Friday, 23 February 2018

On motes and beams

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about motes and beams. The moral of the story is that one will be held to the same standard that one judges others. This is a parable that is daily shown to be completely lost on the American political media elite.

The US political media elite daily express moral outrage at the mere suggestion that Russia somehow (the details constantly change) meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Senior politicians and media pundits constantly characterise the alleged meddling as an act of war, comparable to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. According to this narrative, posting information on the Internet that might be perceived to have an effect on the politics of another nation is equivalent to waging a war of aggression.

Yet the very people who are so assiduously pushing this line, criticising an imaginary Russian mote, seem to be completely oblivious to America's own beam. The US has a long and consistent history of meddling in the affairs of other countries. In 1953, for example, the US (along with the United Kingdom) overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran and imposed the Shah as their puppet. This was done to promote the interests of corporate capitalism. The following year, the US overthrew the government of Guatemala; again to promote the interests of corporate capitalism. In 1973, the US overthrew the Allende government in Chile for the same reason. These violent coups d'etat caused misery, death and destruction on a massive scale.

In 1979, the US, under Jimmy Carter, came up with the wheeze of using jihadists as proxy fighters to destabilise the government of Afghanistan, creating a war that continues to this very day. Indeed, the tactic of using jihadists is one that the US and its allies have used constantly from that time. They used it in Bosnia, where the KLA provided a rationale for the Nato bombing of Serbia and the destruction of Yugoslavia. They used the tactic in Iraq after the 2003 illegal invasion. They used it in Libya, where again it provided a rationale for the US and its allies to bomb the country, turning the most advanced country in Africa into a failed state. They employed the same tactic in Syria, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced.

In the Ukraine, the US preferred to use fascists and neo-Nazis for their illegal regime change operation, just as they had traditionally done in Latin America.

These examples of US meddling in the affairs of other countries are just the tip of a very large iceberg. Yet, to listen to the American political media elite, one would think the US had never attempted to meddle in the domestic affairs of another country; one would think that America is a shining beacon of respect for democracy, the rule of law and freedom of speech. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The US meddles in the affairs of other countries constantly and it does so to promote the interests of US corporations, without regard for democracy, the rule of law or freedom of speech.

The hypocrisy of the US elite defies belief. It is beyond reason. It is truly delusional. When the US and its allies destroyed Mosul, they said civilian casualties were unavoidable in such operations. Yet only months before, when Syria had conducted a similar (albeit far less deadly) operation in eastern Aleppo, the US and its allies had denounced the operation as war crimes. Jesus might well have been addressing the US.

For the US political media elite, whatever the US does is good because America is good, and whatever the enemies of the US do is bad because they are bad. It does not matter that the actions are objectively the same. In fact, it does not matter that there is not even any comparison between the two as the US moral indignation around the alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election demonstrates all too clearly.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The strange case of the Oxfam scandal

The charity Oxfam has been rocked by the revelation that some of its workers used prostitutes in Haiti. The corporate media and the political elite have reacted to the disclosures with shock and moral indignation. Yet all the expressions of horror ring hollow.

It has long been known that aid workers have sexually exploited and assaulted the very people they are supposed to be helping. The problem has simply and consistently been ignored and covered up by so called NGOs, governments, the United Nations and the corporate media, rationalising disingenuously that bringing attention to such behaviour would discourage public support and thus undermine the humanitarian work.

Given that this exploitation has been in the public domain for at least a decade, one cannot but wonder about the timing, and the specificity, of this scandal: why now? why Oxfam? Obviously, I do not know the answers to these questions. However, the timing is very possibly due to the moral panic around sexual harassment that is currently sweeping the so called West. As to the focus on Oxfam, as distinct from all the other agencies that could just as easily be targeted, my guess is that it may well have something to do with the charity's well publicised criticism of economic inequality.

Oxfam has repeatedly exposed the extent to which the global economy is structured to promote the interests of a handful of men at the expense of the bulk of the world's population. The billionaire class do, of course, control the corporations, the so called mainstream media, and are able to buy political influence.

Perhaps, the current moral panic around sexual exploitation is simply a convenient way of silencing a vocal critic of economic inequality.

Monday, 12 February 2018

American meddling in British politics

The claim of meddling in domestic politics of other countries has been a major plank of the political media elite's campaign against Putin and Russia. The fact that there is no evidence to support this assertion has not bothered either the politicians or the so called journalists. Yet the fact that George Soros has thrown money at the anti-Brexit group, Best for Britain, in an attempt to overthrow the result of the referendum is apparently just fine and dandy. Indeed, the US finance capitalist organisations were major supporters of the campaign to remain in the European Union, with Goldman Sachs and J P Morgan making huge contributions. In fact, it is apparently fine and dandy for just about anyone to meddle in British politics: Israel, for instance, uses its embassy in London to funnel money into both the Labour and the Conservative parties, and the government sees nothing to be concerned about.

Meddling in the politics of other countries is, in fact, normal. The US routinely meddles in the politics of other countries, often violently. Yet for the political media elite such interference, even when it causes death and destruction and misery and chaos on a massive scale, is something to be supported and cheered on. However, the mere allegation that Russia might have interfered with a British referendum or a US presidential election is outrageous and must be met with counter measures and sanctions; with a stepping up of military action, risking nuclear war.

The political media elite's responses to proven meddling and evidence-free alleged meddling are amazing. Proven meddling by the US and its allies are either ignored or supported or explained away; whereas, the alleged Russian meddling is treated as fact and used to justify hostile policies that push the world ever closer to armageddon. Of course, in the aftermath of such a nuclear conflagration, there will be no one around to judge who was good and who was evil.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Elite hypocrisy: suffragettes, terrorism and freedom of expression

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has indicated that she is looking at pardons for suffragettes. The rationale for this post facto condoning of crimes is assumed to be so obvious as to not need to be even stated: the suffragettes were fighting for a fundamental human right, which cannot be a crime and should be honoured and celebrated.

Yet, Amber Rudd (and all the others pushing for these pardons) is all in favour of criminalising people, in the here and now, for having the audacity to exercise their fundamental human right to freedom of expression.

The hypocrisy of holding these two positions simultaneously is apparently completely lost on Ms Rudd, and the rest of the political media elite.

Today, the BBC's Daily Politics programme had a segment on the problem of people expressing opinions that the elite do not like. It was immediately followed by a segment glorifying the criminal actions of suffragettes. The BBC's journalists and guest politicians were apparently completely unaware of any contradiction. Of course, the suffragettes were fighting for their human rights over a hundred years ago. The fight for the right of women to vote has long been a non-issue. However, the fight for the right to freedom of expression is very much a current issue, with the political media elite determined to stamp out voices that are critical of their narratives.

There are a raft of laws that criminalise freedom of expression; laws that the political media elite are all in favour of and indeed generally consider to not go far enough, as the BBC's Daily Politics segment amply demonstrated. The most obviously pertinent of those laws in relation to the lionising of the suffragettes is the Terrorism Act 2006, which makes it a criminal offence, punishable by up to seven years' imprisonment, to encourage terrorism, even where the person did not intend to encourage terrorism. The relevance here resides in the fact that terrorism is violence to promote a political purpose, which is precisely what the suffragette campaign was. Thus, pardoning, justifying, glorifying, celebrating the suffragettes is a criminal offence under the Terrorism Act, as it clearly encourages the view that violence for political purposes is, not merely acceptable, but heroic and praiseworthy.