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12/20/2009

A Christmas Carol By Edward de Bono

Act 1.
Scene 1. Antechamber to Scrooge's Office. Bob Cratchet hunched over desk left.
Enter Scrooge's nephew leaving Scrooge's Office right.

Scrooge (concealed inside office)
Bah! Humbug!

Scrooge nephew. (closing door)
Well a merry Christmas anyway Uncle - and a happy New Year!
(turning to Bob)
And how are you Bob? And all the family. How is Tiny Tim?

Bob.
We're hoping he'll see out the winter perhaps God willing but it is so dreadful cold and we are so poor sir.

Scrooge nephew.
Then tell you what Bob, why not bring them all round to our place for Xmas? We're determined to enjoy ourselves with all our nice friends, and we've all got got plenty of money, and you're a nice man, and Tim is very ill, perhaps it would do him good even. What do you say? You and your family can pretend to be nice people for a day.

Bob.
Fine. Sorted.

EXEUNT ARM IN ARM.
CURTAIN.
END.



And Scrooge's nephew was as good as his word. And when it was eventually explained to Old Scrooge that Christmas was, in its pagan origins, naught but a celebration of a positive fourth-quarter projection which augered well for the next fiscal year, his post-Darwinian doubt was justified, and furthermore his Utilitarian pecuniary instincts were reconciled with the prevalent mood of merriment, and his misgivings were mollified. 
So much was he intrigued by his revelations that he was among the first to envision the possibilities of the midwinter festival in an age of mass-production, to provide adequate Good Cheer for a growing middle class market. And before long was importing and dispensing all the latest seasonal fashions from Germany and Norway and America, to the delight and joy of all. There was not a glass bauble or recipe book for the turkey fowl which Scrooge & Marley were not interested in. Scrooge himself became particularly partial to turkey breast, cooked with sausage meat and sage stuffing, and the potatoes roasted with a whole onion, which he reserved until his last mouthful.
He did it all, and infinitely more; his efforts were so profound that the entire nature of the celebration became inverted, so that the primitive act of stock-taking became a source of profit in itself. The measure of the midwinter granary floor became a new harvest, almost as large as the real one, and no less essential to the maintenance of the economy. In making us all dependent upon the profligacy and ceremony of the time, Scrooge and his peers can truly be said to have indeed made our time, and all its bounty, charity and peace to all men.
Some people doubted this reversal of cause and effect, but Scrooge let them doubt, and little heeded them; for he was cunning enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for profit, at which some people did not have their fill of doubt in the outset. And took their warnings as a verification of his ways.

11/22/2009

The Siege of Wapping

It's an old story. An entrenched vested interest is faced with a new technology which threatens its livelihood. It reacts by attempting to contain the advance, which is flowing around it like a river around a shopping trolley. Eventually, innovation always prevails, mainly because it refuses to fight the battle with the same weapons or on the same field. It fights with the weapons it has created. History records who were the losers.
The printers of Wapping in 1984 are definitely now seen as the losers in the technology war with Rupert Murdoch. And he is seen as the visionary liberator, whose victory over the unions ensured a golden future...to some.
It is surely one of the most historically monumental ironies that this same Murdoch is now frantically erecting barricades in defence of his own brand of corporate Spanish Practices. The Murdoch of the Siege of Wapping now under siege again from the same forces of progress he once posed as the champion of.
Peter Preston, in today's Observer, compares him with Lear, railing against the storm. That is to grant him too much grandeur. He is not even Orwell's Tolstoy, disillusioned by the failure of ideology to deliver happiness and therefore resentful of happiness in others.
He is simply a gigantic hypocrite, another corporate gangster able to deny anything and believe his own lies. Anything to make money and protect and enlarge his power.
Luckily, he is almost as insane as Lear on the heath, in that he cannot accept the inevitable, and is in hysterical denial about his emasculation.
Murdoch Vs The Internet can only see one winner. In 1985 Murdoch backed progress because he saw an empire to be built. Naturally he opposes the same progress which now threatensto demolish it, but that does not make him sane, only more desperate. And so the BBC can expect an even greater campaign against it than ever.
The BBC is embracing internet technology, having invented vital parts of it, and is committed to free access. The scrap between News Incorporated and the BBC is where the deciding punches will be thrown in the battle for free content, and from a British point of view, the battle for a keystone of our cultural identity. We should know the general outcome by the beginning of June next year. When a closely fought general election is over.
But in the meantime, the BBC might take a leaf from the Murdoch book, and win.
There is nothing to stop any Laundromat millionaire from setting up as an internet service provider. The BBC should do this as soon as possible and market the service globally. The package would include access to all the BBCs growing archive of comedies, documentaries, drama, wildlife etc... This income would subsidise the loyal British license payers who would have access to the service by right. Eventually, with even moderate global take-up (Flickr charges £15 a year) The British member of the corporation would be paying a peppercorn sum for a service which would meet all their needs. The scope for innovation is vast.
Naturally the boardrooms will squeal in horror and outrage, but all are going to have to face the facts that the age of the ownership of information is over. That the source of their profits and lifestyles has dried up. So the sooner they choose sides the better. The sensible will decide to use the new approach to encourage the democratisation of creativity. To enable as many users as possible to find and be stimulated by material produced by people, not the brands marketed and distributed by the usual showbiz/media conveyor belt.
The diehards will try to sue the BBC, and try to charge the public money to read about the drunken antics of the D-list. It's almost sad.

11/12/2009

THE SUN SAYS - YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!

The British army has no conscripts, only volunteers, and the Sun is smart enough to know this. And hypocritical enough to cash in on it. So if the country is under threat from Osama and All His Goats, and the majority are as patriotic as The Sun says, why isn't dying to save it good enough for the children of editors and columnists as well as the children of unemployed ship-builders and miners? In the Red Poppy haze of their patriotic rapture, who will be the first Sun columnist to send their boy off to The Front for Queen and Country?
Why isn't conscription the policy of The Sun? Isn't the glory of this country worth it? After all, history shows that when we fight with volunteers, we generally lose, or never win at least. Which is exactly what AlQaida wants; never-ending war.
As loyal patriots The management and editorial team of The Sun, the Mail and all the other Death-Worshipping rags have no alternative but to call for conscription (1,000,000 young people on the dole!) and urge their sons and daughters in university to do set an example to the lower orders and do their gap year in Helmond.
Unless they want to be seen as the profiteering hypocrites they are, of course. And their sickening abuse of the entire Remembrance industry one of the greatest lies sold to the British people yet - that War is always Glorious and the Dead always sacrifice their lives for a cause called Britain. There is no such cause, there is no such glory.

10/26/2009

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!

The release of the album 'Coming Home' by a trio of serving British soldiers is being celebrated in various ways. And as all the proceeds are to go to charity, this is inevitable. But the undeniable objective result of this and all the other staged PR events by Vera Lynn and the rest is to glorify war and killing, encouraging more children to become hired killers and get themselves killed. This will, in turn, be seen on the streets as no less morally bankrupt than the average inner city gang defending its territory, and will justify the actions of those who choose to become soldiers in their own armies.
In other words, glorifying war destroys the society that wages it, even if it wins. 'Easy Listening' is how the hero boys categorise their justification of this futile, squalid slaughter. Which says it all, really. They have become so desensitised that they simply cannot relate on any human level with the suffering they cause, even to what they laughingly call their 'comrades'.

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!
Fremde, etranger, stranger.
Meine dammen und herren!
Leave your troubles outside!
So - life is disappointing? Forget it!
We have no troubles here!

Here War is beautiful.
Killing is beautiful.
The guns are beautiful.
The bombs are beautiful.
Even the bullets are beautiful!
And we are beautiful.
Because we
are Heroes.
Dame Vera Lynn and Kathryn Jenkins told us so.
And if you want to be a hero too, then come with us.
Only 17 years old? Bored with computer games?
Can't get a job?
We don't care.
We will give you a big gun and let you shoot it at real people!
And if you get killed, then people in country towns will stand and watch your coffin on the way home.
When you Come Home they will play Coming Home for you.
And people will say:
"There goes a hero."
And so other boys will want to be like you.
And the war will go on forever.
And that will be beautiful...



(apologies to Fred Ebb)


"Coming home", "The Soldiers". Sgt Maj Gary Chilton, Sgt Richie Maddocks and L/Cpl Ryan Idzi)

10/23/2009

Griffin Gets Stuffed

Just a few points about last night's grotesque performance by the fascist leader on Question Time.

1) Most of his howling madness was no surprise to some. Take his bonkers 2007 defence of racism on
Newsnight when he accused the BBC of "Demonising racism". Bewildered presenter Gavin Estler couldn't help blurting out:
"What? There's a good side to racism?"
To which Griffin, aware of his slip, muttered something incoherent about the word very 'racism' being a fiendish
Trotskyite plot to do something or other. The BBC being naturally in league with Trotsky.

2) If it wasn't for YouTube, the panel would have been stymied. Thank god for web2, it may live up to its political promise yet. Most panellists used the online archive of Griffin in more candid times to beat him to the ground. He had no hiding place, and could only grin like a teenager caught wanking.

3) Griffin at least did history a service by forcing an examination of the real Churchill as opposed to the myth. His history as an early
enthusiast for enforced eugenic sterilisation, and his ordering troops to open fire on striking Welsh miners, and his determination to keep the disgusting, random, health system which almost lost us the war against fascism should all be forced down the throats of those who idolise him. Churchill's political reality is far nearer to fascism than many would like to admit. And his character much closer to the 'petrified adolescent' of Bevan's famous insult.

4) Why does Griffin single out fundamentalist Islam as the only misogynist religious sect? At that level, most religions are. If he was honest about women's rights, he would lead a secular party which highlighted the obscenities of all Bronze Age cosmologies. Just as if he was honest about Britain's 'ethnicity' he would merely come clean and admit that he doesn't like people who don't have white skin.

5) All racists and fascists are pathologically suppressing their true sexuality, so his reaction to two men kissing is not a surprise.

6) Fascism is always result of capitalism in crisis, not immigrants or any other scapegoat, and not the fault of evil or
nasty people. The design faults of the capitalist class-system are why the BNP has seats on local councils and the European Parliament they despise, and is on TV now.
The related question from the audience was:

'Has the BNP benefited from the government's flawed immigration policy?'
A leading question which would be allowed in any court. But ignoring the twisted, 'when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife' nature of the question, the simple answer is,
No, fascism has always benefited by the lies and hatred it has spread about immigrants, which is its job; and from the support it has garnered from the mainstream media in this campaign of fear. So the Daily Mail and the rest of the gutter press are now, just as they were in the 30's, the handmaidens of fascist thuggery.
7) The BBC can never win. Two weeks ago, the profit-crazed tabloids were demanding the fascists 'Right' to be on QT. When they granted it, they were reviled for seeking an audience. When it got that audience, it was reviled, but if nobody had watched, it would also be in the dock.
This QT has also been attacked by apologists for fascism as not being a 'normal' edition. That it was a Nick Griffin show. A bearpit, designed to humiliate him.
What these people are in fact saying is that fascism is a normal political opinion, and not a sickness. That is the real measure of the depths of Britain's moral degradation.
Fascism isn't normal, it is disgusting and alien to civilised values. If there has been an Aztec High Priest on QT, it would not have been 'normal' either. So when disgusting values are given airtime, as demanded by theBritish media for the last six months, it is entirely proper that they are not treated as normal, but scrutinised and challenged to everyone's satisfaction.
Griffin had plenty of room to defend his sect, he failed. He should now take the hint and get back to his internet bunker with his Nazi memorabilia before making an even bigger fool of himself. And the disturbed sheep who need his leadership should try choosing life.
The trouble with these sheep is that now their shepherd has been shown up as an idiot, and his lies unmasked, they will completely abandon his nicely-nicely approach, and return to their usual thuggery with relish. The PR spin has failed, so there will be reprisals for their defeat on the BBC, organised attacks in sensistive areas, and random attacks by individuals. The amount of race-hate violence will increase. So the price of the BNPs exposure and subsequent humiliation will be paid by ordinary british black and asian people.
The BNP are a sick, frightened little sect with a paranoid fear of difference. Unfortunately, times like these foster such diseases. That is the design flaw in capitalism.
The electoral reality, given the state of the parties in Westminster, and the transparency of Cameron, and the rise of UKIP, is that the suckers prepared to vote BNP out of adolescent spite will be voting for another 5 years of Gordon Brown.
Is that what they want? Then that's what'll happen.

BNP faces reality.

10/19/2009

Private Parasites on the NHS

In the light of recent interest in the treatment of NHS staff by private clinics, I have a question which someone might be able to answer, and for which I have been seeking an answer for a long time.
How many of its own staff does the private health industry actually train?
The implications are obvious. Training staff is a very expensive business, especially health staff. If BUPA and the rest are allowed to simply poach staff trained at the taxpayers expense, we are subsidising the Gout'n'Bunion trade to an alarming degree, and the NHS patients are suffering real hardhsip to pay for the luxury and profits of a parasitic, profit-driven, exclusive health hotel chain.
Surely the proper policy would be to impose a training levy on every member of staff trained by the taxpayer.
Whether that would cause BUPA to shrivel back to its cave in Harley Street with its core clientelle of ex-majors and 1930's dowager countesses I really couldn't say. But then I couldn't care either.
But as a taxpayer, I care a lot. and as someone who will get sick one day I care even more.
Strangely, those who make the most noise about tax, the redneck tories and other weirdoes, don't care how much of the decent, hard-earned British tax is lavished on these parasites. Why? Because like all elitists, they are prepared to see the majority suffer to preserve, or even enhance the luxury of the few. Their objective is not to reduce the amount of suffering, but to increase the pleasure for those aty the peak of the hierarchy. It is their so-called Doctrine of Excellence, which is always at the expense of decent standards for everyone else.

10/11/2009

Cameron's Sanity. Cause For Concern.

When he attacks the state for causing the 2008 Crunch, as he did in his Manchester Conference speech, Diddy David Cameron is either a crook or an idiot. If he knows the truth, that it was the unfettered greed of the markets and the retreat of the state which caused the damage, he is a crook out to decieve the British public for his own reasons, and plunge the recovering economy into a depression. If he doesn't know this basic truth, agreed by all respectable economists and politicians, and believes that politicians ran the banks, he is an idiot.
Either way he is not fit to run a skateboard, let alone a country. In fact, his inversion of the real life raises serious questions about his sanity.
If this is what tory mentality has shrivelled away to, it is not a real surprise, merely their inevitable historic destiny. In the face of the scrutiny of the global information revolution, and the fury of global financialism, their inbred sham species of politics has finally been revealed as the form of anti-social psychosis it always was. Cameron is as Mad as Markets, which burns crops while millions starve.

10/08/2009

The Glorious Bendy Bus

Why do the tories and other fat misanthropists hate the bendy bus? Because it is simply more sociable, more convenient for mothers with prams and other people with burdens to transport, faster, and causes less stress to the people who use it, who are then are less likely to get cars and become part of that atomised, anti-social, polluting sect. People talk to each other on them, which to the Thatcher generation is unthinkable. They might actually start liking each other!
The access and seating arrangements of the articulated bus are better than the routemaster, providing speedier stops, and mixing age-groups together face to face, which is why there are very few school fights on them, unlike the upstairs nightmare world of the double decker - reeling from side to side as it attempts to hurl its bulk around London's streets. 
The Bendy Bus is a superior form of social transport to the Routemaster. Those who say it 'has no soul' are obviously afraid of the human face - which the layout of the Bendy encourages contact with -and don't mind waiting for and queueing and shoving to get on to the bottle-neck RM, with its upstairs ghetto for squabbling schoolkids and skating rink floor of greasy chicken remains. Still less have they tried to get a pram or shopping trolley on a bus. In other words, they are merely in hock to a sentimental vision of tourist Designer London and willing to make working Londoners pay for their fantasy.
This is the pug ugly pretender to the classic, 'On The Buses' Routemaster.
Apart from the pumpkin-jowled village-idiot profile, notice how the only view is of the backs of people's heads. There is no chance for casual social interaction whatsoever. The ultimate alienation-mobile. This could be designed as a way of deterring people from using buses. And it will still take longer to complete its route than the bendy, because of its increased loading times.
And who is going to police the upstairs fare-dodging rumpus-room? The conductor will be chasing up and down those stairs after every junction as scallies try to hop on undetected. The wiseguys who, when they get upstairs, play the innocent as the conductor asks:'Any more fares?'
I know, because I was that Boy.
The only bonus will be the thrill of watching people run in vain for the platform, or fall off it.
Again, nothing which would tend to make people nicer in any way, which good design should, and which, believe it or not, in its small way, the Bendy Bus does.

9/24/2009

Photoshop Phascism

I once did some casual imaging for a new magazine targeted at the rapidly emerging hip Asian British middle classes. The worker next me was assiduously transforming a caucasian model into an asian one. Apparently, there were simply not enough Asian models available due to cultural and religious traditions which are not in sympathy with the requirements of the glamour industry. So Photoshop was used to alter the hue and darkness of the skin tone, neatly undermining petty cultural barriers to exploitation and profit, and possibly even altering those cultural norms by exposure.
The manipulation of images for commercial purposes is nothing new, and neither is the industrial exploitation of women. Photoshop makes the process easier and cheaper than ever, and is used for all kinds of remedial work which once would have been done in the darkroom or on the lightbox or layout table. So the boundaries of manipulation are very blurred. The entire mood of a landscape can be altered by darkening the sky, as many film photographers used to do. So my guess is that any legislation to discourage the promotion of fascistic body ideals will end up entangled in miles of legalistic wrangling.
Far better to legislate that all images in which the dimensions of any part of the model have been altered should be credited as an Artwork rather than a photograph.
Better still to tax all pornographic, degrading images of women off our streets and screens entirely. But that's apparently a gross abuse of the human rights of the advertising industry to make fortunes from the humiliation and abuse of many. And they're generally prepared to go to the european Court of Human Rights to prove it. As they did when Sweden banned junk food ads on children's TV.

8/29/2009

Murdoch In Terror

The infantile demand by Rupert Murdoch that the internet play by his rules, and every site charge to read stories of drunken celebrities, is the last gasp in his futile attempt to sabotage the BBC. He realises that sooner or later, the penny will drop among the dimwits at broadcasting house, and they will start charging their overseas audience, just as they charge their British one. When they do that, and make some serious progresses in making their vault of superior content available online, the emperor's clothes of the Sky empire will be obvious.
Murdoch knows that his content is inferior, and that he does not produce any content, unlike the BBC. And that he no longer knows how to make money from newspaper or internet advertising, so mass-subscription is the only model he can think of. He imagines that people will pay to maintain MySpace accounts when there are a dozen other platforms which can do the job as well. He imagines that people will actually pay to read the Sun online... Anyone as deluded as that is clearly agitated about something, and what Murdoch has to be agitated about is the prospect of the BBC beating him at his own game. Namely, by charging a tiny global fee for downloads of all the content it controls. British licence payers would naturally be exempt from this charge, and the revenue would be used to offset and defend the licence fee - which is the cultural bastion Murdoch hates most. It stands between him and total domination by guaranteeing the unprofitable.
Unfortunately, his paranoia is based on a belief that the BBC understands its own power. Sadly, this is still not true. The BBC is still a cowering, weak-kneed cringeing animal, desperate not to offend the Daily Mail, or seem to be treading on the profiteers' toes.

8/28/2009

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8/24/2009

Christianity on Trial

In a few minutes, Kenny McAskill, the justice secretary for Scotland. will be bullied into backtracking on the act of forthright Christianity he took in releasing the dying Lockerbie bomber, Al Megrahi.
The advice of all true Christians would be to not give an inch. The Old Testament vengeance demanded by the mass media and the incoherent Mrs Clinton is not appropriate or productive in dealing with crime or terrorism in the C21st century.
As the BBC Scotland poll revealed today, ordinary people are nicer than their leaders. And in spite of its antiquated nationalism, the Scottish justice system has almost conformed to stereotype in its blunt application of christian principles to politics. The fact that the USA and the gutter media demand gratification for un-Christian appetites is their problem, not Scotland's.
The irony of this affair is that it outrages those who should be most welcoming of it, namely, the most vocal Christians. It reveals how little Christianity has actually penetrated in 2,000 years, as most of those who call themselves Christians, and demand its inviolable status as the national British religion, are still behaving according to Leviticus not the Sermon on the Mount.
Al McGrachie is about to suffer a painful death, much to the gratification of some, it seems. It would have been even more amusing to them to think of him in pain and in prison, and being denied that pleasure is painful to them, but that just reveals their depraved lack of Christian charity, I would have thought - speaking as someone who doesn't have an imaginary friend at all, let alone one shared with millions of others.
This is another example of PR Politics Gone Mad. Brown, loathe him or hate him, is being judged on how long it takes to give an opinion which, politically, isn't his to give.
And the line that McAskill's decision outraged some 'silent majority' isn't born out by the response of Scots on BBC Radio Scotland.

"Caller after caller supported MacAskill and were scathing of both the American intervention and the behaviour of the likes of Iain Gray and Jack McConnell."
Which makes this 'scandal' another shameful fabrication built on the commercial need to generate hate over compassion, and nothing to do with offering any kind of support to those who suffered as a result of the Lockerbie bombing. In fact, it is a cynical exploitation of their pain. In spite of this, the Lockerbie families are still able to display a level of humanity beyond the understanding of most polticians and commentators:

But, in fact, many Lockerbie families believe that Megrahi was wrongly convicted. Martin Cadman, who lost a son in the disaster, said the trial was “a farce” and that the release of Megrahi was “just righting a wrong.” Jim Swire, who lost a daughter, said, “As time goes by it will become clear that he had nothing to do with it.”
This hysteria is another triumph for PR politics, hand in hand with the commercial need to generate hate before compassion.
The point of compassion is that you don't demand anything in return, and that if you only extend it to the Mother Teresa of this world, it isn't compassion at all but tax-deductable guilt-relief. So the world of those who cannot understand this New Testament decision is one in which compassion always has a price-tag. One in which the sucker is never given an even break. The kind of world which has created an intractible war in which innocent travellers are blown from the sky, and peasant families disintegrated from 10,000 feet by laser guided bombs powerful enough to have destroyed Jericho in one hit.

* The Scotsman

7/10/2009

Afghanistan. The Children's Crusade

There are chilling similarities between the death of Princess Diana and the latest grief campaign by those who support the idea of sending children to die in Afghanistan for the political causes of the old and cynical. In both cases, the mourners abetted the deaths they are celebrating. Diana Spencer was elevated above her capacity to live a normal life by the market for cheap celebrity magazines. Squaddies fresh from the dole queues on their way to squalid roadside deaths in Afghanistan are partly encouraged by the reception their dead colleagues are getting every day. Both sects need the deaths of others for some strange emotional reasons of their own, but the obvious nett effect of all the enforced solemnity and hymn-singing to lowered union jacks is the glorification of war, and more confused, jobless, macho-struck teenagers sent to their graves.
Every day this week, British TV has been draped in the images of dead soldiers, and processions and church services in their memory. The youngest to die, out of the ten who have been sacrificed in the last ten days, was 18 years old. Hardly old enough to vote, yet apparently old enough to have a knowledge of global politics mature enough to make the informed decision to lay down his life for Gordon Brown. No 18 year old can be allowed to make that decision, no matter who is the leader, or how much poverty the potential recruit is escaping from.
If children were prevented, rather than actively encouraged, from making this decision until they were old enough to know what they were doing, wars would be much harder to fight. Whether that would stop them buying the ultimate con of God & Country, only time will tell. But creating a semi-divine Warrior Caste to be worshipped by all in the name of God and Country will only inflame their adolescent glory-seeking, and make war even more like one of the extreme sports teenagers love so much.

Raining Gold.
During the worst bombing of Vietnam, one folk-tale was that a commander of the Vietcong had told a western reporter that if the Americans had bombed with fridges and TVs they would have won the war.
It was obvious from the launch of the first $30 million Cruise missile in Afghanistan that the best way to eradicate the Taliban was to load a single transporter with especially minted gold coins, and parachute them over the entire country. For the cost of one or two cruise attacks, the entire country could have been carpeted in gold like a scene from tale by Scheherazade.
Apart from instantly destroying the currency system of the taliban state, the massive injection of spending power would instantly elevate may labouring peasants to the level of the aspiring middle class, with hopes which did not need the taliban and their goats and Kalashnikovs. It is hard to imagine mothers and fathers in such a fairytale wanting to send their children to die for the benefit of a few rich and powerful men. Just as it is hard to imagine any but a few slaves in the Alabama cottonfields in 1850 believing that their freedom was anything but a fairytale.
Fairytales sometimes come true.

Wapping-gate Day 2. The Andrew Neil Red Plot

Like the bankers last year, and the politicians last month, News International is today peddling the Rotten Apple theory, but most industry insiders, including Andrew Neil, think it's inconceivable that only a few rogue hacks were involved.
Those with a lot to lose, like Kelvin MacKenzie, think former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil is at the heart of a dastardly commie plot. Which only goes to show the decrepit state of the former Sun editor's political compass, and how little attention we should therefore pay to his ravings. He thinks everything is a red plot.
Meanwhile, the expected legal action is brewi
ng. The News of the World has spent a long time making and selling enemies. Hard, professional fighters like Vanessa Phelps and Max Clifford. I can't see mercy in their eyes, only the greed and vengeance which is at the heart of the Sun's value-system. Those who live by the sword.... etc etc
The Sun's messageboards does not seem to allow a dedicated thread on the subject. As predicted by other posters, mine was removed at some point before or after the long shut down of the site, which opened again today.
'Wapping-gate Day 2' is now running as a condensed version of this post (nothing blue) on Sun Online. But for how long only the teenagers moderating the board know.

7/08/2009

GOTCHA!

'Murdoch Papers Use Criminal Methods to Get Stories'

'Murdoch Papers Use Criminal Methods to Get Stories'

Shame that it won't be Jon Gaunt or Murdoch going to jail. Still, it's a start.
After the bankers and politicians, now it's the the turn of the press to get knocked off its high horse. And who would complain about those tax-avoiding, expenses-inflating fatsos getting a kicking?
As that agent of the Devil, the Guardian reports:

"The evidence also poses difficult questions for:
• David Cameron's director of communications, Andy Coulson, who was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World when, the suppressed evidence shows, journalists for whom he was responsible were engaging in hundreds of apparently illegal acts
• Murdoch executives who, albeit in good faith, have misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public
• The Metropolitan police, who did not alert all those whose phones were targeted, and the Crown Prosecution Service, which did not pursue all possible charges against News Group personnel"
There will be a flood of legal action by the likes of John Prescott, who was allegedly spied on for years. This is good news. Not because Murdoch and his Empire of Lies deserve to be torched with lasers and the ground beneath drenched in Nitric acid to prevent any vestiges of its spoor from surviving. And not even because it buys some breathing space for the BBC in its constant battle for civilised decency against the barbarians of Wapping, Teacosy England and the Mary Whitehouse Memorial Society. But because it is the first step in debunking the so-called Fourth Estate. The professional lie machine which has been riding its moral horse pretty high for a long time and which is as much to blame for the mess we're now in as anyone - including bankers and politicians.
The Wapping Spin Machine has to make money. And the way to make money in this primitive competitive economic system we endure is at the expense of others. Greed is good, but not practicable without liberal doses of hate. Too little hate would make us share too much, and there would not be enough greed at work either to run a newspaper like the Sun, or for its relentless message of conflict to be marketable. So it is also in the interest of the gutter press to make us hate each other as much as possible. Naturally, we find it easier to trample on colleagues we dislike than those we feel natural human sympathy for. Hate is a skill which needs constant practice. So every piece of dirt the News of the world and the Daily Mail can unearth, by whatever methods, and use to exercise the hate glands of the nation, is just money in the bank. If their proprietors weren't such gigantic hypocrites, every redtop masthead would brag about how it supplies the capitalist system with the anger and confusion it needs to keep going.
The allegations made yesterday involve thousands of victims. As even Homer Simpson would say; I'm no fancy city lawyer, but that suggests a class action to me.
I wish I was on the News of the World's hack-list, I could do with a cool million or two. But more significantly, in the interest of being 'Fair and Balanced' I would like to know the nett political effect of the entire alleged operation. If the political smears
which eventually emerged are all lined up against the stories which were supressed, which side comes out least effected (I wonder)?
In other words, if these allegations are proven, which they will be, just how much do Rupert Murdoch's mouthpieces manipulate the British political system, and just how illegal are their methods? More illegal than the 'scandals' of the politicians on the redtop hitlists, with their scandalous expenses claims for toilet seats and taxi rides? Probably. Which raises the entire question again of the hidden Wapping archive.
If the gutter press has a right (in the public interest) to spy on elected politicians, supermodels and drunken musicians, why shouldn't the nation have a right to know what information Wapping holds on all of us? And to know (in our interest) which information finds its way onto the front pages and which is swiftly hidden in the lead-lined vaults under Fortress Wapping, never to be seen again.
Since media corporations have become unelected fiefdoms with laws of their own, which exert huge political and economic power, and now, it emerges, have the capacity to spy on all of us, it is time they came under the same sort of scrutiny and regulation which other bodies of the same power and influence have to endure. In practise this might well mean disclosing all hidden archives of images and other data under amended Freedom of Information law. Then we might discover how many stories the media have suppressed over the years, what their political implications might have been, and even who killed Blair Peach. 'Public interest' my arse.
Then we would know how 'Fair and Balanced' they have been, and even why.
The price might well be to discover just how widespread this abuse of power has become - because if the hacks at the News of the World can do it, there is no reason why their counterparts in other newspapers can't. We might have to face the systemic sleaze of a profit-driven media market, which will not be a pretty sight. But that would be a price most decent people would be prepared to pay.

6/29/2009

He Was Not The Messiah, He Was a Very Troubled Boy


Not only was he not Divine, Michael Jackson was not the most talented, influential, brilliant, amazing, innovative, fantastic, amazing genius of all time. While an impressive singer, he was no great songwriter, composer, choreographer or a musician of anything but his own voice - and we can all sing and all have our own unique voice.
He wasn't Stevie Wonder, who is a real musician. He did not 'get the world dancing' or 'provide the soundtrack to the generation' - much of the British audience preferring to confront the harsh world of the 1980's through Two-tone and the whole independent music approach rather than surrender to the updated escapist Busby Berkeley antics of Jacko and his capital investment portfolio. It is an insult to the artists of the time that Jackson's narcissism should be celebrated above more honest, rewarding talent. To many at the time, Jackson was seriously uncool, even with the genius of Quincy Jones (and Rod Temperton) behind him, and Killer had nothing to say about the problems we faced or the world we lived in. Hence the infamous Jarvis Cocker arse-waving incedent. Why has he not been interviewed yet?

Neither were his shows anything new - enormous production values in popular entertainment go back to Nero, where Jackson would have felt at home. he did not invent the circus, sorry, but it's true.
Neither did he 'invent' the music video, as is being claimed. Apparently, MTV wouldn't exist without Michael Jackson. Which means that MTV in effect owes its existence to Joe Jackson's childcare methods. And in any case, The Beatles, for one, had come up with the pop video with Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields almost a decade before Jackson's record company rode the new medium of video to promote their new star. Given this promotional tool, it would have been bizarre if the three Quincy Jones albums had not sold vast amounts. It is tempting to wonder how Miles Davis would have used video to promote 'Bitches Brew' if it had been around at the time. The point being that Jackson had nothing to do with the development of the pop video. It was not his idea - as many celebrity numbskulls have been claiming over the weekend.
In fact, it isn't easy to find many musical or artistic ideas which are attributable to Jackson himself, as opposed to his writers, choreographers, producers, accountants, directors, doctors, life-coaches, plastic surgeons, or chimpanzees.
And after those 3 albums were over, how far did Michael Jackson progress artistically? The truth is that this child star hit puberty, and the company which owned him cashed in on the classic early period of youthful energy when artists are at their most open and exciting, then tossed him and his scary personal problems aside, into the care of the usual queue of 'doctors' willing to prescribe 'painkillers' to the celebrity 'patient'. He progressed no further than his teenage persona with its particularly infantile brand of camp-gothic, and yet the mass media hysterics like Pete Waterman are still laying on the hyperbole with a giant chrome trowel.
The first response of any member of the public which I heard was on the morning after the announcement of the death, in a cafe in Sydenham. .
customer:

customer 1:
'You have to be careful crossing that road, Pat, you don't want to end up like Jacko.
waitress:
'Don't be awful.'
customer 2 (interjecting loudly):
'Well I never liked him, the nonce. That's all he was a fucking nonce. And yeah, allright, he was a showman, but I never liked him. You don't like someone, it doesn't matter how talented they are.'
All of which is the part of the genuine catastrophe which was Michael Jackson's life, as it was with Fatty Arbuckle, whose career was also ruined by accusations rather than evidence. And every other fragile soul demanding attention and a shortcut to financial security which bypasses any political thinking or action.
The grieving multitudes may not believe it but indifference bordering on cynicism is the reaction of many people, not the newspaper-selling brew of rose petals mulled in tears. However, the standard for callousness was not set by a south London wideboy with a big mouth, but (not surprisingly perhaps) by Michael Jackson's dear father, who used the opportunity of his first statement about his son's untimely death to plug his new record label. He didn't say how much of the profits he will be tything to the Jehovah's Witnesses. The Jehovah's Witnesses have not issued any statement on their policy towards child brutality and abuse. Joe Jackson obviously feels no responsibility for his son's fate, but sees it as just another promotional tool. Another idea Michael Jackson didn't have.
Michael Jackson is merely the latest in a long line of damaged human beings who have been the raw material of the entertainment business, especially since the advent of recording, which entailed vast amounts of capital investment in plant and personnel, and a corresponding amount of artistic compromise to cater to the accountancy department. And with artistic compromise comes a further denial of the already fragile sense of personal identity and worth, and such a mind is the natural environment for a self-destructive viscous circle. Which, if tangible on stage, can make for a very compelling performance, but not for a long or happy life in the performer.
Of course, now that artists don't have to rely on vast corporations to distribute their work, the age of the celebrity casualty is, in theory, over. As is the age of the STAR, a label which was merely a way of recovering an investment. There is no reason now why artists of all kinds, but especially performers, shouldn't be perfectly sensible, healthy people who happen to have a talent to entertain, and a story to tell. A career in music no longer demands the traditional showbusiness gamble of an ordinary life on the chance of stardom, fame and fortune. The individual can now do everything which the bankrolled corporations of the past could, and thereby escape the deadening demands of industrialised entertainment. The returns will not buy many Ferraris, but the genuine artist will not care about that.
The neurotic exhibitionists, with their self-obsessed drivellings, are welcome to the wealth and 'pain-killers' and bling. Art is not, no matter what Pete Waterman thinks, a matter of money and 'hugeness'. But the truth is that Waterman knows as much about art as Lady Diana - or Michael Jackson, if his lifetime achievement is viewed objectively, and not as an excuse for middle aged columnists to wallow in their own adolescence for a while. This morbid vice is a harmless enough in moderation, but very unhealthy as a permanent state, as with Michael Jackson, who was so traumatised by his own childhood, or lack of it, that he spent the rest of his life trying to reclaim it, for the amusement (and profit) of others.
Those who once used the entertainment industry as an escape from poverty can take comfort from the fact that their new powers of publishing and distribution will at least keep them fed, if they have any talent. And that if they do not have anything to say, they will not be forced to perform merely in order to repay a bank. And that from now on, their work need cater less for the commercial demands of corporations, and more for their own artistic and personal identity, and the concerns of their audience, however small.
The musical 'stars' of the C20th were the product of a time during which two major motivations for success were hunger and the need for affection. The list is very long of local boys and girls who made it to the top at disastrous personal cost. So the pleasure we get from watching and hearing them is partly that of observing suffering and deprivation through the filter of what we called 'talent'. This isn't that different from watching gladiators in the arena. Both depend on real suffering to exist. And the corporation contract, with its clause requiring creativity on demand, only served to destabilise already wobbly personalities, and guarantee a continued supply of inner turmoil. Now that artists don't need the corporations, maybe we can move to forms of performance and production which don't rely on the worst of motives to exist. And performers can do what they do best, not what they are told to do.
And now Jacko is a god, apparently. The God of Pop. And this time, a lot of people seem to mean it, the family and managers especially. Some of whom are licking their lips at the prospect of the Michael Jackson Memorial Tour, and the Michael Jackson Memorial albums, videos, T-Shirts and dancing singing dolls. The Japanese will naturally supply the range of Robo-Jackos as soon as they can perfect the robo-moonwalk.
The annual Michael Jackson Memorial Day will repeat the roadshow, with variations to cash in on whatever famine or disaster is happening at the time, giving the whole circus the mask of charity and avoiding vast amounts of tax in the process.
Like most show-business martyrs, Jackson is worth more dead than alive.

6/25/2009

Now it's National

Until now, most states have been able to sit back and shrug their shoulders to the Iranian government and let the BBC and Gordon Brown take all the blame:

'We'd love to help, but what can we do? Those pesky global Twitterers and hackers. You think they don't cause us all sorts of trouble? We appreciate your problem, but we can't do what you do and shut down the internet, even if we could, or lock up all the troublemakers. We'd love to oblige but, sorry, you see our position."
But it could hardly rest there, and the logical response was always going to be

'Not your problem? We'll make it your problem. We're not bad at the old cyber-terrorism, and our mates the Chinese are real experts. We'll get them to lend a hand, and then we'll see who's got problems.
We do envy you in the west your computerised health and energy systems. It would be a great shame if they should get all frozen up and useless one day...'
The hope was that the Iranian power struggle could be between an alliance of the Iranian people and the online global community against the antiquated Iranian elite clinging to power. And that primitive twentieth century national politics could be sidelined for almost the first time in history. It seems we are not quite at that phase yet, which is hardly surprising. The discredited Iranian elite has every motive to strike back in any way which will drag the battle back to a ground it is familiar with and an enemy it can touch and use as a scapegoat, or whose embassy it can beseige - or whose dipomats it can hold to ransom.. And by threatening to launch hacking expeditions against, say, the British health service database, the Iranian government would be seeking to gain the initiative and bolster its own image. A bit like Krushev putting nuclear missiles in Cuba. And like Krushev's USSR at the time, Iran is also far behind in this particular arms race. In spite of its Chinese big brother. Not only does it have to face up to the combined expertise of the western cyber-powers, but also the infuriatingly evasive geekocracy, who would be given complete licence to kill. An army of James Bonds sliding in through the airconditioning and crawling out of every manhole. The role every geek would love to play, and who would now get the chance. In effect they would be rallying to Kitchener's call:
Your Country Needs You!
But safe in the knowledge that they wouldn't risk getting killed, maimed or poisoned.
However, neither shoplifting nor insurance fraud are victimless crimes, and the same goes for war. How many Iranian hospitals would the freelance commandos of the Global Iranian People's Liberation Support Network (GIPLSN) be prepared to close if the Iranian government began executing leading dissenters? Would the GIPLSN take its instructions from the Iranian people, and if so, how? What consensus should it recognise, and from which source? Or are we seeing something more subtle at work? A form of collective, self policing morality, responding organically to the situation, and tending to deliver an appropriate response. A self-resolving chaos in which every butterfly's wings really do make a difference.
Viewed as a brain, the internet is in its infant, amoral stage. Its neural pathways are still untrained and feral. Given enough exercises in decision-making and storytelling and role-playing, like the Iranian revolution, and the internet could develop into a healthy, upstanding, happy adult, ready and willing to enjoy life and the company of others.
Censored into a cupboard, and fed a diet of kill-games and porn, and only allowed the barest scraps of information from the outside world, the child's morality doesn't advance much more than that of the average rat.
So unless the internet is due to be univented or totally quashed, the outlook is still hopeful. And the enemies of progress everywhere are still just trying to paint over the ageing process, only succeeding in making themselves look less human with every brushstroke.
--------------
And when oh when oh when will the BBC stop being the 'Mind-Control Centre' of the western conspiracy to broadcast inconveniently true images and stories to the world?
Not as long as it's a uniquely funded organisation, to judge from its privileged position (along with Voice of America) as almost the sole target of the Iranian propaganda machine.
How satisfying to see dear Old Auntie bouncing her brolly off the bonce of the mullahs in finest Margaret Rutherford fashion. They Do Not Like It Up 'Em.
The Iranian vilification of the BBC is worth the licence fee alone. Of course, the Daily Mail knew all along what the mullahs have just discovered. Perhaps they should get together to try to destroy it. Mediocre minds think alike, if at all.
The absence of any commercial news outlets from attack by the Iranian regime is not just embarassing, its shameful. And those who ever demanded a surrender to commercial versions of truth should also be ashamed of themselves. But if that ever happened, Mullahs would fly and the tabloid journalism would be a footnote in history.
As I try to publish this, Twitter tells me that GCHQ is recruiting hackers from the naughty classes in much the same way that the novels tell us James Bond was:

" ...the government had recruited a team of former hackers for its new Cyber Security Operations Centre, based at the government's secret listening post GCHQ, in Cheltenham, to help it fight back.They had not employed any "ultra, ultra criminals" but needed the expertise of former "naughty boys," he added."You need youngsters who are deep into this stuff... If they have been slightly naughty boys, very often they really enjoy stopping other naughty boys," he said."
What more could a geek want? Except that being under the wing of MI6 means adopting their morality and serving their power base. In effect, telling lies. So as always, the real struggle is not between nebulous notions of Right and Wrong, but good old truth and lies, which may never be absolutes, but which are far more definable.

No Vote - No Work

"SPREAD THE WORD IN IRAN,STOP paying your bills (water, gas, electricty), STOP paying taxes. It worked in '79.RT Please #iranelection"
Says one Iranian Twitterer. And if there was ever a perfect time to organise mass civil disobedience, it is now. The list of pranks which the Iranian people could play on their government, and which could be disemminated online, is almost inexhaustible.
But the uiltimate weapon is still, as always, withdrawal of labour. No Vote. No Work. Can't Vote - Won't Work.
The opposition have already begin the process of reclaiming Islam from the sect which has defined it for twenty years, and possibly begun remodelling it to suit a modern world. If they can do that to a religion, they should manage the relatively humdrum task of remodelling a country. Especially one which for twenty years has been the puppet of the same faith now being shouted from the rooftops every night in defiance of the Mullahs . And there's not a thing the Revolutionary Guard or the secret police can do about it.

6/22/2009

140 Characters In Search of A Revolution

[Play muted for best effect]
The cringeing cowards are out in force. It seems that Twitter is being used as a tool by the dastardly CIA. And according to a recent Harvard study, most social website users don't play with their toys much after Christmas Day, and therefore Twitter is nothing but the plaything of the idle western consumer, and not to be taken seriously. Or it is just a rumourmill, seething with as many lies as the Daily Star or Newsweek, or FoxNews and easily dismissed by print diehards.
It's all in the choice of the word 'rumour' instead of 'lead'. Twitter is, initially, providing leads. Old fashioned confirmation always provides stories. And what about the images and videos, how many of those are just 'rumours'?
Whatever bored consumers use it or don't use it for, it has been proved to be a valuable tool for people organising against suppressive or fraudulant regimes. Yesterday and today requests have been made for ideas. What kinds of collective actions could be taken to paralyse the state machine? What is the best remedy for tear gas and pepper spray? What are the safest ways of posting images and video? What kind of retaliation can be expected in this very Persian game of political chess. How can the Basij be identified and even targeted..?
The other argument is that the internet as a tool of change simply doesn't work because it can be turned off at will. This is patently not true, as the masses of footage emerging over the last week has shown, and it is an insult to the craft of the Iranian commentators, who know their business just as well as any Wapping hack knows how to bloat his expenses. And it also ignores the fact that for several days, the conventional media have been turned off entirely and have to rely on the civilians at trheir laptops. The shooting of Neda Agha Soltan on Saturday was news which was reported on Twitter several hours before it appeared on the BBC. Without Twitter, it may never have emerged at all.
Like many other aspects of the internet, personal publication does represent a massive shift of power, as proved by the Iranian regime's actions against it - actions made largely futile by the counter-actions of the global hacker community, garnered partly via Twitter and Facebook.
The sneering has to stop at some point. It seems that the left has to re-learn its own lesson, that the production, distribution and exchange of a commodity is inherently empowering. So when that commodity is information in an Information Age, is it any wonder that tyrannies begin to tremble?

The following Twitter users don't count, it seems.. or the use itself.
crisisintehran TODAY 4pm - Haft Tir Sq - Meydan 7 Tir - Tehran - in memory of our martyrs - Karoubi said hes coming(on his facebook)


stevemahfouz Please be very careful about what information you share on Twitter. The Iranian government monitors Twitter closely #iranelection #gr88


silentherotx #IranElection To deal with tear gas soak a bandana or paper towel in lemon juice or cider vinegar can breath a few minutes, also buy goggles


TGskills NAMES AND NUMBERS OF BASIJ AND OTHER ITELAGENCE AGENTS http://www.goftaniha.org/ #iranelection #iran #persiankiwi #mousavi1388 #twitpersia

etc etc etc. All useful to those concerned, and when the spooks do manage to work their wicked wiles, no doubt we'll find out about it. Until then, they have their hands full trying to stem the flood of unsuitable information leaving Iran. And it is a battle they are losing because of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Picasa, and other weapons which the Medieval minds of he mullahs still don't understand. Those using the internet to tell their story are way ahead of the defeatists.
Iran is the most sophisticated blogging community in the world, and the second biggest. They are the ideal people to test the new politics of personal publishing. And they have the sympathy of the freelance global hackers, who quite fancy the idea of making trouble for dictatorships from their bedrooms and garden sheds.
The argument against Twitter is the same one which discredits the Gutenberg press for culminating in Rupert Murdoch. In fact, what Twitter does is it give too much power to those awful ordinary people with their seditious, rabble-rousing pamphlets. Good.
Iran represents a definiing moment in the clash between medievalism and modernity, and modernity will win because the medieval mind does not understand the technology being used against it.
It is in the dilemma of needing the internet to survive in the modern global economy, while trying to deny it from the most sophisticated online community in the world. It will lose because it is not only trying to suppress its own people, but the aspirations of a global community.

6/19/2009

REDACT ALL ABOUT IT!

MP.'s Expenses in Full.

R.Hon. member for Bogmouth on Sylt.
period


Recieved with thanks the honourable member for with a melon.
All claims presented to the committee between and subject to Freedom of Act.
As Follows.
Plus further monthly increments of
credited to offshore companies in
Principal residence plus brother in law.
Following sale of
Other addresses
in the event of the death of the goat.



Evil Gordon Brown to Blame Says Supreme Leader

'The most evil of them is the British government'.
... What did we do? Or is the Supreme Leader now a leader writer for the Daily Mail? It's hard to tell. Does this give Gordon Brown another shot of global street cred?
The reality is that any credit the british government gets from this bizarre attack by an obvious rambling loony, comes courtesy of the BBC, which is the real target for relaying the information provided by the Iranian people - via Twitter and the other internet tools which are still obviously beyond the comprehension of the mullahs - not being mentioned in today's address from the Supreme Leader's Fortress of Righteous Justice. Either he knows enough not to mention a battle which he lost when trying to rally his troops, or he simply does not understand that the real war is also also all but lost. That access to global communications changed everything as radically as did the discovery of agriculture or the printing press or algebra, and that by threatening a bloodbath, he is only delaying the inevitable as horribly as possible.
So Gordon Brown and David Milliband take the blame for the BBC acting as delivery boy for the Iranian people. Whoever said politics was fair?
Khameini's used this opportunity to declare that the government is approved by god, and that therefore those who have no faith in the government have no religious faith. They therefore must 'take the consequences', meaning brutal repression, especially at the hands of government loyalist vigilantes, who were directly put on alert by this speech.
The gloves are definitely off, and the bravery of the opposition is exceptional. But given the attitide of the Twitter posts leaving Iran, it seems violence is now far more likely after today's address from the holy men than before, which is historically typical.
Live To Fight Another Way
For the opposition to hold their demonstration tomorrow and openly defy Khameini is to risk a bloodbath. The comparisons with Tianmen Square are obvious. But in this game of image and face, the streets are not the real battleground. It would deliver a far more powerful message if the expected confrontation were not to happen, just as the silent march a few days ago was more impressive than than occupying the streets and burning a few cars. It would represent a far more sophisticated display of concerted action if the crowd were merely to stay home and hang a green flag from their windows, thereby overcoming international reporting restrictions at a stroke. The means of organising it would also represent the new politics of communication, rubbing the noses of the government in its greatest blindspot. Mobbing is surely a much more effective form of action than the mass bloodshed which could well follow a confrontation tomorrow.
Turning on all the electrical appliances on full for an hour would play havoc with Iran's national grid, possibly. Mass journeys at the 'wrong' times of day, causing congestion and leaderless chaos.
The ways in which concerted mass actions can be used to disrupt the state without bloodshed, or leaders to be put on trial, are only limited by the imagination of the people.

Images.

More Images From Yesterday's Protests

6/18/2009

Orwell Demolition Tools (‘There Are No New Ideas’)

Why so many trees have to die defending progress from the defeatism and misogyny of reactionaries is a mystery. One volume of Orwell essays, and they are exposed again as the Paper Tigers they are.

TRIBUNE.February 25, 1944
Looking through Chesterton's Introduction to Hard Times in the Everyman Edition (incidentally, Chesterton's Introductions to Dickens are about the best thing he ever wrote) , I note the typically sweeping statement:
‘There are no new ideas.’
Chesterton is here claiming that the ideas which animated the French Revolution were not new ones but simply a revival of doctrines which had flourished earlier and then had been abandoned. But the claim that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ is one of the stock arguments of intelligent reactionaries. Catholic apologists, in particular, use it almost automatically. Everything that you can say or think has been said or thought before. Every political theory from Liberalism to Trotskyism can be shown to be a development of some heresy in the early Church. Every system of philosophy springs ultimately from the Greeks. Every scientific theory (if we are to believe the popular Catholic press) was anticipated by Roger Bacon and others in the thirteenth century. Some Hindu thinkers go even further and claim that not merely the scientific theories, but the products of applied science as well, aeroplanes, radio and the whole bag of tricks, were known to the ancient Hindus, who afterward dropped them as being unworthy of their attention.

It is not very difficult to see that this idea is rooted in the fear of progress. If there is nothing new under the sun, if the past in some shape or another always returns, then the future when it comes will be something familiar. At any rate what will never come — since it has never come before — is that hated, dreaded thing, a world of free and equal human beings. Particularly comforting to reactionary thinkers is the idea of a cyclical universe, in which the same chain of events happens over and over again. In such a universe every seeming advance towards democracy simply means that the coming age of tyranny and privilege is a little bit nearer. This belief, obviously superstitious though it is, is widely held nowadays, and is common among Fascists and near-Fascists.

In fact, there are new ideas. The idea that an advanced civilization need not rest on slavery is a relatively new idea, for instance; it is a good deal younger than the Christian religion. But even if Chesterton's dictum were true, it would only be true in the sense that a statue is contained in every block of stone. Ideas may not change, but emphasis shifts constantly. It could be claimed, for example, that the most important part of Marx's theory is contained in the saying:
‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’
But before Marx developed it, what force had that saying had? Who had paid any attention to it? Who had inferred from it — what it certainly implies — that laws, religions and moral codes are all a superstructure built over existing property relations? It was Christ, according to the Gospel, who uttered the text, but it was Marx who brought it to life. And ever since he did so the motives of politicians, priests, judges, moralists and millionaires have been under the deepest suspicion — which, of course, is why they hate him so much.

When will those who despise and fear progress learn to live without it, and return to their roundhouses bearskins and rickets? That's what I'd like to know.

6/17/2009

Ethnic Cleansing Ulster Style



Old habits die hard, it seems. There will be NO Surrender! to Roma.. And now many of them have been hounded out by classic Ulster redneck thuggery in the finest traditions of the province. It was interesting to hear the Belfast police trying to reassure the public by saying that 'paramilitaries were not involved' in terrifying dozens of Rumanian families from their homes, if not out of the country. As if it were a matter of some pride that this hatred did not need agitators but sprang naturally from the local culture.
The organised Ulster Loyalist groupings (who are still armed to the teeth four years after IRA decommissioning) have a sad history of links with the nazi nutter-sects across Europe and America. Now we are told that this poisonous ideology does not need organisation in Belfast, but is completely natural. And if it is 'natural' in Belfast, then it must be equally natural to scapegoat Rumanians in every other capital city of the European Union. Racism and thuggery are natural human qualities, not manageable, preventable consequences of economic desperation and ignorance. So there's nothing we can ever do about racism, it is here forever because we are inherently Evil.
The police should be more careful what they say they are grateful for, especially on TV.

Twitterized Mullahs

How they all laughed at Twitter. Well, they're not laughing now. It will be interesting to see with just how much relish the sniggering classes eat their words. The Supreme Leaders of Iran can tell them just how wrong they were to write off an instant, open-ended means of communication. The nature of the current anniversary coverage of Tiananmen Square might be very different if the people had access then to similar ways of co-ordinating action and of broadcasting their own story to the world. Since the advent of the cameraphone, the question has been 'Who Spies on the Spies'? and the answer is US. As both the London G20 demonstrations and the recent expenses scandal showed, public surveillance of authority is now almost as much of a civic duty as paying taxes or driving on the correct side of the road or ensuring that a child does not stand too near to an open fire.

The Iranian ruling elite is in the dilemma of depending for its economic and military power on the same technology which will undermine it. So they can't un-invent the internet (in order to suppress organised dissent) because this is the modern world, and they need their email addresses and online banking systems and commodity exchanges as much as every other regime. Unless, of course, they choose total Talibanisation, and a return to the C13th, which the Iranian people simply do not want. Not for Osama and All His Goats. And what's good enough for the people of Iran is good enough for people living under any other dictatorship, China included.

Whatever the result of the election MIGHT have been, or how indistinguishable the policies of the two main parties, and however hamstrung Iranian democracy might be by Medievalism, the fact is that the djinn of freedom has been let of the bottle by the actions of the tyrants themselves. A few weeks ago, most Iranians might well have been prepared to give Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the benefit of the doubt, but since the shootings and internet shutdowns, and arrests and open disrespect of the increasingly aspirational educated masses, the theocratic regime has partly replaced the West and its sanctions as a demon. The betrayal of the government and the mullahs has driven the wedge of outraged personal self-esteem into the face of theocracy. Apart from anything else, surely modern technology and religious fundamentalism are incompatible. The Quran may not proscribe computers and iPods by name, but it is nevertheless undermined in people's minds by such innovations, just as the invention of agriculture freed us from Animism and the printing press destroyed the monopoly of Papal power.
So the political choices now are very different from the ones the Iranian people once thought were on offer two weeks ago. The internet has helped reveal the unthinkable in Iran.
In Orwell's 1984, the 'proles' are pessimistically generally ruled out as agents of change, 'Goldstein's Book' within the book also dismisses any hope in the masses with one proviso:
"They (the proletarians) could only become dangerous if the advance of industrial technique made it necessary to educate them more highly..."
The internet is the ultimate educational technology, which expands to fill the use and curiousity available, and is now invaluable to the efficient management of the modern state. And any attempts to limit it to the elite are futile. Even the best efforts of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cyber-agents could not stop the flood of information from the people this week, and furthermore, the global hackocracy rallied to the defence of the Iranian people and mounted attacks of their own against state departments.
It would seem that global ignorance is less of an excuse for tyranny then ever.

Cyber War Guide for Iran Elections
http://www.daneshjooyan.org/english/
http://www.picasaweb.google.com/bahramks/RiotsInTehran#
http://www.daneshjooyan.org/english/article/100705a.html
http://www.twitter.com/persiankiwi
http://www.worker-communistpartyofiran.blogspot.com/2009/06/iran-protests-go-beyond-regimes.html