The state unleashes the Dogs of Media By William Bowles

17 August 2011 — Strategic Culture Foundation

“At 9.22 the Brixton shopping centre appeared almost calm by comparison to Railton Road. Rubbish was strewn across the main A23 Brixton Road; burglar alarms rang vainly from looted shops; and knots of youths, black and white, drifted along in the almost complete absence of police.” — ‘Eyewitness: Looters moved in as the flames spread’

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The Left has lost its way over Libya By William Bowles

26 July 2011

In an essentially excellent piece Sarah Flounders ‘Libya: Demonization and Self-determination‘, near the beginning under the sub-head ‘What should be the response to this terror?’ she writes:

“Unfortunately, a minority of groups or individuals who present themselves as opponents of war spend more time cataloguing Gadhafi’s past real or alleged shortcomings than rallying people to respond to this criminal, all-out U.S. attack. Their influence would be small, except that it coincides with the opinions of the U.S. ruling class. Thus it is important to thoroughly answer their arguments.”

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Syria/Libya versus Bahrain: A BBC factoid By William Bowles

23 June 2011

Facts are wonderful things, ignore them at all cost:

“Was the decision taken [by NATO] that killing civilians here would save others elsewhere?” — ‘Libya: Funerals fuel controversy over Nato airstrikes‘, Jeremy Bowen, BBC News Website, 22 June 2011

When I first heard this report by Bowen on 22/6/11 I couldn’t believe my ears! Here is the much vaunted objectivity of the BBC revealed for what it’s worth, nothing, nothing at all. Does Bowen really listen to what he himself said? Kill little children here so that these little children won’t kill people elsewhere?

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Civil war in Libya, intervention by the West already a reality By William Bowles

4 March 2011

“Defence secretary Liam Fox today confirmed that a British diplomatic team is in Libya talking to rebel forces.” — ‘SAS unit ‘held by Libyan rebels’‘, The Independent, 6 March 2011

According to the Wikipedia site ‘a civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state’ which seems to be a pretty accurate description of events in Libya as they unfold. The problem is identifying who is contesting for state power as there seems to be no single group in charge of the opposition.

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Libya: The Empire strikes back By William Bowles

27 February, 2011 — Strategic Culture Foundation

Pre-amble: I started writing this before events in Libya escalated, but it illustrates why it is imperative that we understand what exactly is going on in the Middle East and North Africa, especially when it comes to distinguishing between our wishes and reality. This is especially true of what is happening in Libya, where fact and invention (as well as wishful thinking) have become blurred in the press coverage.

Thanks to its rich reserves of oil and natural gas, Libya has a positive trade balance of $27 billion a year and a medium-high per capita income of $12,000, six times greater than that of Egypt … Witness the fact that nearly one million and a half immigrants, mostly from North Africa, work in Libya. Some 85 percent of Libyan energy exports go to Europe: Italy takes first place with 37 percent, followed by Germany, France and China. Italy is also in first place in imports to Libya, followed by China, Turkey and Germany.

This framework is now blown into the air as a result of what can be characterized not as a revolt of the impoverished masses, such as the rebellions in Egypt and Tunisia, but as a real civil war, due to a split in the ruling group. — ‘Libya in the Great Game‘ By Manlio Dinucci, Global Research [my Emph. Ed]

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As things fall apart By William Bowles

4 February, 2011 — Strategic Culture Foundation

If it wasn’t such a tragedy the headlines in the corporate media would be truly laughable! Led of course, by the Washington Post and the New York Times, the duel cheerleaders for US corporate capital, where we read the following titled ‘Egypt has Obama cautiously shifting world view on democracy’:

“Shortly after taking office, President Obama traveled to Cairo to declare a new day in U.S. relations with the Muslim world – saying there was “no straight line” to building democratic societies in the Middle East.

“The June 2009 address was in part intended to show a clean break from a George W. Bush-era “freedom agenda” of promoting electoral democracies across the region. Yet Obama now finds himself forced to move much closer to that world view as he escalates pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to make immediate changes.” — Washington Post, 4 February, 2011

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Wikileaks: The Book of Revelations? Not if you read the MSM By William Bowles

29 December, 2010 — Strategic Culture Foundation

The revelations come thick and fast, or faster than they were but aside from the odd mention, you wouldn’t know it if you relied on the mainstream media. If ever we needed evidence of collusion between corporate- so-called public broadcasting and the state then the way the diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks have been almost entirely ignored is the proof.

Anybody who has followed my (obsessive) collection of stories on the Wikileaks saga will know that it started off with a grand flourish and so far at least—and the statistics prove it—has faded from view without a whimper from the corporate/state media stranglehold on the news.

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A conspiracy to silence? By William Bowles

10 December, 2010

‘Wikileaks has not been charged with a single US crime…and here the country’s financial institutions are taking action on behalf of our state department to extinguish this whistleblower’s website.’ — Jeff Paterson, Project Director of Courage to Resist, ‘KKK OK but not WikiLeaks for some payment processors

“What is emerging from all the sound and Wikileaks fury in Washington is that the entire scandal is serving to advance a long-standing Obama and Bush agenda of policing the until-now free Internet. Already the US Government has shut the Wikileaks server in the United States though no identifiable US law has been broken.” — ‘Wikileaks: A Big Dangerous US Government Con Job?‘, F. William Engdahl, Global Research

And even as the corporate/state media attack Wikileaks and Julian Assange, they continue to (selectively) publish the leaked cables.

‘One other incredible thing about the persecution is that so many people are falsely reporting that WikiLeaks has dumped 250,000 documents but it’s not true at all. They were only putting stuff up on their webpage, when the New York Times, Der Spiegel, The Guardian or El Pais were putting them up. They were very useful to the US government in some ways’ — Sam Husseini, Institute for Public Accuracy

In fact only some .047% of the documents have so far been published and in any case, has Assange really broken the law by publishing the cables?

Here’s what Australian legal experts have to say on the subject:

A member of Mr Assange’s legal team, Jennifer Robinson, says the Prime Minister’s assertion that the website’s publication of the documents is illegal goes too far.

JENNIFER ROBINSON: Well her comments were made outside of Parliament so they’re certainly not privileged and I think it was misguided to suggest that he had committed a crime in England and, indeed, defamatory. Though I think that Prime Minister Gillard’s account will probably come at the ballot box.

SIMON LAUDER: US and Australian authorities are working to find any laws which may have been violated by WikiLeaks.

The President of Liberty Victoria, Spencer Zifcak, says the website doesn’t seem to have done anything illegal.

SPENCER ZIFCAK: All WikiLeaks have done is publish documents that have been given to it. Now the interesting thing about that is WikiLeaks is publishing these documents in association with some of the great newspapers of the world.

So if WikiLeaks is to be charged with the disclosure of official information then presumably these major newspapers will also be in the guns. But I can’t see the authorities, either in Australia or the United States, pursuing those newspapers. — ‘Law experts say WikiLeaks in the clear’, ‘The World Today‘, 7 December, 2010

Could it be, as F. William Engdahl asserts, a con job by the US government to take control of the Internet?

On the face of it, just as with the use of the ‘War on Terror’ to clamp down on freedom of expression and our civil liberties, there is something to be said for Engdahl’s assertion.

That said, the very fact that over half-a-million people have already signed a petition calling for hands off Wikileaks, only a couple of days after the petition went live, reveals that whatever the truth of the leaks, it has stirred up a lot people. If as Engdahl asserts it was actually the US government that released the cables, so far it has had the opposite effect by galvanizing opposition to any attempt to censor the Web, let alone expose US diplomats as bunch of ignorant and arrogant louts.

This is part of what Engdahl has to say on the subject:

“It is almost too perfectly-scripted to be true. A discontented 22-year old US Army soldier on duty in Baghdad, Bradley Manning, a low-grade US Army intelligence analyst, described as a loner, a gay in the military, a disgruntled “computer geek,” sifts through classified information at Forward Operating Base Hammer. He decides to secretly download US State Department email communications from the entire world over a period of eight months for hours a day, onto his blank CDs while pretending to be listening to Lady Gaga.”

Put this way, it does sound somewhat far-fetched, yet what is the source Engdahl’s assertion that it’s a put-up job? He offers no source for us to check so I have no idea if Manning is the source of the cables or how he acquired them (if indeed it was Manning who released the cables), and as Manning is languishing in a Federal slammer, we can’t ask him.

But then judging by the halfwits who wrote these cables, maybe they did think they could pull off a Web version of 9/11? The question then is, can they do it?

Already there are more than 1500 Wikileaks mirror sites so short of shutting down the entire global Internet, it’s difficult to see how censoring the Web can be achieved but again it reveals just how ignorant the ruling elite is about how things actually work.

So, US government conspiracy or not, ultimately it makes no difference how the cables came into the public domain (and so far it’s only a eight hundred of the over 250,000), the damage has been done. The legitimacy of the state has been challenged by their release and things will never be the same again. No longer will we take at face value anything the ruling elite say about the reasons for their actions in public even if all 250,000 cables were actually invented which clearly they’re not. Though of course, 99% are not even confidential let alone secret. These are mostly the day-to-day ramblings of bored diplomatic staff.

So it is conceivable that the selection of the releases was engineered by the US government but clearly whatever they intended to happen as a result seems to have backfired big time. But as they don’t even have a firm grasp on how the internet works, what with over 1500 Wikileaks mirror sites in dozens of countries, it shouldn’t be a surprise to us (the law of unintended consequences eg, the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara, which did more to bring the focus on the plight of the Palestinians into the public eye than even Operation Cast Lead).

Rebellion in the High Street? By William Bowles

6 December, 2010

“The Middle Class Proletariat — The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx. The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states. The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite. Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.” — ‘UK Ministry of Defence report, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 2007-2036’ (Third Edition) p.96, March 2007

vodafone.jpgSo, a few rumblings of discontent have surfaced, first with the students and now an interesting development, targeting corporate tax avoiders such as Topshop, owned by Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group who has his multi-billion empire registered in his wife’s name and who is resident in tax-free Monaco, where of course she’s really busy running the Arcadia empire.

“With a personal fortune of more than £4bn, [Sir Philip Green] owns the Arcadia Group, whose fashion chains include Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans and Miss Selfridge.

“His wife Tina is the direct owner of Arcadia, and she is officially a resident of Monaco. This enabled her to gain a tax-free £1.2bn dividend in 2005.

Speaking in August about the tax status of his wife, Sir Philip told the BBC: “My wife’s not a tax exile – my family do not live in the United Kingdom, it’s somewhat different.”” — ‘Topshop’s flagship London store hit by tax protest‘, BBC News Website, 4 December, 2010

Organized by UK Uncut, who have also targeted Boots, HSBC, Barclays and Vodafone, in an economy largely composed of consumers, as I suggested in 2008 it’s a logical development that corporate interests in the high street become the target of protest, especially when we’ve been screwed out of £80-90 billion to pay for their deficit.

UK Uncut had protests right across the UK. Shops in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leicester, York, Bristol, Portsmouth, Southampton and Cambridge as well as here in London, were picketed, some protestors even supergluing themselves to shop windows.

UKUncut say that the total tax avoidance bill involved comes to a staggering £51 billion annually, though I’ve read figures as ‘low’ as £25 billion. Whatever, in two or three three years that would be enough to pay off the ‘deficit’.

So what kind of a future does targeting corporate interests on the high street have as one arm of the struggle to end the madness called capitalism?

“There is something so interesting about these direct attacks on British chainstores, just as there is about the University for Strategic Optimism’s lectures in banks and supermarkets (you bring the market to education, we bring education to the market). What does it mean, this physical shut-down of the architecture of consumerism? It is, in the first place, an attack on those corporations and people (and of course a corporation is legally a kind of ‘person’) which have avoided tax

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But to directly disrupt the performance of shopping (on a Saturday in the run-up to Christmas no less!) as a way of making clear the anger towards those who avoid tax, while everyone else is supposed to pay more is rather brilliant: it indicates, among other things, an absolute fatigue with the corporate face of city centres. There has long been a slightly twee attack on the blankness and generic replicability of British high streets in favour of independent or ‘unique’ shop; the direct forced closing of these tax-avoiding chain stores is so much more relevant. It is an attack on the boredom of everyday life, of the fakeness of cities, the monotony of consumerism…Shut them all down! Reclaim the streets!” — ‘a nation of shopkeepers’, Infinite Thought, New Left Project

A cry from the heart indeed but does this represent the majority of people hitting the malls every weekend or is this the educated, lefty middle class speaking? But connect it to the export of jobs to the countries that now produce the goods we buy in Topshops across the land, and the larger picture becomes apparent: An economy that has been completely hijacked by the corporate/political class and as the writer says, what we have is an ugly, corporately-cloned culture that’s spread like a disease across the land.

Sir Philip Green’s sleight-of-hand is of course ‘legal’, just as bailing out the banks were and the massive cuts in government spending, they’re all ‘legal’, so what recourse do we have? The rules are all made up to favour Sir Philip Green and his class. Clearly direct action is now pretty much the only avenue open to us especially now, after the Liberal Democrats stabbed their supporters in the back, thus enraging even middle-of-the-road voters. So perhaps the ‘futurists’ at the MoD were right and they have better grasp of events than the left does? Not really surprising given that the left generally expends more energy in-fighting than it does fighting the enemy.

And where is the trade union movement in all this? It’s a nightmare situation for organized labour who, by law are not allowed to engage in ‘political’ strikes. Moreover many of its members work in the stores that have been picketed. But this shouldn’t stop them from showing solidarity in other ways, after all they give millions to the damn ‘Labour’ Party every year so why not a few quid tossed in the general direction of real progressive change if they are so concerned about protecting their members interests?

The potential power of even our diminished trade unions was demonstrated this past weekend when Spanish air traffic controllers all called in sick at the same time and the government had to declare a state of emergency and force the workers back to work. So it’s not size that matters but where in the chain of capitalist management they work that counts. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), in the UK the biggest block of trade union members all work for government which effectively results in a kind of stalemate politically speaking. They’ll strike maybe when the layoffs start to really bite, by which time it’s too damn late (the TUC plan a big demonstration for next February, I can hardly hold my breath for the suspense of it)!

Elsewhere, on the same Website, NewLeftProject, there’s another piece, Strategy and tactics in the anti-cuts movement but it makes for rather depressing reading as it is it comes down to yet another appeal to end sectarian behaviour on the ‘left’, which by-the-way I’m all for but it reveals a fundamental problem with the left and one that’s been around for decades. The writer Luna 17, also spends a deal of time on the role of the trade union movement, or rather its lack of involvement but offers no solutions or even analysis as to why the trade unions are absent from the struggle.

So while the comrades were slugging it out at the Coalition of Resistance conference[1], pissed off people were gluing themselves to shop windows in high streets up and down the land. Clearly this is just the beginning but without some kind of national coordination that ties these separate struggles together, protests such as UK Uncut’s risk becoming nothing more than a TV news-bite until the next student protest produces more dramatic footage for the disciples of Goebbels to flood the media landscape with.

Note
1. Watch a video of the Coalition of Resistance conference here

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