Posts Tagged ‘Bankers’

Viktor Orban Goes Conspiracy-Theorist Fascist about George Soros

April 13, 2018

Earlier this week, Mike put up a piece showing the Tories’ hypocrisy over the anti-Semitism smears. While happy to smear Corbyn’s Labour as full of Jew haters and Nazis and demanding the strongest possible action, the Tories are not so eager to do anything about the greater number of anti-Semites and racists in their own. And indeed, the party very frequently indulges in coded and overt racism, and has no problems congratulating some very nasty foreign heads of state, who are vehemently anti-Semitic.

Like Viktor Orban, the president of Hungary and head of the ruling Fidesz party. This is a far-right, Christian party with a very nasty line in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. A little while ago he spouting about how the invading Muslims hordes, or for the rest of us, brutalised refugees fleeing Syria would never be allowed into Hungary. He’s especially fixated with George Soros. Soros is, of course, an international financier, and the sponsor of several pro-democracy organisations and courses in Hungarian universities. He’s also of Hungarian Jewish descent, and because Soros is very definitely anti-Fascist, Orban naturally hates him with a passion. Mike’s article pointed out how Orban’s speech was very similar, and used all the tropes the Nazis and other Fascist groups since then have used about ‘Jewish bankers’.

This did not stop the Tories trying to cosy up to him. Boris Johnson sent him a message congratulating him on his election victory. Which shows you just how seriously the Tories really take anti-Semitism and real racism when it suits them. But I’m not surprised. The people making these accusations against Labour are massively hypocritical. The current Polish president is also the head of another anti-Semitic party. But this didn’t stop Stephen Pollard, of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, writing an article in the Groaniad claiming that he wasn’t, because he was ‘a good friend of Israel’. The Polish supremo had just signed a deal to buy a whole load of Israeli military jets. I’ve got a feeling that Orban’s Hungary has just done the same, or something similar. For the Israel Lobby, and its very Tory, establishment members, it’s only anti-Semitic if it criticises Israel. Otherwise, their perfectly happy with viciously anti-Semitic regimes.

Soros himself has a very good reason to despise Israel. He loathes Zionism because of the way Kasztner, the head of the Zionists in Hungary, allowed the Nazis to deport tens of thousands of Jews to the gas chambers, just so a few could be sent to Israel. But obviously, this isn’t an episode of Zionist history Pollard, Arkush, Goldstein and the rest of the Israel lobby want you to know about, or else they’ll throw another wobbly and accuse whoever tells them of being ‘anti-Semitic’.

But I digress. Now it seems, Orban has gone full Alex Jones, conspiracy-theory nutjob. One of the Hungarian magazines has apparently published an article, according to the I, in which he names 200 groups and individuals he brands as ‘mercenaries’ in the pay of George Soros. These include respected human rights organisations. We’re back to the Nazis and their claim that democracy is a ‘Jewish plot to enslave the Aryan man’. Okay, so in this case, it’s Hungarians, not Germans, but the reasoning is exactly the same.

Orban is repeating the lies and murderous conspiracy theories of the Nazis with his venomous fixation on Soros. Reading such stuff, you can almost go through it ticking off the similarities. It’s vile, terrifying stuff. But the Tory party and the Israel lobby will love him, defend and congratulate him, because, like the Polish premier, ‘he’s a good friend to Israel’. He might be, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a Jew hater. He’s a vile anti-Semite, and this shows their utter hypocrisy. And its high time the Tories and the Israel lobby were held to account for their own amoral attitudes supporting him and other Fascists.

Advertisements

Private Eye on Luciana Berger

April 12, 2018

It was Luciana Berger, who found that comment by Jeremy Corbyn from 2012, commiserating with the graffiti artist, whose picture had been censored because of anti-Semitism. This was the picture, you remember, that showed six white bankers dealing over a table resting on the bodies of Blacks. The comment formed the basis of the renewed attacks on Jeremy Corbyn for anti-Semitism two weeks ago, despite the fact that Corbyn has said he hadn’t properly looked at the painting and didn’t really know what was going on. But it’s also moot how anti-Semitic the painting actually was. Only two of the bankers portrayed were Jewish. These included Rothschild, obviously, but the other four were gentiles, and included Rockefeller. At the time, the Jewish Chronicle only said that the painting had an ‘anti-Semitic undertone’. Now, six years later, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council worked themselves up into a bug-eyed frenzy to denounce the mural and Corbyn as anti-Semitic. It’s entirely faux outrage. The BDJ and Jewish Leadership Council hate Corbyn, not because he is anti-Semitic – he isn’t, and they probably know it – but because he is genuinely anti-racist and supports the Palestinians from his commitment to fighting racial injustice. Israel was founded on massacre, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and its policies towards the Palestinians are indefensible, except by attacking the country’s critics as anti-Semites. And so that’s what the Israel lobby – the Board, Jewish Leadership Council, Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Labour Friends of Israel, Jewish Labour Movement – has done.

I found this brief description of Berger and her political career in Private Eye for 18th – 31st March 2011, in the ‘New Boys and Girls’ column. This is the column that gives brief descriptions of the careers and activities of new members of parliament, who have recently been elected. Here’s what the Eye had to say about Berger.

She may recently have been voted the most fanciable member of parliament, and since being elected as Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree last year she has developed a drooling fan club of sad, middle-aged men in the Commons – but looks deceive.

Twenty-eight year old Lucian Berger is what the comrades used to describe as “right operator” . Within a few months of her arrival, Ed Miliband had already promoted her to the frontbench as a shadow minister for energy and climate change.

Her swift climb up the greasy pole began soon after she left the Haberdasher Aske’s School for Girls and went to Birmingham University, where she became an executive member of the National Union of Students, convening national anti-racism campaigns. She resigned in 2005, accusing the NUS of taking a lax attitude to anti-Semitism on university campuses.

She later took up a “public affairs” post at Accenture and went on to advise the NHS Confederation, but not before the rumour mill had come alive with talk of a relationship with Euan Blair after the pair were pictured at a party. Denials came thick and fast, not only from Blair but also from the Labour party, which took it upon itself to issue an official statement saying that young Luciana “was not, and had never been” romantically linked with Euan Blair.

One of her predecessors in the Liverpool Wavertree seat, the late Terry Fields, might have doffed his fireman’s helmet to her for the at she managed to get selected in the first place, for it came straight out of the old Militant Tendency’s instruction manual. While Labour was choosing its candidate, Berger lived for about a month at the home of Jane Kennedy, then the sitting MP, whose partner was the Labour official who ran the selection process, Peter Dowling. The completed ballot papers were then returned to Kennedy’s home address for counting.

A furious Frank Hont, secretary of the regional branch of the Unison trade union, lodged protests with party bosses, to no avail. Although veteran Liverpool Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle branded her a “student politician” who lacked the experience to do the job, Berger went on to beat Liverpool councillors Wendy Simon and Joyce Still by a margin of around 2-1 to win the candidacy on an “all-wimmin” shortlist. By this time, Berger was in a relationship with the MP and journalist Sion Simon, who was shortly to stand down from parliament to devote his energies to becoming mayor of Birmingham. The pair were talked of as a new “power couple”.

Berger didn’t improve her stock with incandescent Scousers by committing a series of gaffes that would have sunk a less shameless candidate. In January 2010, the Liverpool Echo tested Berger with a four minute quiz on Liverpool live and history. She scored two out of four, not knowing who performed “Ferry Cross the Mersey” and not recognising the name of former Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly.

In her defence, Berger said that “you can’t ask a girl a football question” and added: “I’m not new to the city. I’ve been coming here for the past decade through all different jobs.” It is difficult to know what caused more offence, Berger’s failure to have heard of Shankly or her reference to coming to the city “through all different jobs” – jobs, after all, being a commodity in short supply in Merseyside.

For a while it looked as though she would be given a run for her money at the election by Scouse actor and former union activist Ricky Tomlinson, who announced that he would stand for the Socialist Labour Party under the election slogan “Berger-my arse!” – but then wimped out because of “personal and contractual obligations”.

Once in parliament, Berger’s ability to upset local sensitivities continued. Last October she infuriated Liverpudlians by appearing on a Radio Five Live show with Kelvin MacKenzie, who was editor of the Sun at the time of the Hillsborough disaster and whose coverage of the story led to a boycott of the paper on Merseyside that lasts to this day. Berger’s lame defence was that she “didn’t know who the other guests were”.

With yet another little local difficulty somehow shrugged off, Luciana has also shrugged off Sion Simon and is now romantically involved with an equally ambitious Chuka Umunna, who has been dubbed “the British Obama”. With the pair already being talked of as a new “power couple”, let’s hope the Labour party doesn’t go and spoil things again by issuing a denial.
(p. 9).

She comes across very much as a typical New Labour politico – young, fiercely ambitious, very middle class and with a signal lack of interest in her constituency. Remember how Blair had various Tory defectors parachuted into safe Labour seats, ordering the sitting MPs to give way for them. The Tory defectors were immensely wealthy people, with very grand houses in London, and absolutely no connection to the constituencies they were given.

She sounds genuinely concerned about attacking anti-Semitism, but that doesn’t change the fact that the allegations against Corbyn and his supporters are grossly fraudulent and libellous. It just means she’s either very cynical as well, or that she really does believe that criticism of Israel equals Jew hatred.

And the circumstances of her selection as the official Labour candidate is so, er, irregular, that it could come from Stalin himself. ‘It’s not who votes that counts,’ said the old thug, ‘it’s who counts the votes.’ Quite.

It’s also highly ironic that she was propelled to the front bench by Ed Miliband. This is the Labour leader Maureen Lipman denounced as an anti-Semite, and claimed his election as leader forced her to leave the party. Miliband is of Jewish heritage, and in any case, anti-Semites don’t promote Jews to leading positions in politics. Lipman’s talking nonsense, but I’m sure you knew that already.

Her background with Accenture, formerly Anderson Consulting, shows that she is very definitely New Labour, with its orientation to the aspirational middle class and ideology focussed on privatisation and cutting welfare benefits. When Blair came to power, he did so with a plan prepared by Anderson Consulting, which the Tories had just thrown in the bin. She manifestly does not represent the working class, who New Labour ignored and took for granted. When Gordon Brown didn’t attack them as ‘feckless’ and responsible for their own problems, of course.

Her attack on Corbyn is all about undermining the Labour leader and preventing a return of real socialism, while advancing her own career as a leading Blairite in parliament.

Vox Political: Grayson Perry Sculpts Bell-End to Represent Bankers

May 21, 2016

Mike also put up another hilarious article on Thursday about a piece of work Grayson Perry produced to represented the financial sector. Perry’s a Turner-prize winning artist, specialising in pottery and ceramics. He found the world of banking and finance to be increasing male the further one went up the hierarchy. To symbolise this, he sculpted a giant phallus, embossed with pound coins, and the heads of bankers, including George Osborne.

See the article at:http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/19/artist-embosses-sculpture-about-bankers-with-george-osbornes-face-heres-what-it-looks-like/ Warning for those easily shocked: it’s got a picture of the pottery penis in question.

Perry states that it’s not his most subtle work. Possibly not, but it is accurate. There have been a number of scandals about the lack of women in the upper levels of the financial sector, and it is a very, very masculine environment. One report about the imbalance said that not only were there very sexist attitudes towards women – they were divided up into ‘babes’, ‘mums’ and ‘dragons’ – but that the bankers themselves had a very cynical and exploitative attitude to their clients. Indeed, they often boasted about how they had shafted them. This is the world of the Wolf of Wall Street and Gordon Gecko.

And quite often members of the financial sector do describe themselves in phallic terms. One financial whizzkid, whose book was reviewed back in the 1990s by Private Eye, even described himself as ‘a big swinging dick on the stockmarket floor’.

You can also find support for Perry’s ceramic penis from the sociobiological interpretation of mythology. One academic used sociobiology, or as it is now, evolutionary psychology, to explain the phallic shape of ancient Greek herms, or boundary markers. He noticed that troops of baboons similar post guards with erect willies as sentries when out foraging, and males also engage in ‘penis fencing’. He therefore concluded that the shape of the herms was a similar primate display of masculine guardianship over place. You could therefore argue that Perry’s pottery penis is thus an apt sociobiological comment on the extremely culturally phallocentric culture of the financial sector.

Or am I reading too much into this?

As Freud said, ‘Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.’

The Two Faces of IDS: He Laughs in Parliament, But Cries On TV about Plight of Unemployed

April 6, 2016

I know I’m going to be preaching to the converted on this one, but there’s a chance that somebody out there may not know precisely what a slimeball Ian Duncan Smith is. Yesterday, Mike posted up a piece from the Groaniad, which reported that the Gentleman Ranker will appear tomorrow in a programme on Victorian attitudes to poverty. He’s going to be interview by Ian Hislop. Hislop’s done something like three previous documentaries on British history, and the profound changes in cultural attitudes that occurred during the 19th century. In one, he covered public education, from the Victorian period up to the present. The other year he fronted one on reformers, and a third on philanthropists. The last documentary was particularly interesting in that it charted the change in attitude towards the acquisition of wealth. In the 19th century the Christian conscience of a number of tycoons, who had made their money in banking, was disturbed because of Christ’s condemnation of the rich and greedy, who thought nothing of the poor. As a result, some of these 19th century millionaires were extremely generous, giving away the equivalent of millions to charity. And the attitude that wealth was only good if you gave it away was also shared by many of the Jewish entrepreneurs, who rose to prominence in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. Nathan Rothschild, the banker, pioneering Jewish MP, and leader of the stock exchange, was personally immensely generous, despite leading the opposition of the British financial sector to Lloyd George’s reforms which formed the nucleus of the British welfare state.

If the programme is like the others Hislop’s done, then I think it’s going to be very good. Unfortunately, there is already something that’s going to spoil it: he interviews Ian Duncan Smith. Now, I suppose it’s only right that the Gentleman Ranker is on, as he was head of the DWP when the programme was being made several months ago. But it also gives him the opportunity for some first class acting, lying and hypocrisy. During the interview, he breaks down in tears at the plight of the poor, and in particular about the case of a 19-year old single mother, who had given up hope of finding work.

Way back in the 1980s or ’90s, if I recall correctly, there was a terrible old Conservative MP, who when faced with something he considered sentimental or hypocritical from the other side of the House, would say, ‘Hand me the sick bag’.
Well, looking at this prime display of hypocrisy from the master of cheque book genocide, I’m more than feeling a little queasy myself.

Mike’s article describes, yet again, how aIDS has been responsible for having hundreds of thousands of people sanctioned, and their benefits cut. He was responsible, for example, for using the Bedroom Tax to throw a rape victim out of her house, because she had converted her spare bedroom into a panic room, in which she could seek refuge in the case of another attack. Hundreds have died of starvation, neglect, or by their own hands due to his sanctions regime. And nearly a quarter of a million others have had their mental health made worse by the terrible insecurity constant assessment engenders.

And then, to add insult to injury, this jumped-up eugenic murderer had the temerity to laugh about the suffering he’d inflicted in parliament when some of the cases of the hardship he’d caused were read out. Mike includes the description of this disgraceful event from an eyewitness, Jack Monroe, who was understandably and rightly furious.

And now this squalid apology for human being is going to cry publicly on TV tomorrow, to try and salvage his image. He left the cabinet, remember, protesting that he though the sanctions’ regime was unfair. If he felt that way, he certainly didn’t show it. He carried on with it for about six years. One of the reasons why he left was that he felt it was terribly unfair for him to get the blame for sanctions, when it was introduced by Bliar. Well, they were introduced by New Labour, true. But that doesn’t mean that he had to follow them.

There’s another reason his appearance on the box tomorrow in connection with Victorian attitudes to poverty is particularly fitting. He, Osbo and Cameron all share the same attitude to it, going right back to Maggie Thatcher. Tory policy is basically the return of the ‘less eligibility’ attitude to benefit, which means you make it as hard for the unemployed on benefit as possible in order to force them off. Hence all the sanctions and the humiliating rigmarole of interviews, workfare and so on. It’s all part of what Thatcher called ‘Victorian values’. Well, it was one set of values that was rightly discarded when Labour first took power. And it should have been kept that way. Now it’s returned, along with real, grinding poverty in Britain. There are 4.7 million in ‘food poverty’, thanks to Smith and his masters.

Mike’s article is at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/05/iain-duncan-smith-wept-crocodile-tears-about-plight-of-single-mother-in-tv-interview/ Go and read it. He also has the picture of Smith and Cameron chuckling away about mass suffering, if you can stomach it.
And unlike Smith’s repulsive crocodile tears, that really is something to make you weep.

The Young Turks: Low Paid Workers Have the Highest Death Rates

November 3, 2015

This is another video from The Young Turks. It does, of course, discuss an American problem, but it’s still relevant over here. And especially as the Tories have copied so much of their ideology from across the Atlantic.

In this video, The Turks discuss the findings of a survey showing that the least educated workers in the poorest paid, unskilled jobs, have shorter lives than their better educated, better paid co-workers. In some parts of America, the difference can be by as much as 33 years. Women, however, tend to live longer than men, which the Turks state is just about the only area in which women do better in the work place. I think the stats also show that Blacks and other racial minorities also have shorter life expectancies than Whites.

They identify the factors in the work place that have the largest influence on mortality. These are

Unemployment and layoffs
Lack of health insurance
Low job control
Job insecurity (for men)
Shift work (for women)

They recognise that some extremely highly paid groups, like bankers and lawyers, can also suffer stress, but point out that it’s not the same kind of stress as the low paid. Those groups, for example, are not under the same kind of pressure as a single parent with a child working two jobs simply to pay the rent and put food on the table.

One of the Turks’ panel, John Iadarola, did his Master’s degree on the way politics reflect deeply embedded ideas about morality in American culture. If you don’t do well at school, or have a low-paid job, it’s your fault, because you’re obviously lazy.

Here’s the video:

This is obviously acutely relevant over here, as the Tories have exactly the same ideas. Work is good for you. Hence the policies to kick everyone off benefits so that they get some kind of work, no matter how poorly paid, unsuitable, or simply impossible for some people, like the disabled or people with long-term health problems, to perform. There’s any numbers of Tories prattling about the ‘health benefits’ of work. One of them even started an opinion piece in one of the papers by going on about how true Auschwitz’s maxim of ‘Arbeit macht frei’ – ‘Work makes (you) free’ – was, before reality or the editor kicked in and that section was pulled. Obviously, somebody realized that perhaps quoting the Nazis approvingly, especially the slogan on their death camps, wasn’t a vote winner.

And the Tories have exactly the same kind of Victorian attitude towards poverty. If you’re poor, it’s not because of a genuine lack of ability on your part. Not everyone has the intellectual ability to be a financial whizzkid, or brilliant scientist or engineer, or entrepreneur or whatever. Just as clearly not everyone can be a skilled manual worker, like a carpenter or blacksmith, or have the physical prowess to be an Olympic sportsman or woman. But the Tories believe that if you don’t succeed at Uni or have a brilliant job, it’s because you’re lazy. Or feckless. Or whatever other word they want to use to stigmatise them as someone who has failed due to their personality defects or lack of suitable morals.

And in these days of mounting student and graduate unemployment, even being highly educated doesn’t not guarantee that you will have a good job, and be able to pay your bills. Social scientists have identified a new social group, the precariat. These are low paid workers, in precarious jobs. They’re on short-term or zero hours contracts. And they are often too highly educated for the work they do.

The American finds also confirm what has been known from the 1990s: that people at the bottom of the social hierarchy live shorter lives than their superiors, even if they’re not in particularly dangerous jobs. Part of the evidence for this is the records of civil servants’ lives and performance going right back to the first years of the last century. These showed, not surprisingly, that the lower clerks at the bottom died earlier than the mandarins at the top. Part of the reason for this was stress, the same stress the Tories want to pile on to the majority of working people.

The civil service stats show the Tories’ argument about work, any kind of work, being good for you is rubbish. This piece from The Young Turks adds further confirmation.

Adam Curtis and Brooker’s 2014 Wipe: Putin and the Postmodern Politics of Control through Confusion

January 26, 2015

Charley Brooker

Charley Brooker: Master of the Baleful Gaze of Criticism

‘Confuse your enemy and you confuse yourself!’

-General ‘Mad Bloody Butcher’ Cheeseman, The Fall of the Mausoleum Club, (Radio 4, 1985).

I found Charley Brooker’s review of last year, Newswipe 2014, over on Youtube. Assisted by Philomena Cunk and Barry Shitpeas, Brooker casts his jaundiced eye over last years’ events, and inveighs against the horrors and stupidity therein, both of themselves and in the media, that reported them. Brooker’s comments are masterpieces of highly inventive scorn and outrage. Cunk and Shitpeas, for their parts, are highly intelligent people, who satirise the news by posing as complete morons for whom even a relatively straightforward film like ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ is beyond their comprehension.

Brookers’ angry nihilism, in which he sees recent events and the latest offerings of the world’s celebrity-obsessed media as proof that we live in an absurd, pointless universe, wherein human civilisation is a bad joke about to collapse, and Cunk and Shitpeas’ faux naïve and inane comments are amusing enough. What lifts the show into another dimension entirely is a short film by Adam Curtis, on the way politicians are using the feelings of helplessness created by the terrible events replayed across our TV screens as an instrument of control.

Curtis is the director of the superb documentaries The Living Dead, The Century of the Self, The Power of Nightmares, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, and How We Lost Our Dreams of Freedom. These explored how politicians used and abused theories of history, psychology, game theory and simplified models of human behaviour based on computer models, to boost their own power, while depriving the people they claim to represent of the power to change their destinies and better their lives. In this film, he explores how politicians, both those in Putin’s Russia and in Britain, have created an absurd, meaningless view of contemporary events in order to maintain their power by keeping their peoples deliberately confused and off-balance.

Tserkov, and the Politics of Spectacle and Subversion

This tactic was invented in Russia by Vladimir Putin’s advisor, Vladislav Tserkov, who has spent 15 years aiding Russia’s elected tsar. Tserkov was an avant-garde artist, and important elements from Conceptual art into Russian politics. The Soviet Regime has staged and promoted a series of gatherings and spectacles as part of its campaign to mobilise Russian support. But he has also gone further, giving funding to groups directly opposed to his master and each other, from Neo-Nazi stormtroopers to Human Rights activists. He has also deliberately let everyone know he has done this. This has produced a radical destabilisation of the opposition, as it is no longer clear what is authentic and genuine, and what is carefully staged propaganda. The result is an enervating feeling of defeat.

Tserkov has even found a way to profit from the terrible civil war now raging in Ukraine. Last year he published a short story about how politicians could practise what he called ‘non-linear warfare’. In this, the gaol is not to win the war, but to use it to spread further confusion. The aim is to create a situation in which no-one really knows who the enemy is, or why they are fighting.

Cameron’s Absurd Government and the Politics of Despair

Curtis goes further, and argues that a similar condition is present in this country. Although not deliberate, the confusion created by politicians’ contradictory policies and actions has had the same result. He identifies Cameron as the British counterpart of Tserkov’s shape-shifting, non-linear politician, and gives the following examples of his government’s contradictions and confusion:

* Aging deejays are prosecuted for their historic crimes, but not the bankers, whose actions have created the current global economic mess.

* We are told that President Assad is evil. However, his Islamist enemies are worse, so we end up bombing them, thus helping Assad.

* George Osborne says that the economy is booming, but wages are going down.

* Gidiot says that they are cutting the national debt, but the deficit has actually increased.

*The government is pursuing a policy of austerity, taking money out of the economy. They are, however, putting it back in through ‘quantitative easing’.

Quantitative easing is the massive subsidy and bail-outs the taxpayer is giving the banks. It amounts to £24,000
per family. This has not gone to the poor, but to the richest five per cent. It is the biggest transfer of wealth, and could be a real scandal, but nobody knows anything.

Because there is no effective counter-narrative offered to the above policies, the public similarly feels defeated, disempower. The response is ‘Oh dear’.

But, says Curtis, that’s exactly what they want you to think.

Baudrillard

Tserkov’s Co-Option of the Society of the Spectacle

From here, it looks like Tserkov took hold of the Society of the Spectacle, and adopted it as a deliberate policy. The Society of the Spectacle was a theory developed in the 1960s by Baudrillard, the French postmodern philosopher. Baudrillard believed that capitalism survived ideological attack, by taking over its opponents weapons and then re-presenting them as spectacles. The forms had been preserved, but their ideological power had been drained and discarded. Way back in the ’90s, one of the small press magazines devoted to the weird and bizarre gave the Glastonbury Festival as an example. When it started, it was very definitely a fringe, countercultural event. It’s very existence was a challenge to mainstream culture. Now it is very much a part of that same mainstream culture. Instead of seeing the bands for free, you are now charged tens, sometimes hundreds of pounds for a ticket.

The former Soviet Union, like all totalitarian regimes, had a deliberate policy of staging fake demonstrations and events in support of the regime. There’s an old story from a very public school teacher, who organised a trip for her girls to the former USSR. One of the planned outings for the day was disrupted by a noisy Soviet peace demonstration. The headmistress duly complained to the authorities, who reassured her, ‘Do not worry, ma’am. This spontaneous display of the people’s anger will end at 2.00 pm precisely’.

Subverting Situationism

Where Tserkov differs is that he has gone beyond this, using the ideas of Situationism and turning them back on themselves. The Situationists were hippy anarchists, who organised a series of spectacles to subvert mainstream, ‘straight’ society. Malcolm McLaren, the founder of the Sex Pistols, claimed to have been a Situationist, but this was just a bit of self-aggrandising hype on his part. The tactic hasn’t gone away with punk and the hippies. It’s still used by contemporary anarchists to use comedy, humour and spectacle to satirise and subvert capitalism and its organs of oppression and control. Tserkov has learned from this, and turned it against the opposition, using the very methods of liberation from capitalism and the state as weapons for their preservation and extension.

Non-Linear War, Vietnam, ‘ Nomad’ and ‘Deathlok the Demolisher’

As for Tserkov’s theories of non-linear war, you can trace these back to the feelings of disempowerment and confusion in 1970s in America created by Vietnam and Watergate. The Vietnam War presented ordinary, patriotic and freedom-loving Americans with terrible reports of their country’s atrocities against another people, all in the name of freedom. Despite the unequal status between the two countries, the war dragged on for decades, and the American public saw the friends and relatives killed, and many of those that returned home stricken with terrible physical and psychological injuries. This result was a feeling of anomie and despair. The nation’s self-confidence took a further blow with Watergate, when even the supreme leadership were shown to be corrupt.

Captain America Forswears his Country

That feeling of alienation and national disenchantment found expression in the comic strips of the day. American comics began to explore political issues, including racism, feminism and the abuse of the media to aid in crime and foment hate. It was perhaps expressed most forcefully by the actions of that most patriotic superhero, Captain America. The Captain is a symbol of everything good and noble in American society. In the strip, he had been created as a super-soldier to fight the forces of evil in the shape of the Third Reich, a storyline followed in the recent film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Faced with his country’s corruption, the Captain changed his name and costume to become ‘Nomad’, a superhero without a country.

Deathlok

Deathlok: Robocop against an Anonymous Enemy

Post-Vietnam disillusionment and confusion found further expression in another Marvel strip, Deathlok the Demolisher. Deathlok was a cyborg created from the mechanical reanimation of an American army officer. The strip was set in a future America devastated by a terrible war, in which whole cities have been abandoned. To fight the war, the government has taken to creating cyborg soldiers, vicious killing machines like Deathlok, which are engineered to enjoy killing and maiming. A battle with a rival cyborg destroys the mechanisms controlling Deathlok, allowing the human side to reassert itself, and the man inside to go on a quest to recover his humanity. In flavour, the strip very much resembled Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop, with its cyborg hero, robotic killing machines and a city devastated by crime and political neglect. Unlike Robocop, which came out later, the strip made it deliberately unclear what the point of the War was, or even who soldiers like Deathlok had been created to fight. The suggestion was that it had all somehow been staged by the government, to divide, terrorise and rule.

There are no cyborgs slugging it out on the streets of Moscow or Kiev, but the depiction of ‘non-linear war’ looks exactly like the shattered America in Deathlok.

Tory Lies Drawing

Shifty Cameron, Austerity and the Enrichment of the already Wealthy

As for Cameron, he is indeed a protean, shape-shifting politicians, adopting guises only to abandon them when he got into power. Remember when he said that ‘this would be the greenest government ever?’ It didn’t take long for that to go once he got his foot through the front door of No. 10, along with his promises about the health service and the abandonment of the market economy so proclaimed by his mentor, Philip Blond, in his book, Red Tory.

The transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich is not confusing by any means. It’s been a feature of American politics for decades, where the government has pursued a policy of austerity for the poor, and subsidies and tax breaks for the rich. It’s only confusing because the extremes of poverty and wealth created by the banking crisis has thrown into very acute relief.

Assad, Islamism and the Paradoxes of the Modern Middle East

As for Assad, this is the product of Western politicians genuinely not understanding the politics of the Middle East. They pursued idealistic goals that ran in direct contradiction to the perceived good of the nations to which they were applied. Assad and his counterparts in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya were dictators, who held power through terror and brutality. Western governments see themselves as defenders of democracy and freedom, and so felt bound to support the popular revolts that broke out in the Middle East during the ‘Arab Spring’. Yet however undemocratic these regimes were, they were also secular, Westernising regimes that ostensibly promoted liberal policies of religious tolerance and personal freedom and relative gender equality to an extent which the Islamic and Islamist regimes that sought to replace them did not. The result has been the volte-face from seeking to oust Assad, to trying to combat his enemies in order to preserve his secular, Ba’ath regime.

Time to Reject Failed Neo-Liberalism

All of this has had a disempowering effect, because the parties have moved so close together, that there is little apparent difference between them. They are still attempting to apply discredited economic and foreign policies, while hiding their failures.

It’s long past the time when this situation changed, and politicians began thinking out of the Neo-Liberal box.

The French Revolutionary Sansculottes, Their Attitudes, Ideology and Continuing Relevance

April 22, 2014

French Revolution Book

I have found this description of the Sansculottes, the radical Parisian republicans, in D.G. Wright, Revolution and Terror in France 1789-1795 (London: Longman 1974). They weren’t working class, but a mixture of people from across the working and middle classes, including wage-earners and prosperous businessmen. The majority of them were tradesmen, shopkeepers, craftsmen, small masters, compagnons and journeymen. Their membership reflected the structure of Parisian industry, which largely consisted of small workshops employing four and fourteen workers. Despite containing many members of the middle class, the Sansculottes believed strongly in manual work and direct democracy.

The ideal sans culotte, depicted in popular prints, wore his hair long, smoked a pipe and dressed simply: cotton trousers (rather than the knee-breeches, culottes, of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie), a short jacket and the bonnet rouge (the Phrygian cap of the freed slave in ancient times). Powdered wigs, scent, knee-breeches, buckled shoes, flowered waistcoats, bows and lorgnettes were dismissed as foppish and frivolous trappings of privilege, with overtones of sexual deviancy. Equally dismissed were the manners and deferent behaviour of the ancient regime: the good sans culotte took his hat off to nobody, used the familiar ‘tu’ rather than ‘vous’ and ‘citoyen’ rather than ‘monsieur’, and swore in the colourful Parisian slang of the Pere Duchesne. He tended to judge people by their appearance: those who wore fancy clothes, spoke in ‘posh’ tones, looked haughty, or failed to offer the fraternal kiss of liberty. Those who seemed to despise the honest working man were in trouble. A music dealer was arrested as a suspect for observing, at a sectional meeting, ‘It was disgusting to see a cobbler acting as president, particularly a cobbler who was badly dressed’.

‘Aristocrat’ and ‘moderate’ became interchangeable terms for those who opposed in any way the outlook and aspirations of the sans culottes or appeared to look down on them or ridicule them; they were also applied to those who seemed indifferent and lacking in the open enthusiasm of the good revolutionary. ‘Aristocrat’ could include those who refused to buy biens nationaux or to cultivate land or sell it at a fair price, or failed to find employment for labourers and journeymen, or refused to subscribe generously to patriotic loans, or to those dealt in gold rather than republican assignats or speculated on the Bourse or in joint stock companies. As the revolutionary crisis deepened in 1793, ‘aristocrat’ increasingly came to mean bourgeois property owner; in May an orator in the Section du Mail declared: ‘Aristocrats are the rich wealthy merchants, monopolists, middlemen, bankers, trading clerks, quibbling lawyers and citizens who own anything.’ Wealth always raised sans culotte suspicion, unless offset by outstanding political virtue. Hoarders and monopolists were seen as hand-in-glove with large merchants, bankers and economic liberals in a plot to starve the people and crush the Revolution; for sans culottes were ultra sensitive to the problem of food supply and the price of bread, while they lived in constant fear of plots and betrayal. Hunger, as well as democratic politics and puritanical moral views, was a cement holding the disparate sans culotte groups together. Hence pillage could be justified as ‘egalitarian’ and ‘revolutionary’ in that it fed the people and struck at the machinations of hoarders and speculators, the visible vanguard of counter-revolution. Sans culottes always tended to advocated immediate and violent political solutions to economic problems and, with brutal simplicity, assumed that spilling blood would provide bread.

Despite the fact that many sans culottes were small property owners, there existed a deep-rooted egalitarianism. They believed in the ‘right to live’ (‘droit a l’existence’) and in ‘the equality of the benefits of society (l’egalite des jouissances). A family should have enough to live on in modest comfort, especially sufficient bread of good quality flour. No rich man should have the power of life and death over his fellow men by his ability to monopolise food and other basic necessities. thus food prices and distribution should be controlled by law, while the government should take stern action against hoarders and speculators. Some of the more radical sans culotte committees demanded taxation of the rich, limitation of rents, restriction of the activities of large financiers, government-assisted workshops and allowances for widows, orphans and disabled soldiers. (pp. 52-4).

‘He was a fervent believer in direct democracy, a concept which stemmed ultimately from Rousseau and the Social Contract and filtered down into the sections through the revolutionary press, broadsheets and speeches, revolutionary songs and Jacobin Club pamphlets and propaganda. Authority could not be delegated, for the true basis of government was the people, sitting permanently in their evening sectional meetings, where they discussed laws and decrees. Deputies should be delegates rather than representatives and be constantly and immediately answerable to societies populaires. The latter had the right to scrutinise the laws of the Assembly, administer justice and the police, and help to run the war effort. Thus the sans culottes saw themselves and the ‘nation’ as synonymous. (pp. 54-5).

We don’t need the murderous bloodthirstiness of the sans culottes, some of whom took their children to public executions as part of their political education, and, as time wore on, became increasingly nationalistic and chauvinistic, to the point where they insisted on Parisian French as they only indicator of political reliability, and were hostile and suspicious of other languages spoken in France, such as the Breton Celtic tongue, and even other French dialects. And I don’t share their radical atheism and hatred of Christianity and Roman Catholicism. However, we do need a revival of other parts of their attitude and values: the radical egalitarianism, which despises and revolted against any attempt to sneer at someone because of their occupation as a worker or manual tradesman. Owen Jones in Chavs points to the way Kenneth Clarke once heckled John Prescott with the cry of ‘Here, barman’, because Prescott had once been a ship’s steward. And this government is indeed that of ‘Aristocrats … wealthy merchants, monopolists, middlemen, bankers, trading clerks, quibbling lawyers’ and the owners of vast property and industry. And monopolists, bankers and economic liberals are pursuing policies that penalise and push into grinding poverty the poorest and weakest sections of the society for their own profit.

Instead of a government by them, which benefits the rich alone, we desperately need instead a government of real egalitarians, that is not afraid to pursue policies that include the ‘taxation of the rich, limitation of rents, restriction of the activities of large financiers, government-assisted workshops and allowances for widows, orphans and disabled soldiers’ and more. Regardless of one’s attitude to religion, it’s about time we returned and revived their radical egalitarianism against a radically unequal, illiberal and thoroughly oppressive regime.

cameron-toff

David Cameron: He personifies the Sansculotte statement ‘Aristocrats are the rich wealthy merchants, monopolists, middlemen, bankers, trading clerks, quibbling lawyers and citizens who own anything.’