New year, same story: No justice, no peace

I recently undertook a self-imposed sabbatical during the month of December, not because it was needed but just to take a step back and look at things from the outside in. With the new year approaching I decided to give it a week to see what we would see. Did I learn anything? Yes and no. What is sure however is that you quite literally could not make this shit up.

Firstly Nelson Mandela died, the world mourned and so did those who would have previously hung him for being a terrorist. Being on my sabbatical it was easy to focus on Mandela for his life, what he stood for – what he still stands for in death, and his achievements in the face of great adversity. Not getting sucked into comments highlighting how these people, who climbed out from under their rocks to shower praise on him, had previously turned their backs on him or how they took pointless ‘selfies’ with pretty blondes at his funeral and claiming that he helped shaped not only their politics but the politics for the generations. Even wet Ed Miliband saw fit to use the same words he used to eulogise Margaret Thatcher to capture his feelings on Mandela.

The man who shaped politics for generations they said and to “never forget.”

Never forget; the words used when discussing the Holocaust but of course we did forget, which is why apartheid happened in the first place. Never forget; used after Mandela was released from prison after almost 30 years and yet still we forgot which is why we have the Israel/Palestine apartheid happening, why Sudan and Syria is happening. Here in the UK we have let poverty and austerity take hold, strangling the working poor and watching, as our liberties get siphoned away – because we have forgotten the lessons of the past. “There is never a final victory” said Mandela, the fight is eternal.

Then came the new year, 2014 and I witnessed posts claiming it would be the ‘year of love’ but we have seen the sale of chemicals from the UK that form the basis for the very agents we almost went to war over in Syria, Fallujah has fallen into full-blown civil war and there was the announcement that 2013 was the bloodiest in Iraq for almost 10 years with nearly 30 people a day dying. Not a single name reported however, just a body count. Just yesterday, we saw the confirmation that being shot dead whilst unarmed, in the case of Mark Duggan, will be ruled lawful, setting dangerous precedents for the rest of us. The police have now stated in light of this incident that they intend to consider the use of cameras for armed police units to film events. We will of course of clamour for the additional security this will provide us as citizens, there is no risk whatsoever that anything will go wrong with the footage is there? There is also the new Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill being rushed through effectively making it illegal to protest or to be a nuisance. This will result in spot fines and bans from “localities” what ever a locality means, the definition has not been set yet.

So we are a week into 2014 and the story seems much the same, focus on benefits streets and scroungers whilst we are quietly dismantled from the inside but there is a change in the atmosphere. More people are awakening, sharing information and importantly talking to each other about these injustices. The next step is to get active and move beyond the confines of the social media and on to the streets, peacefully connecting these dots – making art, questioning everything, before the law makes it illegal and try to take our ability away from us to stand up for our rights and freedom. In doing so we will gain something much more worthy, unity and the realisation that there is no justice, there is just us.

MLK had a dream, now I have a nightmare – 2013

Martin Luther King (MLK) spoke of a dream, a dream whereby the content of someones character becomes more important than the colour of their skin. In Washington this week thousands gathered to listen to three Presidents; Carter, Clinton and Obama, along with members of MLK’s family to pay tribute to his speech that has transcended the ages. Unfortunately that dream, regardless of what Obama and Clinton said yesterday, is yet to be realised for billions on this planet, including Americans and of course us Brits.

The ghetto looks the same from the front of the bus and now people are being left behind from all cultures at a phenomenal rate.

We live in a time where a country that supported Saddam Hussein whilst he gassed a million Kurds, selling him chemical weapons, now finds itself prepared to start a war with Syria over an allegation via YouTube that the government used chemical weapons on its own people. Unwilling to wait for a United Nations inspection report, the Nobel Peace Prize winning President Barack Obama, is preparing public opinion and wants to get on with it ahead of his trip to Petersberg on Tuesday for the G20. His lap-dog David Cameron is upset that the opposition, Labour, have vetoed any action until such time as the UN inspectors report has been digested. Labour of course were the puppets in charge when Tony Blair lied through his teeth with Jack Straw and told us Saddam was stock piling Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and so have steadied the surge for action, conscious of a backlash from the people of the UK for condoning another illegal war. I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where America, the land of the free, use depleted uranium in their munitions that left thousands of Iraqi children deformed and with cancer, they reigned down white phosphorus on  civilians, said nothing when Israel did the same and yet they find the alleged actions of the Syrian regime unacceptable. The Syrian civil war has been waging for over two years and at no time have the American or UK government been interested in anything other than selling arms to a rebel group that has not been properly vetted and that has served only to perpetuate and escalate the war. I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where America, who dropped an atom bomb on the people of Hiroshima just to flex their military might, speak out against the Israeli right to retaliate against indiscriminate bombing, who will now chastise the Syrians when they retaliate to any intervention carried out by the axis of peace. I have a nightmare. We live in a time when Madeline Albright said it was justifiable for the U.S. to be responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children through sanctions and bombings and now claim to care about Syrian children, I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare of a UK pilot being shot down by Syrian forces using a surface to air missile sold to them by Russia, which will result in ‘boots on the ground’ and the Middle East spontaneously combusting. I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare that Russia and China will take an exception to the world police mobilising to annihilate Assad and will offer their services to stop them. I have a nightmare that Hezbollah will see any action by the West as an act of aggression and that this will result in the Syrian civil war spilling on to the streets of the UK and America. I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where in the UK we have go home vans driving around the streets, 50 years on from the I have a dream speech by MLK in America. The UK has not had a Civil rights struggle the same as America but the cry is the same, we all want to be free. I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare of the black shirts, police, stopping people in the streets and asking them if they have the correct paper work. I have nightmares that doctors will ask to see our paper work to ensure we have the right to medical treatment. I have a nightmare that the fire and ambulance service will end up privatised and we will only receive their help if we have the correct insurances, I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where America and the UK attack China and Russia for vetoing the option for action on Syria until the UN inspectors results are in, when somewhat hypocritically they veto any decisions taken that involve Israel.

We live in a time where Tony Blair, who has the blood of men women and children on his hands, should be arrested for his war crimes but instead has been appointed a Middle East Peace envoy and now we have to listen to him bleat on about how we should resolve the conflict and his talk of intervention. It is like asking a heroin addict for advice on the best way to dispose of methadone. 30-50 people a day dying in bombing incidents Tony Liar, well done!

We live in a time where MLK had a dream but Barack Obama has a drone and they operate out of America, the UK and a host of other airbases across the planet and they kill people indiscriminately without trial. They focus on first responders because they too may be ‘the bad guys’. When it is American or British first responders to scenes of ‘terror’ on our streets, they are commended for their bravery; in Yemen, Pakistan and soon to be Syria, they are regarded as the enemy. I have a nightmare.

MLK’s dream is one that changes with each generation, today we have civil partnerships and gay marriage, or as I like to call it, marriage. I have a dream was a call to mobilise on the back of peaceful direct action and civil disobedience that has been lost in the MTV generation, but it is one that I feel is being slowly regained as more and more people are becoming aware of the deceit and corruption of the power principle personas at the head of our states. If we want freedom to ring across the continents and throughout the ages we must rise up together against the tyranny and corruption of these people in position of influence and stand for each other across the variety of issues that face us all. There are no problems but human problems.

“We can bomb this world to pieces but we cannot bomb it into peace” ~ Michael Franti

Marxism and all that other stuff we are discouraged from learning

“The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.” ~ Vladimir Lenin

After three years trying I finally made it this week to Marxism, the International festival held in london where people gather from across the globe to debate, learn and discuss the socioeconomic ills of the world today.

As a student of history I had a brief introduction to the teachings of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, whom I first came across when we covered Russia and it’s revolution back in 1917. I went on to read a great deal more about fascism, communism and the many other ‘isms’ that exist following this brief encounter to learn more about the world we live in today and how our history has shaped it. This week is an extension of that education and somewhere where I hope I will get to debate many of the topics being raised. Without debate information is only half the story.

Some of the issues being covered this year are:

  • the power of the media
  • fracking and the future of energy
  • apartheid
  • fascism
  • Palestine
  • Egypt
  • Brazil
  • Syria
  • human rights
  • Labour
  • and the issue of class

My first session was on the subject of the media and the question ‘Is it all powerful’ taken by Xanthe Whittaker. In a nut shell Whittaker argued that the answer was dependant on the presence of an alternative, a choice and the variation of the information they received. In the fast paced society we live in, the social media as an alternative, although it has its place, will struggle to compete with the established mainstream media (MSM) to break the cycle of those who are not already disenfranchised with the system and already disengaged from it. The problem with the social media as an alternative is the need to have to search through endless reams of it on the Internet. When you know you can suckle on the BBC news at six o’clock everyday, what would be your incentive to hear the views of someone not considered to be legitimate or an authority? We will not get into the semantics of whether the MSM repeats or reports news at this point.

As you may expect, ownership dictates content and with the MSM being monopolised by a small number of families and groups it is easy to see why certain views are overtly and sometimes covertly implied  by MSM. The Marx and Englels ‘The ideas of the ruling class’ explain this very well. Whittaker suggests that although people’s ideas are shaped by media, another key influence is their environment and this is something I have argued for quite some time now. When voting tendencies are looked at for say readers of Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper The Sun, it suggests that when compared to the population as a whole, Sun readers are a bit more Labour and a little bit less Tory or Lib Dem, yet this should not underestimate the power of influence Murdoch has over the views of the world’s population when you multiply the content of news with his other interests. Whittaker explained the paradox of people who vote Conservative but that will still take the decision to vote for industrial action on an issue that affects them, highlighting the fickle nature of the human species. Why for example would someone complain about Murdoch’s influence via papers such as The Sun or The Times in the UK but still subscribe to Sky?

MSM does not just include the newspapers and the comedy sketches over at FOX and Sky News or the impartiality of the BBC, but also the movie and television industry and of course the music industry. When these elements are combined it makes for a large source of global influence, manipulation, coercion and we get what is called manufactured consent. This has been discussed by Noam Chomsky by both a book and a documentary and makes for a fascinating learning. The media may not be telling you what to think but they are telling you what to think about and a lie when told often enough becomes the truth.

After the session I questioned Whittaker personally about the view that if you can kill the artist you can kill the protest, which is for a whole other debate. Hopefully over the next few days I will be able to sit down and get her view on this issue in more detail but as you know there are some of us who believe that part of the problem with the apathy in society today is the lack of advocates and protest music which dominated so much of our history. The protest music that does exist today is very much underground and not in any way likely to reach Radio 1 anytime soon.

My first ever workshop at Marxism was a storming one on media, manipulation, manufactured consent and how to break the cycle and was up there with the very best seminars I have been to. Another session on this subject is scheduled for Saturday morning, at 10am with Simon Assaf at the Institute for Education, London. Nearest tube station is found at Russell Square on the Piccadilly line.

Food for thought:

neil kinnock Sun sun won it

blair SunLabour lost it Sun Cameron Hope Sun