From the personal to the political-and back again By William Bowles

12 June 2009

The last few months have not been pleasant for me, wrestling with my own inner demons. Yeah, we Brits are not meant to be open about our inner selves, stiff upper lip and all that crap, and, in the scheme of things there are more than enough demons stalking the planet without me adding to them.

That said, what the fuck! Where do you think our demons come from in the first place! So in the midst of all the mayhem around us, here I am struggling to write, something that has up until now anyway, been the most natural thing in the world for me to do.

That such an innate act, that of creating should be denied to me, came as a shock. Denied my own voice, I felt imprisoned inside my own skull. But even writing about such things feels like an indulgence, after all who wants to read about my personal problems when the world is going to hell in a hand-basket?

The phrase ‘from the personal the political’ comes to mind, or am I just fishing for a hook? But this is at least a step forward, I mean actually committing pen to paper and assuming it actually ends up online.

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The obscenity that is the state of Israel By William Bowles

4 January 2009

The Gaza strip is 360 square kilometers in size with a population approaching 1.5 million people, over 60% of whom are under the age of fourteen. By comparison, London is 1,706 square km, or 4.7 times the size of the Gaza Strip.

Since 27 December, 2008 the Gaza Strip has been subjected to intense aerial bombardment with the most powerful weapons on the planet, all of which have been supplied by the United States: F-16s, Apache helicopter gunships, thermobaric bombs, remote-guided missile equipped drones. Hundreds of tons of bombs and missiles have been dropped on the most densely packed place on Earth

And this on top of the complete blockade that has denied the Palestinians the most basic of necessities of life.

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Agent of a foreign power? By William Bowles

31 December, 2008

I’m compelled once more to put pen to paper, or precisely fingers to keyboard as I traverse the flood of news that isn’t being shown on the mass media about the ongoing destruction of an entire country and its identity as Palestine and our collective non-response to this outrageous crime against Humanity.

I also have an admission to make about the last piece I wrote ‘No place to run, no place to hide’, I just picked the very first BBC piece on the destruction of Gaza that I came across. It wasn’t difficult, believe me, any person with the right approach to life and a reasonable command of the English language could do it.

And the clowns who write that garbage for the BBC actually think they’re smarter than I am, and you too, dear reader. Well maybe they are. But how do they sleep at night, like a baby (but not one in Gaza I’ll bet)?
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Barack Obama — a wolf in sheep’s clothing or just the shepherd? By William Bowles

13 November 2008

“There is no doubt that the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States is historic. But does framing him as America’s “first black president” show that we have not come nearly as far as we’d like to think?” — How Far Have We Really Come from the “One-Drop Rule”? by Judith Siers-Poisson, The Weekly Spin

programA triumph of image over substance

Well, depending on your politics, it seems that either Obama is the best thing since sliced bread (or Mandela, take your pick) or, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I lean toward the latter but with a lot of reservations and not just because of what he, Obama is but simply because of how and why he got to be prez. Thus I view Obama more as the shepherd, who, to paraphrase is instead leading the sheep to slaughter.

Vast forces were set in motion some time ago, a decision was taken at the very highest level, that an entire new reality had to be constructed if the gangsters were going to hang onto their ill-gotten gains. Bush and his half-arsed megalomaniac cronies had really fucked things up, it was time for the construction of a ‘break with the past’. And I said it at the time of Obama’s selection, that it was a stroke of pure genius, but one not without its opponents in the ruling political class who we might well term the ‘old guard’, witness the evil rantings of Hillary Clinton, who really blew her ‘feminist’ cachet, copious tears notwithstanding.

“Obama Wins! … Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year” — Advertising Age, November 5, 2008 and beating out Apple no less.

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Caught in the glare of history’s headlights By William Bowles

23 January, 2008

The spirit of graft and lawlessness is the American Spirit. — Lincoln Steffens, The Shame of the Cities, 1902

Last night’s late night news on BBC2 (22/1/08) had five ‘experts’ pontificating on about the ‘business cycle’ and they spent around twenty minutes trying avoid explaining where Capitalism was headed and whether anybody or institution had any control over it. They failed miserably, talk about empty heads talking, it was an embarrassing display of denial, something the BBC is really good at,

“Stock indexes are set to be highly volatile in coming weeks, they warned.”BBC News Website

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Bush’s Tower of Babble by William Bowles

3 November 2011

“[W]e got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have [sic] the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon” — president Bush in a White House press conference, September 5, 2006

‘Iran’, ‘Israel’, ‘Destroy’,’Nuclear Weapon’, ‘WWIII’, ‘Knowledge’, ‘Prevention’ — Bush

Talk about using loaded words! Israel is both literally and figuratively, loaded. The other of course is nuclear. Note however that in this instance, Bush talks not about Iran actually building nuclear weapons, now he’s talking about Iran gaining the knowledge to build one.

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(Yet More) Rumours of War and other tales from Psy-Ops Central by William Bowles

7 September 2007

“Reports that the Bush administration will put Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terrorism list can be read in one of two ways: It’s either more bluster or, ominously, a wind-up for a strike on Iran. Officials I talk to in Washington vote for a hit on the IRGC, maybe within the next six months.” — Robert Baer, a former high-ranking CIA field officer in the Middle East. [1]

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The BBC’s hall of mirrors By William Bowles

26 August 2007

“However, especially in the years since Hutton, we’ve come to focus on it [public trust or rather, lack of it] first and foremost in the context of journalism. Accuracy, impartiality, resolute defence of our editorial independence, a willingness to acknowledge mistakes when we make them: meeting all these expectations simultaneously is an immense challenge in these complex, disputatious times, but it is what the BBC has to do.”The BBC has squandered trust. But we will win it back Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, the Guardian, Friday August 24, 2007

Methinks ‘the lady doth protest’ just a little too much. More to the point, Thompson’s observations on the public’s lack of trust in the BBC uses the pathetic example of the furore over the promo on the Queen’s photo-shoot, not exactly at the cutting edge of BBC news and current affairs programming.

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Completely Carbonated by William Bowles

5 July 2007 — InvestigatingImperialism

garbage.jpgWell it’s started, in fact it’s more than started and it’s driving me mad. You know what I’m talking about, my fucking ‘carbon footprint’! Every time I hear the phrase, which is every damn day, it really pisses me off.

‘Carbon footprint’ is the new Osama, the new bogie man with which to frighten the kids. And as the campaign gathers speed, awful things happen to your mind; the ‘green virus’ infects you, there is no escape.

So last night I was in the kitchen getting a meal together and I had to open a new packet of spices and as I poured it into a container and then dumped the empty carton into the garbage can a strange feeling came over me; I was thinking about the fate of the empty carton.

Then I realised that it wasn’t the first time I’d been ‘possessed’ by the feeling whenever I threw out the crap my food comes packaged in. Bottles, wrapping, cans, every piece of junk mail, evokes the feeling that I’m fucking up the planet, even the stuff that goes into the orange recycling bag (who knows what really happens to it?).

But this is how it works isn’t it, once the media gets its hands on ‘my carbon footprint’, I’m buggered. Slowly but surely it worms its way into my consciousness. It’s not just the dedicated programming on ‘greening’ my life, every damn news broadcast has at least one piece on ‘what I can do’ to save the planet.

And it works, no matter how insulated you think you are from the predations of the media, engineered guilt worms its way into your mind. Every piece of garbage on the street; every time you see someone drop something, you want to tackle them (and get whacked for the privilege of ‘doing my bit’? Not likely).

The thing is this, it’s no bad thing to having our streets clean (people tell me that London is one of the dirtiest capital cities in the world) and it’s also true that the sheer volume of packaging our food and such comes packed in is ridiculous. This is what makes the ‘green’ propaganda campaign almost impossible to resist.

The point is however, that all of it entirely misses the target and deliberately so, for the objective is to shift the responsibility away from the economics of capitalism onto our shoulders whilst we stay loyal consumers, we’ll just consume ‘green’ crapola instead the usual crapola. And as predicted awhile back by yours truly, every damn product is now selling itself as ‘green’, even car insurance.

It’s one, giant con job and one of the major culprits is the BBC with its endless series of programmes on how ‘we’ can save the planet but not a one of them will actually raise the issue of the economics of capitalism being intrinsic to the problem, that unless this is dealt with, we’re buggered.

Earnest men with handlebar moustaches, invade our homes armed with meters to measure our electricity consumption, dig holes in the backyard to put our crap in, and all of it without mentioning the ‘c’ word.

Look they mean well these ‘green crusaders’, that’s part of the problem, for them it’s fun being green and it pays well too. Books and DVDs follow in rapid succession, in fact an entirely new industry is born and all the ‘new’ products that go with it.

Every year tens of thousands, if not millions of ‘new’ products hit the market, most don’t make it beyond one year before being consigned to the dustbin of market failures for one reason or another. And no matter whether the product is made of’ sustainable’ materials and processes or not, the sheer volume of raw materials consumed is absolutely necessary to the continuance of capitalism. Capital must reproduce itself and every market has a limit to what it can consume before it becomes saturated and a ‘new’ product has to be produced and a new market created for it.

It’s a self-perpetuating system with millions of jobs at stake, not to mention profits. Everything is interlocked and inter-dependent. Without our increasing consumption returns on investments diminish, the stockholders complain and new ways have to be found to keep the rate of return increasing. This means finding new markets, reducing the cost of production, inventing new products, ad infinitum.

How to counter this avalanche of capitalist ‘green’ propaganda? The latest Medialens piece illustrates to some degree the problem that confronts us. Titled ‘Melting Ice Sheets And Media Contradictions – An Exchange With George Monbiot’ reveals the contradictions inherent in capitalism allegedly trying to heal itself and the planet.

Monbiot is one of the very few anti-capitalist writers with access to the corporate media, principally the Guardian. The problem, as Medialens points out, is that Monbiot’s essays are immersed in advertising; for cars, air travel, booze, etc, aimed mainly at the ‘jet-set’.[1]

“Doesn’t this make a mockery of the Guardian’s claims to be responding to climate change? Is it really credible to expect a newspaper dependent on corporate advertising for 75 per cent of its revenue to seriously challenge the corporate system of which it’s a part and on which it depends? Why don’t you discuss this inherent contradiction in your journalism? — [Monbiot doesn’t] discuss this inherent contradiction in [his] journalism? — [that] the news reports, comment pieces and adverts that surround your work powerfully reinforce a ‘pathology of normalcy’ and prevent people from seeing the pathology for what it is.”

Medialens goes on:

“Isn’t it vitally important that this structural problem of the corporate mass media system be exposed? Doesn’t your silence on this issue indicate the very real limits of free speech in our ‘free press’?”

Monbiot agrees but suggests that ‘alternative’ sources of revenue be found for the corporate media and invites people to send him suggestions. The problem with the idea of’ alternatives’ is that it doesn’t matter what is advertised, whether ‘green’ or not, advertising and the corporate media are one and the same thing, abolish one and effectively you abolish the other. In other words, advertising is intrinsic to the corporate press, there are no alternatives unless one pays for the actual cost of a newspaper, which few would be prepared to do. The very nature of the corporate media is determined in the first place by its reliance on advertising; it defines its choice of what is ‘news’ and how events are covered, to expect anything else is self-delusion.

Medialens notes that the Guardian has an online adverts-free edition, at a cost of course, but fails to point out that the content of this edition has already made a profit from advertising! Effectively, online versions of print media are a license to print money, all that happens is that the content has been repackaged and sold again (and again). One way or the other, corporate media are totally dependent on advertising as the major source of revenue regardless of where it comes from.

Quite correctly, Medialens points out that supporting independent, non-corporate media is one answer but we know the problems that confront such enterprises. And it doesn’t address the issue of our being immersed in an ocean of capitalist propaganda, not only the corporate press and state-run media but local councils, the education system, and of course central government and business, have all jumped on the bandwagon.

‘Fighting global warming’ has become the leitmotiv of New Labour (after the ‘war on terror’) but obviously it excludes the central contradiction of the relationship between climate change and our economic system.

But it goes much further than the issue of climate change, for all climate change has done is reveal the contradictions of capitalist economics which is why for the government and business, it’s vital that there be no exposure of the connection between the two.

To some degree, it can be argued that the issue of climate change actually masks the central problem by diverting attention away from the essential nature of the economics of capitalism which is why the central propaganda message is what you can do about your carbon footprint’. And so far the campaign has been eminently successful in passing the buck. Who amongst us and aware of the issue, hasn’t felt what I feel every time an empty carton is tossed away?

Note

1. ‘Over the last 12 months, the GNM [Guardian News and Media] total audience accounted for: “20% of all champagne drunk. One in six of all city breaks taken. One in five Acorn ‘Urban Prosperity’. £1 in every £7 spent on computer hardware or software. 1/6 of all MP3 player expenditure.” http://www.adinfo-guardian.co.uk/display/research/total-audience/total-audience-facts.shtml