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Power Dynamics War Crimes

Demagogue sweeps to victory

Many on the left in the UK and elsewhere are celebrating George Galloway's resounding victory in the last Thursday's Bradford West by-election. With a turnout of just over 50%, the former labour stronghold saw a massive swing away from New Labour and the other mainstream parties to the left-leaning Respect coalition. Just ten years ago I would have been over the moon about such a spectacular win for the superficially radical left. Yet beyond his firebrand rhetoric, can Gorgeous George really offer a viable alternative or would his populist policies, if ever implemented, dig our proverbial hole even deeper.In recent parliamentary elections Respect candidates seldom muster more than 2% of the popular vote. Considering the level of public disillusionment with the big three parties (Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives), their mendacity and their indistinguishable policies once in power, protest votes on a scale seen in Bradford should surprise nobody. Bradford has more than its fair share of social problems, high rates of welfare dependency and a large and prolific Pakistani community. To Galloway, such constituents represent an opportunity to rant and rave about the evils of imperialism and proposed cutbacks in the Welfare state. Such demagoguery has its appeals. A leaflet exclaims Bring back our boys from Afghanistan and urges us to bring back industry to Bradford, and stop government cutbacks. Indeed Galloway would like to spend more on child benefit and healthcare while letting more immigrants join the labour force and claim benefits. Galloway is a latter-day cornucopian. He genuinely believes that by redistributing wealth from the grotesquely rich there will be plenty to go around and we can continue to go forth and multiply without a worry in the world. Yet Bradford's social problems are caused largely by the side effects of unsustainable global corporatism that Galloway wants to milk even more.
The stark reality on the ground in Bradford is one of little hope for a large section of the city's youth population, divided into three main groups: Muslims (mainly of Pakistani descent), offspring of single parents wholly dependent on benefits and a shrinking traditional white working class. To these groups, we can add a recent influx of Eastern Europeans who have miraculously taken many of the jobs shunned by the local population. While Mr Galloway may bemoan child labour, sweatshops, temporary contracts, payday loans and betting shops, his constituents depend on them for their shopping and lifestyle. In so many inner-city streets across the UK we see betting shops next door to pawnbrokers, remarketed as Cash Converters. A quick perusal of available vacancies in West Yorkshire reveals some unsettling truths. Most are in care. While superficially this may seem like progress, as all good societies care for their citizens, why is demand so high and why do so many young citizens suffer from mental health problems and learning disabilities? Yet many refuse to admit the bleeding obvious, a mix of benefits dependency, alcoholism, fatherlessness, divided communities and inbreeding combined to produce a new generation that lacked a sense of purpose other than to enjoy themselves or breed the next generation of welfare dependents. Bradford's distinct communities suffer different sets of social problems. In the white section, the two biggest problems are clearly dysfunctional families and lack of initiative, while in the Asian community a high birth rate, inbreeding and sectarianism place huge demands on the rest of the wider national community.
To the likes of Galloway, such observations are both xenophobic or misanthropic, for he would like us to believe more public investment can bring back industry to the North of England. Such a shift would dramatically increase production costs and would, based on recent experience, merely provided more jobs for newcomers willing to get out of bed in the morning. Does Respect plan to quit the European Union and World Trade Organisation so it can impose tough import controls? Does it propose to limit per capita consumption through huge price hikes in consumer goods as we pay workers decent wages? How would Bradford's gadget-addicted youth survive without affordable mobile phones and game consoles?
Of course, countries can be much more self-sufficient and guarantee their people food and job security at a price. Cuba miraculously coped in the 1990s, but its citizens have to make do with ageing infrastructure and its birth rate is stable. More important, Cuba can feed itself, even with horse-drawn ploughs, while the UK, with one of the world's most highly mechanised farming industries, only produces just over half of what it consumes and if Scotland were to declare independence England would rely even more on imports.
True radicals would champion self-empowerment through hard work, community cohesion and economic policies fit for our grandchildren. Instead, Mr Galloway offers only rhetoric, while expecting a morally corrupt system to continue to subsidise idleness and irresponsibility.

Categories
Power Dynamics War Crimes

Branding Cuba

If you want to get away from the adverse effects of mass consumerism, extreme concentration of wealth, social unease and poverty, Cuba is an intriguing destination. Like in many countries your experiences can be filtered both by your cultural prejudices and expectations and by your tour operator. Many tourists just head for the beach resorts of Varadero, Cayo Coco, Guardalavaca, Cayo Largo del Sur or Baconao near Santiago. They see Cuban life on the periphery through the rearview mirror of the rented cars and happy to encounter the charm and friendliness of thousands Cuban hustlers or jineteros, who gather at all popular tourist attractions to offer a multitude of services in exchange for convertible pesos, buy souvenirs and admire revolutionary graffiti replete with portraits of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. To many such visitors, mainly educated upper middle class Europeans, South and North Americans, Cuba is ripe for a dose of globalisation, inward investment and democratic reforms.My interest in Cuba was slightly different. I wanted to see how an ostensibly non-capitalist country is faring in a predominantly capitalist world. How could Cubans survive without the benefits of Wall-Mart, Starbucks, international banks, PlayStations, XBoxes and a steady diet of consumer advertising? Were all Cubans eager to hop on the first boat to Miami? Were they crying out for the kind of multi-party elections we purportedly enjoy in the enlightened West. In my late teens and early 20s I had been active in various leftwing Trotskyite grouplets, before growing disillusioned with the prospect of a worldwide revolution driven by a vanguard party and becoming much more concerned with the practical issues facing our species such as the environmental sustainability of the primary economic model of continuous material growth, i.e. before we can begin to distribute resources more fairly and eliminate poverty we need a sustainable model of development so future generations can enjoy the same level of material wellbeing. I had never really had any illusions with the former Soviet Union, having briefly travelled in Erich Honecker's old East Germany, or Maoist China, but the Cuban Revolution was essentially anti-imperialist and its alliance with the Soviet Union more a matter of convenience rather than strict ideology.
If you measure wellbeing by the state of strategic infrastructure such as roads, railways, telephony, electric power, plumbing etc... then Cuba will disappoint you. Just 90 miles or 140km south opulent Miami, Havanna (La Habana) is, with the exception of a few areas of Habana Vieja (old Town), Vedado and Santa Maria, in a state of disrepair, attempting to add new life to infrastructure inherited from pro-US Bautista era with a few additions during the countries 30-year long alliance with the USSR.
Consider your classic high-budget tourist staying a couple of nights at Havanna's immaculately opulent Hotel Parque Central, visiting Habana Vieja before relaxing by the pool of a newly built Varadero hotel complex. To such a traveller Cuba is a mere playground with a Hispanic flavour and rather unique Che Guevara branding. Why not have your picture taken smoking a Habanero cigar, wearing a Che T-Shirt and drinking a Mojito? Since the fall of Stalinism in the Soviet Union and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism as a new official enemy of the great North American dream, advertisers in Western Europe have exploited Che as a rebellious sex symbol appealing to a certain faux counter-culture mindset (to understand this concept better, read

The Rebel Sell: How the Counter Culture Became Consumer Culture

by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter

Many observers have wondered whether Raul Castro's cautious reforms will usher in a new era of capitalistic growth with trendy multinationals setting up shop across Cuba. In Centro Habana, I did see one discreet shopping mall, but most shop names were unrecognisable. Over the last 20 years not only have shopping centres become indistinguishable across the UK, but in much of the world from Tokyo to Johannesburg, Toronto to Buenos Aires, but not yet in Cuba. Everything is still very low key, almost like a blast from a recent past, such as err the 1970s when each country had its distinctive commercial flavour. With the US's global economic influence declining and friendlier trading neighbours in nearby Venezuela and Mexico, the relative benefits of succumbing to US demands to open up markets are waning. In 1990s following the breakup of the former Soviet Union, Cuba weathered the storm of international isolation by becoming almost self-sufficient and taking drastic measures to cope with a dearth of imported oil. Cubans still love their cars, but only those who can earn hard currency can afford fuel or maintenance. In Havana, it seemed all car owners had become tax drivers. Outside the main cities, the roads are largely desolate, a few trucks, buses, horse-drawn buggies and rental cars driven by affluent tourists.
Cubans seem very eager to talk with foreigners, but surprisingly at least compared with other countries, few wanted a visa. One guy did complain about not being to travel, but on the whole, Cubans seemed surprisingly aware of life abroad. Not only do many have relatives in the States or Europe, but they can pick up Spanish-medium TV stations from Miami. Yet despite the lure of shiny gadgets and higher wages, most seem content to stay, measuring their welfare not against North America's gated neighbourhoods, but against neighbouring Haiti, the poorest country in the Caribbean and Jamaica with the highest crime rate.

Categories
Power Dynamics War Crimes

Let’s Disown Tony

Has anyone actually read Tony Blair's much publicised memoirs. Well within 3 months of the book's release and despite all the media, half-price copies were on display on Waterstones. Don't get too angry with this guy, for he has only ever been a politician in the sense of a polite public relations guy. He liberated Kosovo from Serb nationalists only to put in place a bunch of Kosovar Albanian gangsters, still supervised by NATO troops. Then in the wake of 9/11 he supported the liberation of Afghani women and the hunting down of Osama Bin Laden. Nearly ten years later Osama Bin Laden is still at large, Afghani women are still subject to Sharia law and Afghanistan is still plagued by civil war. But our multinationals gained privileged access to the world's largest supply of lithium. Tony went on to campaign for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein evil regime. Over one million deaths and $3 trillion later, Iraq is still quagmire, but our multinationals gained easy access to the world's cheapest oil supply. Libya has oil too ( see Libya, All About Oil), but only a small malleable population and a leadership willing to do business with the West. So in 2008 Tony flew out to cut a deal with Muamar Gaddafi. Three years later his successor, David Cameron, decides to support military action to overthrow Tony's friend and let in another bunch of gangsters willing to do business with BP Amoco.

I just couldn't resist reproducing this gem from Ken Silverstein:

Is there any way this country can officially disown Anthony Blair? Those of us who were never fooled by him now have to watch as he cashes in on his time as Prime Minister in ways which are actually shaming. His dishonesty, his lack of embarrassment and his greed are all so great that it is now possible to imagine him ending up munching gonads on I'm A Celebrity, perhaps trying to restore his fortunes after yet another failed property speculation.

I had to watch the ludicrous transformation of this man, who to my personal knowledge did not know in 1997 that they spoke Portuguese in Brazil, into a supposed World Statesman, the victor of Kosovo and the scourge of Saddam. These two wars, one dubious, the other indefensible, were conducted on the basis that Mr Blair is a dedicated foe of tyranny. Quite a lot of people still believe this piffle. But how can they now, after Mr Blair's trip to Azerbaijan, there to open a formaldehyde factory?

Categories
All in the Mind War Crimes

On The Nature of Violence

Consuming re-enactments of violence in various forms has long brought considerable pleasure to large number of people, especially but by no means exclusively, males. Quite clearly many residents of middle class suburbs in towns and cities across the prosperous world are relatively shielded from the real-world physical violence that millions experience on a daily basis in much of the world, but with extraordinary levels of intensity in regions where wars of resistance and internecine conflict rage. David Edwards of Medialens quite correctly contrasted the almost daily massacres in Iraq with the occasional school and office shoot-outs in the US and Europe. 36 dead i the Virgina Tech massacre is a tragedy, sure, but hundreds slain day in day out is an affront against humanity. However, many who have moved from some of the world's worst conflict zones to the obsessively consumerist dystopia of the wider American empire feel ironically under greater threat.

Violence means much more than the simple exertion of physical force with the intent to maim or kill others, it means the exertion of physical, sensory, mental or economic force to deny others of their livelihood, whose definition varies according to cultural expectations. To make a simple example, the only difference between machine-gunning a family of African subsistence farmers and evicting the same family from their land while failing to provide them with alternative means of sustenance is immediacy. In the former scenario they die instantly, in the second they starve slowly. So is society as it has evolved recently in the UK become more or less violent?

Nominally, it may have actually become less violent. Parents seem much less willing to resort to physical force to rein in their offspring, mindful of the consequences if their sheer frustration leads them to overstep the mark. As noted elsewhere crime statistics rely heavily on classification and reporting, but based purely on calls to national helplines there has been a huge rise in parents falling victim to physical abuse by their sons and daughters. The mass media, including the liberal establishment's BBC, also seems preoccupied with the spectre of child abuse, especially when attributable to outmoded institutions such as the Church and where the blame can be placed clearly with sad sexually deprived individuals who unleash their fantasies on the innocent. As usual such a narrow focus misses the details of a much bigger picture. Child abuse is an abstract concept. Certainly extreme deprivation leading to severe malnutrition, life-threatening disease and violence leaving permanent physical and psychological scars affect a person's long-term potential.

However, to the surprise of many wishful thinking do-gooders, back in the 70s school kids often preferred a quick dose of corporal punishment to the prospect of several hours detention or humiliation in front of their parents. This doesn't mean corporal punishment is good, but may often in the real world be viewed as the lesser of two evils. Seriously, how many children ever ended up in hospital as a result of excessive corporal punishment? Now compare this with the number hospitalised as a result of school or street fights. If teenagers are drawn into a subculture of pervasive recreational drugs, having to resort to theft or prostitution to feed their habit, who should we blame? The parents, society or some alleged genetic weakness in the kids themselves? Increasingly social workers and health professionals turn to the third explanation, but often blame controlling or traditionally strict parents. To compete in today's superficial social rat race, parents need to act and look as cool as the media role models their kids aspire to. To win your teenage daughter's trust, you may need to undergo cosmetic surgery or simply let her have her way when friends invite her for a night out on the town. In a community where most children respected their parents and were not under media-induced peer pressure to participate actively in a deceptively named fun culture of all night raves, life was easy for sensible parents whose only wish was to steer their children away from danger. But Blair's Britain is not like that. Open your eyes and ears in any shopping centre, remove yourself temporarily from your early 21st century bubble and you'll soon realise you're surrounded by technicolor, high-fidelity bullies unleashing incessant doses of none-too-subtle psychological torture. “Heh, you, you're not as cool as these dudes!â€ÂÂ. If you dare to complain about the unbearable rap beat in a clothes store or, as I did once, in a book store, expect to be either ignored or if you insist to receive a mildly reassuring talk from some lowly shop manager about marketing. In any case be in no doubt, that your aversion to a non-stop blur is your problem, not theirs.

Violence may be defined, at least according to the free dictionary bundled with my computer:

  • Behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.
  • Strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force : the violence of her own feelings.
  • The unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation by the exhibition of such force.

Based on the latter two definitions, provocative imagery and noise intimidate as much or even more than physical force. The media like to remind us of the importance of mental health, but fail to examine their own role in adversely destabilising our sense of self. The media frequently practices another intimidatory form of violence, humiliation by association. Over the last week the media has successfully whipped up hysteria against the alleged abductor of a three year old girl on holiday in Portugal with her well-to-do parents. In the recent past we've seen masses of Sun-readers engage in animated protests, sometimes resorting to violence, against real and alleged paedophiles. Thus anyone unknown to the community at large and whose behaviour may at times seem suspect may fall victim to a paedo witch hunt. That's an awful lot of people in our atomised island state, where close-knit communities are largely a distant memory. Only a few months ago the media lynched a lonesome resident of Ipswich falsely accusing him of the murder of five prostitutes and publishing details of his MySpace activities. Should we arrest the remaining millions of alienated adults whose social life has been reduced to virtual tomfoolery. Why not arrest all those idiots on person.com who broadcast masturbation live from their Webcams? All this socially divisive fear-mongering generates intimidatory violence against anyone who fails to meet societal expectations and withdraws into an alienated existence. Violence is anything that harms people mentally or physically. No society is devoid of violence, but where conflict is minimised, so to is violence in all its forms. Otherwise psychological intimidation and alienation can soon manifest themselves physically either through self-harm, drug abuse or direct attacks against the person.

Categories
Power Dynamics War Crimes

Free Speech and Hate Speech

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

A False Sense of Self-Righteousness

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

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

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

Three main objections are raised against free speech:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Case Study: The Suppression of Historical Revisionism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the Shoah Revisionists are Wrong

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

The Real Deniers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanitised Genocides and Ethnic Cleansing

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

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

The Hidden Democide

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

Headlines you won't read in Murdoch's Press

Online Sun Iraqi Child

Exclusive: UK Sanctions Kill 500,000 Iraqi Kids

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

Online Sun Emaciated Children Y2K

Shock Horror! 12,000 children starved yesterday

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

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

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

Should we Fear Hate Speech?

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

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

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

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

Free Speech Links

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