Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Johnson elevated, Eton rules. Let's use the moment

And so it really does comes to pass. A class-pampered buffoon, political charlatan, crude racist, corporate champion, climate apologist and serial warmonger is now leader of these afflicted and conflicted lands.

Adding insult to injury, he's been delivered by a Tory contest of 160,000 members, seeing Boris Johnson elevated to the highest office of state with under 100,000 votes. 

What kind of 'equitable' system sees a mass electorate excluded from the vital process of prime ministerial placement? And, indeed, what kind of contempt for that mass other has Tory shiredom shown in its indulgence of 'lovable Boris'? 

Sure, they're electing their own leader. It's the rules. But what kind of qualitative 'democracy' does this suggest? The answer is, as ever, establishment-branded democracy. British 'democracy'. Eton rules. 

That Johnson, the classic product of class-gifted education, has made it to Number 10 shows just how deeply elite background still counts. Eton still rules.

Yet, the arrival of Johnson should be welcomed, both as a salutary reminder of what happens when -  as with Trump - conceited liberal centrism fails, and as a new opening for radical change.

Johnson's election now raises the stakes considerably for the emergence of progressive counter-forces. 

As the parliamentary dynamics of the 'Brexit crisis' unravels towards a general election, it now presents voters with an even sharper class-based politics of choice: Johnson or Corbyn.   

Electoral politics can now play out more consciously as an issue of class identity. And Corbyn should play it for all it's worth, exposing the establishment, rank privilege and everything Johnson really stands for. 

It is to be hoped that one of the first actions of a progressive Corbyn government will be the abolition of private and 'independent' schools. Johnson is the twentieth prime minister to be educated at Eton, illustrating the enduring class basis of British political power. Elite institutions like Eton are, indeed, independent - of society as a whole, harbouring and nurturing even the likes of Johnson as 'the right people'.

In the same vein, Johnson's election will provoke new class-infused reactions over the Union.  

Johnson's appointment offers the best opportunity a progressive movement for Scottish independence will ever have to pursue and realise its stalled mission. 

On the back of the 'material change' mandate afforded by Brexit, will a managerial-minded SNP leadership now have the political will to use this vital, additional opening?

With the Tories and Unionist establishment in an historically fragile and weakened state, the Johnson moment - and it may well be just that - should be used to the full.   

It really is remarkable to think that such a small coterie still hold such power and ideological sway over all our political arrangements and 'understandings' of 'permissible democracy'.     

Today sees another seemingly smooth transfer of the elite baton. Yet, Johnson's entry through that 'hallowed' door provides the impetus for new challenges to perpetual privilege, political 'entitlement' and the dominant forces controlling all our lives.             

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Corbyn can lead in the exposure of establishment psychosis

Just like the plot lines against fictional Harry Perkins in A Very British Coup, a multi-fronted campaign is now well underway to take down Jeremy Corbyn.

And on this occasion it might well be titled A Very Establishment Meltdown.

A relentless media-driven frenzy has seen Corbyn maligned as everything from a Hamas/Hezbollah/IRA asset to a Czech spy. 

Shortly after his election as Labour leader, a British army general issued dark warnings of a "mutiny" should he ever look likely to reach Number 10.

Other dark messages imply that Corbyn cannot be trusted with high office and official secrets.

We also now learn that two British soldiers have kept their jobs after being caught using a figure of Corbyn as target practice.

On another key front, senior civil servants have briefed The Times that Corbyn is in frail health and not up to the job.

Disappointingly for the mandarins and the media, this was met with wide incredulity, as even the usual smear press couldn't match such claims to the real garden-chilled, fit-as-a-fiddle Corbyn.

But the botched leak is yet another indication of increasing elite anxiety and panic.

Of all the attack lines, the establishment is placing its greatest hopes in the 'Labour anti-Semitism crisis'. Led by a mutual-serving coterie of Blairite and pro-Israel coup-makers, a ready platform media is now gaslighting the public on a relentless scale.

Look, they shriek, how riddled Labour is with the 'anti-Semitic disease'. And if you can't see this, they howl, you need to question you're own deep anti-Semitism. Thus runs the self-doubt, yield-to psychology of the McCarthyite witch-hunt.

The establishment are acutely aware of how close Corbyn came to power in 2017. And as another general election looms, the calls for a decisive purge are being raised to even more hysterical levels.

In an article for The Spectator, Stephen Daisley wrote:

There is no more pressing moral cause in Britain today than the total destruction of the Labour party. An electoral drubbing will not do. A change of leader will not suffice. The Labour party has spent almost four years defaming, taunting and intimidating Jews. They have made Jews feel unsafe; they have made Jews feel unBritish. There must be a reckoning for this intolerable measure of evil, for both retributive and deterrent purposes. Another party will come along one day and try this again and there must be a warning in place, an object lesson in the wages of anti-Semitism and its indulgence. The debris of a once-great party would make for powerful teaching materials. (My italics.)
 In effect, smear and smite. 

As Jamie Stern Weiner warns:

The rhetoric has become so deranged. The 'Labour antisemitism' smear campaign is taking on the dimensions of a psychosis. The headline is another useful warning for the left to resist the temptations of censorship - the norm will be turned against you.
Daisley is, of course, a known zealot and regular exponent of such biblical bluster. But elite fear of a Corbyn government is now so intense that the smear project does, indeed, appear to have turned effectively psychotic.

Only in such a febrile atmosphere could Jeremy Hunt have said these words:
When I went to Auschwitz I rather complacently said to myself, "thank goodness we don't have to worry about that kind of thing happening in the UK" and now I find myself faced with the leader of the Labour Party who has opened the door to antisemitism in a way that is truly frightening.
This utterly despicable comment should have ended Hunt's leadership candidacy with immediate effect. The media response? Nothing. Just a sickly, obedient silence, a malady of compliance, ensuring there's no awkward interruption to the main anti-Corbyn narrative.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also assured a pro-Israel group of Jewish leaders that he would intervene to prevent Corbyn being elected.

Again, this was treated as nominal news rather than headlined as a menacing threat of interference from an external state. Imagine if a senior Russian politician had uttered such words.

The latest wave of hysteria has seen MP Chris Williamson not only suspended but abandoned by faux left 'vanguards' like Owen Jones, Ash Sarkar, Jon Lansman and Billy Bragg.

In a fine examination of The Fury And The Fakery behind Williamson's suspension, Media Lens remind us of the solid body of evidence undermining claims of 'Labour's institutional anti-Semitism'. 

The key forces and agenda behind the whole fabricated 'anti-Semitism crisis' is also perfectly addressed by Jonathan Cook in The Plot to keep Corbyn out.

It's also worth noting, as context, how Williamson was hounded by right-wing party elites like Tom Watson because of his campaigning for open selection, a clear effort to seize power away from the party membership.

In turn, as Asa Winstanley shows, the membership overwhelmingly want Williamson returned to the party.

You can find much other excellent comment and analysis across alternative media. In contrast, try finding anything remotely rational and informative in the 'mainstream'.

Since Corbyn's election in 2015, a mere 0.06% of Labour members have been investigated over anti-Semitism. Only a mass, concerted campaign of political and media propaganda could have turned that nominal problem into a 'crisis'. 

Amid the continuing media freak-out, Matt Kennard asked Noam Chomsky for his thoughts on Williamson and the 'crisis', receiving this reply:

Media coverage? Again, dutiful silence.

And from Jones and Bragg? Awkward dismissal and ridiculous mitigation.

Beyond such reticence, an admirable letter of support for Williamson from prominent Jews, including Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, declared:
As anti-racist Jews, we regard Chris as our ally: he stands as we do with the oppressed rather than the oppressor.
In a questionable act of censorship, the letter was subsequently taken down by the Guardian "pending investigation", rather than simply edited and maintained.

A further statement supporting Williamson has been signed by other notable figures, including Ken Loach, Yanis Varoufakis, Francesca Martinez, John Pilger, Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, Alexei Sayle, Media Lens and Roger Waters.

And it's here we see the case for a much more confident positioning.

Rather than falling to the hysteria, Corbyn should be asserting himself as the only sane and rational alternative to this alarming establishment psychosis.

As Cook notes:
Corbyn offers a unique opportunity to hold up a mirror to British society, stripping away the beautified mask to see the ugly skeleton-face below. He risks making the carefully concealed structure of power visible. And this is precisely why he is so dangerous to the status-quo-supporting centrists.
It's also why the establishment is so feverish in trying to hold and control the anti-Semitism narrative. 

It's the same false intensity behind the 'Brexit crisis'. The establishment have somehow managed to convince an entire public that 'leave or remain' is now the defining issue of our times, a test of 'our national health' - with, of course, Corbyn offered up as the scapegoat villain.

This is classic elite projection: their crisis, the crisis of their making, somehow becomes 'our' crisis, all serving to hide the structural conflicts, schisms and fears within the establishment itself.

In the same vein, ex-MI6 chief Sir John Sawers also laments that the country is having "a nervous breakdown".

Besides Brexit, Sawers expressed his alarm here over any Johnson, Hunt or Corbyn premiership.

But as Mark Curtis notes, it's always useful to see what lurks behind such comments:
Ex-MI6 chief Sawyers is also on the board of BP, which has major investments in just about every dictatorship the UK govt is supporting in the world. This might be slightly relevant to his not being over-ecstatic about having a govt led by Corbyn.
In effect, what really matters is preventing any political disruptions that may invoke a further nervous breakdown of the corporate order.

Sir John's 'health warning' for the nation was dutifully carried by the Guardian, which now seems to be the main host platform for head spooks.

Matt Kennard reports how ex-Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson did his own 'health-restoring' bit for national security by joining the 'D-List' committee.

On retiring from the post, Johnson was thanked by committee head, Brigadier Geoffrey Dodds OBE, for his service to the censors. Shortly afterwards, as an apparent reward, the Guardian was granted an exclusive interview with serving MI5 chief Andrew Parker, warning on this occasion of an 'increasingly aggressive' Russia and its 'threat to the UK'.

As with its relentless 'health warnings' over Corbyn and craven reporting of Labour's 'anti-Semitic infection', it's a further measure of the Guardian's own moral decay that mass murderer Tony Blair is still welcomed there.

Likewise, Blair's chief war propagandist Alastair Campbell is being regaled across media studios as a sage voice on Brexit.

It's illuminating to watch Blair's and Campbell's exasperated pleas on both Brexit and anti-Semitism, seemingly oblivious to, or able to block out, their own dark moral disorders.

You needn't be an expert in medical psychology to see the perversity of these figures still at large after the catastrophe of Iraq being accorded such eager media attention.

Shouldn't it be of deep concern that Corbyn, who rightly opposed every call to illegal war, is so screamingly maligned, while Blair, Campbell and other mass killers are openly feted?

Of course, this kind of media dissonance is part of a wider liberal deflection of state psychopathy.

Indeed, it would be difficult for any rational person to see in the brutal history and ongoing barbarism of the British state any kind of moral authority.

Even the critical questions of more progressive-minded journalists seem safely tempered, almost fearful of looking too deeply at the dark structures of British/Western criminality.     

Thus, Alex Thomson may ask how, in covering events like earthquakes, "why do affluent US lives mean more than poor African/Asian ones?"

And Mark Curtis answers:
I think it's because UK 'mainstream' culture is deeply imperialist, often racist. Same question on Yemen: why have journalists generally not asked May, Hunt, Johnson about their obvious complicity in mass deaths? Because they couldn't care less about unpeople.
Any state that can bomb, murder and export warfare on such a mass scale and still proclaim itself a 'protector of international human rights' must surely be liable for sectioning.

It seems not. Sending bombs to eliminate children in Yemen is still seemingly a sane and acceptable activity. So is sending arms to and conducting friendly military exercises with a murderous, oppressive regime in Israel - imagine seeing those last words applied in the 'mainstream' media to official allies rather than official foes.

If the art of hegemony lies in maintaining public consent for such power and criminality, the elite and its supporting agencies must always be striving to turn defensive narratives into attack narratives. Parties may come and go, politicians lost or sacrificed, so long as there's little critical examination of the actual structural forces and calamitous impact of corporate power.

Think only of the careful media narrative around climate emergency, and the deep failure to probe corporate culpability. 

Contrary to the prevailing hype around Corbyn, the establishment itself has never been more structurally exposed, divided, fearful and, therefore, vulnerable.

There's a veritable choice of crisis faults for any progressive leader or party to highlight and attack. Why not use the moment?

From the 'Brexit trauma' to 'Labour's anti-Semitism crisis', the public have been assaulted by waves of elite propaganda all intended to deflect attention from the establishment's own internal failings and psychosis.

And, as we've seen, no amount of appeasement, mitigation, apology or reform will stop the set of forces now determined to break Corbyn. 

As the brave Israeli journalist Gideon Levy argues, it's time to fight back:
This vicious circle should be broken...We are not ready to play those game any more in which they shut our mouths with accusations which in most of the cases are hollow.
In a more direct statement on Corbyn, Levy warns that:
such smear campaigns and the weaponisation of anti-Semitism must be criticised and fought against: “We should not surrender to those labels and those accusations, because they are there in order to blackmail, in order to fight anyone who dares to criticise Israel”.
So, the lesson is: use the difficulty. It's important to see that this is a concocted and superficial 'crisis', peddled by those who have much to lose. It doesn't rest on any deep popular feeling or belief that resonates with the public. It's a crisis only for the establishment.

And it's in the assertive exposure of that crisis, and the elite narrative serving to mask it, that Corbyn and anyone else who cares about building a real, humanist and caring politics for all can best advance that cause.