The Great Scampede or The Iron Heel Revisited

16 September 2020 – Investigating Imperialism

By William Bowles

Virus stats

Source: https://twitter.com/JohnDStats

[T]he great majority of people will not die from this [virus] and I’ll just repeat something I said right at the beginning because I think it’s worth reinforcing:

Most people, a significant proportion of people, will not get this virus at all, at any point of the epidemic which is going to go on for a long period of time.

Of those who do, some of them will get the virus without even knowing it, they will have the virus with no symptoms at all, asymptomatic carriage, and we know that happens. – Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, 11 May, 2020

But this is not what the British public have had been told (as well as a host of other countries who have been railroaded into joining the Great Scampede). The government and the mainstream media have presented the Virus to us as something akin to the Bubonic Plague, and of course the public have responded by behaving as though it is the Bubonic Plague. This is why the government changed the name of the virus from SARS-COV-2 (its correct designation) to COVID-19 in order to sever the connection to the Influenza virus, its literal ancestor. The state (and of course, big Pharma) had to present this virus to us as ‘novel’ and infinitely more dangerous than the Flu, which it’s not, it has about the same death rate as seasonal Flu, although it is especially dangerous to a vulnerable minority, average age 85 with multiple health issues, who should be protected and by-and-large, aren’t, itself a entirely preventable crime of vast proportions. (Each year, about 1 Billion people come down with the Flu globally and up to a 1 million die from it but still less than those who die from another highly infectious disease, Tuberculosis which in 2017 killed nearly 1.5 million).

But why has the world been shut down? Why destroy most of the world’s economies in order to quell (conquer, defeat?) a virus which is not dangerous to the great majority of us, perhaps 95% or more? Has some kind of mass psychosis taken hold of the political classes of the major (read imperialist) economies of the world who kicked this off? You really have to ask, ‘what’s in it for the ruling class’ that would lead them to deliberately inflict such mayhem on hundreds of millions of people and appear to destroy the economies of the leading capitalist states? What is it that the rest of us are not seeing or being prevented from seeing?

…The financial crash of 2020 was not only anticipated but planned and pushed forward with clear understanding of its instrumental role in the Great Reset sought by self-appointed protagonists of creative destruction. The advocates of this interpretation place significant weight on the importance of the lockdowns as an effective means of obliterating in a single act a host of old economic relationships. – ‘Was COVID-19 a Cover for an Anticipated or Planned Financial Crisis?’ By Prof. Anthony Hall

Whatever it is, it’s being presented to us as the ‘New Normal’, without however, telling us what this ‘New Normal’ actually consists of. But let me hazard a guess that whatever the ‘New Normal’ is it wont be nice for a great percentage of the world’s population. Already, it’s estimated that at least 1 billion people are in great danger of dying from starvation and disease caused directly by the lockdown, not the Virus.

Too late did the socialist movement of the early twentieth century divine the coming of the Oligarchy. Even as it was divined, the Oligarchy was there—a fact established in blood, a stupendous and awful reality. Nor even then, as the Everhard Manuscript well shows, was any permanence attributed to the Iron Heel. Its overthrow was a matter of a few short years, was the judgment of the revolutionists. – The Iron Heel, Jack London, 1910.

It would appear that the major capitalist classes of the world have waged total war on the planet’s people without firing a shot and at the same time set up the infrastructure needed to enslave us, and all in order to preserve the rule of a bankrupt Capitalism. The ‘New Normal’ really is Jack London’s The Iron Heel made real.The Virus is all about saving capitalism from itself.

How ironic then, that the catalyst for this global coup d’etat was China and one has to ask the question, why China? Could it be that China is a major obstacle to the establishment of the ‘New Normal’ and if so, it gives us an insight into what this ‘New Normal’ is really all about.

What the government knew (and planned for)

These are just some of the UK government’s documents prepared for the ‘New Normal’. Most deal with the ‘security’ aspects of an alleged pandemic rather than the health issues, except of course when it comes to considering vaccines. So aside from the clampdown on our civil liberties in the name of fighting the Virus, the goverment failed to deliver on every other key issue!

So what is the ‘New Normal’?

Australian Police Go FULL NAZI, Smashing in Windows of Civilian Cars Just Because Passengers Wouldn’t Give Details About Where They Were Going.” – Sky News, August 13, 2020

Undoubtedly, capitalism is in crisis, perhaps its final crisis, though what might follow may be even worse, at least judging by how the state has responded to ‘rule breakers’. But what does shutting down the global economy achieve (aside from much pain and death for the vast majority) and what is the objective once you dismiss the idea of ‘defeating’ the virus as the rationale behind it? After all, it’s already clear that the global shutdown is causing many more deaths than the Virus has, or will ever do.

But why?

Some talk of a global conspiracy, the imposition of a world government (engineered by George Soros and co.) and no doubt somewhere, there’s talk of the Illuminati being involved. But undoubtedly, there is a conspiracy and at the very highest levels of the ruling political classes. Others have compared the Virus to 9/11 and look what that did to us! Is it really our health and well-being that occupies the minds of the elite any more than the War on Terror was about protecting us from terrorists.

Jump to 2020. Let me start in reverse while color-coded designs are fresh in our minds. As the COVID-19 lockdowns were under way, a funny thing happened as people were wishing that life could return to normal and they could be let out of their cages. Similar color-coded designs popped up everywhere at the same time. They showed the step-by-step schedule of possible loosening of government controls if things went according to plan. Red to yellow to green. Eye catching. Red orange yellow blue green. As with the terrorist warnings following September 11, 2001. In Massachusetts, a so-called blue state where I live, it’s color chart ends in blue, not green, with Phase 4 blue termed “the new normal: Development of vaccines and/or treatments enable the resumption of ‘the new normal.’” Interesting wording. A resumption that takes us back to the future. – ‘From Terrorists to Viruses: Dystopian Progress‘ by Ed Curtin, 7 September 2020

It’s clear now, that the only way to sell the ‘New Normal’ (or the ‘Great Reset’), was to create an abject fear of our existing life. Thus social distancing, the compulsive hand-washing, masks and of course the Lockdown, all serve, not as health aids but to destroy the old order. It’s now reached the point where rather than ‘seeking our permission’ via the government’s ‘nudge unit’, force is now needed. To that end a new kind of ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) has been created:

To help enforce the new measures, [Boris] Johnson…announced that he would be recruiting thousands of new ‘COVID Marshalls‘. The first group of England’s newly deputised Marshalls could be seen on Monday enforcing meticulous social distancing orders, one-way system on pavements, and telling people to wear masks in shops and at takeaways venues. They will also be handing out masks and hand sanitizer in order to “keep everyone safe.” – ‘UK ‘Coronaphobia’ is Pushing the Country Towards a Stasi-like State’, 21st Century Wire, 15 September 2020

The objective being the undermining of the existing social and economic relations but critically, without replacing capitalism with something better. In other words, these new and enforced conditions of existence have nothing to do with health or with the virus and its spread but everything to do with Capitalism attempting to reinvent itself. The Virus is simply a convenient and very useful excuse, assuming you can convince the world of its danger to life, which explains the censorship and suppression of any views that challenge this fictional narrative, called COVID-19 or, as BBC News, the Guardian, the Australian government and a host of others now call, that “deadly virus”.

That the rest of the world went along with it, is simply testament to the power of the Imperialist states to cajole and threaten any country that resists. Sweden for example, was made to look like some kind of mass murderer of its population, simply because it refused to implement a Total Lockdown.

So what do the ‘masters of the universe’ have planned for us?

Well, they know where they want to go, the question is, can they get there?

The Great Reset is immensely ambitious, spanning over 50 fields of knowledge and practice. It interconnects everything from economy recovery recommendations to “sustainable business models”, from restoration of the environment to the redesign of social contracts.

The beating heart of this matrix is  – what else – the Strategic Intelligence Platform, encompassing, literally, everything: “sustainable development”, “global governance”, capital markets, climate change, biodiversity, human rights, gender parity, LGBTI, systemic racism, international trade and investment, the – wobbly – future of the travel and tourism industries, food, air pollution, digital identity, blockchain, 5G, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI).

In the end, only an all-in-one Plan A applies for making these systems interact seamlessly: the Great Reset – shorthand for a New World Order that has always been glowingly evoked, but never implemented. There is no Plan B. – ‘From 9/11 to the Great Reset. From Al Qaeda to Covid The Virus…’ By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

As I’ve stated before, there will be a massive shakeup of corporations; bankruptcies, mergers, new governments and new social orders and of course the further destruction and reformation of working and middle class life. Critically, and of great importance to the imperialist states, will be ‘The Great Reset’s’ devastating impact on the Global South, the consequences of which we are already witnessing. The Great Reset implements the objectives of the Club of Rome (COR) initiated in 1965, that saw one, if not its major objective, a vast reduction in the populations of the Global South, a process that has reached its apotheosis in the Global Lockdown.

“We believe in fact that the need will quickly become evident for social innovation to match technical change, for radical reform of the institutions and political processes at all levels, including the highest, that of world polity. And since intellectual enlightenment is without effect if it is not also political, The Club of Rome also will encourage the creation of a world forum where statesmen, policy-makers, and scientists can discuss the dangers and hopes for the future global system without the constraints of formal intergovernmental negotiation.” – The Limits of Growth.

This was from the COR’s first publication in 1972. It sold 12 million copies. Many of COR’S executive members were drawn from NATO, that should give you a good idea where COR stands in the scheme of things.

It’s been calculated that the capitalist economies in the so-called developed world, can survive with perhaps 20% of the working population, the managerial class, kept in work to maintain the capitalist order for its masters. As for the rest? Well it will be a vastly enlarged ‘precariat’, thus the ‘experiments’ with so-called universal basic income (rather than letting great chunks of the formerly employed starve to death, keep them alive on a subsistence ‘wage’).

And what of our putative left?

What I do find really depressing (though not at all surprising), is the degree to which the left and organised labour have been sucked into this nightmare but then again, they’ve been bitten by the fear bug as well. Organised labour of course, has a vested interest in maintaining the existing order, most of its members work directly or indirectly (via privatisation) for the corporate, capitalist state, hence their (assumed) interests coincide. The term ‘labour aristocracy’ has never rung so true.

The left, such as it is, has bought the ‘Great Reset’, hook, line and sinker. All rational thinking appears to have fled, as the Great Scampede wreaks its havoc.

The omens are not good. Without a coherent and organised opposition to this insanity, it looks like what we should really should call the The Iron Heel will succeed in reshaping the world according to its own desires while the rest of us look on, powerless to stop it and simultaineously grappling with the ravages of climate change, also caused by a rampant capitalism.

The Great ‘Reset’ of Capitalism

12 July 2020 — Investigating Imperialism

By William Bowles

Why can’t I shake the feeling that the Virus is really the back story, a story that diverts us from something far deeper and much more threatening than the much-maligned Virus? The social distancing; the masks; the lockdown; the shutdown; all designed to distract? And the glue that cements it all together? Fear.

There are so many colliding stories coexisting in the history of the Great Global Lockdown, that serve to confuse and misdirect investigations, that figuring out what’s actually going on, is very, very difficult. Conflicts of interest abound, hidden agendas can be briefly glimpsed, then vanish under the waves of state-directed propaganda. But if there’s one overriding aspect to this event it’s fear. Fear engendered in the populations and the fear the ruling classes are experiencing that their rule might be coming to an end, either through environmental collapse or (praise be) revolution.

Global Heating and the Crisis of Capital, two earth-shattering issues. One threatens the future of Humanity and the other, the future of Capitalism. That the two are intimately interconnected, is surely obvious to all who care to look. And then we have the Virus. Taken together, the perfect storm?

Once more, the inherent contradictions of the capitalist economy are manifesting themselves, also in the usual manner; a falling rate of profit leading to reduced investment leading to bankruptcies and the meltdown of the economy, leading to, as before, mass unemployment and ultimately of course, war. At least, that’s how it used to be. But is war on a global scale now possible, or indeed even necessary to solve the crisis of the over-accumulation of capital and the falling rate of profit and all the other paradoxes and contradictions that capitalism creates for itself?

Enter the Virus

The ruling classes of the Anglo-American Empire have concluded that the coming environmental collapse will deal with the ‘problem’ of surplus labour and the propitious arrival of the virus will between them, take care of these twin problems and the problem of the falling rate of profit but without recourse to turning the planet into a radioactive cinder first. Well that’s the theory.  As they say, a ‘global reset’ is in order, that is to say, a reset of the major capitalist economies. The weak and unprofitable will be eliminated, the losers absorbed by the survivors. A global fire sale of bankrupt corporations will take place. An even vaster concentration of capital will take place.

This is not to say, that it was planned, the ruling class are nothing if not opportunists and in any case, are they really masters of their own destiny, driven as they are by forces that most are, at best, only dimly aware of? You need proof? Dominic Cummings. Donald Trump. Boris Johnson.

The virus is merely the catalyst, the global lockdown will take care of the ‘surplus’ population as it already is. Predictions of a billion starving people, virtually all in the Global South, are already coming to pass. But we, in the so-called developed world have, for the most part, been well-insulated from the reality of a planet in lockdown. Fear rules us and makes us impotent.

The run-up to the Reset

Back in February, the doomsayer of the British state, Neil Ferguson, told us that his ancient software predicted half-million deaths from the virus. Fear ruled us and in that moment, the Coronavirus Bill was ushered through Parliament with nary a dissenting voice. The Lockdown State was upon us. Within weeks millions were made redundant. Small to- medium-sized businesses make up 80% of the real economy and the High Street died, probably never to recover. But note that the major supermarkets that control the bulk of purchases were allowed to remain open. As was Amazon. Make no mistake, this is all about Big Business.

Then Ferguson revised his Nostradamus-like predictions downwards, from 500,000 to 20,000 and still got it wrong but for an entirely different reason. Having set the virus of fear loose, it was vital to take back control of the narrative. But the half million served its purpose. Time to move on to the real business of saving capitalism, from itself.

There is some kind of insane logic to the way the Tory government operates, I believe it’s called ‘flying by the seat of your pants’. The British capitalist class has a bunch of total incompetents trying to run the state on their behalf as if it were merely outsourcing business opportunities to some very flaky ‘entrepreneurs’. Corruption and incompetence rules. A crew of nasty imperialist racists who can’t see beyond the current ripoff, that’s who is pretending to run Great Britain. Churchill must be revolving slowly in in his grave.

What appeared to be the government’s apparent indifference to the arrival of the Virus was in fact a thinly disguised Fascism in the shape of ‘Herd Immunity’, itself a variant of the theory of Eugenics or Social Darwinism or survival of the fittest, an idea that first surfaced in the 19th century and was enthusiastically adopted by the ruling classes of Britain, Germany and the USA. Let the Virus spread and the ‘weak’ will die and the ‘strong’ will survive, best exemplified when the virus was given free reign to spread through care homes and the proof is in the numbers, and although it’s proving difficult to find accurate figures, it’s estimated that at the very least 16,000 people died in care homes who needn’t have had their lives cut short and so brutally, about half of the total number of deaths, so far, though because of changes made to how deaths are recorded by the Coronavirus Bill, making accurate estimates is now all but impossible.

About 3,500 people died in care homes in Germany compared with more than 16,000 in the UK, despite Germany having a care home population twice as large. Its test-and-trace system and 14-day quarantine for people leaving hospital have been credited with protecting homes from outbreaks. – The Guardian, 28 June 2020

Benign neglect? I don’t think so. Discharging people sick from the Virus back into care homes, turned them into modern versions of Typhoid Mary. Care home workers were given no protection whatsoever, guaranteeing that their carers would both spread the virus and get infected by it, from those they cared for!

Hospitals were emptied for a flood of patients that never materialised! The so-called Nightingale Hospitals, 17,000 beds in total and launched with great fanfare had a total 60 patients and those were moved from regular hospitals. People were discouraged from visiting their local doctors, operations were cancelled, examinations were cancelled. Will we ever know the real death toll, not from the Virus but from the denial of needed care or from those too afraid to go to hospital? I’m prepared to wager that the total number of these ‘excess’ deaths will far outnumber the deaths from the Virus.

And of course, the destruction of vital social services by the Tory government fed into how the government responded to the Virus and it was directly expressed in the propaganda blitz; ‘Protect the NHS’, ‘Save Lives’, an NHS that had been emasculated by the very government that now claimed it wanted to protect it! Worse still, the same propaganda assault, blamed the public for the government’s failures in stemming the spread of the Virus.

But lest we forget, because the government’s initial reaction was to ‘let the virus rip’ through our communities, all the subsequent ‘social distancing’, ‘lockdowns’ and ‘face masking’ was rendered useless (if any of it ever worked in the first place) as the virus had been allowed to spread throughout the entire British population! It’s this initial event that was the single cause of the UK having one of the highest death rates, per capita, in the so-called developed world.

And to this engineered disaster, we haves the destruction of our social services after 10 years of Austerity as part of the neoliberal agenda of privatising everything! 50% fewer hospital beds than 10 years ago; a shortage of 40,000 nursing staff; the closure of hospitals and Accident & Emergency departments, as the state gears up for the total privatisation of health care in the UK. No doubt, the profitable bits will be fire-saled to US investors and the public will pick up the costs of the unprofitable bits left behind, after being raped by international capital. Again, the irony is not lost on the writer, of a former empire that ripped off the planet, now being picked clean by its successors. But it’s no justice to the millions of people the NHS still tries to serve, or to the millions who work for the NHS, the biggest employer in the UK.

Meanwhile…

After all, the virus and the methods chosen to allegedly, ‘deal’ with it, do not affect the rich, for them life goes on, no need of a ‘furlough’ for the 1%. Yes, it is an inconvenience but nothing that the ruling classes haven’t dealt with before eg, World Wars I and II come to mind. And indeed, as we have seen over the past three months, specific sections of the capitalist economy have made vast profits from the virus, especially the new digital industries. And for the most part, the professional middle classes have been only minimally affected by lockdowns and closures, so the core of neoliberal Britain, finance and consumption, appears, bizarrely, to continue as if everything is hunky-dory! Watching tv commercials brings it all home, to me at least. A parallel universe in garish colours, close-up, where people play out fantasy consumption roles for an imprisoned audience.

I predicate this view on the fact that the capitalist class knew quite well that its predations of the natural world would, at some time lead to ‘novel’ diseases, they even carried out a ‘dry run’ just prior to the appearance of the Virus and shortly thereafter produced the Coronavirus Bill here in the UK, consisting of hundreds of pages that had obviously had been in preparation, if not already written, well before the Virus’ arrival. Precognition? I don’t think so. More importantly, the Bill handed the state ever more draconian powers over our liberties, powers that as I write, are being further extended. We are now living in a de facto police state. Except the rich.

It’s also obvious that the government knew quite well the consequences of its actions, whilst at the same time, proved totally incapable of acting on the basis of all the studies and dry runs that the government had conducted prior to the arrival of the Virus. Incapable or unwilling, or both?

In other words, the government is a ‘ship of fools’ and this is probably the most dangerous thing about the this Tory regime when you add their incompetence to their bankrupt, neoliberal ideology.

Giving the state ‘permission’ to Imprison us

A lot of the mystery of the British state’s use of the Virus as a means of social control, became much clearer after I’d read the UK Cabinet Office’s document called ‘Mindspace’ – Influencing behaviour through public policy. Engineering opinion so that the public ‘gives its permission’ to be herded like cattle, locked up, pauperised and deprived of a future. The tools used are called Behavioural Psychology and involve evoking Pavlovian responses in the populace, which is how they get us to ‘give the state’ our permission, to do stuff:

This report is not just an overview of theory; it addresses the needs of policy-makers by:

  • Condensing the relevant evidence into a manageable “checklist”, to ensure policy-makers take account of the most robust effects on our behaviour
  • Demonstrating how behavioural theory can help meet current policy challenges, including full case studies of its application in the UK
  • Showing how government can build behavioural theory into its current policy-making practices
  • Exploring important issues around the need for public permission and the role of personal responsibility [my emph. WB]

The Report continues:

But when applying MINDSPACE in practice, it should not simply be seen as an alternative to existing methods. “Behaviour Change” is part of policy-making, rather than a novel alternative that can be bolted onto policies. Therefore, civil servants need to better understand the behavioural dimension of their policies and actions. MINDSPACE can help them do so in three different ways:

  • Enhance. MINDSPACE can help policy-makers understand how current attempts to change behaviour could be improved, for example through a better understanding of how people respond to incentives and which types of information are salient. The logic here is that if government is already attempting to shape behaviour, it should do so as effectively as possible.
  • Introduce. Some of the elements in MINDSPACE are not used extensively by policy-makers, yet may have a considerable impact. For example, there is room for more innovative use of social norms and commitment devices in policies. Of course, introducing new measures in this way may require significant efforts to ensure there is public permission for the approach.
  • Reassess. Government needs to understand the ways it may be changing the behaviour of citizens unintentionally. It is quite possible that government produces unintended – and possibly unwanted – changes in behaviour. The insights from MINDSPACE offer a rigorous way of analysing whether and how government is shaping the behaviour of its citizens.

MINDSPACE builds on existing methods of policy-making government produces unintended – and possibly unwanted – changes in behaviour. The insights from MINDSPACE offer a rigorous way of analysing whether and how government is shaping the behaviour of its citizens.

/../

The use of MINDSPACE (or other “nudge‟ type policy tools) may require careful handling – in essence, the public need to give permission and help shape how such tools are used. [my emph. WB] – ‘Mindspace’ – Influencing behaviour through public policy.

At the same time, this kind of approach to ruling people has a downside. The state can’t keep people in a state of fear indefinitely, any more than it can curtail economic activity indefinitely. The irony of the situation is that trade unions are demanding no return to work for fear of the Virus, even if for the vast majority the virus poses no threat.

[T]he great majority of people will not die from this and I’ll just repeat something I said right at the beginning because I think it’s worth reinforcing:

Most people, a significant proportion of people, will not get this virus at all, at any point of the epidemic which is going to go on for a long period of time.

Of those who do, some of them will get the virus without even knowing it, they will have the virus with no symptoms at all, asymptomatic carriage, and we know that happens. – Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, 11 May, 2020

Whitty spilled the beans, almost at the beginning of this nightmare, which may explain why we see so little of him these days.

The mindbenders are hard at work invoking the ‘Spirit of WWII’, Churchillian rhetoric, kindof, Spitfires, the Blitz and Sacrifice, which translates as more and even worse Austerity for us all. After all, somebody has to pay for this mess and it won’t be the political class or its masters, the ruling class. As usual, it will be the poor what gets the blame and pays the price.

So it would seem that we are all in for a wild ride into an uncertain future, with the state pressing our buttons – fear then less fear, then more fear then back to less fear again. The affects are already apparent with a rise in mind injury, especially amongst the young. Fear keeps us from resisting this outrageous assault on what’s left of our liberties and all to preserve the rule of BIg Capital.

Dark Ages (Empty Stages)

 Dark Ages (Empty Stages)

Copyright William Bowles & Cheryl Byron

August 1977

Cheryl byron

Cheryl Byron

This is the first song I ever wrote, actually co-wrote with my dear friend and musical colleague, Cheryl Byron, (1947-2003) in August 1977 following the Blackout in New York City, in my little ‘railroad’ apartment on Madison Avenue in East Harlem. It was Cheryl who actually encouraged me to write songs, I actually had no idea how at the time. We recorded it on a 4-track but unfortunately I’ve lost it! The amazing Cheryl died in 2003 and there’s a very strange story to this that I’ve appended at the end here.

DARK AGES

Were yer-sittin’ in an uptown bar?
Or-jus’ cruisin’ in yer car?
Takin’ in a movie?
Or getting’ down an’ feelin’ groovy?

Refrain: Who were you when the lights went out?
Who were you when the lights went out? (Repeat 2 times)

The streets transformed as blanket spreads
Settlin’ on eight million heads
Dark ages empty stages
Across the city freedom rages

Chorus: But the fat cats got their own power
Sittin’ in an ivory tower (Repeat 4 times)

Shutters crack an’ plate glass smack!
Gatherin’ ‘round on littered ground
People laugh an’ people cry
An’ somewhere some shall die

Refrain:

Who were you when the lights went out?
Who were you when the lights went out? (Repeat 4 times)

Can yer see your way in the dark
Every block like Central Park
We don’ need no arc light
Pretend yer blind don’ get behind

Refrain:

Who were you when the lights went out?
Who were you when the lights went out? (Repeat 4 times)

An’ fer some a chance to have some fun
For others run an’ get a gun
Stockin’ up at the local mart
Laughin’ as they push the cart

Chorus: But the fat cats got their own power
Sittin’ in an ivory tower (Repeat 4 times)

Pedal Bass central section)

An’ who’s to blame
For the following flames?
For eyeless streets?
An’ rotten meats?
For gilt-edged candles?
An’ city scandals?
For social cuts
An’ concrete huts?
For welfare alms?
An’ useless charms?
For media lies?
An’ human stys?
For breedin’ crime?
An’ wastin’ time?

Chorus: But the fat cats got their own power
Sittin’ in an ivory tower (Repeat 4 times)

An’ all the while we look aroun’
Our words they fall on stony groun’
The people-milling on sultry streets
Who’ve lost all faith in future feats

Chorus: But the fat cats got their own power
Sittin’ in an ivory tower (Repeat 4 times)

The streets transformed as blanket spreads
Settlin’ on eight million heads
Dark Ages Empty Stages
Across the city freedom rages

Refrain: Repeat 4 times

Chorus: Fade


Cheryl Byron

Preamble: I was reading a story by the writer Ed Curtin last week, ‘The Messenger‘ and this memory flooded back into my mind, triggered by his essay:

When I lived in New York City, for a couple of years I worked with a Trinidadian choreographer/dancer, theatrical director, and Professor of Theatre at City College NY, Cheryl Byron, playing bass in her group ‘Something Positive’, a band with dancers, congueros and so forth from all over place. It was Cheryl who got me into writing songs for the first time, something I didn’t even know I could do. In fact we wrote my first song together, in my little apt on Madison Av in E. Harlem, after the Blackout in NYC, in July 1977 (it was called ‘Where were you when the lights went out?’ Wrong! I forgot, it was Dark Ages).

Cheryl was an amazing, multi-talented person. She won an award for her poetry in Trinidad Carnival, Play Mas and just a beautiful human being. We worked together on different projects, including a Reggae musical written by Max ‘War Inna Babylon’ Romeo (which didn’t happen unfortunately, Max couldn’t get backing).

See See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheryl_Byron for more on Cheryl’s amazingly creative life.

Then of course, we parted ways very amicably, moving onto different things but staying in touch until I left the US and moved to Johannesburg in 1992.

In 2002 I moved back to the city of my birth, London and about a year later, whilst working with someone on a project, Cheryl’s name suddenly popped up in my mind, completely unbidden. Curious, I found an old, battered address book from my Big Apple days and there was her number. So on a whim I phoned, not expecting to connect to Cheryl and I didn’t, but I did get the same answering machine message! So I left message for her with my contact details.

The following morning I got a phone call. It was from one of the musos in the band I’d worked in (I think he played congas or perhaps he was one of the dancers?). Sadly, I’ve forgotten his name so I’ll call him Tony and we had the following conversation (obviously not verbatim):

Tony: ‘Bill, this is Tony, what made you phone Cheryl yesterday morning?’

Me: ‘I don’t know, her name just popped into my mind so I found her number and on the off-chance that she was still at the same address, phoned to say hi’.

Tony: ‘Cheryl died yesterday morning and as she lay dying she called out to you and sent you her love’.

I was staggered. How could this be? I hadn’t spoken to her in at least 15 years. Cheryl was two years younger than me, so not that old (then). Tony told me she died of cervical cancer, at home surrounded by friends in her little, one-room apt on E. 87th Street, in Manhattan, that I knew so well. Crazy white boy that I was, she used do my hair in corn rolls and braids. It took hours. I used to call her, CB Radio.

Like you, I’m not religious, I don’t believe in the ‘supernatural’, but I can’t explain it. So, as you say, synchronicity?

Which Report on Mens’ Underpants

Date: Some time in the late 1960s

I started writing poetry whilst still at art school, then they got buried away for over 50 years, never to see the light of day, until now. For some reason, I got the urge to dig them out recently and some seem to have stood the test of time. I’m very divided about editing them, after all, I’m not the same person I was in the 1960s or whenever they were written. This one I’ve transcribed pretty much verbatim, aside from spelling errors.

This poem was a request as it were by another poet, long since dead, Steve Piper and it was the very first attempt at writing poetry. We used to hang out in a pub called The Cricketers Arms on Trinity Road, opposite Wandsworth Common, in South London. Steve gave me the theme as it were. The Which Report was/is tested consumer products. I had to read it out in the pub. Very embarrassing.

Which Report on Men’s Underpants

All samples were were tested

to destruction

Out of the twenty-seven samples

submitted

three proved

electrically unsafe

two makes failed to

pass the erection test

seven were of foreign make

and all of these

could not match up to

the british makes for

bollock snugness and

cheek gripping

five makes made access

fore and aft difficult

shit stains proved difficult

to remove in twenty of the

samples

and sag proved to be a

serious obstacle

seven makes produced bad

rashes on the foreskin

eight makes tangled badly

with most types of pubic hair

nine of the samples tested are

good-byes

Rerun: The New Imperialism or the Iron Heel By William Bowles

16 March 2003 — Investigating Imperialism

Welcome to the World of Double Standards

“The challenge to the post-modern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the post-modern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era – force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself.

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MINDSPACE – Influencing behaviour through public policy

12 May 2020 — The New Dark Age

A must read (and frightening) document that details the UK government’s programme to control our thoughts and opinions (see also https://williambowles.info/2020/05/12/covid-19-uk-column-news-11th-may-2020/ )

From the Executive Summary:

Influencing behaviour is central to public policy. Recently, there have been major advances in understanding the influences on our behaviours, and government needs to take notice of them. This report aims to make that happen.

Mindspace

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UK Covid-19: We are NOT Cattle

17 March 2020 • 18:00 — Investigating Imperialism

Barbarian Britain

This is a work-in-progress, I’ll add/take away as the ideas/events emerge. What the government is doing is monstrous beyond words, dressed up with slick slogans – ‘Wash often for 20 seconds’, to hide the essentially benign neglect approach to the nation’s health. This is a national emergency. Banks should be nationalised, private healthcare taken over, the people mobilised. Those forced to cease work must be paid, but it’s clear, from the very beginning that business comes first (even if they’ll be no business left). The government hasn’t made it an official emergency, hence businesses can’t claim insurance (apparently, this has just changed, though the details escape me).

It’s also clear that the government is using us, the people, in a vast experiment called ‘Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs)’, because the NHS simply doesn’t have the capacity, having been starved to death for the past ten years. The fancy graphs they show us, actually  hide the reality, that the only way the NHS can cope, is to slow the spread of the disease, one ‘stage ‘at a time. So you ‘suppress it’ for awhile using for example, ‘social distancing’ then you let the disease rip for awhile (more old and sick die), then suppress it again, and so on, until their ‘herd immunity’ kicks in and we can go back to being cattle once more. Nobody has ever tried to do this before, anywhere, that’s why I call it a gigantic, whole society experiment. So not only are we being treated as cattle, we are also being used as guinea pigs. Quite a menagerie this tory goverment has made for us.

Something else also changed today; the government, probably under pressure from the medical profession, is restarting the testing of people for the virus. This is vital. What I find odd though, is why is there no App available so that the infected can be tracked (voluntary of course)? This is something that epidemiologists do all the time when tracking the progress of a disease.

The following extracts are from the government’s raison d’etre that supports the government’s (non) handling of the crisis. Although dated 16 March 2020, clearly its major proposals  were articulated well before Boris Johnson’s press conference last week with his two government lackeys, sorry scientists, who articulated the ‘herd immunity’ concept of disease control [sic], that is to say, sacrifice the old and the sick so that the survivors (hopefully the majority) acquire immunity.

Essentially, the report articulates the Eugenicist approach to ‘dealing’ with the crisis; sacrifice the old and the sick so that the young and healthy survive. (You can download the full report at the end of the article).

All quotes are from the report.

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Is Corbyn a socialist and does it (no longer) matter if he isn’t?

19 November 2019 — InvestigatingImperialism

By William Bowles

Is this our last chance before the darkness falls?

This is probably the most difficult piece I’ve ever had to write, at least about the Labour Party. My feelings about Corbyn and the Labour Party are on record, here, here, here and here, to name a few. The Labour Party is a party of Imperialism and always has been since its inception, well over a century ago. Even its high point in 1945, with the creation of the welfare state, occurred through pressure from below and just as today, capitalism was bankrupt and in crisis. The Labour government, in return for the Welfare state, saved capitalism from revolution (or collapse). The gains made during that critical period following WWII lasted about thirty years before the lords of capital started taking back what ‘we’ had tried to take from them and by 1975 we were clearly not equipped to resist. In part, the Labour Party was directly responsible, in fact it was party to the attacks on the Welfare state and the working class.

But is this election different? Can we expect a Corbyn-led government to turn back the tide? Can we even expect an attempt at turning back the tide? Frankly, I don’t think we have much choice, after all, what else is there? The left, such as it is, is bankrupt and devoid of revolutionary ideas so the Labour Party, at this critical juncture, is all we have.

Does Corbyn have a socialist programme? Of course not. At best it’s a rehash of 1945 but minus most of the reformist stuff, so the same old social democracy then, the one that was effectively neutralised ages ago. But desperate times require desperate measures.

The question is, if by some chance we do get a Labour government on December 13, what kind of government will it be? What kind of space will Corbyn and his (not very reliable) team be able to carve out of our rank neoliberal, Victorian times? In a word, what are we voting for and what are the chances of getting any of Corbyn’s diluted reforms, carried through?

If Labour’s 2017 election manifesto is anything to go by (not the leaked, draft manifesto), then we may see some minor changes for example, ending zero hours contracts and maybe a rollback of some of the NHS privatisation. But the real question to ask is whether even these limited reforms will be possible in the current climate? The hysterical climate of fear that’s been created about Corbyn’s alleged views on pretty much everything he touches now or has in the past, makes it virtually impossible for a Corbyn-led government to function as it would want to.

Of course, the first hurdle would be the size of the Labour majority. To be potentially effective, it will have to be able to survive alliances in opposition and given the politics of the Lib-Dems, the Greens and the SNP, anything is possible, especially getting stabbed in the back.

Politics, such as it is, is so poisonous, so corrupt and driven by personal ambition and sheer greed for power and/or money, that frankly, will it make any difference to most of us which party gets elected? Well that’s the hope isn’t it, that Corbyn will attempt at least to reverse or ameliorate the worst of the neoliberal destruction of the gains made since 1945. That’s what inspired so many to support Corbyn and put an end to this reactionary attack on the working class and the gains that have been made.

All of my lefty/liberal friends are desperate for a Labour victory, the thought of more Bojo and the backward and reactionary Tories is more than they can bear and who can argue with that!

Capitalism is in crisis, a crisis like no other, compounded by the environmental catastrophe that capitalism has unleashed on our planet. So you would think that extraordinary times would demand extraordinary measures.

So where does the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn sit in all this mess? In a way, they’re all of a kind. Everyone is in denial about something. Corbyn’s earnestness, his sincerity in the face of the atrocious red-baiting and slander he has put up with contrasts with the ‘cosiness’ of Extinction Rebellion and the almost masochistic enjoyment in how it deals with the arrests of its members. In contrast, Corbyn turns the other cheek whenever these slanderous lies are hurled at him.

In the name of maintaining “party unity” with the Blairites, he has presided over the NEC’s expulsion of Livingstone, Jacqui Walker and Marc Wadsworth. Just last week, while Corbyn stayed silent, Chris Williamson was told by the party’s pro-Corbyn NEC that he would not be able to stand as an MP in his Derby North constituency. Williamson, like Sultana, had merely pointed out that the anti-Semitism campaign is “proxy wars and bullshit”—the “weaponisation of antisemitism for political ends.” – ‘Corbyn refuses to fight ramped-up bogus “anti-Semitism” witch-hunt’, WSWS, 12 November 2019

Are we to ignore Corbyn’s vacillations simply in order to get Labour elected? It’s the lack of response by Corbyn over the witch hunt against him and other anti-Zionists that raises questions about Corbyn’s ability, once in power, to pursue the agenda that has made him so popular. Many who support Corbyn, will no doubt put these questions to one side, just as Corbyn, in pursuit of ‘party unity’, ignores the Israeli-funded attacks made on him but frankly, it doesn’t give me much confidence in Corbyn’s ability to ‘stay the course’ once elected.

We live, or try to, by rules that no longer apply. Labour’s nostalgia about 1945 exemplifies the paradox. And it’s arguable that the left as whole, lives by rules that probably have never applied. Much is wishful thinking and wishful thinking, just like moralising, will get us nowhere.

Somehow, thinking about who (or what) to vote for on December 12, seems ludicrous, yet just as with the totally unnecessary Brexit Referendum, ludicrous votes do serve a purpose, of a sort anyway. They give us the illusion of control over events, when it’s obvious that the opposite prevails. We are neither informed nor equipped with the necessary knowledge or skills to do much of anything, let alone possess the political will to see things through.

But in spite of this, you would think that choosing between Corbyn and Johnson would be a no-brainer for any decent, progressive person, and you would be correct. Clearly, if you put Corbyn next to Johnson it’s obviously a no-brainer except of course (I think I said this in 2017), you’re not voting for Corbyn, you’re voting for the Labour Party. It’s a Labour Party that’s divided between its base and its superstructure. In reality, there are two Labour Parties and it’s a bit of irony that the superstructure, the Parliamentary Party and the Party’s bureaucracy are firmly a part of the political class that runs (or pretends to) the country but it’s supported by the base, the Constituency Party and its tens of thousands of members, and these two entities couldn’t be further apart.

So really the question a would-be Labour voter needs to ask is what to expect from a Labour government with Corbyn at its (titular) head but in reality, run by the same old political elite? What could we expect it to do when confronted with for example, some of the quite radical proposals passed at the Labour Party conference in September?

The grassroots

It was obvious, to me at least, that Corbyn’s best bet for moving the Labour Party to the left and away from its Blairite, neoliberal reality, was to mobilise the tens of thousands that grassroots organising had brought onboard with Corbyn as its figurehead. After all, the Labour Party was suddenly the biggest political party in Europe! But it created a dilemma for the Labour Party bureaucracy and the majority of the PLP. Mobilising the Constituency Labour Parties would have created a mass base with which to challenge the power of the bureaucracy and the PLP. But this never happened. Instead, the Right mounted a disinformation campaign using the ‘anti-semitism’ tag (amongst others, notably the ‘unelectable’ tag), to vilify and marginalise Corbyn and others on the left of the Labour Party in the eyes of the public. How successful the campaign has been will no doubt be revealed come election time.

The second objective should have been to dump the right-wing MPs by changing the selection rules for candidates but again, this wasn’t done either. The Blairites maintained their control of Parliamentary Party and the Party’s bureaucracy. They write (and therefore enforce) the rules.

Then came the coup de grace, Momentum, a key tool for reaching the marginalised and the young who never voted, and primarily the work of John Lansman, Corbyn’s former election agent, was taken ‘in-house’. No longer could it reach out to potential supporters unless you first joined the Labour Party. The key tool that mobilised the thousands who joined the Labour Party was effectively sidelined. The centre reasserted control.

Yet what choice do I have? The alternative is to abstain as there’s no other party worth voting for as far as I’m concerned. So assuming a Labour victory, what are the chances of a grassroots mobilisation bringing pressure to bear on a Labour government to enact even a few of the policies voted for at the Labour Party conference?

Back in 2017 in a piece I wrote about the then snap general election, I quoted from a piece on the WSWS Website which highlighted the contradictions between what Corbyn wanted as laid out in his draft manifesto and what the final, published manifesto stated. By the time the real power in the bureaucracy had finished ‘editing’ Corbyn’s draft, very little was left of the original. Opposition to Austerity had been watered down to some reforms but leaving the body of Austerity in place. So too with Corbyn’s opposition to Trident nuclear weapons and his ‘reluctance’ to start a nuclear conflagration.

I’m minded to say, this time, so what? Yes, the arguments WSWS presents are true, the Labour Party is an imperialist party but can Corbyn, if supported by a grassroots movement, move beyond its imperialist past and its Blairite present? Is the situation so dire that Corbyn, aka the Labour Party is all we have got and we’ll just have to make the best of a bad bunch?

Maybe it’s the last chance we have to halt the headlong rush into barbarism but only if we mobilise the masses of Corbyn supporters, which of course, if successful, runs the risk of splitting the Labour Party in two which, just like the Conservative Party, has passed its sell-by date and splitting the Labour Party could be the best thing we’ll ever do for British politics.

The High Times of Mosal and Mingus

22 August 2019

As the first anniversary of the legalisation of marijuana in South Africa approaches, two old stoners recall what they were up to just before that historic day last September

To the curious observer on the square, MoSal and MinGus stuck out like a pair of old unreconstructed stoners among a global sea of young and upcoming ones laying back and doing whatever they were doing on a sunny afternoon – rolling and smoking joints… playing music on their guitars and mobiles or just listening… engaging in deep conversations or just having a lark and a laugh…or just sitting on their own, lost in thought. An epitome of peace and tranquillity.

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Some like it hot (updated) by William Bowles

18 July 2019 — Investigating Imperialism

I am nothing if not an optimist, a trait that most on the Left seem to share. A belief in the future, that there is one that includes us. That things, eventually, get better, if we fight for it. ‘Unrealistic’, I hear you say, what is there to be optimistic about? The planet is going to hell and taking us all with it, and there’s nothing we can do about it! Well, maybe so, then this happened, a small event, minute even, in the scheme of things but somehow it triggered a response in me that I could not ignore and which I had to address:

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