Posts Tagged ‘‘The Trews’’

Daily Mail Sneers at Brand and Miliband – Bit of Fear over Paying Tax, Perhaps?

May 6, 2015

Last week, Russell Brand, the former anarchist firebrand, met Ed Miliband. For Miliband at least, the meeting was successful, in that Brand has abandoned his stance of urging people not to vote, to urging them to vote Labour instead. It’s left some on the radical Left feeling betrayed, as Brand has compromised his ideological purity by supporting a party, which they see as still retaining the New Labour contempt for those on welfare and which still intends to implement something like a workfare scheme. See, for example, Johnny Void’s recent post.

If it’s upset some on the Left, it also seems to have rattled the Right. Whatever you make of Brand as a comedian, and millionaire actor coming from an affluent middle class background, Brand is articulate and can make some very cogent, sharp points about the state of British and international politics. I’ve reblogged some of his posts from The Trews, his video series on Youtube where he analyses and deconstructs the news and the serious and not-so-serious issues of the day. He has made some very good criticisms of the corrupt state of British politics, the failure of current capitalism to provide most of the people of this country with the state support and welfare benefits they need, the increasingly harsh inequalities thrown up by the class system, and racism and the vilification and marginalisation of ethnic minorities, including Muslims.

And some of this seems to have struck home. On the cover of the Daily Mail one day last week was a picture of Brand with Miliband. Underneath was the headline ‘Would you trust this clown to run the country (and we don’t mean the one of the Left’.

Miliband sent a shiver of horror down the collective spines of Britain’s super-rich last week when he announced that he was going to end the non-dom tax bracket, which allows some of the extremely rich resident in Britain to avoid paying tax as they are technically resident in another country.

Many of those not paying British tax are fleet street editors and proprietors.
Like one Viscount Rothermere, the owner of the Daily Mail.
Rothermere junior inherited his non-dom status from his father, who spent most of his life in Paris. Harmsworth fils, however, seems pretty well resident in this country, especially as he’s building a multi-million pound stately home for himself in the country estate he purchased. He funded this through a complex series of loans, rather than pay for it himself directly, as this allows him to use his non-dom status to avoid paying tax on it.

And Brand has tried to tackle him on his refusal to pay tax. In one of the sequences in Michael Winterbottom’s documentary exposing the corrupt politics of modern corporate Britain, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Brand is shown turning up outside Rothermere’s stately home, and pressing the button with the communicator to get to talk to Rothermere about his non-dom tax status. Not surprising, they don’t let him in, and Brand stays shut out.

Obviously, Rothermere’s very worried about the possible ending of this tax dodge, and the personal attention he received from the abortive visit by Brand. Hence the personal abuse and vilification.

Rothermere and his editor have no right telling anyone how to vote in this country. They don’t pay British tax, and have absolute contempt for those, who depend on welfare benefits provided by the state – the unemployed, working poor, the sick, the disabled. Their attempts to rubbish Brand, Miliband and the rest of the left is merely self-serving propaganda, and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

And absolutely no-one should take seriously their demands to vote Tory. Rothermere and his fellows welcome their programme of tax cuts, because it will leave them richer, and the rest of us poorer.

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Cameron Joins the Borg for the Sun

April 6, 2015

Star Trek’s Borg: The Future of the Conservative Party

On Saturday, I reblogged an edition of Russell Brand’s The Trews, where he takes apart a promotional video for David Cameron made by the Sun. Apart from the general horrendous bias of the video and its flagrant omissions of what Cameron has actually inflicted on the poor, sick and unemployed of Britain, it was also notable for the weird extremes its sycophantic tone took. It wasn’t enough to show Cameron’s working day, lobbing him soft questions, and trying to present the butcher of the poor and homeless as somehow warm, cuddly and caring.

David Cameron as Nature Documentary

No! They had to take viewer identification to a completely new level. They fixed Cameron up with the type of camera they usually fix on animals in nature documentaries, so you could experience what it was like to be him as he walked down 10 Downing Street’s hallowed corridors.

This presented the highly amusing spectacle of the prime minister being wired up in the same way the Beeb has put cameras on wild birds, seals and walruses, and, most recently, cats and dogs. There’s even a form of camera that can be purchased by ordinary members of the public, who want to put it on their pet to see what their pooch is doing. It was one of a number of doggy gadgets that Warwick Davis tried out on the One Show. This ended up with the nation’s favourite Ewok yelling down the computer screen as his canine best friend decided that it would take a dip in the house’s fish pond.

With Cameron similarly wired up to the TV, all that was needed was a voice-over by David Attenborough giving details of his territorial behaviour, nesting, and mating rituals.

There is a more serious side to this. The camera placed on Cameron to present his pov takes the whole exercise into the issue of cultural hegemony, the Fascist cult of the leader, and the potential loss of individuality and personal freedom through the internet.

Cameron’s Camera and Marxist Theory of Hegemony

Marx claimed that the ideologies informing and governing societies, such as religion, were constructed in order to disguise and legitimate the power of the economically superior ruling groups. This was developed by the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci into his theory of hegemony, in which the ruling classes grip on culture and its manipulation is part of the process through which they rule.

Part of this involves the lower orders and subordinate groups taking over and viewing everything through the eyes of their social superiors. One of the problems in history is that frequently the only materials that survive from past ages, is that produced by the ruling class of aristocratic White males. Thus the view of the past can be skewed very much towards the viewpoint of the governing aristocracy. If you look at culture generally, it frequently, but not always, was made by members of the ruling classes, and so reflects and promotes their class interests.

This isn’t always the case, and there are severe flaws which have effectively discredited Marxist aesthetics, which puts everything down to class. Nevertheless, it is broadly true in many cases.

This exercise with Cameron’s personal camera took this to its ultimate extreme. Not only were you being asked to identify with Cameron’s worldview, but you were also being manipulated into identifying with him personally, as a real, embodied being walking the corridors of power. This is as close a personal identification you can get with modern technology, failing having galvanic stimulators strapped onto your body, so you can carry out every movement he does.

The Fascist Leader Cult

Absolute glorification and identification with the leader is also one of the central tenets of Fascism. The cult of a charismatic leader was supposed to bring the ordinary citizen into a more personal, dynamic relationship with their government than was possible in democracy, with its grey, stultifying, boring bureaucracy. In practice, the reverse was true, and the cult of the leader proved far more boring and bureaucratic than the democracy the Fascist leaders had overthrown. And particularly as the Fascist apparatchiks were generally mediocrities and non-entities, carefully selected for their lack of talent and charisma so that they would never challenge the authority of the Fuehrer or Duce.

This was partly the purpose of the Fascist spectacles – the speeches from balcony and rallies in Nuremberg Stadium: to reach out to the masses and propagandise them through the leader’s personal charisma and oratory. And Hitler in particular stressed his personal connection with ordinary Germans and the submerged masses. In one of his speeches, he declared ‘everything I am, I am through you. Everything you are, you are through me.’ People and Fuehrer thus in Nazi rhetoric and ideology were almost indissolubly linked, the one a personification of the other.

Cameron’s donning of the camera to present his personal view took that concept, and attempted to make it technological reality.

We are Borg. Your technological and biological distinctiveness are at an end. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Remember the Borg in Star Trek? This was their answer to Dr Who‘s Cybermen. The Borg were a race of humanoids, who had taken cybernetics almost as far as it would go. They had become cyborgs, combining the organic and machine. This technology had made them so interconnected, that they had lost all individuality. Only the Borg queen had an individual identity. The rest were merely drones, serving the collective, which was itself a gestalt intelligence or hive mind, like a giant anthill.

Star Trek’s producers state that when they created the Borg, they did so deliberately to play on American fears of collectivist societies, like those of the Japanese. And, we might add, like Communism. But the part of the Western political scene now that has the most totalitarian ideology is that of the Conservative right. Through sanctions, workfare, work coaches, fitness to work assessments and so on, the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers have created an extensive bureaucracy of surveillance and control, which is intended to monitor almost every aspect of the benefit claimant’s life. It harks back to the utilitarians’ ideology of control in Jeremy Bentham’s prison design. These were to have panopticons, a watch room from where every corridor and the movements of all the criminals in the prison could be observed and monitored. This, it was believed, would allow the authorities complete control over the prisoners and facilitate their reform.

The same ideology now permeates the Tories’ views of the poor and benefit claimants. At the moment the personal cameras are just being used to get people to identify with their leaders. How long before someone wants to use them to monitor us in the next extension of totalitarian power from a party determined to ‘discipline and punish’?

Russell Brand Deconstructs the Sun’s ‘Day in the Life of David Cameron’

April 4, 2015

This is an edition of Russell Brand’s The Trews, his youtube broadcasts where he discusses the pressing issues of the moment. In this one he takes apart a video the Sun made, which tried to give its readers a sympathetic look at what Cameron’s working day is actually like. Brand states clearly that it could only have been the Sun that made this video, as the newspaper is the only other thing in Britain which has the same amount of hatred and malevolence towards the country and its people that the Tories have.

Brand goes below the chummy tone to expose just how manipulative and artificial the Sun’s video is, and how deeply malevolent the Tories are towards the poor. He notes the stiffness in Cameron’s manner, which shows that rather than acting naturally, he is self-consciously trying to look as if he’s acting naturally. Brand points out that Cameron has no idea how ordinary people really behave because of his class and education.

Among his other remarks on the Suns’ video, Brand talks about the way the Tories are funded by off-shore bankers, the way the government is actively closing down businesses, and that their policies are forcing 900,000 people to use food banks. He also comments on the way the Tories stand for deregulation and inflated energy prices. Here’s the video:

I don’t share Brand’s anarchism and his belief in not voting. But this is a good demolition of this propaganda effort by the Sun. And the comments Brand made about it are also relevant to the Tories’ party political broadcast made earlier this week.

If you missed it, this showed children playing in the park, going up and down stairs at home, and generally doing what kids do. Every now and then, the action would stop and a voice and text would announce the Tories’ election promises. As the video went on, the kids were revealed to be Cameron’s own, and he, they, and his wife were shown sitting round the dining room table. It was a carefully constructed image, showing Cameron as a secure and caring paterfamilias. A family man, standing for sound family values and the country’s prosperity. What could be more wholesomely bourgeois than that?

Now I support the family as a human institution. And I wish there were more happy and secure families. But that isn’t always the case. Marriages and committed relationships fall apart for any number of reasons. And it should be needless to say that despite the scare stories of rampant promiscuity, not every single parent is a feckless tart. One of the most serious dangers to secure family life is poverty, lack of opportunity and the desperation these engender. All of which have increased under the Tories. Where they didn’t exist before, they have been manufactured. The whole point has been to create a desperate, precarious workforce, who will take any job, nobody how exploitative and derisory the pay and conditions are.

Private Eye published cited the government’s own statistics this week that 40,000 families are homeless in Bed and Breadkfast accommodation. John Void in particularly has repeated blogged about homelessness, and how many children don’t have a permanent roof over their head. The number of single people, who are homeless is much higher, with the true numbers of the ‘hidden homeless’ staying with friends and relatives about 263,000. And Brand states that 900,000 people have been forced to use food banks.

With this level of poverty in the country, the Tories’ bland depiction of themselves as the party of bourgeois home-owning prosperity is grossly insulting.

Russell Brand: Why Is Tony Blair Not In Jail as War Criminal?

March 16, 2015

Tom Pride this morning put up the post, which I’ve reblogged here, satirising Bliar’s position as a Middle East Peace envoy, and how it conflicts with his role as the Antichrist. I thought after that it would be appropriate to put up Russell Brand’s own thoughts on the same issue.

I realise that many people, including myself, have mixed feelings about Russell Brand. I can’t say I’m a complete fan of his, particularly after the childish and offensive stunt he and Wossy pulled several years ago now making that prank phone call to Andrew Sachs. I also don’t agree with his position that people shouldn’t vote. That’s simply a way of making sure the people in power will ignore you. In fact, far from acknowledging how alienated people are, they then claim the opposite: people aren’t voting, because they’re entirely satisfied with the way things are being run.

On the other hand, Brand in his ‘The Trews’ videos commenting on the news and serious issues does make extremely good points, backed up with his characteristic cheeky wit. In this edition, Why Is Tony Blair Not In Jail? I literally Don’t Understand, he comments on the iniquity and absurdity of the Bliar being awarded the title of ‘Philanthropist of the Year’ by Save the Children after the horrors he created in Iraq with his participation in Bush’s illegal invasion. He cites some chilling statistics on the carnage and chaos the invasion has created. Two million dead. Millions more displaced. Children living in fear and poverty. Bliar’s award thus becomes an extremely sick and very unfunny joke.

It’s not the first time an award for philanthropy has been given to a politician many would regard as a monster. Tom Lehrer was so shocked and disgusted by Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize after the bombing of Hanoi that he gave up writing satire. Well, after an event of that magnitude, there really doesn’t seem to be any more you can say.

Here, however, is Brand on Bliar: