Wednesday, 26 April 2017

President Donald Trump and the Mad Emperor 'Act'

It's barely been noticed the way Congressional Investigations into Trump's alleged 'Russian connections' have gone much quieter. Within a week Trump performed a total political somersault and intervened militarily against Assad in Syria, Russia's client, and all seemed mostly to have been forgiven.

Tillerson's sinister Russian links became a sign of his "expertise" in dealing firmly with the Kremlin. Liberals whinging about the fact their even more aggressive and warmongering candidate, Hillary Clinton, lost in a humiliating defeat, then started chiming in with showering praise upon the Leader for being Presidential.

The conspiracy theories about Trump being a Russian stooge mysteriously vanished into thin air. The change in the line required a new way of mentally managing the reality of Trump winning. The shift in line would mean any future Congressional Investigations would be directed more towards Russian attempts at destabilising US 'democracy'.

So now Trump's administration ratchets up the rhetoric against North Korea in another Iraq War style countdown to conflict over Weapons of Mass Destruction ( i.e. nuclear weapons ) that, this time, they actually do have. The UN was accused yesterday of being incapable of dealing with the regime of Kim Jong Un.

As much as North Korea needs dealing with through careful diplomacy , the fact Trump wants to stake out his credentials as a War President does not seem to have been connected to consolidating his 'credibility' domestically a being pro-Establishment and for US Global Power and not the absurd idea he was pro-Russian.

Either Trump really is a master of the Art of the Deal or basically the conspiracy theories showed how any candidate in supposed democracies would simply be 'taken out' if they really threatened to pursue isolationism or not support the existing set of alliance systems and foreign entanglements ( a.k.a "engagements").

The hazard now is the Trump administration feels impelled to reunify and rally America behind him through upping the rhetoric in dealing with resolving conflicts in many flashpoints across the globe. Kissinger style realpolitik would appear to be making a return and that means deploying Trump as Madman or even Mad Emperor.

Partly, this is about having Trump as the 'reality TV' President, the strongman who could literally fire and fry any leader and regime on earth. In dealing with North Korea, the tactic appears to be about pressuring China into threatening Kim Jong Un with pulling all lifelines for his regime, while Trump gears up for war.

The problem is that Trump seems to have let the generals off the leash and neither he nor McMasters are of the calibre of Richard Nixon and Kissinger, who for all their flaws and appalling cruelties, were sane enough to know how to use the madman act as part of a realpolitik strategy that fell short of outright global war.

So in many ways, the US is going back to the 1970s, an era of paranoia and brutal global realpolitik in which strategic realignment is brought about by threatening to unleash ever greater bombing in order to get other Great Powers to exert pressure upon smaller ones as the Globe becomes more openly a Grand Chessboard.

The terrible danger with that is the Cold War was less a conflict over strategic resource interests, though they were always present, than they are in 2017. Syria and Iraq are interconnected with exerting control over energy flows as is the vying for control over the South China Sea. North Korea far much less so.

Britain after Brexit is far more likely to deepen the strategic alignment with the US in conjunction with the Gulf States, with the possibility of Iran being targeted should Trump need to maintain face over Syria: Russia's support for Assad could be countered by diminishing Iranian backed Hizbollah and support through threats.

In Britain, ever the willing junior model pupil, if Corbyn ever came close to winning the election or did, the sheer scale of the dirty tactics and American concern would probably result in some sort of coup d'etat against him for not wanting to be in NATO or because of his dislike and opposition to US led foreign policies and wars.

Freedom to choose can never ever be too free, lest the electorate err.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Libya: North African Cockpit in the Great Game for Oil and Strategic Reach in the Mediterranean.

The Libyan Civil War resumed again in March 2017 as the the Islamist-dominated Benghazi Defence Brigade seized oil export terminals at Sidra and Ras Lanuf from Field Marshal Khalid Haftar, the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), a force that prevails in eastern Libya and has Russian and Egyptian support.

Haftar seized back the ports by March 15 and,as fighting broke out in Tripoli, it was revealed that Russian special forces and drones had been deployed on the ground in order to assist the LNA from an air base in Western Egypt. Russia supports an elected Parliament in Tobruk while the West backs an unelected GNA government in the capital.

Immediately US voices condemned Russian meddling. Geoff Porter opined “As in Syria, Russia’s interest is opportunistic Moscow saw an opening that was afforded to it by Washington’s lack of leadership.”. Senator Lindsey Graham called on Rex Tillerson, Trump's Secretary of State, to put these actions "on the radar screen".

US condemnation of Russia for backing General Haftar is curious given how he was once courted by Washington as a means to impose a new order. Chris Stephen states that 'Haftar has been spurned by most western diplomats'. Officially, it's true but for years he was in exile in North Virginia near Langley and was a CIA asset until 2003.

The hope until the invasion of Iraq in that year had been to have Haftar as a regime replacement for Colonel Gaddafi. However, with the new idea it was better to try installing democracy in Arab lands in order to control oil supplies, as opposed to the old Cold War and colonial era concept of sticking in strongmen clients, he lost favour.

Naturally, the democracy promotion business in Iraq did not have to mean much change elsewhere. In point of fact, where the invasion or Iraq and toppling of Saddam's regime on the basis on non-existent 'weapons of mass destruction', was successful in that it convinced Colonel Gaddafi through diplomacy to give up his 'WMD'.

One main obvious reason that Russia is being criticised for aligning behind Haftar is because the Western Powers are piqued that their 'strongman' has shifted across to Moscow and is battling to control the oil that they thought they would have exclusive access to via backing the GNC in the course of 2012 and 2013.

The entire fault for this debacle was the blundering of Cameron and Sarkozy in 2011 in aligning NATO air power effectively with militias that contained a large number of fanatical jihadists bankrolled by the Gulf States in order to overthrow Gaddafi and then expect a democracy would instantaneously replace a dictatorship.

Much of this was part of a craven attempt too by Britain and France to ingratiate themselves with Qatar in proving that the Western Powers supported the "Arab Spring" for selfless motives, the better to defuse criticism that they backed dictatorships elsewhere, a major cause of Muslim resentment and Islamist recruitment.

The problem was that 'democracy promotion' for Qatar and Turkey was as much, if not much more, about geopolitical strategies and a bid to control east-west flows of energy whether in Syria or ,in fact, in Libya. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States then felt threatened by this and funded rival militias from Qatar and Turkey.

As the civil war broke out and Libya collapsed into a chaos that allowed ISIS to gain ground across the Maghreb and into Sub-Saharan Africa, the 2013 coup in Egypt against the feeble and incompetent Muslim Brotherhood government led by General Sisi ensured that Haftar would align with him against jihadists.

Britain maintains that the era of the strongman in the Libya is over. This is necessary 'public diplomacy' because it is embarrassing to have to admit that the democracy promotion effort of 2011 failed completely and because they have, in practice, been complicit with the victory of Sisi in the strategically vital region of Egypt.

Sisi made plain that if the West was not prepared to support his regime with arms under the 1978 deal,then there were other suitors just as there had been in the Cold War such as Russia. Putin and Sisi sent that message in their 2015 meeting, where infrastructure projects and arms deals were mooted.

What the Western Powers and the fears, or at least the Pentagon as President Trump and his administration might have other ideas, is that Russia via Rosneft and deals with Libya’s National Oil Corporation could extend further their control over the oil, a major source of energy diversification for the EU powers.

Italy: The Soft Underbelly of Europe.

Italy, the old colonial power, depends on Libyan oil. Libya would be a place where Trump could align with Putin, doing an artful deal to "take the oil" or, at least, gain mutual control over resources and migrant flows that affect Italy, a major core EU nation faced with anti-EU forces from within such as Grillo's Five Star Movement.

Putin is vying for strategic influence in lands on the EU's periphery where there are resources or where the lands are vital transit routes for oil and gas ( as with Syria and Ukraine ). By gaining influence over a Libya under Haftar, dependent on Russia and maybe Trump, he would have influence in a land that supplies most of Italy's oil

The Pentagon probably would prefer to avoid this as would political opposition to Trump. Also there is a fear that a Grillo led government in Italy by summer 2017 would lean towards Russia because it wants the migrant flow stemmed immediately by Haftar just as Gaddafi had before after an agreement with Silvio Berlusconi.

Russia would exert leverage over Italian politicians by basically having them and the rest of Europe by the balls. Certainly pro-Trumpismo politicians in Italy would align with both him and Putin and further fracture EU unity. After all, Italy would be far more likely to oppose sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

The New Great Game.

Libya is another cockpit of a brutal new Great Power game involving energy security and control over and access to oil and gas, just as Syria in reality is much the same about that and asserting control over the Mediterranean. It is often forgotten that in 1945, at Yalta, Stalin wanted not only control over the Black Sea Straits but also over Libya.

The same Great Power contests were being fought over Libya as they were in the run up to the Great War in 1914, with the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, and led by predator powers such as Italy in 1911, in the interwar period with Mussolini's fascist projects and, thereafter, with the Cold War by supporting those who secured oil access.

The stakes are never reported as being such in Western newspapers because the double standard requires that the public sees Russian intervention in Libya as necessarily 'bad' and ours as 'good'. Meanwhile, French air strikes to support the same strongman against Islamist rebels barely enters the newspapers because officially the West does not do that.

After all, if French airstrikes to support Haftar were publicised, it might mean that the claim not to support secular strongmen, such as Russia did in Syria by decisively swinging behind Assad, was untrue and would draw attention to the contradictions and hypocrisy behind the entire strategy of Western 'liberal interventionism'.

Western double standards towards Syria and Libya could be seen in the fact that Western politicians and security spokesmen were indignant when claiming that Russia was primarily targeting not ISIS in Syria but the 'moderate rebels' around Aleppo and Idlib. But, as an Al Jazeera report on the November 2016 French airstrikes reported,
 "What's clear is that Western forces are helping Haftar coordinate air strikes in eastern Libya, which is where his base of control is. But the targets there aren't actually Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS)," Karim el Bar, the journalist who reported the story, told Al Jazeera. "They [the targets] are his [Haftar's] political enemies - some of whom are Islamists, some of whom have other political affiliations ... he's undermining the government in Tripoli."
One problem for governments in the Western democracies is that the level of public information and free media requires a careful 'public diplomacy' that depicts Western Great Power manoeuvres as only being about humanitarian and security objectives. Never about 'spheres of influence' or, heaven forbid, the oil consumer economies feed off.

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Turkish-Dutch Dispute and Diaspora Politics in the New Great Game.

“I said 'I thought Nazism was over,' but I was wrong. In fact, Nazism is alive in the West.” -President Erdogan

“These comparisons with the Nazis must stop.”-Chancellor Merkel

“What they are saying is not helping”-PM Mark Rutter

“Mrs Merkel, why are you hiding terrorists in your country? ... Why are you not doing anything?  

“Nazism, we can call this neo-nazism. A new nazism tendency,” -President Erdogan

President Erdogan is playing well a power game with Germany and Holland because of the criticism from them over his growing authoritarianism in Turkey. His provocative plans to hold rallies in both countries, to get support behind his referendum to give the Turkish president more executive powers, are demonstrating his reach and ambition.

By accusing Germany of “Nazi-style practices” in using all sorts of excuses to prevent Erdogan's ministers holding public rallies, he intends to polarise and to exploit feeble plodding and witless politicians as Chancellor Merkel, who believe that Great Power struggles can be determined by money and transnational human rights agendas.

On March 13 2017 Erdogan stoked up the threats to Holland after it banned leading AKP ministers fromflying in to address supporters. Turkish airspace would be closed to Dutch diplomats, the ambassador refused entry and further sanctions contemplated. Erdogan wanted to take up the victimisation with the EU Court of Human Rights.

The greater the controversy, the more chance Erdogan has of improving his bargaining status with the EU and the dominant power within it.The decision to hold rallies before the Dutch elections of March 2017 was a stroke of political timing, as it could ramp up tensions there and in Germany ready for the summer.

Erdogan has numerous times made it clear that he could flood the EU with migrants again in a way that could further exacerbate tensions in the Western Balkans and to cause the outbreak of war again even closer to EU member states. Merkel's botched response to the 2015 crisis has made that more rather than less likely.

Incapable of ( and refusing to ) understand the power of ethnic-sectarian struggles in history as something that could ever return to Germany, the naive idealism and universalism that promoted Merkel to effectively invite almost a million migrants in one year from Muslim majority states has weakened German power.

Merkel's entire 'we can manage' mantra  and effective decision to invite in huge numbers of migrants on the well-meaning basis of helping Syrian refugees ended up, in the age of instant social media, drawing in huge numbers, some 61% of the total influx, that were not from Syria and not clearly fleeing any obvious conflict.

After having unilaterally decided to welcome huge numbers in from countries as diverse as Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Merkel then tried to push other EU nations towards accepting their 'fair share' of under a quota scheme that was rejected especially by newer eastern V4 nations.

To the West in neighbouring Holland, the liberal and leftist coalition government of Rutte has faced an upsurge of support for populist-right Geert Wilder's PVV which is now the single largest party in Holland, though the system of proportional representation means the other parties would combine to keep him out of power.

The diplomatic spat between Erdogan and Rutte and the spectacle of the consequence of Turkish domestic unrest, even violence and potential riots, spilling over into the streets of the Netherlands, is going to benefit Wilders who will be seen to be proved right that mass migration means importing Middle Eastern problems.

When Wilders is shunned, after winning a majority of votes, he need only sit tight and continue promoting his agenda so as to get the other parties to continue tacking towards it to keep him out. The more his anti-Islam rhetoric gets ratcheted up and finds increased support, the more Erdogan's 'Nazi' could claim plausibility.

Erdogan is going to increase his mobilisation of the Turkish diaspora for his own game plan to which is to try and provoke reactions and claim 'Islamophobia', that he is needed to defend Turkish interests and people in Europe. The migrant card, as well as control over east-west oil and gas flows, ensure he has Germany in a bind.

Erdogan is dabbling in promoting a brand of pan-Turkist/ Islamist diaspora politics to gain leverage. Just as Russia used pan-Slavism in South-eastarn Europe in the late nineteenth century, in the context of a weak and crumbling Ottoman Empire, so too is Erdogan using it in a fragmented and more generally Balkanised Europe.

This ought to come as no surprise as Erdogan has continuously attempted to back separatists such as the Uighurs in Xinjiang in China in order to project his neo-Ottoman strategy and gain the upper hand in vying for control over geopolitically strategically vital east-west oil and gas pipeline routes from Central Asia.

Turkey's emergence as an east-west regional Great Power broker is motivated by interest but also contains a streak of revenge for the way the Ottoman Empire was picked apart by the Western Powers a century ago when it was 'the sick man of Europe'. Now the AKPs Nurettin Canikli, a deputy prime minister, calls Europe as a “very sick man”

As the EU declines and fragments, as it becomes surrounded by stronger and more  assertive state-nations full of growing confidence in their civilisation's power, whether Russia or Turkey-or indeed the US under Trump-it will become easier to divide and rule Europe by playing on ethnic-sectarian divisions to advance power strategies.


Thursday, 9 March 2017

President Trump's US :The Decline of the West and the New Caesarism

'A series of terrifying articles suggests that a company called Cambridge Analytica helped to swing both the US election and the EU referendum by mining data from Facebook and using it to predict people’s personalities, then tailoring advertising to their psychological profiles' -George Monbiot
The Rise of Conspiracism and Information Wars.

There is little hope for opposition to Trump when it is looking for conspiracy theories to explain away electoral verdicts they have a psychological problem in accepting. Brexit is one thing, Trump is another. Serious opposition to him should refrain from conspiracy theories of the sort Trumpists believe in.

In any case, Brexit and Trump's victory are not the consequence of some uniform global conspiracy by Rupert Murdoch and Breitbart news-or a shady cabal in hoc to Vladimir Putin. PM May did not even want Brexit and the referendum verdict was not 'caused' by sinister counter-elites or propaganda.

Certainly, the British media had a role. Yet the same media once was courted successfully by the very pro-European and Atlanticist PM Tony Blair. If anything the pathetic level of public debate that accompanied the British referendum on the EU was the consequence of a politics degraded by years of spin.

The Iraq War and the serial incompetence of 'liberal' elites in thinking that they both knew best and that 'the people' could be fobbed off only with what they really needed to know has led to a frenzied reaction against organisations such as Reuters and the BBC etc as merely amplifying 'liberal establishment propaganda'.

During the British referendum, every day the media just recycled Remain claims that voting for Brexit would lead to doomsday scenarios. Despite the lies and fraudulent claims of the Leave campaign, people decided they had two forms of manipulation to choose from and decided to stick it to the elites.

The problem was with the useless existing form of politics and the attempt to threaten the electorate with exaggerated claims that if the establishment did not get their way, then disaster would happen. It was seen just as another attempt to manipulate and cajole people to think one way,just as in the Iraq War over WMDs.

'Fake news' and its use comes from the fact fewer and fewer really know what to believe or see as true anymore. Instead, rather than patient scepticism there is wish-thinking and a belief that, even if things are not true, then essentially they are true irrespective of fact checking and reasoned interpretation.

Instead of carefully analysing information and consulting multiple and reliable sources over time, the speed at which information is coming out and is being released-or leaked-has led to 'information wars' : what power wants or demands is set to shape the news agenda in accordance with what people 'want to know'.

What people want to know can be determined by 'Googling' and by almost by directing themselves as sovereign consumers of information to websites that provide them with only such facts as they want to believe as true. Such is the disillusionment with the 'MSM' after the Iraq War, that it is just seen as necessary to resist manipulation.

By the time facts have been checked, the original kneejerk panic reaction to get information will have passed.Yet the online group or organisation-such, for example, as Breitbart which got its 'facts' and interpretations out first could well shape the agenda and way in which people remember in retrospect certain events.

The allegation made by President Trump that Obama wiretapped him simply might not have time to be investigated while he throws another unsubstantiated allegation out at the political opposition. But while the opposition keeps accusing him of being a Kremlin plant, Trump can claim that all politics is 'just dirty' and like that.

Throughout the 2000s conspiracist thinking flourished. Where once a figure such as David Icke was laughed at for his crazy predictions and being laughed at on the BBC's Terry Wogan show , he went on to become a global celebrity who started sell-out talks in London by those eager for an 'alternative news'.

Alex Jones with his InfoWars in the US represented the trend towards exploiting and amplifying paranoia and conspiracist thinking. Trump appeared on the Alex Jones show to make clear he knew there would be conspiracies to stop the outsider getting in to power. He will play with the idea the establishment are 'out to get him'.

From outlandish accusations that Obama wiretapped his office, Trump would no doubt have no problems with promoting the idea-or at least insinuating it-that there could well be a plot or conspiracy to 'take him out' of office through assassination, not least as the dangers he poses might actually have opponents wishing it.

The growing problem it is not just the Trumpists playing the conspiracy game. Supposed 'liberals are doing it too. The FBI is looking into the 'Russian connections' of 'Trump's Team'. Protesters wanting Trump removed are spouting 'as fact' that Trump is a Kremlin agent or even that Russia occupies the White House.

Trump benefits from the environment where nothing seems true or, in politics, where other politicians are mostly just lying. People, therefore, can have belief in the necessary strong man who will do what is needed to put things basically right again. This is why the Russian conspiracy theory is so dangerous for Trump's opponents to use.

It could be that Trump has business contacts or interests which clash with his role as President. He needs to be challenged on this. But trying to whine about the election result as one thrown or determined by the Kremlin just makes politics about whose conspiracy theories a person as news consumer wants to believe.

Clinton lost because she was a lame candidate to put up against Trump in the circumstances. Russia did not install Trump. The American people did. There is a new disturbing mood that facts are less important that creating a new reality based on a belief that things, even if not true, are essentially so if they can be believed.

Democrats and Anti-Trump Republicans are having to promote the Russian conspiracy theory to rationalise their case against Trump ( they can't say the people were foolish ). and because they are struggling to comprehend a frightening new reality. There is not much hope when politics becomes openly one of competing manipulations.

The real danger of this 'strategy' is that it plays into Trump's 'narrative' that because he wants to do what the people actually want, free from 'political correctness, from building that wall to bombing the shit out of ISIS, the sulking and evil sinister 'liberal establishment is out to get him and remove the people's choice.

How an Infantile Leftism Helped Cause President Trump and the Rise of the Alt-Right.

Opposing Trump is going to be tricky in an increasingly post-literate age based on TV, image and people with limited attention spans. People are less and less interested or capable of reading what is actually written in longer articles or bothering to check facts and alternative sources. Consumers want instant views as news.

The Internet has magnified this tendency. Instant news can be disinformation and people choose the news that suits them and claim those that do not 'have an agenda'. Anxiety levels are up and the left has too many shouty types who are more into dehumanising their enemies instead of countering opponents.

In fact, aspects of the leftist or liberal opposition are doing Trump's work for him with their crude slogans and arrogant self righteousness. Some are principled and focused but the Internet has spread intolerance and hatred and magnified it. The media has not helped this by giving too much space to identity politics and faux outrage.

The alt-right have now colonised identity politics for themselves and, with the idea of consumer choice, Trump's tactless and fact less emotive statements and accusations are identified with by those who feel they were neglected and constantly called bigots for expressing opinions that seem reasonable.

The Johnathan Pie satire on Trump's victory, claiming that it was a consequence of 'political correctness' and 'shouting people down' and saying 'you can't say that', really nailed the contribution identity politics made to Trump's victory. It's not enough to reason or argue: power is just the ability to impose oneself over other oppressors.

Consequently, polemical battles have become ones where the 'debate' is about 'framing the opponent- as-enemy' through manipulating language categories. If a person complains about 'political correctness', the offended one reinterprets 'political correctness' to really mean 'decency' and so the user is evil and 'racist'.

Part of the wider problem is the age of narcissism and 'being seen' with slogans that are resisted in so far as they try to force others to have their thinking done for them. 'Hope Not Hate' is one stupid example of an organisation that has as its name a slogan that implies if a person has no 'hope' in the way they demand, he must therefore 'hate'.

Once more there are then issues with 'Islamophobia'. It would seem Hope Not Hate has far more of a problem with white supremacists or those against the EU-such as UKIP-than with Islamist fanatics because the latter might not always be white and so the fear is of being 'racist' in focusing on them too much.

The problem with this approach, apart from its increasing obsolescence, is that Islamism causes far much more consternation to people in Britain than UKIP whose members at least do not threaten to murder and kill other British citizens because of who they are, that is, because of their very identity as 'enemies'.

The fringe-right has learnt. Every attempt to ban or remove comments from online paper commentary sections for being 'offensive' was a potential vote for Trump. Every attempt to shut people up for having an opinion on Islam created a meaner mood. Now too many have thought there is a conspiracy to destroy them.

Trump is the consequence. Where large numbers of people online can be dehumanised and smeared, rather than any attempt being made to reason or appeal to the better angels of human nature, the far- right and Bannon's Breitbart have proved able to spin this as part of an attempt to ensure silence and shame where there should be outrage.

Bizarrely, therefore, the idea that 'silence is complicity' and that there needs to be mass resistance against 'the establishment' has been taken from the radical left into a position increasingly dominated by the far-right. 'We the people' becomes a slogan to take back control and the right to be who we are from weak 'liberals' and sinister leftists.

One example of that can be found in the popular Youtube videos of former 'alternative comedian' Pat Condell who started off as a 'New Atheist' condemning religion in the 2000s to an increasingly strident opponent of Islam, Muslims and 'Multicultural Madness'. Political correctness can induce pathological reactions.

Whether such reactions as Condell's evolution from a trendy leftist comedian to a fervent UKIP supporter and Trumpist was just out of a desperate desire to reverse the rot and blast away the politically correct trying to shut down debate or whether he was 'always secretly far-right' is mostly pointless speculation.

What is clear, however, is that legions of anti-war activists in the 2000s are at fault too. They claimed Britain had a terrorist attack coming as a direct consequence of foreign policy 'imperialism' alone and that to see any connection with 'Islam' as 'racist Islamophobia' contributed this by conflating race with culture with religion.

This reaction only made it possible for a number of people who feared 'political religion' or 'radicalised Islam', whether they supported the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars or not, to claim the left, as represented by the StWC, Respect and radical Labour MPs such as Jeremy Corbyn, were both weak, apologetic and indulgent of terrorism.

The big problem as a consequence is that distinguishing between genuine hatred of Muslims because Muslims, as opposed to criticism of certain aspects of Islam as a religion or else opposition to intolerant Islamist ideologies, has become so muddied and mixed up that a universal atmosphere of paranoia based on confusion and fear welled up.

In Britain, cynical New Labour politicians after 2001 were prepared to conflate the 'war on terror' with evil everywhere in the Middle East that could threaten 'us' at home or-increasingly in the US to the homeland-and so aligned with President Bush as created the increasingly invasive surveillance and security state.

'The War on Terror' was one designed to manipulate fear and increase paranoia to justify 'intervention' abroad. At the same time doing nothing, in fact making worse, the very security situation in the Middle East that would lead to a growth and extension of zones of failed states where Islamist jihadis could flourish and train.

The fact that the media would fix upon 'Attacks on the West' and the role of Western-born Muslims as jihadists was bound to create fears about a new 'enemy within' prepared to flow across increasingly porous and continental wide open borders within the EU. The collapse of Syria and the migrant crisis of 2015 created alarm and panic.

The fact that nation-state hard borders started making a return was denounced by leftists as 'racism' at exactly the time where people in the West felt great anxiety about the Islamist threat and ISIS terror attacks. It was that mood which demagogues such Trump and Farage were able to exploit to push for electoral victory.

The idea that any attempt to enforce borders was 'racism' perfectly complemented Trump and the Far-Right's contention that there was a deliberate conspiracy to destroy the West by feeble-minded 'multi-culti leftist' elites who wanted to create something akin to the old dreams of global communism through global neoliberal capitalism.

The new term or populist meme for this was 'cultural-Marxism'. In turn this meant that 'racism' was just a scare term to delegitimise those who wanted to preserve nations from destruction and disintegration through proper controls on immigration. That this could in fact have any plausibility was partly the fault of liberal-leftists.

So in the US in 2017 there are significant numbers of Trump voters who no longer think that 'racism' as an accusation has much meaning left. That benefits real white race supremacists but it has also been accepted that 'racism' means hatred of whites by non-whites basing their policies on race baiting and race obsessions.

Stephen Bannon's Vision : The Clash of Civilisation Against Internal and External Forces for Barbarism.  

“A new chapter of American greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation. And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp. What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit”-President Trump

Travel bans designed to 'stop Muslims' from entering the US and a wall to keep illegal Mexican migrants out could be defended because the only possible opponents to Homeland Security could come from whining 'politically correct' elites who put their own obsessions and neuroses before the first job of government-security.

In fact, one of the purposes of such innovations as the first Trump travel ban was to arguably to create a 'shock event' which would draw out more hysterical protesters and set the aggressive tone for the new Presidential era in which further security measures might be needed to defeat internal enemies 'effectively' aiding external ones.

There have already been moves in several Republican dominated states, such as Arizona, to ban protests, ones which could start to be extended towards those which are designed to disrupt executive actions such as deportation of illegal migrants. Outlawing protests would be a stage too far at present while protesters are so useful to Trump.

Eventually, however, it would appear a new age of authoritarian surveillance states based on tight border control, involving Israeli style huge concrete walls, watchtowers and checkpoints could be arising. Just as Israel has forged a new militarist democracy, increasingly akin to Sparta, so too might its main ally follow its model.

Bannon has taken an interest in Israel as a frontier-settler state beset with Islamic jihadi enemies and creeds of radical Islam that necessarily mean war. 'Radical Islam' has the convenient flexibility as a term that can mean any 'Islamic state' or place where terrorist threats exist so long as it does not mean those who back them in the rich Gulf States.

To that extent Trump's administration has reaffirmed unstinting support of Netanyahu's Likudist dominated Israel and unconditional defence of the interests of the Gulf States, most obviously Saudi Arabia, by gearing up for potential conflict with Iran. This would most certaintly lead to a revival of jihadi power in Syria and Iraq.

The travel bans could indeed be seen as a security measure if the idea is an apocalyptic one in which civilisational conflict between the West and Islamic states are to be welcomed as the pretext simply to secure oil supplies where necessary and confirm and deepen the enmity felt towards the USA anyway and so to shut out Muslim migrants.

Protecting the West from migratory flows of Muslims would become as much a question of militarising borders as of ruthlessly securing resource interests. This is the precise meaning of Trump's otherwise absurd assertions about 'taking the oil'. To help install dictators and client regimes and to eschew 'democracy promotion'.

The entire underlying thrust of the Trump Presidency is to 'Make America Great Again' by going back to the 1980s when the USA under Reagan was a more successful capitalist superpower on the cusp of defeating the Soviet Union and which had not ceded so much political and economic power away to other future rivals such as China.

Back then, the USA simply was not interested in trying to solve the internal problems of states in the Middle East but pursued a realpolitk strategy against the Soviet Union. The same should be done in 2017 against the Great Powers contending for rival control over strategic regions and oil resources: that means Iran and China.

Iran is on the travel ban list is ostensibly because it is a 'state sponsor or of terrorism'. The reality is that Saudi Arabia is far more so a funder of extreme Sunni jihadist militias in its proxy war. The aim really is to provoke a hardline reaction in Tehran and justify the general 'narrative' of a confrontation with the forces of 'radical Islam'.

The difference is that Trump has extensive business interests in Saudi Arabia and because its considered a major ally and market for lucrative arms deals. The Saudi bombardment of Yemen and killing of civilians is of no consequence : only operations to take out Al Qaida, which has been supported by Saudi Arabia, are.

Wars that kill, destabilise and cause refugees, as well as the consequences of global heating in causing famine and war are bound to create huge migratory flows from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Horn of Africa northwards. Trump is utterly indifferent and the only task is simply to create harder borders while using harder force.

In an apocalyptic worldview such as Bannon's, though officially climate change is a scam, any ruse or exaggeration is justified that acts as a pretext to defend Western Civilisation against inevitable migrant invasions and to marginalise and destroy the power of human rights advocacy in preparation for this new era of survival.

The US following and upholding the post-war architecture of the UN and human rights is considered a weakness that cannot be afforded any more so the 1951 Refugee Convention most likely will be under attack under Trump. A new time of crisis emerges, the winter of civilisation in which new authoritarian leaders are needed.

Bannon takes this from Oswald Spengler's bleak vision of a life-and-death struggle,where civilisation is held together at the end only through a new 'Caesarism'. Bannon has seen Trump as the practical vehicle through which a return to an Edenic vision of the US of the Pax Americana after World War Two and under briefly revived Reagan.

Spengler wrote in Germany in the catastrophic wake of the Great War. For the US, as Trump has emphasised, it has lost both the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars and been overtaken by China. As with Germany after the war, it appears the rightful primacy of the globe's most economically advanced nation has been betrayed by liberal elites.

In Decline of the West, Spengler predicted,
'...in this century blood and instinct will regain their rights against the power of money and intellect. The era of individualism, liberalism and democracy ,of humanitarianism and freedom is nearing its end. The masses will accept with resignation the victory of the Caesars, the strong men and will obey them'.
On the face of it, such bleak and gloomy Germanic prognostications in the 1920s would appear to have little in common with America's image of itself as having an open, optimistic and voluntaristic, as well as intensely individualistic culture. No US politician could ever claim that 'freedom is coming to an end'.

But, curiously, Trump rarely emphasised freedom in any of his speeches whereas Presidents Reagan and George Bush Senior and Junior has speeches peppered with the word. Trump's inauguration speech did not mention freedom so much as transferring 'power' to the 'people', ending the 'carnage' and fulfilling their 'dreams'.

Bannon's spin on Spengler's concepts applied in an American context have it that the successful materialism created by the Judeo-Christian West was forged by a spiritually superior culture that was victorious against the Nazi and Soviet atheist totalitarian challenges through victory in a 'great war' between 1941 and 1945.

This moralised capitalism compares to the debased form of  "crony capitalism" and vulgar material that developed as the consequence of two factors. Firstly, the rise of hippie baby boomers in the 1960s and 1970s as “the most spoiled, most self-centered, most narcissistic generation the country’s ever produced.”

Secondly, the new secular pluralist elites who at first embraced political radicalism, as witnessed in the cultural revolution and anti-Vietnam activism, later went on to promote the destruction of a culture rooted in Christianity and pride in Western values in favour of a rootless and rapacious neoliberal capitalism.

The 'Davos Set' and the neoliberal elites, as hideously represented by the Clintons from the 1990s, outsourced American jobs, enriched itself through globalisation and favoured the destruction of the cultural identity of Middle America, importing cheap labour to drive down wages while lauding progress and 'diversity'.

The abstract and spiritually empty 'rationalism of the Megalopolis', as Spengler put it, lies with these new makeshift trendy ideas that are aimed at destroying national religious traditions of Judeo-Christian folk traditions and identity in order to pursue a sickly vision of a globalist world that is destined to end in bloody failure.

The power of this creed lies in the fear and increased apartness of 'Middle America' from the multicultural fringes of the cities of the eastern and western seaboards of the USA. The 'outward' looking America is loathed by those in the deeper heart of America who feel left behind and yet who once 'won the West'.

Bannon's vision, in this sense, is only entrenched by the way infantile forms of leftist and activist types do seem to pose as the enemies of all borders and all 'older' American national culture in favour of a 'we are the world' posture that feeds into the conspiracist idea that radical protesters are 'paid agents of globalists'.

'Reclaiming the Future' for America from the 'Regressive Left', 'Globalists' and China. 

Bannon's creed, as espoused by Trump when he's told to read scripts out, is a secularised form of the old religious concept of The Fall, one away from a Golden Age that becomes all the more powerful in its uncritical hold over minds when smug progressive types try to pretend that nothing was actually better in the past than in 2017.

Increasingly, 'anti-racism' stances based on race, class and imperialism left over from the 1960s and which regard all criticism of Islam as 'racist' and part of a strategy of power and domination by 'hegemonic white males', preferably patriarchal ones, look more than ideologically intransigent: they look absurd, outdated and obsolete.

Moreover, the presumed dominance of these leftist attitudes-one much exaggerated-over the institutions of the US and Britain, is being used to justify the infiltration instead of a right wing, even far-right, counter-strikes on these institutions in order to remove their hegemony and to impose one more suitable in the interests of security.

Contested terms are being taken up and used in rhetorical wars. 'Regressive left'  is deployed to refer by Breitbart to those liberals and leftists who, through their naivety ,stupidity, self-hatred and perverted desire to prostrate themselves before the world for white guilt are prepared to let endless numbers of migrants in.

This is referred to by Trumpists and UKIP as 'cultural marxism'. The use of 'racist' to apply to those who criticise open borders and mass migration is now simply batted away as an ideological construct that represents their fanaticism and our moderation. Identity politics on both sides is becoming pathological and polarising.

'Regressive liberal' or 'left' in 'alt-right' terms can mean a 'reactionary' facilitator who not only is soft-headed but also a danger to national and public security by importing huge numbers of sentimentalised underdogs who are considered to have very often primitive and vicious attitudes towards women and may well extol jihad.

Connected to this idea of The Fall and forthcoming apocalypse is the idea Bannon has from the novel by Jean Raspail's 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints in which a huge migrant invasion destroys Western Civilisation. Bannon made a direct comparison to the migrant crisis of 2015 and this nightmare narrative now unfolding in real time..

The book is said to be racist in its depiction of global overpopulation and the decision of resentful Third Worlders to swarm 'like a river of sperm' into a placid and comfortable Europe ( France ) due to their fecundity and the idea that without wealth redistribution, the movement of Third Worlders north was a means of direct action.

The novel, as praised as by Bannon, is a favourite of Breitbart because it emphasises the paralysis and weakness of those Westerners too naive and paralysed by white guilt to do anything to defend their borders, wanting only to feel good about themselves, while growing number of migrants jump on the bandwagon to force their way in.

Raspail was a traveler and fascinated by how ancient civilisations become overcivilised and so incapable of ensuring their own physical survival against more vigorous, if less civilised, intruders . They consequently fell because lacking the necessary ruthlessness to defend themselves against growing incursions from outside.

The Camp of the Saints was said by Raspail to be a parable and it could be considered a sort of dark literary 'thought experiment'. It is clear for Bannon, however, that it is a prophecy of what is happening and will happen over time unless defenders of the West start developing the necessary brutality to block migration.

In Bannon's scheme of things, migration from poorer 'Third World' nations, especially the Muslim part is part of an invasion that will require the response to become more militarised. As in the Camp of the Saints, the West loses not so much because of the migrant hordes but because of the internal guilt ridden facilitators.

In particular, Raspail's novel shows the 'End of the West' is due to a failure to win a civil conflict with hippies and humanitarians, where not being brutal enough in suppressing those wanting to 'do the right thing' and so enabling a catastrophe that ends up in the leftists being marginalised and cast aside too by the invaders.

'We just want to help' and 'have empathy' would seem to be mortal weaknesses on the one hand: on the other, they are seized up by those cultural revolutionaries and embittered crypto-communists who could not get their way in the 1960s in getting global revolution and so believe mass migration is one way of fighting for social justice.

In the place of humanitarians, quaint relics who might 'mean well, Breitbart propaganda has created the figure of the 'SJW', the Social Justice Warrior, the one who wants to fight his own civilisation in order to throw open the benefits that should be for the successors of those who created it and not open to just anyone from anywhere.

SJWs could be rather like The Fish in the flawed but interesting dystopian film Children of Men who are active in wanting to 'Let Them In' and fight the deportations of 'illegals'. No longer are those wanting open borders and claiming 'No Human is Illegal' just sentimental idealists: they are terrorists that need to be destroyed.

The 'Regressive left' could well be intended as a term referring to those on the far-left who make excuses for 'reactionary Islamic' ideas in the name of 'anti-racism'. The term has been coopted by Breitbart to mean those who are performing a deliberate disintegrative role in society, weakening the West ready for a Chinese global takeover.

In Raspail's work, on the collapse of the West China immediately invades Russia. In the 1970s, China had the largest population growth and its population could well start to grow again one the government fears its 'greying' as a consequence of material prosperity and the one-child policy having their effects since the 1980s.

Bizarrely, despite Bannon regarding China as the existential enemy of Western Supremacy enabled by the sinister neoliberal globalisers which outsourced manufacturing jobs there, he could also think China has definite advantages over the USA precisely because its disregard for human rights makes it stronger and capable of survival.

China has no qualms in boosting its population by considering subsidies for native Chinese births or in settling frontier territories such as Tibet, taken at the time the PRC was founded in 1949, just as the USA did in the nineteenth century when it started on its path to become the strongest industrial state and so a great world power.

China also became the second largest economy. For Bannon, it's poised to surpass the USA by clamping down on domestic 'disharmony' and protesters wanting Western style 'freedoms' that would have created disorder and stymied the creation of a successful capitalist superpower, albeit one that remains a potentiallly hostile 'communist' state.

In this sense Bannon is, as he claims, 'Leninist'; the only way to revive the state and economy is to ramp up state power to destroy domestic traducers of the American Way, to seize state institutions, purge them ruthlessly of cultural marxists and regressive liberal-leftists. Then the nativist genius of real Americans shall flourish again.

In a perverse sense, freedom as conceived by Bannon is liberation from leftist dogmas and dominance, ones that have conspired to destroy the American spirit and hand over global power to China and a feckless degenerate elite that facilitated this transition and allowed US economy and society to be hollowed out.

Bannon's biological concepts imply that information wars, using Breitbart as a template, can generate the necessary new memes and change and shape consciousness away from the unhealthy ones that have poisoned America and led to the rise of aparasitic finance capitalism which makes nothing real and creates decadence and demoralisation.

The problem is that there is a degree of plausibility in Bannon's vision of a US that lacks real productive powers, that is in civic disintegration and full of deindustrialised wastelands in which unemployed Americans in the rust belts and the declining white middle class can all believe the system is stacked against them.

At such a time, the supposedly 'left wing' obsession with identity politics in the US and in the UK,  the 'race relation industry', the constant demonisation of whites and 'their privilege', not least when coming from middle class university students, is almost a gift to the 'alt-right': now the real victims are the excluded whites.

The perceived decline of the white males, harangued nevertheless as still all having disproportionate power because of who and what they are, has led to a nasty reaction from a section of them who have nothing to lose but by turning to the 'alt-right' and to feel liberated and good about themselves faced with the prospect of destroying enemies.

There is a groundswell of resentful pyschopathology that Trump and Bannon could now tap into directly and use to justify turning towards a war with radical Islam, the need for a trade war and even military confrontation with China and against the internal enemies that empowered those who clearly aim to ruin their lives and degrade them.

Fantasies of violence-smashing puny little placards with their soppy platitudes and aggressive banalities , punching activists in the face and shooting those who clog the smooth working of Trump's border patrol and deportation officers-could well be lived out as part of Trump's 'impossible dream' that is destined to be realised by ultra-hard power

A collective purging of humiliation through violence against what are considered termite level SJWs could well be on the cards. The US election of 2016 that led to Trump's victory was dominated by violent clashes, one Trump as commander of the auditorium and tough leader played on to show how he could expel troublemakers.

Keeping the folks safe and secure from unwanted intruders, agents of chaos and harm was a theme Trump's style of campaign played on. In short, there is a new hunger for the President of ruthless action who is cruel enough not to care about using brutality and violence to protect to crush and terrorise 'SJWs'.

The media-entertainment catchphrase from Trump's hit show reality TV show The Apprentice-"You're Fired"-could take on a sinister new aspect. Some Republicans have even called for violent protesters to be shot as were the students at Kent University in 1970. The USA could be heading towards becoming a violent authoritarian state.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Antisemitism and 'Anti-Imperialism'

'The commonplace idea that racism expresses relations of power too often leads to the belief that it expresses only that. But racism can inform acts of resistance and solidarity as well as domination.'
The evident truth in David Feldman's comment has been ignored by certain forms of 'anti-racist' discourse for years, as obsessed as it is with the idea that racism is the mere outcome of imperial power relations. As Orwell might have recognised, hostility towards Israel and so Jews is actually a form of 'transferred nationalism'.

In the period especially leading up to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and until 2011, 'anti-war' activists in Respect and Islamist influenced groups all coalesced to link the unrelated theatre of conflict in Palestine with that in Iraq. The reason, quite simply, was hatred of the US because it supported Israel.

As Malise Ruthven pointed out in A Fury for God, Islamist solidarity worked in a largely negative way. The 'explanation' for the chaos in 'the Muslim World' was laid wholly at the feet of 'the West'. The outbreak of the war in Syria proves the sectarian struggle has longer roots that preceded and exceed the impact of the West.

The disastrous invasion of Iraq , of course, did create the implosion of the Iraqi state and the rise of sectarianism. To an extent, the US colluded with and backed Shia militias to defeat Sunni militant in regions that would subsequently come under ISIS control. But it did not create Sunni-Shia antagonisms.

The vast 'explanation' for all the ills of the Middle East and the terror threat which blames Israel and Mossad fits into an older antisemitic pattern. Even the brutal sectarian struggle in Syria is seen, in paranoid fashion, as the work of Israel, irrespective of the overwhelming evidence it has had little role in Syria.

The need to believe Israel is responsible for everything that is wrong in the Middle East and for 'causing' the the terror threat is caused by a number of neuroses rationalised into a political credo. One is that the problems faced by the West in the face of terrorism could be 'stopped' if Britain stopped supporting Israel.

Such criticism of Israeli in its often brutal military response to the issue of Palestine and Gaza is a criticism of a state policy. One problem with antisemitism is that it has been 'weaponised' as a polemical means to destroy the credibility of those with legitimate criticisms of Israeli state policy, Likud nationalism and illegal settlements.

History is being weaponsed by many states in their memory wars, ones that can use victimhood to promote propaganda that rationalises current power political struggles. This is done not only by states but also by sectarian fanatics in the Middle East, by Saudi Arabia and Iran and by those blaming the West for everything.

Things Can Only Get Worse

'Believe that things will get better, for the excellent reason that they have always done so'. Simon Jenkins
They do until they don't. History is cyclical and Progress is a myth. Europe was spared war only because of the balance of terror created by nuclear weapons and the shift towards Cold War proxy conflicts elsewhere. The Middle East is descending in to a potential regionwide conflagration and Saudi Arabia could collapse soon.

The consequences of the rupture in global oil supplies for an already increasingly fragile world economy would be devastating. Across the world, the material progress Jenkins lauds is based on environmental devastation and is causing accelerating climate change. It is also creating geopolitical competition over access to resources.

Even before Trump was elected President, the complicated wars in the Middle East and tensions in Eastern Europe and East Asia were difficult for Obama to handle. The nuclear weapons threshold was being diminished by both NATO and Russia. A completely inexperienced administrations could well mishandle these crises.

The potential for devastating conflicts over resources and mass democide through wars over water and food is likely. The wars in Syria and Ukraine are partly about rivalry over gas pipeline routes between East and West. Developed consumer societies require profligate energy use, so energy security is another factor for instability.

The Failure of Anti-Trump Protesters.

'A banner reading “Build bridges not walls” has been draped across London’s Tower Bridge as part of a series of events across the world aimed to protest against Trump’s presidency. Beside the British parliament, protesters draped banners saying “Migrants welcome here”
Written early January 2017, before Trump entered the White House.

The appearance of banners such as "Love Trumps Hate" or " Build bridges Not Walls" are guaranteed to help shore up support for Trump. Ordinary citizens are simply fed up with being shouted at by trendy progressive types who ooze smug self-righteousness and just 'know' they are Correct and any opponent is Evil.

Like it or not, Donald Trump was elected President. The task is is to hold his power to account instead of prejudging it even before he gets into the White House. Certainly, there are real reasons to be concerned about his position on climate change and towards China, as well as with his temperament and authoritarianism.

The problem with the opposition to Trump and sections of the 'liberal left' was defined by Irish writer Michael Foley who nails the problem with 'identity politics' thus in his superb The Age of Absurdity 
“The 1970s was the decade of liberation, of anger at injustice and demands for recognition and rights. But over time, the demand for specific rights degraded into a generalized sense of entitlement, the demand for specific recognition into a generalized demand for attention and the anger at specific injustice into a generalized feeling of grievance and resentment.The result is a culture of entitlement, attention-seeking and complaint.”
In essence this form of self-righteous protest is putting people off  dealing with the many real challenges the US and the globe faces. People who need to be persuaded are being alienated by these sorts of protesters with their silly self-important sloganeering such as 'Love Trumps Hate' and 'Build Bridges Not Walls'.

Complicated problems require reducing them to ways that communicate their importance in plain English and using reasoned debate to defeat opponents and demagogues. Not infantile slogans that have been rightly called 'virtue signalling'. It's just part of the same decay of democratic discourse as Trump represents.

Slogans are ways to do people's thinking for them and this simply is not going to work any more as enough citizens have had enough of them and soundbites. "Migrants Welcome" is essentially a meaningless statement. There are, in fact, borders, and so obviously not all migrants everywhere could or should be welcomed.

However, as a way of convincing those concerned about the perceived lack of control over migration and terrorism, of a world that seems ever more terrifying and dangerous, a blanket statement on behalf of everybody by a vociferous group of protesters is bound to be worth a great many votes for authoritarian populists.

When people see 'Migrants Welcome' banners, it increases their anxiety levels and that then leads to the impression that not only are the protesters wrong but also that their views, which are supposedly 'establishment', are actually going to mean their lives and lifestyles are endangered by such people for very obvious reasons.

Migrants are those that migrate.They may be refugees or they maybe just economic migrants deciding they are not much concerned with old fashioned things such as borders. Yet realistically borders are going to remain and be enforced. Moreover, all migrants are not welcome as some may indeed well be terrorists or pyschopaths from war-torn lands.

The implication of the slogan is that those who do not agree mean that 'all migrants are unwelcome' and that would clearly indicative something is fundamentally evil and horrible about them. In essence, these slogans are meant to get rid of nuance and only end up contributing to further polarisation and division.

Then there is 'Love Trumps Hate'. It is simply not true that 'Love Trumps Hate'. One could say it ought to, but as an empirical observation is it not true. Plus some of the most intolerant and pyschopathological movements in history, led by utopian fanatics, believed in love triumphing over hate-through extirpating the haters.

The philosopher Alan Watts was accurate when he wrote of some of the anti-Vietnam protesters in the 1960s that 'they hate the hating of hatred-three instead of one'. Much of this protest is a way of saying 'look how much better I am than so many others'. At another level it is often connected to hatred for Western societies ( 'oikophobia' )

Those preachy about love are often incredibly self-righteous and for reasons often connected more to spiritual oneupmanship. 'Hate' means, in practice, could mean believing in border controls or it could mean forced deportations or a war against Muslims or a new Third Reich' ; it's so vague as lack any concrete meaning.

'Hate', in other words, could mean truly abhorrent policies and attitudes that are expressed or else it could mean simply mean those who want less immigration or who do not want completely open borders. It could mean those who think that Islamism, if not Islam or certainly all Muslims, is a real problem.

'Love' could mean, in reality, agreeing that 'we are always right' ; those who disagree are 'the bigots'. 'Bigot' has increasingly taken the function of meaning something akin to 'heretic' as opposed to a person who, despite all evidence, will never change his mind is is animated only by bad anger and hatred.

The idea of the figure of the bigot as heretic means 'if you disagree with me, you are harming this community' and so 'you can't say that'. The desire to forbid those who forbid, to punish those seen as punishers can become part of a new dogmatic orthodoxy in which there is only the power to destroy opponents as enemies.

All in the Name of Love, of course.

Stupid slogans and demagogic politics from authoritarian populists needs to be countered by intelligent arguments that embrace complexity and not by repeating dumb slogans that reveal the protesters are more concerned with their own status, role and egos as protesters rather than in  genuine engagement in complicated issues.

The Donald Trump Presidency is a Reality TV Show

The Donald Trump Presidency is a Reality TV show of the sort that abolishes the difference between fiction and the real. Hollywood looks rather like an outdated American Dream factory these days. Trump appears both like the ultimate director and leading star protagonist of a new era unfolding in real time.

The headlines and attention of the media, as well as controversies, are necessary to generate in order to keep the ratings high. The blitzkreig of executive orders is part of this strategy to polarise and provoke spasms of outrage among 'liberals', those protesters who will spit venom at those who voted Trump.

So the other part of this is to troll the opposition into acting in ways that fit the Trump narrative, that there are winners and losers and that the losers just would be unable to accept his popularity, his victory and his determination to 'Make America Great Again'. They will become the baddies and Trump the goody.

We are seeing government by an entertainment and 'alternative news' agenda. At one level it is terrifying, at another we are all becoming both spectators and participants in the globe's unfolding reality TV spectacle finale. Trump is going to start saying, as in The Apprentice, 'You're Fired' to whole swathes of US institutions.

The trolling is working for the simple reason that the opposition is reacting in ways that serve Trump because it often consists of hysterical narcissists who want mainly to be seen. Trump's next move will be to mobilise his supporters on the streets ( 'we gotta fine crowd of folks out there today people, a real fine crowd').

There is nothing much serious about opposition protests at present.Anyone who has a placard reading 'A Vote for Trump is a Hate Crime" or spouting an inane phrase or dumb slogans such as "Love Trumps Hate" is simply not making a coherent argument or devoting themselves to persuading people why Trump is bad for America.

Much of it is a another mere form of infantile narcissism, the most important aspect of which is 'look at me'. Trump hasn't actually done much yet. When he starts putting specific policies forward with bad effects, especially if there is a drive towards conflict and war,then focused protest is clearly serious and appropriate.

'Make America Great Again'-that's another mere slogan meant to tap into the feeling life in the US was not what once it was, as recently as the 1980s. It's tapping into Reagan era nostalgia and having a 'muscular' and defined role for the US again in contrast to the culture of  'weakness' and 'political correctness'.

Trump himself is living in a 1980s time warp in many ways. Those who feel obsolete and and left behind want to feel safe and secure again. Or have a sense their lives are tied up with a general sense of the US reasserting its power once more, something connected to their lack of it in their own lives as a consequence of neoliberal globalisation.

Certainly, Hollywood cannot compete with this new reality TV and government. Obama's showbiz support meant nothing, its hold over the American mind has diminished and it is becoming obsolete.Who cares what a few establishment luvvies say about Our Donald ? The ordinary folks themselves will become stars of their own show.

February 1 2017

President Trump and the Rise of a New Global Order

Trump's foreign policy is all about 'winning' by whatever means possible. If that means beating ISIS by using carpet bombing, so be it. If it means trying to take on China and compelling it to cave in to US might, that will have be done. Remilitarisation for war assumes a huge global crisis and war shall happen: the focus is reducing Chinese power.

The 'strategy' is to repeat the 1980s again when the US beat the Soviet Union. Communist China is loathed as it's 'communist' and becoming more successful at capitalism in some ways than the US. An arms race would allow 'reindustrialisation'. Arms companies are quite pro-Trump. Russia is 'winning' because considered ruthless.

Trump's entire focus is to return the US to the 1980s when America Was Great. The 1990s and 2000s are considered a period of mistakes and betrayal. Back then there was paranoia about Japan taking over from the US. The 1989 crash put an end to that. China terrifies US nationalists as it is both economically and politically powerful.

Trump's foreign policy will be in continuity with certain underlying agendas. Resource struggles with China in Africa will intensify. Human rights will be considered a luxury for an age of weakness and cause of decline. 'Taking the oil' and minerals, a certain 'neo-realism' will mean hard power and straight business dealings will prevail.

What the US under Trump is not interested in is spreading 'our values': they are not for export and others either cannot 'do' democracy and need dictators, not least the Arabs. Strongmen will be backed: oil access and interests are what matter and the rest is not America's business which is business.

Refugees and migrants from hostile societies are not thought America's problem. That the US helped create the instability from which they are fleeing is a problem caused by 'humanitarian' foreign policies that tried to save the world or do good. America gets no credit anyway for it: being hated but not feared or respected is futile.

The world is shifting towards a new system that will be post-liberal and, indeed, post-Western. The latter was inevitable anyway which is why the former is considered a goal by Bannon and Trump because it means weakness in a new predatory environment in which the strong and ruthless survive and the weak shall perish.

A new age of wars and violence and hard borders is coming, hard borders for those with the will and means to protect themselves from unwanted invasive forces and threats to their way of life. Consumerism means resources must be secured by whatever means necessary. It is what the people really want.

China threatens that with its economic power and growing global dominance in regions previously dominated by the West,such as Africa. In Libya, for example, a deal between Trump and Putin will mean a new dictator General Heftar will be in place and Italy will be protected from migrant incursions: the oil will be secured.

Across that continent,the US will copy the Chinese model of no strings attached when courting their leaders. Arms sales will increase to rival China, resources secured,new weapons tested in various arenas where resources are needed. Freedland ignores the fact this was happening already: Trump will just be more openly ruthless.

The Iraq War, Trump and 'Fake News'.

The Iraq War really was a watershed moment in history in so many ways. The big problem in 2017 , apart from ISIS and the spread of conflict in that region, is the demoralisation of the public sphere, part of the evident decline of the West. Nowhere can that be seen better than in the decline of its media and public discourse.

'Fake news' and its use comes from the fact fewer and fewer really know what to believe or see as true anymore. Instead there is wish thinking and a belief that even if things are not true, then essentially they are true irrespective of those things known as facts which can just be spun this or that way according to bias.

Trump benefits from the environment where nothing seems true or in politics where other politicians are just lying .It means people can just have blind belief in the strong man who will do what is needed to put things basically right again. He appears to stand out as the man who will do 'what the people really want'.

In a sense, Trump's victory represents the ultimate in consumer choice and what Simon Schama calls 'entertainment fascism', though whether Trump really is a 'fascist' is not actually clear. New times require new terms. But certainly it represents despair and a belief that the time for 'over-analysis' must give way to action.

One reason Trump seems 'refreshing' is that he is not Obama, a thinking and analytical President who probably overdid the thinking aloud in public role in order to distance himself from the idiotic George Bush. So instead of carefully spun arguments, there are none from Trump other than giving 'the folks' what they really want.

This is why the daft Russian conspiracy theory is so dangerous for Trump's opponents to use. It could be that he has business contacts or interests which clash with his role as President. He needs to be challenged on this. But it all appears now to be spun as part of a Putin plot to either undermine the US or get it to do Russia's bidding.

Trying to whine about the election result as one thrown or determined by the Kremlin just makes politics about whose conspiracy theories a person wants to believe. Clinton lost because she was a lame candidate to put up against Trump in the circumstances. Russia did not install Trump. The American people did.

'Liberals' or even sane 'conservatives' are having to promote the Russian conspiracy theory to rationalise their case against Trump ( they can't openly say that the people were foolish or deluded ) and because they are struggling to comprehend a frightening new reality they cannot bear and cannot truly believe.
.
The real danger of this 'strategy' is that it plays into Trump's 'narrative' that because he wants to do what the people actually want, free from 'political correctness, from building that wall to bombing the shit out of ISIS, the sulking and evil sinister 'liberal establishment is out to get him and remove the people's choice.

Opposing Trump is going to be tricky in an increasingly post-literate age based on TV, image and people with limited attention spans who are less and less interested or capable of reading what is actually written in longer articles or bothering to check facts and alternative sources. Consumers want instant news and views.

The Internet has magnified this tendency. Instant news can be disinformation and people choose the news that suits them and claim those that do not 'have an agenda'. Anxiety levels are up and the left has too many shouty types who are more into dehumanising their enemies instead of countering opponents.

In fact, aspects of the leftist or liberal opposition are doing Trump's work for him with their crude slogans and arrogant self righteousness. Some are principled and focused but the Internet has spread intolerance and hatred and magnified it. The media has not helped this by giving too much space to identity politics and faux outrage.

The far-right have now colonised identity politics for themselves and, with the idea of consumer choice, Trump's factless and emotive statements and accusations are identified with by those who feel they were neglected and constantly called bigots for expressing opinions that seemed reasonable, at least to them.

The Jonathan Pie satire on Trump's victory was a consequence of 'pc', shouting people down and saying 'you can't say that', really nailed the contribution identity politics made to Trump's victory. It's not enough to reason or argue: power is just the ability to impose oneself over other oppressors and attack their thought patterns as mere pathologies.

The far-right has learnt. Every attempt to ban or remove comments from Online paper commentary sections for being 'offensive' was a potential vote for Trump. Every attempt to shut people up for having an opinion created a meaner mood. Now too many have thought there is a conspiracy to destroy them.

Trump is the consequence.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Poland Under A Black Light -December 2016 and the Resurrected Spectre of a Martial Law.

'Over the past week, the Polish parliament controlled by the Law and Justice (PiS) party passed legislations dismantling the current primary education system, finalizing its overhaul of the country’s constitutional court, and de facto limiting the freedom of assembly. A chaotic night on Friday has both sides of the political conflict accusing each other of a coup d’etat. 

Since then, opposition lawmakers have been occupying the parliament’s main hall. Meanwhile, on the streets of the country’s cities, people have been protesting tirelessly nearly every day. The desperation is palpable: some protesters have been blocking politicians’ cars with their own bodies, while others are camping out in front of the parliament in the middle of Poland’s frigid December.'
  
Poland is in the Middle of an Existential Struggle over the Shape of its Democracy, Quartz , December 21 2016. 

The EU has yet again failed to act to do anything to prevent the slide of Poland towards something akin to Martial Law and a form of dictatorship. Poland was granted another two month deadline to scrap the politicised appointments to the Constitutional Tribunal that has set Poland back on the way to autocracy.

PiS has already simply ignored the EU and thus explicitly broken membership rules as regards preserving an independent judiciary and the separation of powers. The Foreign Ministry replied, in the manner of the most robotic and functionary styles of communique issued under the one party state of the old People's Republic
 "In connection with the appointment by the President of a new President of the Constitutional Tribunal on 21 December, we consider that the political dispute over the Tribunal has been ended. “In the face of these new facts, we consider the European Commission maintaining that there is a systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland is all the more unwarranted. We hope that our explanations will be understood by the European Commission”
This is the way PiS fanatics always end an argument-by a decree that it is sententiously declared over because, morally, they have actually lost the argument and know it. Unfortunately for them, this has dispute only just started. Unless, hoewever, they intend to 'end it' by iron martial law and by using force.

"Objective dialogue" is the usual refrain of these robotic functionaries and it is pure national-communist and Gierek era newspeak. What it means is that other opinions shall be listened to and the reality, as decreed by the new version of the People's Republic, shall not be altered by internal enemies defying its will.

Effectively, PiS is claiming that the political dispute has been ended by its politicisation of the judiciary, an absurd Kafkesque claim in line with the fundamental illogic that defines regime proclaimations, such as that on 21st December where the political protests were declared 'criminal and illegal'.

Indeed, it seems Poland under PiS has taken Kafka's The Trial as a set text as to how to inhabit a shadowy parallel reality where black is white, up is down and where dismantling the rule of law is legal so long as the Chairman of the Party decrees it as being so and his acolytes agree.

"We appeal to the opposition to return to a situation in which it accepts that law is binding," Kaczynski stated in a televisedpress conference along with his closest political functionaries. "We are facing an acceptance of actions that are of criminal character". This is Orwellian doublethink of the first order.

This, despite the fact that Kaczynski claimed that he was merely only an 'ordinary MP' for PiS. Naturally, Beata Szydlo, the supposedly 'official Prime Minister, was sitting to his side at the press conference. President Duda, a partisan PiSite, despite his official ceremonial role, also claimed he wanted to 'mediate'.

This is the usual PiS mechanism of asserting control. They take two steps forward, back down slightly, claim they are 'reasonable' and the opposition is not, while biding their time for the next attempt to chip away at Poland's constitutional democracy and push forward the same illegal agenda once more.

None of the decisions made by the Constitutional Tribunal in the 2016 were ever ratified. They are ratified only when they are officially published and Szydło, under orders from Kaczyński , the real figure in power, refused sign the order to publish them while claiming this was in harmony with new 'legal' norms. 

Events in Poland could end in blood, despite the commonly held belief that Poles would not kill Poles. Once the sinister language of reducing opponents to enemies has taken hold, a nation can become deeply polarised and fearful. Duda's rhetoric about 'real Poles' and those of a 'lesser sort' is part of it.

Deprived on any real enemies, PiS has had to neurotically conjure them up. The Russian threat has been way overblown by them for many years but in 2016 seems plausible.The German threat is not from nationalism but from its dominance of the EU and forcing imposed 'multi-culti' norms on the Polish nation.

PiS and Atavistic Fears.

The EU insistence on mandatory quotas on Poland, though it amounted to a mere 13,000 displaced refugees, hit a nerve: Poland has remained free from terrorism because it has virtually no immigrant communities from Muslim majority nations and until recently felt relatively free from that threat.

The migrant crisis of 2015 deeply unhinged much popular opinion in Poland, where ultranationalists regard as a bulwark against the twin threats of Russo-Bolshevik barbarism and Muslim terrorist migrant hordes aiming to colonise open spaces, not least in a steadily depopulating Poland, especially villages and provincial towns.

The 500+ zl reward for child bearing and the attempt to ban abortion is part of a nativist panic over low birth rates and a consequence of the mass emigration, another aspect of these disturbingly quick social dislocations the lumbering and technocratic EU never thought about in regard to V4 nations.

'Freedom of movement' in practice in 2004 meant mass emigration out as Poland's economy simply had not had the time to redevelop after the half a century of communist economic mismanagement. The failure of neoliberal policies was bound to create anger and a backlash against political liberalism.

The swing towards PiS in the elections of October 2015 reflected the fear of Merkel's botched and mismanaged 'open door' policy to migrants and refugees. But it also reflects the terror some Poles feel at the prospect of Poles, even 'real Poles', being replaced by others as young Poles continue to migrate West.

While many may have regretted voted PiS, and some PiS MEPs have suggested the inner PiS core elites have gone way too far and abused the trust of the Polish electorate, it could be that many will swallow their distate for his regime and trade off freedom for the sake of being completely secure.

But the fear is out of control. One PiS MP even suggested all alien elements within Poland ought to be forced to sign a document expressly agreeing that they accept 'Polish values', as defined by those such as her and the Party, or else face deportation. This applied not just to foreigners but also to Polish 'atheists'.

The Cultural War Against Enemies Within.

This has dovetailed with longer standing angers, grievances and Kaczynski's paranoid cultural battle. An entire nation is, in part, captive to the neurotic monomanias of Kaczynski, that he is Poland and, therefore, was deliberately sidelined from post-Solidarity politics in the 1990s.

PiS regime functionaries are, in a sense, political zombies, the political undead still incapable of moving on from the dark limited confines of national-communism in the 1970s and 1980s into the new light of freedom since 1990, when the Round Table Agreement between Solidarity and the the communists ended the regime.

So all that has happened since the Round Table Agreement is a betrayal, mistake and part of a continued communist regime in a new form. In habiting this bizarre parallel shadow reality, they are incapable of moving on like traumatized victims wanting to haunt those living now, vampires obsessed with vengeance and blood.

So the Solidarity struggle and its post-communist disappointments have morphed into a betrayal of the blood sacrifice of ' real Poles', one that that was never expiated by the blood of the victimisers and their 'collaborators', who now include everyone suspected of being secret Jews or crypto-communists.

This, of course, includes Solidarity hero Lech Walesa who is baselessly accused of being Agent Bolek in the 1970s, a secret communist police agent, as well as numerous others including the maligned former PO Prime Minister Donald Tusk whose father, a Kashub, is accused of collaborating with the Nazis.

In the primitive mindset of such ultranationalists, guilt is collective, just as reward and virtue depends on bloodlines too. a common charge amongst deranged ultranationalists is that Solidarity activist Adam Michnik was a Jew ( 'Adam Hechter' ) who avoided ZOMO attention in the 1981 struggle by wearing a kippah.

PiS has tappen into this by its history wars too, one where Jews are not 'real Poles', though tolerated at best if they behaved themselves, and so any provision of facts about the wartime NSZ partisan movement murdering Polish Jews is to be ignored through lauding them as 'cursed soldiers'.

PiS follows in the footsteps of partisan wartime movements that fought on after the official government-in exile and the AK forces downed arms after the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 against the Nazis and as the Soviet regime moved in to take over a devastated and traumatised nation.

Yet it has tried to position itself as the only official inheritor of the AK and the NSZ militias, the militia formation that was, as Halik Kochanski pointed out in the Eagle Unbowed, 'rabidly antisemitic' and was prepared to turn over Jews hiding in the forests to the Gestapo.

The NSZ also was responsible for low grade ethnic cleansing through use of terror in the closing days of World War Two in order to finish off the job the Nazis had mostly completed for them in the extermination camps in Poland. Its partisans shot dead Jews escaping from Warschau KL  in their uniforms.

One reason for the lauding of the NSZ is that it fought both the Nazis and the Soviet Communist regime and their partisans. The murderous antisemitism is not only to be denied but its very mention, and that of post-war pogroms, conflated with a conspiracy to smear and slander the nation.

So apart from witch hunts against alleged 'collaborators' with communism and Nazism that are faked for political convenience is the attempt to use a manufactured outrage at the crude and insensitive use of the term 'Polish death camps' into a pretext to close down historical inquiry into Polish antisemitism.

The 'logic' behind this is to affect the belief that PiS and the ultranationalists it is prepared to mobilise on the streets are the 'real victims'. So any attempt to point out Polish misdeeds during World War two is another evil demonic plot to destroy its pride and just as much as criticising PiS policies in 2016 is.

Philosopher John Gray noted precisely the connection between the new 'illiberal' or, better, rise of toxic democracies' leading towards greater authoritarianism when he wrote,  in The Age of Hyper-Terrorism, about the connection between it and the attempt to control history and independent scholarship.
'The new Polish regime has gone further, altering beyond recognition institutions that were put in place in the country after the fall of communism. The political independence of the constitutional court, the judiciary and the civil service has been curtailed and pluralism in the media attacked. Echoes of a dark past can be heard in reports that the government is considering stripping Princeton’s distinguished, Polish-born Holocaust scholar Jan Tomasz Gross of the Order of Merit because he has noted the participation of parts of the Polish population in anti-Semitic mass murders during the years of Nazi occupation'. 
Kaczynski is obsessed with fake history and the idea of establishing the idea that the Smolensk Air crash of 2010 was yet another attempt by Russia to murder Poland's political elite and hand it over to collaborators. Tusk, who is actually an educated and professional historian, was absurdly accused of complicity.

The entire empty and barren life of Kaczynski, this horrible and ghoulish little person, is simply one vindictive hate crusade against everyone and everything that has thwarted his fanatical and narrow minded vision of what Poland was, is and will be under the Poland he should have dominated.

Kaczynski lives in an eerie 1986 time warp, unaware of computers, prices in shops etc. Time stopped for him long ago and that makes him dangerous. He is so obsessed with the idea history did not go his and his followers way that those who oppose him are simply to be removed from public life or downgraded.

At another level, the pathological victim and trauma complex embodied within PiS propaganda is politically useful in mobilising all those 'losers' from the post-communist transition. Those who feel victimised by unemployment, poverty and insecure job contracts blame 'the elites' for the scale of the betrayal.

Such disappointed expectations as to what it would deliver, a Poland as it was essentially but free from communist oppression, has given way to the idea that it was all part of a sinister transnational design to destroy the fibre of Polish nation, yet another means to destroy it through stealthier techniques of neo-colonialism.

This paranoid trope is one that unites PiS with Kukiz 15 and other political formation which all hold the they and 'Poland'-for they are Poland, of course-have been held back by mythical communists in a new guise, demonic 'cultural marxists' who repackaged themselves as liberals and the social-democratic left.

Kukiz, a former rock star, is far-right avant garde political activism for 21st century Polish youth, those  alienated by the bleak prospect of emigration or dead end or low salary jobs. 40% recently declared they had though about leaving. Kukiz referred to emigration as effectively another 'extermination' of the Polish nation.

The Smolensk Conspiracy plays its part here in bolstering this credo: the threat posed by PiS 'social justice' crusaders meant that they had to be taken out by a PO and Kremlin plot to destroy the authentic 'real Poles' from public life by plotting to down Lech's presidential plane in 2010.

State of Emergency: The Spectre of Martial Law Resurrected.

The danger is that every manifestation of protest against the PiS regime, including KOD, is going to be seen as an attempt to 'take them out', one reason the shrill PiS functionary Beata Mazurek hysterically claimed that the December protests in the Sejm were part of a plot to 'murder' them.

This is a frightening form of psychological projection: it amounts to claiming that all security precautions , including use of soldiers and national guards should be used to beat off the 'terrorist threat'. As with Erdogan's Turkey, terror attacks are being mendaciously conflated with domestic opposition.

Hence Szydlo's declaration of a state of emergency in the light of using the death of the Polish truck driver in the Berlin Christmas attacks as a pretext to push through security measures which could be used to target KOD and other street protester regarded as 'alien elements' and 'intruders'.

Szydlo has ordered military police to patrol the streets of Polish cities, until January 15 2017. By that time the watered down media laws and restrictions on public assembly could be rammed through as over Christmas PiS has seized control of the Constitutional Tribunal, after Rzeplinski's term ended.

Soldiers from Warsaw, Krakow and Wroclaw will have the power to intervene in criminal matters, to demand identification from members of the public, and to use firearms. No doubt, they can be used to push back protesters from the Sejm, at least to scale up the 'Poland in crisis' mood.

PiS are experts at watching events elsewhere and drawing what they consider 'legitimate prallels'. As France extended its state of emergency' in December, the Berlin Christmas attacks have confirmed the PiS line that it is not doing anything other European nations are not, despite the absence of Islamist threats.

Jarosław Zieliński, her deputy minister of internal affairs, has told the Senate "It has to do with what is happening at the moment in Warsaw; what is happening and has happened at the Sejm". This is proof of PiS linking KOD to 'terrorism' and as part of Kaczynski's accusation of 'criminal attacks'.

The potential for this crisis to escalate into another Ukrainian Euromaidan style winter of protest , as in 2013-2014, should not be discounted. Though not as divided as Ukraine, and without the West-East geopolitical tussle that forged a civil war there, a civil conflict is brewing.

A mass occupation of Warsaw could actually frighten PiS into overresponding. It would be unlikely until later in 2017 once the territorial army has been properly indoctrinated and trained by Macierewicz and his Defence Ministry into a force capable of crushing the 'enemy within'.

A Defence Ministry statement in April 2016 made plain the melding of Poland's volunteer battalions into a reserve army force was about combatting the Russian threat, Muslim intruders and what it referred to as 'anti-state activists'. There is no guarantee it would not be a PiS supporting militia force.

Moves have already been made to grant financial rewards to volunteer battalions which are designed, like the 500+zl bonus, to create a new Catholic fundamentalist and authoritarian-corporatist Poland of heroic mothers and fighters that is united under the 'visionary leader' Jaroslaw Kaczynski.