Categories
Power Dynamics

Globalitis: Why Economic Migration is not always Good News

This Wednesday's Independent (UK edition, 26/07/06) ran a front page story spilling over to page two under the heading "Outstanding: Official Verdict on school that shows the success of immigration". It featured a fabulous inner London primary school with twenty six pupils and twenty six languages, all apparently excelling academically and growing up bilingual in a dynamic multicultural setting of tolerance and mutual understanding. With pictures of such charming and talented children, how could anyone fail to realise the huge benefits of immigration, wondered the opinionated journalists? The article did not consider the metropolis's looming water, refuse management and housing crises, nor the fact that few Londoners are directly involved in the harvesting or production of the products they consume. On the same day the editorial page bemoaned the adverse effects on the developing world of a probable collapse of talks on global free trade. The conclusions the Independent wants us to reach are:

  1. immigration is always good and environmentally sustainable;
  2. free trade benefits the poor.

The two are, of course, inextricably linked because contrary to popular mythology it is largely economics that drives both immigration and political repression. People move to more prosperous regions to improve their professional and financial prospects within the prevailing economic reality. As the ruling classes can only maintain a semblance of democracy when they can successfully lure the masses with a share of their wealth, relative economic deprivation with extremes of wealth and poverty provides a ripe climate for state repression of unwanted or vulnerable sections of populace. In the absence of immigration controls any global model of development with extreme variations in earning potential, career opportunities for the university educated, provision of key social services and relative security will lead to massive flows of human beings from the least desirable regions towards lands with greener pastures. In theory this should have a balancing effect, but many argue that new immigration drives economic growth, e.g. A person migrating from a low consumption region to high consumption region would tend to increase aggregate global consumption. In a world comprising largely self-sufficient regions most migration will tend to flow within each region without new wars of conquest and colonisation. Current migration is fuelled largely by the dynamics of a global trading system that has its roots in 18th and 19th century colonial mercantilism. However, in the long term the world is bound by the same laws of thermodynamics or limits to growth. Historically such movements have tended to occur much more gradually and with a much smaller human population. Never has the UK been so dependent on global trade and what is left of the country's manufacturing and farming sectors are predominantly outside the South East of England. The capital's economy revolves around banking, media, advertising, property, education and administration as well as a booming catering and leisure industry to accommodate the desires of service workers. We could simplify these categories into finance and propaganda. Everything is imported, even much of the city's water arrives from France in plastic bottles. Why should China continue to ship its wares to London? What services does it get in exchange? Londoners design a few adverts and Chinese workers deliver the goods! So in what kind of world do we move talented young people from one country which still has much more fertile land per capita than the UK to one of Europe's most overcrowded conurbations? If we believe the Independent, the UK has a chronic skills shortage and an ageing population requiring affordable carers. Might this be because cultural trends here induce natives to opt for media studies, business administration, psychology and graphic design at uni rather than acquire hard skills such as plumbing, mechanical engineering, etc.? As for the elderly, why can we not take care of our own within the family? We all know the answer, because family units have broken down and many potential carers are too busy earning a living in the service sector to serve their creators.

If immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent and Middle East had affected British culture, one might naively have expected a resurgence in close-knit extended family values. Instead the native population has witnessed a rapid rise in the proportion of single-parent households. The cultural impact of the post-WW2 immigrant communities has mainly manifested itself in culinary contributions and music, but as a rule the more a community has assimilated into mainstream English, Scottish or Welsh society, the more its youth has been immersed in fun culture. It should hardly surprise us that so many programmers hail from the UK's Asian communities that shielded them to some extent from cultural decadence so they could acquire the core logical mathematical skills they need to excel in domains that many other British kids find dly uncool. What about catering staff? Well you'd think home-grown students would want to earn a few pennies? In sector after sector we've witnessed the outsourcing of jobs and, especially in the South East of England, the importation of new cheaper human resources, while millions of natives are either unemployed or on incapacity benefits as a result of spuriously defined mental health problems. When will we realise that we need cleaners, cooks, bus drivers, plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, farm labourers much more than It consultants or marketing executives. We might need programmers and sociologists, but not more professionals who push an essentially corporate agenda.

Cultural Imperialism

Sustainable immigration can benefit the host nation in innumerable ways enriching local culture and bringing in new skill sets. This works well in a climate of mutual respect and a relative equality of opportunities for all. Countries as diverse as Australia, Brazil and Canada have literally been built by successive waves of immigrants, but sooner or later we encounter the environmental equivalent of the law of diminishing returns. Most societies have one dominant culture to which other subcultures must adapt.

Curiously, immigrant communities in the UK since the end of World War Two have by and large brought with them traditional extended family values and hailed from close-knit communities. Many liberals see it as their mission to convert stalwart ethnic minorities to the new mantra of sexual liberation, women's rights, smaller family units and the commercial fun culture that tends to accompany these trends. Don't get me wrong a healthy society includes all its citizens in the decision-making process and does not discriminate against people for exhibiting natural non-abusive variants of human sexuality, but it is debatable whether recent trends have actually empowered women or have just created new categories of human beings. Why should one society have it right and another wrong? Surely customs and ethics evolve gradually as a result of generations of experience. One may view rights in individualised terms, e.g. gay rights, or one may view a society as a cohesive entity, e.g. Considering how the rights of one category affect the rights of another. More communal societies tend to take a holistic approach rather than affording abstract rights to minorities.

While the immigrant communities have contributed to cuisine and music, they have abjectly failed to stem the tide towards hedonism and dysfunctional family units. As greater integration leads minorities to assimilate the dominant culture, the net effect of migration is the erosion of the cultural heritage of migrants. However, for many observers the new dominant culture shares few traits with traditional English customs and values. The Welsh and Scots have long had a stronger sense of identity, but everywhere local culture is dumbed down to supporting the national football team, boozing and frequenting the same set of chain stores. Tesco, Weatherspoons, B&Q, Next, Game, William Hill and The Sun reflect dominant culture more accurately than tea and scones, a Sunday roast with beef and Yorkshire pudding, corner grocery stores, morris dancing, cricket, golf or quaint garden parties with cucumber sandwiches. With few exceptions what remains of native island culture has been commercialised or consigned to occasional appearances in annual festitivities. The same is happening to more recent cultural imports. Oddly as some Londoners grumble about the English language proficiency of some Poles, one by-product of the recent wave of Eastern European immigration to England will be to consolidate the dominant role of the English language within European commerce.

Supply and Demand

If we conclude that immigration is environmentally unsustainable and socially destabilising, we can act either on the supply or demand side. I find it totally selfish to advocate immigration controls in order to preserve our standard of living, for our wealth has been gained by plundering resources elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of Poles did not descend on the UK because they like the climate or appreciate any aspects of traditional island culture, but because a booming London-centred service sector, totally subservient to transnational corps, took advantage of one of Europe's most cost-efficient labour markets, all eager to learn English. If immigration served to provide a safe haven for the victims of state repression and extreme poverty, then the UK Government should open the floodgates to hundreds of millions of Chinese, Indians and Africans, but few could afford the plane ticket. More important much deprivation abroad is a direct result of the UK and US's economic and military policies and the export of an unsustainable economic model of continuous material growth.

Immigration controls act solely on the supply side. As long as the demand is there, prospective immigrants will claim a denial of human rights if they cannot move to meet this demand and take their slice of seemingly large prosperity cake. I'd favour what we might term as demand-side environmental re stabilisation by powering down booming economies in high-consumption areas and creating more demand for jobs in regions of net emigration. This can only be made to work if each region produces as much as is practically possible locally. As fossil fuels become scarcer and dearer, we will need to re localise our economies. The alternative may well be internecine warfare as the delicate harmony among ethnic communities falls apart. I certainly don't want to see more Draconian legislation or the resurgence of racism, but if we fail to tackle very real problems we might end up with an even more authoritarian regime manipulating conflicts of short-term interests within rival sections of the poor.

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Managing Public Opinion

The Strange Case of Twelve Islamophobic Cartoons

Over the last week the publication of a cartoon portraying the prophet Mohamed as a terrorist has dominated the Western European media sparking a phoney debate about freedom of expression from the very people who misled us about the recent invasion of Iraq. On one side we have the ultra-PC brigade preaching the virtues of tolerance and feigning sympathy with the Islamic community. On the other we have a motley crew of Guardian-reading libertarians, a few even prepared to support the publication of the offending cartoon, others just defending the theoretical right to do so. While it may be reasonably argued that propaganda and disinformation can have murderous consequences, static cartoons hardly constitute the main causes of ethno-religious intolerance. Long before the appearance of this sketch Fox News, Sky News, the BBC and CNN had through slightly more subtle means persuaded millions that we face a growing terrorist threat from Islamic extremists. The Danish cartoon, assuming its author hailed from that land, merely caricatured mainstream US and UK propaganda, daring to portray graphically what journalists had refrained from stating explicitly.

As rights cannot exist without responsibilities, freedom of expression cannot thrive without a culture of mutual respect devoid of intimidation and emotional blackmail. It is quite possible to challenge orthodoxy on any subject in a cool, calm and collected way. If we believe either moral or scientific right is on our side, then surely any position is intellectually admissible. Whether sexual orientation is genetically determined is a matter of science. Whether some sexual orientations may be deemed immoral are matters of ethics that tend to evolve gradually and belong to a set of shared values. The trouble is sometimes scientific truth can alter our ethical worldview and our moral outlook can prejudice our interpretation of science. If it could be proven that genes more common in one ethnic group were responsible for antisocial behaviour, racists could cite science to justify discrimination, while others may seize on such data to redefine antisocial behaviour.

Sadly we don't live in a hypothetical Voltairean debating society where all personal perspectives are afforded equal opportunities of expression. Never has so much psychosocial power been vested in so few media organisations, controlled inevitably by a handful of corporate and state entities. They have the power to set the agenda, swing moods and whip up fear, almost unparalleled in history. One can give a totally misleading account of a situation simply by omitting or circumventing a few key facts, e.g. journalists may discuss the Iraqi election results without considering how much, if any, control the winning candidates will have over their country's resources. Broadcasters may also suggest the culpability of a whole ethno-religious group simply by showing scenes of jubilation in the aftermath of a brutal terrorist attack. Pundits may set the limits of permissible debate by misrepresenting unacceptable views and defining them as extremist, fundamentalist, dangerous or hateful.

Thus we are faced with a false debate. Should we support the publication of undeniably offensive picture and denounce Islamic fundamentalists burning the embassies of Scandinavian countries or should we join the chorus of media pundits urging further restrictions on free speech to protect our tolerant multiracial society? British politicians and newspapers can then be portrayed as beacons of common sense and moderation by their refusal to bow to either concocted extreme.

Intellectual freedom has never been the same as abstract freedom of expression. All viable societies have some form of social etiquette. A Finn would do well to cover himself appropriately when bathing at a public pool on holiday in Egypt. Likewise an Egyptian tourist should not complain if confronted with mixed gender nudity in a Finnish sauna. When in Rome... The Danish cartoon may incite little more than a chuckle from a reader sympathetic with the official UK/US line. Most are exposed to countless hours of gore, soft porn and slapstick comedy on TV, most of which is either fallacious or deeply prejudiced. Few British teenagers have seen the offending images, but millions have been exposed to countless hours of gratuitous interactive violence and a constant diet of self-righteous pro-war propaganda. Many may believe US and UK troops represent a force for progress in the Middle East, but prefer not to reconcile their rulers' military strategy with hard economic facts. Overt expressions of hatred usually backfire. They convince nobody, but those who have already been thoroughly brainwashed through years of insidious conditioning. Suppose I wanted to spoil the reputation of a colleague. Merely engaging in childish pranks that others could easily discover would only work in a climate of contempt for the targeted person. A more rational, and dare I say, common approach would be to discretely spread rumours or set a bait for your rival to rise to, while pretending all along to be his friend.

A widespread misconception is that power elites hate specific subsets of the population, whether ethnic groups, religions, classes, genders or followers of alternative lifestyles. In truth their sole concern is the maintenance of power and the stability of the infrastructure that keeps it in place. Historically ruling classes have engendered loyalty through nationalism and religion, affording privileges to sections of the working class whose affiliation suits their medium-term needs best. While many in the armed forces may have been conditioned to believe they are fighting for God, Queen and Country, the real elite owes no allegiance to an omnipresent deity or the citizens of their land and only rely on heads of states as temporary figureheads often representing long-superseded notional entities whose emotive importance lives on in the collective psyche. The emergence of supranationalism, often called globalisation, has changed the rules. While millions of ordinary British citizens perished in the industrial revolution and conquest of new lands, they were nonetheless afforded privileged status over rival ethnicities. As the British population grew rapidly, their rulers could offer them plenty of new terrain to exploit and tap resources from the colonies. Subgroups with an incomplete allegiance to the great imperial project, such as the Irish, were often disadvantaged, but the ruling class merely exploited their subjects as vanguard forces in a long-term project of global domination.

So why should the elite care if we subscribe to traditional Islamic values or the liberal values of 1970s Western Europe? Do they mind if we worship pop idols or Mohamed or if we believe homosexuality is a positively cool genetic trait or a deviant behaviour? The truth is they don't care, but are quite happy to manipulate our strongly held views on these subjects to destabilise society and frighten us into accepting yet more control over our lives. The same forces that have consistently destabilised the Middle East to secure control of oil there, also manipulate our attitude to Islam, by promoting migration and pendantic political correctness, and simultaneously incite anti-Western feeling in much of Islamic world. The dark forces of the military-industrial complex that would dearly like to seize control of Iranian oil and gas reserves before China gets its greedy hands on too much of it must be rejoicing at scenes of enraged Middle Easterners burning the embassies of Scandinavian countries. First it deflects attention from the true centres of imperial power and second it focuses attention on a peripheral issue of purely emotional significance. Would you rather your neighbour make the odd rude joke about your lifestyle or greet you politely every day while plotting to have you evicted, made redundant and tortured?

People throughout the Islamic world have every right to boycott Western good to express their anger about Western imperialism, but why target Danish, Norwegian and French goods? Why not target US and UK banks?

This whole debacle is above all a media event. The original series of a dozen cartoons appeared in September 2005, but the story only exploded onto the international scene in January 2006. Surely some Muslims living in Denmark would have been alerted to its existence, but apparently initial reactions were muted. Just as Jack Straw can claim the moral high ground by voicing his disapproval of the cartoons, other pundits can join the chorus condemning flag-burning Islamic fundamentalists, with apparently nobody caring who controls resources in their countries. Presumably it's okay for London's Metropolitan Police to shoot dead a Brazilian electrician suspected of being an Islamic terrorist. It's fine to detain without evidence British citizens suspected of sympathising with alleged terrorists. It's also perfectly normal to spend hours every day immersed in a virtual world of gun battles. But if one breaks absurd rules of political correctness, whether defined as Islamophobia or homophobia, then one can only expect instant police action and mass demonstrations orchestrated by media barons.

Categories
Power Dynamics

Multiculturalism would be a good idea

To paraphrase Gandhi "Multiculturalism would be a good idea".

Cultural diversity is a wonderful idea and as a speaker of 5 languages with bilingual kids, as someone who's been the sole white guy in a provincial Zambian town, the sole non-Indian in a suburban Delhi apartment block, steered clear of gringos during a trek across Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile and Argentina and spoke Italian habitually for over 8 years in Italy, I might understand real multiculturalism better than most.

But I'm equally aware many would disagree. They hate cultural diversity, are instinctively intolerant of backward peoples who wish to retain their time-honoured customs, vernaculars, religions, worldviews and mores. Why do the French still insist on speaking French or the Brits still talk in feet and inches, don't they know we've all gone decimal now?. Many in the chattering classes who bleat about diversity and equality (ever heard of diversity training for the police?) are often the same people who'd like to ban smacking in the home and intervene abroad to change sexual customs. For them ethnic diversity means choosing between an Indian and Italian restaurant or between Reggae and Salsa music.

They think we should all boogey to the same international beat, shop at the same Walmart or Tescos, buy the same DVD movies, video games, watch the same set of TV programmes, attend the same business management courses, adapt to the same form of groupthink conformism and even use the same operating system with the same Office package or go on the same package tour holidays, drive the same cars, in short aspire to the same lifestyle. Parents who don't embrace mass-marketed Anglo-American world culture in favour of alternative or more traditional values are often blamed if their kids are bullied at school.

The globalist agenda is antithetical to the very notion of cultural diversity. By multiculturalism they do not mean a patchwork of diverse cultural groups living harmoniously side by side, but a new world order in which a global supranationalism supplants all other mini-nationalisms. The new mores hardly represent a potpourri of Bangladeshi, Kenyan, Chinese and Bolivian culture with an admixture of French and Russian, they reflect a new culture promoted a planet-wide leviathan steamrollering traditional values everywhere.

Yeah, why not immerse yourself in US junk culture at Disneyland Paris? Why not give Iraqi police officers sexual diversity training? Why not teach Iranians the wonders of business-friendly liberal democracy?

As the Joe Strummer of the late 1970s punk group, The Clash, sang, in one of his more thoughtful phases, "I'll salute the New Wave and I hope nobody escapes

Categories
Power Dynamics War Crimes

Dear Tony

In all honesty, hand on heart, do you seriously believe the main motivations of the US administration behind the occupation of Iraq were to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction, overthrow a tyrant, combat terrorism or spread democracy? On these counts your mission has failed dismally. The world is still plagued by WMDs, terrorism and state repression. Gross violations of human rights and economic misery are still rife in Iraq. More important the so-called Coalition's notion of democracy is demonstrably an utter sham. Only compliant governments will be tolerated. Can you seriously dismiss voluminous empirical evidence linking US foreign policy to direct or indirect control of the world's fossil fuel resources?

The timing of the US-led invasion of Iraq coincided with the key Peak Oil event. From now on oil will become scarcer. If only the US and UK governments had invested 120 billion US dollars in the development of renewable forms of energy and a transition to a more sustainable world with a much lower level of material consumption, you might have saved millions of lives.

Instead your verbal actions and utter mendacity have merely empowered a voracious global elite. As snippets of the truth emerge amid a fog of lies and deceit from the corporate and state media, your place in history will be set alongside the new century's greatest war criminals. By harking on about Saddam Hussein's crimes, you vainly hope we will forget yours. The fact remains that not only did Saddam Hussein enter politics as a CIA asset, not only did your corporate backers arm his regime back in the 1980s, but without the spectre of Saddam (as you like to call him), the invasion of Iraq could never have been justified. Let us remember that a permanent US-led occupation of the Middle East has long been the end game.

Yours sincerely

Categories
Power Dynamics

The Population Factor

"The modern plague of overpopulation is solvable by means we have discovered and with resources we possess. What is lacking is not the sufficient knowledge of the solution, but the universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem for billions of people who are its victims."Martin Luther King quoyte on population

Key Concepts

Consumption per capita:
(Max. sustainable total consumption / population) x efficiency factor
Carrying Capacity:
(Max. sustainable total consumption / consumption per capita) / maldistribution factor.
Max. sustainable population level
Tthe number of human being planet earth can support. The carrying capacity is reached when a sizable proportion of the population falls below the minimum requirements for food, water and shelter. Therefore more equitable distribution raises the carrying capacity.
Max. sustainable total consumption
Max. sustainable depletion rate of non-renewable resources + Max. sustainable regeneration rate of renewable resources
Efficiency factor
This accounts for the greater per capita availability of resources to the poorest through better and more equitable distribution, technological advancements and greater reliance on renewable energy and food supplies.
Maldistribution factor
This accounts for low carrying capacity as maldistribution of resources causes many of the poorest to fall below minimum sustenance levels (i.e. starve or die of easily curable diseases associated with poverty and crowded living conditions) long before theoretical mean levels of food and drinking water per capita falls below the minimum daily intake.
Environmental sustainability
Our ability to regenerate or to recycle resources essential for sustaining our aggregate rate of consumption over several generations without destabilising planet's earth fine environmental balance, on which agriculture depends.

The single biggest issue facing humanity is the availability, control and distribution of vital resources. All other issues pale into insignificance for the 5 billion individuals who do not live in one of the prosperous enclaves of the consumerist world. Even many of the 1 billion citizens of the wealthy world struggle to make ends meet in an interminable rat race. Goods considered luxuries in some of the poor regions such as cars, mobile phones, refrigerators etc. are viewed as necessities by most workers in Western Europe, North America, Japan and Australasia. Yet many anti-capitalists of the anarchist, ecologist and socialist traditions choose to downplay the importance of demographics, as overpopulation inevitably heralds an era of depopulation either by natural or planned means and would par force restrict reproductive and migratory freedoms.

Key Issues:

  • Availability of potable water
  • Availability of fossil fuels essential for transport, distribuition and high-yield farming
  • Availability of raw materials for machinery, vehicles, transport infrastructure, renewable power plants etc.
  • Rate of depletion of fertile soil due to high-yield farming
  • Capacity of technology to extend natural limitations

Various factors point towards a human overload. Little arable land is left unfarmed, little hospitable land is untouched, few accessible resources are untapped, other species are increasingly subservient to the human economy and their distribution and migratory patterns have been disrupted. Four to five decades of mass automobile use combined with rising demand for raw materials has led to recent predictions of manmade global warming. Even the great battle against disease has witnessed reversals as bacteriologists have shown how the overuse of antibiotics not only defeats the purpose of the drugs, but encourages virulent drug-resistant strains that may pose a greater risk to human health than older strains prevalent before the advent of antibacterial medications.

However, many of the same researchers depend on direct or indirect grants from multinationals, and are reluctant to challenge the profit motive head-on. In a world where human need and long term environmental planning were prioritised the pros, cons and long-term effects of antibiotics could be weighed rationally.

Antibiotics would be prescribed in life-threatening situations and in cases where their use would significantly reduce pain or limit the after-effects of debilitating bacterial diseases. They would not be prescribed for any viral diseases or transient bacterial diseases that the body's immune system could deal with. However, today while antibiotics may save millions of children who die of diseases such as Loma in many poor hot regions, their overuse or incorrect administration is triggering new drug resistant strands that only infect regular antibiotic users, but anyone who comes into contact with them. Wealthy medicine addicts may have other options, such as expensive new antibiotics and gene-therapy in a clinically clean environment. However, most human targets of superbugs have few such options available, able to afford only the cheap mass-produced drugs least likely to be efficacious against new virulent strains. Tuberculosis, malaria and cholera are back with a vengeance, as the West blames increased mortality solely on HIV.

Many economists such as Lester Thurrow an Michel Chossudovksy have highlighted the link between growing poverty, IMF and World Bank policies, the ever-expanding hegemony of transnational corporations and the withering self-sufficiency of most countries. However, when presented with data on the growing impact of 6 billion human beings on the world's environment, the radical anti-capitalist left views distribution as the only problem. Many internally deny the potential for a demographic crash for three other psychological and ethical reasons.

  • First the notion of overpopulation implies many people are superfluous and a depopulation program would inevitably affect the weakest first.
  • Second an unsustainable demographic burden implies we should stop migration to high-consumption areas, thereby condemning would-be economic migrants toa life of poverty in their homelands.
  • Third Marx claimed technological advances under capitalism will raise the earth's carrying capacity to meet human needs and as Malthus was a reactionary opposed to wealth redistribution his ideas will set back the struggle for a more equal society. Ironically as we shall see below the opposite may be true.

Population in the Age of Technocracy and Globalisation

Let us assume an ideal world would allow all individuals to achieve their full potential, enjoy a prosperous and stable standard of living, practice a rewarding profession, lead a pleasant private life, participate in grassroots democracy whether at work, in the community or at a higher level, feel free of irrational prejudices, tolerate diverse lifestyles and have unhindered access to all information and views about society and science. The nearest approximation to such a utopia is probably found in upper middle class enclaves of North America and Western Europe, residential areas inhabited by high-income and high-consumption professionals actively involved in the local community. However, the social problems caused by our undeniable inequality often lead residents' associations to be bastions of reactionary thought when it comes to crime and antisocial behaviour associated with the lower classes. If everyone enjoyed the same high living standards, cultural diversity would be so much more tolerable. Lovers of open-air parties could move to communities where such practices were not only tolerated but enjoyed by most inhabitants. Lovers of quiet suburban life could move to quiet suburban neighbourhoods where everyone understood the importance of privacy.

How can we achieve such a world for everybody? i.e. How can we defeat poverty, ensure long-term prosperity for all and thus eliminate the root cause of hatred and wars? The one beautifully obvious answer is simply dismissed as heretic fantasy. But first let us consider one main objection to the solution. Are most people in the developing world so poor because we depend on their cheap labour, i.e. do 1 billion mass-consumers depend on 5 billion low-wage workers? If we're talking about Indonesian workers in a Nike factory, this statement is certainly true. Despite automation and computerisation, many goods are much cheaper because brand name companies can outsource from remote suppliers in low-wage economies. However, sadly poverty sinks to much lower levels than Nike workers earning $50 a month. Multinationals have no use whatsoever for severely malnourished Indian teenagers who are so weak they cannot operate machines and cannot be easily trained for other jobs. Severe malnutrition in early childhood condemns victims either to early death or a life of physical and mental disability, and the limited resources of many third world countries rule out any treatment that enables the disabled to live a partially rewarding life in more affluent countries. The bleak truth is most people in the world's poorest countries do not work at all or struggle to survive on primitive subsistence farming despite expanding deserts, polluted rivers, degraded soil and shrinking available arable land per person due to a rising population. What's more many third world countries fail to produce the staple foods their people have long relied on and can ill afford to import from food exporters. Through China and India grow and produce masses of food, it is almost exclusively for domestic consumption. Europe is nearly self-sufficient but heavily overfarmed. The only real bread-baskets with massive surpluses are the US, The Canadian Prairies and Australia. Zambia, sparsely populated by European standards, imports increasing amounts of foods from South Africa, so Zambians pay more to eat older fruit.

Another factor many have ignored is that technology is developing at such a fast rate that unskilled or even many semi-skilled manufacturing jobs will simply vanish. A fully automated toy factory with a handful of technicians may need more investment than an overcrowded sweatshop, but is entirely strike-proof, more efficient, more reliable and can be located closer to the target market.

The answer is of course planned depopulation. The fiercest advocates of this radical solution claim it's better than forced or natural depopulation. Why should libertarians and Marxists alike disagree with this proposition? Enforcing it would mean curtailing individual freedoms, libertarians and religious fanatics can both condemn forced sterilisation campaigns. Smallgroups of overpopulation activists concentrated in the United States, Canadaand Australia (i.e. the very countries least effected by the world's economicand environmental woes) such ZPG, NPG and the Sierra Club advocate simplisticsolutions like one child per family. The problem is they also advocate tougher immigration controls on the basis that new immigrants from low-consumption countries would consume more in the United States than back home. There is some truth in that, but it doesn't solve any of the immediate problems that afflict millionsof poor third world citizens. In its most reactionary form the depopulation lobby blames the victims - it's their fault for having too many kids.

Historical Demographics

Even a cursory knowledge of recent demographic history can dispel the myth that our environmental woes are caused by African overpopulation, though this situation would soon change if all Africans consumed as much as North Americans. Europe's population grew rapidly in 18th and 19th centuries, North America's skyrocketed in the same period. The original 13 states totalled just 3.9 million inhabitants in 1792. Just consider the British Isles.

The 1088 doomsday book estimated 1.5 million in all of England and the combined populations of Scotland and Wales doubtfully exceeded 0.75 million, meaning for much of the middle ages Britain accommodated less than one twelfth of the current 56.5 million (Northern Ireland excluded). In 1770 mainland Britain had approximately 8 million, the first census in 1801 recorded 11 million inhabitants, but by 1831 the population had risen to 24 million, nearly 35 million by 1870 and then the growth rate began to sag with 40.6 million recorded in 1911 (excluding Ireland). If we take the period of fastest growth 1770-1870, Britain's population more than quadrupled despite significant emigration to the new colonies. Let's look at it from another angle. In 1770 the world's population was probably around 800 million, so Britain had around 1% of the total, by 1870 Britain's share had reached 3.5% and as the population has boomed in the developing world over the last 6 decades, Britain's share has returned to just under 1%. If we include the descendants of British emigrants in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Southern Africa (a complex calculation because English, Scots and Welsh emigrants interbred widely with other Europeans and their percentage of the blood pool or contribution to the regional genome can only be estimated), the percentage of biological Britons is still greater than it was in 1770. More shockingly this was achieved by phenomenally high birth rates in the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th century with depressingly high infant mortality and life expectancy comparable with that of the poorest African countries today. Great Britain's wealth and power was not built merely by the ingenuity and shrewdness of its ruling élite, but by blood, sweat and breeding of its subjects. The advent of the industrial revolution saw an increase in child deaths and lower longevity before better sanitation, higher safety standards and technological advances began to reduce the death rate.

The British ruling class needed a sizeable core of cultural Anglo-Saxons not only to man their industries and but to populate their colonies.

However, Europe's rising population was matched not only by increasing agricultural yields and industrialisation, but also by greater exploitation of colonial resources and eased by emigration. The rest of the world has been playing catch-up ever since, but with no new territories to conquer and exploit.

Asia's population grew rapidly from the turn of the 20th century,but has recently slowed significantly. China adopted its famous one-child policy, though it never applied to members of ethnic minorities. While India's birthrate has slowed, its infant mortality rate is still very high, poverty and chronic malnutrition rampant, but is still projected to top 1.2 billion by 2020 while farming yields per capita have actually started to decline. On the face of it, most of Africa is not overpopulated at all, 650 million inhabit an area nearly ten times larger than India with 1 billion citizens. If Africans had pioneered the era of industrialisation and colonialism, it could be the world's richest continent with immense natural resources, but if we exclude inhospitable deserts, semi-arid grasslands and mountains, the potentially arable area, even harnessing the most advanced technology, is much smaller. Outside North Africa, South Africa and Kenya very few Africans produce cheap goods for consumption in high-income countries, though African mineral and fossil resources are essential for the global economy, i.e. big business needs raw materials rather than human resources, except for a few travel guides and mineworkers. With widespread unemployment, a mass migration to the cities and dwindling traditional agriculture, hundreds of millions of Africans are superfluous to the globalised economy, too poor to consume or be retrained and lacking the infrastructure that attracts multinationals.

There are some anomalies. Zimbabwe has a plethora of articulate English-speaking high school graduates with requisite writing and typing skills who could easily be trained to work in call centres. £4 an hour may seem peanuts in British terms, but even a quarter of that rate would suit many Africans fine.

A little training and experience could soon help new Zimbabwean customer service managers cope with the incompatible British accents. However, not only in Zimbabwean telecommunications infrastructure appalling with standard calls to the UK costing 70p per minute, but the British call centre boom may itself be short-lived as technology progresses. Likewise some of the brightest programmers live in India.

Many software developers outsource the nitty gritty of code writing to third world programmers working for a fraction of wealthy world rates, but these programmers are a drop in an ocean of abject poverty. More Indians starve each day than receive pay checks from software firms every month.

Year0 AD1500175018251900195019601970198019902000
Approx. Population in Millions30050075010001500250030004000470053006000

The notion of carrying capacity is inherently unfair in a consumerist world. The more we consume, the fewer people our environment can sustain. As wealth is distributed so unevenly, in its starkest terms that means the more the rich consume, the fewer poor people are likely to survive.

Before the industrial revolution Britain's carrying capacity was around 5 to 8 million. Otherwise the population would have naturally increased to fill the gap. One of the greatest myths of modern history is the idea Europeans discovered relatively underpopulated lands in the Americas and Australasia.

The area of North America currently occupied by the US and Canada could have easily accommodated 15-30 million Native Americans with the technology available to them before the European invasion. It is also wrongly assumed that the cultural and technological influence of a community is relative to their initial population.

Had the English Royal family not sent Italian navigator Cabot to claim a chunk of North America for the crown and had the industrial revolution started on mainland Europe, which it nearly did, the British Isles might well have played a very peripheral role in the world's subsequent cultural development. In 1750 mainland Britain was home to barely 7-8 million, less than 1% of the world population and English was spoken by only 6-7 million in various dialects. French, Italian, German and Spanish all had more native speakers at the time and arguably a richer literature. Latin and French were the main lingua francas. 250 years later around 380 million speak English as a first language, around 400 million more speak it proficiently as a second language and probably another 1200 million have learned school English to varying degrees of success (We should be very sceptical about statistics for non-native English speakers as proficiency is very hard to quantify, but that still leaves 4 billion with no knowledge at all of English).

From a collection of Anglo-Saxon dialects that had only just gained recognition as the official language of administration, English evolved into the de facto global tongue with few apparent rivals except on a regional level. Even standard Putonghua Chinese with over twice as many native speakers poses little immediate threat. Indeed we may liken the role of English today in much of Asia and Africa with the role of Norman French in England between 1066 and 1400, for it is viewed as the vehicle of technological progress. However, the speed of technological change and increasing interconnectivity of the global economy poses the greatest threat ever to cultural diversity.

Colonisation and Migration

Let's face it mass immigration to the wealthy regions of the world will not solve the world's demographic and environmental problems. However, calls to isolate Fortress Europe and Fortress North America from the outside world will backfire or require even tougher border controls and the denial of basic human rights to millions. We cannot exploit the resources of the whole world and only allow 1/6 to indulge in hedonism. On the one hand it makes little sense to overburden high-consumption regions and encourage a brain drain, on the other merely erecting walls around consumerist paradises will create a global apartheid in the rest of the world, while transnational corporations retain control of key resources in the developing world. However, immigration may be debated, because big business itself is divided

There are few better examples of governmental duplicity than the UK. Until Indian Independence in 1947 the British Empire covered 1/4 of the world's population. How many actually migrated to these shores? 1%, 2%, 3% maybe? No, just over 3 million, i.e. 0.5% of the 600 million plus inhabitants of the British Empire in 1947 and an even lower percentage of these countries' populations in the years of greatest immigration. Natural growth also means fewer than 3 million immigrated. More important the first immigrants were positively encouraged through advertising campaigns in the West Indies to fill low-wage jobs that native Britons no longer wanted. Despite low unemployment throughout the 1950s racism was rife and in 1960s the Labour government responded to growing racial tension by sidelining proponents of repatriation such as Enoch Powel and tightening immigration controls. However, there is a big dilemma as the powers that be are highly unlikely to redress the growing imbalance between the opulent and impoverished worlds. The problem is not just the demographic burden on the target countries, but the socio-economic instability that masses of poor immigrants would bring. The British establishment is well aware of these facts, but poses on the international stage as the champion of a tolerant multiethnic world in which new immigrants are welcomed with open arms. British Foreign policy has for three decades been to export emigration from its former colonies, first to Australia, Canada and the US, but more recently to mainland Europe. Britain and France absorbed large waves of immigration in the 1950s, 60s and early 70s,but over the last 20 years Germany and Austria have accommodated a higher percentage of first and second generation immigrants and Italy and Spain are quickly catching up. As the UK closed the floodgates in the 1980s and 90s, the migration burden shifted. Recent suggestions that the UK liberalise its immigration laws to allow more highly educated immigrants to make up for the shortage of British engineers, exemplify the real issue. The problem, as the government sees it, is not immigration per se, but poor immigrants. Since the late 1990s, immigration numbers have steadily increased with rising unemployment in Eastern Europe, civil wars raging in many corners of the globe and a shortage of skilled workers in the building, catering and care sectors in the South East of England. This trend has further exacerbated the housing crisis and alienated a large section of the native working class, whether of traditional Anglo-Saxon or Celtic stock or more recent Afro-Caribbean descent.

Some analysts talk of fortress Europe and Fortress America, while others talk of the globalisation of poverty - a future of wealthy enclaves intermingled with lower class districts and shanty towns. Post-apartheid South Africa epitomises this reality, but at what price? Wealthy families inhabit luxurious bungalows surrounded by 4 metre high walls, electric fences and rapid armed response, and drive their children to exclusive schools inaccessible to low and middle income families. Every niche of wealth represents a prosperous region with strict border controls, the only difference is proximity to unaided abject poverty. In today's globalised world the real distinctions are no longer white versus black, developed world versus developing world, but rich versus poor. Border controls merely afford greater security for the middle classes, while the upper echelons of the business class can always afford secluded residences.

As a result we will see a diversification in the distribution and density of the moneyed classes. Some regions will have tough border controls and some degree of social cohesion, i.e. a limited social safety net, education and health services available to all etc., while others will have laxer border controls, but limited government intervention to offset socio-economic imbalances. Britain is likely to retain some of the toughest immigration controls, other European countries will follow, but are less able to stem the tide as much of Eastern Europe evolves into a third world economy. Unable to challenge corporate power, the left has little choice but to weigh the social consequences of accommodating more economic migrants and the human consequences of denying the desperately poor masses the right to emigrate. In true duplicitous British style the onus will be on other countries to accept more immigrants. Over the last decade Austria, with a mere 7.7 million citizens, has taken on 1 million immigrants. How would the UK have coped with 7.5 million new immigrants in the 1950s? Austrian politicians wishing to emulate British immigration controls are branded Neo-Nazis by the Anglo-Saxon press, i.e. do as we advise not as we do!

In an ideal world people would not need to travel far and wide to ensure themselves a decent lifestyle, but some, probably a tiny minority, will always benefit not only themselves but the new community they adopt by migrating, however, such migration would be balanced and only be overtly unidirectional if environmental and technological changes allow it.

Carrying Capacity, Distribution, Democracy and Freedom

We take our consumerist lives for granted. A public relations executive earning 60K per annum doesn't stop to ponder the fact that she has never actually produced anything before she drives her 4WD off-roader to the supermarket to splash out on goodies. Instead we might consider who pays PR execs, account managers, lawyers specialised in corporate law and other seemingly superfluous tertiary sector workers? Why is one PR officer in the UK worth a hundred shop-floor workers in Indonesia? The answer is simple: to maintain not only the market share of a given company, but to secure corporate power.

In the unlikely hypothesis that a benign superpower imposed strict sanctions on the UK. We would need to change our diet probably with rations (tea, coffee, wine, citrus fruits, rice, olive oil etc. would be in very short supply) and rely on increasingly outdated equipment no longer manufactured in the UK, before oil from the North Sea runs out within 10 years and gas within 30 years. Our whole economy reliant on petroleum-based agriculture, transportation and power generation would grind to a halt. How many wind turbines would we need to build to replace the generating output of all fossil-fuel thermal power plants? Would we have the resources to make so many wind turbines? Where would we get the silicon needed to make solar panels and the masses of concrete, steel and plastic to build tidal power stations? How would a generation of Britons dependent on the service sector adapt to mundane tasks like farming and manufacturing essential goods?

For a foretaste of what the world could be like go to oil-rich Iraq, where basic infrastructure such as water pipelines has been bombed and strict sanctions imposed, in just 10 years over 500,000 children have died of otherwise easily curable diseases. Just imagine the consequences of sanctions against Zimbabwe, not the fictitious sanctions allegedly imposed during Ian Smith's rule between 1964 and 79 when the country was still called Rhodesia, the sanctions currently proposed by the US Zimbabwe bill. A country 1 1/2 times larger than the UK with a 11 million inhabitants and plenty of prime farming land could be reduced to a shadow of its former self, as wealthy white farmers leave, oil prices sore, new technology and investment fail to arrive and soil erosion spreads. More shockingly the US Census Bureau has already revised its forecast for Zimbabwe's 2050 population to 9.2 million, i.e. a decrease in a country where 50% of the population are under 15 means a very high death rate.

Can higher death rates caused by HIV/AIDS and other renascent diseases like malaria and tuberculosis explain such a significant drop? Do they know something we don't?

The increased efficiency of the globalised economy and our reliance of advanced technology also raises our dependence on transnational corporations and/or foreign governments. Freedom has always been a relative concept. Does it mean the freedom to partake in love fests on pristine beaches?

The freedom to indulge in narcotics? The freedom to drive Jaguar E-types onsemideserted 8-lane highways? The freedom to carry a gun? The freedom to walk the streets safe at night? The freedom to enjoy unpolluted tranquillity? The freedom to speak one's mind? The freedom to enjoy unprejudiced friendliness in a socially cohesive community? The freedom to watch Hollywood movies replete with gratuitous violence? The freedom to a local cultural identity and minority language rights? The freedom to access dissident views on the Internet? The freedom to enjoy a childhood free of commercialised sex? Inevitably freedoms conflict. Local democracy and globalised interdependence conflict, although you'd never believe that from the rhetoric of many politicians.

Democracy is only worthy of its name if people can actuallycontrol the distribution of resources. If a region is self-sufficient in food, energy and the raw materials required for housing, transportation and essential infrastructure, its people can opt out of global trade and stay alive. In the pre-inustrialisation era the threat of sanctions would have been meaningless for most countries, today it's a matter of life, death or a dramatic decline in living standards. A country's economy depends on inward investment, exports and technology developed abroad. However, we need massive diversification to maintain our high living standards. Britain and France would not have been able to sustain their economic growth without exploiting resources from their empires. The US had the enviable privilege of a relatively self-sufficient high-consumption economy until its own petroleum supplies ran out and it relied increasingly on its stranglehold on key Middle East oil wells. The whole global system is geared to the dominance of a tiny élite of investors and corporate executives through the mass consumption of 1 billion human beings and the exploitation of a further billion low-paid workers (including extended families and local businesses dependent on their wages) and the total neglect of the other 4 billion.As automation and computerisation render unskilled and semiskilled superfluous and big business begins to realise aggregate consumption must go down to ensure long term profitability, hundreds of millions of workers will be laid off.

Assuming all other factors are equal: the more people the more we depend on technology controlled by transnational corporation and international trade and the less any given region or even countries the size of Britain have any independence at all.

Higher aggregate consumption: Greater adverse effects on our environment and more dependence of advanced technology to solve short-term problems
Lower aggregate consumption: Smaller adverse effects on our environment and longer-lasting sustainability
Bigger total population: Higher demands on our environment relative to aggregate consumption
Smaller total population:
  • Lower demands on our environment relative toaggregate consumption
  • Greater sustainable consumption per capita
  • More arable and hospitable land per capita
  • Less reliance on large organisations for distribution of essential food and water supplies
  • Organisations can be held more accountable as local communities are more self-sufficient
  • Individuals can enjoy greater personal freedoms without restricting the freedoms or fundamental rights of others

Forced Depopulation Theories

One of the most potent arguments used against any conspiracy theory is to dismiss it as such. We should at least distinguish those based on irrational prejudices or religious conviction from those based on empirical evidence. The mendacity of politicians, corporate executives and military chiefs can lead us to some startling conclusions. If the CIA is behind narcotraffic in much of the world, is this not a case of planned populationcontrol? Why did Britain not only fight for free opium trade, while encouraging its consumption among the Chinese fully aware of its addictiveness?

Much of this site exposes the agenda of globalisers as control freaks intent on managing all resources and controlling all governments in an interdependent world and thereby reducing democracy to plebiscites over remote bureaucrats. Any humane alternative to the current world order can only build on solidarity with other peoples, gain inspiration from reciprocal cultural exchange and seek to redress the imbalances created by greedy colonialism.

Demonstrators at the September 1999 Battle of Seattle were united in their opposition to the global hegemony of the sole superpower in cohort with financiers and transnational corporations (multinational somehow implies that they belong to many nations, it might be more accurate to say that some corporations are multinational by running many nations). Greens, Marxists, religious fundamentalists and conservative isolationists came together. If they discussed concepts such as environmental depredation through overconsumption, abortion and contraception, immigration control, import quotas, pride in one's colonial past etc., it could have all ended in one mighty punch up to the delight of the global élite. While tarnishing all protestors as rabble-rousers and vandals, the mainstream press dismissed the crowd as disaffected zealots divided on every issue. However, in a rational world these groups could have held a week-long debating festival with workshops on every single issue that divides them and who knows out of the maze of conflicting ideas, a clear understanding and coherent strategy might emerge.

A strain of conservative thought sees the world run by a shadow government, the Bilderbergers, with their own agenda to wrest control from national societies. Most followers of this sect tend to be deeply religious, Catholic and Protestant, but also some adherents of other creeds. Unsurprisingly they oppose abortion, contraception, homosexuality and extramarital sex because sexual intercourse evolved solely for procreation. Divine nature wants us to go forth and muliply with god-fearing offspring, while governments want to stop you having more kids. Overpopulation is, so they say, a myth perpetrated by the liberal intelligentsia. How do we explain growing poverty and the emergence of new drug resistant strains of infection diseases? Of course, it's all a plot by the New World Order to reduce the excess population and promote hedonistic consumerism.

At least this theory recognises the tangible problem. Others, chiefly journalists for establishment media outlets, dismiss the problem. The demographic growth rate is slowing and new technologies will help us increase the earth's carrying capacity, so we can all enjoy an environmentally friendly high standard of living.

Indeed we have already faced the stark alternative of genetically modified organisms or mass starvation, that's right accusing opponents and sceptics of profit-driven farming yield boosting techniques of being Luddites at best and mass murderers at worst. Some interesting population lobbies are countering scientific concerns about our growing impact on our environment, Marxists join ranks with free-marketers and Papists. Papists oppose population control because contraception and abortion are against their religion and they favour large families of faithful worshippers.

Free-marketers such as the CATO Institute oppose such measures because they limit freedom of choice. Marxists usually favour contraception and women's right to choose on abortion, but oppose neo-Malthusian analysis. They believe maldistribution and exploitation alone explain poverty, radical depopulation measures are inevitably reactionary and communism can guarantee plenty for all. However, we have conflicting models of communism. Is it a world government run by democratic centralism for the benefit of the masses or is it a commune run by all its members for their long-term survival and prosperity? The first vision leads inevitably to a state apparatus that seeks not only to control resources and technology, but also the populace as a whole. Dissenters are ritually accused of disrupting the established order and jeopardising the wellbeing of all. The power structure needed to manage a world-wide command economy does not actually differ very radically from corporatism.

If we had relied strictly on Adam Smith's vision of free trade, the world would be a very different place. Adam Smith would have allowed population to reach its ideal level within commercial and environmental constraints. The history of capitalism has shown that upholders of free trade tend to be market leaders, while protectionists are merely advocating the same tactics that enabled wealthy nations and powerful corporations to amass vast fortunes. A consistent "free-market" libertarian would have opposed colonialism, which grew from mercantilism, and all imperialist wars. If the British wanted Transvaal gold, they could have merely offered their technical expertise to local entrepreneurs and buy it at market value. Instead they fought two brutal wars against the Boer Republics, with hundreds of thousands of needless deaths. If the only justification is the alleged racism of the Boers, why did the British not treat black mineworkers as equals and let them prosper from the mineral treasure chest? No prizes for answering this question, the native population was treated as pawns in a game with the sole purpose of profit. Had Buddhist monks inhabited the area and refused to relinquish their territory, Lord Kitchener and Cecil Rhodes would have fought them too. Would Anglo-American capitalism be so dominant today, if the British had not had such a large empire and the United States had not pursued protectionist trade policies with high import tariffs and antidumping laws for so long?

19th century imperialism laid the foundations for modern globalism and let the world population rise six fold and aggregate consumption many times more. To maximise efficiency, we have had to renege on economic independence.

If we lack the self-determination to control the gathering, cultivation, production, distribution of vital resources in our own territory democracy is utterly meaningless.

Forecasts

First we have to assume no alternative economic system is likely to replace corporatism or the fusion of vested big business and superpower interests.

Production will continue to serve the profitability of transnational corporations and consumption and rely increasingly on surplus value generated by virtual products.. Information technology and automation will lower the demand for cheap unskilled labour in low-wage economies with a relative increase in the demand for skilled staff. Fewer bucks are spent on factory floor workers, and more on design, advertising, marketing, financial services etc. These jobs are inevitably assigned mainly to people educated and living in high-wage consumerist regions.

The growth rate of aggregate consumption has already begun to wane and oil extraction will peak in 2005, leading to a decrease in global consumption. While this may seem good news to environmentalists, the bad news is the wealthiest 12th of the world's population (the middle classes in prosperous countries and a few enclaves dotted around the globe, around 500 million, but excluding the lower working classes and underclasses) may actually consume more, while poverty spreads elsewhere slowing demographic growth. The wealthy benefit from new cleaner technologies and acquire surplus produce that the rest of world can no longer afford, while the poor lack the means to adapt, but cannot return to their forebears' way of life.

Essential Links

Jay Hansson's Die-off
site with extensive analysis of the coming oil crisis. This is probably one of the most radical environmentalist, anti-government and anti-corporatist sites with an emphasis on survivalism in the post-oil world.
Categories
Power Dynamics

Technocracy and Science

Science
Study of the physical world and its manifestations through empirical observation of natural phenomena and monitoring of systematic experimentation.
Technology
the study, development, and application of devices, machines, and techniques for manufacturing and productive processes
Technocracy
Power based on the control of technology in which scientists, engineers and technicians useful to the ruling class may enjoy high social standing and exert influence

Broadly speaking a better understanding of our physical environment, origin, capabilities and limitations helps us plan our future and learn from our mistakes. Science is applied to develop technology, but may also reveal its adverse effects. Technology may be beneficial or detrimental and have good or bad applications, while technocracy concentrates power in the hands of those who control technology. If we aim to build a fairer, more open and democratic society, scientific research is not just good but essential, while technology should be applied only if it enhances our enjoyment of life and benefits the long-term sustainability of society as a whole.

The short-term benefits of new technology may lead in the long term to conflicts over the distribution of resources, empower the masters of technological know-how and radically alter the fabric of society. Just consider the immense impacts of television and automobiles on wealthy countries over the last 60 or so years. Together they have discouraged communal transport and entertainment and encouraged mass consumption and the atomisation of communities and families. Many workers commute over 30 miles to benefit from lower property prices or safer neighbourhoods. Cultural life revolves around mass entertainment whether it's multichannel TV, radio, high-profile interactive web sites (which nearly always require a dedicated team of content managers), mass-marketed pop music, movies or pulp fiction. The tentacles of big business reach far and wide. Opponents of such developments are inevitably dismissed as luddites. Think of the benefits. TV educates, informs and shows parts of the world most viewers would never see. Cars broaden horizons beyond the parochial bounds of one's home village or town. Supermarkets provide a variety of food products local grocers could never hope to match and at more competitive prices. Sooner or later even traditionalists are driving to church, watching soaps on TV and doing the weekly shopping at sparkling new supermarkets 10 miles away. While we're lulled into a false sense of freedom, we have inadvertently empowered an even tinier elite to run our lives. Without fossil fuels, electricity and potable tap water our lives would soon grind to a halt. While consumers use and admire the wonders of technology, few can either create or control it. Our governments fight wars over resources needed to sustain a lifestyle promoted by the mass media.

Common sense holds that technology should serve people and not the other way round. We need a more thorough application of science and less blind faith in technocracy.

Categories
Power Dynamics War Crimes

Dear Blairite MP,

Dear Ms Rachel Squire,

The record shows that you have consistently supported the government on matters of war. In my humble opinion, all recent military interventions have directly inflicted death and destruction and sown the seeds of more interethnic violence. I doubt you have time to investigate the complex history of foreign involvement in civil wars still raging or simmering in Afghanistan and the Balkans, so let us consider the government's stated aims and its true motivations behind the recent invasion of Iraq, which you supported wholeheartedly.

So far, five reasons have been given to justify an expenditure of $120 billion, money - I hasten to add - that could work wonders if invested in sustainable development in the world's poorest countries. All prove fallacious under closer scrutiny.

  1. The pre-invasion Iraqi regime had weapons of mass destruction. We now know it did not, but any chemical and biological weapons it might have had were remnants of stock supplied in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan's and George Bush Senior's administrations, under which many members of George W Bush's cabinet worked, had friendly relations with the Baathist Regime. Key evidence publicised by the mass media, in particular, the Sun and Daily Record read by many traditional Labour voters here in Scotland, proved to be based on false evidence.
  2. Saddam Hussein collaborated with Al Qaeda. Utter nonsense, not a shred of evidence. The only real link between the two is that the US government supported them in previous guises in the 1980s.
  3. We need to impose democracy on the region by overthrowing a brutal dictator. That Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator is beyond dispute. But he would never have gained power without US support. More important, by democracy the US administration clearly means compliance with the dictat of unaccountable multinationals. Most of Iraqi industry has already been privatised and the oil ministry will continue to work under the watchful guidance of US-based oil corporations and be required to pay off debts that date from the 1980s war with Iran.
  4. By removing an inimical regime, the world will be a safer place. Clearly fallacious, no-one outside a small pro-US or pro-Israeli elite seriously believes Iraqis will have any effective control after the staged handover of power on 30th June. The newly appointed prime minister Iyad Allawi is a former CIA and MI6 asset (very much like Saddam Hussein).
  5. Iraqis will benefit from greater economic prosperity. Actually, despite the war with Iran and despite the regime's undeniably repressive nature, the 1980s marked the heyday of the Iraqi economy as a sizeable proportion of oil revenue filtered back into the economy. The 1990s witnessed a collapse in oil exports (to less than 1/4 of the previous level) and a harsh sanctions regime, that both Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck have described as genocidal.

Yet while Labour MPs such as yourself fell victim to a campaign of deception, the world is experiencing another crisis, much bigger and more dramatic in scale than the threat posed by any dictator of a medium-sized nation. In one word, OIL. Our economy depends on material growth, which is rapidly outstripping supply. Recent price rises are but a foretaste of things to come. We'd need hundreds of thousands of wind turbines blighting our landscape to substitute a sizeable fraction of the energy we get from fossil fuels. Other alternatives such as nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, biodiesel etc. all have their limitations. Hydrogen is but a carrier requiring electricity for electrolysis from water or fossil fuels. Cold fusion is at best 30-40 years from the making and at worst a myth that contradicts the laws of thermodynamics.

In short control of the world's last plentiful and cheap supply of fossil fuels in Iraq and neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Iran plays a pivotal role in the continued supremacy of a world order centred around US multinationals. The evidence linking leading members of Bush regime to the oil industry is compelling. The Project for a New American Century urged the occupation of Iraq back in the mid 1990s. Indeed it has long been their intention to create a situation, in which the US could justify a permanent presence in the region. IN this context one understands much more lucidly the role played by the infamous Saddam Hussein. First they armed his regime, next they tricked him into invading Kuwait, then they imposed sanctions against his people while ensuring his regime stayed in intact and lastly they occupied his country less than two years after a terrorist attack on the US. Without Saddam Hussein none of this would have been possible.

It seems blatantly clear to me that the last thing the corporate powers behind Tony Blair's leadership want in Iraq is for the people of the Middle East to control their own destiny. Thanks to your vote, millions more will die in a long and protracted war that will dwarf the US misadventure in Vietnam. More to the point the real reasons for this war, greed and control, go against everything the Labour movement has ever stood for.

I invite you to justify your stance and debate the issue at a time and place of your choosing.

Write to your MP:

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

By persuasion if we can, but by coercion if we must!

The liberal media's reaction to reports of widespread abuse and torture of Iraqi detainees by US and UK military personnal marks a psychological turning point in the current phase in the sole superpower's war for total global domination.

Recent interventions have been justified in one way or another by our moral superiority, our more advanced, more humane form of civilisation, our crusade to spread democracy and liberal values. Whatever the crimes committed by high-tech weapons systems, whatever the abuses carried out at Guantanamo Bay, whatever the evidence of CIA-funding for the KLA or Al Qaeda, whatever the flaws in the allegations made against the former Yugoslav government, Britain - we were told - represented a beacon of justice and fairness.

No sooner had our brave service men and women liberated a new territory, the liberal media progressed to stage two, reconstruction via international bank loans and rehabilitation via NGOs. British experts would be sent all over the globe to teach our enlightened ways to people accustomed for so long to only dictatorships (with whom we used to do business). Thus for paid intellectuals like Johann Hari of the Independent or David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen of the Guardian, new military adventures provided a new opportunity to spread our values.

Wouldn't it just be wonderful if the whole world became a multi-hued mosaic of dominant post-1980s Anglo-American culture? Sure McDonalds would localise its burgers for the Mid East market, MTV would broadcast some Arabic rap, juicier scenes from Hollywood movies would be edited out and people would speak English with different accents and continue to learn local dialects for a couple more generations. But rest assured your Lonely Planet Guide to Iraq will feature an extensive list of gay nightclubs in downtown Baghdad. Okay Iraqis may have more traditional values now, but given time greater exposure to our benign media will usher in a new era of carefree hedonism.

US and UK crimes could easily be brushed aside by stressing the repressive nature of all local or nationalist alternatives. So pundits would opine that we need to stay the course in Iraq to stop Islamic extremists or Saddam Loyalists from (re)gaining power. Democracy has only one meaning: A pacified electorate happy to vote for responsible politicians who collaborate fully with the international community as defined by the Coalition.

To understand the chasm emerging within our ruling elite witness yesterday's Scottish Daily Record and UK Daily Express - not a word about US and UK crimes, just a page two article about Moqtaba Al-Sadr's threat to use captured female British soldiers as slaves. Then read the liberal press. The underlying message is Abu Ghraib represents a setback for the spread of our civilisation, very bad PR. Now the damage has been done, a section of the ruling elite, the same opinion-makers who campaigned passionately for humanitarian wars, want our troops out. But the die has already been cast. Withdrawal will leave the US in a significantly weaker position in the Middle East than it enjoyed in February 2003. Whether or not, US and UK armed forces retreat strategically, their dependence on near absolute control of the world's oil reserves is so great that they will just seek new and devious means.

It's time the left gatekeepers, as some call the likes of Greg Palast (who thinks the Beeb allows objective reporting), started challenging assumptions about our moral superiority and start publicly admitting rather than merely implying the real motivations for war. Torture and violence are not unAmerican any more than they are unChinese or unArabic. They are classic tools of conquest. As Madeleine Albright said "We will act multilaterally when we can, unilaterally when we must."

Let's paraphrase that: We will act by gentle persuasion where we can and by physical coercion and advanced brainwashing techniques where we must. What the liberal media is telling us is that the era of gentle persuasion is nearing its end.

Categories
Power Dynamics War Crimes

Free Speech and Hate Speech

False and ridiculous charges are no real problem. It is the unconscionable critics who reveal unwanted truths from whom society must be protected" Noam Chomsky in Deterring Democracy

A False Sense of Self-Righteousness

Intellectuals in the public eye remind us how we should thank our lucky stars for our democratic system with freedom of speech and press. Not only should we cherish this relative freedom, but we should ensure our high standards are met elsewhere through economic or military intervention.

All things considered our model of democracy is largely a farce reduced to occasional opinion polls and popularity contests, while our wonderfully free media is in the hands of a corporate and state bureaucracy. Without advertising revenues or state subsidies, independent outlets do not stand a chance. Nonetheless some journalists committed to the truth and genuine debate have allowed some dissident views to surface through excellent documentaries, reporting and live discussions. When the My Lai massacre appeared on American TV screens, the Vietnam War soon turned into a public relations disaster. This did not stop General Wesley Clark from defending the US Army's record or from directing air strikes over the Balkans 30 years later. However, most off-message views have been neatly confined within a range of legitimate dissent.

Increasingly news reports appeal to the wishful thinking professional classes and armchair activists, horrified by alleged abuses of human rights attributable to inhumane foreign leaders or lower class louts.

Three main objections are raised against free speech:

  1. False or embarrassing allegations may slander otherwise defenceless individuals and stir irrational public contempt.
  2. Some views, especially when expressed in overt language, may offend certain sections of the community.
  3. Some views may challenge the ideological supremacy of the ruling class and incite rebellion.

The first objection may seem tenable at first as the recipients of any media hate campaign know all too well. We might wonder how the press, controlled by corporate interests, chooses which celebs, politicians or foreign leaders to demonise. However, we need not limit freedom of speech to protect defenceless individuals against unjust attacks, merely allow the right of reply and fairer libel laws accessible to all irrespective of financial means, so that newspapers would be forced to compensate the victims of deliberate misinformation. In a civilised society media outlets would stick to the facts that concern us. If we had a diverse media interested in genuine problems affecting millions of ordinary people, we would not be obsessed with the private lives of public figures, but rather debate how the actions of the powerful affect us.

The second objection is very much in vogue and usually applies to remarks or views deemed racist, otherwise xenophobic, sexist or somehow prejudicial to the interests of a given group. To some the current obsession with political correctness may seem a sign of progress. Personally I have never liked remarks and opinions disrespectful of members of other ethnic groups, especially deprived immigrant communities. But a closer look at the facts reveals a different picture as the gap between rich and poor has demonstrably never been greater. Indeed political correctness masks the real intents of politicians, while the focus of media attention is on the choice of words rather than on the repercussions of policies. Moreover, who decides what is racist, xenophobic, sexist or, to use a newly coined term, homophobic? For instance a British anti-nuclear protester was recently charged with incitement to racial hatred for dragging a US flag on the ground during a demonstration against the deployment of the multi-billion dollar Star Wars project (as originally reported in the Independent).

Foreign Office spokespeople dress their briefings up in diplomatic Newspeak. Someone who plants a bomb outside a gay pub killing two people is a dangerous mentally deranged neo-Nazi admirer of both Saddam Hussein and Joseph Stalin, while the UK government's feeble excuses for violence on a much greater scale over the Balkans and Iraq may only be criticised tactically and former UK support for Iraq is a mere strategic mistake. Yet were we to adopt the lynch mob tactics of the press, we'd brand Tony Blair a rabid racist and send him to the European Court of Human Rights. As Mr Blair's rhetoric is strongly against nominal racism and new concepts such as ethnic cleansing (formerly known as colonisation and mass deportation), we have internalised the notion that New Labour seeks to uphold the human rights of all. The very same government approved export credits for the sale of arms to Indonesia and Turkey, responsible for human rights abuses on a massive scale, and feels it has the moral authority to smear all opponents of aerial bombardments over Iraq and the Balkans as apologists for totalitarian regimes.

On a purely rational level openly xenophobic speech need only worry us if it can attract widespread public support. First we may ask why ordinary people are susceptible to xenophobic propaganda, but it seems elementary that those with a wider reach can more easily sway public opinion, e.g. if a man in a pub tells his mate a horror story about a gypsy who mugged his mother, only his mate knows and can judge for himself whether the story is true or representative of Roma as a whole. However, were widespread media outlets to run stories about gypsies mugging women, it could reinforce deep-seated prejudices and incite ethnic hatred. By contrast, were such propaganda targeted at communities who had lived together peacefully and intermarried for generations, the media might face serious opposition. Xenophobia is not based so much on ignorance as on preconceptions. Over the last century British propaganda has evolved from blatant nationalism, to subtle moral superiority. A hundred years ago our rulers colonised 1/4 of the world's land to civilise inferior cultures and empower the empire, we had a God-given right to enslave other peoples in all but name and to destabilise their governments.

Today the UK intervenes to support the international community's desire to teach a lesson to foreign leaders accused of heinous crimes against humanity and enforce business-friendly democracy. In contrast with the imperial heyday the UK is a faithful lieutenant of a transnational Anglo-American Empire and public relations dictate that imperialist wars be sold on humanitarian grounds.

In the 1990s the media tried to persuade the public that Serbs are bloodthirsty ethnic cleansers. People's experiences in the British Isles could hardly confirm such prejudices as the British actually sided with Serbia against Albania in WW1. As the Croatian Ustaše collaborated with the Nazis, official British propaganda had at least until 1948 been favourable to the Yugoslav cause. In 1916 the Daily Telegraph reported gas vans were deployed in Kosovo to murder Serbs. Even as the conflict broke out after Tito's death, many eminent voices on the BBC spoke of the benefits of a multiethnic federation. Had only politicians associated with the nationalist right on TV ranted about subhuman Serbs, some liberal commentators might might have accused them of racism. Instead morally superior journalists and so-called human rights campaigners exposed the alleged Nazi tendencies of a regime that had bedevilled large sections of the Serb population. Mainstream media reports portrayed Serbs as aggressors and ethnic cleansers, a term that gained currency in the Yugoslav conflict, while Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Albanian Kosovars were considered victims. The facts paint a very different picture. Good and bad guys were on all sides and the underlying causes of the rekindling of the old ethnic disputes were economic.

If we were momentarily to accept the genetic determinist explanation for ethnic hatred, we could reach some illogical conclusions. Propaganda over the last century has portrayed the Germans first as expansionist huns, although the British had beaten them to it by 200 hundred years or so, and then as willing executioners in the greatest insanity that has ever beset mankind. But who are the English as opposed to the native Celtic and Pictish peoples of the British Isles? Germans, of course. Who are the upper middle class US citizens entrusted with the envious role of world cop? The core of the US's ruling class stems from recent immigrants from the British Isles and mainland Europe. So surely any hereditary markers for xenophobia in Germans are just as likely to surface in their close cousins across the North Sea and Atlantic. The same nonsense is applied to the bloody civil wars between Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda and Burundi.

All forms of xenophobia are clearly not equal. Even compared with the worst verifiable accusations held against Serbs, Israel has been guilty of much more heinous atrocities against Palestinians both in the occupied territories and Southern Lebanon. The only two possible excuses presented are Arab terrorism threatening Israel security and the Shoah. After displacing 780,000 Palestinians in 1948 and forcing 1.5 million Palestinians to crowd into the least fertile patches of land, one need not be surprised at Arab retaliation. Israel is in all but name a ruthless Apartheid state complete with homelands and rigorously enforced segregation of undesirable Palestinians. As for the second excuse, the Serbs were also victims both of Ustaše shootings and maltreatment in concentration camps during the Second World War. Unlike the Israelis, the Yugoslavs attempted to form a federation and bury their differences for nearly 40 years. Journalists may fabricate lies about alleged Serb atrocities without being dubbed xenophobes, but dare not speak out against Zionism for fear of being branded anti-Semites.

The truth is many people regulate their own hatred within the confines of acceptable contempt. Mainstream propaganda encourages us to reserve a healthy dose of hatred for official enemies and demonised groups such as Serb ethnic cleansers, Arab fundamentalists, Hutu extremists, Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime, homophobes, paedophiles, muggers and nail bombers. Indeed the media often lumps these groups together indiscriminately, e.g. Serbs have been accused of raping Muslim women in Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo, reinforcing the public perception that Serbs and rapists are of the same ilk. A closer analysis shows that since NATO moved in to Bosnia and Kosovo the sex industry has blossomed supplying NATO personnel and NGO workers with mainly Slavic women.

In May 2000 a group of German teenagers on a school holiday walked along a Cornwall beach. A group of local teenagers and adults chanted "Nazis, Nazis, We won the War" and started throwing stones. If Nazi means someone who condemns others based on their ethnicity or religion, then we might wonder who the real Nazis were in this case.

Another topical case is Edinburgh psychology lecturer Chris Brand who published a book, The G Factor, about the relative intelligence of different racial groups, notably concluding that Black Africans have on average scored lower in IQ tests. While Professor Brand's evidence may seem compelling to many willing believers, he fails to empirically link general intelligence with IQ tests and ignores the Flynn effect, showing how the social environment can raise IQ levels by 15 points per generation, the vast divergence of IQ scores among members of the same racial groups and the reappraisal of the genetic significance of aesthetic racial features. Moreover, IQ tests tend to be culturally biased and one can be trained to achieve higher scores. Self-styled anti-racists rallied behind the Anti-Nazi League's call to ban the book. They succeeded as publisher John Wiley withdrew it. However, The g Factor merely articulated in pseudo-scientific terms what millions had long privately suspected. Banning the book not only affords it more credibility, but denies others the opportunity of challenging its arguments one by one. Indeed Chris Brand's thesis differs little from Charles Darwin's musings on the genetic superiority of the white race, so why not ban his epic work On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection? Some religious fundamentalists certainly would ban it citing racism as an excuse for the imposition of Biblical creationism, however modern criticisms of Darwinism based on a more Lamarckian symbiotic evolution may counter Darwin's racist assumptions more convincingly.

So should we ban potentially xenophobic speech? My answer is clearly no, because ethnic prejudice stems not from overt or offensive language, but from generations of subtle propaganda and a sense of cultural and moral superiority.

Case Study: The Suppression of Historical Revisionism

One cannot fail to notice the news media's growing obsession with the Nazi holocaust. Atrocities in Nazi concentration camps and organised shootings on the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1944 serve to justify new wars against rogue leaders who have fallen out of favour with the United States, while the purported uniqueness of these events affords the state of Israel special treatment and impunity for its crimes against Palestinians deported from Israel to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Southern Lebanon and Golan Heights.

Not only were most Germans unaware of the scale of the Shoah, but all the other main powers involved in the Second World War practised and fomented ethnic discrimination in one form or another. At stake are clearly three issues:

  1. Historical exactitude.
  2. Our collective memory of the victims of all horrors of war, exploitation and repression.
  3. The instrumentalisation of past events for which ordinary folk bear no responsibility and the deliberate falsification of the historical record to advance a given geopolitical agenda.

All three issues cry out for free speech and fearless open debate, without which only powerful media outlets and authoritarians can impose their warped view of history.

Since the late 1960s, a flurry of movies, documentaries and books have convinced the European and North American public mind that the Nazi holocaust represents not only a monocausal and systematically planned singularity, but an absolute evil against which all other atrocities should be measured. We may talk of a nuclear holocaust, which befits the core meaning of death by fire, but the capitalised Holocaust always signifies the Nazi judaeocide, more aptly called Shoah after the Hebrew word for disaster. The 1917-18 Armenian genocide that erupted out of a fierce civil war as the Ottoman empire collapsed, US napalming of Vietnamese villages, Allied saturation bombing of central European cities etc. do not qualify for this unique term. The enslavement of Africans with countless millions of unnatural deaths is dismissed as the acts of primitive European colonialists, such as the Portuguese (1), rather than a systematic policy of the greatest empire before the advent of US hegemony.

In NewSpeak historical revisionism means denial, the minimisation of the unparalleled crimes of a past dictator and his willing executioners with the implicit intent of restoring the credibility of Nazism. Of course, if we believe all we read in the mainstream press, such crimes may not be so unparalleled after all. Standard accounts of the 1994 Rwandan bloodbath show the Tutsis as victims and the Hutus as subhuman perpetrators. Likewise no exaggeration seems too great to describe the atrocities attributable to Serbs in the Yugoslav civil war.

On paper historical revisionism is a method to ascertain historical truth through critical examination of factual evidence. This is standard practice in any scientific inquiry. Only by allowing variant and contradictory theses to stand the test of empirical scrutiny can we begin to separate fact from fiction. Preconceived conclusions should be alien to serious historical research and simply replacing one biased account with its antithesis defeats the purpose, which is to correct partisanship. The recent book "Day of Deceit : The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor" by Robert B. Stinnett, claiming President Roosevelt had foreknowledge of the events, is revisionist, but should be analysed on its merits. Likewise it may be hard to deny the World Trade Center attacks occurred or many thousands died, but who did it?, who funded and manipulated the suicide bombers, were there secondary explosions in the Twin Towers? Did senior US and Israeli intelligence personnel know about the attacks beforehand? These too are revisionist questions because they challenge orthodoxy.

The genuine victims of state-perpetrated violence need not fear open debate if we agree that murder, especially systematic murder, is inherently evil. Regrettably historical revisionism is increasingly associated with one issue, the Shoah, but may be applied to the orthodox accounts of any historical event and allow antithetical conclusions.

Numerous orthodox accounts, i.e. reports popularised by the mainstream media, have frequently been proven wrong or fundamentally flawed under closer examination. Claims made about the war over Kosovo are just some of the most recent examples in a long string of war propaganda. Phillip Knightley's updated and revised "The First Casualty of War" is a must read for anyone interested in the veracity of the mainstream media. Do we really believe the Romans conquered most of Western and Southern Europe as well as much of North Africa and the Middle East without slaughtering hundreds of thousands, and subjugating millions in slavery and serfdom? However, much of modern history about the era has been sanitised by Roman accounts of barbaric Germanic, Celtic and Berber tribes.

One key factor in the historiography of any event is Cui bono? Should empirical research ever conclusively refute key tenets of the orthodox version of the mid 20th century Jewish genocide, it may be perfectly legitimate to ask who benefits from the inflated accounts of systematic slaying by industrial means attributable to the Nazis, and consequently to the Germans who let them rule? In this hypothesis a quick answer may be Expansionist Zionism, interpreted as unconditional supporters of an all Jewish State in Israel, the Western Allies and the former Soviet Union, because the unique evil of the Nazis overshadows any crimes attributable to the victors of WW2. While Soviet interpretations emphasised Slav victims (e.g. elevated deaths in Auschwitz to 4 million to include 3 million Slavs), the US emerged from WW2 as the world's main economic power, much richer than the Soviet Union ravaged by the wanton slaughter of WW2, and had the task of resuscitating Western European capitalism within its post-war world order. It faced a stark choice between the Morgenthau plan to convert Germany to an agrarian society and the need to build a strong powerhouse economy fully integrated with the rest of Western Europe and North America. After 3 years of partial deinstrialisation between 1945 and 1948 triggering a mass famine with as many as two million deaths, the Marshal plan rebuilt Germany in America's image and, apart from a few show trials and kangaroo courts, its ruling class remained intact. Ironically the US quite happily funded social democratic governments eager to build a prosperous Europe with some degree of social cohesion via the welfare state. The alternative would have been revolution and civil war. What's more many former Nazi collaborators switched overnight to the Americans. As early as 1943 the CIA hired former SS officers such as Reinhold Gehlen with in-depth knowledge of Eastern Europe to form Pol Gehlen, which later became the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) the German sister organisation of the CIA. This explains at least in part why the Shoah did not acquire its current status until the 1967 six-day war at the same time as the US began to rely heavily on Middle East oil reserves as its own began to dry up. However, there might be some more sinister reasons. Would West Germans, whose constitution theoretically protects freedom of expression, have willingly believed claims that unbeknown to them the Nazis had murdered millions in gas chambers? Thousands had worked and many Germans had actually been interned in Nazi concentration camps, but only a select few had testified to mass gas chambers at the Nuremberg trials. In East Germany they had no choice, Stalinism replaced National Socialism overnight and anti-nazism soon became a state religion.

When German Green Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, attempted in 1999 to persuade his party (who used to oppose NATO and nuclear weapons and favour peaceful solutions to ethnic disputes) of the necessity for air strikes to forestall a genocide, he re-evoked the Shoah in the full knowledge that nobody could dispute any events associated with it or even dare to suggest bombing might make such events more and not less likely. He narrowly won the vote claiming Operation Horseshoe was a masterplan for the final solution of the Albanian problem. A subsequent German report showed the operation was a hoax and no plan existed for the systematic deportation of 90% of Kosovo's population. However, the analogy ends there. The CIA and German BND merely formed a temporary alliance with the KLA. The Albanian mafia may control much of the heroin trade passing through Southeastern Europe, but their influence and strategic importance cannot be compared to that of Israel.

Let us be in no doubt, those who publicly dispute the scale and systematicity of the Shoah have been subjected to intense vilification and associated with the xenophobic right. Indisputably some on the Judaeophobic right sympathise with and manipulate the findings of revisionist research. However, most serious holocaust revisionists are fierce critics of authoritarianism. While many expose and criticise the disproportionate Jewish influence in the mass media and movie business as well as in international finance and American politics, only a minority believe in an international Jewish conspiracy against Gentiles or Goyim as foretold in the rather outlandish, hateful and largely discredited Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Moreover, the East German Stasi and Israeli Mossad have actually set up and manipulated so-called Neo-Nazi grouplets. Even Combat 18 in the UK, allegedly formed as a breakaway from the BNP, was a front for MI5's special operations. The so-called left tends to ignore two essential questions. Should we rely on state-sanctioned truth?

Anti-imperialists tend to dismiss revisionist accounts of Nazi war crimes as wild fantasies of neo-fascists, intent on rehabilitating the honour of the short-lived Third Reich. One valid criticism that may be lodged against some holocaust revisionists is a tendency to make far-fetched claims against Stalinism, claiming that the 6 million figure may be an exaggeration in connection with the Nazi-perpetrated Shoah, but Stalin was responsible for as many as 60 million deaths, figures taken straight from 1950's McCarthyite propaganda. While the former Soviet Union can be indicted with atrocities on a massive scale and economic mismanagement certainly led to millions of deaths, the same could be said of India and Pakistan. Coincidentally many former hardline sympathisers of the former USSR minimise the crimes attributed to the NKVD (later KGB) and Bolshevik Party apparatchiks under Stalin's command, denying Stalin bore any responsibility for the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine, and bewail the demonisation campaign against him by the capitalist press and liberal left.

The British Anti-Nazi League started by fighting the racism of the National Front in the late 1970s, but failed to attack head-on the politicians likely to influence the immigration and social policies that most affect ethnic minorities. The National Front benefited from working class disillusionment in the then Labour government, but never stood any realistic chance of gaining a single seat in Parliament. The NF were basically politically incorrect Tories who appealed to the gut instincts of many workers raised on rule Britannia propaganda. No party that challenged the necessity for British participation in the Second World War could ever win without the thorough re-education of the masses, but could urge a halt to immigration from poor countries and even repatriation. After massive Rock Against Racism concerts and Anti-Nazi League demos in 1978 (being an Anti-Nazi in Britain is like declaring one's opposition to Attila the Hun in Rome), what did we get? The 1979 Tory landslide, record unemployment with the demise of unprofitable inefficient manufacturing, tough talk on immigration, followed only two and half years later by a bout of jingoism over the Argentinian invasion of the British Falkland Islands, all dressed up in anti-fascist rhetoric. But what did the ANL really oppose? Free speech on Nazi historiography, the very notion that National Socialist régime had not landed on Earth from Mars, but was entirely comparable to numerous governmental systems world-wide. The main source of anti-fascist information is inevitably Searchlight run by MI5 collaborator and former CPGB member Gerry Gable, whose anti-Nazi antics include planting former British National Party members in anarchist groups and animal liberation fronts, so the press can later smear them with rightwing extremism. For instance in March 1993 the ANL staged a 300 strong demo against the desecration of graves at the Brighton and Hove Hebrew Congregation's Florence Road Cemetery, although the Jewish Chronicle later reported no tombstones had been daubed with swastikas and no gardener was employed to remove such grafitti. For alternative views about MI5 involvement in both extreme right and self-styled anti-fascist groups, visit Lobster Magazine or Paul Cox's Mere Pseud site with insider info from both sides.

French anthropologist and Indochina expert Serge Thion, American writer Bradley Smith of the Campaign for Open Debate On the Holocaust hardly conform to our perception of neo-Nazi thugs, but do not buy the orthodox account and expose Holocaust swindlers and false witnesses. Even English historian David Irving, who has long been target of a concerted press smear campaign but airs his strong anti-immigrant views freely on his Web site, has written at length on verifiable Nazi crimes. Indeed the 1977 edition of Apocalypse 1945, The Destruction of Dresden was not only available in public libraries, but on recommended reading lists compiled by my anti-imperialist History teacher, a bit of balance for William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich . Also recommended was AJP Taylor's The Origins of the Second World War, which suggests the rather heretical conclusion that a bellicose elite within the Anglo-American establishment unleashed the gates of hell by provoking Nazi Germany. In the mid 1990s Raeto West analysed variant revisionist theories and the holocaust promotion industry as an integral part of his site about humanism, bad science and common myths.(NB 27/12/2009: Raeto West's site went offline over 8 years ago and has since joined the white-supremacist BNP, a rather sad end for a disciple of Bertrand Russell.) Another sceptical analysis of interest is New Zealand historian's Joel S. A. Hayward's thesis "An Historical Enquiry into the Development and Significance of Holocaust Revisionism", which the author had to withdraw under enormous pressure. Indeed the latter has since converted to Islam and been appointed Director of the Royal Air Force Centre for Air Power Studies.

However, a thorough revision of the received wisdom on the Second World War would go much further. Some revisionist historians fall into the trap of viewing German National Socialism and Anglo-American corporatism as competing ideologies. So within the myth of the uniqueness of Nazi crimes lies the myth of British and American appeasement of Hitler's Germany. Voluminous evidence suggests that British, American and Dutch big business did not appease Nazi Germany at all, but positively encouraged it, bankrolling the German National Socialist Workers Party and continuing production in their subsidiaries right through WW2. The collaboration of many leading Zionists such as Ben Gurion with the Nazi régime and Hermann Göring's professed sympathies with the cause of the Jewish homeland cannot go unnoticed. Neither can we ignore the blatant fact that the Second World War saw the invasion and humiliation of France, the end of the bankrupt British Empire controlled centrally from London, massive destruction, murder and famine in much of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the ultimate defeat and destruction of the US's two main technological rivals, Germany and Japan. Indeed we may even consider if the division of Germany and the erection of the Iron Curtain served the long-term interests of the United States. West Germany bounded by hostile states to the east and integrated in an economic union with its other European neighbours, a military Alliance with the US and dependent on US aid and inward investment, would soon prove a loyal partner and a powerhouse of the post-war boom. The US bailed out Western Europe only after overseeing its destruction.

It may have rationally been in the geopolitical interests of the German government in 1938 to recapture territories lost in the 1918 Treaty of Versailles and to seek the economic domination of Eastern Europe as well as the collaboration of the Low Countries and accommodation with France, whose imperial interests conflicted with the US and British Empires. All-out war with the Soviet Union and Great Britain, which would inevitably draw the US into the fray, would have been highly inadvisable. Indeed in August 1940 Germany sought peace with Churchill's Britain on this basis. When the United States entered the war in December 1941 and especially after the fall of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in February 1943, the Third Reich was doomed. As the Allies landed in Southern Italy in August of the same year, the defeat of the Axis powers was a foregone conclusion. Yet the worst crimes against humanity attributed to the Nazi regime reached their gernocidal climax between mid 1942 and late 1944, while Hitler's overstretched armed forces were battling to defend strategic positions on all fronts. By January 1945 all concentration camps in modern Poland, responsible for the lion share of systematic industrial killing, had been liberated. Would the United States be so dominant today if a united and peaceful Europe counterbalanced its hegemony?

We may also debate whether Nazism, Fascism or Francoism were unique or merely localised means of ensuring the supremacy of corporate and state power. It may seem ironic that many militant anti-Fascists favour the suppression of free speech and restriction of democratic rights to stop the re-emergence of alleged fascists. However, who defines fascism? Should we not talk instead of authoritarianism? Not only did many Nazi collaborators adapt very quickly to the New World Order under US hegemony, but many population control techniques pioneered under the Nazi régime were adopted and remodelled by big business, especially in the advertising and public relations industries. Joseph Goebbels based his WW2 information campaign on British WW1 propaganda. According to Goebbels, Germany didn't invade the Sudetenland, it liberated ethnic Germans persecuted by bloodthirsty Slavic nationalists and it didn't invade the Soviet Union, but liberated Ukrainians from Bolshevik tyranny. By the same token we could claim, Britain didn't conquer and exploit the Indian Subcontinent and half of Africa, but spread civilisation and democracy.

Until Norman Finkelstein, son of survivors of the Treblinka and Majdenek concentration camps, wrote A Nation on Trial and The Holocaust Industry, few analysts considered one truism: The more the mainstream media and entertainment industry push the orthodox version of the Nazi holocaust, the more a radical fringe will disbelieve any of their claims and harbour a growing sense of Judaeophobia. Israel's oppression of Palestinians makes an Anti-Jewish backlash almost inevitable. The purported uniqueness of Jewish suffering explains the hackneyed phrase "racism and Anti-Semitism". Surely, anti-Semitism should apply to prejudice against all Semites and Israel would thus be labelled an anti-Semitic régime. But why not specify Serbophobia, Germanophobia, Russophobia etc.? Why is prejudice against Jews different?

It comes as some comfort that a handful of Jewish intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Israel Shahak have attempted to answer this thorny question. Judeaophobia stems not from irrational beliefs in the racial inferiority or superiority of Jews, but rather from resentment against Jewish power and their in-group loyalty. Would a German critic of Nazi abuse of power be called a self-hating German? But Jewish critics of Zionism are frequently denounced as self-hating Jews. Would it be too radical to describe Nazism as German Zionism?

It thus follows that rational debate protects the true victims and exposes hoaxers separating fact from fiction, while exaggerated claims trigger exaggerated counter-claims, hence the Holocaust lobby's insistence that there are no numbers between 0 and six million. Challenging the capitalised Holocaust â„¢ is tantamount to heresy. Instead some of the wilder claims will be inconspicuously dropped, while revisionist historians continue to be ritually condemned. At stake are not the genuine victims of Nazi terror, but the credibility of war propaganda.

Twenty five years after the Vietnam War the chief architects of US atrocities such My-Lai denier Wesley Clark and Iraqi Highway Massacre Denier General Barry McCaffrey (100,000 - 250,000 dead) are not only walking free, but are advising the current US régime on its new military endeavours.

The solution to this dilemma is simple: free speech and fearless open debate. Only then will we know who is lying. I for one will reserve my utter condemnation both for all perpetrators of verifiable atrocities and for all those who manipulate war propaganda for their own purposes. You have lost the argument from the outset, if you refuse to debate an issue, whether it is the big bang theory, global warming, the AIDS=HIV hypothesis or the veracity of alleged atrocities.

Readers are free to make their own minds up. Most orthodox Nazi Holocaust and anti-revisionist information can be accessed from the Nizkor site, but if you're in any doubt take the time to read what dissidents say on the matter.

Why the Shoah Revisionists are Wrong

David Irving once claimed that it's hard to prove a negative, but the same controversial historian has freely admitted voluminous hard evidence of Nazi crimes. The fact that many European governments are actively pursuing and jailing prominent holocaust deniers should ring alarm bells. One may reasonably wonder who's next on the verboten list. 9/11 revisionists, Balkan war revisionists, Saddam Hussein sympathisers, opponents of US, UK and Israeli military operations in the Middle East? So are holocaust revisionists just an easy target or do they actually have a point? With the media beating the drums of war in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it is essential for us to maintain the freedom to challenge the extreme bias and sometimes pure fabrications of our main media outlets. However, by focusing narrowly on the scale of crimes committed by an authoritarian regime over half a century ago, holocaust revisionists risk serving as useful idiots ready to perish in jail purportedly to save the honour of the German people or combat Zionism in the name of Palestine. Were they to focus instead on disinformation about recent events, we might stand a better chance of safeguarding freedom of inquiry in order to guard against the very totalitarian bellicosity that has traditionally presaged mass murder.

The Real Deniers

Wesley Clark General Wesley Clark denied US culpability for the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. 30 years later he defended NATO air strikes over the Balkans Lord George Robertson Lord George Robertson denied the widely documented after-effects and deliberate use of depleted uranium both in Iraq and the Balkans. Currently NATO's Secretary General. He also once referred to Serbs as Siberians.
Henry Kissinger Henry Kissinger denied his role in the Vietnam War, 1968-72 bombing of Cambodia, Pinochet's Chilean coup d'état, the 1975-79 massacre in East Timor among other crimes Ariel Sharon Ariel Sharon denied Israeli guilt for the Sabra and Shatila massacre although at the time he was only 200 metres away from the scene. Currently Israeli Prime Minister responsible for human rights in the West Bank and Gaza

If denial of verifiable crimes against humanity is a problem, it should concern us most when the mainstream media denies or downplays atrocities, while dissidents upholding the veracity of such events, are silenced, sidelined or ridiculed. Challenges to official claims should always act as a stimulus for empirical research.

The British Foreign Office has a long history of denial, from its scorched earth policy and concentration camps in the Boer War to the Bengali Famine, bombing of Kenyan Mau Mau freedom fighters, arming of Indonesia while it presided over the slaughter and starvation of as many as 200,000 East Timorese between 1975 and 1979, its support for Turkey and Israel, the media's almost total silence over the massacre of 250,000 retreating Iraqi troops and guest workers fleeing Kuwait after the US and other Allied forces reclaimed the territory for the Kuwaiti royal family and oil multinationals. It took a book by revisionist historian David Irving for the Allies to admit (and subsequently downplay) the scale of the wanton slaughter of civilians during airstrikes over Dresden, while other equally ferocious bombing missions over Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Pforzheim are mere historical footnotes. The post-war famine with as many as 2 million deaths in occupied Germany on top of tens of thousands of German fatalities in Allied and Soviet post-war rehabilitation camps are routinely dismissed as regrettable legacies of Nazism.

When a major newspaper claims 250,000 died in the Vietnam War, how many readers write to complain that the figure excludes Vietnamese victims? Similarly figures for Vietnamese fatalities may vary from 1 million to 3 million. Should we not accuse those who insist on the lower figure of being deniers eager to resume napalming over North Vietnam? In his epic Manufacturing Consent Noam Chomsky distinguishes worthy from unworthy victims. Victims of Pol Pot's massacre between 1975 and 1979 are worthy victims because the US benefited from anti-Communist propaganda that could overshadow its own crimes in the region (US bombing of Cambodia between 1968 and 1975 led to 500,000 to a million deaths), while victims of the East Timor tragedy are unworthy because the US was arming their oppressors. However, subsequent US support for the Khmer Rouge and sanctions against Cambodia after the 1979 Vietnamese invasion, leading to more starvation, make it hard to give reliable statistics for deaths attributable to Pol Pot's government when the US did not back it. The death toll varies from 250,000 to 2.5 million, though most starved. Likewise official anti-Saddam propaganda now includes the Iraqi airforce's 1988 aerial gassing of 5000 Kurds. However, they forget to mention that at the time the Iraqi régime was armed by the US and its allies and deployed US-made chemical weapons. Similar attacks against Kurds by the Turkish armed forces have gone unpunished.

Another topical atrocity was the 1994 Rwandan civil war. The Western media unanimously reported marauding Hutus killing their Tutsi cousins with machetes. In one respect this is much a more serious allegation than those levelled against Germans during WW2. In 1945 most ordinary Germans knew little of events either in concentration camps or on the Eastern Front. Indeed much of what they did know they had learned through German-language Allied broadcasts, rumours and post-war propaganda. Whether hundreds of thousands perished in mass gas chambers or not, most ordinary Germans did not rampage the streets wielding machetes against Jewish neighbours (The total death toll of Kristalnacht was around 90). Lamentably an awful lot of dead bodies laid strewn all over Rwanda by the time Western reporters could return and formerly exiled Rwandan Patriotic Front soldiers had recaptured the capital Kigali. Based on verifiable evidence it is much harder to refute the Rwandan massacre than mass gas chambers in Nazi-occupied Poland. However, many thoughtful observers have missed two critical and related factors: economics and environment. What was billed as a systematic genocide was in fact a food riot that quickly turned into a collective frenzy of internecine slaughter.

Journalists and foreign Africanists are unanimous that the West failed to take pre-emptive action against the Rwandan genocide, but too many assume such action need be military. Unconditional economic aid to ensure Rwanda could be self-sufficient in essential foods, writing off the country's debt, the provision of vital health and transport infrastructure etc. would have done much more to help Rwandans overcome their past internecine conflicts than any so-called peace-keeping mission. Also see Michel Chossudovsky's article on the IMF and Rwandan Holocaust

Sanitised Genocides and Ethnic Cleansing

Genocide means the extermination of a people with a distinct cultural heritage either by ruthless colonial expansion or by systematic slaughter. Whether a given massacre qualifies for this term depends largely on its scale and ethnic specificity. By contrast the newly coined term ethnic cleansing means systematic deportation or forced cultural assimilation. Ethnicity begs definition, but usually implies a deep-rooted cultural identity passed through successive generations of a close-knit community. Historically ethnic groups acquire uniform physiognomic traits through many generations of interbreeding. Language, religion, diet, dress code, sexual morality and other customs are cultural characteristics linked to one's ethnic identity. Absolute genocides are thankfully relatively rare events, although the rapid depopulation that followed European colonisation of the Americas, Africa and Australasia succeeded in eradicating indigenous civilisation and annihilating vast swathes of their peoples through war, disease and starvation. At the time of the great European conquests very little prime agricultural land was virgin territory. Who would believe native Australians only inhabited the outback before Dutch and predominantly British colonisation? The Boer War saw the almost complete extermination of the Khoi-Khoi (aka Hottentot) people of the Northern Cape as a result of the British scorched earth policy. Even the world's first war sold on humanitarian grounds, the 1898-99 Spanish-American WAR over the Philippines ended in a brutal massacre.

Most countries in the New World were founded on genocidal colonisation followed by systematic ethnic cleansing. In the first fifteen years of Belgian colonial rule of the Congo under King Leopold the rubber trade's ruthless exploitation of land and inhabitants alike caused the country's population to fall from around 20 million to just 9 million, yet another tragic tale erased from mainstream history books.

The Hidden Democide

Sadly but patently, abject poverty, malnutrition, child labour, unreported internecine and gang warfare are rife. Unedited video footage of armed gangs severing the limbs of a nine-year old boy because he fought for a rival gang intent on control of diamonds is considered unfit for public consumption, while Hollywood churns out movie after movie replete with gratuitous fictional violence. Millions of dollars are spent to simulate terror, while thousands of real pictures of US-perpetrated or funded warfare across the globe would suffice to horrify all but the most callous individuals. Very different standards are set for the relative importance of deaths. Quality newspapers targeted at intellectual readers devote just a few paragraphs to a WHO report estimating that 15 million children die every year from easily preventable diseases on top of 7 million child deaths due to malnutrition, while atrocities that can be blamed on an official enemy are widely publicised. When was the last time we read sensational headlines about real horrors, of which our rulers are guilty?

Headlines you won't read in Murdoch's Press

Online Sun Iraqi Child

Exclusive: UK Sanctions Kill 500,000 Iraqi Kids

Oil-hungry control freaks want these kids to die, so evil multinationals can get their greedy hands on the guey black stuff. Sex-crazed Bill Clinton and ballot rigger Blair deny their hideous crimes, but the Sun reveals the horrible truth. Saddam Hussein is their best friend and ten years ago agreed to be Global Demon Number One as long as he could keep his marble palaces. As Blair gears up for his re-election campaign, Iraqi children are dying of leukaemia thanks to depleted uranium strewn over their land by US and UK bombers.

Online Sun Emaciated Children Y2K

Shock Horror! 12,000 children starved yesterday

12,000 kids died yesterday because their mums and dads could not make ends meet without work, fertile land or a social safety net to fall back on. Tony Blair said Third World countries need a competitive labour market and more deregulation.

That's right more children starve either due to undernourishment or severe malnutrition every day than NATO claimed the Yugoslavs killed during the Kosovo war. Few of us would be surprised to read "Rock Star Kills Fiancé" or "Serbs Murder More Albanian Kids", "Internet Paedophiles on the Rampage", "Germans Want To Ban British Pint", "Blair Slams Media for Invasion of Privacy", "Don't Miss Our Pics of Prince Eddie at Nudist Camp" etc.

As the world's population passes the psychological 6 billion barrier, life expectancy in much of Sub-Saharan Africa is falling in the age of computers, mobile phones, suburban off-road cars and supermarkets packed with goodies, 2 billion suffer from malnutrition.

Should we Fear Hate Speech?

The short answer is no, provided we retain the right to challenge it. Some propaganda can be very hateful and even incite frenzies of xenophobia, especially if it comes from the mainstream and builds on generations of subtle indoctrination. Sometimes hatred can be engineered gradually over a few years as in the case of Serbs.

If the Sun could headline "Gotcha!" when the Royal Navy needlessy sank the General Belgrano killing 400 Argentinian sailors in 1982 or condones the bombing of some of the world's poorest in Iraq, the Balkans and now Afghanistan, surely we need not fear irrational outbursts from fringe propagandists. The real danger is mainstream hate speech legitimised by our government and establishment intellectuals. More important who defines hate speech? Is hate speech language that can incite violent attacks or is it propaganda that justifies state terrorism? Increasingly hate speech is a byword for unacceptable opinions and unmentionable controversies.

As Noam Chomsky said in defence of his decision to write a foreword in favour of the free speech of French holocaust revisionist Faurisson "It is a poor service to the memory of the victims of the holocaust to adopt a central doctrine of their murderers".

The restriction of free speech has always benefited those who control the means of mass communication. No precedents exist for laws passed to ban proven lies, but plenty for laws crafted to stifle debate on issues that may expose the duplicity of the establishment or challenge the founding myths of the ruling class.

Free Speech Links

1) Authoritative estimates place England (and after 1707 Great Britain) a close second in the slave trade.

Categories
Power Dynamics

Trendy Lefties – The No-Logo Generation

Over the last 30 years middle-class students have embraced a series of cultural fads, some pure commercialism and others worthwhile causes, which later sold out to commercialism. Beatlemania, anti-Vietnam War protests, Punk Rock, Rock Against Racism gigs, CND demos, gay pride marches, Reggae music, politically correct speech, MTV and anti-WTO demos. Wow, so it's now cool to join the international campaign against globalisation, boycott brands and recycle environmentalist rhetoric - before we settle down to the serious business of earning a living in the rat race.

In the same period much of the world has undergone the most thorough transformation of the economy, environment and lifestyle ever. After a crippling war Vietnam now hosts sweatshops with some of the world's lowest wages. Former CND members are now prominent Nu-Lab politicos advocating humanitarian militarism and slandering opponents as fascists. Homosexuality is a big business and homophobes are vilified as outmoded bigots, while politically correct speech masks real intents. Secret services plant agent provocateurs and assorted troublemakers at anti-WTO demos to trigger violent police repression. Neoliberal intellectuals appear on TV voicing doubts on the extent of globalisation with platitudes about a greener future. Multinational PR executives promise their goods are not made by child labourers and their involvement in Public Private Initiatives will help to pay for school sports facilities in socially deprived neighbourhoods. MTV shows multicoloured faces with captivating views of African village life interspersed with Black American rappers jumping on gas guzzlers.

What do young nologoers want? ask vote-hungry politicians. Walmart-style hypermarkets with unbranded consumer goodies? Trendy mountain bikes with child seats to replace the Land Rover or Grand Cherokee on the school run? Neatly packaged documentaries on Discovery channel? Holidays in Kenya? Volunteering to raise funds for Oxfam? Food labelled "organic" with a 50% price markup?

Think of the coup they'd achieve, if they could persuade a personable Irish musician to hail Nu-Labs third-world debt-relief scheme.

Mass marketers know what the affluent trendy wishful-thinking middle class really wants. They want to indulge, but be seen to care. They need their safe homes with all mod cons, cars complete with bike carriers and dinghy trailers, computers, mobile phones, foreign holidays, rewarding jobs and social life - or in its absence soap operas, Hollywood movies and pulp fiction. The better educated want better, environmentally friendly and socially conscientious food.

Affluent teenagers see the English language, rock music, international (i.e. mainly US) movies and video-games as liberating forces that will let the world live as one to paraphrase John Lenon. Out with the old and in with the new, let's embrace the multicoloured harmony of Coca Cola ads set in Zambia and IBM think pad spots filmed in Tibet. The more educated will later backpack across Africa, South America, the Indian Subcontinent and South-east Asia before commencing their careers in web-design, PR, advertising, law, insurance, business intelligence, HR management, public services admin, education etc.

The big question is why so few stop to ponder if and why the globalisation of transnational corps with their brands and logos is necessary to save capitalism? All too often we tend to look at symptoms rather than root causes. Global brands and sweatshops are symptoms. Greed and capitalism's innate need for constant growth with diminishing returns (the bit Marx got right) are the causes and explain why capitalism can no longer grow in protected national markets.

There is only one thing worse than narrow-minded nationalism: Internationalism controlled by an oligarchy of corporate and superstate interests.

If we were to implement the far-reaching structural changes required to bridge the north-south and rich-poor gaps, divert resources away from opulence and hedonism to nutrition, sustainable farming, environmental renewal and education, most service sector jobs in post-industrial states such as Britain would disappear overnight. More significantly most residents of wealthy countries would have to accept a lower material standard of living with car dealerships, filling stations, advertisers, law firms (largely dependent of corporate greed), high street and Internet retailers going bust. Indeed with the bankruptcy of all businesses reliant on the Stock Exchange and the abolition of the arms trade, Britain would no longer earn all the extra revenue it needs to import goodies from the rest of the globe.

In the near future we will see two alternative reformist solutions to world's ills. The neoliberal intelligentsia will advocate benevolent globalisation coupled with foreign aid linked to IMF and WB economic diktats and humanitarian intervention to solve ethnic disputes caused by economic woes and covert destabilisation. Charities and NGOs will be taken on board to sell these policies and reassure doubters of their harmful effects.

The alternative, unthinkable to neoliberal globalisers and internationalist Marxists alike, is a return to national pre-colonial economies centred around farming, essential raw materials and natural renewable energy sources, in which self-sufficiency in staple foods and energy represents a prerequisite for a sustainable economy and for independence from unaccountable global institutions and multinationals. Trade would still take place, but among equals, and governments, freed from the restraints of international capitalism, would be more accountable. Technological advances would not be abandoned, but harnessed for the good of all and not for profits of the few. It is only by decentralising government and giving people the means to determine their own future, that we can see the evolution of a fairer low-impact society that values long-term sustainability and social cohesion more than fashions, consumption and indulgence.