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All in the Mind Power Dynamics War Crimes

The Abolition of Britain and the rise of Global Governance

How the quest for greater independence is being usurped by power-hungry control freaks

I make no bets on the outcome of the snap General Election scheduled for 12th December. Last time a healthy Tory majority seemed almost certain until a couple of weeks before polling and after a disastrous Conservative election campaign. For the first time in recent history Labour did much better than expected. My hunch is Boris Johnson's party will win a comfortable majority of seats because the core working class electorate have lost all faith in Labour, but I doubt the resulting managerial team will do much to protect British workers from the excesses of globalism. I hope the government's ineptitude may oddly strengthen the resilience of ambitious youngsters as they realise the state will not help them fulfil their dreams and thus avoid succumbing to a prevailing culture of victimhood and entitlement.

We may well see another shift among the affluent managerial and business classes from the Tories to the misnamed Liberal Democrats (or the illiberal unDemocrats as I call them), while many traditional Labour voters either sit at home, strategically vote Conservative or flirt with the Brexit Party to keep out Labour, whom they now see as the party of unlimited mass migration, toxic identity politics and undeliverable spending commitments. However, in Scotland Labour will lose out not only to the Conservatives, but to a resurgent SNP capitalising on fashionable anti-English sentiment. They see Brexit as the brainchild of English Tories eager to resurrect the British Empire. If we assume current polling is correct, the political map of mainland Britain will be split into four. The Tories will dominate English shires and towns, the Liberal Democrats will do well in the most affluent neighbourhoods, while Labour will keep most of its metropolitan strongholds among its special victim groups, welfare-dependents, social engineers and trendy students. By contrast, owing to the vagaries of the First Past the Post system, Nicola Sturgeon's cult movement look set to snap up most Scottish seats, as the anti-SNP vote is too evenly split. The Brexit Party will be lucky to gain 1 or 2 seats in former UKIP strongholds, but they may succeed only in letting Labour hold on to a few more marginals.

The ongoing Brexit saga amid yet another General Election with very uninspiring choices has revealed two unwelcome realities. First most nation states have limited independence from global banks and corporations, supranational institutions and a well-funded network of nominally independent non-governmental organisations (NGOs) posing as humanitarian charities. Second, and perhaps more important, it has exposed what our ruling classes really think about democracy. If they cannot persuade the great unwashed masses to endorse their social engineering plans by electing a bunch of middle managers who will cooperate with the agents of change, they will destabilise your country and have you begging for their intervention.

Whatever the relative merits of the European Union may be, the outcome represented a huge kick in the backside for the metropolitan elite, who for decades have presided over the steady transfer of power from time-honoured local institutions to more remote international entities in the name of progress. Let us be under no illusions the EU is only a means to an end, not the end itself. There are many good reasons to welcome close cooperation among Europe's disparate peoples to protect our cultural heritage and defend us against the worst excesses of what we once viewed as neoliberal globalism, especially as a counterbalance to the North American and Chinese models with their extreme forms of plutocracy. Just 15 years ago in the aftermath of the joint US and UK occupation of Iraq, many of us wanted to distance ourselves from the British and American foreign policy establishment. Many of us hoped a Europe Community of independent peace-loving and democratic nation states with strong protections both for personal freedom and social justice could offer an alternative to Anglo-American capitalism.

While many other countries appeared insecure and in imminent danger of fragmentation, civil war and greater subjugation to imperial forces, Britain seemed impervious. Only the Northern Irish conflict ever posed a security threat, although behind the scenes the British Civil Service has long viewed the province as more of a burden than a strategic asset. Scottish and Welsh nationalism remained relatively tame disputes, quibbling mainly about the extent of autonomy within the United Kingdom. Few thought any major part of the UK would join another major superstate. The Republic of Ireland has since its inception remained steadfastly neutral, so even if Northern Ireland voted to join the Republic, there would be no fundamental shift in the balance of power. Leaving aside widespread opposition to the deployment of the Trident nuclear missiles in Faslane just northwest of Glasgow, Scotland has long been way too reliant on tight integration with the British military industrial complex for mainstream politicians to advocate military independence from the rest of the UK and from NATO, although this was the official SNP position until 2012.

Sea Change

Before around 2012 the European issue seemed very much off the radar. Transnational bodies like the EU, NATO and the UN were just facts of our increasingly internationalised lives, but not things we felt affected our everyday lives. Broadly speaking most Europeans opposed further centralisation preferring to keep control of economic, social and military policy at a more accountable national level, but many still believed our politicians somehow represented our interests at various international gatherings. We saw this in referendums in Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Denmark where voters rejected new treaties (respectively of Nice and Lisbon) only to see their votes either ignored or to be forced to vote again after cosmetic changes. However, we could also argue that the public have grown so disillusioned with the sorry state of national politics that they'd rather place their trust in shiny new progressive institutions that transcend traditional boundaries. For decades the establishment media has tried to persuade Europeans that they can trust the EU and NATO more than their local regimes with their chequered history of corruption and despotism. In the early 1970s not only was most of Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain, but Greece, Spain and Portugal still had military dictatorships appealing to traditional Christian values to ward off the dual dangers of Eastern communism and Western decadence. Not surprisingly millions of younger Europeans welcomed the fall of these paternalistic regimes and embraced a new era of mass consumerism combined with a comfortable social safety net. While millions of Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese may be critical of the budgetary constraints imposed on their governments to keep alive the Euro, they still tend to associate the EU with the greater prosperity they've enjoyed since the 1980s. The situation in Britain is very different. The golden era of the British working classes was the 1950s and 60s. Sure we lacked many of the modern conveniences made more affordable by recent technological progress, e.g. many had outside toilets, coal fires instead of central heating and cars were still a luxury for many, but what mattered most is that the relative quality of life was steadily improving with a high level of upwards social mobility. A typical school leaver could aspire to getting a decent skilled job as an apprentice and earn enough to be able to marry, buy a house and start a family by his or her mid to late twenties, all without welfare handouts. We hoped progress would empower families to lead more independent lives while still enjoying the fruits of a civil society with a high degree of social trust and mutual respect. Little did we know that many of our mission-critical jobs would be first outsourced and then automated as big business had to rein in the collective bargaining power of trade unions. The long-drawn-out demise of British industry, kept on life support during the 1970s, weakened the resolve and resilience of the working classes, blamed for demanding unmerited pay rises, being too lazy and lacking the industriousness of their European and Japanese colleagues. Yet to this day, many observers simply blame Thatcher for turning off the life support machine that squandered countless billions on trying to save outdated industries that could not survive the challenge of global competition able not only to tap into a seemingly limitless supply of cheap labour, but to quickly close or retool outdated manufacturing facilities with little regard to job security.

I noticed even as long ago as the 1979 General Election that saw Margaret Thatcher's Tories win a healthy majority of seats, Labour had begun to shift its focus from standing up for workers' rights to championing welfare and public services. Thatcher managed to appeal to the aspirational working classes, the kind of people who wanted to own a house, drive a car, holiday in Spain and earn a decent living through a career in the growing service sector. While some workers adapted and some new light manufacturing outfits took the place of heavy industry, many youngsters in Labour's working class heartlands outside the more prosperous South East of England inherited the helplessness of their parents who had failed to adapt and thus became trapped on welfare or short-term jobs in call centres leading inevitably to dysfunctional households and social dislocation. Nonetheless a major rebranding effort saved the Labour Party as it embraced Thatcherite reforms, the information revolution and pop culture while promising not to raise taxes. I was an early sceptic of Blairite Magic. Somehow his soundbites lacked substance or analytical integrity, but one slogan stuck in my mind "Education, Education, Education". If you believed the hype, we were on the verge of a quantum leap in scientific excellence. The next generation would become talented doctors, inventors, bioscientists, software developers and robotics engineers. Alas very few did, but many more became recruiters, public relations officers, graphic designers, creative directors or worked on the peripheries of emerging high-tech industries in new-fangled specialisations such as forensic science or environmental science, learning how to engage with technologies that someone else developed to monitor other people's behaviour, market goods or ensure minimum healthy and safety standards. With such a dearth of tech-savvy innovators and entrepreneurs, British professionals have focused mainly on people management and persuasion, a sector encompassing not only advertising, public relations and entertainment, but behaviour and attitude modification through charities and education. For every engineer developing new technology to help us solve practical environmental challenges, there are many more climate change awareness officers or busy bodies lecturing parents on how to deal with tantrums without smacking. The net result is a dual culture of dependence, either on state handouts or on corporate largesse, and greatly reduced personal resilience. The first Blair government famously rebranded Britain as Cool Britannia, more about rock stars than scientific pioneers. Now the last gasp of British cultural innovation has been co-opted by the multibillion dollar entertainment industry and blended into a global culture disconnected from the specific locales of post-imperial suburban Britain. In the same period Global English has begun its shift from a high-status international language modelled on standard British or American English to a rapidly mutating form of NewSpeak inspired by a worldwide intelligentsia with little reference to the speech patterns of the transient residents of London or New York City. Native speakers have thus lost the relative advantage they once had over those who acquired the language later in life.

As a historical paradox the country that has given the world its dominant lingua franca now suffers from an acute identity crisis as progressive opinion leaders attempt to deny there is such a thing as a native English person. This mirrors trends in other European countries with almost identical claims going mainstream in Germany and Sweden too. National identity for many in cosmopolitan areas has been reduced to mere temporary allegiance to your country of residence in occasional sporting events.

What's left of Britishness anyway?

Many Ulster unionists are none too happy about Boris Johnson's deal to keep their province in regulatory alignment with the EU's Customs Union and Single Market with customs checks in the Irish Sea rather than along the meandering border with the Republic of Ireland. Increasingly only the Democratic Unionist Party defend traditional values, while Sinn Fein, claiming to represent the Catholic community, has recently endorsed positions on gay marriage, LGBTQ-friendly sex education and abortion perfectly aligned with the cultural left, but at variance with Catholic teachings. However, a growing proportion of the younger generation identify neither with Protestantism nor Catholicism and are very open to unification with what has become a secular Ireland. The British Deep State seems more concerned about the perceived Russian threat than subsidising Northern Ireland.

The begs the question whether the CEOs of UK PLC really care that much about the constitutional status of Scotland, now they know a nominally independent Scotland would both stay in NATO and join the new European Defence Union. Universalist media outlets treat Nicola Sturgeon's SNP much more favourably than the Brexit Party or even the Tory Party.

However, I sense a split between the Atlanticist and Europhile wings of British intelligentsia. Recent statements from Emanuel Macron, Guy Verhofstadt and the EU's new President Ursula von der Leyen have revealed a gradual shift from a unified European military command working within NATO alongside the USA to a European Army taking over from the USA in global policing operations in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. More disturbing is the growing hostility among the Western European elites towards Russia. In just a few years neo-conservative war hawks have shifted their lobbying operations from Washington DC to Brussels. To match US military spending, the Europe Union would have to double spending, something that would be very unpopular at a national level, but could only be justified by the spectre of a Russian and/or Chinese threat. Even if Trump is re-elected in 2020, US military adventurism has peaked. The federal government can no longer justify such a massive defence budget when they have bigger challenges at home with rapidly changing demographics. It's only a matter of time before someone like Tulsi Gabbard or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez becomes the president of a debt-ridden federation in a post-dollar world order, dominated by the Chinese and Indian economies.

Without Scotland and Ulster, England and Wales would be a very disunited place with London behaving more and more like a city state divorced from its geographic hinterland and parallel communities in many other towns and cities.

In all likelihood Boris Johnson's BRINO or Brexit In Name Only will avert Scottish Independence for a few years before other events overshadow it, Ulster quietly merges with a post-Christian Eire and the Scots turn against the SNP. Meanwhile continental Europe will struggle to cope with the fast pace of cultural and demographic metamorphosis, a looming banking crisis and an escalation of the civil unrest that has spread across France over the last year. We may just be able to salvage a federation of the British Isles, but with waning faith in traditional British institutions such as Monarchy (and far be it from me to comment on Prince Andrew's close friendship with American sex predator Jeffrey Epstein) this island seems ripe for Balkan-style destabilisation with the people's splat over Brexit serving as a trial run for a much deeper conflict over culture, identity and power.

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Power Dynamics War Crimes

The trouble with Zionism and Islamism

Demo against perceived Islamophobia

I wish we could wish away any historical or geopolitical controversies related to Jews or Muslims and all live together in peace and harmony. As it happens, for many years Jews, Christians and Muslims managed somehow to reconcile their differences in countries like Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq where today Islamic fundamentalism threatens religious minorities.

As I write the world is undergoing technological and cultural change at such a rapid rate that makes it hard to foresee the future trajectory of human civilisation over the next couple of generations. Yet just as artificial intelligence colludes with nano-robotics to supplant human workers and biotechnology conspires to render motherhood obsolete, many remain obsessed with time-honoured theological disputes over allegiance to religious cults. Let us be in no doubt to discuss either Islamism or Zionism is to invite ridicule.

How can we interpret our modern world through the ideological lenses of Islamism and Zionism? This narrow obsession with the Jewish and Islamic questions can lead to some odd alliances that transcend the traditional left versus right split with severe implications for intellectual freedom.

One may rationally analyse the power of international cabals over traditional societies. If we look at the most influential movers and shakers in media, banking, literature, science, politics and academia, it's hard to deny that some ethnic groups are much more prevalent than others. For instance of 892 Nobel prizes awarded as of 2017, 201 or 22.5% went to Jews, despite being only around 0.2% of the world's population. Likewise Sikhs exert disproportionate influence on Indian business and administration.

We may also objectively study the causes of the current conflict between the Zionist State and Palestinian peoples and attempt to sift through a sea of claims and counter-claims about heavy-handed Israeli suppression and Islamic terrorism. I've listened to both sides of the debate. I shared a flat with three Palestinians in Italy and my former Jewish landlady in North London kept complaining to the BBC and the Independent whenever they highlighted Israeli war crimes. I know the arguments off by heart. The Palestinian version is that the Zionists stole their land and created an apartheid state in all but name, using American and European (mainly German) money to build new Jewish settlements in territories assigned to the Palestinians in 1948. The pro-Israeli version is that Palestinian Arabs are Jordanians who can easily move to any of the surrounding Arab countries, while Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organisations who want to drive Jews into the sea. However, this tittle tattle ignores two other indisputable facts. First Israel is about the same size as Wales and even if we add the Palestinian territories its total land area is still just 28,000 km2. Second the population of this combined area has grown from just shy of 2 million in 1948 (with 800,000 in Israel proper) to 13 million today, that's 7.7 million in Israel proper and 4.9 million in the Palestinian territories. Yet much of the land is semi-arid or desert. It's only through the miracles of modern irrigation and trade that Israel not only feeds its people, but is now a net food exporter. Life is much tougher for most in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but in part due to overcrowding and larger families. The fledgling Jewish state was built on two historical injustices, the expulsion of around 700,000 Palestinians from its newly assigned territories and, of course, the Nazi-era genocide of European Jews. By no stretch of imagination does the latter justify the former, however hard some revisionist historians try to blame Palestinian collaborators, such as the former Mufti of Jerusalem Al-Husseini, for the Nazi Holocaust, as one could just as easily highlight the 1933 Haavara agreement between the Zionist Federation of Germany and the new National Socialist regime. The classic mistake many part-time historians make is to blame ordinary people for the machinations of their ruling classes or for atrocities in far-flung lands over which they have no control. Some Arab Palestinians may well have sympathised with the Axis powers for the same reason that some Irishmen did, on the misguided grounds that my enemy's enemy must be my friend. Nonetheless the current demographic reality of the former British mandate precludes an easy solution that can please all parties concerned and guarantee lasting harmony. Unless all parties concerned are prepared to compromise, I do not foresee an easy solution that does not inconvenience a large section of Israeli / Palestinian inhabitants.

Why should Western bystanders care about the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories or the proliferation of Islamic fundamentalism any more than many other prickly disputes around the world? How did this small plot of land become an ideological battleground between rival factions of anti-Zionists and fanatical friends of Israel. It's a cause cèlébre that somehow manages to unite anti-imperialist leftwingers and Muslims against Israel-firsters, who now include not just influential American Neocons, but many social conservatives. Much of the new right across North America and Europe is avowedly pro-Israel. Geert Wilders, Katie Hopkins and Tommy Robinson have all expressed their unconditional support for the Jewish State and have condemned Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organisations. Benjamin Netanhayu was not only the first head of state to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the US presidential electoral college, but has fostered close relations with prominent social conservative politicians in Eastern Europe such as Viktor Orban.

The Holy Land conflict acts as a proxy among shifting alliances. Few are really interested in the plight of Palestinians or the protection and self-determination of religious Jews in a hostile world. Of greater interest to me has always been the influence of leading Zionists on international politics and their role in fomenting endless internecine wars in the Middle East and further afield. Of note is substantial collusion between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli government, both staunch allies of the United States. If Israeli leaders really wanted to secure a prosperous Jewish homeland living in peace with its neighbours, why would they arm and train the most fanatical Islamic fundamentalists? Just as US-led military adventurism does not serve the interests of ordinary working class Americans, covert Israeli support for Islamic militias in Syria actively imperils Orthodox Jews in Israel with nowhere else to go, while affluent global Zionists with dual nationality can easily relocate. How odd it must seem that the latter group are now befriending proponents of the growing nationalist counterculture. Back in the day many on the real far right, by which I mean those who openly sympathise with the fascist or national socialist dictatorships of the mid twentieth century, would oppose Zionism, sometimes seeking common cause with Islamists. Indeed a propensity towards Shoah revisionism often served as a litmus test for far-right thinking as country after country banned denial of Hitler's death camps. More important than the tragic historical episode itself, which sadly we cannot undo, is the exploitation of its memory to justify modern wars or stifle rational debate on key scientific and historical issues. Today's Judaeophobic right has shrunk to a hardcore of Third Reich nostalgics mainly found in a few areas of Eastern Europe such as Lithuania and Western Ukraine where the memory of Stalinist betrayal and ethnic cleansing lingers on. The Soviet Union invaded the Baltic Republics as part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Fast forward 70 years the German intelligentsia not only champions a federal European Union with the eventual dissolution of traditional nation states, but has welcomed a massive influx of Muslim newcomers with very different views on morality and twentieth century history.

Why people choose to believe one version of history

In a perfect world we would critically analyse all historical and current events in a cool, calm and collected way. Yet we tend to decide many key controversies on emotions rather than with any regard to facts on the ground, which are often complex or open to multiple interpretations. How many people died the US kill during the Vietnam war or indeed how many did it murder during its occupation of Iraq? It all depends how we count and attribute deaths.

How political factions squabble over the Semitic Question

  • The old far right, sympathising with twentieth century fascist regimes, often sided with Muslims as the enemy of their enemy and attempted to downplay the industrial scale of Nazi crimes.
  • The new populist right usually sides with Israel against Islamic expansionism as they want to defend the concept of compact nation states built on ethnic identity and shared cultural norms.
  • The old left defended the rights of all oppressed peoples to self-determination and often sympathised with the Zionist cause, viewing Israel as a bastion of social democracy.
  • Since the 1967 six day war the radical left has usually opposed the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and its role in supporting or driving US foreign policy. Noam Chomsky's The Fateful Triangle sets forth an exhaustive critique of Israeli foreign and domestic policy, but still advocates a two-state solution with a Jewish homeland as envisaged in the 1947 partition of Israel and Palestine/
  • The far left have openly sided with radical Muslims in their principled opposition to the very existence of Israel as a Jewish ethno-state. This takes two forms. One championed by some anti-Zionist Jews, such as Gilad Atzmon, foresee a united secular Palestine/Israel where Jews, Muslims, Christians and Atheists live together happily in peace. Others just want a complete Islamic takeover of the Levant. Some on the fringes of far left have internalised a radical critique of Jewish power and, like many Islamists, call into question the orthodox narrative of the Shoah.
  • Most Muslims denounce Israeli suppression of Palestinian self-determination, yet seem much less concerned about the plight of other Muslims living under repressive Islamic regimes. Divisions within the Muslim diaspora seldom adhere to the traditional Western left / right paradigm. The views of many radical Muslims may vehemently oppose US and Israel imperialism, while espousing a regressive ideology antithetical to the values of the liberal enlightenment.
  • Most Jews support Israel and often its wider neoconservative foreign policy agenda, i.e. instinctively distrusting Israel's enemies and ignoring its frenemies such as Saudi Arabia. However, many Jews do not, most notably Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein in the US or the late Gerald Kaufman in the UK. By contrast ultra-Zionist attitudes are prevalent among much of the new populist right in North America and Europe. You're much more likely to see blue and white Star of David flags at rightwing rallies these days than swastikas.

If you don't have close ties to the region, you may well project your own insecurities and prejudices onto the dispute in the same way as many Scottish nationalists may wish for any team but England to win in the World Cup. Yet one big question remains unanswered in the age of global convergence. Why do some influential Jewish billionaires, such as George Soros, support open borders with so much zeal, while Israel continues to enforce strict immigration controls? Here many make a fundamental error of analysis, conflating the interests of powerful international elites with those of plebeians with strong ethno-religious affiliation. Today we witness a battle between the unrooted professional classes or anywheres, who can easily move as long as they find accommodation within a secluded neighbourhood and stay in touch with other like-minded professionals, and the rooted somewheres, who often find their neighbourhoods and wider social support networks utterly transformed by rapid waves of mass migration, a thesis that David Goodhard has popularised in his recent book A Road to Somewhere.

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Power Dynamics War Crimes

Another Day, Another Attack

British and Saudi Royals

How the British Foreign Policy Elite favoured its short-term commercial interests over the long-term security and wellbeing of its citizens.

Just in case you haven't read the news. Seven people were killed and 48 others injured in a van and knife attack on London Bridge and Borough Market, in which three suspects were shot dead by police. The perpetrators chanted This is for Allah. This comes just 12 days after an attack at the Manchester Arena with 22 fatalities and dozens more casualties.

When will we finally admit it? We can only enjoy the relative freedom to walk the streets of our cities in safety unperturbed by random terrorist attacks or oppressive policing, if first we manage our social environment sensibly and second we all share values of common decency and mutual respect. The fiction we prefer to believe is, despite many teething troubles, we are somehow all embarking on a new era of universal peace and love, breaking down barriers that once divided us and opening our hearts and minds to humanity's wonderful diversity. I agree cultural diversity may often be an asset because there's more than one way to interpret the world around us or organise complex human societies. The reality is too many of us are competing in a global rat race to acquire a bigger slice of the wealth created by a handful of global corporations to further our own subculture (whether it's postmodern narcissism or Islamic fundamentalism), genetic lineage or just satisfy our whims and fancies. In short, we may preach one-world love, but we practice selfish indulgence, which naturally lets others, smarter or more influential than we are, manipulate our desires and prey on our weaknesses.

Many wishful thinkers (a hackneyed epithet, I know) simply want to have their cake and eat it. They want to benefit from the wonders of dynamic, vibrant and fluid multicultural societies (which are really converging on a consumer monoculture) and a growing economy with plenty of technological innovation, yet complain when a few misfits spoil their party with acts of the vilest hatred imaginable. Whatever crimes our rulers may have committed, one can hardly blame carefree youngsters enjoying a pop concert, performed incidentally by an artist who has supported pro-refugee charities, or late night revellers in one of Europe's most ethnically diverse cities. The attackers did not care if you read the Guardian or Daily Telegraph, if you support open borders, if you oppose the Syrian government, if you hate Vladimir Putin, if you favoured gay marriage, marched against the Iraq War or dutifully displayed refugees welcome signs. To indoctinated Jihadis, you are all just infidels and will suffer the same fate as Orthodox Christians in Syria and Egypt. These attacks have grown in intensity over the last five years with hundreds of deaths every month and tens of thousands forced to flee their homes.

Let us face the ugly truth. Islamic fundamentalism is by any measure one of the most illiberal, intolerant and regressive ideologies that has ever cursed our planet. Its respect for human life and real cultural diversity is comparable in every way to Naziism. Yet today's self-declared anti-fascists, who in Britain organise under the banner of Hope Not Hate, prefer to march against fringe Little Englanders, UKIP or anyone else who supports stronger immigration controls, wishes to preserve traditional English, Welsh or Scottish culture or just uphold the kind of liberal values we had adopted by the 1960s and 70s in the face of Islamic fundamentalism and state-enforced suppression of intellectual freedom. If Hope Not Hate and antifa really wanted to combat totalitarianism, they would march against Islamic extremism rather than appease it.

Establishment Complicity

Our government's reaction to these attacks has always been the same: to restrict everyone's freedom and privacy. It took Prime Minister Theresa May just 12 hours to announce higher levels of Internet surveillance. So we all have to have our social media and private electronic correspondence monitored just in case we express sympathy for proscribed organisations or even for political causes opposed to our rulers' vision of globalisation. I honestly do not buy the theory that Western governments want to impose Islam on Europeans and North Americans. If Islamic fundamentalism colonises the West, as Francophone Algerian writer, Boualem Sansal, foretells in his recent apocalyptic novel 2084: The End of the World, it could in my view only occur due to a systemic collapse of Western civilisation, which continues to spread in the form of mass consumerism and rapid technological innovation in most of the world. If Saudi Arabia represents a threat, it does so with weaponry we sold them and with the proceeds of our addiction to its abundant cheap oil, which just happens to lie under their sand. If there were easy alternatives to fossil fuels, our energy companies would have adopted them decades ago. Indeed Norway and Japan have already converted most of their cars to hybrid or all-electric engines, but that transition will only partially relieve our dependence on petrochemicals. The Middle East quagmire and the emergence of radical Islam or Wahhabism is a direct consequence of decades of US, UK, Israeli and to a lesser extent French foreign policy in the region.

Naturally the affluent elites can always buy greater seclusion from the masses and the kind of internecine urban warfare that inevitably follows the breakdown of social stability, especially in locales with divergent ethnocultural communities. The last adjective implies a difference in ethnic background and/or in cultural identity. One's ethnicity is largely transmitted through one's parents and upbringing, while one's cultural identity, such as religious affiliation or adopted lifestyle, tends to be much more fluid.

Deliberate Destabilisation

There are two ethical justifications for military interventions abroad. One is to defend your own country against foreign aggression. The other, known as humanitarian intervention, is to prevent mass murder or obscene human rights abuses. For most of our history, our rulers have presented these rationales as defence of the fatherland and spreading our superior civilisation. Thus the British Empire saw its role as civilising primitive tribes and backward societies. Yet these pretexts have a very bad track record as the outcome of one allegedly defensive war can soon justify another war, whose rationale depends on a selective interpretation of objective reality. While we can certainly cite examples where the bad guys, i.e. the side with the most repressive or murderous regime, lost (e.g. the defeat of Nazi Germany), there are countless others where the winning military power is so dominant from a cultural and technological standpoint that it can rewrite history to fit the narrative it wishes its new citizens to believe. Europeans did not conquer the Americas and Australasia in order to liberate the native peoples of those continents, but to expand their mercantile empires and colonise new resource-rich land.

As Britain transitioned from a colonial power to a modern European state, its foreign policy elite had to find a new role as mere vassals of a larger US-centred corporate empire. Yet the UK continued to exert considerable influence in the post-colonial era. The Foreign Office and secret services had acquired a good deal of expertise in forging strategic alliances with ethnic or religious factions with a grievance against their new governing authorities. This was especially easy in the many artificial states created by post-colonial planners or in the case of Iraq, hastily drawn on a map as the victors of WW1 carved up the former Ottoman Empire. The Foreign Office's has for the last 60 odd years endeavoured to make the world safe for big business and thereby to capitalise on Britain's post-imperial influence on one hand, while destabilising any regional powers that threatened the supremacy of global corporations. In a complex world, this is no easy task especially when you're competing with rival powers such as Russia, China or India or even settling scores with allies like France (e.g. UK support for the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front to embarrass France over its previous support for the deposed Hutu-led Rwandan government).

Since the late 1990s the Blair, Brown, Cameron and now May administrations have presided over two policy areas that favour Britain's commercial and geopolitical interests over the security of its own people.

  1. Interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria have not only destabilised those countries, they have unleashed a large migratory wave from a region with a high birthrate and serious environmental challenges. If humanitarian intervention had been successful, we might expect the migratory tide to ebb.
  2. Relaxed immigration controls from the Muslim countries with easier family reunions. Official immigration restrictions may have seemed rather strict and even unfair on a personal level (the liberal media loves to cite examples of Australian or US citizens whose work visas have expired despite being married to UK nationals), but in practice a well-organised army of migration lawyers manage to circumvent most restrictions, so the UK's Muslim population has continued to grow both through new immigration and a high fertility rate. Vast swathes of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford, Luton and many other towns and cities across the country now have Muslim majorities who live as parallel communities. The so-called liberal media has tried its level best to downplay the scale of creeping ethnic cleansing, but I've experienced its reality first hand. Many state schools in these voluntarily segregated districts have no non-Muslim pupils at all. Worse still, Islamic schools, often funded with Saudi money, have proliferated in our larger cities. For all the talk of multicultural harmony and integration, communities have grown apart as the traditional settled communities vote with their feet and move to outlying suburbs and satellite towns. Yet to many globalists, even to mention this problem is tantamount to racism.

However, the complicity of our ruling elites goes much deeper. British secret services have long colluded with Islamic extremists to destabilise unfriendly regimes. Mark Curtis, author of Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam, has detailed how the Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, and his father were members of a Libyan dissident group, covertly supported by the UK to assassinate Qadafi in 1996 . This is a very funny way of combatting religious extremism and fostering social harmony in a tolerant multicultural world. Many now yearn for the days when London cafés only served eggs, bacon and chips with a cup of tea, but at least you could identify common criminals.

Categories
Power Dynamics War Crimes

Do the Elites understand protest votes?

I wish I could rally behind one of the major or minor parties in Theresa May's Snap General Election. To be honest, I have only ever voted as a protest, to show that the citizenry is somehow politically aware, but unhappy with our rulers' mischievous actions and plans. The alternative is to spoil your ballot paper or simply abstain altogether. In reality it doesn't seem to matter which party or coalition wins a majority of seats. We get more of the same. All elected politicians can do is negotiate with the real power brokers in banking cartels, corporate boardrooms and transnational organisations and promise their voters a bigger slice of the global pie. However, thanks to automation, globalisation of trade and extreme labour mobility, large multinationals can hold national governments to ransom.

So who if anyone will I vote for in this election? To vote Conservative, as sensible as some of their rhetoric may superficially sound, would only empower their corporate backers, who are currently devising strategies to leave the European Union, but to keep us in an amorphous World Union, because they've probably realised the EU is failing as a regional brand of global convergence. The Conservative Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, is more interested in pursuing US and Israeli foreign policy in the Middle East and spreading disinformation about Syria, Russia and Iran than he is in defending British jobs except for a few thousand employed in manufacturing fighter jets for the Saudi Air Force. I had briefly and very naively hoped that Boris would steer the UK away from its irresponsible support for mendacious military adventurism, alas his oratory skills have thus far only served the interests of the same neocon cabal that welcomed the USA's escalation of military confrontation with its foes. The Tories can only play the national unity card because the main opposition parties show little or no allegiance to the cultural identity and long-term economic interests of the settled population. The Brexit means Brexit mantra has become a charade and merely an excuse to prepare Britain for a new global role in wake of the EU's inevitable collapse as it fails to deal with record youth unemployment, a migrant crisis, mass migration from North Africa and Middle East and culture clashes between native peoples and growing Islamic communities.

Rhetoric and Special Interests

Never before have the interests of the professional elites differed so much from those of the huddled masses. Until recently the affluent professional and business classes actually needed the working classes as we called the bulk of the population reliant on hard graft and mediocre wages. The 1950s, 60s and 70s saw a rapid improvement in the living standards and technical expertise of ordinary working people. The 80s and 90s saw many former blue collar workers transition to the new information economy, but then the seemingly unstoppable pace of technological and social transformation led to the outsourcing or automation of new jobs. The working class had become expendable. Meanwhile the professional classes fell in love with globalisation. It meant not just more affordable travel and holiday villas, but inexpensive nannies and plumbers as well as more attractive bar staff. Just as some upper-middle class Britons did well in the country's colonies before the 1950s, taking advantage of their perceived academic superiority and their ability to exploit the gullibility of locals, today's professional classes love cosmopolitan diversity as long as they can afford to protect themselves from its worst excesses and need not compete at the bottom end of wage scale. To succeed in today's dynamic job market you need some distinctive talents that set you apart from your competitors. Otherwise for all your efforts and perseverance your job can easily be outsourced or automated. Would you rather buy coffee from an impersonal vending machine that gets the job done or from a grumpy old man with little charisma? Just as low-end jobs have become more insecure than ever, our establishment politicians want to deregulate the labour market even more. Have they learned nothing from the EU Referendum? 52% of voters did not support leaving the EU superstate because we hate the French, dislike Italian food or mean any harm to the good people of Poland, Bulgaria or Portugal. No, we voted leave mainly to protect jobs for our people rather than letting big business turn the country into a rich man's playground interspersed with ghettoes of new migrant workers and workless native underclasses. However, it is important to understand that the belittling and deskilling of the working classes is not just a European phenomenon. Just as Welsh steelworkers can lose out to cheap Chinese imports, Chinese steelworkers will sooner or later yield to robotisation. Simply leaving the EU will not rebalance the labour market especially as successive governments have failed to invest in training key professional categories such as medical staff.

How does this unfolding global reality stack up with the rhetoric of the most prominent political parties here in the UK? Oddly Theresa May's support for tougher immigration controls, leaving the EU (a prerequisite for the former pledge), selective state education and common sense economics resonate with much of the English middle classes. Corbyn may score a few points on military adventurism (if given airtime in the mainstream media) and the NHS, but few would trust Labour on economic competence. Without a strong economy, the government would have to cut public services even more as millions of Greeks, Italians and Spaniards have learned in recent years.

Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons

Modern sociologists no longer split people into working, middle and upper classes. Instead they prefer A, B, C1, C2, D and E. A-grade individuals form an elite of high-earning top professionals probably less than 4% of the population. They're the kind of people who can easily afford to buy a property of an exclusive area of London and may have a holiday home abroad. E-graders are effectively the workless underclasses trapped in a vicious cycle of welfare dependency, low attainment and emotional insecurity. They form around 8% of British citizens. D-graders are unskilled or semiskilled workers, i.e. the kind of people most affected by outsourcing and migrant labour, but who also depend on in-work benefits. This larger group, currently around 15% of adults, could easily join E-graders if they fail to learn the more intellectually demanding skills of the information age. C1 and C2-graders may think of themselves as middle class, but are usually struggling to make ends meet. They may be better educated and better paid than D-graders, but often only a few pay cheques from bankruptcy and homelessness. Together this grouping accounts for half the population. That leaves only group B, approx. 20–25% of the population, a motley crew of intermediate managers, administrators and mediocre professionals, the kind of people who are doing alright and more likely to welcome recent socio-economic changes.

Traditionally Labour did very well groups E, D and C2 and well enough in C1 to win elections, while the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats did best in the top three grades. Whatever your tribal loyalties may be or whatever you may think of Britain's foreign policies, the basic question most of ask is "to what extent will a party's likely policies benefit my family and my community?" Labour advocates higher spending on social welfare, but looser immigration controls and hence greater labour market competition. Thus if you're stuck in group E, Labour may still seem the most attractive option. You will be the first to lose out from planned and future cuts of welfare provision and may not like the prospect of low-paid non-jobs. However, this group is also statistically the least likely to vote at all and the most likely to switch to anti-establishment candidates, especially those who can appeal to identity politics. Unfortunately, as Labour is seen as weak on extreme labour mobility, Labour have lost most traditional working class voters in groups D, C2 and C1, except those ideologically committed to socialism (very few these days) or whose ethnographic-cultural identity leads them to favour continued high levels of net migration. Under Tony Blair and later Gordon Brown and to a lesser extent under Ed Miliband, Labour could still rely on a large chunk of the wishful thinking middle classes, the kind of people who want a fairer society built on strong economic foundations. However, the Blairite roadshow has now migrated to Liberal Democrats (who once opposed a Blairite war) and pro-EU faction of the Tory Party. After a disastrous performance in the 2015 General Election, I suspect the Liberal Democrats will be the main beneficiaries of remoaner opposition to Brexit among the affluent classes disaffected with Corbyn's Labour and with an apparently Little Britain Tory Party. Indeed arch remoaners (fervent supporters of the European Union and globalisation in general) see both rightwing Tories and leftwing Labour as anachronisms from the 1980s, yet have little to offer ordinary working people except the opportunity to compete in a global labour market that an elite of robotics engineers are busy automating.

Last but not least we have the idiot fringe, best represented by the Green Party. This group seriously believes all our social and environmental problems are caused by greedy tax-evading multinationals and climate-change-denying xenophobes and non-Muslim homophobes. All we need to do is adopt immature green technologies, litter our countryside with wind turbines and solar panels, build more cycle ways and replace social welfare with the basic income. In short let's turn the whole country into a giant university campus open to all and sundry. Greens tend to think everyone else is just like them, pseudo-intellectual virtue-signalling do-gooders reliant on corporate or state largesse. It all sounds very nice until you dwell on the logistics of powering a modern hospital or importing all the resources we need for our homes, household appliances and transport system. With a fraction of our current population, we might adapt to greater self-sufficiency, but with the Greens' opposition to any meaningful border controls, their policies are bound to end in economic collapse and social unrest. At heart I support green policies, as in favouring great self-sufficiency of regions, lower consumption and stable sustainable population levels. But the Greens clearly support greater dependence on global organisation and less personal and community autonomy.

The Scottish Dimension

Before 2007 for decades Scotland had been a Labour-controlled fiefdom. Not only was corruption rife, but the party let lobby groups use Scotland as a social engineering playground, encountering opposition mainly from entrenched conservative forces within the Churches. Labour policies oversaw a continued brain drain of Scotland's best and brightest to better-paid jobs down south and turned this one proud country into a subsidy junkie, while North Oil profits flowed to multinationals and Central Government. For all their waffle about devolution, Labour and the Conservatives before them made Scotland even more dependent on the United Kingdom. The two biggest employers here in Fife are the council (20% of the workforce) and the Ministry of Defence as well as Rosyth Dockyards (now run by Babcock International) and Raytheon, both reliant on contracts either from the UK's armed forces or its military partners, principally the United States. It should come as little surprise that the SNP could capitalise on decades of arrogant subjugation and hand power back to the people of Scotland. Alas once in office the SNP behaved just like New Labour with a few grandiose infrastructure projects such as the new Queensferry Road Bridge, but even more social engineering. Their biggest failure has been in education, the one area of government intervention that can help bright children from deprived backgrounds aspire to more intellectually demanding and thus usually higher-paid jobs. Scotland's poor have faired worse than their English and Welsh cousins. They continued the previous administration's plans to merge high schools into mega-comprehensives with larger catchment areas, while surreptitiously introducing the Orwellian Named Person Act, treating all parents as potential child abusers.

Current and Future Dangers

The real divide is no longer between left and right or capitalist versus socialist, but simply between elitists vs populists. While populists may often appeal to nostalgia and offer simplistic solutions to complex problems (e.g. leave the EU, stop all Islamic migration or arrest all bankers), they do at least respond to grassroots feelings, however misplaced. Populists are unlikely to advocate lower wages or cuts in essential public services. They are also keen to support the lifestyle aspirations of their core voters, so populists tend to be sceptical of many green policies which may involve lifestyle changes such as cycling to work rather than driving. Elitists, on the other hand, believe they know what's best not just for themselves but for ordinary working and non-working people. Hence elitists will tend to support the often counter-intuitive conclusions of academic studies and reports commissioned by NGOs with a vested interest in promoting rapid cultural and economic change. Populist concerns tend to rely on the lived experiences of ordinary people. If you've just spent 3 hours waiting in a local accident and emergency department with chronic pain surrounded by patients and medical staff from other ethnic backgrounds, you might conclude that mass migration is putting the health service under strain. By contrast an elitist would blame any delays on underfunding or an ageing population, while noting the dedication of migrant medical staff. If a populist then suggests that more local lads and lasses should be trained as doctors and nurses, a typical elitist will merely shrug his shoulders and claim local youngsters simply don't want these jobs and are too busy playing on their game consoles. Elitists are basically alphas and betas, who prefer foreign gammas over native deltas and epsilons because they know the jobs deltas and epsilons used to do will soon be fully automated. Angry natives, especially from lower classes, are a massive people management issue. I suspect the real ruling classes, a small subset of alphas, are divided on this issue. They either plan to turn most of us into little more than docile consumers rewarded for our subservience while only a quarter of working age adults have paid employment, or they have more sinister plans. Either way the hallmark of elitists is their intellectual dishonesty. By pretending to help designated victim groups, whether single parents or refugees, they merely empower their own class of people denying everyone else of any economic or personal autonomy. Their policies inevitably lead to greater surveillance and monitoring of all, but a lucky few who can buy exclusivity and privacy.

It may come as a surprise to those who have read some of my other recent blog posts, but the party global elitists fear most is probably Corbyn's Labour, not because its policies are viable, which they are not, but because its leader challenges the lies and deception of the American and British foreign policy elites. Once Corbyn is swept away in the aftermath of a near certain slump in Labour's parliamentary presence (with just 25% of the popular vote Labour could lose 50 or more seats), we could witness a realignment of the elitists that brought both Blair and Cameron to office. If they see Labour as a lost cause, expect a few globalist Tories to jump ship and join a new alliance centred around Liberal Democrats, who may gain as many as 30–40 seats. In much of the Scottish Central Belt, Labour are the only party that can deny the SNP of another landslide leading to another fake Independence Referendum, but this time with the full support of the globalist establishment. In an uncertain world, the main losers of a post-UK British Isles would be ordinary working people, the gammas, deltas and epsilons the elitists no longer need. However, if Labour can hold on to a respectable presence by mitigating its losses in England and possibly regaining a few seats in Scotland owing to growing disaffection with the SNP), we may scupper the elitist gamble to silence all viable opposition to its plans.

Categories
All in the Mind Computing Power Dynamics War Crimes

Mainstream Fake News Kills

Protest against Media lIes

On the Brink of World War Three Over Misappropriated Chemical Attacks.

Call me old-fashioned, but facts do actually matter even if they're inconvenient and do not fit with your preferred narrative. Your enemy may be bad, but your enemy's enemy may be even worse. That said, disinformation and emotive propaganda should concern us most when they come from the world's best funded media operations. Yet many choose not to learn the lessons of verifiable recent history and instead prefer to give our leading state and corporate broadcasters the benefit of the doubt. After all, who would like to be accused of swallowing Putin's propaganda?

However, now Russia Today plays a similar role in the West to the good old BBC World Service behind the Iron Curtain. Millions of citizens of Warsaw Pact countries turned to Western media outlets to learn the truth about their own ruling elites. Now more and more Westerners are turning to alternative news sources when they grow suspicious of a tiresomely predictable diet of agenda promotion and strategically timed media events that serve only to promote more war and greater erosion of national self-determination and democracy.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/pVevIuIRuok

I have long ceased to watch conventional TV news, but I do monitor a wide range of online news. I no longer visit the BBC News site to find out what's going on in the world (though I doubt they'd lie about incontrovertible events such as natural disasters or the weather ), but to analyse how it presents breaking news stories. The BBC is one of a select group of global media organisations who can actually set the agenda. If the BBC reports something, it becomes news. An Italian journalist once explained to me that Italy's state broadcaster, RAI, just recycles BBC and CNN reports, hastily translated and adapted for an Italian audience. BBC reporters can add all the caveats they like to save their proverbial bacon should a claim prove unsubstantiated, but as soon as the BBC highlights an atrocity and attributes it to the enemy of the day, it has already served its propaganda purpose. Truth seekers can easily be dismissed as conspiracy nuts or Putin acolytes, but believe me the truth does matter. If only 1% of BBC news coverage were not just inaccurate or misleading, but mendacious, it would be a scandal. Authoritarian regimes have always used similar tactics. They do not normally have to resort to outright lies, they just embellish cherry-picked snippets of the truth to suit their narrative. Outright mendacity is an act of desperation, especially when alternative and more credible versions of events are available from rival sources.

I don't have either time or resources to go into great detail about the recent chemical discharge in rebel-held Idlib, Syria. That lethal sarin or chlorine gas may have killed as many as 70 civilians in a war zone controlled by fanatical Islamic militias remains the only certainty. It's perfectly possible that the Syrian government could have killed people by bombing rebel ammunition dumps. They US and its allies have long attributed all regretful civilian victims of their bombing missions to the common Islamic militia practice of hiding weapons and fighters in densely populated areas especially near schools and hospitals. As wrong as I believe recent US military interventions may have been, I do not believe they deliberately targeted innocent civilians, but merely considered them a price worth paying for a larger strategic prize, that should be avoided to win the battle over hearts and minds once they've asserted their control. If they wanted just to kill as many people as possible, imposing a complete trade embargo would be much more effective as few Middle East countries are self-sufficient in food. Indeed Syria, which still has thousands of square kilometres of fertile land, may be an exception in this regard. The country has managed to survive despite sanctions and foreign-funded militias. Before Tuesday's attack, the Syrian Army was winning the ground war against Al Nusra and ISIS. US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had even suggested that the people of Syria could determine the future role of President Bashar Al Assad, the latest apparent reincarnation of Hitler. The surest way President Assad could guarantee his downfall would be to commit a heinous war crime against innocent civilians before the world's media. He must be surely well aware that the White Helmets will rush to the scene of any atrocity to transmit footage of civilian casualties to global media outlets keen to pounce on any excuse to derail the strategic victory of a Russian / Syrian / Iranian alliance against head-chopping Islamic militias. I this find it extremely hard to believe that a besieged leader of a small country in touch with the global media would authorise his own downfall, unless he were some kind of double agent prepared to commit mad and reckless acts that would end not only his own career, but reduce his country to a set of statelets controlled by illiberal fundamentalists and policed by foreign armies.

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https://www.youtube.com/embed/tymDe83PFMQ

Conformists and Anticonformists

The emerging political landscape is even more confusing. When newly inaugurated President Trump tried to impose a temporary travel ban on globetrotters from seven mainly Muslim countries, the trendy left and Hollywood celebrities protested against this vile act of racism, although travel to the USA is a privilege, not a fundamental human right. When the same President bows to pressure from the Deep State and performs a 180º U-Turn on reconciliation with Russia over their joint efforts to combat ISIS and other Islamic extremists, the liberal media and Hollywood luvvies suddenly applaud the President's courageous actions. The masses of uninformed Americans who get their news from the mainstream media have swallowed their propaganda. Liberals support airstrikes because Assad and Putin are Hitleresque rightwing demagogues. Trump-supporting rednecks support airstrikes because we have to support our armed forces against our enemies. Opponents of more airstrikes are inevitably those of us who instinctively distrust the establishment media. We thus have the spectacle of alt-right former Trump supporters clashing with black block anarchists at a protest against air strikes. Hang on a moment. Both groups believe more military adventurism will only trigger more internecine violence and engender more hatred and religious fundamentalism. Both groups loathe global corporations and superstates. Both groups oppose more surveillance and restrictions of basic civil liberties. So faced with a choice between opposing the world's most powerful military machine and a bunch of European nationalists, the infamous black block decide the latter are the bigger problem despite their demographic demise and the emergence of China and India as the dominant centres of power in the 21st century.

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics War Crimes

The Trump Delusion

Let's agree that the left-branded neoliberal dream best associated with the Clinton Dynasty in the US and with Tony Blair and David Cameron in the UK has failed their core working class electoral bases. Ordinary working people are fed up with know-it-all talking heads on TV lecturing them on what they should think and belittling their concerns about globalisation and social engineering. How could the working classes turn to political causes such as Trump in the US, Brexit in the UK or Le Pen in France?

At the end of the day most people just want stable communities, job security, safe neighbourhoods and some degree of personal independence. So what's the alternative to third way corporate globalisation ? Do we really have to re-learn the fallacy of the old adage that my enemy's enemy is my friend all over again? No, often your enemy's enemy is even worse than your local enemy. If you hate US imperialism, would Chinese imperialism be any better? However, the game has changed in the early 21st century. We no longer have the spectre of rival national imperialisms, as in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but rival visions of globalisation, which is not so much an inevitability as a fait accompli, a fact of life. Our high-tech lives depend on infrastructure that can only be provided by global organisations. Nobody is going to uninvent the Internet or mobile phone. Moreover, without efficient industrial systems our increasingly urbanised population would starve. If a national government attempts to break free from international banking cartels, it can soon be reduced to misery as imported products it used to take for granted suddenly become unaffordable in local currency. Venezuela, once hailed by many on the left as a viable alternative to neoliberalism, is probably one of the most depressing failures in recent history. While crude oil prices remained high, the radical social democratic government could tax energy companies to fund its welfare state. When they plummeted, the country faced the twin scourges of hyperinflation and rampant crime. Although very fertile and technically able to feed itself, Venezuela never developed an industrial base sophisticated and diverse enough to meet the needs and desires of its citizens. Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro failed to raise the educational standards of the country's underclasses quickly enough to build an indigenous industrial base independent of global corporations. Meanwhile the social democratic experiments of Northern Europe have failed to cope with the growing demands of mass migration and job insecurity. Trade unions have become a mere shadow of their former selves, wedded to concepts of international workers' solidarity that made sense 50 years ago when governments could easily intervene to protect local workers from unfair competition.

Globalisation and automation have not only displaced millions of manual workers, they have made it almost impossible to organise strikes. Parties posing on the left have failed miserably to address any of the concerns of the remnants of the once great European and North American working classes. The best they can do is offer retraining for the new dynamic information economy but usually for ephemeral occupations. Many former factory workers ended up in call centres in much of Northern England, Wales and Scotland. For a few short years Scotland's Central Belt was the call centre capital of the world. I should know, I worked in one. We'd handle calls for the European and North American markets. That was before these jobs were outsourced first to India and then largely replaced by Web portals or advanced voice recognition software. Any boring and monotonous job is a prime candidate for smart automation. So after retraining as call centre operatives, our undaunted postmodern workers have to retrain as software engineers or care workers, both professions much in demand. Except programming requires a high level of abstract thinking and usually several years of thorough study and experimentation, while care workers are usually trapped on low pay with stressful and unrewarding jobs. Just imagine you're a newly unemployed call centre worker and former shipbuilder and you're contemplating retraining as a plumber or taxi driver, only to discover the market is saturated with competition from newcomers, apparently more diligent and enthusiastic than you are. Would you persevere and adapt? Would you accept a job in a meat packing factory as the only native worker? It's hardly surprising that many former workers end up trapped on benefits. Most employers will just ignore you if your CV provides no proof of recent employment. You can always embellish your CV, but in today's easy-come easy-go hire-and-fire culture if you cannot get up to speed within a few days your inexperience will soon become apparent. The globalist left do not have any answers for these questions, except vain promises to spend more on welfare, mental health, invest more in training and make sure large corporations pay more tax. Once in power former social democratic parties offer more of the same. The last great hope of the European left was Francois Hollande, whose French Socialist party now polls between 15 and 20% of the vote while the electorate will in all likelihood face unpalatable choice between a global extremist Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, despised by most of the global establishment. I suspect a Le Pen presidency, especially if she wins by a narrow margin because the old left fail to support Macron's Neo-Thatcherism, would disappoint as international investors flee France.

Americanism vs Globalism

While I lost no sleep over Hillary Clinton's loss, Trump has thus far only delivered feeble promises of bringing back jobs to the US and stemming the tide of illegal immigration. The Trump administration has remained consistent on only one area of US foreign policy, its unflinching support for the State of Israel. While some hoped a Trump Presidency would stop supporting Islamic militias and meddling unduly in the domestic affairs of sovereign states, nothing has changed. The US is still bombing Iraq and Syria and Trump has actually boosted US Defence spending, which will inevitably only lead China, whose economy will overtake the USA's in the next two decades, will follow suit triggering a new and dangerous arms race. While Trump may personally have the best of intentions, his policy advisors will guide him into the neocon camp, whose sole mission is to ensure their cabal lead the New World Order rather than rival gangs in China, India or Saudi Arabia.

Yet dark forces are at work to destabilise not only the Middle East, but Europe and North America too. Before Trump's election any talk of a US State leaving the federation would have been dismissed as a joke. Sure, Texans love their Lone Star flag and Californians like to set themselves apart from their East Coast compatriots, but the dominant loyalty most Americans had, until now, was to the USA. The last election cycle revealed a massive gulf between metropolitan areas and America's redneck heartland. Trump won the support of some of the most disadvantaged people in the US, while the affluent urban elite voted overwhelmingly for Clinton. One section of American society welcomes recent social changes and growing interconnectedness, while the other clings to more traditional values of strong families and self-reliance. Now many Californians feel ashamed to be US Americans. The carefully choreographed protests following Trump's inauguration could be a sign of things to come if the US economy continues its in relative decline. In the not-too-distant future trade with the Asia Pacific region might be of greater importance to California than the rest of the US. Cultural convergence and extreme labour mobility have already reduced the USA's earlier cultural uniqueness. Tech firms can now easily relocate to India and attract high-calibre software engineers from across the globe. Miniature Californian bubbles can be recreated almost anywhere big business can set up shop with an almost unlimited supply of cheap labour to clean offices and serve coffee (until these jobs are fully automated). That's the point of globalisation, the whole world becomes one country with a maze of parallel communities, gated neighbourhoods, ghettos and hinterlands with displaced natives.

Likewise until recently any talk of Scotland leaving the United Kingdom would have equally been dismissed as wild conjecture. Then between 2010 and 2014 support for Scottish Independence rose from 23% to just under 45% in the last referendum. While the 2016 EU referendum exposed a growing divide between the interests of ordinary working natives and metropolitan elite in England and Wales, in Scotland most new SNP supporters voted to remain in the EU (although 37% voted to leave). This apparent divide has allowed Nicola Sturgeon to claim Scotland is being dragged out of the EU against the will of Scottish voters, though to be honest the EU has never been the foremost issue in Scottish voters' minds. Many social attitudes surveys would suggest if anything Scots are even more conservative than their southern neighbours on issues such as mass migration or social engineering. Differential voting patterns are swayed by deep identitarian emotions. Working class English northerners blame Brussels for their lack of job security, while working class Scots are keen to blame Westminster. In truth the real culprit for the disempowerment of the underclasses is neither the EU or UK administrations, but the rapid pace of corporate globalisation and technological change. But who would benefit most from the break-up of previously viable nation states such as the United Kingdom or United States? One would think the Anglo-Saxon world would lose out. When the former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia splintered in the 1990s, few Western observers seemed surprised. After all these were young federations without a strong sense of shared identity. But now global corporations treat all countries as mere regions with historical quirks and quaint traditions. However, they distrust strong nation states for another more profound reason. Nation states are the only known viable unit for the kind of relatively free, democratic and prosperous societies that emerged in Western Europe and North America in the last century. I really have to stress the significance of the adjective relative before abstract concepts such freedom and democracy as no society can claim absolute freedom or pure democracy, but some societies can respond to their citizens' needs and desires better than others. As a result the citizens of prosperous nation states tend to expect their governments to defend their best interests in matters such as employment opportunities, education, training, workers' rights, welfare provision, policing, surveillance, free speech and migration. However, the corporate and state media have long managed public debate and expectations. Some subjects, such as military and political alliances, are taboo in countries that either lost the Second World War or were occupied by Nazi Germany or the former Soviet Union. To a large extent German national identity has been redefined in terms of loyalty to the EU project. The UK and USA have always differed from continental Europe in one important respect. Their citizens have not until recently been ashamed to show off their patriotic fervour. I can recall how Margaret Thatcher's popularity ratings changed almost overnight after Argentina invaded a windswept and sparsely populated archipelago in South Atlantic. Despite record post-war unemployment levels, the country rallied behind Thatcher's infamous Naval task Force to recapture the Falklands and liberate 1600 islanders. Such a reaction would be unthinkable in Italy or Germany, whose territorial assets had already been stripped down to little more than their core ethnolinguistic regions.

The New Labour years taught me a perspective-changing lesson. Initially I considered Tony Blair just to be a trendy Tory masquerading as a moderate Labour leader. As imperfect and compromised as previous Labour governments may have been, I have little doubt that its leading politicians actually believed they were acting in the best interests of their working class voters. Certainly even in the 60s and 70s corporate lobbies would find ways to promote their transformative socio-economic agendas. The cultural revolution of the swinging 60s turned out to be a big boon for big business. As long as national governments could protect local industries and retain job security with low levels of unemployment and gradually improving living standards, the welfare state had a largely benign influence providing a social safety net. However, by the 1970s big business no longer wanted to subsidise inefficient industries to maintain full employment and the great social democratic experiment began to unravel. In the beginning of the Thatcher era the left supported workers' rights first and foremost, however as the workless underclasses expanded and job security weakened, the left began to champion welfare dependency over workers' empowerment. It soon became clear the Blair government had little interest in helping ordinary working class kids escape the real poverty trap, which was not a lack of food or bad sanitation, but intellectual poverty and a lack of opportunity amidst a decadent culture of instant gratification. Meanwhile their foreign policy no longer followed the national interest, but reflected the demands of a globalist cabal deeply entrenched in the US, EU and UK administrations. I once believed the BBC had an institutional bias in favour of British imperialism allied with American imperialism. But British imperialism died shortly after World War Two. The US merely allowed Britain and France to retain a semblance of post-imperial grandeur with a few token overseas territories and special interests. Today the global elite does not seem to care if the United Kingdom loses Northern Ireland or Scotland. That's how far we've travelled in just 20 years. The unthinkable has become thinkable. While nostalgics of the British Empire fret over the status of Gibraltar (basically a money laundering centre with a special tax and legal regime) and the Falkland Islands, many English towns and cities have been ethno-culturally transformed out of all recognition. When I went to high school in Luton in the late 70s, fewer than 5% of the population came from visible ethnic minorities (many more were of Irish descent). Now the town's ethnic white British and Irish population has fallen below 50%, and the proportion is even lower among the younger generation owing to differential birth rates. Many will claim this is either not a problem or is just the price we pay for past British imperialism. The affluent cosmopolitan elite now regard the home-bred lower classes as ill-informed xenophobic scum unable to adapt to our Brave New World, despite the fact that in-group loyalty is much stronger among non-European migrant communities. The North American liberal elite show a similar attitude to their blue collar workers and rednecks, mainly of white European descent. Their wealth no longer depends on the hard work of their native working classes, who are now viewed as little more than an inconvenience or people management problem.

Facile Rhetoric

A basic rule of thumb is “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably isâ€. Tony Blair mainly spoke in facile soundbites. On Iraq he would say “I did it because I believed it was the right thing to doâ€. How low does your critical thinking IQ have to be to believe such an explanation? The same goes for Trump. He just makes sweeping claims about how fantastic his job-creating and healthcare policies are. His vanity knows no bounds. Meanwhile he has outsourced his entire foreign policy to a bunch of neocon lobbyists such as Jared Kushner with close ties to Israel and US Deep State. He merely acts a mouthpiece for their hidden agendas.

Meanwhile the true ruling elites are busy preparing for a post-American world, where the USA is little more than a loose confederation of states. If Trump triggers a showdown with Russia, Iran and China, he will lose, but the globalist project will stay intact. Its epicentre will move on, but a China-led world will rely even more on high-tech surveillance and censorship to manage the underclasses. Together these superpowers can now hold the US to ransom. Its military might is built on debt. Its wars in the Middle East have failed and will soon backfire in hideously dangerous and unpredictable ways.

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics War Crimes

Whom should we believe?

Orwellian Future

The War on Dissident News

The establishment media have now coined a term for news sites that regularly challenge their orthodox narrative, fake news. This is rich for news organisations that have cheerled wars in the Middle East, turned a blind eye to atrocities committed by our allies and consistently supported the suppression of viable national democratic institutions by a cabal of global corporations. For the last 30-odd years a small set of worldwide news outlets such as CNN, BBC, Sky News and Fox News have literally manufactured the news we consume. They set agendas and decide which events, staged or otherwise, deserve our attention. Some wars go almost unreported, while mercenary reporters go out of their way to discover any evidence of atrocities committed by our official enemies. However, now CNN and the BBC have serious competition as more and more people switch off their TV sets and seek alternative sources for their news online.

Last week the UK government passed the Investigatory Powers Bill that requires Internet service providers and mobile phone companies to keep logs of customers' browsing history for a year, so that government agencies can gain access to this minefield of data. In the wake of Donald Trump's surprising electoral success, we have begun to hear calls for filtering and even outright censorship of alternative news sites such as Zerohedge, Drudge Report, Breitbart and Infowars. In the UK social justice warriors have campaigned to ban allegedly rightwing newspapers such as Daily Express, the Sun and the Daily Mail (which is now the most popular British online news site) from college campuses. My twitter feed has messages urging me to sign petitions to stop major corporations from advertising in these papers. Naturally without advertising they would lose their main revenue stream. Just a couple of weeks before the US presidential election, Barrack Obama lent his support to the concept of a truthiness filter that would rank information sources by their reliability. Indeed we've seen a number of initiatives, supported by NGOs, that claim to help us check facts, so much so that the verb fact-check has now entered the Oxford Dictionary. The mainstream media resorted heavily to fact-checking during the recent EU referendum and US presidential campaign. Presumably if you are unsure about a claim you should visit a purportedly non-partisan site that will set the record straight. Fact-checking services use a technique that the public relations industry has perfected over the decades. First they rely on a foundation of indisputable facts and common misconceptions that can easily be debunked. However, their real purpose is not to disprove unfounded claims, but to discredit any verifiable facts that challenge their integrity. To do this, rather than disprove incriminating allegations outright, they present selective evidence to the contrary intermingled with a few unfounded or wild accusations that can easily be disproven. e.g. Is it true that Hillary Clinton participated in satanic rituals involving children? Whatever the evidence on this claim may be, it was never the main focus of any investigation into the operations of the Clinton Foundation or Hillary's role as US Secretary of State. Such questions are mere diversions from the real issues such as Saudi funding of both the Clinton Foundation (confirmed by Wikileaks) and Hillary Clinton's awareness that Saudi Arabia funded Daesh / ISIS. Fact-checking has turned into a massive industry whose main purpose is to sanitise news and discredit alternative news sources.

In some left-leaning circles it is now mildly trendy to lampoon anyone who lends credence to news reports from sites they inevitably dismiss as alt-right, pro-Putin, conspiracy-theorising, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, Neo-Nazi or possibly, if it suits their agenda, Islamic fundamentalist. Back in the day Western conformists would dismiss any unorthodox facts perhaps as Soviet propaganda. Most challenges to mainstream Western propaganda came not surprisingly from the left. The traditionalist right hated the Soviet Union so much they would support almost anything the US did to defeat it, including arming the Mujahideen or supporting repressive dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Chile or El Salvador.

The tide began to turn in the post-Soviet era as the US and its allies waged wars on humanitarian pretences against regimes they accused of despotism, nationalism or both. The old left-right divide on US-led wars faded as the new universalist establishment won the support of the conformist left and even some genuine radical thinkers such as the late Christopher Hitchens, who exposed the misdemeanours of Henry Kissinger and then went on to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq. We no longer fought wars to prop up anti-communist religious extremists and dictatorships, enforce neoliberal economic policies or defeat the USSR's allies. Rather we now intervened militarily to spread democracy, human rights and enlightened Western values against anachronistic nationalists and/or religious conservatives. As ever, the establishment media accused opponents of Western military intervention of siding with the enemy, who was no longer the Soviet superpower, but a motley crew of isolated rogue states that failed to cooperate with the new corporate world order. To counter mainstream war propaganda you have to be an expert on Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Russian history. You also need access to reliable sources of information that challenge the globalist narrative. As a result most of us with a limited budget and limited time have to rely on alternative news sites and try to read between the lines. I always have time for John Pilger and no serious scholar of turn-of-millennium politics would be complete without reading Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman's Manufacturing Consent. The latter made the important point that most of the information you need to reach logical conclusions about world events is freely available, but submerged by a deluge of manufactured news, based on selective factoids and staged media events. To hide the truth the mass media do not have to lie, merely omit inconvenient news.

Real Fake News

While the mass media has allowed some debate about the US role in the destabilisation of the Middle and Russia's recent intervention in support of the Syrian government, much of the news we have seen on our TV screens has been filtered by an allegedly humanitarian organisation, the White Helmets. If you only ever get your news from the BBC, Guardian, CNN or Sky News, you will be none the wiser. Even traditionally anti-war MPs from the SNP and the leftwing of the Labour Party have recycled the line that most deaths in the Syria can be attributed to Bashar Al Assad's regime and that the Russians have bombed civilians indiscriminately while the peace-loving White Helmets saved innocent children from an evil alliance of the Russian and Syrian barrel bombs. Journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett have exposed the web of deceit behind the Syrian conflict, especially the strong ties between the White Helmets, Blackwater and Al Nusra, a Syrian opposition militia affiliated with Al Qaeda and with a record of brutal attacks on Christians. In 2013 the BBC broadcast Saving Syria's Children. The footage is no longer available from the BBC iPlayer and copies have been removed from YouTube. It purportedly showed Napalm attacks by Syrian government forces against civilians in a rebel-held area. Robert Stuart has analysed the documentary, which appeared fake from the start, and identified a number of actors used in other propaganda pieces. It was little more than a macro-simulation, yet served as the basis for widely publicised claims that the Syrian regime had deliberated targeted civilians with chemical weapons. Why would the Assad Dynasty wait forty years until the whole world was watching to start massacring its own people?

The more I learn about the Syrian conflict from people who have witnessed the operations of Western NGOs and opposition militias firsthand, the more I distrust the mainstream narrative and clearer it becomes that the US-led alliance destabilised the region. I want the freedom to read dissident news and challenge the truth that emanates from the corporate media. We are heading down a slippery slope to the kind of state-sanctioned censorship that China has imposed on its people.

If I had lived in the Soviet Union, as a natural rebel I would have probably listened to the BBC World Service or Voice of America to find out what's really going on in my country. The more the ruling classes censor the media, the more people begin to distrust it and the harder it is to sort the wheat from the chaff.

If we start censoring tabloid newspapers because they publish stories critical of mass immigration, itself a product of globalisation, we'll end up censoring dissident sites that challenge the disinformation of our mainstream media on matters of war and peace. In the end we will be unable to hold our governments to account because any hard facts that contradict their narrative will be taboo.

You cannot favour free speech only for a narrow range of opinions you deem acceptable. You have to defend people's right to express opinions you may find offensive or interpret facts in a manner you find at odds with reality. It seems our real rulers are playing the infantile left like a fiddle. They have now joined forces with the corporate left to demand censorship of opinions and news they deem as hate speech. Our future is uncertain. We may soon have the technology not only to monitor all human interactions and track people's movements, but to read people's minds and remotely administer psychoactive drugs. If we don't make a stand now against corporate interference in news gathering and intellectual freedom, it may soon be too late.

Categories
War Crimes

Rewriting History: The Myth of the Good War

Planned Berlin to Baghdad Railway

As we mourn the deaths of millions of young Europeans in a futile dispute between rival empires, British, French, Russian and American leaders perpetuate the myth of a simple battle between good and evil, freedom and tyranny, democracy and dictatorship. Yet without the deep scars left by the blood-stained aftermath of the Great War, much of Europe would probably not have endured revolutionary uprisings, which soon gave rise to much more grotesque expressions of tyranny in the form of Fascism, Stalinism and most catastrophically Nazism. Many younger people could be forgiven for believing Herbert Asquith, Winston Churchill and Lloyd George took the British Empire to war in order to defeat not just Prussian adventurism, but all the horrors later associated with Nazi Germany. Yet the Germany of 1914 was as democratic as Britain or France. Not only did Germany have universal male suffrage before the UK (which excluded not just all women, but also millions of poor men from the electoral franchise), it had the world's largest Social Democratic party and best organised labour movement. Far from being a beacon of social enlightenment, despite its wealth and intellectual talent, the United Kingdom still ruled over hundreds of millions of colonial subjects in the Indian Subcontinent and much of Africa. Openly racialist ideas justified the supremacy of small white minorities and local elites in most colonies. How could one country that had fought a long string of wars in locales as diverse as South Africa, Afghanistan and India lecture another with a much smaller sphere of influence and only a fledgling colonial empire? Just 44 years earlier Britain seemed quite happy for its ally Prussia to humiliate its long-time imperialist rival France, by first seizing Paris and imposing its terms for peace with the transfer of much of Alsace and Lorraine to the newly formed German Empire. Only 55 years earlier in the infamous Battle of Waterloo, the British army under the command of the Duke of Wellington had helped Prussia defeat Napoleon and thus contain Britain's main maritime competitor as well as the dominant continental European power. For much of the 19th century Germany, not France or Russia, had been Britain's main ally on the continent. Britain supported the creation of the new Belgian state out of the southern Netherlands Provinces and French-speaking Walloon region to limit French ambitions more than those of Prussia. Indeed the British Royal Family descended from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. In 1914 King George V's government effectively declared war on his cousin Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Standard schoolbook history usually emphasises the assassination of the Habsburgian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, which the Austro-Hungarian government blamed on Serbia, a small slavic state rising from the ashes of an Ottoman Empire in rapid decline. Sandwiched between the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, Serbia naturally sought alliances with Russia and France. However, let us not forget France and Britain had temporarily joined forces with the Ottoman Empire to contain an expansionist Russia in the 1853–56 Crimean War.

In the century prior to the outbreak of the 1914-18 Great War, Britain had supported Prussia against expansionist France, France and the Ottoman Empire against expansionist Russia, before letting Prussia curtail the European influence of Napoleon III's resurgent Second French Empire. Why would Britain now side with Russia in its quest to gain a foothold in the Balkans via Serbia over the assassination of a foreign royal. While the German Empire had gained Alsace and Lorraine to the west and chunks of former Poland to the east, the Russian Empire had gobbled up the rest of Poland, the baltic states north of East Prussia and Finland as well as all the former Caucasian and central Asian Soviet republics that gained independence from the Russian Federation in 1991. Germany's main competitor in rapidly industrialising Central and Eastern Europe was Russia, who had in turn formed an alliance with its main competitor, and former occupier to the West, France. Britain, although now eclipsed by Germany and United States as an industrial power, had reached the pinnacle of its imperial power. Did it really matter if Germany settled a few scores with a despotic Russian Empire and once again put France in her rightful place as a medium-sized Western European nation? Could Britain not act as a mere mediator between Russia, the Ottoman Empire, France, Austro-Hungary and Germany. After all, it had both opposed and joined forces with all these empires to suit its imperial interests. As for neutral Belgium, it had just overseen the slaughter of as many as 10 million Africans in the Congo Free State, while over half its European population would sooner reunite with the Netherlands than fight dirty wars in the service of Belgian colonialism.

However, Germany was certainly not blameless. It had been too eager to settle scores and strike preemptively against France via Belgium. Its military leaders sought to expand their geographic reach through their industrial power at a time when most of the world had already been carved up, except for one lucrative region whose recently discovered abundant fossil fuel reserves would enable unprecedented economic expansion later in the century. Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany had begun the construction of a ground-breaking Berlin to Baghdad railway, just as American and British geologists working for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company discovered black oil at Masjid-i-Sulaiman in the mountains of north-western Iran. Not surprisingly, though conquering the Middle East was never mentioned either as a pretext for war, much of Britain's military operations over the following four years took place not in continental Europe at all, but in Mesopotamia.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/2DCwafIntj0

For more read: The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain's Rush to War, 1914 by Douglas Newton

Categories
War Crimes

A culture of automotive entitlement: the anti-cycling brigade

Bicycle

Cycling been very much in the headlines in the UK. In the last fortnight 6 cyclists have been killed on the streets of London and today a young female motorist was fined for boasting on Twitter about how she accidentally knocked over a cyclist and did not bother to stop. To many the rivalry between motorists and cyclists is simply a matter of road safety and traffic management, but these modes of transport hardly compete. A human-powered bicycle could never travel as fast as an automobile, or carry as much weight. By contrast bicycles are much lighter, require only a fraction of the raw materials and take up much less room on roads and cycleways. They may often be a quicker means of travelling short urban routes or beating severe traffic congestion. Cycling also keeps you in touch with the outside world and naturally keeps you fit. Because cars and push bikes are clearly suited to different terrains and scenarios, many of us actually cycle and drive at different times. However, few die-hard motorists consider the real arguments for transitioning from a largely car-centric society to one where most daily travel in urban areas can be accomplished by a combination of walking, cycling and public transport. Many motorists think of cycling as a mere sport, something you might do to keep fit or before you pass your driving test. When they see cyclists invading their road space and apparently obeying a different set of rules, their only consideration is often the safety of other drivers or pedestrians who have just alighted from their vehicles. To them the presence of cyclists on busy trunk roads conjures up images of trapeze artists walking on overhead powerlines. Cyclists, so they think, are their own worst enemies and apparently do not pay road tax. In truth motorists pay Vehicle Excise Duty, but the true cost of road construction and maintenance is born by all tax payers.

You may think the concept of entitlement culture only applies to welfare dependents or pampered teenagers. I would extend it to anyone who assumes they are entitled to consume much more than their fair share or a lead a lifestyle that clearly could not be sustainably shared by everyone else. While television and later the Internet may have played a major role in reshaping our culture, the personal motor vehicle has completely transformed our neighbourhoods, urban architecture and most importantly consumption patterns. While TVs and radios may have spread awareness of new consumer products, car ownership is the biggest predictor of high consumption levels. If you don't own a car, you will tend to buy a lot less, simply because you lack the means to bring it home. Supermarkets grew in parallel with mass motoring. Once you have a car and a deep freeze, you can do the weekly shop, fill your shopping cart with special offers you may or may not need at some time and consign local convenience stores to a subsidiary role as an emergency dispenser of items you forgot to buy at the out-of-town hypermarket. Supermarkets sell much more than just food. A casual survey of a typical British trolley will reveal plenty of booze, snacks, DVDs, magazines, electronic gadgets, beauty products etc. If you had to carry all that home by bus or bike, you might think twice about such mindless purchases. If you think all this hyper-consumption is environmentally sustainable or office workers somehow truly earn their worth in all the stainless steel, aluminium, plastic, wood and above all oil required to support their lifestyle, then think again.

In the first three decades of the consumer boom, circa 1960 to 1990, only a small fraction of the world's population really participated. In considering our planet's human carrying capacity, per capita consumption is clearly a major factor. Feeding seven billion people with the typical consumption patterns of rural Indians or Tanzanians may well have its challenges, especially as current forecasts suggest a population peak of around nine to ten billion and major climate disruption, sustaining a fleet 4 to 5 billion motor vehicles would be practically multiplying our total human consumption by a factor of four to five. Yet if we want Indians, Chinese, South Americans and Subsaharan Africans to all enjoy the wonders of automotive bliss and retail therapy, we would not only need the resources to manufacture all these vehicles, but also the vast network of roads, car parks, fuel depots, charging stations, refineries, nuclear power stations etc. required. Even today, large swathes of land outside opulent regions are inaccessible to cars. If you have travelled off the beaten track in countries as disparate as Bolivia and Zambia you may have seen the remnants of roads built a decade earlier with the proceeds of international aid, with pothole-ridden asphalt suddenly yielding to dirt tracks traversable only by large trucks and off-road vehicles.

In 1970 the UK had 20 million vehicles, but the world as a whole had just 200 million for 4 billion people. By 2000 the human population had risen to just over 6 billion, but the number of motor vehicles had grown to 600 million. Largely due to phenomenal growth in China and to a lesser extent in India, we now have over 1 billion motor vehicles (800 million cars) globally. Increased demand for fuel is only part of the problem. A typical compact car consumes twice as much in production than it does on the road. Its manufacture requires 150,000 litres of water, 1 tonne of steel, aluminium and plastic and an estimated 20 000 million joules of energy.

If we are too make it as a species and avoid more resource wars, some of us will actually have to consume less, and that actually means drive less and own fewer cars, but also ensure the vehicles we do have last longer. That means restructuring our lives around walkable or cyclable urban areas in proximity to efficient public transport and reducing the need for much travel. Information technology can help us through remote working, but farming and manufacturing could also be localised. With good planning cars, trucks and buses (for they will not disappear any time soon) should be separated from bikes and pedestrians. A network of cycleways, as in most German and Dutch cities, should make it possible to pedal across our towns without disturbing motorised traffic except on residential roads with a 20mph speed limit.

Many motorists fail to realise the human and environmental costs of their lifestyle, but when a future economic crisis forces them to give up the relative convenience of a car, they may well regret not practising their self-powered locomotion skills.

Categories
Power Dynamics War Crimes

Left, Right and Plain Wrong

When political analysts first chose to classify opinions on a left-right spectrum during the French Revolution over 210 years ago, the left stood up for the underprivileged working classes, while the right defended the interests of the aristocracy and the emerging class of entrepreneurs. That was long before the emergence of the welfare state, mass consumerism and the globalisation of labour markets. During the latter half of the 19th century the left became identified with socialism and the transfer of ownership of the commanding heights of the economy to the workers. In the early 20th century the aspirational left branched into advocates of an international workers' state, often calling themselves Marxists, and social anarchists. The latter group saw no role for big business or central government and believed power had to be devolved to small communes and cooperatives as any large organisation, whether nominally public or private, is destined to subjugate both its employees and users.

As workers' organisations grew and their influence spread, the left came to be associated with many other social struggles of a rapidly industrialising world, from women rights to anti-imperialism. However, there was no default left view on each and every lifestyle issue. By and large the workers they claimed to represent were, and indeed still, are a fairly conservative lot tied to their homeland's traditions and often very religious. In a way leftwing thought grew out of the liberal enlightenment, the idea that human ingenuity can lead to infinite technological, social and economic progress and thus put an end to the evils of poverty and class division. In the early years of industrialisation, many radicals would despise the extravagance of the rich because so little was shared with the working poor and social welfare was limited to begging and charity. Social progress clearly meant extending the benefits of technology to the workers without whose labour the great imperial powers would never built their empires. Consumerism, i.e. the pursuit of economic growth through greater consumption of non-essential lifestyle products, remained the preserve of wealthy professional classes in most parts of the world until the 1950s, the automotive revolution and the advent of affordable television sets for all.

The Russian Bolshevik Revolution saw the emergence of a rival economic model to the laissez-faire free-market capitalism that had prospered in France, Great Britain, the US and later in Germany. Before 1917 much of the Russian Empire had remained a feudal agrarian society and industrialisation was mainly concentrated around Moscow and St Petersburg. The leadership of the new Soviet Union set about to industrialize the rest of their country through central planning. The whole federation was run as one large multinational monopoly in the guise of an enlightened workers' state progressing towards a socialist future and presenting itself internationally as a champion of workers' struggles and a fierce opponent of imperialism. While many self-declared Marxists and Leninists have written of the betrayal of the Russian Revolution and the failure of similar revolutions in other more advanced European countries, most notably in Germany, the left was tarred by its association with the excesses of Stalinism.

In reality laissez-faire capitalism, as envisaged by Adam Smith, namely peaceful trade among entrepreneurs with well nourished and educated skilled workers, had always been a myth. In the early stage of the industrial revolution, former peasants flocking to the mines and factories suffered a marked decline in living standards with very high infant mortality, not only through disease but workplace accidents, very long working hours (12-16 hours being the norm) and little time for leisure. The infrastructure required for rapid industrialisation and the growing need for a skilled workforce could only be provided through state intervention. No capitalist was powerful enough to coordinate the construction of the railways, roads, houses, schools and plumbing on which industry relied to thrive. As capitalism expanded, it relied on state intervention to gain control of resource-rich colonies and open up new markets. Many predicted the end of capitalism after Wall Street 's Great Crash of 1929, but the state intervened to save not only capitalists, but social order through a fledging welfare state. Ironically, both fascist Italy and Nazi Germany implemented the same kind of Keynesian economics, i.e. close partnership between big government and big business, that first Franklin Delano Roosevelt and then European social democrats have hailed since.

The outcome of the Second World War set the stage for a new era of mass consumerism alongside a benevolent welfare state. Most European countries were governed by Social Democrat or Conservative parties, who would argue merely over the extent of state intervention and various lifestyle issues as technological progress saw rising living standards and more leisure time. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, this model of development was restricted to North America, Western Europe, Japan, Korea and Australasia.

While the left appealed to notions of social progress and various struggles against prejudice and injustice advocating greater social equality and solidarity, the right appealed to god, country and family. Ironically this struck a chord not only with religious leaders, who before the advent of the welfare state saw themselves as upholders of social justice, but with common folk too especially in more ethnically homogeneous regions outside the main metropolises that had attracted millions from diverse regions. Commoners also tend to hold greater national and regional loyalties than their more expensively educated and better-paid compatriots, often much more cosmopolitan and internationalist in outlook. Honest working people have long taken a very tough stance against fraudsters, gangsters and thugs in general, whether these hail from the privileged property-owning classes or at large among the underprivileged working classes. Last but not least, ordinary people have tended to have more traditional values on issues such as women's rights, sexuality and even ethnic diversity.

Not surprisingly, throughout the 20th century we saw apparent sudden swings and alternations from left to right and vice-versa. Mussolini started his political career in the Italian Socialist Party, coined the term corporatism, believed in a strong partnership between Italian industrialists and the state and advocated social solidarity. Was he a product of the left or right? Indeed how did Stalin's Soviet Union differ from Hitler's National Socialist Third Reich other than their purported ideologies?

The end of the cold war around 1990 and China's embrace of Western consumerism in the late 1980s also saw a rapid acceleration in corporate globalisation, i.e. the transfer of power away from nation states to large transnational corporations and nongovernmental organisations. For a fleeting second, some pundits believed the great ideological conflicts of the 20th century had come to an end. In 1992 Francis Fukuyama wrote "the End of History" announcing to the world that liberal democracy had triumphed over communism and fascism, a vision supported by other global developments such as the end of Apartheid in South Africa. Now, the old left-right moved onto more social and lifestyle issues, more a battle between liberals and conservatives than between aristocrats and workers.

Yet, as Francis Fukuyama later admitted, history hadn't ended at all, the new ruling elite had merely adopted the internationalist and progressivist rhetoric of the old left. While the new rulers of the world had really just evolved from the old imperial rulers and capitalist bosses, the public perception of this brave new world may well be remembered in years to come as one of the best rebranding exercises in history. New global brands such as the United Colors of Bennetton, Starbucks, McDonalds, Apple Computers, Sony, Microsoft, VW, Exxon, Coca Cola, Nike and Adidas hid their true business practices behind a mirage of youthful, multicultural, shiny, happy consumers enjoying their products.

After the tough postwar years, Western Europe enjoyed over 3 decades of relative peace and social cohesion. I emphasise the adjective, relative, because the period had its fair share of crises and struggles, but by and large Europeans had never enjoyed such a high standard of living and the gap between rich and poor narrowed considerably. By 1970 most Western Europeans could read and write, had a home with water and electricity and a job. Most households had at least one car and ordinary people could afford goods and holidays that once seemed the exclusive preserve of the upper middle class. However, contrary to conventional wisdom, such social peace, based on near full employment and widespread prosperity, could not be achieved without significant commercial protectionism and state intervention.

To be continued....