Tuesday, 18 September 2018

On dog whistles and witch-finders

Back when President Trump was mere candidate Trump, an American professor published an article, arguing that Trump is anti-Semitic. The professor claimed to have overwhelming evidence; all from Trump's public statements; all in Trump's own words. I read the article, as I had completely failed to notice any trace of anti-Semitism from Trump. However, what I found was not evidence of anti-Semitism, but rather the argument that every time Trump referred to banks and finance capitalism, he really meant Jews and that his supporters knew this and he was appealing to their anti-Semitism. According to the professor, Trump was speaking in a secret code that was only accessible to other anti-Semities.

Unfortunately, this form of argument is depressingly common. There is even a noun-phrase for it. It is called dog whistle racism. It is from Australian English and has infected the whole of the English speaking world. And the political media elite love it. I suspect Joseph Heller would have loved it too, for it has all the Alice in Wonderland logic of his famous Catch 22.

Anyone can be accused of dog whistle racism on the basis of anything they have ever said or written because the words do not mean what they denote; they mean whatever the accuser claims they mean. And no one is allowed to dissent. Because dissent would mean supporting a racist and only a racist would support racism.

Once someone is accused of dog whistle racism there is no defence. How could there be? The accusation is evidence-free. The "proof" is words that do not mean what they say, but what the accuser says they mean. Any protest is immediately interpreted as further "evidence" of the racism of the accused. This is the kind of charge that witch-finders developed in the late middle ages. The accusation is made and the accused is guilty: it is just a matter of how deep that guilt goes.

If all this strikes you as completely senseless, I am afraid I can only say, Wait, it gets worse. It gets worse because the very definition of dog whistle racism is that it is a secret code that only the racists are capable of recognising. Thus, strictly speaking when someone accuses another of dog whistle racism, they are, in effect, accusing themselves of being racist. Yet, no one ever points out this simple, obvious logical and linguistic point. The accusers get a free pass. No one says, How come you are able to read this secret racist code that is only known to racists?

And it gets even worse. Anyone who is unable to read this secret, racist code is not presumed to be not racist. On the contrary, claiming to not know the secret, racist code is immediately construed as support for the racist and thus not being able to decipher the secret code is paradoxically considered to prove racism.

The notion of dog whistle racism shows just how radical is the political media elite's rejection of the values of the Enlightenment. Not only have they completely rejected evidence, due process, and the presumption of innocence; they have invented a noun (phrase) that is an accusation that is itself supposed to be the evidence that proves the guilt of the accused and cannot be challenged: indeed any attempted defence is construed as proof of even greater guilt. Moreover, should anyone come to the defence of the accused, they too will be subjected to precisely the same treatment.

In a world where the notion of dog whistle racism exists one is either with the witch-finders or one is a witch; or at least in imminent danger of becoming a witch. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Skripal case: the suspects

Last week, Theresa May told parliament that the two people, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, suspected of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal are GRU officers. However, Neil Basu, the police assistant commissioner in charge of the investigation, told the press that there is no evidence that the suspects are linked to the Russian state. Today, President Putin has stated that the Russian government knows who the suspects are and that they are civilians. Putin also said that he expected the men to come forward and speak to the media. These statements are obviously not compatible.

The notion that Neil Basu was lying when he told the press that the investigation had no evidence of a link between the suspects and the Russian state is simply not credible. Basu's statement does not in itself rule out the possibility that the suspects are GRU officers, but if they are, it means Theresa May has access to evidence that is being withheld from the investigation. The only actors who could conceivably be in a position to have such evidence, be able to withhold it from the investigation and be able to present to the prime minister, would be the intelligence services. And the suggestion that the intelligence services are Theresa May's source of information, rather than the investigation, seems more than plausible. It would explain why the official narrative is so full of lacuna, inconsistencies, contradictions and absurdities; so lacking in evidence.

These absurdities only increased when the investigation named its two suspects. A major problem with the official narrative revealed by the publication of the suspects names and the timings of their movements was the issue of when were Sergei and Yulia poisoned. According to the official narrative, they were poisoned by touching the outer door handle of Mr Skripal's house, which had been doused with a military grade nerve agent that is eight times more lethal than VX. The official narrative also holds that Skripal and his daughter left the house at before 9:15 in the morning. However, the official narrative has the two suspects in London and they do not arrive in Salisbury until just before noon. So if the official narrative is correct, neither of the suspects could be the perpetrators, as the poison had to have been applied to the door handle prior to 9:15.

Frankly, I suspect the intelligence services do not care about all the logical inconsistencies and this is why they just keep mounting up. For example, the hotel the suspects stayed at in London was, according to the official narrative, found to be contaminated with the nerve agent. This discovery was allegedly made at the beginning of May, but it was not announced to the public until September. During all that time, the authorities made no attempt to safeguard the welfare of all the people who had had contact with the room, nor to stop anyone else from having contact with the room, nor did they inform the owner of the hotel. This is similar to the duck feeding incident, which never even made it into the official narrative, where the authorities knew that Sergei had had contact with three boys after he must have been poisoned, but the authorities made no attempt to contact the boys. Similarly, after it was determined that the Skripals had been poisoned by a military grade nerve agent and people in hazmat suits were engaged in decontamination action, it took the authorities two weeks to issue a public health warning, which merely suggested washing one's clothes and wiping objects with a baby wipe. On one hand the authorities appear to think that the nerve agent poses no threat, whilst on the other it presents an extremely serious danger, so much so that anything, including vehicles and buildings, that might have come into contact with it must be destroyed and buried.

The release of the suspect information also highlighted inconsistencies in the case of Charlie Rowley and Dawn Strugess. According to the official narrative, Charlie found a perfume bottle in a charity shop bin months after the poisoning of the Skripals. It was in the centre of Salisbury. It was in a box that was sealed with cellophane. Charlie opened it, using a knife and that is how he and Dawn were poisoned with the military grade agent, the same agent that had poisoned the Skripals. Yet, if it was the same agent that the suspects had used to spray the nerve agent on Skripal's door handle, how could it be still sealed? Given that it was sealed, why would the suspects have put it in a charity bin? Moreover, it seems to stretch credulity that the perfume box had lain undisturbed in a bin for months.

Whenever one looks closely at any aspect of this case, it does not add up. A lethal weapon that does not kill. Russian intelligence officers that apparently were completely incompetent. A chemical weapon that requires the most rigorous decontamination processes and requires little or even no decontamination. A hero detective sergeant who mysteriously disappears, and no one seems to notice. And so it goes on. The only part of the case that does make sense is the D notice the government issued to suppress the link between Sergei Skripal and Pablo Miller, the MI6 officer who recruited Skripal to spy on Russia for the United Kingdom. Miller was, of course, a part of Orbis with Christopher Steele, who produced the infamous Trump Dossier and sold it to Clinton and the FBI. This connection is precisely what the government has sought to cover up. The official narrative is nothing more than a distraction. Look over here. Smoke and mirrors. With the additional benefit of allowing the political media elite to jump up and down with moral indignation, shouting: Russia, Russia, Russia.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

NEC adopts IHRA examples

Yesterday the Labour Party's National Executive Committee adopted all the examples of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of anti-Semitism. This constitutes a major victory for the opposition to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party. The effect of the examples is to brand much criticism of the state of Israel as anti-Semitic, which paves the way for charging and proving, by Labour's own rules, that Jeremy Corbyn is guilty of anti-Semitism and potentially his expulsion from the party.

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn was elected to the position of leader of the party, he has been under constant attack. He has been attacked by most of the parliamentary Labour Party, who have staged attempted coups; they forced a second election contest, from which they even tried to deny him the right to appear on the ballot paper and they excluded tens of thousands of members from voting whom they suspected of supporting him. They have colluded with the corporate media in smear campaigns, designed to portray him as unelectable, a supporter of terrorism, an agent of foreign powers. However, the campaign that they have found to be most successful is the smearing him and his supporters as anti-Semites. The adoption by the NEC of the IHRA examples is the culmination of that campaign.

The reason why the neoliberal parliamentarians felt constrained to adopt the drastic measure of making freedom of speech incompatible with membership of the Labour Party was precisely because of their inability to make any progress in their attempts to undermine and overthrow his leadership of the party. All their previous attempts had proven to be ineffective. Indeed, his popularity has only increased. It is this latter point that makes their next move so fraught with danger - to themselves.

Jeremy Corbyn has the support of hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members. This is not something that can be said for the Labour Party parliamentarians who oppose his leadership. Should Corbyn be ousted from the leadership (withdrawal of the whip, suspension or even expulsion from the party - any of which could be done under the new rule), it is quite likely that many constituency parties will seek to hold their complicit members of parliament to account and deny them the opportunity to stand as Labour candidates at the next election. Fear of this outcome might well make some MPs think twice. The decisive factor here will be control of the NEC.

If those opposed to Corbyn can be sure of their ability to control the NEC, they will be emboldened to remove him, as they will be able to use their control of the NEC to shut down any constituency party that moved to remove a sitting member of parliament and engage in a purge of Corbyn supporters. This was a strategy employed by Kinnock and his supporters back in the eighties, ostensibly to remove members of Militant, but in fact to remove committed socialist, whether members of Militant or not, who were attempting to shape party policy in ways designed to promote economic equality and promote disarmament.

In a grossly unequal contest, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have made substantial gains. However, yesterday's rule change by the NEC, in the name of identity politics and anti-racism, has significantly shifted the balance of forces - for it is now no longer a matter of democracy, but a matter of bureaucratic procedures: this was precisely how Stalin took control of the Bolshevik party. Who controls the NEC will determine the future of British politics as we approach leaving the European Union and the next general election.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

A fashion for McCarthyism

A blogger by the name of Kester Ratcliff published a list of "Assadists" on Medium. The page attracted a substantial amount of attention. However, much of that attention was overwhelmingly negative. The blog was subjected to criticism, contempt and mockery. So much so, Kester has apparently removed the page; anyhow, it is no longer available even though Kester is still blogging on Medium.

The page provided a list on over one hundred and fifty people who, according to Kester, were guilty of promoting pro-Assad propaganda. These Assadists included people as diverse as Jimmy Dore, the American comedian, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British official opposition, Boris Johnson, the former British Foreign Secretary and Vanessa Beeley, an independent journalist.

The list is but one iteration of what has clearly become a fashion. Governments, politicians, think tanks, and corporate media organisations have produced list after list of people whose views are unacceptable to the neoliberal elite. All these lists share a disdain for actual critical analysis in favour of the use of name calling. The favourite label being propagandist, along with Russian troll and bot.

This fashion is deeply disturbing. It is reminiscent of nothing so much as the McCarthyism of the Cold War, when people's careers and even lives were destroyed by the suggestion that they were communists. People who express dissenting views, especially views which are critical of US foreign policy, are simply demonised and dehumanised. They are represented as the enemy.

Kester's list of Assadists was a classic example of the genre. It ignored the actual facts of the conflict in Syria. Kester simply assumed that the government of Syria is in the wrong and evil, and the opposition is good and in the right. On this basis, according to Kester, anyone who does not accept this view is therefore a propagandist for Assad. This is nothing more sophisticated than us and them thinking, with us being the goodies and them being evil. The fact that this binary division placed jihadists in the good camp and the popular, secular government of Syria in the bad camp, did not trouble Kester one iota.

This fashion for manichean thinking and representations is unbelievably regressive and highly dangerous. When the world is divided into good and evil, there is no place for evidence and reason; facts no longer matter. Tribal loyalty is the only arbiter of truth, which is nothing more than the favoured narrative. Power is the only way to resolve disputes. Internal dissent is transformed into treason. This fashion for McCarthyism is creating a new totalitarianism.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

America is truly foreign

Foreign countries are... well, foreign. And in foreign lands, they do things differently, as someone once said.

Take the United States of America, for example. In America the left apparently consists of the Democratic Party, the vast majority of the corporate media, Hollywood, the permanent state (including the intelligence agencies, the State Department and the Department of Defence), most of the legal profession, the universities, the major corporations, especially the hi-tech companies, and even much of the Republican Party, as witnessed by the lionising of John McCain. In other words, virtually all institutionalised power is in the hands of the left. In this fantasy, people like James Comey, James Clapper, John Brennan and Robert Mueller are portrayed as left-wing activists.

This fantasy is beyond absurd or surreal. It is literally delusional. This is a world in which words do not mean what they denote. They have no more fixed meaning for the American political media elite than they did for Humpty Dumpty.

In this surreal, post-factual world, one can be anything one wants and one can have any reality one wants. Objective facts no longer exist. This is a world where a woman with pale skin and blue eyes can be famous for being an African-American. It is where people can be any sex or gender (I am not even sure the American elite knows the difference) they wish. It is a world where consistently promoting wars of aggression, fascists and jihadists, for decades makes one a hero for peace. It is a world where lying to Congress proves one is a font of trustworthiness. It is a world where lying the country into illegal wars proves one is a patriot and a paragon of virtue.

In this surreal world, millions and millions are spent on investigating a non-crime. And when, after two years of investigation, no evidence of is uncovered, the response is to demand more investigation. It is a world where people are investigated to discover crimes, rather than crimes are investigated to discover perpetrators. It is a world where actual crimes are ignored, denied, covered up and explained away.

When whole societies are gripped by delusion and hysteria, only bad things can happen. Groupthink takes over. Witch-hunts happen. And if you are not with the witch hunters, you are probably either already a witch or about to become one.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Truth isn't truth

In the savage war against Yemen a school bus full of children was bombed. This happened on the ninth of August. Within hours of the atrocity, a local journalist had published proof that the bomb was a US made Mk 82. Yet CNN is now reporting that they can reveal as an "exclusive" that the bomb was supplied by the US.

Juxtaposed with this "exclusive" report, CNN is making much of a remark made by Rudi Giuliani that "truth isn't truth". His assertion came in the middle of an interview. The point he was, rather inelegantly making, was that should President Trump appear before the Mueller investigation, he might be subject to a perjury trap. A point that is not entirely unreasonable as Michael Flynn was subjected to precisely such treatment by the FBI in this Russophobic investigation. Moreover, Mueller has a track-record of lying, including perjury. He was one of the people who lied America and its allies into the war on Iraq.

However, one would not glean any inkling of this from CNN's treatment. For CNN, Giuliani's words are simply proof that Trump and his supporters are all liars. The irony is apparently completely lost on CNN's journalists. They appear to believe whatever they say is the truth, even when it is the opposite of what they had previously asserted, and any dissenting view is a lie, regardless of the actual facts. In the case of the Giuliani interview, rather than report what was said (and clearly meant) they decided to take three words out of context and focus of the literal meaning of those words, to convey a completely false and misleading impression.

CNN's relationship to anything that could be characterised as the truth is tenuous, at best. When President Trump met Putin at Helsinki, CNN couldn't wait to quote John Brennan (another deep state perjurer) accusing Trump of treason. The fact that John Brennan is incapable of supporting his allegation does not bother the truth-seekers at CNN one iota. Nor are they at all bothered that such hyperbole might inflame passions and even incite violence, even though they routinely accuse Trump of using language that is likely to cause violence and undermine freedom of speech because he accuses them of fake news. When they accuse him of treason, they are just reporting the news; when he accuses them of fake news, he is endangering freedom of the press, the lives of journalists and destroying democracy around the world.

The contradictions of CNN's so called news are so glaring, it is hard to believe that they are blissfully unaware of them. For years, CNN has either ignored or supported the US-backed war on Yemen. Indeed, it has supported war after war; whilst occasionally crying crocodile tears over child victims. In its coverage of the war on Syria, it has consistently supported the jihadis, ignored the war crimes of the US and its allies, and lied about the Syrian government and its allies. Yet, CNN pretends that it is only concerned with the truth.

CNN is a propaganda organisation masquerading as a news outlet.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Israel, Corbyn and anti-Semitism

The venial nature of the British corporate media is thrown into sharp relief by an article in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. The article is an opinion piece by Gideon Levy. The article makes it perfectly plain that the attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn as a racist anti-Semitie is a campaign orchestrated by the state of Israel. This campaign has been enthusiastically supported by the Jewish establishment in Britain and by the British corporate media.

The motivation of the state of Israel is clear: Corbyn is a consistent critic of Israel and an equally consistent supporter of the rights of the Palestinian people. The last thing the state of Israel wants in Britain is Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister. The state of Israel does not want Britain to recognise the state of Palestine. It does not want to see arms sales stopped. It does not want Britain supporting resolutions in favour of the Palestinians in the Security Council of the United Nations. It does not want Britain to support the boycott movement.

The motivation of the British Jewish establishment is more mixed. Partly it is support for Israel, which has declared itself the homeland of the Jewish people. Partly it is a result of domestic considerations, specifically Corbyn's socialist policy positions, or, as the Board of Deputies characterised it, his far left politics.

It is these domestic considerations that mainly (along with membership of Friends of Israel) explain the motivation of the hundred or more Labour members of parliament who have supported the campaign. They are unequivocal in their opposition to socialism, being Blairite neoliberals.

This hatred of anything to the left of neoliberalism also explains why the British corporate media has been so committed to the Israeli propaganda. One of the ironies of the British corporate media's propaganda against Corbyn is that whilst it routinely depicts him as a traitor (a Russian spy, a friend of terrorists), it is the corporate media that is aligned with a foreign state in order to subvert the democratic process. The corporate media has also supported terrorists, such as the White Helmets and other jihadists.

However, the propaganda campaign is having far less success than its promoters would have wished. Notwithstanding the daily barrage of name calling, the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn remains remarkably high. Even with a majority of the parliamentary party conspiring against him, the Labour Party has made spectacular gains under his leadership. The party has grown to be the largest in Europe. In the general election, which Theresa May called in the expectation of a massive victory, Labour secured greater gains than at any time since Tony Blair's landslide of 1997, and he had the support of the establishment.

The corporate media's campaign against Corbyn is not only not working, it is back-firing. Fewer and fewer people take the claims of the corporate media at face value. More and more people are ignoring their news outlets and seeking out alternative sources of information. All the major organs of the corporate media have seen massive declines in their audiences in the past year. And many people seem to take notice of the corporate media merely for the sake of disagreeing, as can be clearly seen in the comments sections of online newspapers.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Boris and the Burka row

When Boris Johnson is not being a politician, he writes a newspaper column. Last week he wrote an article on why it is wrong to ban the burka. And this caused a tremendous row. The neoliberal globalists were outraged. They characterised his piece as racist, Islamophobic and dehumanising. They demanded an abject apology. Boris was unrepentant, and so the row rages on - it is August, after all.

All the moral outrage surrounding Boris' article is really quite astounding, even in these times of constant moral outrages about little or nothing. Boris' article presented a liberal argument in favour of the burka (which is of course utterly absurd, but it is the position of the political media elite). However, the fact that he was presenting the elite's position was completely lost in a focus on two similes. He claimed that women in burkas look like "letter boxes" and "bank robbers". These two comparisons caused a storm of outrage from what I can only call the simile police.

For over a week, the political media elite have been shrilly demanding that Boris apologise. However, even as the days have past, none of them appear to be capable of explaining why he should apologise. When challenged on this point, they are forced to (albeit reluctantly) admit that he had a right to express his opinion, that he did not break any law, that they do in fact agree with the thrust of his argument. But, they declaim indignantly, he caused offence!

This rationale is completely disingenuous. These defenders of the establishment do not seriously think that one is not allowed to cause offence and that one should apologise if someone takes offence at something one says (or writes). Their position is disingenuous because they are deliberately leaving out a crucial fact. Their complaint isn't that Boris used language that might be offensive (to some). It is that he used language that might offend some Muslims. For the political media elite no one should ever say anything that might offend any Muslim qua Muslim. No one should ever criticise Islam, Islamic practices or customs associated with Muslims: that's Islamophobia (apparently words mean whatever they want them to mean, just like Humpty Dumpty).

Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, was interviewed by Julia Hartley-Brewer on this issue. She doggedly asked him why Boris should apologise. Vince tied himself in knots as he desperately tried to square the circle: demanding Boris apologise without admitting that the reason only applies to Muslims, and thus repeatedly undermining his own rationale for demanding that Boris apologise.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Trump's economic warfare

The administration of President Trump appears to be engaged in economic warfare: with everyone. Certainly, if there is a rational  underlying economic strategy, it eludes me.

There are, of course, some aspects of his tariffs and sanctions (and threats of such) that do make some economic sense. For example, Trump's demand that other Nato countries spend more on defence is clearly designed to increase the market for US arms manufacturers. Similarly, Trump's opposition to Nord Stream 2 is clearly designed to enable the US to sell liquid natural gas to Europe and to negatively impact the Russian economy by reducing its sales of natural gas.

However, much of Trump's imposition of tariffs and economic sanctions, rather than promoting US economic or even geopolitical interests, seem designed simply to harm others, and even economic interests within the US itself, and to push other countries into an alliance in opposition to US hegemony.

For example, the latest of the sanctions against Iran, which include the threat of secondary sanctions against anyone who has economic dealings with Iran, can only result in pushing Iran away from improved relations with western powers (which would have the assets in the US sanctioned) and into closer economic and political relations with China and Russia: the two countries the Trump administration identified as the greatest threats to US hegemony. On its face, Trump's economic sanctions against Iran are in direct contradiction to his administration's declared national "defence" policy.

The Trump administration is also engaged in using sanctions against an overt ally and long time member of Nato: namely, Turkey. This tactic can only result in other Nato members questioning the Trump administration's commitment to the alliance and inevitably reviewing the value of their membership of the organisation.

In a similar vein, Trump's imposition of tariff's on goods from US allies do not appear to directly assist US economic interests and indeed obviously result in direct harm to some US economic interests. Moreover, such actions have caused confusion and anger in foreign capitals, resulting in even ardent foreign supporters of the US demanding retaliatory measures.

This confusion seems to beset the Trump administration itself. Whilst imposing tariffs and sanctions, the US demands that the sanctioned countries should help the US in achieving its policy objectives. Even small children know, you cannot hit someone and simultaneously expect them to go out of their way to help you.

If there is a coherent strategy underlying Trump's tariffs and sanctions, it appears to be based on the notion that the US is the world superpower and can exhort any deal it wishes from whomever it wishes by dealing with each country separately. In other words, Trump seems to be determined to destroy the  multilateralism of the contemporary international order.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Trump has driven liberals insane, literally

American health professionals are reporting increasing numbers of people complaining of symptoms they define as Trump Anxiety Disorder. This is beyond irony.

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidential election in November 2016, conservatives have been mocking liberals by labelling them as suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Now health professionals have confirmed the existence of this putative mental illness. Stranger still, many liberals have publicly admitted to suffering from this mental illness. What started out as mere political name calling has within the space of a mere two years become an actually existing mental illness, publicly proclaimed by both suffering individuals and treating professionals. Within American culture, it is now established that holding democratic elections can cause mental illness.

Perhaps, it really shouldn't come as a surprise. When President Trump met with President Putin in Helsinki, the corporate media characterised the meeting, not as an opportunity to improve relations between two nuclear powers with the capacity to destroy all human life, but as treason. The newspapers and television shows were full of people calling for Trump's impeachment. The characterisation and the calls had even been made whilst the press conference was still in progress. The only reasonable inference is that the American political media elite clearly prefer the prospect of nuclear war to the idea of America and Russia having normal diplomatic relations. If that's not insane, its hard to think of anything that would be.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Name calling as censorship

The outraged allegations of anti-Semitism being hurled at Jeremy Corbyn are nothing more than name calling. The current manifestation of this campaign is the hullaballoo surrounding the Labour Party's National Executive Committee's guidelines on anti-Semitism. The political media elite are crying foul on the ground that the guidelines do not accept hook, line and sinker the so called International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition. The representation being that not doing so is proof of anti-Semitism.

However, the pundits and commentators, the politicians and pseudo-journalists forwarding this line either have not read the working definition or do not care that its examples do in fact provide a means of censoring non-anti-Semitic speech (as indeed has been recognised by the author). This fact is carefully hidden from view in all the countless discussions of the issue by rhetorical sleights of hand, such as construing the issue as: Why does Labour have such a problem with anti-Semitism? A construction that clearly implies that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is an established fact - which, of course, is false. No matter how many times a false assertion is reiterated, it still remains a false assertion.

Of course, the accusations are not about anti-Semitism. They are about Jeremy Corbyn's position as leader of the Labour Party; they are about the criticisms of Labour party activists of Israel; they are about the movement to boycott Israel; they are about the support on the left for the rights of the Palestinian people. When the Board of Deputies issued its denunciation of the Labour Party for its alleged anti-Semitism, Enough is Enough, it actually made it clear that its concern was Corbyn's "far left" politics. Another fact that the political media elite conveniently overlooked. This selectivity is normal and routine.

Currently, the BBC and the rest are jumping up and down about Margaret Hodge's personal attack on Jeremy Corbyn, not in terms of her verbal aggression, but as proof that the Labour Party is an anti-Semitic organisation and that Corbyn (somehow) has fostered and encouraged that anti-Semitism. Apparently, for the BBC (and the rest) mere accusation constitutes proof, when the accusation is directed against those they disapprove of.

The "the Labour Party is anti-Semitic" campaign has nothing to do with actual anti-Semitism. It is a part of a much larger campaign against the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. The political media elite are terrified at the prospect of a genuinely left wing politics achieving popular support. Corbyn has been subjected to a constant campaign of smear and character assassination ever since he was elected as leader. These campaigns have been notable only by their spectacular lack of success. Smearing and lying about Corbyn has had no effect on his support in the party and the country. And this is why the political media elite are so committed to these false accusations: merely being accused of being racist is toxic in contemporary political culture. No evidence is required. So, calling him nasty names should make him unelectable.

However, the name calling card has been so over used, it is ceasing to work. The political media elite construed anyone who would vote to Leave the European Union as an ignorant racist: yet the people voted to Leave. In America, anyone who supported Trump was labelled a deplorable racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobe: and Trump won the election by a landslide. The same tactic was tried in Italy: and it failed. Nevertheless, the political media elite keep playing the same card in the hope that it will work, for the simple truth is they have no other. They really do hope that sufficient name calling will silence all dissent.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

FaceBook deletes Declaration of Independence

The US Declaration of Independence is hate speech, according to FaceBook.

An obscure American newspaper, the Vindicator, has been publishing extracts from the US Declaration of Independence. The paper has a FaceBook page. When the Vindicator published part of the Declaration which denounced merciless Indian savages, who kill indiscriminately, FaceBook stepped in and deleted the post on the ground that it constitutes hate speech. FaceBook was, of course, entirely correct, as a matter of definition. However, in response to complaints, FaceBook apologised, stated that it had made a mistake and reinstated the post.

FaceBook's removal of the post was correct. The characterisation of native Americans as merciless savages, who kill indiscriminately, is "hate speech". FaceBook routinely deletes posts that are far less negative in their characterisations in respect of "protected" attributes, such as ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, religion, etc. Yet, FaceBook apologised and reinstated the post.

However, FaceBook's apology is was anything but sincere. FaceBook has not changed its policies and it does not intend to. FaceBook will continue to exercise its censorship on the basis of so called hate speech. The reason FaceBook apologised is not because it made a "mistake" and it now recognises that the Declaration of Independence is not hate speech. FaceBook apologised because the Declaration of Independence is a sacred document in America. Banning it is simply not politically possible. But let anyone try writing on FaceBook about native Americans (or any other social category) as the Founding Fathers did and their post will be censored.

What this episode shows is that the liberal opposition to hate speech is selective. Some hate speech is perfectly acceptable to the liberal political media elite and some hate speech is completely unacceptable to the same elite. This selectivity reveals the political motivation of the hate speech censorship campaign. The liberal political media elite do not want free discussion of certain issues, and characterising some speech as hate speech is an effective way of closing down debate without being accused of censorship; indeed, the censors get to wrap themselves in the robes of liberal, humanitarian concern for the welfare of others: it's not censorship, it is altruism. Better yet, it does not even need an explanation because anyone who cannot see its justice is obviously a racist, sexist, homophobe, anti-Semite, or whatever. This is censorship by name calling.

When FaceBook censored the Declaration of Independence, they did everyone a favour: because their action showed how pernicious this anti-hate speech campaign is. The anti-hate speech campaign denies human rights, it denies reality, it creates the pre-conditions for totalitarianism. When a minority gets to decide what can and cannot be said, there is no crime they cannot commit with complete impunity.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Parliamentary virtue signalling

Today the British parliament discussed the Israeli destruction of the village of Khan al Ahmar. The sight was deeply depressing. The minister, Mr Burt, speaking on behalf of the government, fielded trenchant criticisms of Israel from all sides of the House. But none of it made any difference whatsoever.

The minister acknowledged that Israel is behaving contrary to international law, that its actions make peace and a two state solution even more distant, that Israel is not prepared to listen to reason. Yet, he made it perfectly plain that the British government is not prepared to do anything more than ask the government of Israel to show restraint - a restraint that by his own admissions, he knows Israel will not show.

This debate in the House was futile, and as Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry expressed it, a waste of breath. Israel violates international law and commits war crimes, systematically. The British government, when pressed, expresses regret and calls for restraint, whilst knowing full well that its words will have no effect. For decades, Israel has violated international law, has flouted United Nations resolutions, has systematically pursued policies that make the possibility of a sovereign Palestinian state ever more remote. And the British government has tacitly colluded in this.

When members of parliament suggested that finally the time had come for the British government to take some practical action, the minister fended off by asserting that the government was in discussions with its international partners. The debate ended with no requirement that the government do anything whatsoever.

The Americans have an expression: virtue signalling. It refers to the conspicuous, but empty because without effect, expression of one's moral values. And that is precisely what happened in this parliamentary debate. No action whatsoever is to be taken by the British government in response to Israel's violations of international law. The only purpose served by the debate was the expression by parliament of its own assumed moral superiority.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Distinguishing between fact and opinion

Only a quarter of Americans can tell the difference between facts and opinions, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

My initial response to this finding was one of surprise. I was surprised that it was so high. Anyone who pays attention to the US political media elite will have come across countless examples of highly educated members of the American elite representing opinions as facts and pretending that facts are mere opinions. One even comes across American university professors who, with obvious sincerity, present opinions as though they were facts. In a society where even the best educated cannot apparently tell the difference between fact and opinion, it is amazing that Pew could find in a representative sample so many Americans who could. The implication would appear to be that the political media elite are deliberately eliding the distinction between fact and opinion.

There is another possibility, which is that because the study made it obvious that it was testing the ability to distinguish between fact and opinion, and defined the terms, and then immediately presented statements that were easily categorised, the study inevitably over estimates the ability of Americans to make the distinction. If this suggestion strikes you as overly cynical, I can only invite you to take the quiz for yourself.

This widespread inability to distinguish between fact and opinion probably helps to explain why the completely evidence-free, constantly changing, nonsense that is Russia-gate is apparently believed by so many Americans. Russia-gate is, of course, only the tip of a very large iceberg of supposedly factual narratives that are believed by millions of Americans despite a lack of evidential support. Such narratives are pushed daily by all the major news media (which in the US are owned and controlled by a mere handful of corporations). Daily readers of the New York Times and the Washington Post, viewers of CNN and MSNBC are fed a diet of false stories that present opinions as facts.

When the whole of the political media elite sees its role as propagandising, it is hardly surprising that people give up on facts and simply select the narratives that conform to their existing biases and interests, and decide their own opinions are fact, and the claims of others are mere opinions. This latter point is brought out in the statistical analysis of the Pew study. Republicans were likely to rate opinions they agreed with as facts, and opinions they disagreed with as opinions. Similarly they were likely to rate facts they agreed with as facts and facts they disagreed with as opinions. The same tendency was demonstrated by Democrats. These are deeply depressing findings, for they strongly suggest that it is impossible to persuade by the use of facts. And a society that no longer values facts is but a step away from deciding every issue by nothing other than force.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Emotion substitutes for evidence and logic

In the politics of postmodernist-neoliberalist-globalism emotion has taken the place of evidence and logic. The political media elite no longer even pretend to be concerned with facts. Examples of this truism can daily be seen in the debates that decorate the parliaments of the so called liberal democracies and the narratives that fill the endless content of the corporate news media.

Consider, for example, the treatment of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" of illegal aliens. Instead of a dispassionate analysis of the policy, it is presented in purely emotive terms. Rachel Maddow, the Russophobic MSNBC anchor, was apparently unable to articulate her report for the tears. And there was nothing exceptional about this. Other television anchors have been moved to tears over the plight of suffering children. The jihadi propaganda, dubbed, the Aleppo Boy, had the same effect.

But these are merely obvious examples of this preference for emotion. Day in and day out, the political media elite push their preferred narratives by privileging emotive rhetoric. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, specialises in emotive, moralising. She takes pictures of children into the UN Security Council and attempts to use them as proof. Yet when actual witnesses are presented, they are denounced. When actual evidence is presented, it is ignored or dismissed as propaganda.

This privileging of emotion does more than merely exclude facts and dispassionate analysis. It hides the real sources of power and influence, responsibility and accountability. Yesterday's report on the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of patients in Gosport Hospital was discussed in parliament. Everyone condemned the deaths and expressed their feelings and hoped things are now better. But the killings were not an aberration. They were the result of policies and institutionalised practices, put in place by the elite. The members of parliament, so fulsomely expressing their feelings, were wearing green hearts to show the world their solidarity with the victims of the Grenfell fire. Yet the people responsible for Grenfell fire were the same elite. The fire was a result of institutional policies and practices: policies and practices that have been developing for decades, ever since Thatcher imposed neoliberalism on the country.

In contemporary British society neoliberal imperatives are more than dominant; they are hegemonic. Neoliberalism is simply taken-for-granted, as though there were no alternative. But there are alternatives, which is why postmodernism is so essential. The postmodernist denial of objectivity and determinism, of evidence and logic; the notion that they are just narratives and that any narrative is no more valid that than any other, enables the political media elite to present whatever narrative it chooses as the narrative. But as the official narratives are all premised on the imperatives of neoliberalism, they cannot be honestly presented. Instead, they are wrapped in specious appeals of humanitarianism: "we" have to bomb Libya back to the middle ages to protect the people; "we" have to bomb Syria to uphold international law; "we" have to accept open borders and mass immigration for the sake of the children.

In these narratives, there is no room for the facts, no space for a cost benefit analysis, no opportunity for a consideration of alternative views. Postmodernism, whilst explicitly asserting that all views are equally valid, paradoxically collapses into totalitarianism, as when evidence and logic are excluded, the only way to arbitrate between differing views is power: and that power is neoliberalism. Everyone, and every institution, is required to accept the doctrines of neoliberalism, no matter how inappropriate or absurd or counterproductive. So health care becomes an industry, seeking to minimise costs and maximise profits and exacerbate inequalities. Regulations, purportedly in place to protect residents, are in fact remodelled to facilitate in the interests of corporations. Educational institutions are forced to compete to churn out ever more qualified people, who are ever less questioning or even capable of questioning. The senior ranks of police force are ever more skilled in parroting management speak and public relations spin, whilst violating the rights of the very people they are supposed to be protecting. And all this is hidden from view by a constant torrent of emoting and judging.

When emotion substitutes for evidence and logic, totalitarianism, increasing inequality and social dysfunction is the inevitable result.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Parliamentary theatre

It is a cliche to describe the set piece debates that pass for politics in the House of Commons as theatre. However, yesterday's performance certainly demands the appellation.

Prime Minister's Questions was hardly underway, when Mr Ian Blackford, the leader of the Scottish Nationalists moved the that the House sit in private, causing the Speaker, Mr John Bercow, no little stress and forcing him to consult with his clerks (an archaic term for his expert assistants). Bercow denied Blackford's motion, suggesting that it could be dealt with after the session, which would have completely defeated Blackford's purpose. Instead of an argument about the procedural rules of the House, Bercow preferred to ensure that the televised coverage of the set piece debate continue uninterrupted. An outraged Blackford refused to cooperate and Bercow banned him for the rest of the day. Blackford, along with the rest of the Scottish Nationalist MPs, marched out of the House and declared their intention to use parliamentary procedures to sabotage parliament and the business of the government.

Later the House moved on to debate the Exiting the European Union bill. This too was pure theatre, and not merely for the obvious reason that no one's vote was going to be effected by the debate. Much more dramatic was the fact that the Remainers could not help but flaunt the antinomies that lie at the heart of all their rhetoric. Remainer after Remainer, all of whom are committed to maintaining the subordinate role of the British parliament to the unelected institutions of the European Union, insisted that parliamentary sovereignty gave parliament the right to micro-manage the executive's negotiations with the European Union (a position that no supporter of parliamentary sovereignty has ever held).

The drama was stepped up (or down depending on one's taste) to the level of soap opera by the Remainers throwing personal insults at those committed to leaving the European Union. Ken Clarke called his own party colleagues a group of "head-bangers". Implied accusations of racism were standard fare.

Hillary Benn, the self appointed leader of the New Labour MPs, decided to explain the options available to the country by resort to an analogy. In his Brexit for Dummies presentation, the European Union is an ocean liner and the Brexiters are wanting to get off. There is the option of jumping into the cold and dangerous sea, the "hard" Brexit or there is the option of a lifeboat, a "soft" Brexit, ie, pretending to leave, whilst actually remaining subject to all the rules of the European Union. According to Mr Benn, the government have done nothing but bicker about the colour and shape of the lifeboat and all that remains is for a minster to announce that no lifeboat is better than a bad lifeboat - the Remainers laughed and laughed. Politics as ridicule.

Nevertheless, there were some attempts to actually address issues, such as Chuka Umunna, who cited himself and his parents as proof that open immigration policies are good for the country. He told the House that people who were opposed to immigration were simply wrong: immigration was in their interests - who would have thought it, the problem wasn't the European Union, it was the ignorant electorate, who voted the wrong way. Perhaps, the Remainers should elect a new people.

And this is really the heart of the Remainers' position: they are still (two years later) unreconciled to the result of the referendum. They simply cannot accept that the people voted to leave the European Union. Unable to accept this reality, they resort to any contortion of logic and evidence, they descend to any rhetorical device, they steal the clothes of their adversaries, they invent facts, they replace evidenced argument with emotive pyrotechnics. Whilst it makes for terrible politics, it undeniably makes for entertaining theatre.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Corporate media's crimes against humanity

Eva Bartlett is an independent journalist. Her coverage of the war in Syria has been studiously ignored for the most part by the political media elite. The only exception to this is a few attempts by the corporate media to portray her as a propagandist, which is beyond ironic.

Bartlett's latest article published by RT ought to be compulsory reading for all the supporters of "the rebels" in Syria. It is based on the testimonies of Syrians in eastern Ghouta about what life (and death) was like under the so called rebels. These accounts are not for the squeamish or faint of heart. They speak of horrors of jihadist control - the preferred outcome for Syria of the promoters of the regime change operation. These testimonies also explode the Hollywood mythological representation of the White Helmets, showing them to be the propaganda arm of the jihadis.

The witnesses speak of the hoarding of food and aid by the jihadis. They tell of the torture and execution of people for such "crimes" as attempting to sell food cheaply or being suspected of supporting the government. They tell of the caging of people to use them as shields for the jihadis. They tell of the barbaric methods routinely employed by the "rebels".

The witnesses informed Bartlett about the activities of the "heroic" White Helmets. They told Bartlett that the White Helmets were foreigners with plenty of money. (The organisation was created by a "former" MI6 officer with funding from the United Kingdom Foreign Office.) They said that the White Helmets were partners with Jayish al Islam and the other terrorists. They spoke of how the White Helmets had staged atrocities, which they blamed on the Syrian government - fake stories the corporate enthusiastically retailed to the world.

Yet that same corporate media has ignored the people of eastern Ghouta since they were liberated by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies. This current lack of interest in the people of eastern Ghouta clearly reveals the fact that the corporate media isn't simply making mistakes in its reporting of the war in Syria (which is in fact a foreign regime change operation), it is deliberately engaging in propaganda to promote war crimes and crimes against humanity. As the Nuremberg Tribunal trial of Julius Streicher demonstrated, such propaganda constitutes crimes against humanity.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Russophobia compulsory

The Victoria Derbyshire show on the BBC is a pretend news programme, which makes a point of pushing a liberal, progressive agenda. It has campaigned for just about every liberal cause imaginable. It is especially vocal in its opposition to racism. The clever people at the BBC find this completely congruent with the corporation's duty to be completely impartial and disinterested.

This morning's edition of the show focused on the upcoming football world cup in Russia. The theme was the issue of whether or not it will be safe for England fans to attend the world cup. The presenter was especially worried about the safety of black and gay fans because, as everyone knows (at the BBC) Russians are racist homophobes. I wish this was mere hyperbole on my part, but it isn't. One of the (specially selected) guests even offered the example of Kiev football hooligans as proof of how terrible Russian football fans behave.

The notion that Russians are all racist homophobes was apparently so obvious as to need no support at all. This level of Russophobia is, of course, endemic in western "liberal" discourse. The same people who will denounce as "hate speech" any negative comment about Islam or Muslims or homosexuality or the mere questioning of whether someone can choose his or her gender; the same people who will denounce as ignorant racists anyone who voted Leave in the European Union referendum or fails to denounce Donald Trump; the same people who take it for granted that it is Terrible to say anything critical about another based on ascribed qualities are completely content to demonise anyone and everyone on the basis of being Russian (which might be citizenship, ethnicity, or language).

On the Victoria Derbyshire show, the invited Tory even went so far as to explicitly denote Russian as a race, which should, according to his and the BBC's own self avowed values, make critical comments about Russians and Russia racism. But racism against Russia and Russians is not only permissible, it is in fact a booming industry for the political media elite. Promoting negative, evidence free narratives about any other social group would result in a torrent of denunciations, howls of execration, and even criminal prosecution. Yet the invention of negative, evidence free narratives about Russia and Russians is met with praise and plaudits.

The BBC will not be receiving a visit from the police for broadcasting hate speech because Russophobia isn't just an acceptable form of "liberal" racism, it is compulsory.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

More "Russia did it" fake news

When it comes to Russia, journalistic standards in the corporate media are as hard to find as unicorns. The "murder" of Arkardy Babchenko on Tuesday demonstrated this truism beyond any doubt.

The Ukraine coup government announced that the Russian journalist, Arkardy Babchenko, had been murdered in his home by Russia. The corporate media repeated the story, complete with much moral indignation and smug self satisfaction, denouncing President Putin and Russia.

Yet, no one at the BBC or CNN or the Guardian or Sky News or the New York Times or any of the rest thought for one minute to check even as to whether or not Mr Babchenkov was alive or dead. There was no attempt to check any facts. The corporate media simply rushed to regurgitate the Ukrainian disinformation and add their own moralising for good measure. These so called journalists were, at best, blinded by their own prejudices.

However, yesterday (Wednesday), Babchenko appeared alive and well at a press conference. His "murder" had been staged by the Ukrainian authorities. The report of his murder had been a complete fabrication, right down to the bloody picture of his corpse. When Ukrainian politicians and state officials had accused Russia of murdering him, they had been lying.

There is nothing surprising about such behaviour from the Stepan Bandera idolising neo-Nazis who took control of the Ukraine in the US backed 2014 coup d'etat. It is standard operating procedure for the regime - and the so called journalists in the corporate media must know this. Yet, not for a second did it occur to them to attempt to verify the narrative. Instead, they acted like the stenographers for power that they are. They simply repeated the propaganda as news, which is of course their standard operating procedure.

So when Babchenko appeared at the press conference on Wednesday, the corporate media hacks dealt with the new narrative by treating Kiev's claims with scepticism - no, of course, not. Instead, they treated the new narrative with the same uncritical acceptance as they had treated the "murder" narrative. The "hoax" (note: it wasn't propaganda or fake news or lies or disinformation) had been necessary in order to foil a Kremlin plot to murder Babchenkov - so the narrative was right all along: the Russians are assassinating journalists for having the audacity to say things critical of Russia. How very neat.

There is a very simple moral to the story: do not accept anything the corporate political media elite assert without evidence.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Criminalising speech and media censorship

Last week Tommy Robinson was arrested outside Leeds Crown Court on suspicion that that he was likely to cause a breach of the peace. He has now been sentenced to thirteen months' imprisonment; not for breach of peace, but for contempt of court. Robinson's "crime" consisted of his attempts to draw attention to gangs of Muslims sexually exploiting girls - a fact that has been repeatedly established by the courts and independent inquiries, but is systematically minimised by the media and generally ignored by the political elite. The court, not only sentenced Robinson for his exercise of his right to freedom of speech, it also imposed a ban on reporting.

The silencing of Tommy Robinson and the censorship of the media is an outrage. If this were happening in another country, Russia for instance, the British political media elite would be jumping up and down with moral indignation and using the case as proof that Russia is a dictatorship that does not respect fundamental human rights and the rule of law. They would be using the case as a justification for sanctions against Russia.

A petition demanding the release of Tommy Robinson reportedly (Sputnik) gathered four hundred thousand signatures on its first day. However, currently (three days later) the petition has zero signatures. The deletion of all those signatures can only be seen as evidence of a concerted campaign to suppress all dissent on this issue.

All laws against freedom of speech are contrary to the fundamental human right to freedom of expression. The only reasonable exception to this assertion is incitement to violence, but even there it should be very narrowly interpreted. However, there is no suggestion that Robinson was inciting violence. All he was doing was acting as a citizen journalist, standing outside a court and attempting to report what the case before the court was about. There is nothing even remotely criminal about this behaviour. Yet he was immediately arrested on an obviously trumped up charge and was within hours found guilty of a completely different "crime" and sentenced to prison. Critics of the British regime should realise that they are confronted by a Stalinist dictatorship, which will not tolerate any dissent from its ideology.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Police deny right to privacy

The parliamentary Justice Select Committee yesterday heard evidence that the police routinely require persons making complaints of sexual assault to sign away their right to privacy as a condition of the investigation. This is done at the initial stage by requiring the complainant to sign a "Stafford Statement". The title refers to a court judgement against the police for violating the right to privacy of a victim. Faced with the judgement, the police chose to protect themselves from further adverse judgements by introducing a procedure that demands the complainant sign way their right to privacy.

This is a shocking abuse of institutional power. It ought to be a scandal. Yet a google search reveals zero results. The corporate media are apparently unconcerned by this administrative denial of a human right that effectively nullifies both domestic law (the Human Rights Act) and international law (the European Convention of Human Rights). This lack of interest by the fourth estate is all the more shocking as the evidence was not only provided to the Committee, but is also easily available online.

The notion that all the corporate media is unaware of this denial of human rights to victims of sexual assaults is simply not credible. The only credible inference that can be drawn from this collective silence is that the corporate media has consciously decided not to publicise this scandalous abuse of power. This collective silence by the corporate media is effectively both censorship and propaganda. It undermines both the rule of law and democracy, and it colludes in the denial of human rights to people who are particularly vulnerable and in need of support.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Where are the Skripals?

Neither Sergei Skripal nor his daughter Yulia have been seen since they were found on a park bench in Salisbury on the fourth of March. Other than one brief telephone call between Yulia and her cousin and the Metropolitan police's press statements on her behalf (which obviously were not authored by her), nothing has been heard from the Skripals. They have not had consular access; they have not been allowed a visit from relatives; they have not spoken to the press. They have disappeared - and they could only have been disappeared by the British state.

Yet no one in the political media elite seems to be in the least concerned. Surely members of parliament and journalists ought to be asking the government some serious questions about the welfare of the Skripals. Instead of such questioning, there is a deafening silence. Indeed, the case of the Skripals has been largely dropped by the political media elite. The accusation that Russia was responsible was made over and over again during March and April without ever presenting a scintilla of evidence. It may be that this lack of evidence is the reason for dropping the story. Instead of talking about the poisonings of the Skripals and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, the focus shifted to Russian disinformation. This neatly deflects attention away from Sergei and his daughter and the lack of evidence, whilst providing yet more Russia is bad talking points.

The Guardian, which has been particularly concerned to push this Russian disinformation narrative, has been notably uninterested in the welfare of the Skripals. Taken at face value, this ought to seem very strange, as the Guardian makes a point of professing its commitment to human rights. Yet, one will search the Guardian's pages in vain looking for any interest in the legal rights of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. The Skripal case is clearly of no interest to the political media elite other than as a tool to demonise Russia.

Today, the Skripal case has resurfaced in the corporate media. However, the news has nothing to do with Sergei and Yulia: the reporting is concerned with the Head of MI5's opinion that Russia's "disinformation" about the case poses a threat to western democracies. This afternoon a BBC anchor discussed this with the BBC's intelligence services correspondent. In this conversation, the correspondent admitted that there was no evidence and that he doubted any would be forthcoming. This was a remarkable admission from the corporate media generally, and particularly from the BBC, which has explicitly stated that its sees itself as in an information war with Russia and has rebuked people for expressing scepticism about the official anti-Russian narratives.

Now that the BBC has finally admitted that there is no evidence of Russia's guilt in the Skripal case, perhaps it could finally engage in some genuine journalism and use one of its many thousands of publicly funded journalists to do some actual journalism and ask the authorities about the whereabouts of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Maybe, but I am not holding my breath.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Defenders of human rights

The enemies of the west's political media elite are routinely denounced as violators of human rights. These denunciations are often based on nothing more than unsubstantiated allegations. They are invariably delivered in tones of hysterical moral indignation. These same defenders of human rights are greeting the nomination of Gina Haspel for the post of CIA Director as a triumph of feminism.

Gina Haspel is guilty of torture. This is not a suspicion; it is a fact. She oversaw torture for the CIA across the globe. Yet, for the western political media elite this does not mean she should face trial as a war criminal. On the contrary, it merely means that her "history" with torture is a complication for the confirmation hearings, or might make it somewhat complicated for feminists to support her.

The simple moral fact that torture is wrong full stop is completely lost on the political media elite. For them what matters is who is being tortured (or otherwise having their rights violated) by whom. Human rights violations are completely acceptable when its suits the interests of Washington and its allies, and completely unacceptable when it suits Washington to say so.

The European Union has issued a strong condemnation of Russia over the arrest of protesters at the weekend. The EU asserts that the arrests threaten fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly. Yet, the same European Union fully supported the Spanish government's violent suppression of democracy in Catalonia and the imprisonment of independence leaders. The Catalans' fundamental freedoms were to be sacrificed to law and order. In Russia, law and order has to be sacrificed to the fundamental freedom to protest the election of Putin.

In the Ukraine, the morally superior defenders of human rights supported a violent coup d'etat by neo-Nazis to overthrow the elected government; a coup d'etat which unleashed a civil war and led to Crimea overwhelmingly voting to secede and join the Russian Federation. The western political elite may well have considered the Stepan Bandera-idolisers as heroes, but the people of Crimea saw them clearly and sought genuine protection for their human rights from Russia. In Russia's presidential election, the people of Crimea voted for Putin in higher numbers than anywhere else in Russia.

For the western political media elite human rights are nothing more than rhetorical weapons, which they can use to demonise their enemies and clothe themselves of pseudo-morality. Navalny organises an unauthorised (ie, illegal) protest in Moscow, the police make arrests and the political media elite use the events as "proof" that Putin is a fascist dictator. The west finances and arms and trains jihadis to promote regime change in Libya and when the government tries to maintain law and order, the political media elite fabricate lies of an imminent massacre to justify bombing the continent's most advanced country back into the middle ages, as protection of the Libyans' human rights.

If Gina Haspel is confirmed as Director of the CIA, it will clearly signal Washington's utter contempt for human rights. It will clearly show that the political media elite value human rights as nothing more that rhetorical weapons.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Guardian accuses Russia of disinformation

According to Luke Harding, the Russian government is guilty of propagating disinformation about the Skripal case. He claims Russia has offered numerous explanations for the poisonings. Harding cites a number of these alternative explanations. He points out that Russia cited the Swiss laboratory finding of BZ in the sample it tested. He points out that Russia has accused the British government of destroying evidence. He claims that Russia has accused the British government of abducting Yulia Skripal. (Apparently, he is unaware that none of these are explanations.) He accuses Russia of abandoning diplomacy and adopting the tactics of trolls. In contrast, Harding asserts that since the Skripals were found on a bench, the British government has "stuck to one version of events." Harding's characterisation is nothing more that disinformation and propaganda - and blatantly so.

The British government's official narrative has only had one constant: Russia did it. The details, however, have constantly changed. In fact, there are no basic facts in this case. And Luke Harding, and the Guardian, must be aware of this. They must also must be aware that their readers will know that the details of the official narrative have constantly changed. But when it comes to propaganda, facts do not matter. All that matters is that the narrative (Russia did it!) is constantly reiterated. And that is Harding's forte.

So he pretends that the official narrative has never changed. According to this representation, the Skripals were always poisoned by contact with Sergei Skripal's door handle according to the official narrative, even though this claim was not made for a month. Prior to that it had been from Skripal's car; no, it was in the street; no, it was Yulia's luggage; no, it was the restaurant, etc. Similarly, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was poisoned at the park bench; no, it was at the Skripal house - which was it: oh, let's just not talk about DS Bailey. And we are all supposed to have conveniently forgotten that Boris Johnson told us that the people at Porton Down told him that they knew the substance was from Russia even though Porton said they did not know the origin.

However, Harding quickly drops any pretence to be concerned with facts and resorts to the reassuring notion that the British government's claim was never based on facts (which had, of course, been the original claim of the official narrative) but is based on intelligence (just like the case for the invasion of Iraq in 2003). This claim enables him to segue neatly into citing Ukrainian anti-Russian propaganda, which claims that Russia specialises in "Deny, distract and blame."

However, as this is supposed to be news reporting, Harding concludes by claiming that Russia's propaganda cannot change the facts. Nevertheless, he criticises the British government for not doing enough to counter Russia's propaganda.

Mr Harding is a propagandist, posing as a journalist. This was exposed to devastating effect by Aaron Matte adopting the simple expedient of asking Harding for the evidence to support his allegations regarding the Trump and Russia collusion narrative. Even though Harding had written a whole book on the subject, he was unable to defend any of his claims. The interview shows that Harding simply sees anything and everything as proof of his preconceived ideas. For Harding, words like evidence and facts are merely rhetorical tools, as can readily be seen from his latest piece, which provides zero evidence of Russian propaganda, but ironically much evidence of anti-Russian propaganda.