Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Pamphlet by Robert Owen on Self-Governing Communes

March 4, 2017

owen-pamphlet-1

Robert Owen’s pamphlet on reforming Britain into federation of autonomous socialist communities: front cover

owen-pamphlet-2

Rear cover listing other works written by Owen.

Looking through my bookshelves yesterday, I managed to find an old copy of a pamphlet by Robert Owen that I’d read when I was at college. It’s a facsimile edition of the Utopian Socialist’s Outline of the Rational System of Society, published by his Home Colonization Society at their headquarters in Pall Mall in London in 1841. The modern edition was republished by a small, private press on Guernsey.

Inside the front cover is a short piece by the Home Colonization Society’s secretary, A.C. Cuddon, giving a brief overview of its aims and activities. It states

Whatever may be said or written on the improvement of all classes of society, it is now evident to those who reflect, that that which is necessary to this end is a SOUND, GOOD, PRACTICAL EDUCATION, AND PERMANENT BENEFICIAL EMPLOYMENT to all who require them; in fact, that any other measures are mere palliatives, and can produce only temporary benefits, at an extravagant waste of time, capital and labour.

It will also be obvious to those who have thoroughly investigated the subject, that a sound education and permanent beneficial employment cannot be given under the present competitive arrangements of society; and that the best mode of securing these benefits to the population will be by the establishment of SELF-SUPPORTING HOME COLONIES, on account of their complete efficiency for the purpose, and their great economy over the present system.

A Society has therefore been formed to promote the establishment of these colonies; having for its object-
1stly. To submit the plans of the Colonies in all their details to the most scientific and experienced men in every department of life.
2ndly. To make these plans extensively known to the public, and to demonstrate their efficiency for the purposes designed.
3rdly. To demonstrate that these Colonies, in consequence of their very superior economical arrangements, will afford a secure and profitable investment for capital.
4thly To arrange the preliminaries for Joint-Stock Companies to carry the same gradually into extensive execution.
5thly. To publish the most useful and authentic works explanatory of the principles on which the system of Home Colonisation is based, in order to convey to the public correct information on this most important subject.

The expenses attendant on the above will be met by Subscriptions of £5 each and upwards; which shall, at the option of the subscriber, be placed to his or her credit in behalf of one or more shares, which the subscriber may choose to take in the first Joint-Stock Company established, and by donations.

A Subscription of Donation to the above amount will constitute a member of the Society.

The Society have published a statement of their views and the measures they propose, in a work entitled “A Development of the Principles and Plans on which to establish Self-supporting Home Colonies; as a secure and profitable investment for capital, and effectual means permanently to remove the causes of ignorance, poverty, and crime, and most materially to benefit all classes of society, by giving a right application to the now greatly misdirected powers of the human faculties, and of physical and moral science.”

This Society is not confined to any particular class, sect or party, but invites the cooperation of all who will unite in practical measures for the relief and amelioration of humanity. And the proposed Colonies will contain arrangements for the accommodation of every religion; the only religious requisition being, the practice and charity and kindness to all.

The pamphlet consists of several short sections, in which Owen lists the basic facts or principles on which his communities will be built, which mostly consisted of his views of human nature and psychological needs and influences of human society. The sections are entitled:

The Five Fundamental Facts on Which the Rational System of Society is Founded;

The Fundamental Laws of Human Nature, Or First Principles of the Science of Man;

The Conditions Requisite for Human Happiness;

The Principles and Practice of the Rational Religion; and

The Elements of the Science of Society, Or Of the Social State of Man.

He then gives on pages 10 to 14 of the pamphlet his proposed constitution for these colonies. He writes

A rational Government will attend solely to the Happiness of the governed.
It will ascertain what human nature is;-what are the laws of its organisation and of its existence, from birth to death;-what is necessary for the happiness of a being so formed and matured;-and what are the best means by which to attain those requisites, and to secure them permanently for all the governed.

It will devise and execute the arrangements by which the condition essential to human happiness shall be fully and permanently obtained for all the governed; and its laws will be few, easily understood by all the governed, and perfectly in unison with the laws of human nature.

Liberty of Mind or Conscience

1. Every one shall have equal and full liberty to express the dictates of his conscience on religious, and all other, subjects.
II. No one shall have any other power than fair argument to control the opinions or belief of another.
III. No praise or blame, no merit or demerit, no reward or punishment, shall be awarded for any opinions or belief.
IV. But all, of every religion, shall have equal right to express their opinions respecting the Incomprehensible Power which moves the atom and controls the universe, and to worship that Power under any form, or in any manner agreeable to their consciences,-not interfering with the equal rights of others.

Providing For and Educating the Population

I. Every one shall be equally provided, through life, with the best of every thing for human nature, by public arrangements; which arrangements shall give the best known direction to the industry and talents of every individual.
II. All shall be educated, from infancy to maturity, in the best manner known at the time.
III. All shall pass through the same general routine of education, domestic teaching, and employment.
IV. All children, from their birth, shall be under the especial care of the community in which they are born; but their parents shall have free access to them at all times.
V. All children shall be trained and educated together, as children of the same family; and shall be taught a knowledge of the laws of their nature.
VI. Every individual shall be encouraged to express his feelings and convictions only; or, in other words, to speak the truth solely upon all occasions.
VII. Both sexes shall have equal education, rights, privileges, and personal liberty; their marriages will arise from the general sympathies of their nature, uninfluenced by artificial distinctions.

General Arrangements for the Population

VIII. Under the Rational System of Society,-after the children shall have been trained to acquire new habits and new feelings, derived from the laws of human nature,-there shall be no useless private property.
IX. As soon as the members of these communities shall have been educated from infancy in a knowledge of the laws of their nature, trained to act in obedience to them, and surrounded by circumstances all in unison with them, there shall be no individual punishment or reward.
X. Society shall not be composed, as at present, of single families, but of communities or associations of men, women, and children, in the usual proportions, from three hundred to two thousand, as local circumstances may determine.
XI. As these new communities increase in number, unions of them shall be formed for local and general purposes, in tens, hundreds, thousands, &c., according to the less or more extended objects and interests which shall require their consideration and direction.
XII. Each of these communities shall possess around it land sufficient for the support, for ever, of all its members, even when it shall contain the maximum in number.
XIII. These communities shall be so arranged as to give to all the members of each of them, as nearly as possible, the same advantages; and to afford the most easy communication with each other.

Government of the Population and Duties of the Council.

XIV. Each community shall be governed in its home department by a general council, composed of all its members between the ages of thirty and forty; and each department shall be under the immediate direction of a committee, formed of members of the general council, chose by the latter, in the order to be determined upon; and in its external or foreign department, by all its members from forty to sixty years of age.
XV. After all the members of the community shall have been rendered capable of taking their full share of the duties in the general council of government, there shall be no selection or election of any individuals to office.
XVI. All the members at thirty years of age, who shall have been trained from infancy in the communities, shall be officially called upon to undertake their full share of the duties of management in the home department; and at forty they shall be excused from officially performing them: at forty they will be officially called upon to undertake the duties of the external or foreign department; and at sixty they will be excused from officially attending to them.
XVII. The duties of the general council of
home department shall be, to govern all the circumstances within the boundaries of its community,-to organise the various departments of production, distribution, and formation of character,-to remove all those circumstances which are the least favourable to happiness,-and to replace them with the best that can be devised among themselves, or of which they can obtain a knowledge from other communities. The duties of the general council of the external or foreign department will be, to receive visitors or delegates from other associations or communities,-to communicate with other similar associations,-to visit them and arrange with them the best means of forming roads, and conveying surplus produce to each other,-to travel, to give and receive information of inventions, discoveries, and improvements, and of every other kind that can be useful;-and also to regulate and assist in the establishment of new associations, composed of the surplus population of the community from among themselves, and to send to delegates to the circle of communities to which their community shall be attached.
XVIII. The general councils, home and foreign, shall have full power of government
in all things under their direction, as long as they shall act in unison with the laws of human nature, which shall be their sole guidance upon all occasions.
XIX. All individuals trained, educated, and placed, in conformity to the laws of their nature, must of necessity, at all times, think and act rationally, except they become physically, intellectually or morally diseased; in which case the council shall remove them into the hospital form bodily, mental, or moral invalids, where they shall remain until they shall be recovered by the mildest treatment that can effect their cure.
XX. The council, whenever it shall be necessary, shall call to its aid the practical abilities and advice of any of the members not in the council.

Adjustment of Differences

XXI. If the general councils should ever attempt to contravene the laws of human nature,-which is scarcely possible,-the elders of the community who have passed the councils shall call a general meeting of all the members of the community between sixteen and thirty years of age, who have been trained from infancy within it. This meeting shall calmly and patiently investigate the conduct of the general councils; and if a majority shall determine that they have acted, or attempted to act, in opposition to these laws, the general government shall devolve upon the members of the community who have passed the councils are above sixty years of age, united with those who have not entered the council and are between thirty and sixteen years of age. It is scarcely possible to conceive that this clause will ever be required; and, if required, it can only be of temporary application.
XXII. All other differences of every description,-if indeed it be possible for any to exist in these communities,-shall be immediately determined and amicably adjusted between the parties, by the decision of a majority of the three senior members of the council: except when the difference shall ex9ist between members of the councils,-when it shall be, in like manner, decided by the three members who have last passed the councils.

This is followed by a conclusion and a section of concluding remarks, in which Owen looks forward to as many as 2000 individuals being supported per mile of average quality soil, without any further discoveries and much less labour and capital than needed under the present system.

The pamphlet shows Owen’s basis in 18th century philosophy and its concern for establishing the basic principles of human nature, including morality, as well as Owen’s Deist belief. Owen states in his section on religion that God, whatever the individual religions wanted to call Him, exists, but that the precise nature of the Almighty has not been discovered. Which seems to suggest that he believed that someday science would also solve the mysteries of theology as well as the natural world.

His communities themselves are very much like the federation of small, independent communes advocated by Thomas Spence and his followers in the late 18th and early 19th century, and in France by Comte and then Fourier, who recommended reforming the country into a similar system of autonomous phalansteries. It seems to me that these ideas owe much to Rousseau and his ideas of democracy, based on his experience of the Swiss cantons, which were similarly bound together in a federation. They also seem to go back even further to the ancient Greek city states, and the constitutions suggested for them by Plato and Aristotle.

Although Owen went to America to try to found colonies there, his system proved massively impractical and all of them collapsed, as did similar plans by other Utopian Socialists. His schemes offer no rewards for excellence, or punishments for incompetence or laziness, defects which have led to the collapse of many similar experiments in communal life since then. Also, few would really want to embrace a system in which the community has almost absolute power of their children. According to William Blum, this was used as a scare in Venezuela a few years ago to prevent people voting for Hugo Chavez, and his right-wing and far right opponents told people that if they elected him, their children would become the property of the state.

The section where he recommends sending moral invalids, as well as those physically or mentally sick, to the community hospital is also sinister. It recalls the way twentieth century totalitarian governments, like Soviet Russia or Mao’s China, used psychiatry to persecute and incarcerate political dissidents, or sent them to ‘re-education’ camps. Even so, I think its very clear that ‘moral invalid’ certainly describes large numbers of the Tory, Lib Dem and Blairite sections of the Labour party. Particularly Damian Green, his mistress Theresa May, and Jeremy Hunt, and their forerunners in the last government.

Nevertheless, Owen was a major pioneer in the formation of Socialism, and in challenging the injustice, exploitation and poverty of traditional capitalist society, and so still remains important in that sense.

Apart from this pamphlet, Penguin Classics published a collected edition of his works, which I’ve reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

William Blum’s List of American Foreign Interventions: Part 2

February 15, 2017

Jamaica 1976
Various attempts to defeat Prime Minister Michael Manley.

Honduras 1980s
Arming, equipping, training and funding of Fascist government against dissidents, also supporting Contras in Nicaragua and Fascist forces in El Salvador and Guatemala.

Nicaragua
Civil War with the Contras against left-wing Sandinistas after the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship.

Philippines 1970s-1990
Support of brutal dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos

Seychelles 1979-81
Attempts to overthrow country’s leader, France Albert Rene, because he tried to turn his nation and the Indian Ocean into nuclear free zone.

Diego Garcia late 196-0s to Present
People of the largest of the Chagos islands forcibly relocated Mauritius and Seychelles so that Americans could build massive complex of military bases.

South Yemen, 1979-84
CIA backing of paramilitary forces during war between North and South Yemen, as South Yemen government appeared to be backed by Russia. In fact, the Russians backed North and South Yemen at different times.

South Korea
Support for military dictator, Chun Doo Hwan, in brutal suppression of workers’ and students’ uprising in Kwangju.

Chad 1981-2
Political manipulation of Chad government to force Libyan forces of Colonel Gaddafy to leave, aided Chadian forces in the Sudan to invade and overthrow Chadian government installing Hissen Habre as the ‘African General Pinochet’.

Grenada 1979-83
Operations against government of Maurice Bishop, and then invasion when Bishop government overthrown by ultra-leftist faction.

Suriname 1982-4
Abortive plot to overthrow Surinamese government for supporting Cuba.

Libya 1981-89
Attempts to overthrow Colonel Gaddafy.

Fiji 1987
Prime Minister Timoci Bavrada of the Labour Party overthrown as neutral in Cold War and wanted to make Fiji nuclear free zone.

Panama 1989
Overthrow of Manuel Noriega, long-term American ally in Central America for drug trafficking. The real reason to was intimidate Nicaragua, whose people were going to the elections two months later and stop them from voting for the Sandinistas.

Afghanistan 1979-92
Backing of Mujahideen rebels against Soviet-aligned government then Soviet forces.

El Salvador 1980-92
Backing of right-wing dictator and death squads in country’s civil war against dissidents, after first making sure the dissidents got nowhere through democratic means.

Haiti 1987-94
US government opposed reformist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, aiding Haiti government and its death squads against him. However, after he won the 1991, they were forced to allow him back in. They then extracted a promise from him that he would not aid poor at expense of the rich and would follow free trade economics. Kept army there for the rest of his term.

Bulgaria 1990-1
Massive campaign by the US through the National Endowment for Democracy and Agency for International Development to aid the Union of Democratic Forces against the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the successor to the Communists.

Albania 1991
Another campaign to keep the Communists out, in which the Americans supported the Democratic Party.

Somalia 1993
Attempts to kill Mohamed Aidid. The motive was probably less to feed the starving Somali people, and more likely because four oil companies wished to exploit the country and wanted to end the chaos there.

Iraq 1991-2003
American attempts to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Colombia 1990s to Present
Aid by US to suppress left-wing guerillas.

Yugoslavia 1995-99
Campaigns against Serbia government during break up of the former Yugoslavia.

Ecuador 2000
Suppression of mass peaceful uprising by indigenous people of Quito, including trade unionists and junior military officers on orders from Washington, as this threatened neoliberalism.

Afghanistan 2001-to Present
Invasion and occupation of country after 9/11.

Venezuela 2001-4
Operations to oust Chavez.

Iraq 2003-to Present
Invasion and occupation.

Haiti 2004
President Aristide forced to resign by Americans because of his opposition to globalisation and the free market.

For much more information, see the chapter ‘A Concise History of United State Global Interventions, 1945 to the Present’ in William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, pp. 162-220. I realise that many of the Communist regimes Washington sought to overthrow were hardly models of virtue themselves, and often responsible for horrific acts of repression. However, the US has also sought to overthrow liberal and Socialist governments for no better reason than that they sought to improve conditions for their own peoples against the wishes of the American multinationals. And the regimes Washington has backed have been truly horrific, particularly in Latin America.

So it’s actually a very good question whether America has ever really supported democracy, despite the passionate beliefs of its people and media, since the War.

William Blum’s Awkward Questions for Obama on Foreign Policy

December 20, 2015

William Blum is a writer and campaigner against America’s barbarous and brutal foreign policy. As well as writing a series of books, he also produces the Anti-Empire Report on the web. In the latest issue, 141, he puts a series of awkward questions that should be asked of Obama regarding his foreign policy in the Middle East, but which won’t. Several of these are about the way America is determined to punish Syria, but does nothing about Saudi Arabia, which has done far more to support Islamist terrorism. He also points out just how much aid Turkey gives to the Islamists.

Which is most important to you – destroying ISIS, overthrowing Syrian president Assad, or scoring points against Russia?

Do you think that if you pointed out to the American people that Assad has done much more to aid and rescue Christians in the Middle East conflicts than any other area leader that this would lessen the hostility the United States public and media feel toward him? Or do you share the view of the State Department spokesperson who declared in September that “The Assad regime frankly is the root of all evil”?

Why does the United States maintain crippling financial sanctions and a ban on military aid to Syria, Cuba, Iran and other countries but not to Saudi Arabia?

What does Saudi Arabia have to do to lose its strong American support? Increase its torture, beheadings, amputations, whippings, stonings, punishment for blasphemy and apostasy, or forced marriages and other oppression of women and girls? Increase its financial support for ISIS and other jihadist groups? Confess to its role in 9-11? Attack Israel?

What bothers you more: The Saudi bombing of the people of Yemen or the Syrian bombing of the people of Syria?

Does the fact that ISIS never attacks Israel raise any question in your mind?

Does it concern you that Turkey appears to be more intent upon attacking the Kurds and the Russians than attacking ISIS? And provides medical care to wounded ISIS soldiers? Or that ISIS deals its oil on Turkish territory? Or that NATO-member Turkey has been a safe haven for terrorists from Libya, Chechnya, Qatar, and elsewhere? Or that last year Vice President Biden stated that Turkish president Erdogan’s regime was backing ISIS with “hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons”?

In the previous issue, 140, Blum points out how much aid the Western nations, as well as the Gulf states, have given ISIS, al-Qaeda and the other Islamist terrorists, and how they have used them against secular regimes. Like Gaddafi’s in Libya. He also suggests that the real reason for the attack on Syria is partly over control of another strategic oil pipeline.

The mainstream media almost never mentions the proposed Qatar natural-gas pipelines – whose path to Europe Syria has stood in the way of for years – as a reason for much of the hostility toward Syria. The pipelines could dethrone Russia as Europe’s dominant source of energy.

He also states that the real reason for the US’ hostility to Assad isn’t because he’s a vicious dictator, but because he’s independent and does not do what Washington tells him.

The United States, I suggest, is hostile to the Syrian government for the same reason it has been hostile to Cuba for more than half a century; and hostile to Venezuela for the past 15 years; and earlier to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; and to Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Chile; and so on continuing through the world atlas and history books.

What these governments have had in common can be summarized in a single word – independence … independence from American foreign policy; the refusal to be a client state of Washington; the refusal to be continuously hostile to Washington’s Officially Designated Enemies; insufficient respect and zeal for the capitalist way of life.

They’re at http://williamblum.org/aer/read/140

Go and read what’s really behind America’s and the Tories’ Middle Eastern policy; and http://williamblum.org/aer/read/141

Yasmin Alibhai-Browne on the Saudi’s Empire of Terror

October 2, 2015

Okay, I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging much in the past few months. As I’ve explained before, the re-election of the Tories left me profoundly depressed and dispirited with the state of politics in this country, and the mindset of the British people. I’ve also been trying to write a book on the British Empire and slavery. That’s also taken up a lot of my time.

However, I’ve come across a few items, which I think really deserve to be blogged about. One of them is about Cameron supposedly performing a lewd act with the head of a dead pig. There’s so much going on with that story that I intend to devote a whole post about it. But first there’s this piece, by Yasmin Alibhai-Browne, on the evils of the Saudi Regime.

Alibhai-Brown’s one of the journos on the Independent. She’s of Ugandan Asian heritage, and is married to a White British man. She writes mostly, though not exclusively, about racial issues, as well as women, and, of course, Islam and the position of Muslims in modern British society. I’ve got a lot of respect for her, as she will tackle difficult issues that many others won’t touch. She has, for example, covered anti-White racism as well as the more familiar variety inflicted on ethnic minorities. This was in the first few years of this century, when the statistics showed that more Whites were the victims of race hate crime than Blacks or Asians. I admired her for that, as she showed that you can tackle that issue without having any sympathy with the Fascist Right or the racial reactionaries of the Tory party.

Last Sunday, the 27th September, she put up this article about the pernicious influence of the Saudis. She wrote:

Iran is seriously mistrusted by Israel and America. North Korea protects its nuclear secrets and is ruled by an erratic, vicious man. Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions alarm democratic nations. The newest peril, Isis, the wild child of Islamists, has shocked the whole world. But top of this list should be Saudi Arabia – degenerate, malignant, pitiless, powerful and as dangerous as any of those listed above.

The state systematically transmits its sick form of Islam across the globe, instigates and funds hatreds, while crushing human freedoms and aspiration. But the West genuflects to its rulers. Last week Saudi Arabia was appointed chair of the UN Human Rights Council, a choice welcomed by Washington. Mark Toner, a spokesperson for the State Department, said: “We talk about human rights concerns with them. As to this leadership role, we hope that it is an occasion for them to look into human rights around the world and also within their own borders.”

US ‘welcomes’ UN putting Saudi Arabia in charge of human rights panel

The jaw simply drops. Saudi Arabia executes one person every two days. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is soon to be beheaded then crucified for taking part in pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring. He was a teenager then. Raif Badawi, a blogger who dared to call for democracy, was sentenced to 10 years and 1,000 lashes. Last week, 769 faithful Muslim believers were killed in Mecca where they had gone on the Hajj. Initially, the rulers said it was “God’s will” and then they blamed the dead. Mecca was once a place of simplicity and spirituality. Today the avaricious Saudis have bulldozed historical sites and turned it into the Las Vegas of Islam – with hotels, skyscrapers and malls to spend, spend, spend. The poor can no longer afford to go there. Numbers should be controlled to ensure safety – but that would be ruinous for profits. Ziauddin Sardar’s poignant book Mecca: The Sacred City, describes the desecration of Islam’s holiest site.

Even more seriously, the pernicious Saudi influence is spreading fast and freely. King Salman has offered to build 200 mosques in Germany for recently arrived refugees, many of whom are Muslims. He offered no money for resettlement or basic needs, but Wahhabi mosques, the Trojan horses of the secret Saudi crusade. Several Islamic schools are also sites of Wahhabism, now a global brand. It makes hearts and minds small and suspicious, turns Muslim against Muslim, and undermines modernists.

She’s absolutely right about the destruction of historic Mecca, including the buildings, monuments and homes of Muhammad and his companions – the holiest figures in Islam. The Independent has published a number of pictures showing how the city has been effectively gutted in a frenzy of building and modernisation. This has been ostensibly to provide more accommodation and greater access for the millions, who go to the city every year on the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. But it also shows the Saudis’ deep lack of concern, even contempt, for their country’s ancient monuments. Much of the radical Islamism now threatening the world is Saudi in inspiration. considering the destruction the Saudis have inflicted on Islam’s holiest city, I’m not remotely surprised that ISIS have been so keen to destroy ancient monuments they consider to be ‘against Islam’. And that’s a highly elastic phrase, which also means genuinely Muslim monuments, but from a sect or interpretation of Islam they hate or mistrust.

As well as banning non-Muslim religions, other Islamic sects are also banned in Saudi Arabia. The Shi’a live in marginalised villages without gas, electricity or running water. They are not allowed to build or worship in their own mosques, and their religious literature, including their version of the Qu’ran, is illegal. When copies are found, they are confiscated and destroyed. A few years ago the Grand Mufti declared them heretics, who were worthy of death. Some of the destruction they have caused seems to be directed against the Shi’a. A few Saturdays ago the Independent’s sister paper, the ‘I’, carried a story about the Saudis’ bulldozing the homes occupied by Muhammad and his followers. While these are naturally of considerable veneration to Muslims generally, the Shi’a in particular venerate them and travel to them when making the pilgrimage.

As for the Saudi’s fixation with secular money-making, it’s pretty much been the case in that part of the Islamic world since the Middle Ages. Mecca became extremely rich on the money spent by the pilgrims flocking there, and much of the poetry written during the Middle Ages was extremely secular. It wasn’t about the delights of paradise, or the beatific vision of God’s face awaiting the faithful in paradise, or about religious devotion to Muhammad, his companions and the Qu’ran. No, it was about the delights of getting drunk on wine, and having a great time with the slave girls.

I’ve read accounts of interviews from moderate Muslims around the world, who have lamented how the religion in their countries has become increasingly intolerant and violent due to the influence of preachers, who have gone to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to study. And moderate Muslims over here have voiced the same concerns. There was also a piece published nearly a decade ago in the Saturday edition of the Financial Times by the imam, who received Salman Rushdie back into the faith after he emerged from hiding. I’m afraid I really can’t remember the imam’s name, except that his first name is Zakariya, if I remember correctly. This scholar has written extensively about Islam in Britain, as well as inscriptions in Arabic dating from the 17th century and found in churchyards in Yorkshire. This particular imam wanted the British government to invest in a British Islamic seminary. There was at the time a shortage of imams to serve in British mosques. This allowed some of the fire-breathing bigots from outside Britain to jump the queue at immigration, and spread their message of hate to Brits over here.

And I’m afraid the situation is only going to get worse. According to an article I read back in the ’90s in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, foreign governments sponsor and support mosques in the West to promote their own national influence. That means that the 200 mosques the Saudis intend to build in Germany will reflect the hard-line attitudes of Saudi Arabia, rather than a more liberal, Western form of Islam that the moderates look forward to. As it stands, there has already been friction and accusations of separatism in Germany directed against some of the Turkish Muslim organisations. In the ’80s or ’90s there was a controversy within the German labour unions against some of the Turkish labour organisations. The Germans alleged that despite their talk of integration, the Turkish groups were pursuing a separatist agenda. A German-Turkish writer has also described how, when he was a child, he had ethnic German, non-Muslim friends until one of the Turkish Muslim scholars told their community that they shouldn’t have anything to do with them. Politicians and activists across Europe are worried about the growth of parallel communities, which attempt to cut themselves off as far as possible from outsiders, whether, White, Black, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, secular or whatever. One Islamic community leader on a programme about racial problems in contemporary Britain, spoke about his fears for the development of Muslim communities, whose citizens would only know other Muslims. His views were echoed by the representatives from the other faiths – Judaism and Christianity, who also appeared on the programme. They were similarly worried that their peoples would also grow up in sealed communities interacting only with members of their own faith.

All this is likely to get worse if the Saudis are allowed to proceed unchecked. And, quite simply, I don’t think there is the political will to prevent it. Alibhai-Brown points out later in the article how close the royal family is personally to the Saudis. There’s also the awkward fact that they dominate the oil economy. They can throw their weight around now, because of the way they learnt they can wreck the global economy by raising or dropping the price of oil, as they did during the energy crisis of the 1970s. All they have to do is drop their prices, and the Texas oil industry – or Venezuelan, for that matter, is decimated. And the profits to be made from their oil company, Aramco, are just too massive to be resisted by Western industrialists and politicians. And so it seems that the Saudis can spread global terror and religious hatred with impunity.

The whole article can be read at: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/the-evil-empire-of-saudi-arabia-is-the-west-s-real-enemy-a6669531.html. Go and read it.

I don’t think what she said about there having been no coverage of the iniquities of the Saudi regime is completely accurate, however. A little while ago there was a documentary on Channel 4 about radical and extremist Islam, which included some of the viciously anti-Semitic and anti-Western teaching coming out of Saudi mosques and madrassas. That provoked a critical article about the Saudis in parts of the press. I think the Daily Mail ran a piece. But it shows how seriously that kind of journalism is taken in that it appeared on Channel 4, which was already set up as the alternative cultural channel to BBC 2, the Beeb’s alternative channel for more serious culture.

Despite the horror and violence of the situation in the Middle East at the moment, I believe that there are still opportunities awaiting us to bring about peace and tolerance. But these will be blocked if we allow the Saudis to continue preaching intolerance. The world’s peoples – Muslim and non-Muslim – deserve better.

Destabilising the Global Price of Oil – the Real Reason for the Ousting of Saddam Hussein

September 6, 2013

Don’t Destroy the oil wells.

– George ‘Dubya’ Bush’s demand to preserve the oil infrastructure during the invasion of Iraq.

‘Gosh, no, we won’t go, we won’t die for Texaco’

-Chant of American anti-war protestors during Gulf War 1, ‘Desert Storm’.

War is theft by other means.

– Joseph Bronowski, British scientist and Fabian Socialist.

I’ve already mentioned that one of the causes of increased American hostility to Assad’s regime was Syria’s breach of the oil embargo on Iraq through the illegal importation of Iraqi oil through the Kirkuk-Banyas pipeline. In fact it was Saddam Hussein’s repeated and unpredictable breaches of the quota limits placed by Big Oil and OPEC on Iraqi oil production that was one of the real reasons for the invasion of Iraq and his removal by Bush and Blair. Following Calouste Gulbenkian’s acquisition of exclusive oil rights from King Faisal of Iraq in 1925, the major oil companies – Anglo-Persian, now BP, Royal Dutch Shell, CFP of France and Standard Oil, now Exxon and its sister companies – agreed to maintain high oil prices by deliberately limiting oil production in Iraq. These companies, including Gulbenkian’s own, had the right to drill for oil everywhere in Iraq. In practice, only 0.5 per cent of the country was actually drilled for oil. Iraq has 74 known oil fields. Of these, only fifteen were producing oil in 2006. There are 526 known pools of oil. Only 125 of these have been drilled. from 2003 to 2005 Iraq’s oil output was less than under the oil for food programme. The profits of the five major US oil companies were massively increased following Bush’s invasion. In 2005 these were $89 billion, three times the amount in 2002.

In December 2000 a meeting of the major oil companies as part of the Joint Task Force on Petroleum of the James A. Baker III institute and the Council on Foreign relations criticised Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a ‘swing producer, posing a difficult situation for the US government’ due to tight markets having left America and the rest of the world increasingly vulnerable to disruption and provided their enemies with a potential influence over the price of oil. Hussein would one minute cut oil production down to a minimum out of support for the Palestinian Intifada. A week or so later he would increase oil production to the maximum limit provided under the oil for food programme. This meant that oil prices across the globe rose and fell unpredictably. The Task Force’s report concluded that ‘Saddam is a “destabilizing influence … to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East”. In 2002 the US attempted to launch a coup against President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. According to OPEC’s secretary general, Ali Rodriguez, this was because Colonel Gaddafi had contacted Rodgriguez to say that he and Hussein were planning to launch another Arab oil embargo. Venezuela had already broken the 1973 Arab oil embargo, and Big Oil was afraid that it would do the same under Chavez. Hence the US hurried prepared a coup. Rodriguez contacted Chavez, and with 48 hours the coup had collapse. Hussein’s actions in Iraq could affect oil production and prices across the world, encouraging countries like Venezuela, Iran or Russia to break the tariffs level by OPEC. The Council on Foreign Relations thus concluded that

‘Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon to manipulate oil markets … United States should conduct an immediate policy review towards Iraq, including military, energy, economic, and political/diplomatic assessments’.

This report was seized on by Dick Cheney and the Neo-Cons, who wished to remove Hussein in order to create a low tax, completely free market state in Iraq and the decision made in 2001 to invade and removed Saddam Hussein.

Obama and Cameron’s demands for military strikes against Syria have little to do with the use of chemical weapons on civilians. Indeed, James A. Baker III had been Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff when the US was providing Hussein with the intelligence to target the Kurds and Iranians with poison gas and other weapons. Rather it is a continuation of one of the aims for the invasion of Iraq: to control that nation’s oil industry.

Sources

Michael Young, ‘Syria, the US and Terrorism’, in Christopher Heffelfinger, ed., Unmasking Terror: A Global Review of Terrorist Activities (Washington D.C., The Jamestown Foundation 2005) 223-6.

Greg Palast, Armed Madhouse: ‘Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?’, The Best Legal Whorehouse in Texax’, ‘No Child’s Behind Left’ and Other Tales of Class Combat in a Dying Regime (London: Penguin 2006).