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Reopening Auschwitz – The Conspiracy To Stop Corbyn

Þri, 03/12/2019 - 09:41

Thoreau got it right:

‘Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.’ (Thoreau, ‘Walden’, Penguin, 1983, p.68)

The same is certainly true of propaganda. We can laugh now at McCarthyite paranoia warning of Soviet tentacles threatening every aspect of Western life during the Cold War. In the 1940s and 1950s, Hollywood produced dozens of anti-communist films with titles like ‘I Married A Communist’ and ‘I Was A Communist For The FBI’. Large-circulation magazines were titled, ‘Communists Are After Your Child.’ Even children’s comics declared:

‘Beware, commies, spies, traitors, and foreign agents! Captain America, with all loyal, free men behind him, is looking for you.’ (Quoted, Howard Zinn, ‘A People’s History of the United States,’ Harper Colophon, 1990, p.428)

We can guess how future generations will view the current propaganda blitz depicting Jeremy Corbyn as a threat to Britain’s Jews. Not since 2002-2003, when sanctions-stricken Iraq, willing to allow months of no-notice UN weapons inspections, was said to be a ‘clear and present danger’ to the nuclear-packing US-UK, has the truth been so completely and shamefully distorted.

The level of madness is breathtaking, even by ‘mainstream’ standards. In July, the Sunday Telegraph columnist Simon Heffer claimed on LBC radio that Corbyn ‘wants to reopen Auschwitz’. When the interviewer responded that it was completely unacceptable to suggest that Corbyn was capable of such a thing, Heffer replied:

‘I’m sure, in 1933, they had similar conversations in Germany: “the Fuehrer’s never going to do that”.’

Jeremy Hunt, then Foreign Secretary, commented in July:

‘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.’

Noam Chomsky summed up the shameful nature of these remarks:

‘The way charges of anti-Semitism are being used in Britain to undermine the Corbyn-led Labour Party is not only a disgrace, but also – to put it simply – an insult to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust…’.

In the i newspaper, former Independent editor Simon Kelner focused on the way Corbyn had ‘mispronounced’ the name of the sexual criminal Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew’s former friend, in a TV debate: ‘He called him “EpSchtine”,’ Kelner noted.

Along with ITV political editor Robert Peston (see below), Kelner did not only dispense with the usual affectation of journalistic impartiality, he emphasised his subjectivity in lending weight to an attack on Corbyn:

‘My reaction was a visceral one: it’s not something I can explain easily, or even rationally, but a Jewish person does know when there is something that sounds wrong, or perjorative [sic], or even threatening. It was as if he was saying: “Are you aware this man is Jewish?”’

The idea, then, is that Corbyn – who has been subjected to relentless, highly damaging attacks on this issue for years, and who has done everything he can to distance himself from anti-semitism, taking a very tough line on the suspension of allies like Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson from the Labour Party – was emphasising Epstein’s Jewishness in a deliberate – or, worse – unconscious effort to smear Jews. Of course, only a truly crazed racist would be unable to resist such a patently self-destructive impulse on national TV. And yet, the outgoing Speaker of the House of Commons, former Conservative MP, John Bercow, who is Jewish, said during an interview with British GQ magazine last month:

‘I myself have never experienced anti-semitism from a member of the Labour Party, point one. And point two, though there is a big issue and it has to be addressed, I do not myself believe Jeremy Corbyn is anti-semitic.

‘I’ve known him for the 22 years I’ve been in Parliament. Even, actually, when I was a right-winger we got on pretty well… I’ve never detected so much as a whiff of anti-semitism [from him].’

Our search of the ProQuest media database found no mention of Bercow’s comment in any UK national newspaper.

Remarkably, in July 2018, The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph produced similar front pages and a joint editorial warning against ‘the existential threat to Jewish life in this country that would be posed by a Jeremy Corbyn-led government’.

Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist and author who writes a weekly column for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, commented on the smears last week:

‘The Jewish establishment in Britain and the Israeli propaganda machine have taken out a contract on the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. The contract was taken out a long time ago, and it was clear that the closer Corbyn came to being elected prime minister, the harsher the conflict would get.’

This echoed the view of Professor Norman Finkelstein, whose mother survived the Warsaw Ghetto and the Majdanek concentration camp, and whose father was a survivor of both the Warsaw Ghetto and the Auschwitz concentration camp. Finkelstein said:

‘If Corbyn loses, a lot of people in the Labour Party are going to blame it on those Jews who fabricated this whole anti-semitism witch-hunt hysteria. And that will be a problem, which… you know what the bigger problem there is? It’s true! Jews were the spearhead of this campaign to stop Corbyn. And so, there’s going to be a lot of anger within the Labour Party – that’s not anti-semitism, that’s factually based.’

Finkelstein added:

‘The British elites could not have gotten away with calling Corbyn an anti-semite unless they had the support, the visible support, of all the leading Jewish organisations. You have to remember that during the summer, all three major British publications, for the first time in British Jewish history, they all took out a common editorial denouncing Corbyn as an anti-semite and saying that we’re now standing on the verge of another Holocaust. They are the enablers of this concerted conspiracy by the whole of British elite society to destroy Jeremy Corbyn.’

As Levy observed, the campaign reached its climax in an article last week in The Times by Britain’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis. Mirvis suggested that Corbyn should be ‘considered unfit for office’, adding:

‘I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.’

ITV’s political editor Robert Peston tweeted:

‘The Chief Rabbi’s intervention in the general election is without precedent. I find it heartbreaking, as a Jew, that the rabbi who by convention is seen as the figurehead of the Jewish community, feels compelled to write this about Labour and its leader. I am not… making any kind of political statement here.’

We responded:

‘What kind of journalistic neutrality is it for ITV’s political editor to use the fact that he is Jewish to support as sincere and even “heartbreaking” a bitterly disputed claim attacking the Labour Party in this way? In what universe is this impartial, objective journalism?’

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted on the chief rabbi’s criticism an astonishing 23 times in 24 hours. Kuenssberg retweeted the following comment (screenshot here) from chat show host Piers Morgan in response to Labour shadow international development secretary Barry Gardiner’s refusal to field further questions on anti-semitism:

‘Wow. The breathtaking arrogance of this chump telling journalists what questions to ask. They should all ignore him & pummel Corbyn about anti-Semitism.’

Kuenssberg later apparently deleted this retweet.

Small glimpses of sanity were occasionally visible on social media. Glen Oglaza, former senior reporter at ITN and ex-political correspondent for Sky News, commented:

‘Don’t want to get involved in the #Labour #anti-semitism row, but worth pointing out that the #ChiefRabbi is a lifelong Conservative supporter and, in his own words, a “lifelong friend of Boris Johnson” Nuff said’

It was indeed ‘nuff said’. But, in fact, it was almost never said by corporate journalists.

Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept was typically forthright in responding to Mirvis:

‘This is utter bullshit.

‘The British Conservative Party is rife with anti-semitism, while there’s no evidence Corbyn is.

‘If you want the Tories to win, just say so. It’s incredibly dangerous to keep exploiting anti-semitism for naked political and ideological ends like this’

In 2014, during ‘Operation Protective Edge’ – the Israeli attack on Gaza in which 2,251 Palestinians were killed, including 299 women and 551 children – Mirvis wrote:

‘There is no “cycle of violence” in Gaza. There is Hamas trying to annihilate Israel, and Israel trying to defend itself…’

With hundreds of civilians lying dead, he added:

‘Israel has no desire to kill or injure civilians in Gaza. They are potential partners in peace whose death only serves the interests of Hamas’s PR war.’

And:

‘To measure the morality of war by the military might of each party, the number of deaths or the amount of suffering on each side is not merely misguided; it plays into the hands of a ruthless and calculating aggressor.’

Levy commented on Mirvis’s smear:

‘As opposed to the horrid Corbyn, Mirvis sees nothing wrong with the continued occupation; he does not identify with the struggle for Palestinian freedom, and he doesn’t sense the similarity between the South Africa of his childhood, Har Etzion of his youth and Israel of 2019. That is the real reason that he rejects Corbyn. The Jews of Britain also want a prime minister who supports Israel – that is, supports the occupation. A prime minister who is critical of Israel is to them an exemplar of the new anti-Semitism.’

In contrast to the blanket coverage of the chief rabbi’s comments – it was the lead story on the BBC News website for half a day – there was only token notice given to the Muslim Council of Britain’s warning of ‘denial, dismissal and deceit’ of ‘endemic, institutional’ Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.

There was also virtual BBC silence in response to the blistering attack on Boris Johnson’s racial slurs by Stormzy, the British rap artist who was a huge success at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. In an Instagram post that has been ‘liked’ almost 300,000 times, Stormzy noted:

‘I think Boris Johnson is a sinister man with a long record of lying and policies that have absolutely no regard for the people that our government should be committed to helping and empowering. I also believe it is criminally dangerous to give the most powerful role in the country to a man who has said that the sight of a “bunch of black kids” makes him “turn a hair”, compared women in burqas to letterboxes and referred to blacks [sic] people as “picaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”. I think it’s extremely dangerous to have a man with those views as the sole leader of our country.’

He added:

‘I will be voting for Jeremy Corbyn… for me, he is the first man in a position of power who is committed to giving the power back to the people and helping those who need a helping hand from the government the most.’

A commenter said (forwarded to us via email, 27 November 2019):

‘I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but the BBC are seriously compromised in this election.

‘Yesterday, arguably *the* most influential black person in the UK, Stormzy, launched a blistering attack on Johnson, calling him “sinister” and deploring his history of racism. This has been shared tens of thousands of times on social media. In the same post, he applauded Jeremy Corbyn as a figure of trust.

‘The BBC have not covered this at all.’

In a letter to the Guardian, Professor Des Freedman of Goldsmiths, University of London, commented:

‘Rigorous academic research shows that, in the first three weeks of the election campaign, coverage of Labour in the press has been overwhelmingly negative, with the Conservatives receiving consistently positive coverage… The most powerful sections of the UK media are simply not prepared to let citizens freely make up their own minds on Labour policies, nor to scrutinise Conservative claims systematically.’

The Evidence – The Real Threat To Human Life

Our ProQuest database search of newspaper articles for ‘Corbyn’ and ‘anti-semitism’ shows how intensively the issue has been used to attack Corbyn prior to the looming election on December 12:

September = 337 hits

October = 222 hits

November  = 1,620 hits

While opinions in effect declaring Corbyn a Nazi are widely reported, opinions defending Corbyn by the likes of John Bercow, Gideon Levy, Norman Finkelstein, Glenn Greenwald, Noam Chomsky, Jonathan Cook, Michael Rosen and others reach a comparatively small audience on social media but are simply ignored by the establishment press reaching millions.

Exactly mirroring the fake claims justifying the 2003 Iraq war – also universally presented as serious and fact-based – it turns out that claims of an epidemic of anti-semitism within the Labour Party are completely bogus. Israel-based former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook summarised a recent survey published in The Economist:

‘It showed that those identifying as “very left-wing” – the section of the public that supports Corbyn – were among the least likely to express antisemitic attitudes. Those identifying as “very right-wing”, on the other hand – those likely to support Boris “piccaninnies” Johnson – were three and a half times more likely to express hostile attitudes towards Jews. Other surveys show even worse racism among Conservatives towards more obviously non-white minorities, such as Muslims and black people. That, after all, is the very reason Boris “letterbox-looking Muslim women” Johnson now heads the Tory party.’

Other surveys have strongly supported these conclusions, including an October 2016 report by the Commons home affairs committee and a September 2017 report by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and a Labour Party report discussed here in February 2019.

In 2002-2003, credible evidence from former UN weapons inspectors arguing that Iraq had been ‘fundamentally disarmed’ of 90-95% of its weapons of mass destruction by December 1998 was almost completely ignored by the corporate press – it just didn’t fit the establishment narrative. The same is true of the above highly credible and consistent reports – they are simply not part of the discussion.

If we are serious about offering a moral calculus, then we should, of course, include the fact that Johnson would certainly support Trump in any future racist wars against Iran, Venezuela, or North Korea, whereas Corbyn would not. Does it matter to journalists, to the public, that we might elect a leader who would make it more difficult for the US to kill, injure and displace hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people? How does that concern rank alongside Brexit, the fact that Johnson is a jovial fellow, or the fake claims of anti-semitism? We need only glance at Johnson’s track-record for evidence of the threat.

Since November 1, ProQuest finds 24 newspaper mentions containing the words ‘Boris Johnson’ and ‘Yemen’. Only one of them, in the Independent, focused on Johnson’s destructive role in the conflict:

‘The government has signed off nearly £2bn worth of arms sales to repressive regimes in the two years since the 2017 election, official figures show.’

These regimes include Saudi Arabia, ‘which has been widely condemned by the international community for its offensive in Yemen’ and ‘benefited from £719m in UK licences for bombs, missiles, fighter jets, sniper rifles, ammunition’.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said:

‘As foreign secretary, Boris Johnson played a central role in supporting the terrible Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen, which has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, but the arms companies only see it as a business opportunity.’

In 2017, defending the US-UK destruction of Libya in 2011, Johnson crassly commented that the Libyan city Sirte could be the new Dubai, adding, ‘all they have to do is clear the dead bodies away’. Johnson also voted for the devastating 2003 Iraq war.

By contrast, The Times reported:

‘Labour is pledging to put human rights and international law at the heart of foreign policy, in keeping with one of Jeremy Corbyn’s longest held passions. As well as attacking “failed military interventions”, the manifesto promises a War Powers Act to give parliament a legal veto on military action.’

And:

‘Arms sales to Saudi Arabia would be suspended immediately after criticism of the country’s role in the civil war in Yemen.’

But even these horrors are trivial – we don’t use the word lightly – compared to Johnson’s Trump-like stance on climate collapse. Johnson, a notorious climate denier, has ‘Almost always voted against measures to prevent climate change.’ In 2015, Johnson wrote an article in the Telegraph titled: ‘I can’t stand this December heat, but it has nothing to do with global warming’. Johnson endorsed the completely discredited view that ‘it is all about sun spots’.

The reality is very different. Professor Tim Lenton at the University of Exeter, lead author of a recent article in Nature warning of ‘existential threat to civilisation’, said last week:

‘We might already have crossed the threshold for a cascade of interrelated tipping points. The simple version is the schoolkids [striking for climate action] are right: we are seeing potentially irreversible changes in the climate system under way, or very close.’

Phil Williamson at the University of East Anglia, concurred:

‘The prognosis by Tim Lenton and colleagues is, unfortunately, fully plausible: that we might have already lost control of the Earth’s climate.’

Most recently, Johnson refused even to participate in a Channel 4 leaders’ debate on climate change, instead sending his father and MP Michael Gove, who were turned away. BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted a defence and a humorous discussion on this no-show, but no criticism. We can only wonder at her response, and that of the rest of the establishment press, if Corbyn had refused to participate in a debate on a key area of vulnerability, instead sending his dad.

If we can see beyond the propaganda, it is quite obvious that it is Johnson who offers, and who has already offered, a very serious threat to human life, not Corbyn. Voting for Johnson will likely have deadly consequences, not just for the traditional victims of US-UK firepower, but for all of us as the last hopes of averting climate collapse rapidly slip away.

DE and DC

Imperial Ambition – Expanding Selves, Shrinking Planet

Fim, 21/11/2019 - 11:23

Awareness is real. Even if the whole world is a dream, the awareness perceiving the dream is real. There is awareness, therefore I am.

I am aware of thought, therefore I am not thought – observer and observed cannot be one and the same.

And yet my sense of identity has a tendency to imaginatively bleed into and incorporate external phenomena from which I am actually separate. If you kick ‘my’ car, it is as if you kick me. If ‘my’ football team loses, I feel like I have lost – I actually say, ‘We lost!’ If you burn ‘my’ flag, I may fly into a rage as if you had burned me. If you criticise ‘my’ beliefs, ‘my’ heroes, ‘my’ profession, you wound ‘my’ self that has expanded and spread across all these phenomena to form a little Empire of Self.

Anything that diminishes my Empire of Self – contemplating the greater success of your empire, for example – diminishes and wounds me. Your success is insulting (writer Robert Pirsig commented of his fans: ‘They love you for being what they all want to be, but they hate you for being what they are not.’) If you have a bigger, better salary, career, house, car than mine; if you are smarter, better looking, more famous, you diminish me and my ego grinds its teeth.

Inevitably, then, I am engaged in a Perpetual War to establish and expand my personal empire in competition with all other personal empires. This is the real lesson behind every lesson at school training us to come first in exams, to get to the best universities, to take the most prestigious degrees and jobs. Schools and universities turn us into hungry little Napoleons and Trumps of Imperial Self. They wind us up tight with ego ‘successes’ and ego ‘defeats’, and let us loose on the world to compete and conquer.

Happiness is the first casualty of this Perpetual War. I think it’s because I haven’t conquered enough territory, haven’t expanded my self to include the right job in the right place at the right salary, with the right level of fame and romantic partner. But, in fact, I am unhappy because my attention is devoted to a blizzard of whirling, repetitive imperial thoughts about who I am and can be in the future, whereas happiness is not a thought of the future, it is a feeling in the present. Compulsive thinking cuts me off from feeling. We ordinarily describe people fully focused on their own brain activity as ‘asleep’. I am fundamentally asleep, lost in thought.

Because I am asleep, I hardly notice that the world is collapsing around me. After all, the point has always been that my Imperial Self comes first: more and more of the world must be incorporated. My imperial I is fundamentally an ingesting, expanding phenomenon. I am bewildered when climate scientists ask me to stop expanding to save my physical self from death because my Imperial Self knows that, in stopping, it will lose any hope of becoming or remaining ‘someone’.

There is a way out. If scientists warn that the Amazon, Arctic sea ice and insects will likely disappear in the next few years – and that each loss, on its own, has the power to kill us all – I can dismiss this as a sleazy, stupid scam perpetrated by other Imperial Selves seeking to expand their empires exactly as I do. These are the climate scientists grubbing for research dollars, the over-privileged activists with nothing better to do than wax ‘greener than thou’ and suck up attention. It’s what I’ve been doing all my life – it’s my reason for being – why wouldn’t I believe they are doing the same thing? In reality, I’m clinging onto my expanded sense of identity, my Empire of Self, whose rise and fall I imagine determines the rise and fall of my own happiness.

I know I am not happy, so I must become more, and I know the world cannot support me in my billions. But what else is there?

Meeting With A Mystic Madman

The great emperor Bahramshah, the Sultan of Ghazna, was moving with his army to conquer India; at his side, Hakim Sanai, the renowned court poet. The army was in a hurry, as armies always are – the time was right, but short, for conquest.

And yet, at some strange moment, riding past a great walled garden, or ‘firdaus’ (the origin of the word ‘paradise’), something happened: the Sultan stopped. It was impossible to do otherwise. The Indian mystic and master story-teller Osho takes up the tale:

‘The sound of singing coming from the garden caught the Sultan’s attention. He was a lover of music, but he had never heard something like this. He had great musicians in his court and great singers and dancers, but nothing to be compared with this. The sound of singing and the music and the dance – he had only heard it from outside, but he had to order the army to stop.

‘It was so ecstatic. The very sound of the dance and the music and the singing was psychedelic, as if wine was pouring into him: the Sultan became drunk. The phenomenon appeared not to be of this world. Something of the beyond was certainly in it: something of the sky trying to reach the earth, something from the unknown trying to commune with the known. He had to stop to listen to it.’ (‘Unio Mystica, Volume 1, Discourses on the Sufi Mystic, Hakim Sanai,’ talks given from 01/11/78 to 10/11/78)

We can imagine the scene: the enchanted emperor, his impatient army stretching back as far as the eye can see. Throughout history, it has always been the same story – huge effort expended on a cause that, at the time, seemed so vital, so just, worth any cost.

But we can also both broaden and narrow our perspective; the marching army of Sultan Bahramshah stands for everyone striving towards some future goal: the great, tramping crowd of commuters travelling backwards and forwards, day after day, for the sake of salary, promotion and pension. The crowd of political activists marching for a better future which will finally bring an end to injustice and war. It stands for modern civilisation’s great ‘conquest of nature’, marching relentlessly ‘forwards’ to certain disaster under the banner of ‘progress’ and ‘growth’.

The Sultan’s advancing army can stand for the near-universally accepted principle that ‘then’ matters more than ‘now’, that ‘there’ matters more than ‘here’, that the present is subordinate to some future goal.

The army didn’t have time for a pause. The commuter is also in a hurry to get the damned journey over: to get home, to the pub, to the weekend, to the ‘annual leave’, to retirement. The revolutionary is in a hurry because the epic injustice of the status quo is intolerable. And of course, the whole of ‘progress’ is in a hurry because profits generated are insufficient – economic growth must be maintained, and science will one day cure all ills.

When ‘now’ is irrelevant, a mere means, obviously we cannot arrive at the end, ‘then’, soon enough. The cosmic absurdity of a whole species perpetually subordinating what is for what will be troubles precisely nobody.

But in our story, the impossible happens – this great army, this great killing machine, with all its momentum and power, stops. The Sultan, captivated by the music of the present moment, momentarily drops all thought of future attainment:

‘There was ecstasy in it – so sweet and yet so painful, it was heart-rending. He wanted to move, he was in a hurry; he had to reach India soon, this was the right time to conquer the enemy. But there was no way. There was such strong, strange, irresistible magnetism in the sound that in spite of himself he had to go into the garden.’

And the force behind this magnetism:

‘It was Lai-Khur, a great Sufi mystic, but known to the masses only as a drunkard and a madman. Lai-Khur is one of the greatest names in the whole history of the world. Not much is known about him; such people don’t leave many footprints behind them. Except for this story, nothing has survived. But Lai-Khur has lived in the memories of the Sufis, down the ages. He continued haunting the world of the Sufis, because never again was such a man seen.

‘He was so drunk that people were not wrong in calling him a drunkard. He was drunk twenty-four hours, drunk with the divine. He walked like a drunkard, he lived like a drunkard, utterly oblivious of the world. And his utterances were just mad. This is the highest peak of ecstasy, when expressions of the mystic can only be understood by other mystics. For the ordinary masses they look irrelevant, they look like gibberish…

‘To the ignorant, his utterances were outrageous, sacrilegious, against tradition and against all formalities, mannerisms and etiquette – against all that is known and understood as religion. But to those who knew, they were nothing but pure gold…’

As my readers like to remind me, Osho was and is himself deemed a ‘madman’, a ‘charlatan’, a ‘fraud’. Humanity’s ugly little secret is that we have a habit of casually condemning, reviling and of course killing our greatest truth-tellers. Jesus was not alone in being crucified by the Emperors of Self. Socrates was made to drink poison for ‘corrupting’ the minds of the young. Mansoor Al-Hillaj was tortured and killed as a ‘false prophet’. Buddha’s teachings were violently cast out from India, the land of his birth. Osho, one of the greatest spiritual teachers ever to have lived, wound up in leg irons, in jail, likely poisoned. He is dismissed on the basis of a few foolish lines in Wikipedia and a frivolous documentary made by a couple of ambitious opportunists who knew nothing about him (‘we hadn’t heard about this story’).

We hate living Buddhas because they illuminate the lies and ugliness of our Imperial Selves. Dead Buddhas are fine – we do not fear competition from golden statues that can be moulded to suit our needs. 

We hate political truth-tellers like Julian Assange for the same reason and give barely a fig that they are persecuted and tortured. Even 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg is reviled, declared a false prophet of corporate cynicism, a ‘circus freak’, with adult male political commentators, in particular, openly wishing that she would die in a boating accident or be shot. The adult ego is made to feel irrelevant by a teenager with 3 million followers on Twitter, whose impact utterly dwarfs our own. How ridiculous, how impossible, that the public should lavish such attention on a mere child! Our Empires of Self spit and seethe, and declare war on such people. They always have!

But the ego can be defied; it is not all-powerful. In our story, the Sultan is made to stop and listen by a madman who has discovered something else, something more. Lai-Khur was drunk with bliss, with a source of ecstasy that blazes within the human heart attuned to the present rather than the future, to the real world rather than thoughts about the real world. Like Osho himself, Lai-Khur’s strategy was to hit the ego where it hurts, to shake us Little Emperors awake:

‘Lai-Khur called for wine and proposed a toast “to the blindness of the Sultan Bahramshah.”’

Imagine, again, the scene: a mocking insult cast at an emperor in the presence of an army with the power to raze whole cities to the ground. Osho comments:

‘Now, first the great mystic called for wine. Religious people are not supposed to drink wine. It is one of the greatest sins for a Muslim to drink wine; it is against the Koran, it is against the religious idea of how a saint should be. Lai-Khur called for wine and proposed a toast “to the blindness of the Sultan Bahramshah.”

‘The Sultan must have got mad. He must have been furious – calling him blind? But he was under the great ecstatic impact of Lai-Khur. So although he was boiling within, he didn’t say a thing. Those beautiful sounds and the music and the dance were still haunting him, they were still there in his heart. He was transported to another world. But others objected, his generals and his courtiers objected.

‘When objections were raised, Lai-Khur laughed madly and insisted that the Sultan deserved blindness for embarking on such a foolish journey. “What can you conquer in the world? All will be left behind. The idea of conquering is stupid, utterly stupid. Where are you going? You are blind! Because the treasure is within you,” he said. And you are going to India; wasting time, wasting other people’s time. What more is needed for a man to be called blind?”’

The impact of these humiliating barbs was transformed by the very fact that, in the moment, the Sultan was himself experiencing the ecstasy of the strange music harmonising with ‘the treasure within’.

‘Lai-Khur insisted: “The Sultan is blind. If he is not blind then he should go back to his home and forget all about this conquest. Don’t make houses of playing-cards, don’t make castles of sand. Don’t go after dreams, don’t be mad. Go back! look within!”’

Perhaps a company scientist said something similar to Exxon’s CEO in 1982, when the oil company’s research predicted exactly the dire rise in temperatures experienced in 2019 from the rise in carbon dioxide generated by the burning of fossil fuels. Perhaps a scientific Lai-Khur told an Exxon Bahramshah:

‘The idea of conquering nature, of infinite profit, is stupid, utterly stupid. Where are you going? You are blind!’

Lai-Khur continued.

‘“If he is not [blind], then give me the proof: order the army to go back. Forget all about this conquest, and never again go on any other conquest. This is all nonsense!”

‘The Sultan was impressed, but was not capable of going back.’

Bahramshah ‘was sad, ashamed, shy. But he said, “Excuse me, I have to go, I cannot go back. India has to be conquered. I will not be able to rest or sit silently until I have conquered India.”’

Millions of Little Emperors respond the same way every day as they toss the latest warning of impending disaster and return to the office, to business as usual: the next quarter’s sales targets must be met. Nobody can conceive that all the peace, love, compassion and bliss that political activists have ever dreamed of bringing to the world are simply waiting to be uncovered within, as Lai-Khur had found.

A Toast To The Blindness Of Hakim Sanai

Then a toast was called ‘To the blindness of Hakim Sanai,’ Bahramshah’s right-hand man:

‘He was his adviser, his counsellor, his poet. He was the wisest man in his court, and his fame had penetrated into other lands too. He was already an accomplished poet; a great, well-known wise man.’

First, the emperor is insulted, dismissed as a blind fool. Now, the spiritual soul, conscience and intellectual pride of the court is subjected to the same abuse:

‘There were even stronger objections to this on the grounds of Sanai’s excellent reputation, his wisdom, his character. He was a man of character, a very virtuous man, very religious. Nobody could have found any flaw in his life. He had lived a very, very conscious life, at least in his own eyes. He was a man of conscience.’

Hakim Sanai can stand for all – and we are many – who take for granted that we are paragons of virtue while subtly serving the ego in its quest for external attention. Because Little Emperors identify with the people they admire, extreme rage always erupts in response to criticism of the likes of Hakim Sanai:

‘Because maybe the Sultan was blind – he was greedy, he had great lust, he had great desire to possess things – but that could not be said about Hakim Sanai. He had lived the life of a poor man, even though he had been in the court. Even though he was the most respected man in Bahramshah’s court, he had lived like a poor man – simple, humble, and of great wisdom and character.’

How easily we are persuaded to trust those who claim to advance themselves for a Great Cause. Compassion may be the motive, but an Imperial Self that knows more, cares more, that is in a position to help, gorges on moral righteousness, spiritual superiority, lapping up the applause, pursuing a hunger for attention beneath a banner of virtue: 

‘Lai-Khur countered that the toast was even more apt, since Sanai seemed unaware of the purpose for which he had been created; and when he was shortly brought before his maker and asked what he had to show for himself he would only be able to produce some stupid eulogies to foolish kings, mere mortals like himself.’

Insult upon insult. Lai-Khur clearly had the insight to know that, for all their pride, the Hakim Sanais of our world know perfectly well that they are intellectual prostitutes selling their talents to foolish overlords. After all, what kind of poet writes in praise of kings for money? Lai-Khur kept the mirror in front of Hakim Sanai’s face:

‘Lai-Khur said that it was even more apt because much more is to be expected from Hakim Sanai than from Sultan Bahramshah. He has a greater potential and he is wasting it, wasting it in making eulogies for foolish kings. He will not be able to face his God; he will be in difficulty, he will not be able to answer for himself. All that he will be able to produce will be this poetry, written in praise of foolish kings like this blind man, Bahramshah.

‘He is more blind, utterly blind.’

The impact was extraordinary:

‘And listening to these words and looking into the eyes of that madman, Lai-Khur, something incredible happened to Hakim Sanai: a satori, a sudden enlightening experience. Something died in him immediately, instantly. And something was born, something utterly new. In a single moment, the transformation had happened. He was no longer the same man. This madman had really penetrated his soul. This madman had succeeded in awakening him.’

In an instant, Hakim Sanai’s ego, his Little Emperor, was exposed as utterly worthless, empty – the illusion collapsed. The truth of Lai-Khur’s ecstasy – of his music, being and words – overwhelmed the ludicrous conceit that happiness can be found in the applause and attention of other Little Emperors, even great Sultans, all equally competitive, miserable and bewildered.

Hakim Sanai decided in that moment to leave Bahramshah’s army to go on a spiritual pilgrimage. The Sultan, mortified, did everything to prevent him, offering his only sister in marriage and half his kingdom. Hakim Sanai just laughed:

‘I am no longer a blind person. Thank you, but I am finished. This madman has finished me in a single stroke, in a single blow.’

Hakim Sanai returned from his pilgrimage and presented Lai-Khur with the book he had written, the classic mystical text, The Hadiqa.

The idea that a hidden treasure, a source of genuine happiness, is available at the heart of man, has been almost completely rejected by a ‘mainstream’ culture that, of course, is created and controlled by Little Emperors hopelessly addicted to external attention. The idea that the attention we really need is our own – directed inside at our thoughts and feelings – makes no sense at all. We call this ‘meditation’ or ‘mindfulness’ and dismiss it as something that ranks alongside Pilates and aerobics as one more lifestyle choice. And yet the remarkable fact remains that, throughout history, all around the world, everyone who has seriously directed attention inside in this way – acting, as Buddha said, as lamps unto themselves – has found the same truth, the same answer, that cannot be found anywhere else.

David Edwards is co-editor of Media Lens

Unfree Media – State Stenography And Shameful Silence

Fim, 07/11/2019 - 11:24

A recent viral clip of Jeremy Corbyn featured vital truths about the corporate media that ought to be at the forefront of public consciousness in the approach to the UK General Election on December 12. The clip began:

'A free press is essential to our democracy. But much of our press isn't very free at all.'

Corbyn continued:

'Just three companies control 71 per cent of national newspaper circulation and five companies control 81 per cent of local newspaper circulation.

'This unhealthy sway of a few corporations and billionaires shapes and skews the priorities and worldview of powerful sections of the media.

'And it doesn't stop with the newspapers, on and offline. Print too often sets the broadcast agenda, even though it is wedded so firmly to the Tories politically and to corporate interests more generally.'

Corbyn's words were not from a recent speech. They were actually delivered as part of his Alternative Mactaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival in August 2018. But they remain as relevant as ever; hence being picked up anew by 'Tory Fibs', a grassroots socialist Twitter account.

Corbyn shone on a spotlight on the BBC:

'the BBC should be freed of government control, democratised and made representative of the country it serves to help it do that.

'The BBC is meant to be independent, but its charter grants governments the power to appoint the chair and four directors of the board and set the level of the licence fee.'

As regular readers will be well aware, Media Lens has long highlighted the BBC's lack of independence and, more particularly, the insidious role of BBC News in protecting the establishment, promoting deference to the royal family and class system, as well as deflecting scrutiny of state and corporate crimes.

Corbyn concluded on the state of the media today:

'We need to set journalists and citizens free to hold power to account, by breaking the grip of tech giants and billionaires on our media.'

All this is arguably never more evident than when a General Election is looming. Right now, established power is fighting tooth and nail to maintain its control on society. Corporate media, including gatekeepers like the BBC and the Guardian - 'thus far and no farther', in the words of Noam Chomsky - play a central role in maintaining the destructive status quo.

Unfree Media – State Stenography And Shameful Silence

Fim, 07/11/2019 - 11:24

A recent viral clip of Jeremy Corbyn featured vital truths about the corporate media that ought to be at the forefront of public consciousness in the approach to the UK General Election on December 12. The clip began:

'A free press is essential to our democracy. But much of our press isn't very free at all.'

Corbyn continued:

'Just three companies control 71 per cent of national newspaper circulation and five companies control 81 per cent of local newspaper circulation.

'This unhealthy sway of a few corporations and billionaires shapes and skews the priorities and worldview of powerful sections of the media.

'And it doesn't stop with the newspapers, on and offline. Print too often sets the broadcast agenda, even though it is wedded so firmly to the Tories politically and to corporate interests more generally.'

Corbyn's words were not from a recent speech. They were actually delivered as part of his Alternative Mactaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival in August 2018. But they remain as relevant as ever; hence being picked up anew by 'Tory Fibs', a grassroots socialist Twitter account.

Corbyn shone on a spotlight on the BBC:

'the BBC should be freed of government control, democratised and made representative of the country it serves to help it do that.

'The BBC is meant to be independent, but its charter grants governments the power to appoint the chair and four directors of the board and set the level of the licence fee.'

As regular readers will be well aware, Media Lens has long highlighted the BBC's lack of independence and, more particularly, the insidious role of BBC News in protecting the establishment, promoting deference to the royal family and class system, as well as deflecting scrutiny of state and corporate crimes.

Corbyn concluded on the state of the media today:

'We need to set journalists and citizens free to hold power to account, by breaking the grip of tech giants and billionaires on our media.'

All this is arguably never more evident than when a General Election is looming. Right now, established power is fighting tooth and nail to maintain its control on society. Corporate media, including gatekeepers like the BBC and the Guardian - 'thus far and no farther', in the words of Noam Chomsky - play a central role in maintaining the destructive status quo.

Unfree Media – State Stenography And Shameful Silence

Mið, 06/11/2019 - 00:00

A recent viral clip of Jeremy Corbyn featured vital truths about the corporate media that ought to be at the forefront of public consciousness in the approach to the UK General Election on December 12. The clip began:

‘A free press is essential to our democracy. But much of our press isn’t very free at all.’

Corbyn continued:

‘Just three companies control 71 per cent of national newspaper circulation and five companies control 81 per cent of local newspaper circulation.

‘This unhealthy sway of a few corporations and billionaires shapes and skews the priorities and worldview of powerful sections of the media.

‘And it doesn’t stop with the newspapers, on and offline. Print too often sets the broadcast agenda, even though it is wedded so firmly to the Tories politically and to corporate interests more generally.’

Corbyn’s words were not from a recent speech. They were actually delivered as part of his Alternative Mactaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival in August 2018. But they remain as relevant as ever; hence being picked up anew by ‘Tory Fibs’, a grassroots socialist Twitter account.

Corbyn shone on a spotlight on the BBC:

‘the BBC should be freed of government control, democratised and made representative of the country it serves to help it do that.

‘The BBC is meant to be independent, but its charter grants governments the power to appoint the chair and four directors of the board and set the level of the licence fee.’

As regular readers will be well aware, Media Lens has long highlighted the BBC’s lack of independence and, more particularly, the insidious role of BBC News in protecting the establishment, promoting deference to the royal family and class system, as well as deflecting scrutiny of state and corporate crimes.

Corbyn concluded on the state of the media today:

‘We need to set journalists and citizens free to hold power to account, by breaking the grip of tech giants and billionaires on our media.’

All this is arguably never more evident than when a General Election is looming. Right now, established power is fighting tooth and nail to maintain its control on society. Corporate media, including gatekeepers like the BBC and the Guardian – ‘thus far and no farther’, in the words of Noam Chomsky – play a central role in maintaining the destructive status quo.

Filtering Facts

The state-corporate management and manipulation of ‘the news’ relies on a subtle filtering process whereby leading journalists select – consciously or otherwise – which facts are ‘fit’ to be reported, and which can or should be ignored.

Consider an item on BBC News at Ten last Thursday when political editor Laura Kuenssberg reported Boris Johnson’s visit to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. She presented the Prime Minister in a favourable light, having amiable encounters with people in Addenbrooke’s. What the BBC did not show were the jeers of staff and patients ringing in Johnson’s ears as he left the hospital. Nor did Kuenssberg report on the young medical student who was ‘pushed aside by [a] Boris Johnson aide’ while attempting to challenge Johnson on the NHS and the climate crisis. Julia Simons, who is training at the hospital to become a doctor, called his visit a ‘PR stunt’.

We challenged the BBC political editor via Twitter:

‘Hello @bbclaurak,

‘Why did your @BBCNews at Ten piece on Boris Johnson’s visit to a Cambridge hospital omit the part where he left with jeers from staff and patients ringing in his ears?’

Our tweet was ‘liked’ and retweeted hundreds of times, but there was no reply from Kuenssberg. Her Twitter bio states:

‘I know it’s fashionable, but even in 2019 there is nothing big or clever about shooting the messenger – tweets or retweets here aren’t necessarily my view’

But, by heavily filtering the facts that Kuenssberg selects to tweet or retweet, ‘the messenger’ has transformed into an echo chamber and amplifier of government propaganda. This phenomenon of state stenography – which, of course, is far from new – was highlighted in an excellent article recently by Peter Oborne, former chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph. Under the title, ‘British journalists have become part of Johnson’s fake news machine’, Oborne argued that:

‘From the Mail, The Times to the BBC and ITN, everyone is peddling Downing Street’s lies and smears. They’re turning their readers into dupes.’

As Oborne noted, ‘mainstream’ political journalism too often relies upon whatever ‘a senior No 10 source’ says:

‘This modus operandi, which allow pro-government narratives to enter the public domain unmediated by proper interrogation, has become routine among political reporters since Johnson and his Vote Leave media team entered Downing Street.’

Oborne observed:

‘There is an implicit deal. In return for access and information (much of it false) the political media spins a pro-government narrative.’

As a recent example, Oborne pointed to the government’s deceitful response to the leaked ‘Yellowhammer dossier’ setting out the damaging consequences of a no-deal Brexit on the UK – a news story that ‘deeply embarrassed’ Boris Johnson and senior ministers. Downing Street responded by feeding a false claim to compliant journalists that the leak happened on Theresa May’s watch; and that Remain-supporting ex-ministers led by Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer in May’s Cabinet, were responsible. Newspapers were full of convenient headlines and stories about the alleged leakers, distracting attention from the damaging analysis of the leaked dossier itself. As Oborne noted, it turned out that the leaked document was dated nine days after Johnson came to power: the leak had occurred under his watch, not May’s.

This issue of journalist access in return for maintaining a power-friendly narrative has long been known. The media’s heavy reliance on state and corporate sources is one of the five ‘news filters’ – along with corporate ownership, advertising, flak and ‘anti-Communism’ – in the propaganda model of the media introduced by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in ‘Manufacturing Consent’ (1988).

Focusing on the country’s two main political editors – the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston of ITV News – Oborne added:

‘Political editors are so pleased to be given “insider” or “exclusive” information that they report it without challenge or question.’

Oborne, as a senior journalist with experience and clout, was afforded follow-up media interviews to make his case. Perhaps the most noteworthy example was his fiery appearance on Radio 2 where he was interviewed by Amol Rajan, a former editor of the oligarch-owned Independent and now the BBC’s media editor. You do not get to such exalted positions in the corporate media, as Rajan has done, by being a thorn in the side of the establishment. In a remarkable exchange, not only did Oborne name and shame major political editors for cosying up to power, he directly, and correctly, accused Rajan of the same. (Click here, starting at around 1:09:20; or, once the BBC link has expired, listen to the relevant segment here)

Oborne commented:

‘You, yourself, when you were Independent editor, notoriously sucked up to power. You are a client journalist yourself…you were a crony journalist yourself. It’s time this system was exploded’.

Rajan blustered:

‘It’s unbecoming of you, Peter, it’s unbecoming.’

When Oborne added that Rajan had also ‘failed to notice’ stories as BBC media editor, there was a brief stunned silence.

In 2014, when Rajan was the Independent’s editor, he boasted of ‘our proud record on coverage of Iraq’. We responded at the time:

‘Sorry, we have analysed the Independent’s performance closely. Your record was and is shameful. Where to start?’

Rajan did not reply. It was around this time that he blocked us on Twitter.

OPCW Whistleblowers Question The Douma Narrative

A further, grave example of present-day propaganda filtering involves the corporate media blanking of further proof that western powers, notably the US, have been manipulating the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Last month, WikiLeaks published evidence from an OPCW whistleblower showing that the international chemical watchdog had suppressed evidence suggesting that the Syrian government had not, in fact, mounted a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, on April 7, 2018. In other words, there is clear authoritative testimony from an OPCW insider contradicting the endlessly repeated narrative that ‘Assad used weapons against his own civilians’ in Douma. This state-approved script, propagated throughout the major western news media, served as the ‘justification’ for the US, UK and France to launch missile strikes on Syria seven days later.

Shockingly, as reported by WikiLeaks, a panel of experts convened by the Courage Foundation, an independent British civil society organisation, reported that:

‘Not only did the panel find that OPCW tampered with the evidence to produce an outcome desired by the geopolitical actors involved in this instance, it tried to silence its own senior civil servants’.

One member of the panel, Richard Falk – an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years – noted that the credibility of the panel’s conclusions were strengthened by having José Bustani, a former Director-General of the OPCW, among its members.

Falk added:

‘Not only is there a lack of transparency and accountability with respect to the undertakings of major national governments, but there is a deliberate manipulation of evidence and obstruction of procedures designed to protect the citizenry against abuses of state, and in the case of major states, especially the United States, to protect the public interest.’

This new testimony added to the earlier revelations in May that Ian Henderson, a senior OPCW scientist, had written a detailed report, suppressed by OPCW, calling into question the official version of events in Douma. As our media alert at the time noted, very little media coverage was devoted to this expert evidence questioning the Washington-stamped ‘consensus’ view.

Robert Fisk’s article in the Independent ten days after the Douma incident was a vanishingly rare exception. He interviewed a Syrian doctor who told him that the victims of the alleged chemical attack had actually suffered from hypoxia – oxygen starvation in the dusty tunnels where they had taken refuge from bombing– and not gas poisoning. As we also observed in our media alert, BBC Syria producer Riam Dalati stated on Twitter that after almost six months of investigation he had concluded that:

‘I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged.’

Two days after the Douma attack, he had tweeted:

‘Sick and tired of activists and rebels using corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption. Then they wonder why some serious journos are questioning part of the narrative.’

Dalati later deleted his tweet and set his Twitter account to ‘private’ status (it has since become accessible to the public again).

Typically, the BBC sought to minimise any public doubts about the official narrative on Douma by including only Syrian and Russian claims of ‘fabrication’. There was little, or no, coverage of sceptical Western voices. In similar fashion, in the runup to the Iraq war of 2003, BBC News and other ‘mainstream’ outlets had relegated credible allegations that the ‘threat’ of ‘Iraqi WMD’ was fake news to the ‘evil dictator’ Saddam Hussein.

Readers may recall that award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh had difficulty publishing his in-depth, sceptical reporting about an earlier alleged Syrian government chemical weapons attack at Ghouta in 2013. In the end, he had to publish in the London Review of Books, of all places (here and here).

This is so often the fate of the best journalism: pushed to the margins where it can be safely ignored.

Corporate Eyes Averted And Tongues Bitten

The fact that a second OPCW whistleblower has now revealed extremely serious manipulation of evidence surrounding what happened at Douma has been greeted by a wall of corporate media silence. However, it was mentioned briefly by Jonathan Steele, a former senior Middle East correspondent for the Guardian, in a radio interview with Paul Henley on the BBC World Service on October 27, 2019 (listen here; from around 11:00; if no longer available from the BBC, listen to the extract archived here by Caitlin Johnstone and read her article):

Jonathan Steele: I was in Brussels last week … I attended a briefing by a whistleblower from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. He was one of the inspectors who was sent out to Douma in Syria in April last year to check into the allegations by the rebels that Syrian aeroplanes had dropped two canisters of chlorine gas, killing up to 43 people. He claims he was in charge of picking up the samples in the affected areas, and in neutral areas, to check whether there were chlorine derivatives there …

Paul Henley: And?

JS: … and he found that there was no difference. So it rather suggested there was no chemical gas attack, because in the buildings where the people allegedly died there was no extra chlorinated organic chemicals than in the normal streets elsewhere. And I put this to the OPCW for comment, and they haven’t yet replied. But it rather suggests that a lot of this was propaganda…

PH: Propaganda led by?

JS: … led by the rebel side to try and bring in American planes, which in fact did happen. American, British and French planes bombed Damascus a few days after these reports. And actually this is the second whistleblower to come forward. A few months ago there was a leaked report by the person [senior OPCW scientist Ian Henderson – mentioned earlier in this alert] who looked into the ballistics, as to whether these cylinders had been dropped by planes, looking at the damage of the building and the damage on the side of the cylinders. And he decided, concluded, that the higher probability was that these cylinders were placed on the ground, rather than from planes.

PH: This would be a major revelation…

JS: … it would be a major revelation …

PH: … given the number of people rubbishing the idea that these could have been fake videos at the time.

JS: Well, these two scientists, I think they’re non-political – they wouldn’t have been sent to Douma, if they’d had strong political views, by the OPCW. They want to speak to the Conference of the Member States in November, next month, and give their views, and be allowed to come forward publicly with their concerns. Because they’ve tried to raise them internally and been – they say they’ve been – suppressed, their views have been suppressed.

PH: Very interesting.

(Transcript courtesy of Tim Hayward of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media.)

In May, when the suppressed engineering assessment report on Douma by the OPCW’s Ian Henderson was leaked, Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s chief international correspondent, agreed that this was ‘an important story’. Despite polite nudges from Media Lens, and others, she said no more on the matter. Did BBC colleagues have a quiet word in her ear?

Following revelations of a second whistleblower last week, we challenged her once more. She again ignored us, but she did reply to one of our Twitter followers:

‘Thanks Philip. I’ve been in Canada this month reporting on elections & in Afghanistan for most of Sept. I did forward the earlier information to programmes but was away during more recent news so other teams /programmes would have looked at it.’

While it is heartening to see any reply – perhaps a measure of Doucet’s desire to give at least the impression of being accountable to the public – it is a very evasive reply. It is remarkable that for five months she had not been around to report vital testimony from OPCW insiders blowing a hole in the official, US-friendly narrative used to ‘justify’ missile attacks on Syria. Clearly, she had decided it was not that important after all.

And what does ‘so other teams /programmes would have looked at it’ actually mean? What evidence did they examine? And how closely? Where are the BBC headlines and major coverage these revelations deserve? As far as we can tell, there has been no mention of the OPCW whistleblowers on the BBC News website; nor has there been any coverage on the main BBC News programmes. Our challenges to Paul Royall, editor of the BBC News flagship News at Six and Ten programmes, and Nick Sutton, editor of the BBC News website, have gone unanswered.

Meanwhile, the General Election on December 12 may well be, as Jeremy Corbyn says:

‘a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country and take on the vested interests holding people back.’

But time is rapidly running out for real change – whether that be on foreign policy, such as Syria, or the largest crisis now facing all of us. A global group of 11,000 scientists declared this week that the evidence is ‘clear and unequivocal’ that humanity is in a climate emergency. The stakes, then, are even higher than ‘once-in-a-generation’. As Extinction Rebellion have repeatedly warned, there may not be more than one new generation of humanity that will survive, given the severity of climate breakdown.

DC

‘This Is Oil Country!’ – Climate Protests And The Left

Mið, 23/10/2019 - 11:57

 

The left has a dark secret that is becoming ever harder to ignore: it is riddled with climate scepticism, indifference and denial.

Pick your favourite left-progressive writers, check their Twitter timelines and published work for mentions of the climate crisis. Check their level of support for protesters who, despite being arrested and beaten, have finally forced the issue into 'mainstream' political awareness after thirty years of fatal indifference and hostility.

This week, a Canadian fossil-fuel enthusiast defaced a mural of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, painting these words over her face:

'Stop the Lies. This is Oil Country!!!'

Remarkably, when it comes to their understanding of the climate issue, much of the left has long lived in 'oil country'. Dissidents who exposed the West's 'humanitarian interventions' in Iraq and Libya as oil grabs have themselves unwittingly been captured by oil industry propaganda presenting climate concern as a scam by money-grubbing scientists seeking research funds and 'bourgeois' cynics seeking new ways to exploit honest working people.

Last week, Julia Steinberger, Professor of Social Ecology and Ecological Economics at the University of Leeds, tweeted:

'Yesterday morning, and during the whole day, #ExtinctionRebellion faced the City of London: the banks who are bankrolling and profiting from fossil industries and planetary devastation.

'Yesterday evening, the human right of freedom of assembly was suspended in all of London.'

As Steinberger added:

'Yesterday's action and reaction are not coincidental: this is what happens when people go up against power.'

And the City of London, indeed, is the locus of corporate power in the UK. Journalist Jonathan Cook describes it as 'a tiny, secretive enclave within Britain, a state within a state'. The protest ban signalled both the real power behind the parliamentary throne, and the depth of corporate opposition to the protests, giving the lie to the claim that they are the plaything of corporate marketing.

Leftists have been misled by a clear surge in media reporting of protests that are obviously hard to ignore (1.4 million protesters in Germany alone on a single day), and by unlikely support from some corporate media. This, it is claimed, indicates a hidden corporate agenda. The leftist website, OffGuardian, which hosts extreme climate denial (see here, here and here), commented this month:

'Remember - when the MSM don't want you to support a protest movement they just don't tell you about it. Think #giletsjaune.

'#ExtinctionRebellion is theatre - we're invited to take sides, polarise, but never question what actually lies behind the movement' 

Ironically, this favoured left take is also popular with hard-right corporate media. A recent comment piece in the Telegraph was titled:

'Extinction Rebellion exposes Left-wing activism as a global elite sham'

In reality, 'mainstream' support for the protests is offset by fierce hostility from many media corporations and should be viewed in the context of decades of extreme media and political opposition. As recently as April 2019, even after the start of the mass climate protests one year ago, Columbia Journalism Review reported:

'Yet at a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news... Many newspapers, too, are failing the climate test. Last October, the scientists of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report, warning that humanity had a mere 12 years to radically slash greenhouse-gas emissions or face a calamitous future in which hundreds of millions of people worldwide would go hungry or homeless or worse. Only 22 of the 50 biggest newspapers in the United States covered that report.'

As we have documented for a quarter of century, this is very much the long-term trend. In 2017, Media Matters found that US news networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS had collectively given coverage to climate change that totalled just 260 minutes in the entire year. Of this, 79 per cent, or 205 minutes, was focused on actions or statements by the Trump administration, rather than on climate change itself.

Noam Chomsky has accurately described the 'schizophrenic' nature of 'mainstream' coverage:

'So, it's as if on the one hand, there's a kind of a tunnel vision — the science reporters are occasionally saying look, "this is a catastrophe," but then the regular coverage simply disregards it, and says [of fracking], "well, isn't this wonderful, we won't have to import oil, we'll be more powerful," and so on.'

Chomsky added:

'It's a kind of schizophrenia, and it runs right through society. Take the big banks, JP Morgan Chase, for example. They're the biggest bank and CEO Jamie Dimon is an intelligent man. I'm sure he knows the basic facts about the dire threat of global warming, yet at the same time they're pouring investments into fossil fuel extraction, because that's the business model. They have to make a profit tomorrow.'

The facts, then, do not indicate deep corporate support for climate activism, but patchy support by less fundamentalist individuals and corporations within a system that is designed down to the last nut and bolt to generate maximum profits in minimum time.

The left-sceptic take on the climate protests is as deluded as any notion that the West was 'fighting for democracy' in Libya, or acting to 'liberate' Iraq. It is an example of why environmentalists have long lumped left and right together as 'grey politics' subordinating the planet to fantasies of endless industrial 'progress' and 'growth'. Consider, for example, the terrible record of the Labour Party on climate change until very recently. The truth is that, with honourable exceptions, the left has never had a problem with the concept of infinite growth on a finite planet, only with how the fruits of that growth are distributed. Along with the right, it has struggled mightily to abandon this article of faith, this now completely discredited conceit of 'manifest destiny' (see here for further discussion).

This week, Extinction Rebellion (XR) commented:

'Total silence from the Government since Parliament's declaration of an environment and climate emergency in May.' (XR, emailed press release, 22 October 2019)

The Tory Party is the party of corporate power, and this is where Big Business currently is on climate - it wants to make cosmetic changes, pretend nothing is happening and carry on regardless.

If we are able to maintain a finger-hold on reality, then we have to accept that climate science, based on elementary principles of physics, is not part of a corporate conspiracy, is not effete 'middle class' paranoia, and is not designed to exploit the public. At time of writing, more than 1,100 scientists have signed the 'Scientists' Declaration of Support for Non-Violent Direct Action Against Government Inaction Over the Climate and Ecological Emergency.'

This support for the protests, not positive comments from the Guardian, is what matters.

‘This Is Oil Country!’ – Climate Protests And The Left

Mið, 23/10/2019 - 11:57

 

The left has a dark secret that is becoming ever harder to ignore: it is riddled with climate scepticism, indifference and denial.

Pick your favourite left-progressive writers, check their Twitter timelines and published work for mentions of the climate crisis. Check their level of support for protesters who, despite being arrested and beaten, have finally forced the issue into 'mainstream' political awareness after thirty years of fatal indifference and hostility.

This week, a Canadian fossil-fuel enthusiast defaced a mural of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, painting these words over her face:

'Stop the Lies. This is Oil Country!!!'

Remarkably, when it comes to their understanding of the climate issue, much of the left has long lived in 'oil country'. Dissidents who exposed the West's 'humanitarian interventions' in Iraq and Libya as oil grabs have themselves unwittingly been captured by oil industry propaganda presenting climate concern as a scam by money-grubbing scientists seeking research funds and 'bourgeois' cynics seeking new ways to exploit honest working people.

Last week, Julia Steinberger, Professor of Social Ecology and Ecological Economics at the University of Leeds, tweeted:

'Yesterday morning, and during the whole day, #ExtinctionRebellion faced the City of London: the banks who are bankrolling and profiting from fossil industries and planetary devastation.

'Yesterday evening, the human right of freedom of assembly was suspended in all of London.'

As Steinberger added:

'Yesterday's action and reaction are not coincidental: this is what happens when people go up against power.'

And the City of London, indeed, is the locus of corporate power in the UK. Journalist Jonathan Cook describes it as 'a tiny, secretive enclave within Britain, a state within a state'. The protest ban signalled both the real power behind the parliamentary throne, and the depth of corporate opposition to the protests, giving the lie to the claim that they are the plaything of corporate marketing.

Leftists have been misled by a clear surge in media reporting of protests that are obviously hard to ignore (1.4 million protesters in Germany alone on a single day), and by unlikely support from some corporate media. This, it is claimed, indicates a hidden corporate agenda. The leftist website, OffGuardian, which hosts extreme climate denial (see here, here and here), commented this month:

'Remember - when the MSM don't want you to support a protest movement they just don't tell you about it. Think #giletsjaune.

'#ExtinctionRebellion is theatre - we're invited to take sides, polarise, but never question what actually lies behind the movement' 

Ironically, this favoured left take is also popular with hard-right corporate media. A recent comment piece in the Telegraph was titled:

'Extinction Rebellion exposes Left-wing activism as a global elite sham'

In reality, 'mainstream' support for the protests is offset by fierce hostility from many media corporations and should be viewed in the context of decades of extreme media and political opposition. As recently as April 2019, even after the start of the mass climate protests one year ago, Columbia Journalism Review reported:

'Yet at a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news... Many newspapers, too, are failing the climate test. Last October, the scientists of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report, warning that humanity had a mere 12 years to radically slash greenhouse-gas emissions or face a calamitous future in which hundreds of millions of people worldwide would go hungry or homeless or worse. Only 22 of the 50 biggest newspapers in the United States covered that report.'

As we have documented for a quarter of century, this is very much the long-term trend. In 2017, Media Matters found that US news networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS had collectively given coverage to climate change that totalled just 260 minutes in the entire year. Of this, 79 per cent, or 205 minutes, was focused on actions or statements by the Trump administration, rather than on climate change itself.

Noam Chomsky has accurately described the 'schizophrenic' nature of 'mainstream' coverage:

'So, it's as if on the one hand, there's a kind of a tunnel vision — the science reporters are occasionally saying look, "this is a catastrophe," but then the regular coverage simply disregards it, and says [of fracking], "well, isn't this wonderful, we won't have to import oil, we'll be more powerful," and so on.'

Chomsky added:

'It's a kind of schizophrenia, and it runs right through society. Take the big banks, JP Morgan Chase, for example. They're the biggest bank and CEO Jamie Dimon is an intelligent man. I'm sure he knows the basic facts about the dire threat of global warming, yet at the same time they're pouring investments into fossil fuel extraction, because that's the business model. They have to make a profit tomorrow.'

The facts, then, do not indicate deep corporate support for climate activism, but patchy support by less fundamentalist individuals and corporations within a system that is designed down to the last nut and bolt to generate maximum profits in minimum time.

The left-sceptic take on the climate protests is as deluded as any notion that the West was 'fighting for democracy' in Libya, or acting to 'liberate' Iraq. It is an example of why environmentalists have long lumped left and right together as 'grey politics' subordinating the planet to fantasies of endless industrial 'progress' and 'growth'. Consider, for example, the terrible record of the Labour Party on climate change until very recently. The truth is that, with honourable exceptions, the left has never had a problem with the concept of infinite growth on a finite planet, only with how the fruits of that growth are distributed. Along with the right, it has struggled mightily to abandon this article of faith, this now completely discredited conceit of 'manifest destiny' (see here for further discussion).

This week, Extinction Rebellion (XR) commented:

'Total silence from the Government since Parliament's declaration of an environment and climate emergency in May.' (XR, emailed press release, 22 October 2019)

The Tory Party is the party of corporate power, and this is where Big Business currently is on climate - it wants to make cosmetic changes, pretend nothing is happening and carry on regardless.

If we are able to maintain a finger-hold on reality, then we have to accept that climate science, based on elementary principles of physics, is not part of a corporate conspiracy, is not effete 'middle class' paranoia, and is not designed to exploit the public. At time of writing, more than 1,100 scientists have signed the 'Scientists' Declaration of Support for Non-Violent Direct Action Against Government Inaction Over the Climate and Ecological Emergency.'

This support for the protests, not positive comments from the Guardian, is what matters.

‘This Is Oil Country!’ – Climate Protests And The Left

Þri, 22/10/2019 - 23:00

The left has a dark secret that is becoming ever harder to ignore: it is riddled with climate scepticism, indifference and denial.

Pick your favourite left-progressive writers, check their Twitter timelines and published work for mentions of the climate crisis. Check their level of support for protesters who, despite being arrested and beaten, have finally forced the issue into ‘mainstream’ political awareness after thirty years of fatal indifference and hostility.

This week, a Canadian fossil-fuel enthusiast defaced a mural of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, painting these words over her face:

‘Stop the Lies. This is Oil Country!!!’

Remarkably, when it comes to their understanding of the climate issue, much of the left has long lived in ‘oil country’. Dissidents who exposed the West’s ‘humanitarian interventions’ in Iraq and Libya as oil grabs have themselves unwittingly been captured by oil industry propaganda presenting climate concern as a scam by money-grubbing scientists seeking research funds and ‘bourgeois’ cynics seeking new ways to exploit honest working people.

Last week, Julia Steinberger, Professor of Social Ecology and Ecological Economics at the University of Leeds, tweeted:

‘Yesterday morning, and during the whole day, #ExtinctionRebellion faced the City of London: the banks who are bankrolling and profiting from fossil industries and planetary devastation.

‘Yesterday evening, the human right of freedom of assembly was suspended in all of London.’

As Steinberger added:

‘Yesterday’s action and reaction are not coincidental: this is what happens when people go up against power.’

And the City of London, indeed, is the locus of corporate power in the UK. Journalist Jonathan Cook describes it as ‘a tiny, secretive enclave within Britain, a state within a state’. The protest ban signalled both the real power behind the parliamentary throne, and the depth of corporate opposition to the protests, giving the lie to the claim that they are the plaything of corporate marketing.

Leftists have been misled by a clear surge in media reporting of protests that are obviously hard to ignore (1.4 million protesters in Germany alone on a single day), and by unlikely support from some corporate media. This, it is claimed, indicates a hidden corporate agenda. The leftist website, OffGuardian, which hosts extreme climate denial (see here, here and here), commented this month:

‘Remember – when the MSM don’t want you to support a protest movement they just don’t tell you about it. Think #giletsjaune.

‘#ExtinctionRebellion is theatre – we’re invited to take sides, polarise, but never question what actually lies behind the movement’ 

Ironically, this favoured left take is also popular with hard-right corporate media. A recent comment piece in the Telegraph was titled:

‘Extinction Rebellion exposes Left-wing activism as a global elite sham’

In reality, ‘mainstream’ support for the protests is offset by fierce hostility from many media corporations and should be viewed in the context of decades of extreme media and political opposition. As recently as April 2019, even after the start of the mass climate protests one year ago, Columbia Journalism Review reported:

‘Yet at a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news… Many newspapers, too, are failing the climate test. Last October, the scientists of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report, warning that humanity had a mere 12 years to radically slash greenhouse-gas emissions or face a calamitous future in which hundreds of millions of people worldwide would go hungry or homeless or worse. Only 22 of the 50 biggest newspapers in the United States covered that report.’

As we have documented for a quarter of century, this is very much the long-term trend. In 2017, Media Matters found that US news networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS had collectively given coverage to climate change that totalled just 260 minutes in the entire year. Of this, 79 per cent, or 205 minutes, was focused on actions or statements by the Trump administration, rather than on climate change itself.

Noam Chomsky has accurately described the ‘schizophrenic’ nature of ‘mainstream’ coverage:

‘So, it’s as if on the one hand, there’s a kind of a tunnel vision — the science reporters are occasionally saying look, “this is a catastrophe,” but then the regular coverage simply disregards it, and says [of fracking], “well, isn’t this wonderful, we won’t have to import oil, we’ll be more powerful,” and so on.’

Chomsky added:

‘It’s a kind of schizophrenia, and it runs right through society. Take the big banks, JP Morgan Chase, for example. They’re the biggest bank and CEO Jamie Dimon is an intelligent man. I’m sure he knows the basic facts about the dire threat of global warming, yet at the same time they’re pouring investments into fossil fuel extraction, because that’s the business model. They have to make a profit tomorrow.’

The facts, then, do not indicate deep corporate support for climate activism, but patchy support by less fundamentalist individuals and corporations within a system that is designed down to the last nut and bolt to generate maximum profits in minimum time.

The left-sceptic take on the climate protests is as deluded as any notion that the West was ‘fighting for democracy’ in Libya, or acting to ‘liberate’ Iraq. It is an example of why environmentalists have long lumped left and right together as ‘grey politics’ subordinating the planet to fantasies of endless industrial ‘progress’ and ‘growth’. Consider, for example, the terrible record of the Labour Party on climate change until very recently. The truth is that, with honourable exceptions, the left has never had a problem with the concept of infinite growth on a finite planet, only with how the fruits of that growth are distributed. Along with the right, it has struggled mightily to abandon this article of faith, this now completely discredited conceit of ‘manifest destiny’ (see here for further discussion).

This week, Extinction Rebellion (XR) commented:

‘Total silence from the Government since Parliament’s declaration of an environment and climate emergency in May.’ (XR, emailed press release, 22 October 2019)

The Tory Party is the party of corporate power, and this is where Big Business currently is on climate – it wants to make cosmetic changes, pretend nothing is happening and carry on regardless.

If we are able to maintain a finger-hold on reality, then we have to accept that climate science, based on elementary principles of physics, is not part of a corporate conspiracy, is not effete ‘middle class’ paranoia, and is not designed to exploit the public. At time of writing, more than 1,100 scientists have signed the ‘Scientists’ Declaration of Support for Non-Violent Direct Action Against Government Inaction Over the Climate and Ecological Emergency.’

This support for the protests, not positive comments from the Guardian, is what matters.

Message To The ‘Eco-Zealots’ – ‘We’ll Take You Down!’

On October 17, video footage emerged of a mob endangering the life of a peaceful XR climate protester by throwing him off the roof of a London tube train to the ground where he was then punched and kicked on the ground.

ITV showed additional footage of an XR camera team filming the same protest at London’s Canning Town station being punched and kicked on the ground by the mob. The Telegraph reported that people on the platform who ‘took matters into their own hands’ could be investigated by police, who said their actions were ‘unacceptable’. The protesters had held up the train for ‘a few seconds’ before they were attacked. XR responded:

‘The people involved today did not take this action lightly. They were a grandfather, an ex-buddhist teacher, a vicar and a former GP among others who acted out of rational fear for the future as this crisis deepens.’

The Telegraph reported that one of the two activists who climbed on top of the train was 36-year-old Mark Ovland, who gave up his Buddhist studies to devote himself to climate change action. In a blogpost before the Canning Town action, Ovland wrote:

‘… sometimes the actions I choose to take part in won’t be popular, I know that. But I’m really not in this to be popular.

‘I’m in this because I love life so, so much, and I want it to continue and I don’t know what else to do. I’m wanting to help raise an alarm so loud that no one can ignore it.’

Kerry-Anne Mendoza, Editor-in-Chief of The Canary, a leftist website that has strongly supported the protests, responded to the incident:

‘The XR stunt shows what happens when a movement for all gets dominated by middle class whiteness.

‘We’ve been raising these concerns for a while, and it’s overdue they be heard and acted upon. Precisely because the cause is so important and urgent. In solidarity’

We responded on Twitter:

‘That’s a huge leap. People of all classes and colours are protesting and disrupting in numerous non-violent ways around the planet. This “stunt” delayed commuters for a short period of time. It’s a big deal because the protester was violently attacked – that’s what matters.’

Mendoza replied:

‘I’d already posted about the violence being a) unacceptable, and b) not about a train delay, but a mob mentality that no one should be praising. I can do that, and raise an issue about how XR operates.’

In fact, Mendoza’s first response to the sight of peaceful protesters being beaten and kicked was to blame the victims:

‘What a mess! A tone deaf move borne of XR’s blindspots on race & class.’

As for the mob violence: ‘That’s not to be admired.’

Mendoza’s condemnation was entirely reserved for the protesters, describing them as ‘silly buggers [who] ended up blocking an electric train, in a working class community, and pissing off nearly everyone. The arrogance of privilege’.

The peaceful protesters, then, were ‘silly buggers’, the mob a ‘working class community’. Mendoza added of the people who had been attacked that they were ‘tone deaf middle class activists’ who were ‘stupid’.

The Canary published a report by Ed Sykes on the Canning Town incident, ‘which revealed an apparent disconnect between the movement and ordinary working-class communities’. Even BBC articles like to make some gesture in the direction of balance, but Sykes gave exactly one point of view over and over again –  XR’s ‘own goal’ had been foolish, risible: ‘the action had “alienated” working-class people… activists should focus their efforts “on politicians & the top of big corporations & banks”.’

By contrast, Jasper Jackson noted in the New Statesman that much of the criticism of the action had simply misunderstood the purpose of the protests:

‘Extinction Rebellion has been clear that its primary goal is not to secure majority support for taking the necessary action to tackle climate change.

‘There is good reason for this. Decades of campaigning have not thrust climate change to the forefront of political consciousness. People care about the environment and are worried about a warming planet, but not enough for most to make it the deciding factor in which way they vote.

‘Instead, XR’s goal is to cause enough disruption to the economy and the functioning of society that governments are forced to do what is needed to make a dent in global warming. If the cost of their protests and direct action outweighs the investment needed to turn us into a zero-carbon economy, the economic arguments should succeed where the existential and moral ones haven’t.’

The campaign is based on research that suggests that mobilising just 3.5 per cent of the population can be enough for a movement to succeed – the ‘distracted and apathetic’ majority is not the target audience. The simple fact is that 30 years of effort has failed totally, so XR is trying something different. As Jackson concluded:

‘That is going to mean pissing a lot of people off. Going by recent history, their approach may be the only option left.’

In 2014, ‘mainstream’ media responded with grim indifference after left-wing MP George Galloway was hospitalised by a brutal, politically motivated street attack. Remarkably, last week, Galloway retweeted an article celebrating the mob attack on the climate protesters published in The Sun by the infamous climate denier Mick Hume, who wrote:

‘And like those other passengers packed on the platform, Londoners were cheering the working-class commuters who showed the amazed eco-zealots exactly what we thought of their attempts to bring the Tube to a halt.’

Hume, formerly editor of Living Marxism, newspaper of the now-defunct Revolutionary Communist Party, added:

‘The message from the rebelling masses was clear: Protest all you like — but try to mess with our grim morning slog to work and we’ll take you down!’

Under a picture of an activist being dragged along the ground, a Sun caption read:

‘By targeting Canning Town, the middle-class activists demonstrated that their arrogance is only exceeded by their ignorance.’

It goes without saying that this was poisonous propaganda likely to fuel further hatred for the protesters.

Above a video of the tube station violence, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood tweeted:

‘This response in London today has my full support.’

Tom Kibasi, director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, said it was good to see ‘working class Londoners… standing up’ for themselves. Kibasi later tweeted:

‘I regret tweeting in haste earlier this morning and went too far.’

In the Telegraph, Charlotte Gill stuck her own boot into the victims of the attack:

‘Through their increasingly deranged requests, and middle-class obsession with their grandchildren’s futures, Extinction rebels have achieved something utterly extraordinary: they have turned climate change into a class war.’

As this makes clear, the issue of class is a major line of attack for corporate media – aided, it seems, by many on the left – seeking to turn the public against the protests. Thus, Gill added:

‘Overwhelmingly, there’s a whiff of economic superiority about XR, expanded upon over the weekend when the Mail on Sunday revealed that activists have been paid up to £400-a-week for inflicting misery on Londoners. Rebels have become the darlings of the rich and famous, with oil heiress Aileen Getty giving them £500,000 in donations and 100 celebrities, including Lily Cole and Steve Coogan, signing an open letter (urgh!) urging the public to “educate” themselves on climate change.

‘Why don’t these self-regarding twerps “educate” themselves on what it’s like to be on the national living wage?’

In the Independent, celebrity broadcaster and commentator Janet Street-Porter wrote under the following title, apparently without irony: ‘Pity the poor carbon-chomping celebrities who think they’re “just like us”‘. Street-Porter added:

‘You can’t help wondering if this is a demo dominated by the middle class.’

In the Telegraph, Julie Burchill lamented hearing ‘the over-privileged and under-productive half-wits of Extinction Rebellion talk about economic growth as if it was child abuse’, revealing XR’s ‘contempt’ for working people. 

The Evening Standard, a latter-day ‘penny dreadful’ distributed free to Londoners, opined:

‘A small number of idiots, claiming to protest on behalf of Extinction Rebellion, climbed on Tube trains and the DLR this morning in east London to stop people getting to work. It was risky, selfish and stupid and they deserved the contempt now being poured on them.

‘Yes, the reaction of some passengers at Canning Town, who dragged them off the top of Jubilee line carriages and began a fight, was contemptible too — brave station staff did their best to keep order. But it’s no wonder passengers were angry.’

This did not vindicate the violence but affirmed the righteousness of the anger, which is bad enough.

More generally, the promotion of hatred of climate protesters is a primitive but popular theme in ‘mainstream’ discourse. Ezra Levant of Rebel News described Greta Thunberg as ‘a circus freak’ who had been ordered by her mother ‘to infect other children with terror & depression’.

British businessman and Brexit bankroller Arron Banks responded to news that Thunberg was sailing to the US to attend the UN Climate Action Summit, tweeting:

‘Freak yachting accidents do happen in August…’

Matt Baish, a US teacher, said he would not attend a rally featuring Thunberg because he didn’t ‘have my sniper rifle’.

Fox News contributor Steve Milloy described Thunberg as a ‘teenage puppet’, adding: ‘Climate bedwetters… the world laughs at this Greta charade.’

All of this, remember, directed at a 16-year-old child.

The Moral Balance – What Action Is Legitimate?

So what rights do climate protesters have in seeking to avert the near-term extinction of all human and most other life on earth?

In wartime, states have, of course, repeatedly bombed, indeed nuked, whole civilian cities in the cause of ‘national defence’. When US leaders obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they did so on the declared, highly questionable pretext that incinerating hundreds of thousands of civilians was necessary to preserve the lives of US soldiers who would otherwise be killed invading Japan. At the time, the US mainland was facing no threat even of attack, much less of destruction and defeat. Millions of US citizens then (as now) considered these atrocities entirely justifiable. In our own time, consistently large numbers of British and US people express few or no qualms when their governments decide to bomb one more country in the Middle East.

A key reason for this complacency is that modern citizens have been persuaded to perceive the state as a uniquely qualified moral actor to which we should defer, with the military and political leadership (even Trump!) often deemed completely beyond reproach when war is waged. There is no rational basis for this exalted view of the state. Britain and the US, for example, have an appalling record in greed-driven mass murder and exploitation. These systems of power have far less moral credibility, far less right to act, than the average, non-psychopathic individual – all of us paragons of virtue by comparison.

Given that we really are facing extinction – the death of everyone we know and love, ourselves included – and given that, over the last thirty years, governments and corporations have completely ignored the entreaties of climate scientists and activists by powerfully accelerating, not restraining, the runaway corporate capitalist machine – then, adopting ‘mainstream’ standards, activists must be morally entitled to use violence, even extreme violence, in trying to prevent the elimination of life on earth. After all, people are already dying in large numbers. Misha Coleman, one of the authors of a study by Australia’s Monash University, commented last July:

‘There are absolutely people dying climate-related deaths, [especially due to] heat stress right now.

‘During the Black Saturday fires [in Victoria, Australia, in 2009] for example, we know that people were directly killed by the fires, but there were nearly 400 additional deaths in those hot days from heat stress and heatstroke.’

There are numerous similar examples, but these deaths are tiny specks compared to what lies ahead. A 2018 report from the World Health Organisation predicted that between 2030 and 2050, climate change would cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year, some 5 million in total. But Frank Fenner, Emeritus Professor in Microbiology at the Australian National University and an authority on extinction, went much further when he predicted literally billions of deaths in an interview with the Australian newspaper in 2010:

‘We’re going to become extinct. Whatever we do now is too late. Climate change is just at the very beginning… Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years… I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off. Mitigation would slow things down a bit, but there are too many people here already.’

We abhor violence and are convinced that a resort to violence in the name of climate action would quickly alienate the public and generate a fascistic state backlash that would destroy any remaining hope of positive government action. It is absolutely not the answer. But the fact remains that all peaceful, non-violent actions must be deemed legitimate insofar as they obstruct the extinction of life on earth.

Climate science is not a class, race or gender issue. The idea that some kind of bogus class analysis can declare protesters ‘stupid’, ‘arrogant’ and ‘immoral’ for inconveniencing commuters, for costing working class people money, and even their jobs, is absurd. In fact, it is simply surreal, if – and it’s a big ‘if’ – we are able to grasp the almost unimaginable and imminent nature of the climate threat, and to weigh the merits of the competing moral claims, as we do in wartime. Millions of people cannot accept the need to kill and be killed in the hundreds of thousands, or millions, in defence of the nation, and then rail at the obstruction of public transport in the defence of all humanity. Of course we can argue that protesters were naïve to risk their safety by provoking commuters in London’s notoriously tough East End, but that is not an argument about the ethics of the protest.

We understand that the people punching and kicking protesters in Canning Town likely had little understanding of the truth of our situation – dumbed-down state education, media distraction and a very real corporate conspiracy to deceive the public have seen to that. We understand that they would find our positing of the moral balance in these terms hysterical and absurd, perhaps a ‘middle class fantasy’. But, as ever, ignorance does not help them or us, and is no defence.

DE

‘How Dare You!’ The Climate Crisis And The Public Demand For Real Action

Mán, 30/09/2019 - 06:43

Reality clashed with the BBC version of false consensus in a remarkable edition of HardTalk last month. Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, was starkly honest about humanity's extreme predicament in the face of climate breakdown and refused to buckle under host Stephen Sackur's incredulous questioning. Sackur's inability to grasp that we are already in a climate emergency, and that massive changes are necessary now to avoid societal collapse, was clear for all to see. His line of questioning attempted to present Hallam to the BBC audience as a dangerous revolutionary, trying to destroy capitalism for twisted ideological reasons.

Sackur: 'You want to bring down the capitalist system as we know it, is that correct?

Hallam: 'The capitalist system is going to be brought down by itself. The capitalist system is eating itself.'

Sackur: 'Well, no, the point about your...'

Hallam (interrupting): 'Let me make this point clear, right. The capitalist system – the global system that we're in – is in the process of destroying itself, and it will destroy itself in the next ten years. The reason for that is because it's destroying the climate. The climate is what's necessary to grow food. If you can't grow food, there will be starvation and social collapse. Now, the problem is, people in elites, people in the BBC, and people in the governmental sector, cannot get their heads round what's actually happening. The fact of the matter is, if you go out and talk to ordinary people in the street, they're aware of this. And that's why hundreds of thousands of people around the world are starting to take action...'

Sackur (interrupting): 'I understand what you're [saying], your perspective on the climate is that the emergency is here, it's now and we have to respond.'

Hallam (interrupting): 'No, I don't think you have [understood].'

As Hallam pointed out in the interview, 'hard science' shows that, as things stand, billions of people will die in the next few decades as a result of climate breakdown. William Rees, professor emeritus of human ecology and ecological economics at the University of British Columbia, and the originator of the concept of 'ecological footprint', agreed. He added bluntly:

'Humanity is literally converting the ecosphere into human bodies, prodigious quantities of cultural artifacts, and vastly larger volumes of entropic waste. (That's what tropical deforestation, fisheries collapses, plummeting biodiversity, ocean pollution, climate change, etc. are all about.)'

Earlier this year, Noam Chomsky noted that:

'In a couple of generations, organized human society may not survive.'

If corporate media were structurally capable of reflecting reality, this would be constant headline news:

'Every single [newspaper] should have a shrieking headline every day saying we are heading to total catastrophe. [...] That has to be drilled into people's heads constantly. After all, there's been nothing like this in all of human history. The current generation has to make a decision as to whether organized human society will survive another couple of generations, and it has to be done quickly, there's not a lot of time. So, there's no time for dillydallying and beating around the bush. And [the US] pulling out of the Paris negotiations should be regarded as one of the worst crimes in history.'

Human extinction within one hundred years is a real possibility. A massive upsurge of public concern, placing unassailable pressure on governments to drastically change course, is urgently needed. Climate strikes, with seven million people taking part last Friday, inspired in large part by the example of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, need to be ramped up even further, demanding real change; not fixes to a fundamentally destructive system that is falling apart, bringing humans and numerous other species with it.

As Thunberg passionately told world leaders at the UN in New York last week, in a powerful mix of emotion and reason:

'People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! [...] How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business-as-usual and some technical solutions.'

Thunberg's speech gave the lie, yet again, to ill-founded claims that she is being manipulated or 'manufactured' as a front for neoliberalism, 'green' capitalism or 'neo-feudalism'. As Jonathan Cook wrote in a cogent demolition of cynical claims made against her, including by some on the left:

'Thunberg is not Wonder Girl. She will have to navigate through these treacherous waters as best she can, deciding who genuinely wants to help, who is trying to sabotage her cause, and which partners she can afford to ally with. She and similar movements will make mistakes. That is how social protests always work. It is also how they evolve.'

Cook added:

'Should Thunberg become captured, wittingly or not, by western elites, it is patronising in the extreme to assume that the many millions of young and old alike joining her on the climate strikes will be incapable of recognising her co-option or whether she has lost her way. Those making this argument arrogantly assume that only they can divine the true path.'

 

‘How Dare You!’ The Climate Crisis And The Public Demand For Real Action

Mán, 30/09/2019 - 06:43

Reality clashed with the BBC version of false consensus in a remarkable edition of HardTalk last month. Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, was starkly honest about humanity's extreme predicament in the face of climate breakdown and refused to buckle under host Stephen Sackur's incredulous questioning. Sackur's inability to grasp that we are already in a climate emergency, and that massive changes are necessary now to avoid societal collapse, was clear for all to see. His line of questioning attempted to present Hallam to the BBC audience as a dangerous revolutionary, trying to destroy capitalism for twisted ideological reasons.

Sackur: 'You want to bring down the capitalist system as we know it, is that correct?

Hallam: 'The capitalist system is going to be brought down by itself. The capitalist system is eating itself.'

Sackur: 'Well, no, the point about your...'

Hallam (interrupting): 'Let me make this point clear, right. The capitalist system – the global system that we're in – is in the process of destroying itself, and it will destroy itself in the next ten years. The reason for that is because it's destroying the climate. The climate is what's necessary to grow food. If you can't grow food, there will be starvation and social collapse. Now, the problem is, people in elites, people in the BBC, and people in the governmental sector, cannot get their heads round what's actually happening. The fact of the matter is, if you go out and talk to ordinary people in the street, they're aware of this. And that's why hundreds of thousands of people around the world are starting to take action...'

Sackur (interrupting): 'I understand what you're [saying], your perspective on the climate is that the emergency is here, it's now and we have to respond.'

Hallam (interrupting): 'No, I don't think you have [understood].'

As Hallam pointed out in the interview, 'hard science' shows that, as things stand, billions of people will die in the next few decades as a result of climate breakdown. William Rees, professor emeritus of human ecology and ecological economics at the University of British Columbia, and the originator of the concept of 'ecological footprint', agreed. He added bluntly:

'Humanity is literally converting the ecosphere into human bodies, prodigious quantities of cultural artifacts, and vastly larger volumes of entropic waste. (That's what tropical deforestation, fisheries collapses, plummeting biodiversity, ocean pollution, climate change, etc. are all about.)'

Earlier this year, Noam Chomsky noted that:

'In a couple of generations, organized human society may not survive.'

If corporate media were structurally capable of reflecting reality, this would be constant headline news:

'Every single [newspaper] should have a shrieking headline every day saying we are heading to total catastrophe. [...] That has to be drilled into people's heads constantly. After all, there's been nothing like this in all of human history. The current generation has to make a decision as to whether organized human society will survive another couple of generations, and it has to be done quickly, there's not a lot of time. So, there's no time for dillydallying and beating around the bush. And [the US] pulling out of the Paris negotiations should be regarded as one of the worst crimes in history.'

Human extinction within one hundred years is a real possibility. A massive upsurge of public concern, placing unassailable pressure on governments to drastically change course, is urgently needed. Climate strikes, with seven million people taking part last Friday, inspired in large part by the example of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, need to be ramped up even further, demanding real change; not fixes to a fundamentally destructive system that is falling apart, bringing humans and numerous other species with it.

As Thunberg passionately told world leaders at the UN in New York last week, in a powerful mix of emotion and reason:

'People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! [...] How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business-as-usual and some technical solutions.'

Thunberg's speech gave the lie, yet again, to ill-founded claims that she is being manipulated or 'manufactured' as a front for neoliberalism, 'green' capitalism or 'neo-feudalism'. As Jonathan Cook wrote in a cogent demolition of cynical claims made against her, including by some on the left:

'Thunberg is not Wonder Girl. She will have to navigate through these treacherous waters as best she can, deciding who genuinely wants to help, who is trying to sabotage her cause, and which partners she can afford to ally with. She and similar movements will make mistakes. That is how social protests always work. It is also how they evolve.'

Cook added:

'Should Thunberg become captured, wittingly or not, by western elites, it is patronising in the extreme to assume that the many millions of young and old alike joining her on the climate strikes will be incapable of recognising her co-option or whether she has lost her way. Those making this argument arrogantly assume that only they can divine the true path.'

 

‘How Dare You!’ The Climate Crisis And The Public Demand For Real Action

Sun, 29/09/2019 - 23:00

Reality clashed with the BBC version of false consensus in a remarkable edition of HardTalk last month. Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, was starkly honest about humanity’s extreme predicament in the face of climate breakdown and refused to buckle under host Stephen Sackur’s incredulous questioning. Sackur’s inability to grasp that we are already in a climate emergency, and that massive changes are necessary now to avoid societal collapse, was clear for all to see. His line of questioning attempted to present Hallam to the BBC audience as a dangerous revolutionary, trying to destroy capitalism for twisted ideological reasons.

Sackur: ‘You want to bring down the capitalist system as we know it, is that correct?

Hallam: ‘The capitalist system is going to be brought down by itself. The capitalist system is eating itself.’

Sackur: ‘Well, no, the point about your…’

Hallam (interrupting): ‘Let me make this point clear, right. The capitalist system – the global system that we’re in – is in the process of destroying itself, and it will destroy itself in the next ten years. The reason for that is because it’s destroying the climate. The climate is what’s necessary to grow food. If you can’t grow food, there will be starvation and social collapse. Now, the problem is, people in elites, people in the BBC, and people in the governmental sector, cannot get their heads round what’s actually happening. The fact of the matter is, if you go out and talk to ordinary people in the street, they’re aware of this. And that’s why hundreds of thousands of people around the world are starting to take action…’

Sackur (interrupting): ‘I understand what you’re [saying], your perspective on the climate is that the emergency is here, it’s now and we have to respond.’

Hallam (interrupting): ‘No, I don’t think you have [understood].’

As Hallam pointed out in the interview, ‘hard science’ shows that, as things stand, billions of people will die in the next few decades as a result of climate breakdown. William Rees, professor emeritus of human ecology and ecological economics at the University of British Columbia, and the originator of the concept of ‘ecological footprint’, agreed. He added bluntly:

‘Humanity is literally converting the ecosphere into human bodies, prodigious quantities of cultural artifacts, and vastly larger volumes of entropic waste. (That’s what tropical deforestation, fisheries collapses, plummeting biodiversity, ocean pollution, climate change, etc. are all about.)’

Earlier this year, Noam Chomsky noted that:

‘In a couple of generations, organized human society may not survive.’

If corporate media were structurally capable of reflecting reality, this would be constant headline news:

‘Every single [newspaper] should have a shrieking headline every day saying we are heading to total catastrophe. […] That has to be drilled into people’s heads constantly. After all, there’s been nothing like this in all of human history. The current generation has to make a decision as to whether organized human society will survive another couple of generations, and it has to be done quickly, there’s not a lot of time. So, there’s no time for dillydallying and beating around the bush. And [the US] pulling out of the Paris negotiations should be regarded as one of the worst crimes in history.’

Human extinction within one hundred years is a real possibility. A massive upsurge of public concern, placing unassailable pressure on governments to drastically change course, is urgently needed. Climate strikes, with seven million people taking part last Friday, inspired in large part by the example of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, need to be ramped up even further, demanding real change; not fixes to a fundamentally destructive system that is falling apart, bringing humans and numerous other species with it.

As Thunberg passionately told world leaders at the UN in New York last week, in a powerful mix of emotion and reason:

‘People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! […] How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business-as-usual and some technical solutions.’

Thunberg’s speech gave the lie, yet again, to ill-founded claims that she is being manipulated or ‘manufactured’ as a front for neoliberalism, ‘green’ capitalism or ‘neo-feudalism’. As Jonathan Cook wrote in a cogent demolition of cynical claims made against her, including by some on the left:

‘Thunberg is not Wonder Girl. She will have to navigate through these treacherous waters as best she can, deciding who genuinely wants to help, who is trying to sabotage her cause, and which partners she can afford to ally with. She and similar movements will make mistakes. That is how social protests always work. It is also how they evolve.’

Cook added:

‘Should Thunberg become captured, wittingly or not, by western elites, it is patronising in the extreme to assume that the many millions of young and old alike joining her on the climate strikes will be incapable of recognising her co-option or whether she has lost her way. Those making this argument arrogantly assume that only they can divine the true path.’

Elite Fear Of The Public

Despite considerable ‘mainstream’ coverage given to climate activism in 2019, public demands to make fundamental changes to the global economy will most likely continue to be ignored, twisted or derided. Indeed, the more extremist elements of the corporate media are prone to fear-mongering about the supposed risks – i.e. to wealth and power – in making significant changes in society. Thus, for example, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, international business editor of the Daily Telegraph, warned darkly:

‘The Green Taliban will sweep away our liberal order unless we get a grip on climate change.’

‘We have a choice. Either we fight runaway climate change with liberal market policies and capitalist creativity, or we cede the field to Malthusians and the Green Taliban.’

A Telegraph editorial had mocked the climate movement the previous week:

‘This climate strike is a joke. Childish socialism won’t help the environment.’

The establishment paper scorned protesters as ‘economically illiterate’ and dismissed their ‘Luddite war on capitalism’. This is the stock clichéd insult, seemingly requiring no explanation or justification. The fact is, there is virtually no substantive coverage or discussion of capitalism as a root cause of the climate crisis, and that it is driving its own collapse, as Roger Hallam pointed out on BBC’s HardTalk – a rare mention indeed.

As an illustrative example: a search of the ProQuest newspaper database on September 26, covering the previous seven days, yielded 2,075 mentions of ‘Greta Thunberg’. But only 21 of these included the word ‘capitalism’. And, of these, only four made substantive critical remarks about capitalism: an article on The Canary website, an Irish Times piece quoting Naomi Klein, an article in Kashmir Times, and an opinion piece in Free Press Journal, based in Mumbai, India. In other words, vanishingly few; and not one in a major UK newspaper.

But then, corporate media and political leaders hate the idea of an informed public demanding real societal change. Bear in mind former Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent admission that he panicked over a possible ‘Yes’ vote in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. When a YouGov poll put the ‘Yes’ campaign in the lead, it hit him ‘like a blow to the solar plexus’ and led to ‘a mounting sense of panic’.

Or recall the consternation of Tony Blair, Prime Minister in the runup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He was so concerned about public opposition to the coming war that he told George Bush that the US may have to go ahead without UK involvement. Ian Sinclair, author of the 2013 book, ‘The March That Shook Blair: An oral history of 15 February 2003’, said:

‘It is important to remember just how close and how much the anti-war movement came to shaking Blair during that period and nearly stopping the participation.’

Sinclair expanded:

‘On 9 March 2003 Development Secretary Clare Short threatened to resign, and there was a real concern within Blair’s inner circle that the Government might not win the parliamentary vote on the war. Receiving worrying reports from their embassy in London, Washington was so concerned about Blair’s position that on 9 March President Bush told his National Security Advisor Condeeleeza Rice “We can’t have the British Government fall because of this decision over war.” Bush then called Blair and suggested the UK could drop out of the initial invasion and find some other way to participate.’

He continued:

‘Two days later was what has become known as ‘Wobbly Tuesday’ – “the lowest point of the crisis for Mr Blair”, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The same report explained that the Ministry of Defence “was frantically preparing contingency plans to ‘disconnect’ British troops entirely from the military invasion of Iraq, demoting their role to subsequent phases of the campaign and peacekeeping.” The Sunday Mirror reported that Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon had phoned the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and “stressed the political problems the Government was having with both MPs and the public.” An hour later Rumsfeld held a press conference and explained that Britain might not be involved in the invasion. The Government was thrown into panic. Blair “went bonkers”, according to Alastair Campbell.’

Sinclair argues that although the invasion of Iraq went ahead:

‘it’s important to be aware of just how close the anti-war movement came to derailing British participation in the Iraq invasion.’

‘It’s Appropriate To Be Scared’

We therefore need to take heart from the growing public awareness and determination to act in the face of the climate crisis. A recent poll showed that, in seven out of the eight countries surveyed, the climate emergency is seen as ‘the most important issue’ facing the world, ahead of migration, terrorism and the global economy.

At least three-quarters of the public agree that the world is facing a ‘climate emergency’, with climate breakdown at risk of becoming ‘extremely dangerous’. In the UK, 64 per cent agreed with the statement ‘time is running out to save the planet’ and a mere 23 per cent in the country think that the government is taking sufficient action.

Time is indeed running out, just as the scale of the crisis becomes ever clearer. Senior climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf cautioned via Twitter:

‘Climate skeptics and deniers have often accused scientists of exaggerating the threat of climate change, but the evidence shows that not only have they not exaggerated, they have underestimated.’

He was pointing to a piece in Scientific American titled, ‘Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change’. The article’s authors, including renowned science historian Naomi Oreskes, warned that:

‘climate change and its impacts are emerging faster than scientists previously thought.’

As if on cue, a new landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned that sea levels could rise by fully one metre by the end of the century. Professor Jonathan Bamber, director of the Bristol Glaciology Centre at the University of Bristol, said:

‘Sea level rise is projected to continue whatever the emission scenario and for something like business-as-usual the future for low lying coastal communities looks extremely bleak. The consequences will be felt by all of us.’

Even worse, warned Professor Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge, the report did not mention the ‘very serious threat’ of methane coming from the seabed of the Arctic continental shelf as the permafrost thaws, releasing large amounts of powerful global-warming gas.

In an article for Nature, the prestigious science journal, lawyer Farhana Yamin explained why she embarked on civil disobedience after three decades of environmental advocacy for the IPCC, the United Nations and others:

‘The global economy must be fundamentally reconfigured into a circular system that uses fewer resources and is based on renewable technologies. The time for half measures has run out — as made plain by the 2018 IPCC special report on the impacts of a 1.5 °C rise in global average temperatures. That’s why I chose to get arrested.’

In April, Yamin superglued her hands to the pavement outside the Shell headquarters in London, surrounded by numerous policemen. Once unstuck, she was arrested for causing criminal damage.

She said:

‘The current form of capitalism is toxic for life on Earth.’

One might as well delete those three words, ‘current form of’.

Yamin continued:

‘By now you might have labelled me an extremist, here to boast about her mid-life flirtation with the barricades. Talk of injustice, devastation, emergency and the need for radical change is far removed from the neutral vocabulary used by the scientific community in journals such as Nature. But these seemingly emotional terms now fit the facts — and they effect change. I’d rather be labelled ideological than mislead the public into complacency.’

How long will it be before other, even more senior, figures ‘take to the streets’, figuratively or otherwise, demanding real change? Professor Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the government, recently told Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst, that the faster pace of climate change, with an increasing number of extreme events, is ‘scary’. He expanded:

‘It’s appropriate to be scared. We predicted temperatures would rise, but we didn’t foresee these sorts of extreme events we’re getting so soon.’

Other scientists contacted by the BBC echoed King’s emotive language. Senior physicist Professor Jo Haigh from Imperial College London said:

‘David King is right to be scared – I’m scared too.

‘We do the analysis, we think what’s going to happen, then publish in a very scientific way.

‘Then we have a human response to that… and it is scary.’

Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, warned:

‘I have a sense of the numbing inevitability of it all.

‘It’s like seeing a locomotive coming at you for 40 years – you could see it coming and were waving the warning flags but were powerless to stop it.’

The BBC’s Harrabin observed:

‘Few of the scientists we contacted had faith that governments would do what was needed to rescue the climate in time.’

This ought to be so shocking that, to repeat Noam Chomsky’s point, newspapers should be headlining scientists’ warnings about climate every day, as well as highlighting that even normally cautious leading science experts have little faith in governments taking the necessary action to avoid the worst effects of climate chaos.

The UN has already warned that the climate crisis is the ‘greatest ever threat to human rights’. If the UN had warned that Iran, Russia or China is the ‘greatest ever threat to human rights’, it would get blanket coverage with huge headlines and leading pundits screaming, ‘Something must be done!’.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN rights chief, told the UN human rights council in Geneva earlier this month:

‘The economies of all nations, the institutional, political, social and cultural fabric of every state, and the rights of all your people, and future generations, will be impacted [by climate change].’

She also denounced attacks on environmental activists, and the abuse and insidious accusations hurled at Greta Thunberg (which Thunberg herself has stoutly rebutted).

Writing for the leading physics news website, phys.org, Ivan Couronne called Thunberg’s ‘How dare you?’ UN speech ‘a major moment for climate movement’:

‘Thunberg’s way of speaking—brief, forceful and backed up by well-chosen scientific data points—contrasts sharply with the style of her peers, as was apparent over the weekend during a youth summit.

‘Some of the young activists already speak like their elders, reciting long texts lacking in nuance.

‘The uniqueness of Thunberg’s speech—at times reserved, at others blunt—partly comes from her Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism that the teen says has made her very direct.’

Couronne reported that Thunberg writes her own speeches, relying on reputable climate scientists to ensure that she gets her facts correct. These include Johan Rockstrom, Stefan Rahmstorf, Kevin Anderson, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Glen Peters and others.

Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester, told phys.org:

‘I am confident that Greta writes her own speeches, but quite appropriately checks the robustness of facts, scientific statements and any use of numbers with a range of specialists in those particular areas.’

Rahmstorf, Head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, added his support:

‘After discussing with Greta here in Potsdam and in Stockholm, I can vouch that she acts out of her own authentic motivation, and she knows the science. I wish more politicians would get this well-informed about climate science! Why is that not the case?’

The answer is that political leaders remain largely beholden to powerful financial, economic and corporate forces that have yet to acknowledge the gravity of the climate crisis; and – in the case of the huge fossil fuel industries, in particular – are actually driving us ever closer towards oblivion. Only massive mobilisation of the public can turn things around. We are literally fighting for human survival.

DC

Stockholm Syndrome – Julian Assange And The Limits Of Guardian Dissent

Þri, 17/09/2019 - 08:36

Nothing happened on September 2 in central London. Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd, did not initiate a protest outside the Home Office. He did not sing and play the Floyd classic 'Wish You Were Here', or say:

'Julian Assange, we are with you. Free Julian Assange!'

The renowned journalist and film-maker John Pilger did not say:

'The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace - a profanity on the very notion of human rights.

'It's no exaggeration to say that the persecution of Julian Assange is the way dictatorships treat a political prisoner.'

None of this happened for any major UK or US newspaper, which made no mention of these events at all. Readers of Prensa Latina, Havana, were more fortunate with two articles before and after the event, as were readers of Asian News International in New Delhi. Coverage was also provided by Ireland's Irish Examiner (circulation 25,419) in Cork, which published a Press Association piece that was available to the innumerable other outlets that all chose to ignore it.

Four months after he was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange is still locked up in solitary confinement for 21 hours a day or more. He is still being denied the basic tools to prepare his case against a demand for extradition to the United States where he faces incarceration and torture. He is not allowed to call his US lawyers, is not allowed access to vital documents, or even a computer. He is confined to a single cell in the hospital wing, where he is isolated from other people. Pilger commented at the protest:

'There is one reason for this. Julian and WikiLeaks have performed an historic public service by giving millions of people facts on why and how their governments deceive them, secretly and often illegally: why they invade countries, why they spy on us.

'Julian is singled out for special treatment for one reason only: he is a truth-teller. His case is meant to send a warning to every journalist and every publisher, the kind of warning that has no place in a democracy.'

On the Sydney Criminal Lawyers website, journalist Paul Gregoire discussed Assange's declining health with his father, John Shipton, who said:

'His health is not good. He's lost about 15 kilos in weight now – five since I last saw him. And he's in solitary confinement for 22 hours a day, in the hospital ward of the gaol.'

Gregoire responded:

'As you've just explained, Julian is being held in quite extreme conditions. He's isolated from other inmates. And as well, his visits are restricted and so are his communications with his legal representation. Yet, he's only being held for breach of bail, which is a rather minor charge.'

'Yes, very minor.'

'How are the UK authorities justifying the restrictions around his imprisonment seeing he's being incarcerated on such a minor offence?'

'I don't know if they feel the necessity to justify these decisions. Their decisions are arbitrary.'

'So, they're giving no explanation as to his treatment.'

'No.'

It does seem extraordinary, in fact medieval, for such brutal treatment to be meted out to someone for merely breaching bail, with almost zero 'mainstream' political or media protest. This is only one reason, of course, why the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, penned an article titled, 'Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange'. Melzer commented:

'What may look like mere mudslinging in public debate, quickly becomes "mobbing" when used against the defenseless, and even "persecution" once the State is involved. Now just add purposefulness and severe suffering, and what you get is full-fledged psychological torture.'

Investigative journalist Peter Oborne courageously challenged conventional wisdom on Assange this month in a British Journalism Review piece titled, 'He is a hero, not a villain'. Oborne described how, in July, the Mail on Sunday had published a front-page story revealing the contents of diplomatic telegrams – 'DipTels' – sent to London by the British ambassador to the US. The memos described President Trump's administration as 'inept' and Trump himself as 'uniquely dysfunctional'.

'All hell broke loose. The May government announced an official leak inquiry. The Metropolitan Police launched a criminal investigation. The intelligence services got involved.

'The Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Neil Basu warned the press not to publish any further documents as this could "constitute a criminal offence". The Mail on Sunday paid no attention. It published further leaks and other papers came to its support. So did politicians. Tory leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt were among those who criticised Basu's comments.

'Hunt, who was then foreign secretary, said: "I defend to the hilt the right of the press to publish those leaks if they receive them and judge them to be in the public interest...'

'Meanwhile, that leaker-in-chief Julian Assange continued to languish in Belmarsh prison, where he is serving 50 weeks for skipping bail...

'Julian Assange is a controversial figure, to be sure. Many of those who have dealt with him have found him difficult. But I find myself wondering what exactly the difference is between his alleged crime of publishing leaked US diplomatic cables and the Mail on Sunday's offence of publishing leaked Foreign Office cables.

'Why is Assange treated by the bulk of the British media as a pariah? And the Mail on Sunday as a doughty defender of press freedom? After all, Julian Assange is responsible for breaking more stories than all the rest of us put together.'

Oborne commented:

'This looks to me like a monstrous case of double standards, even by the ocean-going standards of Britain's media/political class.'

Stockholm Syndrome – Julian Assange And The Limits Of Guardian Dissent

Þri, 17/09/2019 - 08:36

Nothing happened on September 2 in central London. Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd, did not initiate a protest outside the Home Office. He did not sing and play the Floyd classic 'Wish You Were Here', or say:

'Julian Assange, we are with you. Free Julian Assange!'

The renowned journalist and film-maker John Pilger did not say:

'The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace - a profanity on the very notion of human rights.

'It's no exaggeration to say that the persecution of Julian Assange is the way dictatorships treat a political prisoner.'

None of this happened for any major UK or US newspaper, which made no mention of these events at all. Readers of Prensa Latina, Havana, were more fortunate with two articles before and after the event, as were readers of Asian News International in New Delhi. Coverage was also provided by Ireland's Irish Examiner (circulation 25,419) in Cork, which published a Press Association piece that was available to the innumerable other outlets that all chose to ignore it.

Four months after he was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange is still locked up in solitary confinement for 21 hours a day or more. He is still being denied the basic tools to prepare his case against a demand for extradition to the United States where he faces incarceration and torture. He is not allowed to call his US lawyers, is not allowed access to vital documents, or even a computer. He is confined to a single cell in the hospital wing, where he is isolated from other people. Pilger commented at the protest:

'There is one reason for this. Julian and WikiLeaks have performed an historic public service by giving millions of people facts on why and how their governments deceive them, secretly and often illegally: why they invade countries, why they spy on us.

'Julian is singled out for special treatment for one reason only: he is a truth-teller. His case is meant to send a warning to every journalist and every publisher, the kind of warning that has no place in a democracy.'

On the Sydney Criminal Lawyers website, journalist Paul Gregoire discussed Assange's declining health with his father, John Shipton, who said:

'His health is not good. He's lost about 15 kilos in weight now – five since I last saw him. And he's in solitary confinement for 22 hours a day, in the hospital ward of the gaol.'

Gregoire responded:

'As you've just explained, Julian is being held in quite extreme conditions. He's isolated from other inmates. And as well, his visits are restricted and so are his communications with his legal representation. Yet, he's only being held for breach of bail, which is a rather minor charge.'

'Yes, very minor.'

'How are the UK authorities justifying the restrictions around his imprisonment seeing he's being incarcerated on such a minor offence?'

'I don't know if they feel the necessity to justify these decisions. Their decisions are arbitrary.'

'So, they're giving no explanation as to his treatment.'

'No.'

It does seem extraordinary, in fact medieval, for such brutal treatment to be meted out to someone for merely breaching bail, with almost zero 'mainstream' political or media protest. This is only one reason, of course, why the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, penned an article titled, 'Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange'. Melzer commented:

'What may look like mere mudslinging in public debate, quickly becomes "mobbing" when used against the defenseless, and even "persecution" once the State is involved. Now just add purposefulness and severe suffering, and what you get is full-fledged psychological torture.'

Investigative journalist Peter Oborne courageously challenged conventional wisdom on Assange this month in a British Journalism Review piece titled, 'He is a hero, not a villain'. Oborne described how, in July, the Mail on Sunday had published a front-page story revealing the contents of diplomatic telegrams – 'DipTels' – sent to London by the British ambassador to the US. The memos described President Trump's administration as 'inept' and Trump himself as 'uniquely dysfunctional'.

'All hell broke loose. The May government announced an official leak inquiry. The Metropolitan Police launched a criminal investigation. The intelligence services got involved.

'The Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Neil Basu warned the press not to publish any further documents as this could "constitute a criminal offence". The Mail on Sunday paid no attention. It published further leaks and other papers came to its support. So did politicians. Tory leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt were among those who criticised Basu's comments.

'Hunt, who was then foreign secretary, said: "I defend to the hilt the right of the press to publish those leaks if they receive them and judge them to be in the public interest...'

'Meanwhile, that leaker-in-chief Julian Assange continued to languish in Belmarsh prison, where he is serving 50 weeks for skipping bail...

'Julian Assange is a controversial figure, to be sure. Many of those who have dealt with him have found him difficult. But I find myself wondering what exactly the difference is between his alleged crime of publishing leaked US diplomatic cables and the Mail on Sunday's offence of publishing leaked Foreign Office cables.

'Why is Assange treated by the bulk of the British media as a pariah? And the Mail on Sunday as a doughty defender of press freedom? After all, Julian Assange is responsible for breaking more stories than all the rest of us put together.'

Oborne commented:

'This looks to me like a monstrous case of double standards, even by the ocean-going standards of Britain's media/political class.'

Stockholm Syndrome – Julian Assange And The Limits Of Guardian Dissent

Mán, 16/09/2019 - 23:00

Nothing happened on September 2 in central London. Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd, did not initiate a protest outside the Home Office. He did not sing and play the Floyd classic ‘Wish You Were Here’, or say:

‘Julian Assange, we are with you. Free Julian Assange!’

The renowned journalist and film-maker John Pilger did not say:

‘The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace – a profanity on the very notion of human rights.

‘It’s no exaggeration to say that the persecution of Julian Assange is the way dictatorships treat a political prisoner.’

None of this happened for any major UK or US newspaper, which made no mention of these events at all. Readers of Prensa Latina, Havana, were more fortunate with two articles before and after the event, as were readers of Asian News International in New Delhi. Coverage was also provided by Ireland’s Irish Examiner (circulation 25,419) in Cork, which published a Press Association piece that was available to the innumerable other outlets that all chose to ignore it.

Four months after he was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange is still locked up in solitary confinement for 21 hours a day or more. He is still being denied the basic tools to prepare his case against a demand for extradition to the United States where he faces incarceration and torture. He is not allowed to call his US lawyers, is not allowed access to vital documents, or even a computer. He is confined to a single cell in the hospital wing, where he is isolated from other people. Pilger commented at the protest:

‘There is one reason for this. Julian and WikiLeaks have performed an historic public service by giving millions of people facts on why and how their governments deceive them, secretly and often illegally: why they invade countries, why they spy on us.

‘Julian is singled out for special treatment for one reason only: he is a truth-teller. His case is meant to send a warning to every journalist and every publisher, the kind of warning that has no place in a democracy.’

On the Sydney Criminal Lawyers website, journalist Paul Gregoire discussed Assange’s declining health with his father, John Shipton, who said:

‘His health is not good. He’s lost about 15 kilos in weight now – five since I last saw him. And he’s in solitary confinement for 22 hours a day, in the hospital ward of the gaol.’

Gregoire responded:

‘As you’ve just explained, Julian is being held in quite extreme conditions. He’s isolated from other inmates. And as well, his visits are restricted and so are his communications with his legal representation. Yet, he’s only being held for breach of bail, which is a rather minor charge.’

‘Yes, very minor.’

‘How are the UK authorities justifying the restrictions around his imprisonment seeing he’s being incarcerated on such a minor offence?’

‘I don’t know if they feel the necessity to justify these decisions. Their decisions are arbitrary.’

‘So, they’re giving no explanation as to his treatment.’

‘No.’

It does seem extraordinary, in fact medieval, for such brutal treatment to be meted out to someone for merely breaching bail, with almost zero ‘mainstream’ political or media protest. This is only one reason, of course, why the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, penned an article titled, ‘Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange’. Melzer commented:

‘What may look like mere mudslinging in public debate, quickly becomes “mobbing” when used against the defenseless, and even “persecution” once the State is involved. Now just add purposefulness and severe suffering, and what you get is full-fledged psychological torture.’

Investigative journalist Peter Oborne courageously challenged conventional wisdom on Assange this month in a British Journalism Review piece titled, ‘He is a hero, not a villain’. Oborne described how, in July, the Mail on Sunday had published a front-page story revealing the contents of diplomatic telegrams – ‘DipTels’ – sent to London by the British ambassador to the US. The memos described President Trump’s administration as ‘inept’ and Trump himself as ‘uniquely dysfunctional’.

‘All hell broke loose. The May government announced an official leak inquiry. The Metropolitan Police launched a criminal investigation. The intelligence services got involved.

‘The Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Neil Basu warned the press not to publish any further documents as this could “constitute a criminal offence”. The Mail on Sunday paid no attention. It published further leaks and other papers came to its support. So did politicians. Tory leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt were among those who criticised Basu’s comments.

‘Hunt, who was then foreign secretary, said: “I defend to the hilt the right of the press to publish those leaks if they receive them and judge them to be in the public interest…’

‘Meanwhile, that leaker-in-chief Julian Assange continued to languish in Belmarsh prison, where he is serving 50 weeks for skipping bail…

‘Julian Assange is a controversial figure, to be sure. Many of those who have dealt with him have found him difficult. But I find myself wondering what exactly the difference is between his alleged crime of publishing leaked US diplomatic cables and the Mail on Sunday’s offence of publishing leaked Foreign Office cables.

‘Why is Assange treated by the bulk of the British media as a pariah? And the Mail on Sunday as a doughty defender of press freedom? After all, Julian Assange is responsible for breaking more stories than all the rest of us put together.’

Oborne commented:

‘This looks to me like a monstrous case of double standards, even by the ocean-going standards of Britain’s media/political class.’

Focusing On Other Issues

Assange was offered rare ‘mainstream’ support on September 12 when Guardian columnist George Monbiot tweeted:

‘Never forget: #JulianAssange is still in Belmarsh prison, facing the prospect of extradition and life imprisonment in the US, for the “crime” of releasing information that governments have withheld from us. This is not justice.’

Tweeter jaraparilla was quick to spot what happened next:

‘George Monbiot just posted this tweet supporting Julian Assange then deleted it within minutes (before I could respond).’

We asked Monbiot what had happened. He replied:

‘I realised that the US extradition issue was tangled up with the Swedish one, and that I don’t yet know enough about Assange’s legal situation, exactly what he is awaiting and why. I will read up and return to the issue.’

In response, we recommended Melzer’s superb work in challenging the establishment smear campaign. Monbiot replied:

‘Thank you. Has he written a paper on the subject? I find it much easier to absorb information in writing.’

We answered:

‘Amazed you need to ask, have you really not been following his interviews and written pieces? Mind you, according to ProQuest, @NilsMelzer has been mentioned twice in the Guardian this year – so maybe it’s not so strange. See here, for example’

Monbiot tweeted: ‘No, I’ve been focusing on other issues.’

We commented again:

‘True enough. According to the ProQuest newspaper database, you’ve never mentioned Assange in your Guardian column. Is that right?’

Monbiot confirmed: ‘Yes, that is correct.’

It was curious that Monbiot felt the need to ‘read up and return to the issue’. After all, as jaraparilla noted, Monbiot has tweeted about Assange and WikiLeaks dozens of times. Many of these comments make for grim reading. For example:

‘Moral line on #Assange is crystal clear: we shld support qu-ning on rape charges & oppose any extrad attempt by US. #wikileaks’

In his latest piece on Assange, Oborne discussed this egregious error:

‘His critics attach special weight to rape charges laid against Assange in Sweden. But it’s important to remember there have never been any “charges” in Sweden.

‘This is a myth reported literally hundreds of times. There has only ever been a “preliminary investigation” in Sweden looking into allegations of rape.’

In 2011, Monbiot tweeted:

‘To me Assange looks unaccountable, paranoid, controlling and prone to blame others for his mistakes. #wikileaks’

As we now know, Assange’s ‘paranoia’ was actually astute awareness that ‘they’ really were out to get him.

And: ‘Why does Assange still have so much uncritical support? Seems to me he’s acting like a tinpot dictator.’

And: ‘#JulianAssange takes Kremlin’s dollar, reversing all he claimed to stand for: bit.ly/wT4PoO Love #wikileaks, not Assange’

To his credit, Monbiot subsequently tweeted the deleted tweet defending Assange a second time.

In April 2019, Monbiot won huge applause for using harsh language and calling for the overthrow of capitalism. He insisted that, to save the planet, we need to forget ‘pathetic, micro-consumerist bollocks’:

‘We have to overthrow this system which is eating the planet with perpetual growth…. We can’t do it by just pissing around at the margins of the problem; we’ve got to go straight to the heart of capitalism and overthrow it.’

And yet, as Oborne noted, Assange is ‘responsible for breaking more stories than all the rest of us put together’, ‘each and every one in the public interest’, ‘which any self-respecting reporter would sell his or her grandmother to obtain’. One could hardly think of a more powerful example of someone not ‘pissing around at the margins of the problem’.

Monbiot is hardly alone in ‘focusing on other issues’, year after year, while Assange rots. Fellow Guardian great white leftist hope, Owen Jones, last mentioned Assange in his Guardian column in 2014. In fact, this was his only ever mention in the paper, a single comment in passing focused on then Respect MP George Galloway:

‘his past praise for dictators and appalling comments about rape following allegations against Julian Assange have left him largely isolated’.

Like Monbiot, Paul Mason – a former BBC and Channel 4 broadcaster who has somehow reinvented himself as a war-supporting, NATO-loving, Trident-renewing ‘man of the people’ (with 618,000 followers on Twitter) – has never mentioned Assange in the Guardian.

It seems likely that Guardian columnists have felt under increasing pressure to back off from supporting Assange over the last five years. As Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis reported this month:

‘The Guardian has lost many of its top investigative reporters who had covered national security issues… The few journalists who were replaced were succeeded by less experienced reporters with apparently less commitment to exposing the security state. The current defence and security editor, Dan Sabbagh, started at The Guardian as head of media and technology and has no history of covering national security.

‘”It seems they’ve got rid of everyone who seemed to cover the security services and military in an adversarial way,” one current Guardian journalist told us.’

Kennard and Curtis concluded:

‘The Guardian had gone in six short years from being the natural outlet to place stories exposing wrongdoing by the security state to a platform trusted by the security state to amplify its information operations. A once relatively independent media platform has been largely neutralised by UK security services fearful of being exposed further.’

Venezuela, Gaza And Yemen

This pattern of sparse, or non-existent commentary extends to other issues. In 2018, Monbiot tweeted of the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro:

‘Just because Maduro claims to be on the left does not mean we should support him. There are far better ways of breaking the power of the old elites. #Venezuela’

Monbiot thus simply wrote off the democratically elected President of Venezuela who had won entirely credible elections after the death of Hugo Chavez. Because Monbiot is respected by many readers as an honest, principled progressive, this will have looked to many like the final nail in the coffin of Maduro’s credibility. Many doubtless assumed that Monbiot knows and cares a great deal about Venezuela, that he has strongly supported the Bolivarian revolution. And in 2015, Monbiot did write this in the Guardian:

‘Between 1989 and 1991 I worked with movements representing landless rural workers in Brazil. As they sought to reclaim their land, thousands were arrested; many were tortured; some were killed…

‘In Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Uruguay and Chile, similar movements transformed political life. They have evicted governments opposed to their interests and held to account those who claim to represent them. Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain have been inspired, directly or indirectly, by the Latin American experience.’

Many readers will have hailed these comments as evidence that Monbiot is an outspoken leftist. After all, in 2003 he had written in the Guardian:

‘While younger activists are eager to absorb the experience of people like Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Lula, Victor Chavez, Michael Albert and Arundhati Roy, all of whom are speaking in Porto Alegre [the World Social Forum], our movement is, as yet, more eager than wise, fired by passions we have yet to master.’ (Our emphasis)

But according to the ProQuest media database, the single sentence from 2015 contains Monbiot’s only mention of Venezuela in his Guardian column in the last ten years. Monbiot has mentioned Hugo Chavez’s name exactly twice, in passing, in two articles. He has mentioned Maduro – who is facing relentless internal and external state-corporate attempts at regime change, not least by means of US sanctions – once, in passing, in July 2019. Monbiot has said not a word to challenge the military, economic and propaganda campaign to overthrow Maduro.

According to ProQuest, Owen Jones has never mentioned the Venezuelan President in his Guardian column. Paul Mason’s only mention of Maduro in the Guardian damned Maduro’s use of the ‘repertoire of autocratic rule’ in his supposed ‘crackdown’, being ‘clearly engaged in a rapid, purposive and common project to hollow out democracy’.

Ironically, corporate dissidents like Monbiot, Jones and Mason benefit enormously from the fact that they are published by tyrannical, monopolistic, unaccountable, power-friendly media that filter ‘all the news fit to print’. How so?

It is precisely because these systems of power function as such forensic, long-armed Thought Police that even tiny crumbs of compromised dissent – a single sentence on ‘landless rural workers’ here, a four-letter word on the need for revolution there – elicit pitiful shrieks of delight and admiration from corporately incarcerated consumers who need to believe that ‘mainstream’ media are not that bad, not that destructive. In other words, public awareness is heavily skewed by a version of ‘Stockholm syndrome’.

Consider Gaza as a further example. Again, we can find this dissenting comment from Monbiot in the Guardian in 2006:

‘I agree that Hizbullah fired the first shots. But out of the blue? Israel’s earlier occupation of southern Lebanon; its continued occupation of the Golan Heights; its occupation and partial settlement of the West Bank and gradual clearance of Jerusalem; its shelling of civilians, power plants, bridges and pipelines in Gaza; its beating and shooting of children; its imprisonment or assassination of Palestinian political leaders; its bulldozing of homes; its humiliating and often lethal checkpoints: all these are, in Bush’s mind, either fictional or carry no political consequences.’

Again, leftists will have lapped up this rare supportive comment in a major UK newspaper. A search for further comments finds this sentence from Monbiot in November 2007:

‘In February 2001, according to the BBC, it [Israel] used chemical weapons in Gaza: 180 people were admitted to hospital with severe convulsions.’

And a sentence from September 2013, when Monbiot wrote in passing of how Israel ‘refuses to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention’ having ‘used white phosphorus as a weapon in Gaza’. A further sentence appeared in September 2014:

‘In Gaza this year, 2,100 Palestinians were massacred: including people taking shelter in schools and hospitals.’

Monbiot wrote again one month later:

‘Israeli military commanders described the massacre of 2,100 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians (including 500 children), in Gaza this summer as “mowing the lawn”.’

But, remarkably, these are the only substantive comments Monbiot has made about one of the great crimes and tragedies of our time. The last quote above, his most recent, was published nearly five years ago, in October 2014.

While other progressives like Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Norman Finkelstein, Jonathan Cook and others have written whole books, made whole films, and written reams of articles about the catastrophe being inflicted on the people of Gaza, Monbiot has said virtually nothing.

According to ProQuest, Owen Jones’ sole, substantive article devoted to Israel’s assault on Gaza came in July 2014. Even this was a philosophical piece on the ‘moral corruption that comes with any occupation’, with few details about the suffering in Gaza. Stockholm syndrome ensured that the title alone, ‘How the occupation of Gaza corrupts the occupier’, persuaded many readers that here was a stellar example of a principled journalist who really cared about Gaza, who was shouting the truth from the rooftops. Jones’ last mention of Gaza in the Guardian was also five years ago, a mention in passing in August 2014.

Paul Mason’s last substantive mention of Gaza was, again, five years ago, in November 2014, an emotive reference to a harrowing report he made from Gaza while working for Channel 4 News, with little detail on conditions. Mason referenced the same Channel 4 coverage in August 2014.

Or consider Yemen – how much have Monbiot, Jones and Mason written about the blood-drenched, UK-backed Saudi Arabian war that began in 2015? Monbiot wrote in June 2017 of then Prime Minister Theresa May:

‘She won’t confront Saudi Arabia over terrorism or Yemen or anything else.’

Ironic words, given that, according to ProQuest, this is Monbiot’s only meaningful comment on the Yemen war (in April 2019, he noted in passing that climate change ‘has contributed to civil war’ in Yemen). In the Morning Star, Ian Sinclair reported that the editor of the Interventions Watch website had conducted a search of Monbiot’s Twitter timeline in December 2017:

‘He found Monbiot had mentioned “Syria” in 91 tweets and “Yemen” in just three tweets.’

To his credit, Owen Jones has written several substantial pieces focused on the war in Yemen here, here and here. In June 2017, Paul Mason wrote one substantial paragraph on the conflict:

‘Saudi Arabia is meanwhile prosecuting a war on Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, using more than £3bn worth of British kit sold to it since the bombing campaign began. In return, it has lavished gifts on Theresa May’s ministers: Philip Hammond got a watch worth £1,950 when he visited in 2015. In turn, Tory advisers are picking up lucrative consultancy work with the Saudi government.’

Again, we can celebrate an example of superficial dissent, or reflect on the fact that this is Mason’s only comment on the Yemen war in the Guardian.

It is important to remember that the most popular and revered British dissidents – including radical comedians like Russell Brand, Frankie Boyle and Eddie Izzard – were made famous by corporate media. The difference between a ‘cult’ following and national fame is often the difference between popular and ‘mainstream’ support. People willing to compromise from the start, to jump through the required corporate hoops to achieve fame, are (often unwittingly) stooges of a system that must allow glimpses of dissent, a semblance of free and open discussion.

The system needs an occasional honest paragraph on Gaza from a Monbiot, a comment on Yemen from a Mason, if it is to retain credibility. Nobody is fooled by total silence, by a complete lie – a half-lie is far more potent. We are complicit in this charade when we make dissident mountains out of molehills, loaves out of corporate crumbs, and keep buying the product.

DE



Update – 17 September 2019

A reader has reminded us that Owen Jones also mentioned Julian Assange in an online, April 2019 article in the Guardian opposing his extradition to the US.