Friday, 28 October 2011

Media Lens: Killing Gaddafi

Anyone feeling squeamish or uncomfortable over the reporting of recent events in Libya might find solace in the latest Media Lens Alert, Killing Gaddafi, a most welcome antidote to the toxic inhumanity that passes for mainstream 'liberal' media comment on this gruesome execution.

The ML editors also lay bare the considerable evidence of Western lies and disinformation that allowed Nato and the National Transitional Council to ignore every possibility of productive negotiations with Gaddafi, resulting - despite Nato's 'mandate to protect' - in the much greater killing of Libyan civilians and ruthless destruction of cities like Sirte.

As with previous plaudits for Blair, the Alert shows just how far the BBC and other herd media have gone in praising Cameron as a leader 'vindicated' in his 'first war'.

The last section of the article sees ML at their most eloquent and humane, a rare oasis of compassion amid this desert of propaganda.

Where, the authors ask, is the basic concern for suffering others, whatever crimes they've committed? In particular, to those 'liberal humanists' who diminish Gaddafi's murder against the 'higher moral imperative' of Nato action, this searching question:
"Does anyone doubt that a Jesus or a Buddha would not merely have harboured sympathy for Gaddafi but would have intervened to save his life? And who would dare claim that doing so would make them ‘apologists’ for tyranny?"
Recognising the systemic conditioning that inhibits honest, independent journalism, ML offer their own compassionate thoughts on what drives even our most 'caring' media towards such hateful output:
"We suspect that most journalists are not actually unfeeling brutes. They are conformists wary of the high price they can be made to pay for even the suspicion that they might be 'apologists' for an official enemy."
Thus does the conformity multiply as further media endorsement of newly-appointed enemies and the case for more 'noble intervention'.

Among their many fine articles, this ML offering deserves particular praise for highlighting not just Libya's true human suffering and media complicity in that avoidable tragedy, but the more pernicious language of cruelty and spite so-readily adopted in denouncing 'our' foreign 'foes'.

In exposing such media apologetics for war and destruction, it advances, by another promising increment, the urgent construction of a truly moral, compassionate and radical journalism.


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Resilience of Occupy Oakland

Some heroic actions from the 99 Percenters of the Occupy Oakland movement in California as they resist police stun bombs, tear gas, rubber bullets and other brutal efforts to break-up their protest encampment.

Street demonstrations in Syria are commended by Washington.  Opposition forces in Libya can be lauded and backed by Nato bombers when it suits American political, military and business interests. But any peaceful dissent at home must be ruthlessly crushed.

As with the state's violent oppressions on Wall Street, it's another illustration of just how much the US regime fear and suppress real democracy.

Expect more such brutality from the anxious 1 percent and their state enforcers.  As Chris Floyd says: "You can smell the fear in the boardrooms."


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Occupying liberal street

As a radical new surge of people power sweeps around the globe, politicians and the mainstream media seem worryingly perplexed about how to respond.

Stuck in the safe world of machine politics and parliamentary-type reporting, their comprehension of the current unrest still speaks of 'errant' political/financial behaviour and 'misapplied' capitalist democracy.

Such was the intonation when Jeremy Paxman asked Michael Moore what he hoped Occupy Wall Street could achieve.

Did Moore want to change capitalism or end it, Paxman enquired? "End it", came the unequivocal response.

Capitalism is an "evil", inequitable system, Moore asserted, adding, as importantly, that the very function of standard politics has been to protect the rich and help maintain that very system of power.

For Moore, that's why people are now on the street, rejecting both the life-sucking power of greedy bankers and what's been handed-down to them as 'political partcipation'.

While Paxman seemed to acknowledge the frustration behind such action, he struggled to see how its aims could be advanced outwith the 'political process', the assumption being that OWS is not, in Paxman's BBC world, 'political'.

Thus, does Paxman (BBC annual salary, circa £750,000), like so many comfortable liberal media careerists, maintain a homogenised notion of what constitutes 'political life'.

Nor does the spectre of global occupation and rejection of corporate existence easily register in the liberal mindset as 'political crisis'.

That term denotes, more-readily, perceived 'emergencies' in party and governmental life: corruption/expenses scandals and the like.

Witness the liberal buzz as the BBC, Guardian and other 'vanguard' media recover the scandalous detail on fallen Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

Of course, Fox's demise is newsworthy, the media copy serving to reveal a little more of the cosy relations between our political and business elites.  But it also helps cement the notion of a 'liberal protectorate' acting to 'insure' us against those 'shocking abuses' of the system.

It speaks, implicitly, of Fox as some aberration within an otherwise functional, if still imperfect, system. In the process, we're encouraged to believe that the liberal media, like liberal politicians, are doing 'their job' in working to expose and weed-out the offenders. Rarely, if ever, does this come with any more damning indictment of the system itself.

But liberals also need to be 'on the street', to be seen as present, aware, 'involved'. 

And so liberal politicians and journalists 'shadow' the new direct-action politics - as with the radical blogosphere - like 'awkward oldies' fascinated by an edgy young trend, wanting to get in with the 'subculture', the people, 'the kids', the 'zeitgeist'; a hovering, anxious force afraid of being shut-out.

Thus do the dynamics behind Occupy Wall Street make for instructive observation on liberal sensitivity and its identity crisis.

Chris Hedges, a prolific chronicler of the OWS and wider protests, sees this nascent rejection of corporate life as a key threat to capitalist and liberal interests, alike:
"Tinkering with the corporate state will not work. We will either be plunged into neo-feudalism and environmental catastrophe or we will wrest power from corporate hands. This radical message, one that demands a reversal of the corporate coup, is one the power elite, including the liberal class, is desperately trying to thwart.
 For Hedges, the space for liberal response is becoming acutely narrowed:
"But the liberal class has no credibility left. It collaborated with corporate lobbyists to neglect the rights of tens of millions of Americans, as well as the innocents in our imperial wars. The best that liberals can do is sheepishly pretend this is what they wanted all along."
And with this has come a heightened resistance to liberal co-optation:
"The Occupy Wall Street movement, like all radical movements, has obliterated the narrow political parameters. It proposes something new. It will not make concessions with corrupt systems of corporate power. It holds fast to moral imperatives regardless of the cost. It confronts authority out of a sense of responsibility. It is not interested in formal positions of power. It is not seeking office. It is not trying to get people to vote. It has no resources. It can’t carry suitcases of money to congressional offices or run millions of dollars of advertisements. All it can do is ask us to use our bodies and voices, often at personal risk, to fight back. It has no other way of defying the corporate state. This rebellion creates a real community instead of a managed or virtual one. It affirms our dignity. It permits us to become free and independent human beings."
As the resistance of OWS to any friendly endorsements from Obama or advances from his Democrats shows, the movement, worldwide, appears particularly vigilant to party takeovers.

With the protest movement exercising new strategies of real political action, the potential displacement of standard liberal politics is of gathering concern both to party and media liberals as well as the system of corporate power they serve.

Here's to the intensification of their common crises.


Friday, 21 October 2011

Gaddafi's execution - the killing of empathy

Hillary Clinton's laughing pronouncement on the execution of Muammar Gaddafi gives disturbing insight into the callous minds of those who control today's main imperialist empire:

Extolling the Nato ‘mission', Obama, Clinton, Cameron and their peers have been busy denouncing the 'Mad Dog' and rejoicing his removal.

And, in ever-subservient tune, our media offer barely a word on Nato's aggression or the hypocritical gloating of such leaders.

Whatever Gaddafi's own crimes, how telling that the BBC and other leading Western media have offered only nominal space to the illegality of this gruesome lynching, selecting to accentuate the 'necessary cost' of Libya's 'assisted liberation'. 

Amnesty has already called for investigations into a prima facie war crime.

There's seems little doubt that Gaddafi could have been taken alive. Nor is there the slightest credibility in National Transitional Council claims that he was killed after his ambulance was "caught in crossfire". It's reasonably obvious that Gaddafi's capture and murder constitutes a gross violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Meanwhile, the 'liberal' Guardian's Ian Black dispensed with the merest humanitarian formality over Gaddafi's brutal termination in declaring: "good riddance".

Even for our most 'humane' media, the elimination of 'them' merits little compassionate regard.

Could we ever imagine people like Black writing such lines after the deaths of Bush, Rumsfeld or Blair?

Noting more of Clinton's ugly utterances, the Independent's Peter Popham offers a more familiar line in liberal excuses:
" "OOOMGOOOMG I just saw Gaddafi's body video," she wrote. "My heart won't stop racing... I can't believe this day has come. My whole life I've waited, prayed, wished, this is it no words."
For us, the footage of Muammar Gaddafi's body – dead or alive, who knows – being dragged off a truck by a crowd of screaming men, who then hauled it about and kicked it like a football, was deeply disturbing: the lynch mob at its 'most primeval. But who are we to judge? We never lived under the man's all-powerful terror."
But we, the wider world, do know about the all-powerful terror of American and Nato aggression. Where's the damning judgement here on that merciless force?

Gaddafi's execution by Libyan 'rebels' is, of course, the most convenient outcome for the West, shielding Nato's own vital role in his killing, while sending to the grave more key evidence of the West's -
notably Tony Blair's - dealings with their former associate.

The Guardian's Simon Tisdall also notes the 'good result for the West' line, but without a word on Nato's vast, aggressive input:
"And after all the waiting, the killing and the tears, the wheel of history turned inexorably, and all who watched knew it would never turn back. The Arab spring had claimed another infamous scalp. The risky western intervention had worked. And Libya was liberated at last."
Yes, as ever, that "risky intervention".

The BBC, in truest Orwell-speak, sought to excuse Nato to the very last:  
"Nato, which has been running a bombing campaign in Libya for months, said it had carried out an air strike earlier on Thursday that hit two pro-Gaddafi vehicles near Sirte. It was unclear whether the strikes were connected with Col Gaddafi's death."

As if Nato's overall actions could somehow, even at this last brutal stage of its murderous campaign, be isolated from Gaddafi's actual death.

Newsnight's Gavin Esler could offer no more searching effort in questioning arch neo-con John McCain.

Jubilant over Gaddafi's demise, McCain promised that other world dictators, such as Assad, Putin and the Chinese leadership, would now be more worried over potential protest against their regimes. Esler let the comment pass without even a cursory reminder of the historic happenings on Wall Street and gathering mood of dissent across America.

Another report from Tim Whewell asked if Blair had made "a mistake" in dealing with Gaddafi and whether 'we' should be engaging other tyrants, the core assumption being that ‘our’warmongers are morally fit to make such judgements.

Clinton's "we came, we saw..." jibe, a crass allusion to conquests past, reveals an inhuman lack of empathy for suffering others, whatever their enemy status.

How can supposedly civilized senators and leaders speak in such ways? And how is such open cruelty being reflected in the wider society?

Craig Murray fittingly puts it, "we seem to have become as dehumanised as ancient Rome."

That dark truth is all the more ironic given America’s own home crisis and the declining legitimacy of its political-corporate elite.

Perhaps a case of ‘Rome burns while Clinton giggles’.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Occupy LSX

Party politics is dead.  Real politics is finding its voice on the street, confronting anonymous elites directly in the high places of financial power.

From Washington, New York and across the US, home of corporate power, new and confident assemblies are making their mark against the ravaging, savaging effects of capitalist existence.

Taking its cue from the Arab Spring, the inspiring expression of people politics, the "99%" movement, that's resolved to Occupy Wall Street has given impetus to a whole new global moment.

Across the world today, 800 protests will help spread that resistance against the banking leviathans who control, manipulate and destroy human lives, with occupation of the London Stock Exchange a notable element of this growing civil awareness.

Follow Occupy London LSX with constant updates here.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Abunimah: Blair and Quartet need to be removed

While the US reaffirms its intention to veto any bid for Palestinian statehood, the Middle East Quartet plays its own appointed role in protecting and advancing Israel's vital interests.

At the same time, Tony Blair has used his position as Quartet 'peace envoy' to advocate unashamedly for Israel while enriching himself in the process.

With criticism of Blair also now coming from inside Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority, the complicit role of the Quartet - as well as the PA itself - is increasingly apparent.

In a searing indictment, Ali Abunimah argues that Blair's blatant profiteering and deception raises larger questions about the Quartet's own status, purpose and funding.

Noting the recent Dispatches exposure of Blair's lucrative dealings with dictatorships across the Middle East, Abunimah discusses how the Quartet has facilitated that patronage while locking the Palestinians into a spurious 'peace agenda'.

The time has come, he says, not just to remove Blair but to dismantle the Quartet.