, like a grandmother’s couch. Outside, the war has been raging. Millions of Afghan lives were aimlessly broken, hundreds of thousands lost. The price of more than 16 years of NATO occupation has exceeded $1 trillion, but instead of bringing peace and prosperity, it has reduced Afghanistan to rubble.

My room in hotel

All that is still functioning in the country are structures and infrastructure built before and during the Soviet era, like irrigation ducts, canals and bread factories. Other tangible assistance came recently from China and India, but almost nothing was provided by the NATO occupation countries, except countless fences, wires and military installations.

Soviet water pipe in the village, Nargarhar Province

Even before the siege at the Intercontinental Hotel, which left more than 20 people dead, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani confessed to 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan that he is unable to protect his own capital.

But it is not only the capital, of course. The entire country is spiraling into chaos. It is clear that it will soon be impossible to control it anymore, at least as one entity, from Kabul.

It can be heard more and more often on the streets of Kabul, Jalalabad and Herat that reducing this country to perpetual conflict and chaos may be the exact plan of the occupation forces.

Reception at Intercontinental

I used to joke about Hotel Intercontinental – ‘This place feels like a Soviet three-star hotel in some provincial Siberian town. Bent shower bars, stained but otherwise clean carpets, indifferent but somehow friendly staff – you could wave as much as you wanted, but the waitress in the hotel’s cafe would only move after you’d come to her personally, smiled broadly, and pointed your finger at some particular item from the limited assortment of sweets.’

Stunning view from hotel

Despite everything, Hotel Intercontinental Kabul was always there, standing. It was crumbling, but still somehow majestic, full of history and old-fashioned charm. Its lobby was decorated with traditional Afghan landscapes and portraits. The vistas from the hotel rooms and balconies were breathtaking: the old Bagh-e Bala Palace with its vast public park, then the entire capital city down below as though sitting in a crater, and the great mountain range rising towards the sky right behind that urban sprawl.

During breakfast hours, a few tables near the window in the hotel restaurant were almost always occupied by Russian-speaking pilots and crew members from an Afghan passenger airline, Kam Air. I don’t know whether these people were Russian or Ukrainian, but they spoke Russian among themselves, and also to me. They were tall and muscular, as pilots operating in a war zone are expected to be.

We always exchanged greetings, as well as one or two jokes. No deep discussions, just that – a few jokes and a few very warm smiles.

Some time ago, I had to fly to the ancient city of Herat, and was traveling early in the morning with Kam Air on the same flight as the crew. My driver was late and I approached the airline minivan, which was just about to depart for the airport.

“Would you please take me with you to the airport, boys?” I asked.

“Yes, of course, of course – just jump in!” they grinned.

We were all part of a big family. Foreigners staying at Intercontinental – not rich and not poor, not part of any ‘government initiative’ or wealthy NGO. This hotel was for ‘working people’ – journalists, filmmakers, pilots. Those who required ‘special protection’ were staying behind the enormous concrete walls of their embassies, or in the only truly luxury hotel in the country – Serena.

Two hours later, we were flying over tremendous Afghan mountains and tiny ancient villages made of mud, miles below the wing. I was taking photographs, while imagining that insane US “mother of all bombs” that was dropped just a few days earlier on an identical hamlet, killing who knows how many innocent people.

The two powerful engines of an old but reliable MD-82 were purring reassuringly at the rear of the plane. Then, at some point, I closed my eyes and fell asleep. The next thing I experienced was a gentle pat on my shoulder, followed by friendly whisper: “Kofeiku ne khotite? Rebyata tut tol’ko cto svezii svarili” (“Would you like some coffee? The guys here just brewed a fresh one…”)

I drank the aromatic brew, looking down at those stunning, enormous mountains covered by snow. Russian-speaking pilots were in the cockpit, steering the plane with great experience and confidence.

I thought: “If there is one crew in the world that is qualified to fly over this beautiful but complex and dangerous terrain, then it is this one.”

It was one of those moments when I felt totally happy and alive, drunk with passion for what I had been doing: working in Afghanistan, exposing crimes committed there by the Western countries, falling head over heels in love with this ancient and proud nation, flying over its peaks into one of the most interesting cities of Central Asia – Herat.

On January 20, 2018, in the intensive care unit of Tokyo’s St. Luke’s Hospital, I was fighting for my life, months after my year-old foot wound reopened in Afghanistan, and had since refused to heal.

Through the fog of fever and IV, I observed coverage from Kabul on a television screen that was hanging above my bed. ‘My’ Intercontinental Hotel had been attacked. In fact, it was overrun by what was allegedly one of the most vicious branches of the Taliban, known as the Haqqani Network. At least that is what was tweeted by Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the Afghan government’s chief executive.

At least 21 people lost their lives during the 14-hour standoff. Almost immediately, several pilots and crew members from Kam Air were murdered in cold blood. So were two Venezuelan pilots. None of these people were ‘supporters of the government,’ nor were they collaborators with the invading NATO force.

They were simply a group of romantics, a group of rugged, brave but also very kind and gentle men who adored flying and who, like myself, fell in love with Afghanistan. I know this because they told me, and because it was just so obvious!

In case anyone is wondering, ‘my hotel in Kabul’ has nothing to do with the luxury US chain of the same name. It used to be part of the ‘real’ Intercontinental, but only from 1969, when its doors first opened, until 1980 (shortly after the Soviet Union intervention in Afghanistan). Now, it is a state-owned property, described as ‘luxury’ only by outsiders who are covering Afghanistan from afar. You can get a room there for a mere $50 if you negotiate very hard, and for $60 if your bargaining skills are somewhat limited.

Classical musicians at hotel

The hotel had already been damaged on several occasions, particularly during the civil war of the 1990s, when it is said that at one point only 85 out its 200 rooms were inhabitable. As recently as 2011, 21 people died here during an attack for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.

Despite its macabre history, however, Intercontinental is still the favorite property of many locals and some foreigners in Kabul. This is where many conferences are held, and – during the fasting month of Ramadan – fast is broken here by members of local elites, close to the swimming pool overlooking the city. And there is music here almost every night: true Afghan traditional music, with local instruments and singers trained by renowned masters.

Guard posts around the hotel

Security is, of course, everywhere. To return to this property from the city, I always have to go through three full security posts with my car. After all, Afghanistan is now considered to be one of the most dangerous countries on Earth for foreigners.

In just one week, three deadly attacks shook Afghanistan: one in Kabul, another outside Herat, and a third inside the city of Jalalabad, in which ISIS targeted the NGO, Save the Children.

Last year, I traveled to many corners of this scarred, ancient land. I spoke to people, including those in the villages that were at least partially taken over by Taliban. People are increasingly realizing that they are living in perpetual conflict. Refugees (or internally displaced persons) from the east are talking about the carnage that comes with the arrival of ISIS.

Hard drugs and poppy seeds are everywhere in the center of Kabul, right under the nose of the US occupiers – poppy fields literally surround Bagram Airforce Base.

Soviets and Russians are now remembered with love and great nostalgia; something that I already described in my previous essays from the country.

Very soon, no foreigners will be left in Afghanistan. That may be the main goal of the latest attacks. No witnesses, no alternatives, no solutions.

Who will benefit? Definitely not the devastated Afghan people. Perhaps the warlords, the extremist mullahs, and the occupiers.

Kam Air crew, flying passenger jets all over the country, and the dilapidated Intercontinental were some of the last symbols of normality – a weak promise that one can still come and see what is really happening in this country.

From now on, there will be hardly any foreigners in the country. It will be only us – war correspondents, as well as foreign soldiers and mercenaries.

Internally displaced woman shares her pain

Afghanistan is now facing mortal danger. It has to survive, but it is not clear how it could manage. Those who love it should return, no matter what risk we’d be facing. A news blockade should be prevented. Alternative (non-Western) information has to flow. By all means, at any price.

• Photos by Andre Vltchek

• Article first published as an Op-Ed by RT

Palestine,Israel, the US: How the South Pacific Countries are Selling their Votes

Here it goes again! Several countries of Oceania (also known as South Pacific Nations), or however you want to call that vast, beautiful but thoroughly devastated part of the world, have voted “for Israel”, “for the United States’ proposed resolution at the United Nations”, and therefore, “against Palestine”.

As reported on December 22, 2017 by Al Jazeera:

The United Nations General Assembly has voted by a huge majority to declare a unilateral US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “null and void”.

At an emergency session of the General Assembly on Thursday, 128 countries voted in favour of a resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision on December 6.

Nine countries voted against, while 35 abstained.

Trump had earlier threatened to cut aid to UN members who would vote against his decision.

Did scarcely inhabited island-nations that are lost in the middle of a tremendous body of water, go crazy?

Before Crossing in Kiribati

After all those horrific nuclear experiments committed there, against their people, by the United States, France and the UK; could local people sincerely believe that the truth as seen from Washington is the only legitimate truth on Earth?

After the naked modern-day colonialism, which is being implemented by Australia, New Zealand, and France, and, of course, by the United States, have the people of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia become blind?

After total dependency, after decades of humiliation and virtual slavery, do the inhabitants of Oceania believe that their fellow victims in Palestine do not have the right to live in their own state, without barbed wire; that they shouldn’t have their own historical capital?

The answer to all these question is, actually: “No”.

They do what they are doing simply and only because they have no choice.

*****

When working on my book, Oceania, travelling all over the South Pacific, I visited a Jesuit priest and the region’s prominent intellectual, Francis X. Hezel. Our encounter took place in the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) – Pohnpei.

Father Hezel has been amassing important materials and documents in his private archive, proving beyond any doubts that the US occupation of Micronesia after WWII led to a dramatic decrease of life expectancy and the standard of living of the islanders. He explained:

Life here became shorter, and much worse than under the Japanese imperial rule. And this was not some ‘Communist propaganda’. It is written right here, in the report produced during that period by the US Department of State.

But back to ‘voting’, or what is often called “vote selling”. Father Hezel offered a very explicit story to illustrate the reality:

One day I had an entire television crew from Israel parked at my office. I had no idea what they were doing here. Why would they travel so far, to such a small and insignificant country? Finally I understood: the Israeli public was fascinated with this place; they wanted to know who are those people who keep voting in the U.N. against most of Security Council resolutions, in this way supporting Israel and the United States against the entire world…

In my book Oceania, I later wrote:

Pacific Island votes at the UN are openly for sale, especially when peace in the Middle East is at stake. To illustrate the absurdity of the game: at a time when several countries in the region are becoming uninhabitable as a result of global warming, both Nauru and Kiribati, itself one of the sinking nations and therefore a victim, voted against the Kyoto Protocol.

But it is not only profit that propels tiny nations in Oceania to sell their votes; it is also the fear of retribution.

“In the late 90’s our government voted at the UN against the US on the issue of landmines, recalled the then Foreign Minister of Marshall Islands (RMI), Tony deBrum. “As a result, our party lost the elections.”

In December 2017, out of the nine countries that voted against the UN resolution, one was the United States itself, while the other eight were: Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, FSM, Nauru, Palau, and Togo. Two were de facto US semi-colonies in Latin America, ruled by brutal pro-Washington cliques, one a tiny and dependent African nation, while four were the Micronesian and Polynesian nations and, of course, Israel.

*****

The Pacific Island nations are selling their votes, for profit or out of fear.

US Star Wars base on Kwajalein, Marshall Islands

The West is also using them in an attempt to isolate China.

Presently, six countries of Oceania have fully established diplomatic relations with Taiwan, after being, as was described to me by the former Foreign Minister of RMI, Tony deBrum, “encouraged” by the West.

Stumps of palm trees – Kiribati

These countries are: Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

At least three of them – Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and Kiribati – are at the frontline of the climate change disaster: they are becoming uninhabitable due to the global warming and consequent rising of sea level.

China is the only country that has been willing to, altruistically, help the countries of Oceania: by building anti-tsunami walls, by planting mangroves, by elevating schools, hospitals and government buildings, or by building sports facilities in places where around 90% of adults is suffering from diabetes, often due to dumping there some of the most unhealthy food from the US, Australia and elsewhere.

The more successful China got in helping South Pacific nations, the more ‘encouragement’ Taiwan received from the West; an ‘encouragement’ to come, to corrupt local ‘elites’, and to push China away. Any country that recognizes Taiwan as an independent nation gets diplomatic relations with China (PRC) broken immediately. Everyone knows it. And there is not one Western country that would take such an insane step.

After China leaves, the countries of Oceania can only rely on the pathetic, cynical and hypocritical “foreign aid” offered by the West, while their corrupt leaders negotiate with New Zealand and Australia the final ‘evacuation project’. Entire countries like Tuvalu may soon be forced to move abroad.

*****

The selling of votes by South Pacific Island nations appears to be shameful, but, in fact, it is nothing else than an act of total desperation.

The Empire has reached great mastery in implementing the “divide and rule” strategy.

The victims, often defenseless and robbed of everything, are forced to vote against those who are suffering similar fate at the opposite side of the world.

Palestinians are involuntarily living in a cage.

People of Oceania, who used to be the greatest seamen, are surrounded by the vastest expanse of water on Earth, but in the same time they are confined to tiny specks of land, often scarred by Western military bases. Trash and decay are everywhere. Hopelessness rules.

Palestinian kids in Gaza

Oceania knows almost nothing about ‘modern Palestine’. Palestinians know almost nothing about Oceania.

Empire looks dumb but it is not. It is ‘only’ evil. It knows everything about both parts of the world. And it is torturing them relentlessly and with perverse sadistic delight.

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

• Originally published in New Eastern Outlook

In Almost all Western Colonies no Alternative Views Allowed

Her name is Cinta, which in Bahasa Indonesia means simply Love.

Cinta in pink shirt

She lives in a tiny village near Sukadana town, in Indonesian West Kalimantan, otherwise known as Borneo – the biggest island in Asia, the second biggest in the world – now totally destroyed by unbridled logging, palm oil plantations and mining, perpetrated by countless, and due to corruption and savage capitalism, unregulated local and multi-national companies.

Nearby Sukadana there is a national park, Gunung Palung. It is vast and by Indonesian standards, well guarded, although even here, at its edges, several desperate local people are beginning to burn the ancient forest, while engaging in various other nature-destroying commercial activities.

I talked to them and soon I understood: they actually have no choice. Nothing is given to them by the state, and they have to live. They have to survive, somehow.

Cinta’s mother

I talked to Cinta’s mother. She has no money, and no mobile phone. She has been to the nearby city only once in her entire life, and it was when a relative of hers got seriously ill. After talking for several minutes, mother begins to cry; desperate, humiliated and helpless.

I asked her whether the family realizes that the political and economic system in her country is thoroughly rotten. She nodded.

I asked whether she knows that in many other countries things are very different. She has no idea. She stared at me, blankly. This remote village was her entire universe. She never heard anything about socialism or communism or even about stuff like social democracy. After the great massacres of the leftists and intellectuals after the Western-orchestrated 1965 coup, even the word ‘Communism’ became illegal, as a prominent Indonesian historian Asvi Marvan Adam told me. Banned also were words like ‘class’, just in case anyone would like to ignite ‘class struggle’.

Cinta’s family thinks, and they say that they know, that Western multi-party ‘democracy’ is a total farce. With dozens of competing political parties (all owned by Indonesian businessmen and right-wingers), local poor people (the great majority of Indonesia’s inhabitants) have absolutely no power, no say in the way their country is being governed.

It is not only in Indonesia, of course, although Indonesia is an extreme, almost grotesque case. I was told several years earlier by a Cambodian peasant near the border with Vietnam:

Vietnamese have only one political party – Communist – but their people participate in governing their nation much more than we, Cambodians do, despite the fact that we have several political parties. When we get sick, we have to cross the border to Vietnam and we get help. When we get hungry, we do the same. You see; you cannot eat political parties, no matter how many of them there are…

The peasant at the Cambodia-Vietnam border knows intimately two totally distinct political systems, because he lived just 500 meters from the borderline. But even in the capital, Phnom Penh, where anti-Communism is something resembling a new religion and has been already converted into the best ‘prerequisite’ for getting a well-paid job at an international NGO or at a foreign embassy, the situation is thoroughly different. There, conveniently, nobody knows anything. The only way is the Western way, with its clichés and pre-fabricated simplistic slogans.

*****

The West is manufacturing simplistic, uniformed and one-sided ‘pseudo reality’ for all of its colonies and client states. It is one-type-fits-all sort of ‘pseudo reality’, intended to sustain collaborators and their regimes and to make the voices of people who are tormented, completely irrelevant. In fact, those who are robbed of everything are not supposed to even realize that they are being bled.

Actually, the majority of people who live in the neo-colonies are fully aware of the fact that they are suffering, but do not understand why. They tend to blame themselves, or each other: for being too lazy, too irresponsible, for producing too many children, or simply for not knowing how to compete or to get ahead.

Moreover in some countries where the propaganda is too extreme (like in Indonesia), many do not even realize, anymore, into what deep shit they have been thrown.

A few years ago, when I was filming the documentary film “Surabaya – Eaten Alive By Capitalism” (for the Latin American network TeleSur), I literally stumbled over a woman who was living in a slum, washing her dishes just a few steps away downstream from a place where a child was naked and defecating into the same polluted waterway. She had no electricity, no clean water, and her ‘house’ was made from rusty metal sheets. I asked her how she felt about being so poor, while just a few steps away rich people were burning money as if there was no tomorrow in a luxury mall. She looked at me for a few moments, then grabbed a broom and chased me down the gangway, screaming like possessed:

How dare you insult me like that? You called me poor? I’m not poor!

A few months later, in the enormous Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, a gangster with the nickname Fire, literally cried in front of my camera:

I’m 32 year old, but I feel so old… I had several friends but they are all dead; I’m the only one who is still alive.

My friend gangster “Fire” Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya

Fire worked with me on a film, as my guide and a bodyguard. I liked him a lot. I trusted him. He was a good man who had made many mistakes in life, but then tried to correct them and find his way out of the terrible trap and vicious cycle of poverty and violence. He was aware of his condition and of the condition of his fellow slum-dwellers. However, living in Kenya, a country which became a neo-colony of the West, as well as some sort of a ‘service station’ for the US, UK, Israeli and other militaries and intelligence agencies, he was never told that there are different political, economic and social systems than the one in which he grew up – a savage capitalism and total subservience to the Empire.

He wanted to ‘make it’, to ‘help his slum’, to change his life and the lives of his neighbors. But he was not aware of the fact that some great and fundamental change could come from a revolution, from a radical change. All his life he was told that the only way forward was some sort of personal ‘improvement’, because the system in which he had been living was essentially right and just.

In that system, of course, the great majority of people are living in misery – they are terribly abused, exploited and unprotected. The violence, terribly low life expectancy and hopelessness are just logical by-products of a brutal neo-colonialist and turbo-capitalist system; they are not the results of shortcomings of a specific group of people or of some individuals.

Fire was very intelligent. I told him then, personally, what I’m writing here now. He understood. He understood well. But when we were parting, he said:

I agree with you, but people here were never told any of these things. Almost nobody comprehends what is going on in our slums. We are only taught how to blame each other. Nobody here would ever blame the UK or the US. We were all told that our misery is fully our own fault.

*****

In Northern Kenya, not that far from the border with war-torn Somalia, I once visited a neat wildlife preservation facility. There were cute orphaned rhinos being taken care of by well-trained staff, as well as other protected but endangered species. The facility was owned and administered by a British family, and there was a very high fee charged at the gate.

After the visit, when I drove out, right outside the gate, which was manned by two robust dudes armed with submachine guns, I spotted two humble crosses. As I drove further down the dirt road, there were more and more crosses on both sides of my car. I stopped at a local deprived grocery store and asked about what I saw. A wrinkled woman explained to me in her broken English:

There is a draught here… a famine… People die while they try to get away; they drop dead… Villagers have no strength to carry them back; they just bury them on the spot.

In Kenya elephants are protected — if only people would be

Protecting animals is often very good business, an excellent commodity. Animals are cute, and they look (and often really are) defenseless. People who are starving are rough, unrefined, and scary-looking. Those who are dying from hunger or disease are far from enchanting. Saving their lives is often not such a good business.

I asked a food seller: “They feed, wash and shrink animals, but not people?”

She had no idea what ‘shrink’ meant, but about the other things she was sure:

We are worth nothing. We are poor.

I asked her whether she was angry, whether she found this system insane, beastly, in short: absolutely repulsive?

Her big hands were rough, carved with deep wrinkles. The wrinkles looked like those dry rivers around Nairobi. Then I saw her eyes and I realized: she was most likely younger than me, perhaps in her early 30’s. She looked 60 or older. She looked like she will most likely not live much longer.

She looked back at me:

Angry? Why? It is all in His hands.

She looked up.

I looked down. ‘That’, I thought ‘is definitely not going help you’. Then I bought five cans of condensed milk that I didn’t need, and some crackers.

I drove away; angry like hell, going 100km/h on narrow dirt tracks, a cloud of dust behind me, rising towards the sky.

Later, my Ugandan friend, a leading left-wing politician Arthur Tewungwa, wrote to me:

The animals roam on land that has fuck all to do with Kenyans, per se. Madness! Lord Aberdare owns 300,000 acres, Cholmondely the same etc. Elephants, rhinos, hippos are pests to poor villagers and they can’t anyway afford to go and see them as they are shuffled across the border by “beaters” depending on which side tourists are. Comedy!

But it is a comedy, which ruins tens of thousands of human lives, while nobody dares to protest.

*****

It is often simply unbelievable, how people who have been robbed of everything, are fooled into believing that in this wide world there are absolutely no alternatives and no better arrangements for society. Or they were taught not to think at all along these lines.

Samoan man – he served in the navy and keeps blaming himself for something

Religions help to keep poor and plundered people in submission, of course, and the West has historically both been implanting and then supporting the most radical forms of religion, in virtually all of its colonies. Not just one sort of religion, but all of them, the more extreme and fundamentalist, the better.

For three full years I lived in the South Pacific, where I wrote a book, I believe the only one of its kind, describing the terrible plight of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia – a part of the world which is being literally liquidated by the various cruel geopolitical and military interests of the US, Australia, New Zealand, UK, France and Taiwan. The book is called Oceania.

There, some island nations including Tuvalu, Kiribati and Marshall Islands, are literally disappearing from the face of the Earth, or more precisely becoming uninhabitable because of climate change and the rising of ocean levels.

People are forced to evacuate their countries. But are they blaming imperialism, unbridled capitalism, and Western selfishness? Far from it! All the newspapers and media outlets are to some extent controlled by the foreigners, through ‘foreign aid’ or through the ‘educating and training’ of local journalists abroad. The education system is dependent on foreign funding as well. Consequently, capitalism is never questioned. Western imperialism is hardly ever mentioned.

The streets of Apia, the capital of Samoa, or of any other capital in Oceania, are no strangers to tall, blond young men wearing white shirts and black name tags that read Jesus Christ. They are ‘ambassadors’; they belong to all sorts of extremist religious movements and fundamentalist Christian sects based in the United States, from Jehovah Witnesses to Mormons.

Churches in Oceania are brutally exploiting most of the poor and helpless citizens. They are literally blackmailing parishioners into paying unreasonably high dues. There is constant fear of sexual abuse and rape on their premises, but there is also the tremendous pressure of local ‘cultures’ to force all islanders into religious straight jackets. There is also absolutely no criticism of these practices from the West. Why? The answer is simple: extremist religious practices keep people in total ignorance and full obedience towards religion itself, towards the feudal family structures, but also towards the economic and political regimes. And all the political regimes of Oceania are corrupted and upheld by the Western powers and lately by Taiwan.

And so, the West (US, UK and France) have been blowing up their nukes in this part of the world, essentially experimenting on people, but there is hardly any ideological challenge that Europe, US and Australia have to face here, perhaps with the certain exception of France in its colonies.

The US shoots long-range missiles from California to the center of the largest atoll in the world – Kwajalein on the Marshall Islands – but no one is taught that it is all an absolute insanity. ‘Kwaj’ proper is off limits to almost all people (it is fully controlled by the US military) who are only allowed to work on the base as manual workers, commuting by filthy ferry from the horrid and overpopulated nearby island of Ebeye. Around 90% of the people on Ebeye are suffering from diabetes, because they are literally forced to eat shit, as the country, like most of Oceania, has become (already some decades ago) a dumping ground for the most unhealthy food produced in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Ebeye – Pollution from nearby US military base at Kwajaein, Marshall Islands

Both the former Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, Tony deBrum, as well as the Paramount Chief Mike Kabua, once told me how outraged they were, but do common people realize what has been and is being done to them?

First the monstrous nuclear experiments and destruction of Bikini Atoll, and now, these bizarre star wars in the middle of the once pristine atolls. And on top of it, the nation is facing global warming and almost inevitable demise. The Compact of Free Association with the United States” (in reality, an agreement which allows the US to colonize, ‘legally’, a great part of Micronesia) is never challenged and very rarely even questioned.

As elsewhere in the colonized world – the rich are profiting, while the poor (great majority) are plundered and destitute. While being looted, the have-nots are smiling or even dancing. They never heard from their TV sets or at school (if they ever went to one) that they are actually the victims. Living in misery is their karma or fate, or punishment for something they committed, by something supernatural. It is a truly great arrangement for the religious leaders, and especially for the Empire. For Washington, London and Paris it is simply: mission accomplished!

*****

For hundreds of millions of girls like Cinta, it means: their lives will never change. It will be the same as the lives of their parents and grandparents, and it will consist of near slavery, of no security, of bad but unbreakable marriages, endless religious rituals and absolute ignorance about the fact that there are many alternatives and countless other ways how lives could be lived.

Not only that the Empire is spreading nihilism to all of its colonies; it is also censoring all people-oriented and revolutionary alternatives.

It is incredible how successful it is! It really is, so far. Only so far… It cannot continue like this, forever.

One day in the not so distant future, girls like Cinta may finally wake up; they will break their shackles and with newly discovered pride and hope, depart to the mountains to fight for their nation. Ciao Bella Ciao style!

How does one give them the impulse? How does one make them see, to realize their condition?

At night, in the city of Ketapang, I could not sleep. I was tossing and turning, thinking about the girl named Cinta. I had to go back before leaving Borneo. I had to talk to her and to her parents: to tell them it was all totally wrong, and that there is another life possible.

I went to a local shopping center. I bought her a green bear and few small gifts in a Japanese store. In the morning, instead of continuing my work in an area that had been destroyed by mining and palm oil plantations, I instructed my driver to go back to Cinta’s village.

But she was gone. Her entire family was gone. A neighbor informed me:

They went to far away fields, to work on a durian plantation. They will not return for several weeks.

I left the green bear in the village. I cursed imperialism and modern day slavery, and then I left.

Once again, the Empire had won. But we are not helpless either. Now my readers, on all continents, will learn about that little girl named Cinta. The stories of enslaved people are the same, all over the world. There are Cintas in Honduras, in Uganda, in Yemen, in Marshall Islands.

Imperialists should know: we are documenting, we are watching, day and night. We are connecting the stories of their victims, on all continents. We are connecting real people. And El Pueblo Unido, jamas sera vencido! ‘United, people will never be defeated!’

Alternative views can be censored, at least for some time. But the ability to dream, the capacity to hope, is eternal. And it is stuff consisting of dreams and hopes that is the most frightening enemy of the tyrants.

*****

• First published in New Eastern Outlook

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

New Year’s Message and Warning from a War Correspondent

Sometimes it is useful to take a break from news bulletins and newspapers, and even from ‘friendly’ Internet publications.

Occasionally it is good to realize that there are actually two parallel realities that are constantly competing for the ‘hearts and minds’ of people living all over the world. There is real life and ‘fake life’. There is reality and elaborately manufactured pseudo-reality, which is designed to appear more real than the reality itself. It is like that chemically produced green apple shampoo that smells more authentic than the fruit itself.

Periodically I disappear into some jungle or a war zone, in Afghanistan, Southern Philippines or in the middle of plundered Borneo Island. When I return to what some people would readily describe as the ‘normal world’, and a news bulletin unexpectedly confronts me at some airport lounge, everything suddenly appears to be bizarre, grotesque, totally surreal, at least for the few initial but excruciating moments.

It is because most of the mainstream news communiqués and analyses are produced in the plush comfort of an armchair, or at a mahogany writing table, thousands of miles from shrapnel, sweat, torn flesh, blood, burning forests, polluted waterways, and the other horrors which are, in fact, nothing other than the true reality for billions of human beings inhabiting our planet.

Remembering how things really feel, taste and smell I get desperate. I don’t recognize places described by the mass media. We are talking about two different universes; yes, about two absolutely opposite realities.

*****

If mainstream reporters go to the field, they are well equipped with bulletproof vests, helmets, with 4×4 vehicles (some of them also bulletproof), with excellent life and health insurances that include airlifts and other evacuation clauses, as well as with hefty salaries and other compensation schemes. On their chests and their backs, it says loudly and explicitly “PRESS”.

So what am I bitching about? Is it wrong to compensate people who are risking their lives, or to try to protect them?

No, it is not; of course, it is not wrong.

Author at Goma War Zone, DRC (2009)

Except, there is that one tiny ‘but’… You can never, ever get ‘too close’ to anything real, this way. You cannot turn yourself into a buffoon or a walking media Rambo, and expect to uncover something hidden, something important, and something thoroughly groundbreaking.

If you over-protect your life, over-insure your each and every step, you’d build a thick wall between yourself and the real life.

If you go into the field looking like this, you will be spotted and questioned, and you will need all sorts of permits and stamps. It is almost like declaring: “I’ll play by your rules, I’ll not rock the boat, and I’ll let you monitor each step that I take”. Imagine arriving while being decked out like that and attempting to cover genocide in Papua! Good luck, really. About official permits, if you are from a ‘friendly’ mainstream agency, you can get them almost immediately. Yes, of course, organizations such as the BBC or CNN could easily supply you with all the necessary credentials. You could even count on an official government armed ‘escort’, or you could count on an escort supplied by friendly (to the West) ‘rebel groups’. Not to speak of all those ‘all you can eat’ press briefings.

However, the chances that real people would talk to you would be slim. But would you care about hearing from real people if you work for an official mainstream newspaper or a television channel? I doubt it. Real people could, God forbid, say real things, instead of what you are ordered to ‘discover’ in such places as Bosnia, Rwanda, Syria or Afghanistan. In the end, you’ll hear what you came to hear and report, and your writing and clips would be mainly in accordance with the established stereotypes.

Then what, how? Who could do it; who could describe reality, and actually stay alive?

In a brilliant film directed by Oliver Stone, Salvador (1986), one of the main characters declared:

You got to get close to the truth. You get too close, you die.’

He died, but what he said – that is precisely it! There is this invisible, imaginary line, in the air or on the ground, somewhere. You never see it, but if you have worked in many war zones before, you sense it, and it is what actually saves your life. It saves it often, most of the times, but, of course, not always. Those who usually die are men and women who make crucial mistakes during their first attempts, before developing their instincts. What I’m talking about cannot be taught; it is not logical – it’s just ‘there’.

To get as close to the truth as possible, one has to work fast, decisively and with certain precision, avoiding obvious blunders.

People around you have to trust you, and you yourself have to know whom to trust and from whom to hide.

You are on your own, or at least most of the time you are.

All this guarantees nothing, but these are some of the basic preconditions, if you want to understand a conflict, a war.

Working in devastated places is very emotional, very deep, and sometimes you get overwhelmed, and sometimes your glasses get blurry. You make mistakes; hopefully not too many. Occasionally you go after a particular story, or you know generally what you want to find and a story bumps into you, or you stumble over it, or it just hits you frontally, brutally and at full strength.

If it is good, it is never just ‘reporting’. It is much more than journalism, or it is simply shit. There must be some poetry in what you are doing, there has to be also philosophy and humanism, as well as plenty of context and ideology and passion.

There can be no ‘objectivity’ in this work: objectivity is just an illusion, a fairytale dispersed by mainstream media. But you should never lie: you witness and say what you have to say, the way you believe it should be said, and while you do it, it is your obligation to inform your readers and viewers where precisely you stand.

As a human being, as an artist and thinker, you should always take sides. But your position – on which side of the ‘barricade’ you stand – has to be clear and honest. Otherwise you are a liar.

*****

The bitter but essential truth is: Even if you put your life on the line, even if you get badly injured or psychologically exhausted, do not expect much gratitude or support.

After US bombing near Mosul, Iraq

Many local victims – people whom you came to defend – will suppose and even tell you straight to your face that ‘you came to get rich using their suffering and misery’.

Your readers in wealthy countries will imagine that you are being generously funded. They were conditioned to believe that there are no altruistic individuals, governments and countries left on this earth.

The reality is quite different: if you work independently, if you refuse to repeat lies and take orders, to merge with the mainstream, if you go against the interest of the West and its allies and ‘clients’, the chances are that you will get zero financial support, no protection whatsoever and absolutely no perks.

You may get millions of readers, of course. And you can recycle your reports in your books and films, as I did in my more than 800-page long Exposing Lies Of The Empire and Fighting Against Western Imperialism. If your writing is good, your books will sell, somehow, even if they attack the establishment frontally. But don’t count on any support from ‘friendly governments’ or wealthy but ‘left leaning individuals’. There is no Engels around, these days. You are really on your own. Trust me, you are.

You and your determined work may save several villages, or if you are very good, you could make a difference on a global scale. Your writing or your films may help to stop a war. But never expect any official recognition, any practical backing or even mercy from your readers. In 2015, after making several films and writing books about several particularly horrid war zones, mostly in Africa, I totally collapsed. For several weeks, I was not able to move. I thought it was the end. There was no help at all coming from those millions of my readers living in all parts of the world. At that time I made my condition public. Still nothing. Few letters of ‘moral support’ arrived. Few: “Be strong, the world needs you!” In the end, it was my close family circle that literally pampered and rescued me and put me back to my feet and into fighting order.

This is not a reproach, just a warning to those who are getting ready to fight for the survival of humanity: “You will be totally on your own. You will most definitely collapse on several occasions.”

At a war zone

Still, I know no other way how to live meaningfully. I would never trade my life with the life of anyone else.

*****

There is another very important and revealing piece of information, which I’d like to share with you, my readers.

In 2017 I worked in several extremely dangerous parts of the world, including Afghanistan, the Pakistani-Afghan border during the exchange of fire between the two countries, on the Turkish-Syrian border in Euphrates area during the Turkish invasion, in the war-torn southern Philippines, in Lebanon and in the fully devastated (by logging and mining) Indonesian part of the Island of Borneo.

I drove all around Afghanistan, with no protection, no security and no one covering my back. My friend who doubled as my driver and interpreter was the only man I could count on. Sometimes I held the wheel myself. We even made it into the Taliban controlled territories and drug-infested slums of Kabul. All in a 20 year old, beat up Toyota Corona.

Afghanistan Soviet Tanks Cemetery

In all these places, I did not see one single Western mainstream reporter. Not one!

Where were they, all those media superstars?  I don’t know, but most likely they were holed up somewhere at the NATO headquarters, or at least in the only remaining plush hotel in Afghanistan – Serena. The same can be said about the southern Philippines, although there, to be ‘objective’, one Aussie colleague actually got hit by a sniper’s bullet, just a couple of days before I arrived.

Do never trust those who write about the suffering of others exclusively from the safety of their living room couches. It is fine to write from there, of course, but only after you have actually seen the people you are talking about; after you have seen them at least once, for a substantial amount of time, after you have listened to their stories, to their desperate cries, and after you have got very dirty and very scared yourself, and truly desperate.  In short: after you have got right there, near that invisible line which separates life from death, and after you have tasted the water of the proverbial river Lethe.

*****

But back to where I began.

Imagine: I leave the places where people are fighting for survival, or where they are fighting for true freedom, or against imperialism. I hardly have time to take a deep breath, to recover from food and air poisoning, to change into some presentable clothes, and it all hits me directly in my face: I see some news bulletin, I read articles published by mainstream media, and while doing it, I absolutely don’t recognize the world, which I have witnessed in all its rainbow of colors, with all its glory and its misery.

I feel ‘out of place’.

I know, some call it ‘Vietnam Syndrome’. There are many other definitions for these feelings, or for this outrage, or desperation, or whatever you want to call it.

You suddenly feel it, you know it: somewhere far away where you had been living and working just several hours ago, there is still what could be defined as the ‘real world’, inhabited by real people. And then, right now, there is this other world, which over imposes, almost fully covers (and even dwarfs) that real one, by using its mainstream clichés and false mass-produced certainties.

*****

This year – this ‘departing year’ 2017 – has definitely not been a good year for our planet.

A group of nations, which has been controlling the world for already several centuries brutally and shamelessly, is pushing us, our entire human race, closer and closer towards complete disaster, towards a showdown, towards a confrontation that may abruptly terminate millions of innocent human lives.

I’m concerned. I’m very concerned. I have already witnessed indescribable calamities in so many places. I know, I can perfectly well imagine, where all this could lead.

Colonialism is always wrong. Imperialism is always wrong. Cultural, religious or economic supremacy theories are wrong, with absolutely no exceptions.

If a group of nations from one relatively small continent has been continuously usurping the entire world, shaping it to its advantage and enslaving people of other colors, beliefs and values, it is all unmistakably wrong.

But the world is like that – brutal, unjust, and controlled by one aggressive, greedy, sly and arrogant minority. The world is still like that. Once again, it is increasingly like that.

And I cannot stand such an ‘arrangement’.

I don’t want it to be like that. I’m tired of covering grief, pain, horror and violence. I’m exhausted of filming or photographing perpetual destruction and downfalls.

That’s why I’m writing this, at the very end of the year 2017. Perhaps it is just one more futile attempt to stop something inhuman and unnecessary from happening.

Perhaps it is almost impossible to cut through the pseudo-reality manufactured by the mainstream media, academia and ‘culture’. Or maybe it’s not impossible. I actually believe that ‘it is never too late’, as I believe that nothing in life is truly ‘impossible’.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!

Let me inform you that the world is totally different, actually much more beautiful and diverse than you have been told. Even most of those places that are now in flames are beautiful. And if left in peace, they’d thrive.

The world is worth fighting for. It is worth defending.

Gaza Intifada 3

Don’t ever trust the “news” and “information” which is being disseminated by those who are continuously trying to loot and enslave the world. Trust only what you see and hear, and what you feel. Trust people who are in love with this world, if you manage to identify them. Trust your own senses, your inner logic, and your emotions.

Do not vote for bombing or putting sanctions on any foreign country, anywhere on Earth, before you see it with your own eyes, before you are really convinced, before you talk to its people, and before you truly understand what they are saying. Do not make decisions or conclusions after staring at the television set only. Remember: pseudo-reality kills! And it wants you to participate in this murder.

Go!

Discover!

See for yourself. I hope to encounter you, at least some of you, in Syria, in North Korea, in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Russia, China, South Africa, Cuba, and Eritrea – also in hundreds of other great places, which have been brutalized and smeared by those who are dreaming about making this entire world thoroughly banal, consisting only of a few super-wealthy nations served and fed by all those “others” that have been reduced to slavery.

After seeing the world with your own eyes, after understanding it, I’m almost certain that you will agree with me: right now there are two parallel realities on this planet. One consists of true human lives and human stories, the other one only of trivial but manipulative interpretations of the world. One (true) reality is longing for progress, kindness, optimism and harmony; the other (fake one) is constantly spreading uncertainty, nihilism, destruction and hopelessness.

It is not only what they call “fake news”, it is an entire ‘fake reality’ that has been manufactured by the establishment and upheld by men and women with helmets, bulletproof vests, 4WD’s and prominent PRESS insignia.

Once again, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!

Happy Discovery Of The World!

Happy Struggle For Survival Of Our Precious Planet!”

Year 2018 will be crucial. Let us all join forces in order for Humanism and that beautiful lady called ‘The True Reality’ survive, to prevail, and to triumph.

• Photos by Andre Vltchek

Panic of Boris Johnson in Moscow: Agony of a Rotting Empire

It has been all very ugly, aggressive and often distinctly vulgar: the way the British Foreign Secretary has behaved before and during his official visit to Moscow.

Mr. Johnson described Russia as “closed, nasty, militaristic and anti-democratic” concluding that it could not be “business as usual”.

He did not define what the UK has become, and the Russian hosts were too polite to explain.

The “business as usual” it was not.

During the last few weeks, the behavior patterns of both the UK and US have began increasingly to resemble those of the badly brought up leadership of the provincial Italian mafia: “You do as we tell you, or we’ll poke out your eyes… or break your leg… or perhaps we’ll kidnap your daughter”.

It appears that there is absolutely no shame left in Washington, in London, and in several other ‘provincial capitals’ of the Empire. Insults are piling on insults and then shot to all corners of the globe. Lies are being spread barefacedly, and bizarre deceptions and fabrications have been manufactured with impressive speed.

It is clear that the Empire is now missing its composure, its nerve; that it is scared of losing its control over the world and its monopoly on deciding what should be universally accepted as the truth.

The more the world realizes that it has been controlled and brutalized by shameless neo-colonialist gangsters, the more the Empire says, indirectly but sometimes even straight into the faces of the international community: “Our interests are what really matter! You will behave and obey, or we will smash you to pieces, starve you to death, invade you and bathe your land in blood”.

It is nothing new, of course: the West has been doing all this for many decades and centuries. Hundreds of millions of Asians, Africans, South Americans, Middle Easterners and Russians lost their lives in the process. All non-white continents were occupied, plundered and enslaved; all, without a single exception. But it was always done “for the good of the victims”, or “in order to protect them” (most likely from themselves).

The Brits were at the forefront of the art of manipulating the brains of their ‘subjects’. Their propaganda used to be refined, effective, some would even say ‘brilliant’. For decades after the end of the Second World War, they used to teach its offspring in North America and Australia, how to lie elegantly and how to convince even those nations that were being barbarically raped, that they were actually being rescued, pampered and made love to, gently and respectfully.

Now the masks have fallen off, and the ugly, gangrenous face of imperialism has been clearly exposed. Britain is simply not in the mood for refinements. It is brutal. It was always brutal. Now it is also, finally, honest.

It is all absolutely frightening, but it is also good, truly significant, that the West is suddenly behaving with such clarity.

*****

 

What is it that Mr. Johnson is accusing Russia of? Of liberating Syria from those Western, Saudi, and Qatari backed terrorist groups? What else could be expected from the Foreign Secretary of the country that had been, for long centuries, the mightiest, ruthless and the most deceptive colonialist empire in the history of the mankind? Mr. Johnson is definitely not going to thank the liberator of the oppressed people, is it?

In his open letter to Boris Johnson, the British writer and journalist Neil Clark wrote:

In April you canceled your planned visit to Moscow and traveled to the G7 talks instead, where you urged other countries to consider fresh sanctions against Russia (and Syria), saying that Vladimir Putin was “toxifying his image” by backing Assad.

But if Russia hadn’t supported the Syrian government, ISIS/Al-Qaeda affiliates would probably have taken control of the whole country. Is that what you wanted?

Of course it was! More chaos, the better!

The UK has been playing appalling, truly Machiavellian games all over the Middle East, and it has been doing it for centuries – in Palestine, in what is now Iraq and Kuwait, and in many other areas. To borrow from the colorful lexicon of the Prime Minister Lloyd George, it was reserving rights “to bomb those niggers”, to bomb them and to fry them alive, to rob them of everything, even of the land itself. The UK, together with their close friends and allies such as Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, managed to manufacture the most conservative branch of Islam, just in order to keep the local population in fear and submission to its commercial and colonialist interests.

The country responsible for hundreds of millions of dead, for tens of millions of human beings who have been hunted down like animals and shipped to America as slaves, has been reserving the right to judge the world, to decide what is ‘free’ and what is not, what is ‘democratic’ and what is dictatorial, what is true and what is false or even ‘fake’.

‘Fake news’ – the latest invention of the crumbling, paranoid Western regime!

Now the Empire is hunting down almost all ‘alternative media’ outlets, including the highly successful and informative RT (Russia Today) international television channel. It is important to remember and to understand: only the official Western channels and press agencies are allowed to spread indoctrination all over the world. To broadcast or to print ‘counter-propaganda’ (or call it an intellectual detox) is considered an arch crime, and punished as such. The RT is now portrayed as a hive of ‘agents’, at least in both Washington and London.

*****

As the Syrian city of Aleppo was celebrating its first anniversary of liberation, grateful citizens were carrying, in reverent silence, portraits of Russian soldiers who spilled their blood for the liberation of their nation.

The Syrian people know, they clearly understand, who ignited the war, and who came to their rescue.

Boris Johnson can insult Russia as much as he desires, but one thing he cannot deny: there are no men, women and children carrying portraits of British soldiers, be it in Iraq or Afghanistan, in Syria, Libya or Yemen.

In Yemen, the UK talks peace but manufactures bombs that are enriching the already deadly Saudi arsenal of weapons, used to terrorize, and to murder thousands of defenseless Yemeni civilians.

Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov said nothing about the crimes against humanity that are being committed by British troops in several parts of the world. I believe that he should have said something, that he should have said a lot, but Mr. Lavrov is a seasoned diplomat, and he knows perfectly well what is appropriate, what is effective and what is counter-productive.

*****

Yes, the Empire is evidently in panic.

It is scared of everything: of public opinion all over the world, of the great Chinese new Silk Road initiative which is gaining great popularity all over the Asian continent, of the Sino-Russian alliance, of the silent rebellion in the ranks of its former allies, particularly in Asia, of the undeniably increasing economic might of its adversaries, of the new ‘alternative media’, and even of its own tail lost somewhere in the darkness.

For many years, one effective way for the Empire to control the world was to spread dark cynicism and nihilism, in order to ‘pacify’, to immobilize its colonies and even its own people living in Europe and North America. Now this strategy is backfiring: British and North American citizens are not only passive and unwilling to fight for the internationalist and left wing ideals, they are also unimpressed, even disgusted with their own rulers and regime. Yes, most of them are cynical about such countries like Russia, China or Venezuela, but they are also cynical about the corporatism, capitalism, as well as Western domestic and foreign policy. They are not willing to commit to anything. They trust nothing. They believe in very few things.

For the Empire, people like Boris Johnson are extremely useful buffoons: they offer cheap entertainment to the masses, and they deliver it with impeccable upper-class English accents (the BBC-style). They play it dirty, trying to smear, to humiliate their opponents. They try to bring back pride to their imperialist and white supremacist regime, by humiliating the victims, who are now finally standing on their feet and ready to fight for the right to be different.

People like Mr. Johnson turn reality upside down, and it is all done ‘spontaneously’, with a boyish, almost innocent grin. Except that there is actually absolutely nothing innocent in this entire charade. It is all perfectly choreographed, all extremely professional.

*****

The Empire is rotting and it is in agony. It panics. It fights for its life.

Peace is dangerous. If the world is at peace, it is indisputable that the Western Empire would lose, in no time. It would be defeated on social, moral, creative and even economic fronts.

That is why the Empire is spreading chaos, fear, war, perpetual conflicts and antagonism everywhere, all over the world: in Syria and Afghanistan, Libya, in all corners of Africa and parts of Southeast Asia, in Iran, Central and South America, even in the tiniest countries of Oceania.

It is challenging, provoking North Korea, it is insulting countries that have already suffered more than enough from Western terror and barbarism; countries like Russia, China and Iran.

It threatens those nations (and even some international organizations like UNESCO) that are supporting Palestine.

It essentially bullies all those who want to live their own lives, their own cultures, and their own economic and social systems. It punishes those countries that are refusing to plunder their own people and resources in order to support the high-life of the Western nations. It overthrows governments, and murders individuals.

*****

In Moscow, the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made a fool of himself. He did! With his unmistakable spineless jellyfish style, he tried but failed to humiliate the nation, which, for several centuries fought determinedly against Western imperialism and colonialism, and, on numerous occasions has already managed to save the world.

Mr. Johnson applied an old and rather disgusting approach: he came to Russia with spite and superiority complex, ready to preach, to insult, to scold those white-looking but essentially Asian people – to ‘show them their place’.

But this is 2017 now, not 1990. London is not the center of the universe, anymore, just the capital of a confused and rather aggressive and increasingly badly behaved nation.

The British bulldog came to Moscow. Frankly, it did not even look like a bulldog, anymore – it looked totally… weird: stoned and mentally unbalanced. It barked and barked, while the Russian bear was calm, maintaining its composure. It was clear who of the two has the upper hand, and who is provoking and who is refusing to fight. It was also obvious who of the two is really scared.

And, it was so apparent to whom belongs the past and to whom belongs the future!

• First published in New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

Capitalism Reduced Indonesian Cities to Infested Carcasses

From Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Samarinda and Pontianak

*****

Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta’s posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he ‘had something urgent to tell me’, after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.

What he had to say was actually straight to the point and definitely worth sitting two hours in an epic traffic jam:

No one will be allowed to build comprehensive public transportation in Jakarta or in any other Indonesian city. If a mayor or a governor tries and defies the wishes of the ruthless business community which is in fact controlling most of the Indonesian government, he or she will be dethroned, or even totally destroyed.

These ‘prophetic’ words are still ringing in my ears, several months after the complete destruction of the progressive Jakarta governor, known as Ahok (real name: Basuki Tjahaja Purnama), who tried very hard to improve the seemingly ungovernable and thoroughly destroyed city, constructing new mass transit lines (LRT), restoring old train stations, cleaning canals, attempting to build at least some basic net of sidewalks, as well as planting trees and creating parks.

After Ahok’s first and extremely successful term in office, the opposition consolidated its forces. It consisted mainly of the Islamists, big business tycoons, and the military as well as other revanchist cadres (almost exclusively pro-business and pro-Western individuals) that are still controlling Indonesia.

‘Ahok’, an outsider and an ethnic Chinese, patently lost.

Instead of coming to his rescue, several ‘prominent’ but corrupt city planners and architects, most of them enjoying funding from abroad, shamelessly joined the bandwagon of ‘Ahok bashing’.

But even defeating Ahok was not enough. He had to be punished and humiliated, in order to discourage others from trying to replicate his socially-oriented example. Already during the election campaign, charges were brought against him, alleging that he had ‘insulted Islam’ during one of his public appearances.  It was total nonsense, disputed by several leading Indonesian linguists, but in a thoroughly corrupt society (both legally and morally) it simply worked.

On May 9, 2017, ‘Ahok’ was sentenced to two years in prison, and unceremoniously thrown into the dungeon.

Since then, many of his projects have stopped totally, or at least were significantly slowed down. A disgusting filth has once again began covering Jakarta’s canals and rivers.

For those who still believed in miracles, all hopes died.

Those ‘city planners’ who still conveniently believe that one can ‘work with’ the present regime (they call it ‘government’) correctly assumed that it was once again ‘business as usual’.

As ‘Ahok’ was being thrown behind bars, huge sighs of relief were almost detectable all over this misfortunate archipelago! Everything has returned to ‘normal’, at least for those who have been benefiting from the collapse of Indonesia and its cities.

The clock of Indonesian history was turned back. It is now almost certain that at least for several upcoming decades, all Indonesian cities will remain what they are now – a living hell, the worst nightmare, and indisputably some of the most horrid urban areas found anywhere on Earth.

But readers abroad are not supposed to know all this. Indonesian people are not supposed to understand the situation. It is now all biasa – ‘just normal, just fine. Everything is fine. Read those ANU (Australian National University) papers and you will learn that ‘Indonesia is now a normal country, like Brazil or Mexico’. Nothing extraordinary is taking place.

*****

In reality, everything has collapsed. The cities have.

Not metaphorically, not hyperbolically, but concretely, practically.

A renowned Australian artist, George Burchett, who now resides in Hanoi, Vietnam, once visited Jakarta. For several weeks we travelled together all around the Indonesian archipelago. He was shocked and depressed. Before departing, he declared:

I saw many cities, all over the world. Cities are built for the people. For the first time in my life, in Indonesia, I saw the cities that are actually built not for the people, but against the people.

It is because Indonesian cities are fascist. They do not serve the needs of its citizens. On the contrary, they are designed to extract that little which is still left in the possession of the common Indonesian folks; extract and give it to the local rulers, as well as to the multi-national companies.

*****

Excerpts of the most common definitions of ‘failed states’ are stated in the Encyclopedia Britannica, and can perfectly apply to both Indonesia in general, and to its cities in particular:

The governing capacity of a failed state is attenuated such that it is unable to fulfill the administrative and organizational tasks required to control people and resources and can provide only minimal public services… A failed state suffers from crumbling infrastructures, faltering utility supplies and educational and health facilities, and deteriorating basic human-development indicators…

Governor ‘Ahok’ tried to change the situation. Crowds cheered. Millions watched, in all the major cities of Indonesia. Hope was born, at first fragile but soon blossoming.

Then suddenly: a tremendous blast, full stop, and collapse! The man who dared to inject several socialist elements into the sclerotic, brutal system, ended up behind bars.

And it is now all back to the old ‘failed state’ scenario. Life is once again thoroughly empty and predictable.

There is hardly any difference between the Indonesian cities. If you put a person in the center or a suburb of Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Semarang, Medan, Makassar or Pontianak, he or she would have no idea, which one is which.

All major streets are choked with traffic jams. There are no sidewalks, and even if there are some pathetic and narrow ones, they are overtaken by aggressive and smoke belching scooters, as well as by unregulated and unhygienic street vendor stalls. Thugs are everywhere, controlling the streets. Almost all side streets have open sewage system. When it rains, entire neighborhoods get submerged under filthy water. Tiny carts, pulled by unclean and underpaid men, collect garbage. All the cities face the same problems, and all the cities look precisely the same.

Sanitation, water quality and garbage recycling facilities are at similar levels to those of the poorest sub-Saharan African countries.

With food and fuel prices up many Indonesian children are forced to work

Slums are omnipresent – huge and brutal. In fact, most of the neighborhoods of the Indonesian cities, called kampungs (‘villages’), could easily fit the international definitions of slums.

*****

A few years ago I was invited to speak at the University of Indonesia (UI). Various students asked me: “Why? Why is all this is happening in our country? And is there any solution?”

I replied that, of course, there is a solution: “socialism and central planning. But it would also have to be determined and real, and it would have to include a full-hearted anti-corruption battle, as well as a decisive ban on selling all natural resources and utilities to foreigners.” I added: “And tell your professors to stop salivating over-funding from the West, and flying to Europe in order to learn about ‘administration’, ‘good governance’ and city planning from those who have been robbing your country for several centuries.”

I believe that students liked the sound of what I was saying (not sure they were still capable of understanding the meaning of my words). However, predictably, I was never invited to the UI again.

*****

Indonesian cities are like open sores. Everything has been stolen from them and as a result, what makes life bearable is clearly missing. Only what the ‘elites’ do not want, is what has been left for the people.

Hungry and Homeless in Jakarta

There are hardly any public parks in Indonesia, at least no parks of any significance. Cities have no river or seafronts, in a striking contrast to South American, Middle Eastern and even African urban areas (not to speak of tremendous and beautiful public spaces, parks, promenades and exercise areas in China).

Dirty, clogged and polluted driveways are called ‘streets’ and ‘avenues’. There are no sidewalks, or if there are, they are just one meter wide, with broken tiles or deep potholes. Where sidewalks are not really needed, there may be actually some built – along one or two streets in the very center and in front of some government buildings, connecting basically nothing. This clearly shows that nothing is actually designed for the people.

It is important to understand that the government of Indonesia, on all levels, is not actually an institution that consists of men and women who are determined to improve the country and to serve its people. On the contrary!

In Indonesia, a great number of politicians belong to or are somehow affiliated to the military, which has ruled the country brutally since the 1965 Western-backed military coup. That coup destroyed everything socialist and Communist, banned Communist ideas, and murdered between 1 and 3 million people, including almost all the progressive intellectuals. On top of it, most of the politicians are businesspeople, tycoons and oligarchs, and the great majority of them of unsavory reputations. They have been robbing the nation and its people for more than half of a century, and there is absolutely no reason why they should stop doing it now, or anytime soon. For these individuals, to grab the top political positions is nothing more than about maximizing the profits.

‘Indonesian democracy’ which the West loves to glorify (no wonder, as Indonesia de-facto functions as an obedient colony, plundering its own citizens and resources on behalf of the West), consists of countless political parties, of which not one of them is from the left, or defends the interests of common people. Moreover, a great majority of the ‘civil society’, of the NGO’s, are subservient to Western economical and political interests. Many, if not all, of these organizations are directly funded from Washington, Berlin, London or Canberra. (I described the situation in my latest novel, Aurora.

Indonesian companies and its government are one single entity. And they are decisively and in unison plundering the entire archipelago of its natural resources. The 4th most populous country on Earth produces almost nothing. (Read my book Archipelago of Fear in English and in Bahasa Indonesia).

The ‘philosophy’ of this unbridled plunder is then applied to ‘urbanism’; to the way Indonesian cities are governed and basically abandoned to the markets. Not even in Africa where I lived and worked for several years, is there such absolute and shameless theft of urban land by the elites (of which members of government are part).

Once all this is determined, to understand the reality of Indonesia and its cities becomes much easier.

Once this is defined, Indonesian cities ‘begin to make sense’.

*****

In reality, there is not much that could be called ‘urban’ in the Indonesian cities. Be it a city like Pontianak with 600,000 inhabitants, or Jakarta with 12 million (28 million including the surrounding cities and suburbs).

Wherever one goes, profit over people is taken to the extreme.

Like those logged out, mined out and polluted islands of the archipelago, Indonesian cities are designed in a way that brings maximum income to the extremely small group of individuals and businesses. The price has to be paid by the impoverished, often ill, badly-educated, and literally choking majority.

The tremendously low level of media outlets, education, pop entertainment, as well as constant religious encroachment and feudal family structures, are purposefully spread and upheld, so the population does not think, does not doubt and does not rebel.

The results are shocking.

Indonesian cities are like palm oil plantations or open-pit mines, with some elements of military barrack colonies (of course, there are some special quarters for the overseers, with large and kitschy houses, like those that dot South Jakarta).

Here, nothing is constructed to make life great, colorful, ecstatic, meaningful and happy. There are no permanent concert halls, no theatres, and no grand public museums (one that recently opened is private, and serves to further politically indoctrinate people, this time targeting the ‘urban middle class’). There are no pedestrian neighborhoods, and no free and public seafronts.

Not one architecturally valuable structure has been constructed in any Indonesian city after the 1965/66 military/religious coup.

In Indonesia, a ‘public area’ is synonymous with a mall, in fact, with countless malls of various sizes and qualities. Inside the malls, there are chain eateries and chain shops, as well as cafes. There are also a few cinemas, showing mostly Hollywood junk or local horror films. On the weekends, there are bands playing old Western and Indonesian pop tunes, offering absolutely no variety. Some 50 songs are recycled again and again. The most favorite is, predictably: “I did it my way”.

There is nothing ‘extra’ in the Indonesian cities. Here everything is stripped to absolute basics: you somehow survive on your meager salary (with prices, at least for the food and consumer goods being as high or higher than in Tokyo or Paris), you somehow move to your workplace and back, sitting for hours every day in horrific traffic jams as there is no public transportation even in such cities with 2-3 million inhabitants, like Surabaya or Bandung. You cook and wash your dishes and clothes in terribly polluted water, and try to save on outrageously high electricity bills. There is absolutely nothing to do in your neighborhood. There is, of course, always a mosque nearby or sometimes a church, if that’s what you fancy. There are no parks, no playgrounds for children. There is no sidewalk to walk to a cafe, and so, if you want to actually go to a cafe or to a bookstore (all the bookstores in Indonesia are increasingly poorly stocked and heavily censored), you have to jump onto your scooter or into your car again, if you have any strength left.

The chances are – you have no time for anything, anyway. A 3-4 hours long daily commute, your exhausting work, and all you have time for is to collapse in front of the television set and get indoctrinated, neutralized and idiotized even further.

You learn to smile when you actually want to die, or at least to shout. You sense that nothing could ever change for better, and that your life is finished, perhaps at 25, or even earlier.

Eventually, some people do it sooner than others: you become religious, and you become traditional, conservative and ‘family-oriented’. There is nothing else, really. The cities of Indonesia will make sure that there is nothing else. They are the perfect machines, manufacturing obedience, extracting everything from human beings, and giving nothing in return.

*****

I often describe the coup of 1965 as a “Cultural Hiroshima”. While in Japan, the US openly experimented on the health of millions of human beings, in Indonesia the experiment was of a totally different nature. The area of interest to the Empire was:

What would happen with a progressive anti-imperialist nation that counts on a complex and diverse culture, if it is bathed in blood, if its theatres and film studios are shut down, 40% of teachers get murdered, women from left-wing organizations get their breasts amputated, writers are locked in Buru Island concentration camp, and urban planners are thought to design cities like Houston, Dallas or LA, but in a country with salaries that are 10% or less than those of the U.S.A.?

The answer is simple: “It would turn into Indonesia. It would become Jakarta, as it is now”. For the Western demagogues and the imperialist planners, “Indonesia” and “Jakarta” are not only the names of the country and the city: they are names of the concept, of a model.

This model, forced on the colonies, is perfect for the West and its interests.

Jakarta: One of better public sidewalks

It is also perfect for the Indonesian ‘elites’, who are often getting dirty at home, plundering all they can, but do relax and play and often evacuate their entire families to Singapore, California, Australia, Hong Kong and many other ‘safe and clean’ places.

It is the cheapest; the most efficient of concepts designed to plunder, and to royally fuck a nation. Not surprisingly, the West has tried to replicate this ‘successful Indonesian model’ in many parts of the world.

It even tried to inject it into Russia, after the USSR was first mortally wounded and then destroyed. It tried to force it on Chile… My much older friends in Santiago told me that before the 9-11-1973 coup perpetrated by General Pinochet on behalf of the West and its companies, several people around President Allende were threatened by the right-wingers: “Watch out, Jakarta is coming!”

*****

Jakarta came! It is here, all over Indonesia, in all of its cities, and to varying degrees in most of the countries that have fallen under the Western neo-colonialist boot.

But what does it really mean, ‘Jakarta’? Is it just a name or is it also a verb, an infinitive? “To Jakarta…”

It is ‘to take everything away from the people and to give nothing back’. ‘To Jakarta’ is to lie and to loot and to convince human beings, through long decades of indoctrination, that everything is just fine, and as should be. ‘To Jakartize’ the nation is to make almost the entire population irrelevant, to deliver the loot on the silver trays to both local and foreign rulers, leaving only dirty and polluted rivers and canals behind, as well as tremendous traffic jams, smog, bizarre overpasses with no escalators, and broken tiles along the driveways.

Even filthy beach in Jakarta is for a fee

The ‘Jakartized population’ is obedient, explosively violent, edgy, but not towards the regime, turbo-capitalism, corrupt elites and their Western masters, but towards each other, as well as towards the minorities.

Jakarta gets very little criticism from the official mainstream Western and local media, and almost no genuine analysis from academia. No surprise: to attack the reality of the Indonesian cities is like attacking the entire Western neo-colonialist system imposed on various parts of the world. To tell the truth would destroy any journalistic career, as it would torpedo almost any chance for a well-remunerated university tenure!

Very often, all that one could expect in terms of a realistic description of the situation in Indonesia, are random exclamations overheard on board departing airplanes, or some ‘anecdotal evidence’ from the pages of travel magazines and blogs. It appears that what normal people see with their own eyes is in direct contradiction with what the mainstream media and academia presents as ‘facts’.

On 17 September 2017, a Malaysian newspaper The Star wrote:

Based on a real-time air quality index uploaded to the Airvisual application at midday on Friday, Sept 15, Jakarta ranked third as the most polluted city in the world… In mid-August, the application showed that Jakarta was at the top of the list, followed by Ankara, Turkey and Lahore, Pakistan.

“Escape Here” magazine ranked Jakarta as the No1 city in its report “The 10 Worst Traffic Cities in the World”:

It happens to be the country’s capital and one of the most poorly designed cities in the World, a combination that makes getting around here a disaster. An ever-increasing number of car owners that come from the expansion of suburbia that surrounds this mega-city are to be blamed for the 400 hours a year that citizens spend in traffic. It is actually hailed as being the worst traffic in the world. It doesn’t seem like there is any solution for this mega-city as the infrastructure here falls into the hands of the local government and contracts are renegotiated annually; which means long-term projects are pretty much impossible. An average trip in this city takes about 2 hours…

On 2 September 2015, even the official propaganda English language newspaper of Indonesia, the Jakarta Post, re-published the survey ranking the horrendous Indonesian capital as the 9th ‘un-friendliest city on Earth’:

Jakarta, the Indonesian capital notorious for gridlocks and bad air pollution, ranks 9th among the world’s least friendly cities this year, a recent survey by an international travel magazine shows. Readers of the highly regarded luxury travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler included Jakarta for the first time on its ’10 unfriendliest cities in the world’ list this year. In the survey, one of the readers said Jakarta was ‘the scariest place I have ever been to ‘with its congestion and aggressive locals.

The ‘scariest place’: but, of course! What could one expect from the capital city of the country that in the last half a century has committed 3 monstrous genocides (against its own population in 1965/66, against the people of East Timor and an on going genocide against the people of Papua)?

What could one expect from cities that have been totally robbed of green spaces and, in fact, of everything that could be called ‘public’, where the arts have disappeared and where absolutely everything has become commercialized; where everything and everybody is now expected to be the same – behave the same way, look the same way, sound the same way, taste the same way.

Try to look different, and if you are a Papuan, Chinese, African, or white, just try to walk on those broken tiny sidewalks of Surabaya, Jakarta, Pontianak, or Medan. You will be shouted at; you will immediately become the target of naked racism. People will stop and point fingers, or worse.

A few days ago I filmed from a boat sailing on a polluted river passing through Pontianak city, on an island in Borneo. Two children on the shore immediately raised their middle fingers and began yelling: “Fuck you!” Just like that: with no warning and for no reason. And this is, of course, not the worst that could happen. If I was Chinese… were I an African… Everybody knows it. Nobody speaks about it, nobody writes…

According to Western ‘analysts’ and academics, Indonesia is a ‘democratic’ and ‘tolerant’ nation. The deeper it is sinking, the more oppressive and intolerant it becomes, the more devastated it gets, and the more it is glorified.

Lies are piled up on lies. “The Emperor has beautiful clothes’, everybody shouts, as in that old children’s tale. But, in fact, he is naked!

It is clearly “political correctness” at work. One is supposed to be ‘sensitive’ to the local ‘culture’, religion, and way of life. The only defect of this approach is that in countries such as Indonesia, the local culture, its way of life and even the extremely aggressive religions, are all the direct result of the fascist regime that was directly imposed onto this nation by the West after the 1965/66 slaughter.  Had the socialist pre-1965 course be allowed to naturally flow, Indonesia would now be a truly normal, socially-balanced, secular and tolerant nation, and its cities would serve the people, instead of the other way around.

Just a normal river in Jakarta

Here, the ‘political correctness’, is once again, protecting the crimes against humanity that have been committed by the West, by the local elites and the military, as well as by the religious leaders. The local ‘culture’ is not being protected at all, as it is actually dead, murdered.

The cities are dead as well. Their carcasses are stinking, horrifying, monstrous, stripped of all hope. People living in them are choking, humiliated, marginalized, unwell, and constantly robbed by the system.

Bizarrely, it takes an elitist magazine like Conde Nast to notice… It takes random travellers to speak out… One would never read such comments in the reports coming out of the Australian National University or on the pages of the New York Times.

*****

Just outside the city of Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia, on the Island of Madura, several enormous ships are being manually cut into pieces and sold for scrap by destitute local people. Periodically things explode, collapse, and people lose their faces or limbs. It is a horrible sight: truly haunted, disturbing. Just like in Bangladesh, although here, it goes almost unnoticed.

In many ways, I believe that the Indonesian cities resemble those ships, and those polluted coastal areas where the ships are broken into thousands of parts and then sold. Once proud, they are now humiliated, in pain, being torn to pieces while still alive.

Only real fascism can treat its citizens this way; only a regime that has lost its marbles, and gone thoroughly insane.

Indonesia cities… What do they really consist of? Well, they are made of those tiny and crammed homes, filthy canals, potholed driveways, of indescribable pollution, of mosques and churches. Then there are a few office towers in their centers, countless shopping malls and several luxury hotels where the elites can escape and take some rest from the daily nightmare, which is ‘normal life’ here. Golf courses everywhere, but no decent public parks, as even those few green areas have been already thoroughly privatized.

*****

Now the former governor of Jakarta, ‘Ahok’, is in jail for daring to change things; for building public transportation, cleaning the rivers and building a few tiny parks. He is in jail for relocating squatters to public housing, and for trying to serve the impoverished and humiliated majority.

His clearly socialist deeds were immediately smeared and discredited by the elites, by the Western-funded NGO’s and by corrupt city planners. Even when this could not stop his determination and zeal, religion was unleashed. Most of the religions are, after all, regressive, pro-business oriented, and ready to support any fascist regime.

*****

How much deeper can Indonesian cities sink? When are they going to become uninhabitable?

People are already dying; thousands are, unnecessarily – from cancer, from stress, from respiratory diseases.

Millions of human beings are wasting their lives. They are alive, but it is only a bare existence, not really life: they are moving mechanically, cutting through the filthy air on their scooters, eating junk food, constantly surrounded by decay and ugliness.

Why?

For how much longer?

The forests of Borneo, Sumatra and Papua are burning. All over this archipelago, everything is logged out, consumed by mines, ruined by monstrous pollution. The extraction and looting of natural resources is the only real economic ‘engine’ of today’s Indonesia.

The cities are not faring much better. They are actually not faring any better at all.

It is time to wake up, or it could get too late. But the nation appears to be in a total slumber. It does not notice, anymore, that it is really in freefall. It was conditioned not to notice. It was made to accept, even to celebrate its own collapse.

Those who forced Indonesia into all this will not tell. As long as there is at least something left, something that can be extracted, utilized, looted, they will be cheering this great Indonesia’s ‘success’ and ‘progress’.

I encourage all those people from all over the world who would want to see the true face of neo-colonialism, of savage capitalism and right wing disaster, to come to the Indonesian cities! Come and see with your own eyes. Come and take a walk; don’t hide in your comfortable cities full of leafy parks, concert halls, art cinemas, public transportation and theatres.

This is real. This is a warning to the world!

Come and see how cities look like in a country where Communism and socialism are banned, where a colony does not even realize that it being colonized, and where everything is served on huge silver plates straight into the gullet of that monster called fascism.

Ketapang, West Borneo, Indonesia

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

Cambodia Keeps Perverting its own History for Cash

I have already written a lot about Cambodia, but each time I return to this ancient and scarred country, I get so outraged by the cynicism that confronts me there, at every corner, that I have to start writing again, re-addressing the same essential issues that I have already been covering for years and decades.

One question always comes back to my mind:

‘How could a nation that suffered so much, losing hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of sons and daughters (official number stands at 1.7 million), accept a totally twisted narrative fabricated in Washington, London, Paris and other Western capitals? And not only ‘accept’ – Cambodia is actually profiting greatly from helping to spread vitriolic anti-Communist propaganda on behalf of its lethal handlers.’

In all the bookstores around the country, the official Western propaganda narrative (‘Khmer Rouge killed them all’ – style) is on display and on sale: Pol Pot’s biographies, gruesome accounts from the so-called Killing Fields, from the torture chambers at the former high school ‘S-21’ in Phnom Penh, as well as countless and detailed testimonies of the victims.

I asked the owner of a bookshop in Siem Reap:

“What about some books about the atrocities committed by the West? Do you have some volumes about the U.S. carpet bombing of Cambodian countryside, which alone killed several hundreds of thousands of people?”

“Me, not have,” she replied, somehow defiantly.

“Do you have books about how millions of Cambodian people were displaced by the carpet bombing of the U.S. and its allies; how they were forced to flee because of unexploded bombs and so-called ‘bombies’? Anything about those people starving to death?”

“No have,” came the answer.

“Why not?” I asked, politely.

“I don’t know”, she said, by now clearly annoyed.

Outside, my local driver was ready to pitch his services, taking me around, in search of the minefields. He thought I was European. “Chinese mines, Russian mines…” He took long breath, made dramatic pause, and exhaled: “Khmer Rouge no good.”

Instead of engaging in a historical debate, I simply asked: “This city – Siem Reap – has 230,000 inhabitants. Is it producing anything?”

The driver hesitated for a while:

Why should we produce anything? It is cheaper to import goods from Thailand, China and Vietnam. Well, there is some farming outside of the city…

He was correct. I checked several sources. Even Wikipedia describes the situation in no uncertain terms:

Economy: Tourism is a very important aspect of the economy of Siem Reap – it was estimated in 2010 that over 50% of jobs in the town were related to the tourism industry… A large number of NGOs and other not-for profit organizations operate in and around Siem Reap, and they play a vital role in the economy, as well as helping to develop it for the future. Thousands of expatriates call the city home and they also have a significant impact on the economy

Siem Reap is fully dependent on Westerners; on millions of tourists visiting the nearby Angkor, but also on the ‘experts’ who come here to tell locals how to run their communities, how to think and how to perceive their own present and the past.

The entire country is dependent on handouts, and shamelessly subservient. Most of its teachers, journalists and artists are producing what they are told to produce, say what they are expected to say. Most of them have already lost ability to form their own opinion.

Deep in countryside,still mine fields

What I never told my driver was that I had already covered almost the entire country, for more than 20 years, visiting all of its corners, talking to the victims, to former Khmer Rouge soldiers, even to personal Pol Pot’s guards. I worked in the minefields near Vietnam, and on Thai-Khmer border, and at the ill-fated and until now disputed temple of Preah Vihear. In Cambodia, like in Rwanda, I wanted to understand how the Western narrative is born, how it gets manufactured, how it gets alimented and finally, how it domesticates, managing to dominate the brains of people all over the world.

*****

When in 2014 I was visiting a stronghold of the former commander Ta Mok (once a right-hand man of Pol Pot, who later split the Khmer Rouge movement) deep in a jungle, a friend of mine – a leading international lawyer Christopher Black – contributed to my report, basically confirming what many victims in Cambodia had already said to me:

The UN-backed war crimes trials of Khmer Rouge leaders are show trials designed to once again demonize communists, and to scapegoat them for the millions of Cambodians who were killed by the American bombing of Cambodia. What the world needs are trials of the American leaders and officers for war crimes for the carpet-bombing of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. (We had the Bertrand Russell war Crimes Tribunal in the 70s but it could not enforce its judgments).

San Reoung, a former personal security man of Mr. Ta Mok, confirmed that all that propaganda about ‘Communist massacres’ by Khmer Rouge was absolute nonsense:

It was really not about the ideology… We did not know much about it. I was, for instance, very angry with the Americans. I became a soldier at the age of 17. And my friends were very angry, too. They joined Khmer Rouge to fight Americans, and especially the corruption of their puppet dictator Lon Nol, in Phnom Penh.

Had the killings taken place; did people die during the Khmer Rouge reign? But, of course! But the proportions were totally different: many more died because of the bombings and starvation, which followed the displacement of the peasants. In the area of the so-called Killing Fields, 20,000 graves were found. That is a lot; that is truly terrible. But we were told that 1.7 million Cambodian people died. The numbers somehow do not match. The B-52’s were clearly incomparably deadlier than the rifle butts of Khmer Rouge.

Band of amputees

After almost a quarter of a century, I’m convinced that since I first began writing about Cambodia, the world public is fully and irreversibly indoctrinated by clichés and half-truths coming from Western mainstream media and academia.

San Reoung was former guard of Ta Mok

It is time to revisit a few facts and testimonies that I collected in the past. Some of them are already included in my book “Exposing Lies of the Empire.”

After one of the visits to the notorious and above-mentioned ‘S-21’, I wrote:

After Vietnam ousted Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh at the end of 1978, this torture center was converted to a ‘Museum of genocide’ by the Vietnamese and East Germans, who were using their experience from setting up Auschwitz Museum in Poland. They kept interrogation cells (originally classrooms) intact, with bloodstained floors, chains and shackles, as well as primitive machines for electric shocks. Thousands of black and white photographs of inmates eerily stare at visitors, their eyes expressing horror and resignation.

Some of the most terrifying images are those created by Vann Nath, a painter and former prisoner of S-21, one of the very few who managed to survive because of his talent and ability to draw complimenting portraits of Pol Pot and of officials who were in charge of the interrogation center. After the Vietnamese invasion, Vann Nath transferred the most terrifying memories onto canvases; a mosaic depicting the barbarity and insane brutality of interrogators — a mother whose baby is being assassinated in front of her eyes, a man whose nails are being extracted by pliers, a woman having her nipple cut off.

But even Van Nath, in a conversation we had almost ten years ago, claims that Khmer Rouge killed around 200,000 people during its reign, a number which he also uses in his book A Cambodian Prison Portrait: One Year in the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 (White Lotus Press). And among Khmer survivors, there is a consensus that the majority of people died not because of Communist ideology and not because of direct orders from Phnom Penh to exterminate millions, but because of the officers and local cadres in the provinces who ran amok, taking their personal vengeance out on deported city-dwellers and “elites” whom they blamed for both the savage American bombing from the past, and for supporting the corrupt and savage pro-Western dictatorship of Lon Nol.

It was more than 20 years since I sat down with Mr. Vann Nath, and since we had a series of long and frank talks.

I spoke to many people in Cambodia, from the poorest peasants to the PM Hun Sen’s wife, inside the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.

Cambodian soldiers

The testimonies that convinced me about the total erroneousness of the official narrative did not come exclusively from Cambodian people, both the victims and perpetrators. At some point I realized that the official narrative is designed for the general public only: not even Western ideologues themselves believe in it. In 2006, for instance, I spent an entire evening discussing the issue with a high-level EU official, during his long work visit to Phnom Penh. He did not want to be identified (if his name were to appear under such statements, he claimed, it would mean the end of his career), but he asked me to use his testimony anonymously:

Khmer Rouge killing more than a million Cambodians? Impossible! They had no capacity to kill so many people. Sure, between one and two million people died between 1969 and 1978, but that number includes 500,000 or more of those massacred by the U.S. carpet bombing before Khmer Rouge took over… Then, most of the people died because of starvation and illnesses. Furthermore, terrible massacres did not happen because of the communist ideology of Khmer Rouge. It was never on that level. U.S. carpet-bombing and Lon Nol’s brutal dictatorship fully sponsored by the West pitched local people against each other. Killings were performed out of vengeance, not on ideological bases. Peasants went insane from enduring B-52 carpet bombings. Many were tortured, massacred and disappeared during Lon Nol’s reign. Country folks hated city dwellers, blaming them for all misfortunes and horrors they had to endure, as well as for collaborating with foreigners. And most Khmer Rouge soldiers and cadres came from the countryside.

*****

After Vietnam liberated Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge, the West, particularly the U.S., kept supporting Pol Pot and his clique, demanding at the United Nations the “immediate return of legitimate government.”

 

The West was willing to do basically anything to prevent the Communist and pro-Soviet Vietnam from becoming a truly regional power. The U.S. unscrupulously supported a ruthless, corrupt and fascist government in Phnom Penh; it murdered hundreds of thousands of Cambodian peasants by brutal carpet-bombing, and even supported the deranged and confused Khmer Rouge army… It would have done much more if ‘needed’; it would have done anything, to stop the real Asian left from taking power! ‘If necessary’, it would have arranged for the killing of further millions, as it already had done in Indonesia, after the 1965 coup.

What’s left of US bombs in Cambodia

As a result of this policy, at least 1.5 million Cambodian people died. Not as a result of some imaginary ‘Communist genocide’, but because of the single-minded policy of terror, which the West has been implementing everywhere – a policy designed to prevent Communist movements from winning elections as well as revolutions; a policy that has already killed tens of millions all over the world, but particularly in Asia and Latin America.

*****

Now the chief (and very well paid) job of Cambodian ‘intellectuals’, as well as of book publishers, booksellers, teachers, journalists and tour guides, is to uphold the official Western narrative about their country’s past.

Maximizing profits at Killing Fields

Promoting Washington’s interpretation of the “Khmer Rouge Genocide” is tremendous business, while exposing the true genocide committed by the U.S. and its allies here and all over Southeast and North Asia is something that pays absolutely nothing and could easily ruin lives and careers; to make a person unemployable, or worse.

Mass tourism brings millions of already indoctrinated, instructed individuals, who are ready for hair-raising stories and genocide monument selfies. In Cambodia, they encounter thousands of willing ‘guides’ who will provide, for a fee, further details and pre-approved stories.

Red earth road on Cambodian/Vietnamese border

Like this, nothing will ever change.

The truth can be found far away from the monuments and museums; it is hiding in the jungle, in humble villages all over the country, and near the border with Vietnam.

There, people know, they remember and are willing to talk. But no one, it appears, lately, is willing to listen to them.

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

• First published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)