Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Bloc’

TYT Cover Panel on the End of Neoliberalism at Labour Party Conference

October 22, 2017

This is another video produced by the progressive American news service, The Young Turks, of the Labour conference at Brighton the week before last. The panel was entitled ‘Welcome to the End of the Neoliberalism’. Held in a dingy nightclub, the female host jokes about how her audience can say exactly where they were when neoliberalism ended, and that, as with nearly all revolutions, the women were first and the men came late.

With her on the panel were Paul Mason, a former Channel 4 journo, playwright, documentary film maker, and the author of the book ‘Postcapitalism’; Jo Littler, an academic, who specialises in cultures of consumption, and the author of a book on meritocracy, pointing out that this is precisely what it isn’t, as meritocracy is a system that reinforces minority, elite rule; Valary Alzaga, a labour organiser working with the people at neoliberalism’s sharp end in precarity; and Clive Lewis, the MP for Norwich.

Paul Mason begins the discussion by trying to describe what neoliberalism is in reality, rather than neoliberalism as a collection of ideas. In doing so he states that he has annoyed the Adam Smith Institute. And he includes not only the perfect, ideal capitalist states of the West, but also mercantilist states like China, as they are now part of the same global system. He states that you could go back to the German ordoliberals to describe it, and to people like Von Hayek and the Chicago School. But he begins with Peugeot’s definition of its aims at a meeting in Paris in 1938. This described precisely what neoliberalism is not: it is not traditional laissez-faire economics. The early neoliberals realised that if markets and market forces were left on their own, the result would be monopolies that would be nationalised by the state, according to Marxist doctrine and praxis. So they sought to enforce competition at every level. This means not only privatisation, and the introduction of legislation to force companies to compete, but also the creation of competition as a mindset to keep working people isolated and competing against each other.

The result can be seen in the favelas – the deprived slums – of Latin America, where you have poor people living in former factories that have closed down. Then the housing association is dissolved, and the mob moves in, as only through organised crime is there safety. And Mason states very clearly that it isn’t only in Latin America that this process has occurred. It’s also happened in many of the towns in the north of England, where industry has been gutted and forced overseas, and the result has been a massive upsurge in crime.

He goes on to state that at first neoliberalism was devised so the rich West could exploit Latin America. But after the Fall of Communism opened up the 20 per cent of the world market that was the former eastern bloc, it became a global system. However, neoliberalism is now collapsing. It produces a series of crises, and so rightwing politicians like Trump, rather than destroying it, are producing nationalist versions of neoliberalism. That is, they are turning away from it as a system of international trade, but still enforcing it in their own countries as a system of private ownership that excludes and exploits the poor.

Jo Littler says much the same as Mason in a much briefer speech. She refers to it as ‘disembowelling’ the public, meaning the enforced privatisation of public services. She also describes how two of the sources for neoliberalism were the German Ordoliberals, who turned away from the state-managed economy of the Nazis, and von Hayek and the Chicago school. She also mentions how it was first proposed by the Montpelerin meeting in Paris. And she also makes the point that it took a long time for them to have their ideas accepted, as until the Chicago School, Pinochet and Thatcher they were isolated cranks and weirdoes.

Valary Alzaga explains that she is a care worker, who are some of the most poorly paid workers with the most precarious jobs. She describes how, under neoliberal capitalism, care homes have been privatised, bought up by hedge funds and venture capitalists, who have then gone on to sell off whatever was profit-making. As for care workers, neoliberalism means that if they try to form a union, they are immediately sacked. Under socialism and Keynsianism there was a social pact, by which employers and the state recognised the rights of workers to form trade unions and bargain for better pay and conditions. This no longer exists.

Clive Lewis, who to my mind looks like a younger version of Noel Clarke, the actor, who played Rose Tyler’s boyfriend in Dr. Who, is an economics graduate. He describes how, when he was studying it, he and the other students were filled with its doctrines, but no-one ever mentioned the word. He only woke up to what it was and really meant when he happened to go on a summer course about it. He describes this in terms of a religious revelation. He says it was as if he’d been deprogrammed. When he returned, his friends complained that it was as if he’d joined a cult, because all he talked about was neoliberalism, neoliberalism and neoliberalism.

He states that the goal of von Hayek wasn’t to set up an independent party, as he was asked by one of his followers. He wanted instead to permeate the academic institutions, like the universities and take over the whole system. And so this resulted in Blair and Brown accepting it as absolutely true, and introducing it into the Labour party. He refers to the story, which he thinks was apocryphal, about Thatcher being asked what her greatest achievement was. Instead of pointing to one of her wretched privatisations, she said it was Tony Blair and New Labour. Lewis states that their adoption of neoliberalism is unforgivable with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight but you have to understand the state of British politics at the time.

This is a fascinating analysis of the rise and destructive effects of neoliberalism. Robin Ramsay, the editor of ‘Lobster’, also studied economics in the late ’60s – early ’70s, and he states that Thatcher’s beloved Monetarism was considered so much rubbish that his lecturers didn’t even bother arguing against it. And before Thatcherism turned to mass privatisation and the idolatrous adulation of the free market after 1981-2, neoliberalism was considered very much an extreme doctrine held only by cranks. Which is what it should return to being.

As for annoying the Adam Smith Institute, they have been pushing for the complete privatisation of all state assets, including the NHS since the 1970s, so annoying them is, in my view, a good and holy occupation. And in amongst their dissection of neoliberalism they also have a gibe at Jacob Rees-Mogg, which is also always a good thing.

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William Blum’s List of American Foreign Interventions: Part 1

February 15, 2017

Yesterday I put up a piece about American hypocrisy in the allegations that Putin was blackmailing Donald Trump, when the Americans themselves interfered in the Russian elections in 1996 in order to secure Boris Yeltsin’s election as Russian president. This was, however, hardly the first time America had intervened in the domestic politics of a foreign country. William Blum devotes two chapters to this in his book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. In one he lists the various interventions America has made in other countries, including invasions and military coups, and in the other cases where America has interfered with the conduct of elections in order to secure a win for their favoured candidates.

Both of these are very long and ignominious lists. Here’s part 1 of a list of foreign interventions by the US.

American Interventions

China 1945-51
Aiding Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang against Mao’s Communists.

France 1947
Backing French Socialist party against the Communists, using Corsican mobsters to attack Communist party and Communist-aligned trade unionists.

Marshall Islands 1946-58
Indigenous people of Bikini Atoll removed from the island in order to make way for nuclear tests.

Italy 1947-1970s
Backing Conservative Christian Democrats to keep the Socialists and Communists out of power.

Greece 1947-9
Backing neo-Fascists and creating intelligence unit for them in the civil war against the Communists.

Philippines 1945-53
Military actions against the left-wing Huk forces.

Korea 1945-53
Korean War. However, afterwards US backed Conservatives, who had collaborated with the Japanese, and Fascist dictators, also committed atrocities against fleeing civilians.

Albania 1949-53
Backing anti-Communist guerillas, most of whom were collaborators with the Nazis and Italian Fascists.

Eastern Europe 1948-1956
Head of CIA Allen Dulles deliberately heightened paranoia in the eastern bloc, causing hundreds of thousands of imprisonments, purge trials and murders by the Communist regimes.

Germany 1950s
Lengthy campaign of terrorism, dirty tricks and sabotage against East Germany.

Iran 1953
Prime Minister Mossadegh overthrown by CIA and British led coup, as dared nationalise what is now British Petroleum oilfields.

Guatemala 1953-1990s
CIA backed Fascist coup against democratic socialist Jacobo Arbenz for nationalising plantations owned by American company, United Fruit. Result: forty years of terror, with 200,000 people murdered.

Costa Rica mid-1950s and 1970-1
Attempted assassination of liberal democratic president, Jose Figueres, because considered too soft on the left, and for making his nation the first in Central America to establish diplomatic links with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and questioning American foreign policy, like the invasion of Cuba.

Middle East 1956-58
Attempts to overthrow the Syrian government, shows of force in Mediterranean against opposition to US-backed governments in Jordan and Lebanon, landing of 14,000 troops in Lebanon, and attempts to overthrow and assassinate Egyptian president Gamal Nasser.

Indonesia 1957-8
Attempts to manipulate elections, assassinate, blackmail and start a civil war to overthrow President Sukarno. Sukarno neutral in Cold War, went on trips to China and USSR, nationalised private property of Dutch colonialists, and did not crack down on the Communist party, which was then engaged on electoral path to power.

Haiti 1959
Trained troops of notorious dicator Papa Doc Duvalier, and destroy attempted coup against him by Haitians, Cubans and other Latin Americans.

Western Europe 1950s-1960s
Granting of American money through charities and so on to various groups and organisations in pursuit of American anti-Communist, anti-Socialist policies.

British Guiana/Guyana 1953-64
Attempts to force out of office democratically elected socialist premier, Cheddi Jagan by America and Britain.

Iraq 1958-63

Long campaign against nationalist leader General Abdul Karim Kassem after he overthrew the monarchy and established a republic. USA and Turkey drew up plan to invade; this dropped in favour of arming Kurds, as well as assassination attempts. Kassem helped set up OPEC and created nationalised oil company. Kassem was finally overthrown in a Ba’ath coup, which also led to a clampdown on the Communist party, which was backed by both America and Britain.

Soviet Union 1940s-1960s
Cold War campaigns of espionage, propaganda and sabotage, backing of resistance movements against USSR.

Vietnam 1945-73
Vietnam War.

Cambodia 1945-73
Overthrow of Prince Sihanouk enabling Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge to gain power.

Laos 1957-73
Armed insurrection and bombing against reformist left, led by Pathet Lao party.

Thailand 1965-73
Armed forced against insurgents.

Ecuador 1960-63
Overthrow of president Jose Maria Velasco for not clamping down on left and not following US policy against Cuba.

Congo/Zaire, 1960-65, 1977-8
Overthrow of Patrice Lumumba in favour of dictator and mass-murderer Mobutu Sese Seko.

France/Algeria 1960s
Backed French military coup in Algeria to stop country becoming independent. Also hoped repercussions would overthrow De Gaulle, who was blocking American attempts to dominate NATO.

Brazil, 1961-64
Backed military dictatorship which overthrew President Joao Goulart for being too independent and friendly towards Communists, despite the fact that Goulart millionaire devout Roman Catholic.

Peru 1965
Military action against leftist guerillas

Dominican Republic 1963-5
Overthrow of liberal president, Juan Bosch.

Cuba 1959-Present
Attempts to overthrow Communist regime.

Indonesia 1965
Overthrow of Sukarno and bloody suppression of Communists by successor, General Suharto.

Ghana 1966
Overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah

Uruguay 1969-72
Dirty War against Tupamaro leftists guerillas.

Chile 1964-73
Long campaign against democratic Communist, Salvador Allende, culminating in Fascist coup of General Pinochet.

Greece 1967-74
Intervention against liberal Greek president George Papandreou, as he wanted to take Greece out of NATO and declare Greek neutrality in Cold War. Overthrown in the Fascist coup that inaugurated the rule of the Colonels.

South Africa 1960s-1980s
Assistance to South African apartheid government against African Nationalist Congress, which, amongst other things, led to the arrest and imprisonment of Nelson Mandela.

Bolivia 1964-75
Military campaign against President Victor Paz for supporting Cuba.

Australia 1972-5
Operations to have Gough Whitlam, the leader of the Aussie Labor party, removed by America and British, ’cause he was opposed to Vietnam.

Iraq 1972-5
CIA backed Kurds, not for them to get autonomy, but to distract Iraqi army and make sure they didn’t overthrow the Shah of Iran.

Portugal 1974-76
comprehensive series of measures, including shows of force by NATO warships, against radical policies proposed by the army officers, who overthrew the previous Fascist dictatorship of General Salazar.

East Timor 1975-99
Backing of Indonesian invasion, which killed 1/3 of the island’s population.

Angola 1975-1980s
Angolan civil war, which was basically proxy war between US, China and South Africa on one hand and USSR and Cuba on the other.

Radical 80s Anti-War Pop: Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes

August 6, 2016

A week or so ago I put I blogged about Sting’s great anti-war song, Russians. Based on a tune by Prokofiev, and with the haunting refrain, ‘Do the Russians love their children too?’, this was Sting’s protest against the new Cold War between America and Russia in which both sides were condemned for their militarism. The video I used here was of a performance the great songster made a few years ago on Russian TV, which shows how far the world has come since I was a schoolboy in the 1980s. Then, Russia and the rest of the former eastern bloc were very much closed off to the West, although as the political climate thawed, the BBC did launch a fascinating series of films on the Soviet Union. This included an edition of antenna on Soviet TV. I was moved to put up the video as a reminder of great pop challenging the horrific spectre of nuclear war by the arms build up in the West and increasing tension between NATO and Russia. There’s been a series of manoeuvres in Estonia, Poland, Romania and the other Baltic states against the possibility of a Russian invasion, despite the fact that the Russians have said that they have no intention of doing any such thing. This follows a book by a NATO general predicting that by May next year, Russia will have invaded Latvia, and our nations will be at war. This should terrify everyone, who grew up in the 1980s and remembers the real threat of nuclear Armageddon then, along with the horrific spoutings of some generals about fighting a ‘limited nuclear war’ in Europe.

Unfortunately, that possibility has just come a step nearer after the statement on Morning Joe, an American news programme hosted by Joe Scarborough, that he had been told by a foreign policy expert that in discussing the subject with Donald Trump, the coiffured clown asked him three times why America hadn’t used nuclear weapons. As I said in my last post, this is a very good argument for keeping the pratt out of the White House, if not the society of decent humans. If you only needed one argument for not wanting to see Trump as president, regardless of the endorsement of violence, the misogyny, the racism and Islamophobia, this would be it. Trump shouldn’t be president, because he’s a threat to all life on Earth.

Sting wasn’t the only pop musician to release a piece in the 1980s against the militaristic posturing between East and West. So too did Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Frankie … were a band that managed to shock the British public with the release of their single, Relax, and the homoerotic imagery of both the song and the accompanying video. It was so shocking, that the Beeb was supposed to have banned. This, of course, had the usual effect of making it massively popular, and it shot to Number 1 in the charts. The band’s frontman, Holly Johnson was gay, as was I think, one of the other band members, but most of them were straight. Bands like Frankie…, and other gay pop stars like Marc Almond, Jimmy Summerville and Boy George helped to challenge the popular prejudice and real hatred there was for gays there still was then, over a decade after gay sex in private between consenting adults had been legalised.

Two Tribes continued their trend of edgy music by presenting the confrontation between East and West as a bare knuckle boxing match between someone, who looked very much like Ronald Reagan, and an opponent, who was clearly based on one of the Russian presidents of the time. I can’t work out quite who the Russia is based on, as he looks a bit like Brezhnev, but not quite, and I can’t remember who Andropov and Chernenko, the last two Soviet presidents before Mikhail Gorbachev, looked like. To my mind, he looks more like Boris Yeltsin, the former mayor of Moscow, who succeeded Gorby as president of Russia. Unlike Gorby, Yeltsin wasn’t a Communist, but a capitalist-in-waiting, who sold off just about everything that wasn’t nailed down. The result was that Russian economy went into meltdown, millions across the former USSR were thrown out of work without any of the welfare safety nets in place in Europe or America, while rampant inflation wiped out people’s savings. Despite his generally pro-Western, pro-capitalist stance, he could also be belligerent. Sometime in his presidency, a Norwegian sounding rocket went off course, and landed somewhere in Russia. Yeltsin appeared on TV pounding his desk and declaring that he had been quite prepared to respond with nukes, if such an event seemed to be an attack on Russia. He was also, like many of the Russia politicos, including Brezhnev, massively corrupt. A lot of the state enterprises he privatised mysteriously ended up in the hands of his cronies, and people, who were prepared to fork over a lot of roubles. He was also a figure of western media amusement, as he appeared to be permanently smashed, unlike his predecessor, who appeared far more temperate and had launched a strong anti-drink campaign. The mass privatisation of the Soviet Economy had a devastating effect on its citizens’ health, which Basu and Stuckler discuss in their book, the Body Economic, on how economic austerity harms people’s physical health. Putin, with his promise of economic stability and national pride, is very much a response to the chaos of the Yeltsin regime. I’ve got a feeling Yeltsin might be dead now, but if anyone needed a good drubbing, it was him, though by the Russian people, who had a better reason to hate him than Ronald Reagan.

Frankie’s Two Tribes shows the violence in the ring escalating, until the audience of other international dignitaries begin fighting amongst themselves, to the consternation of the ringside commentator. The video ends with the Earth itself being blown up, a graphic comment on the real danger of the conflict. The song’s title, Two Tribes, also gives a very cynical take on the conflict. This isn’t about politics, human rights or the effectiveness and justice of economic systems. This is just pure tribalism, the primitive, nationalistic aggression that has haunted humanity since the Stone Age. I can’t say I was ever a fan of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and just about everyone I know is repulsed and disturbed by the Relax video. But Two Tribes is a classic piece of ’80s pop with a very relevant political message, and one that deserves to be given another hearing. Before Trump gets anywhere near the White house, and starts ranting and threatening like Reagan.

German Journo Udo Ulfkotte on Europe’s ‘Bought Journalists’

August 2, 2016

In my last piece, I discussed an article in Counterpunch by Thomas Harrington about the corruption of the British, French, German, Spanish and Italian press, even serious, progressive left-wing newspapers, to reflect American foreign policy interests, neoliberal economics and aggressive American militarism, even at the expense of the interests of their own citizens. Harrington’s article follows a book published in Germany by Udo Ulfkotte, a journalist with the Franfurter Allgemeine, one of the country’s foremost papers, roughly equivalent to the Times or the Torygraph. Entitled Gekaufte Journalisten (‘Bought Journalists’) the book describes how German and other European newspapermen have been bought by the American secret state, to publish pro-American, anti-Russian articles. Despite being a bestseller on that side of the North Sea, an English translation is still awaiting publication. Harrington’s article links to an interview with Ulfkotte on RT on YouTube.

In it, Ulfkotte describes how he too was bribed and corrupted by the CIA and the Bundesnachrichtsdienst – the German secret service – to write pro-American propaganda pieces. He describes how he has become an honorary citizen of Oklahoma in the US, amongst other rewards for his services, and goes on to describe how very many journalists from across Europe, particularly Britain, have been similarly corrupted. Those that have been corrupted the least are the French. He states that no-one will come up to you saying that they’re from the CIA, but ultimately, these are the people journalists like himself served. They get taken on in a system of ‘plausible deniability’. If they becoming too embarrassing, the agencies deny that they ever had anything to do with them. Ulfkotte’s states that after writing anti-Russian articles for the secret services, he is sick and tired of doing so and especially fearful because of the push to war with Russia.

He describes his country as so much under American control that it is ‘an American colony’ and a ‘banana republic’. Most Germans, for example, are against nuclear power, but still the Americans have sited their nuclear missiles in the Bundesrepublik. One of the instances of journalistic corruption he describes is obviously particularly shocking to a German very much aware of the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis. He describes being sent to Zubaidat in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. There he saw how the Iranian soldiers had been gassed used mustard gas made in Germany. Ulfkotte states how horrifying this was, to see German poison gas used again four decades after the Nazis. But when tried to write an article about it, it was spiked.

He also describes how he was asked to write a piece by the BND, the German intelligence service, describing how Colonel Ghadafy was also building poison gas plants in Libya. He himself had no knowledge of this, and all the information about it was supplied by the German intelligence agency.

He also describes some of the consequences if you refuse to join the ranks of the corrupted. He discusses the case of a German civilian helicopter pilot. This chap was a member of the ‘Yellow Angels’, a group that assists with traffic accidents. The spooks approached him about joining them as one of their spies under the cover of the organisation. He refused. He was then sacked from his job as a pilot because he was ‘untrustworthy’. The judge presiding over the case concurred with the assessment, and so the gentleman lost his job. Ulfkotte himself states that he’s not afraid what the intelligence services will throw at him. He’s already had three heart attacks, and has no children.

Here’s the video:

I’ve no doubt that what Ulfkotte says is true. As I said in my last post, Lobster has published a number of piece over the years on the way the British press, and particular journalists, have served as an outlet for propaganda cooked up by the CIA and the British Secret State. Leading journalists, such as an editor of the Times, were also recruited by the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, a Reaganite programme to train up-and-coming British politicians, like Tony Blair, to support the Atlantic alliance. Which is why you definitely won’t read much about BAP in the papers. Private Eye has also published pieces about BAP, and the way journalists with connections to the British intelligence services have tried to intimidate other journos into revealing their sources or working for them on issues relating to domestic terrorism.

What Ulfkotte describes is just the German part of a nasty web of intrigue that has been spread all over the continent. I’m not surprise that the French are the least corrupted. Under De Gaulle France pursued a solidly independent line, retaining its own, genuinely independent nuclear deterrent – ours is effectively signed over to American control – and establishing cordial relations with the eastern bloc. De Gaul blocked our application to join the Common Market – as the EU then was – in the 1960s because he feared that we were a Trojan horse for American interests.

A war with Russia is definitely not in the interests of anyone in Europe. I can remember being shocked when I was growing up in the 1980s at the suggestions then by American generals that there could be a ‘limited’ nuclear war in Europe, and apparently this appallingly stupid notion has been revived under Shrillary. Such a conflict would leave the continent, including Britain, a burnt, radioactive cinder, if it didn’t lead to the total destruction of all life on Earth as the conflict escalated. And the anti-welfare policies peddled by these papers have resulted in hardship and misery across the Continent and promoted the rise of Fascist parties and organisations as peoples have turned against each other to fight for what’s left.

Armed Police and the Threat of Political Oppression

December 30, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political reported a few days ago the government’s latest plan to tackle the terrorist threat: armed police. It seems one of the Paris murderers had pictures of Birmingham on his mobile, suggesting that the Islamists were planning an attack there. The government has stated that, at present, it takes too long for armed police units to respond, and are considering arming the police as that they can react immediately to a terrorist attack, or threat of one.

See Mike’s article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/27/police-have-been-used-by-politicians-as-tools-of-oppression-should-they-have-guns-to-fight-terrorists/

Mike raises the point that armed police have been used as instruments of political oppression, and asks whether anyone thinks it would be a good idea to give them guns now, with this present highly authoritarian government.

It wouldn’t. In fact, it would be a disaster, and potentially make the situation much worse.

Before we come to the issue of armed police being used to suppress freedom and civil liberties, there is the whole issue of how far the public can trust armed police to protect the innocent. And there’s a very large question mark over this. There’s a massive controversy in America at this very moment over ‘Black Lives Matter’, a protest movement that points to the disproportionate number of Black Americans who have been shot and killed by the police unnecessarily. These have included people, who have been unarmed, or were simply running away from the police. Some were violent, but did not present such a threat that lethal force had to be employed. They could simply have been restrained by the cops using their own physical force, or batons and tasers. Unarmed Whites have also been needlessly killed by the rozzers, but the Black community is particularly subject to this kind of lethal policing. This is possibly due to Blacks being perceived as innately more violent, thuggish and threatening than Whites.

And we’ve seen the same phenomenon here in Britain. There were the riots nearly four years ago over the death of Mark Duggan, the criminal who was shot by the police despite being unarmed. And when I was at school, back in the 1980s, there was a huge outcry then after a Black child was accidentally shot by a police officer while searching the child’s bedroom during a raid. There was also another incident in my home city of Bristol, where the cops shot a man, who they believed was armed. He was carrying not a firearm, but a chair leg, and shouting, ‘it’s a chair leg’, when they shot him.

The problem in America is that the police are too willing to use firearms in preference and other, less extreme methods of capturing or subduing a suspect. And I’m afraid that if we arm the police, they will follow this same precedent. And it concerns British police officers as well. Last summer I was talking to the partner of a British police officer, a woman, who has herself tackled violent offenders. He told me that his wife has successfully disarmed potentially lethal situations using simple negotiation, though she had used her own strength when necessary. She believed, along with others in the force, in policing by consent. You can only successfully police a community when that community trusts you. This will may be lost if officers come to rely too much on their firearms. And as far as the American officers, who automatically shot the suspect in response to a potentially violent situation, she had nothing but disdain. They were badly trained. She took pride in the fact that, no matter what dangers she encountered during her working day, she could end her shift knowing that nobody had died.

All this is likely to be jeopardised by arming the police, and especially if they are supposed to be armed against the threat of militant Islamism. There’s already massive discontent amongst Black British about the ‘stop and search’ policy in London, which has seen a disproportionate number of Blacks stopped and harassed by the Fuzz as potential suspects, simply because of their ethnicity. If this attitude is transferred to Muslims, it will provoke similar levels of discontent amongst them. At the moment the authorities are helped by ordinary Muslims, who do report individuals or actions they find suspicious. This will be lost if Muslims believe they’re under suspicion, simply because of they’re faith, with the ordinary and moderate lumped in with the extremists. It’ll isolate those, who still want to help the authorities, who will risk being branded ‘chocolate Muslims’, the Muslim equivalent of the term ‘Uncle Tom’. And it may alienate some even further, driving them into extremism rather than away.

And armed police in general are a real threat to freedom. The communist authorities in the Eastern bloc used military police units to clamp down on civil unrest and demands for democracy. And Putin is pretty much still doing it in today’s nominally democratic Russia. This government is all too willing to turn them into an authoritarian force. Remember the way the police were used to crush the miners’ strike in the 1980s? Blair and the Tories have passed successive legislation to ban and suppress protest marches and demonstrations, especially in front of parliament and Downing Street. There are any number of account of the cops using excessive force against marchers during riots. And one of the provisions in the government’s anti-trade union legislation, which fortunately didn’t get passed, was that strikers and picketers should have to give their names to the police. This was too much even for David Davies, on the Right of the Tory party, who declared it to be ‘Francoist’. And so it is.

The present government are highly authoritarian, and are doing everything they can to stifle dissent and democratic questioning of their authority. Given past examples, it’s absolutely certain that they will used an armed police force to suppress what remaining liberties we have. They’re pretty much Fascists already. They just wear business suits instead of black shirts and jackboots.