Thursday, 21 January 2010
The best and most important contemporary philosopher. Modern atheism is simply a inverted thought pattern induced by Christian thinking and that Progress is an illusion, one created by a linear concept of history as opposed to the more convincing ideas of the ancients where history is cyclical and the task of politics is to stave off recurrent evils.
This is an extract proving the terrible cost neoliberal and Us approved "reforms" have had on the Baltic States, far more psychologically destabilising and liable to create social and ethnic tensions in Lukashenko's "social state" which has seen far less of an economic crisis.
Somehow the balancing of political and economic freedom, once held by Christian Democrats, Conservatives, Political Liberals and Social Democrats will need to be revived and gebuilkely plural politics revived
The signs of recession are more noticeable to those who live here in Riga, capital of Latvia – restaurants and coffee shops have lost most of their customers, and construction has practically ground to a halt. Emigration has soared.
Latvia has set a world-historical record by losing more than 24% of its economy in just two years. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that 2010 will be another bad year, with GDP shrinking by another 4%. The Fund forecasts a fall of 30% from peak to bottom, which would surpass the US's economic decline during the 1929-1933 downturn of the Great Depression.
Yet Uldis Rutkaste, an economist who is deputy head of the monetary policy department and advisor to the governor of the Latvia's central bank, told an audience of several hundred people in Riga on Wednesday that the government would continue with its "pro-cyclical fiscal policy." The word "pro-cyclical," which he used, refers to a policy that would be expected to reinforce the downward trend of the economy. This would continue, he said, until wages had fallen further.
It is difficult to imagine a government official in the US, western Europe, or indeed most countries of the world making an argument like this in public. But these are "true believers," and they will stay the course so long as their citizens are willing to accept the punishment.
Sunday, 17 January 2010
When Sikorski tried to boast that sending 11 aid workers and “150,000 USD - the equivalent of three four-wheel drive vehicles - is not a ridiculous sum.” what was clear was that this gesture was just to show solidarity with the Obama administration in the USA.
After all, if Afghanistan is meant to be a war for human rights and not constructing the TAPI pipeline as a means of challenging Russian domination over the supply of Turkmenitani gas, then Poland at least has to look as if it cares.
For some critics mentioning the historical context and Sikorski and other Polish leaders very close adherencve to the Washington vision of liberal universalist revolution dating back to 1776 in which Poles like Kosciuszko fought against the old imperialist Britain is too much.
I wrote something that Maciej Skiba was not happy about on Polskie Radio,
"What Sikorski is indulging in here is using a humanitarian crisis to advance US interests in Haiti, the same former neoconservatives who planned and executed the coup in Haiti in 2004. "
Skiba replies "Seriously? Please state all the evidence that you have gathered?"
The evidence is voluminous and past policies or reducing Haiti to a pliant US supplicant under Sikorski's neoconservative allies are is in total continuity with the policies with the current Obama administration.
It is President Obama who is emoting about the need for a spirited respose to the effects of the earthquake whilst those who usually support going off to Afghanistan and Iraq suddenly have become all isolationist when a crisis develops in "the USA's own backyard".
"You will not be forsaken and I think we all hope that the search teams, food, temporary shelter, and needed medical help can get through the many barriers today to reach the Haitian people". declared Obama.
Yet again the noble intentions are followed up by the squalid reality of US policy in 2009 exploiting the crisis to impose neoliberal "reforms" on Haiti that have signally failed elsewhere on a repeated basis that suggests ideological mania, insanity, pathological greed or, in fact, all of them.
That's why Chavez, Morales et al are gaining in popularity because they reject the policy of placing entire nations into IMF debt schemes that impoverish the people, no matter whether the new government is democratic and not corrupt.
The IMF announced on January 14 2009 that it would be adding $100 million to its current program in Haiti but will naturally take the form of a loan.
Now charity is not necessarily the same as aid but the willingness to give aid is to tie Haiti to the USA and make it dependent.
WASHINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday it will increase Haiti's existing loan program by $100 million and disburse the funds quickly to help the government rebuild from the massive earthquake.So Washington has already decided to intervene in Haiti and that is a fact. This is the same neoliberal policy of creating indebtedness it has used before. It is not a case of whether the USA "does nothing" or "does something". The policies are always in place
"The emergency financing would be provided as an augmentation to the existing IMF-supported arrangement with Haiti," IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said, adding the funding had to first be approved by the IMF board.
Haiti received $1.2 billion debt relief from the IMF and World Bank in June 2009. The new funding is additional debt incurred by the country.
Now the neoconservatives unser Sikorski do not much care at all: they, unlike Sikorski, are out of power, so the most he can offer is token support for the IMF policies that have impoverished Haiti in the past.
This is what Klein means by "disaster capitalism" and it was the same in the 1990s as it is in 2009. Nothing has changed and its for sure that the USA would block Chavez or Cuba from attempiting to help.
Yet the IMF's neoliberal policies are a tool of US control over what it regards as its "sphere of interest"which, in accordance with doublethink, only applies to the evil gangsters in the Kremlin in this post-imperial and post-Cold War world led by the world's last benign Great Power.
Jubilee USA Network tried to be positive about Obama as all liberal worthies have been in buying into the rebranding of the USA from being dominated by "Stupid White Men" to a President who has been coached to act like a personality cloned mixture of Martin Luther King, Morgan Freeman etc a profound beacon unto humanity.
Jubilee USA claims,
The Network also reacted with dismay to news today that the IMF is planning to offer a $100 million loan to Haiti through its Extended Credit Facility (formerly the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility).Jubilee USA has
“Haiti desperately needs money delivered quickly, but the last thing Haiti needs right now is more debt. Loans for disaster relief are totally inappropriate. The international community cannot possibly expect Haiti to pay back a loan for emergency relief in the wake of this disaster,” said Neil Watkins, Executive Director of Jubilee USA.
"called on the Obama administration to take three specific steps as part of its comprehensive response to the Haiti earthquake: (1) Provide massive assistance for relief and reconstruction in the form of grants, not loans; (2) Cancel the rest of Haiti's debt; and (3) Provide Temporary Protective Status to Haitians living in the US".The point about sinking money into 'anarchical' nations that were corruption is rife is irrelevant to why the policy of indebtedness was deliberately foisted in the first place-to project US power in Latin America irrespective of the democratic wishes of the inhabitants of Haiti.
Globally the USA has done this and is doing it now in places like Latvia and Ukraine, all basket cases where neoliberalism in practice has failed miserably, causing more debt and more misery and more potential for political instability.
America Firsters are logically consistent but need to look at the reality of the manner in which universalist rhetoric is a window dressing for the excercise of US global hegemony is something they ignore just to score banal populist points to their supporters.
Patrick Cockburn in The Independent has compared the reaction of Obama's administration to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, though it could be argued that New Orleans is in the USA and obviously the responsibility of the government whose taxes those citizens pay, has some force for this reason.
Whilst the world was concerned with Iraq in 2004 Sikorski had nothing to object to in the USA's support for a coup that brought in the corrupt government who'll just swallow lots of the IMF aid yet again.
As Patrick Coburn remarks also the very NGOs who are there to help Haitians ( i.e the Westerners ) take a large chunk of the aid because their worthy skills at crisis management demand it.
"A sour Haitian joke says that when a Haitian minister skims 15 per cent of aid money it is called "corruption" and when an NGO or aid agency takes 50 per cent it is called "overheads".The privatisation of aid relief, the profitable "shock doctrine" links Afghanistan to Iraq to Haiti now in 2009.
As Cockburn reports,
"The wastage of aid is sky high," said a former World Bank director in Afghanistan. "There is real looting going on, mostly by private enterprises. It is a scandal." Foreign consultants in Kabul often receive $250,000 to $500,000 a year, in a country where 43 per cent of the population try to live on less than a dollar a day.As a post Cold War Cold Warrior Sikorski is not going to have these savages thinking that they can develop national intedependence without the providential hand of US guidance to civilise them step by step.
"None of this bodes well for Haitians hoping for relief in the short term or a better life in the long one. The only way this will really happen is if the Haitians have a legitimate state capable of providing for the needs of its people. The US military, the UN bureaucracy or foreign NGOs are never going to do this in Haiti or anywhere else".The artificial dichotomy between aid, based on sententious declarations of noble enlightened self interest, and charity is a false one.
The nature of the aid, the way it is a tool of US Imperial control and the way is degrades and impoverishes places like Haiti further negates all the best charity work that well intentioned helpers from the US will commit themselves to.
These are just the facts and Sikorski has no interest in Haiti, a creole colony fired by those 'dangerous enthusiasms' of 1789 when it launched the first slave rebellion and attempted in 1790s to apply the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man to black people as well
After all, that radical French revolutionary tradition is explicitly opposed to Sikorski's Anglo-American belief that all such uprisings are necessarily destructive, the Jacobin-Bolshevik tradition of revolution which turn quickly to savagery and killing.
As Cockburn remarks,
"It is sad to hear journalists who have rushed to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake give such misleading and even racist explanations of why Haitians are so impoverished, living in shanty towns with a minimal health service, little electricity supply, insufficient clean water and roads that are like river beds"Well, "racism" is always the white liberals guilt trip that must be sold by liberal journalists maintaining their credibility, but the reality is more the fact that wherever disasters happen the potential for "decivilisation occurs, no matter what race the people there are.
Cockburn has a point though when he writes,
This did not happen by accident. In the 19th century it was as if the colonial powers never forgave Haitians for staging a successful slave revolt against the French plantation owners. US marines occupied the country from 1915 to 1934. Between 1957 and 1986 the US supported Papa Doc and Baby Doc, fearful that they might be replaced by a regime sympathetic to revolutionary Cuba next door.For all the residual leftist sympathy for Cuba, little seems to have been done by the Castro Junta, though Chavez has responded,
Venezuela sent its first aid airplane to Haiti, a Bolivarian National Armed Force's Hercules C-130, with a fifty-strong advance humanitarian aid team on board, on Wednesday morning, after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake leveled the country's capital Port-au-Prince, late Tuesday.That "interference" , of course, has infuriated the Heritage Foundation which has tried to score crude propagands points by claiming ,
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the immediate deployment of the aid team on Tuesday comprised of doctors, engineers, search and rescue specialists, and civil protection officers, as well as urgently needed food, water, medical supplies, and rescue equipment. Chavez said Venezuela would send further aid and supplies
"While on the ground in Haiti, the U.S. military can also interrupt the nightly flights of cocaine to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter the ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola.This exploitation of a humanitarian crisis to score political points is both vulgar and unbecoming of decent people.
This U.S. military presence, which should also include a large contingent of U.S. Coast Guard assets, can also prevent any large-scale movement by Haitians to take to the sea in dangerous and rickety watercraft to try to enter the U.S. illegally.
Meanwhile, the U.S. must be prepared to insist that the Haiti government work closely with the U.S. to insure that corruption does not infect the humanitarian assistance flowing to Haiti. Long-term reforms for Haitian democracy and its economy are also badly overdue.
Congress should immediately begin work on a package of assistance, trade, and reconstruction efforts needed to put Haiti on its feet and open the way for deep and lasting democratic reforms.
The U.S. should implement a strong and vigorous public diplomacy effort to counter the negative propaganda certain to emanate from the Castro-Chavez camp"
Though I'm sure there are lots of neoconservative fanatics in Poland and the USA who see Chavez's aid, as opposed to Spain's $30 million or Poland's $150,000, as part of a "destabilisation campaign" or even as part of the Devil's work.
Pat Robertson seems to think the Haitians brought the earthquake on themselves by rebelling against the French slavemasters,
"You know, something happened a long time ago in Haiti. They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon III [sic] and whatever. They got together and swore a pact with the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you get us free from the French.'Clearly by total lunatic evangelical dolts who cannot do not even know that the slave revolt was against Napoleon I not Napoleon III who came to power half a century later.
True story. ... And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out. ... You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they've been cursed by one thing or another."
Saturday, 16 January 2010
As they edit letters I can't guarantee everything will get in or anything as it might "offend" their general neoliberal corporate grovelling. As a free newspaper dependent on advertising they might want to blot me out just like the balloon blotted everything out.
Let us hope that the call for protecting the unique UNESCO listed qualities of Krakow is considered more important than craven and spineless deferrence to big globalist interests and sense prevails.
Here is the text of the letter, which I hope offers definite proof that I am not and have never been "polonophobic" but have a deep love for Krakow and much affection for a good deal of my friends and acquaintances here !
On returning to live in Krakow on a permanent basis, after having lived here from 1999-2005, I have been disturbed to witness the transformation of a beautiful, though slightly delapidated Renaissance city recovering from years of neglect under the old system, into an increasingly deracinated and far uglier one.
In 2009 Krakow is replete with ugly features that contradict the stipulations of UNESCO's decision to list it as a World Heritage site in a number of ways. UNESCO's Statement of Significance is clear.
"The value of the ensemble is determined by the extraordinary accumulation of monuments from various periods, preserved in their original form, with authentic fittings, which combine to create a uniform urban ensemble in which the tangible and intangible heritage is preserved and nurtured to the present day".
Though some sterling renovation work on old and valued buildings has occured e.g. on Kanonicza and elsewhere the main city throughfares like Florianska and Grodska have been scarred by inappropriate clutter of plastic signage and tacky neon lit kebab shops. The Rynek is draped with advertising hoardings beneath which little restoration work seems to be going on.
The UNESCO Statement of Sigificance is explicit that it is not just a selection of the parts of Krakow's heritage that add up to something that makes it a World Heritage Site but the preservation of the whole in relation to its particulars and the harmonious overall ensemble of the whole.
The UNESCO listing makes it clear that it is not just the "tangible" legacy of Krakow's past role as Poland's Royal Capital and Renaissance trading centre that makes it a World Heritage Site but also the "intangible" , which means not plastering the streets with gaudy neon kebab sign facades and tacky brand logos. I find these changes deeply depressing.
This is why in July 2009 Christopher Gray quite rightly drew attention to the hideous tourist balloon that has loomed and hung over the city and completely dominates the cityscape and utterly detracts from the lovely panorama of "Poland's Oxford", the equivanent of the dreaming spires, that can be viewed from the Wawel, Kazimierz and Lasota Hill in Podgorze.
The stupidity of the response from parochial minded nationalists claiming that a Chris, as a "foreigner", had no right to "tell" people in Krakow how they ought to develop there city was bigoted, parochial and neurotic and curious given that the UNESCO status of Krakow makes its despoliation an international cause for concern.
Christopher Gray, a long term acquaintence of mine, has lived in Krakow for 10 years and has been a member of The Society for the Lovers of the History and Monuments of Krakow (Towarzystwo Milosnikow Historii i Zabytkow Krakowa) for 9 Years and is a permanent resident.
Next, any reasonably educated person knows that Krakow's Renaissance gems were built under the influence of German and Italian craftsmen or actually by them. Veit Stoss was German. The improvements and creation of the Planty were developed by Krakow's Austrian Galician authorities.
The Protect Krakow Heritage campaign group I have now joined forces with is opposed to the despoilation of the cityscape by bad architectural decisions, not only in the historic core but lying just beyond in places like Karmelicka where just down the road from the Carmelite Church is a gaudy Strip Club in ulica Rajska the neigbourhood of the public library.
Recent architectural innovations have been seen the the erection of eyesores like the Hotel Sheraton far too close the Wawel for the obvious motive of maximising profits and not to encourage responsible new architectural developments in harmony with the surroundings.( Above. The Hotel Sheraton, just a few hundred metres from the Wawel Castle )
Many Poles I have spoken to believe the very cynical positioning of Galeria Krakowska,a hideous plate glass and concrete bunker plastered with meaningless plastic brand names, blots out the significance of the Austro-Hungarian period Dworzec Glowny and was a seminal moment in the beginning of the destruction of Krakow's preservation as an elegant mitteleuropean city.
The ripping out and destruction of the elegant Kaplicy Loretańskiej Gardens was a total act of vandalism, as have the process of facadism in which Austro-Hungarian buildings and tenements are stripped, gutted and have their stonework and masonry ripped off to make way for bland, blank and faceless office blocks.
Such renovation is nothing but vandalism dictated by greed and will wholly ruin the sidelong profile of back streets such as Mostawa Street in Kazimierz as it already has started to on Karmelicka, something set to get worse with the building of a ghastly multiplex cinema opposite the Camelite Church.
Vulgar facadism has occurred in and around the Ghetto Heroes Square in Podgorze and the side streets like Ulica Kacik in the vicinity of the repellent Hotel Qubus whose design obliterates and blots out the Austro-Hungaran back street tenements with their careworn and homely charm.( Above the Hotel Qubus in Pogorze)
Indeed in Pogdorze too increasing numbers of Austro-Hungarian buildings are being "renovated" by having their their original fittings ripped off and interiors gutted out as well as having additional office space added, on the "model" provided by the appalling crate like extension mounted on top of 68 Karmelicka Street.( Above :68 Karmelicka Street )
It seems that this deeply Catholic and traditionalist city no longer cares for Pope John Paul II's remark on his beloved city that it was one "in which every stone and every brick is dear to me"
How ironic that the PO and PiS, supposed "conservatives" have no respect for the Pope's wishes in preserving it and in dominating Krakw's government think that a fitting tribute to the Pope is to construct a huge ugly football stadium right next to the Blonia where he gave his epochal speech to Krakow and the Polish nation.
The outrage of attempting to cut down the trees on Blonia on ul. 3 Maja was prevented only by Preserve Krakow Heritage's liason with another group Save the Trees on Blonia (Ratujemy Drzewa na Bloniach) and demonstrates our first victory in one battle which will be a long campaign. But we are here and growing in number, support and strength.
But much is being still lost. Krakow's waning charm is is also seen in the location of the HiFlyer balloon near the Pauline Church and Monastery at Skalka. And in strolling along the Wisla one can now also view another hideous piece of self-advertising kitsch in the form of the "Disco Chimney" at the Bonarka City Centre shopping mall.
The utter stupidity of having this lighted up beacon blazing out jigging multicoloured lights over Podgorze and Plaszow is not only a symbol of the way Krakow is being made uglier but also tasteless in beaming its searchlights in the dark vicinity of where the Plaszow concentration camp was.
The Disco Chimney must be unplugged immediately and this is but one aim of the PKH campaign.
For at least the Disco Chimey and Balloon are mistakes that can be altered. Yet the plans for a large hotel right at the foot of the Wawel is now one example of idiotic planning that must be opposed by all concerned Krakow residents opposed to the way the council is destroying the city for pure commercial gain.
To that extent the PKH campaign led by Martin Taylor, Christopher Gray and Dr Monika Bogdanowka is dedicated to preventing any more attacks on Krakow's unique character by rapacious property developers and the incompetant Krakow municipal authorities.
The PKH campaign has 639 Facebook members and we are liasing with existing conservation groups to substantially document the way Krakow is being blighted by artificial and cosmetic implants by egotistical architects whose buildings are works of mere engineering and not of public art.
To this end PKH is sending it's dossier of what we consider violations of the UNESCO declaration to both UNESCO itself and to the Krakow Municipal government in the hope that reason will prevail. It is important Krakow's municipality wake up to the fact that its UNESCO status is not a given right for perpetuity but can be revoked.
Yet a seperate dossier will also contain examples of neglected buildings in Podgorze, such as the old inn towards Wieliczka,and elsewhere as the city of Krakow extends beyond the showpiece which is the Rynek and example of which we will also be presenting to the council and seeking advice on the duty the municipality must have to protect all these buildings.
What architect Leon Krier wrote, on criticising modernist architecture and whose words has a seminal importance to Krakow at this very depressing time, are directly relevant,
"By creating cities, we create ourselves. When we despoil our cities,we despoil ourselves. Our most cherished memories will henceforth generate the poison of regret, of irretrievable loss, even of hatred of what we prized most. We then flee from the world and from ourselves."
Karl Naylor, Bronowice, Krakow
If you support the campaign to preserve Krakow from destruction, have a look at the open Facebook site and become a member. Feel free to be critical and a knowledge of Polish would be of help but not essential Write in letters of protest and be ready to sign petitions to stop inappropriate architecture disfiguring the view of the Wawel.
"Responding to criticism that Poland’s financial aid to earthquake-torn Haiti was mean fisted, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said that, “150,000 USD - the equivalent of three four-wheel drive vehicles - is not a ridiculous sum.”Polskie Radio
To avoid accusations of being "uncaring" Sikorski could just argue that it's none of Poland's concern what happens in Haiti and maintain that it is the business of richer nations like the USA to help.
Yet this would damage the image of Poland as being a responsible member of "the international community" which usually is reduced in power political terms to a minority of two, the UK, the USA and, Sikorski hopes, Poland.
Hence Sikorski's statement,
Minister Sikorski stressed that the Polish rescue team - which set off from Warsaw airport, yesterday, - is one of 11 worldwide that are certified by the UN to be able to carry out such a task.What Sikorski is indulging in here is using a humanitarian crisis to advance US interests in Haiti, the same former neoconservatives who planned and executed the coup in Haiti in 2004.
“We can be proud that as a country that once received assistance can now give it,” said Minister Sikorski.
These neoconservatives were the very same who organised the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 with Sikorski's backing and his wife Anne Applebaum, leader writer for the Washington Post.
When responding to the concern over the crisis in Iraq in the run up to the invasion, Applebaum claimed this,
“I still don't understand what the Germans propose to do about Saddam Hussein's weapons: send in more inspectors, so that the inspectors can be deceived? impose more sanctions, so more Iraqi children will starve?That omitted to mention the one million Iraq children who died as a result of the sanctions imposed on a stricken nation like Iraq which was effectively crushed after the First Gulf War of 1991.
The reason sanctions were abandoned for 'not working' had less to do with starving Iraq children, which Madelaine Albright proclaimed was "a price worth paying" to contain Saddam's threat to the globe.
The real reasons were far more different and had much to do with the crumbling infrastructure of Iraq in 2003 threatening the productive capacity of existing oilfields which, because of sanctions, could not produce as much oil.
As David Strachan has shown in The Last Oil Shock, once the drilling equipment packed up the oil well supply would be permenently lost and that would be a major setback to maintaining global oil supplies and price stability.
Just as in Iraq, the prating about the humanitarian crisis is really about sending measly sums to people who are mostly black, the kind Sikorski made jokes about when he was stung by the election of Barack Obama instead of his erstwhile neoconservative allies.
As the Daily Telegraph revealed on November 17 2008, Sikorski was reported to have made a this joke "Have you heard that Obama may have a Polish connection? His grandfather ate a Polish missionary."
Whether or not Sikorski was making a "racist comment" or just being a bit silly and undiplomatic, the sneer clearly has as a subtext the idea that the histoty of the USA is one of white man's winning of the West not that of blacks and other insignificants.
A spokesman for the Polish foreign office conceded that Mr Sikorski had made the controversial comment, but denied that the foreign minister had intended to insult Mr Obama, whose father was Kenyan.That may be so but Sikorski did not make that clear at the time and the damage limitation only came later. There are a number of Poles who think that Obama is not the right face for the USA, not even a 'real American' in the same way the Polonia diaspora community in Chicago.
"Mr Sikorski did not tell a racist joke," said Piotr Paszkowski, the spokesman. "He was only giving an example of the unpalatable and racist 'jokes' that surround President Elect Obama."
Anyway, between Iraq and Haiti lies in the comparison is that humanitarian crises offer a pretext not for careful aid packages but to ram through "reforms" which will make humanitarian aid a profitable investment.
For Poland the sum reflects the fact that Poland has little economic connection with Haiti and merely wants to look benevolent. As usual the important point at stake is nothing to do with humanitarianism but showing itself a willing model pupil to the USA in maintaing its superpower.
What it does share is the view that as a satellite power of the USA it must maintain its global profile in advancing US hegemony over not only Eurasia but also Latin America. This is what client states with elites embedded in the same networks of transatlanticist power do.
The double standards in Sikorski, a member of The American Enterprise Institute which contains the architects of the Iraq War-Perle, Frum, Wolfowitz et al-saying “We can be proud that as a country that once received assistance can now give it"
This mendacious piece of public diplomacy is belied by a cusory look at the facts of US involvement in Latin America which is still regarded as a "sphere of influence" even if when applied to Russia this is a sign of hideous imperial machinations of their "New Cold War".
The radical writer and activist Naomi Klein knows that Sikorski's approach of exploiting a humanitarian crisis to advance US economic interests in Haiti is part of the "shock doctrine", tying aid to "reforms" that impoverish nations like Haiti.
The liberal reformer Jean Bertrand Aristide was removed by a coup as he has decided that key Haitian resources ought to remain owned by the state and work for the people who had voted him into power.
Aristide was intially supported by the USA in the 1990s as preferable to the other polical rivals but as is usual the noble ideals of US democracy were sacrificed to the economic greed of the corporate lobbyists who dominate the US political system.
Naomi Klein wrote in The Nation in 2005,
"[After] early 1994 . . . Washington’s negotiators made one demand that Aristide could not accept: the immediate selloff of Haiti’s state-owned enterprises, including phones and electricity. Aristide argued that unregulated privatization would transform state monopolies into private oligarchies, increasing the riches of Haiti’s elite and stripping the poor of their national wealth."The same tactics used in Venezuela to remove Chavez, a populist and nationalist who, despite all his corny anti-US rhetoric, irresponsibility and failure to diversify Venezuela's economy away from dependence on oil, is elected fairly by the vast majority of Venezuela's voters.
As Mark Almond wrote in the Guardian 25th July 2007,
Chávez rides a wave of popularity because he is the first Latin American leader to mix anti-gringo populism with making life better for ordinary people. But booming oil prices are a mixed blessing, even when the money isn't diverted to offshore bank accounts.As with Haiti with Aristide, Chavez is genuniely popular and does not run Venezuela as a "dictatorship", a stupid slur that does make for contructive democratic politics which depends on responsible opposition.
Certainly Chávez has redirected a great proportion of revenue into projects that help the majority.
This infuriates the opposition, which feels housing, doctors and education are wasted on the poor with darker skins. Yet high oil revenues are helping to push up inflation, and even government plans to lop three zeroes off the bolivar won't cure that trend.
Yet in Haiti the same tactics were used by US funded "oppositionists" in Venezuela via the Sumate : boycott the elections which are proclaimed to be free and unfair even before they are held.
As Almond put it,
Washington's meddling in Venezuela has not paid dividends so far. Five years ago, it backed a coup against Chávez only to see a tidal wave of the poor sweep him back into office. The US-backed opposition has tried poll boycotts, fraud allegations and mass demonstrations without effect.Sikorski's position on Haiti reflects his belief that "the New Cold War" is one between a heroic USA acting the arsenal of democracy and any state that wishes to retain its sovereignty but which humanitarian crises offer an opportunity to give "tied aid" and
"Sikorski told the TVN 24 station, Friday, that the bulk of Poland’s financial assistance and humanitarian aid to Haiti will be via the EU"As if that was necessarily a selfless action from the "international community" That is, of course, why in 2000 European nations suspended government-to-government assistance to Haiti. Haiti had received no help from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank for years.
Aristide was abducted from Haiti by a US helicopter in 2004 .The US Congress forbade any U.S. assistance from being funneled through the Haitian government, legitimising on paper an existing situation.
The inability of one of the poorest nations in Latin America to respond to the earthquake is a result of the history of poverty and immiseration the USA has imposed on Haiti since it invaded it in 1915.
In 2003, the very zenith of neoconservative power and dominance, it was through the CIA that funds to The Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH) or get rid of any government that served the peopole of Haiti instead of US business interests.
This Orwellian term for a CIA backed group of paramilitary death squads was dedicated to plunging the nation into choas and removing Aristide, a breakdown of order that explains why aid is so difficult to get into Haiti now.
With the corrupt machete wielding thugs civilised statemen like Sikorski seem to have forgotten that they are are there partly because of aspects of US foreign policy in the past, though they did not cause the chaos alone.
None of that matters to those still rigidly stuck in the mentality of the Cold War and defending the "dirty war" tactics of the USA against the exaggerated threat of "Communist subvertion" in Latin America.
Clearly the struggle for liberation in Poland, as worthy and heroic as that was against a repellent Soviet dictatorship which crushed dissent through tanks, is more worthy that the solidarity movements in Latin America, often led by priests to.
Sikorski's mention of the choas in Haiti as a reason for not giving aid is not about pragmatic policy. It's ideology. The New Cold War to be fought on "multiple fronts" from Iran, to Belarus, the Venezuela to the evil Kremlin itself.
All despite the fact that the USA is using tactics of subvertion that any Stalinist Comintern agent would have been proud to promote in order to use repellent means to justify the ultimately benign end of promoting the hegemony of the universal imperium.
In November, 2004, the University of Miami School of Law carried out a Human Rights Investigation in Haiti and documented serious human rights abuses. It stated that "Summary executions are a police tactic."
It also mentioned the following pattern which is a continuity in US policy in Haiti,
"U.S. officials blame the crisis on armed gangs in the poor neighborhoods, not the official abuses and atrocities, nor the unconstitutional ouster of the elected president. Their support for the interim government is not surprising, as top officials, including the Minister of Justice, worked for U.S. government projects that undermined their elected predecessors. Coupled with the U.S. government’s development assistance embargo from 2000–2004, the projects suggest a disturbing pattern".People in Poland need to wake up and think more globally instead of dwelling only on what Soviet Union did to Poland as the Soviet Union is finished and Russia is not the Soviet Union. The Cold War is over. But "the New Cold War" is being reborn as propaganda at least.
Yet US actions in Latin America are as often brutal, though far more covert and clever than sending in tanks to crush Polish democrats and Solidarity, whose leaders shamefully sold out the workers who had made their victory possible in 1990.
The silence in Poland over US crimes in Latin America and Iraq, usually reduced to talk of "blunders" and "mistakes" is craven and censorship by omission. That "gadula" Adam Michnik has nothing to say on US crimes in Latin America.
Yet the history of Polish involvement in Haiti dates back to the support Poland gave to Napoleon in trying to suppress the Haitan slave rebellion after the revolt led by Touissant D'Ouverture, later put in prison by Napoleon's General Leclerc where he died in 1803.
As a result of their understandable loathing for the Tsarist Empire of Catherine the Great who was driving for the dismemberment of Poland by 1795 under the partition plans, Polish leaders began the tradition of supporting any rival Empires that could destroy Russian power.
That led Polish soldiers being placed at the disposal of Napoleon who posed as a beacon of Enlightened reform but acted according to principles not so different from certain sections of the US political establishment do today.
Just as Sikorski, Tusk and Kaczynski genuflect before the request of the USA to send more troops on futile neo-colonial adventures as Afghanistan and Iraq ( often ill equipped ), the Polish expedition to Haiti did nothing for Poland's freedom.
Being used by Napoleon as expendable troops, the Polish Legions were sent to Haiti to reimpose slavery on the black population.
In 1802, France sent the legions (5,280 strong) to Haiti to crush the Haitian Revolution (on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, known then as French West Indies or St. Domingue.
Napoleon wanted to regain the colony of Saint Domingue, but had no wish to diminish his main French army any more than was necessary. Polish legions were the less favoured units of Napoleon's French army.
As Norman Davies remarked in God's Playground Vol II' ( page 257 )
"No European nation has reaped fewer rewards for the sweat, and the blood expended......When marching under the Polish flag, or in Poland's cause, he ( the soldier ) has met almost invariably with defeat. It is a sad fact, but poland has been obliged to act as one of Europe's principal nursuries of cannon fodder".Obviously, fighting in Afghanistan as part of a voluntaristic union of nations, largely democratic, known as NATO, is not directly comparable to Polish troops being sent as cannon fodder anddying of tropical diseases in Haiti in a doomed expedition to re-impose slavery.
Yet it shows that Sikorski's messianic neoconservative creed and obsessional devotion to Alexandrine schemes to expand NATO into dangerous areas destablised by ethnic irredentism and sucessionist tendencies is a continuity with the foolhardy stereotype that many have of Polish adventurism.
The idealism in which humanitarian interventionism via war is justified is also the latest fig leaf for material, interests, money, profit and power just as it was to Napoleon and his backers and the US neoconservatives, some who like Michael Ledeen admire Benito Mussolini.
Sikorski's following of the neoconservative mantra, though softened by his renewed faith in the EU when convenient, shows his far-right support for bacing coups against leaders who baulk against near totalitarian imposition of the the Washington IMF consensus.
The uncritical devition to any request that the USA makes of Poland and failure to criticise its more subtle colonialism in Latin America has continuities with the past in the binary and simplistic mindset of the Polish messianic tradition.
The concept that "we" are always on the side the good and "them" the "enemies of freedom" are the enemies of the USA which is a force for the good against the Evil Empire of the USSR and that the USA representsthe purest intentions as white as the White House itself.
The USA is as Niall Ferguson asserts forthrightly is an "empire in denial" and that it should be open about its foundational creed as a universalist empire of liberty and use military force to remove dictators, authoritarians, tyrants and impose neoliberal 'reforms'.
The USA like all global superpowers, has a consistent approach to international diplomacy and Poles concerned with their governments grovelling to every Whitehouse and Pentagon demand for men and material must realise that it is not morally consistent; it is strategically consistent.
Yet the fact of the USA's continued meddling in Latin America, surreptitious backing for coups is just not news in Poland but it is essential if US influence and bases are to be phased out of Europe and the EU takes responsibility for its own foreign policy.
The appointment of a halfwit careerist like Lady Ashton as EU foreign minister was proof that is a long way from happening, though it could have been worse if a war criminal like Tony Blair has accompanied her as EU President.
Poles who correctly revel in "the return to Europe" should also have realised it is a return to the world, as Poland's diaspora and influence on the modern world in culture and science is one much undervalued.
Moreover, as Poland regains an air of cosmopolitanism, those enjoying jazz in Krakow might have cause to reflect that the bloodshed then with the slave revolt led to a multicultural exodus to the Francophone New Orleans which as part of the USA had been bought from the USA in 1803.
In 1809; about 10,000 refugees from Saint-Domingue arrived en masse from Cuba to New Orleans, doubling the city’s population and preserving the city's French character for several generations.
Yet New Orleans was an American city subjected to the same rapacious forces of "the shock doctrine" where corporations used the damage to buildinds as a pretext to justify rebuilding on the larger prperties and raking off huge profits.
As Noami Klein put it on December 21st 2007,
"- First came the shock of the original disaster: the flood and the traumatic evacuation.That is the way neoliberalism in action works with the blood and iron power of the state comprising the neoconservative political concept of using force and violence to make the world safe for US hegemony and dominance through its globally rigged market system which it calls without irony "the free market"
- Next came the "economic shock therapy": using the window of opportunity opened up by the first shock to push through a rapid-fire attack on the city's public services and spaces, most notably it's homes, schools and hospitals.
-Now we see that as residents of New Orleans try to resist these attacks, they are being met with a third shock: the shock of the police baton and the Taser gun, used on the bodies of protestors outside New Orleans City Hall".
As John Gray, a political conservative wrote in defending Klein's criticism of the neoliberal philosophy of "creative destruction" back in 2007,
"Klein believes that neo-liberalism belongs among "the closed, fundamentalist doctrines that cannot co-exist with other belief-systems ... The world as it is must be erased to make way for their purist invention. Rooted in biblical fantasies of great floods and great fires, it is a logic that leads ineluctably towards violence."Klein writes,,
As Klein sees it, the social breakdowns that have accompanied neo-liberal economic policies are not the result of incompetence or mismanagement. They are integral to the free-market project, which can only advance against a background of disasters"
"An economic system that requires constant growth, while bucking almost all serious attempts at environmental regulation, generates a steady stream of disasters all on its own, whether military, ecological or financial.The greatest irony is that the USA, with the neoconservatives being the most extreme proponents of expanding US model of politics and economy by military interventionism, promotes a neoliberal doctrine with many similarities with Marxism-Leninism, even though Sikorski was a great admirer of Margeret Thatcher who supported Pinochet's Fascist Chile.
The appetite for easy, short-term profits offered by purely speculative investment has turned the stock, currency and real estate markets into crisis-creation machines, as the Asian financial crisis, the Mexican peso crisis and the dotcom collapse all demonstrate."
As John Gray maintains,
"....free market ideology must bear responsibility for the crimes committed on its behalf - just as Marxist ideology must be held to account for the crimes of communism themselves blinded. "Over the past few decades, many of the ideas of the far left have found new homes on the right.
Lenin believed that it was in conditions of catastrophic upheaval that humanity advances most rapidly, and the idea that economic progress can be achieved through the devastation of entire societies has been a key part of the neo-liberal cult of the free market.
Soviet-style economies left an inheritance of human and ecological devastation, while neo-liberal policies have had results that are not radically dissimilar in many countries.
Yet, while the Marxist faith in central planning is now confined to a few dingy sects, a quasi-religious belief in free markets continues to shape the policies of governments"
An interesting perspective has been put forward by Peter Hallward in The Guardian, Our Role in Haiti's Plight ( 13 January 2010 )
What is already all too clear, however, is the fact that this impact will be the result of an even longer-term history of deliberate impoverishment and disempowerment. Haiti is routinely described as the "poorest country in the western hemisphere". This poverty is the direct legacy of perhaps the most brutal system of colonial exploitation in world history, compounded by decades of systematic postcolonial oppression.
The noble "international community" which is currently scrambling to send its "humanitarian aid" to Haiti is largely responsible for the extent of the suffering it now aims to reduce. Ever since the US invaded and occupied the country in 1915, every serious political attempt to allow Haiti's people to move (in former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's phrase) "from absolute misery to a dignified poverty" has been violently and deliberately blocked by the US government and some of its allies.
Aristide's own government (elected by some 75% of the electorate) was the latest victim of such interference, when it was overthrown by an internationally sponsored coup in 2004 that killed several thousand people and left much of the population smouldering in resentment. The UN has subsequently maintained a large and enormously expensive stabilisation and pacification force in the country.
Haiti is now a country where, according to the best available study, around 75% of the population "lives on less than $2 per day, and 56% – four and a half million people – live on less than $1 per day". Decades of neoliberal "adjustment" and neo-imperial intervention have robbed its government of any significant capacity to invest in its people or to regulate its economy. Punitive international trade and financial arrangements ensure that such destitution and impotence will remain a structural fact of Haitian life for the foreseeable future.
It is this poverty and powerlessness that account for the full scale of the horror in Port-au-Prince today. Since the late 1970s, relentless neoliberal assault on Haiti's agrarian economy has forced tens of thousands of small farmers into overcrowded urban slums.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
The trouble is that nobody knows which of the many other alienated young Muslim men out there will become so radicalised that he will turn into a bomber or axeman, and which of them, given the right conditions, will gravitate into the mainstream of society.And that this will represent the defeat of the political liberalism TGA stands for because he has continually omitted all mention of the degree of collusion between the British state and Islamist terrorist proxies in Eurasia beyond the noble liberal cause of Afghanistan.
Perhaps in 20 years' time, one of the young Islam4UK activists I rubbed shoulders with in that back room at the Atrium will be dining in the main restaurant, as a spin doctor for the Tories. Or perhaps in 20 months' time he'll be trying to detonate a bomb; and, unlike the Detroit bomber, he may not be stopped in time.
Ignored the role of diminishing oil & gas, the pathological competitions of the Great Game and the conflict in Eastern Europe and further afield between US funded NGOs and authoritarian regimes where the West compromises its principles in order to advance what TGA euphemises as "our vital interests".
But never, surprisingly for someone who prefaces the Penguin edition of Orwell's essays, TGA never mentions unpleasant facts like the centrality of pipelines in the geopolitical conflicts between the Great Powers as railways were in the run up to WW1.
This is the result not of a conspiracy of silence so much as liberal ideology which has failed to distingiush between the political liberalism and its undecutting by economic neoliberal dogma. Like Norman Davies, TGA has underestimated greed and the West's scamble for resouces.
The reason is that the "crude materialist" interpretation of history is seen as the cynical one posed by Marxist-Leninists as opposed to ideals such as human rights. Yet human rights have been corrupted as a means to promote PR and mendacious invasions such as Iraq in 2003.
The scale of the hypocrisy is something that is driving both Muslims and non-Muslims into greater degrees of anger: with Muslims the spread opf atavistic "clash of civilisations narratives', the decadent West appeals to atomised Muslim males looking to romanticise their resistance vs "the West"
The shoddyness of Choudary is that he is a direct and unique product and sham representative of the very society he rejects , just as the Al Mujaharoun goons and messianic fanatics in Respect are: shams of the sort that Joseph Conrad satirised in the Secret Agent no less than the imperialist Britain of 1907.
That period, as testified to in the novels of Conrad, saw rival empires using nationalists and terrorists to destabilise their rivals in the European land based empires of Austro-Hungary and Tsarist Russia as well as between these dynastic empires of Britain.
This Great Game is now being contested between not a pentarchy of European based Empires but the US and EU, Russia, China and a host of other non-aligned nations competing for control over oil and gas like Venezuela.
As John Gray states, the future of the 21st Century will consist of resource wars, terrorist proxies, authoriraian states and the placebo of consumerism to reduce the population to docility and offset domestic discontent and view other power blocks as a "threat to our way of life".
Akmal Shaikh executed in China for drug smuggling, has Polish children and was married to a Pole: but Warsaw, unlike London, is not asking for his mercy.
"I have not heard about his case and the Office of the President has not taken any action," Paweł Wypych said on behalf of President Lech Kaczynski. Poland’s Foreign Ministry also said that it did not know the details of the case.
Akmal was living with his Polish wife and two children in Poland until the marriage broke up. The British man stayed in Poland but got in trouble with the police in Lublin, charged with drunken driving and other crimes. He became homeless and fell into financial trouble.
Due to his illness he became convinced that he would become a pop star in China and eventually turned up in the country in 2008 with 4 kg of heroin in his possession.
The execution of the British citizen Akmal Sheikh has turned into the predictacle political spat. Claims about his mental health and his duping into acting as a drugs mules may or may not be true, but certainly Sheikh was a man given to serial womanising, abandoning his family and making statements in favour of Islamist terrorism.
None of that means Sheikh should have been executed as the death penalty is inhumane but it is a given platitudinal reaction when a British citizen gets caught out smuggling drugs that they were "dupes" and "victims" as the the British government will protect their citizens from remaining on death row or being executed.
The Chinese were not going to listen to the prating of a New Labour regime in Britain whose government that has colluded in supporting jihadists in the past in Central Asia nor of colluding in CIA torture or "terrorist suspects".
"Given its economic progress ... the leadership and the population feel pretty good about themselves. They are in no mood to take lessons, moral or otherwise, from the west."
Johnathan Fenby had it right and no matter of prating from a medium sized European nation with a history of colonial involvement in China is going to be taken seriously as Britain has lost whatever moral authority it posessed after supporting the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Before people roll their eyes and say 'oh God what's Iraq got to do with it ' this matters still because every Western double standards can be exploited by Great Powers like China: Britain opposed the death penalty for an individual but premeditatedly its liberal democratic state invades nations in the sure knowledge people will get killed.
The crude utilitarian argument used within some circles within Britain for bringing back the death penalty by those like Thatcher etc is that it acts as a deterrent and overall saves more innocent lives that might be lost by mistakes : this is the same reason for invading a nation to "liberate" it.
Namely, that mistakes happen "collateral damage" but the sum total of suffering is reduced, a very British utilitarian argument, though a perverted one. Blair evaded the issue of Saddam's excution in 2006 and repeated the robotic mantra that Britain does not support the death penalty. Blair could not asnwer the question of whether he denounced the execution,
When it comes to this specific individual Brown exploits it to grandstand over it in a moral sense,expressing the "personal revulsion" he did not when Saddam was executed. Saddam was a dictator who murdered people whereas this drug dupe Akmal Shaikh was only a charlatan and a somewhat pathetic desperado.
China's refusal to entertain numerous clemency pleas from Shaikh's family and the government was a political as much as a judicial decision. Gordon Brown declared himself "appalled".
China will not take lessons from those who prate human rights and act in a very different way. As in outsourcing production to repugnant totalitarian regime which use executed prisoners organs for donation at a price, a new spin on the concept of "human resources". Simon Tisadall wrote in the Guardian on 12 January 2009.
Ivan Lewis, a Foreign Office minister, went even further in a BBC interview.
Lewis said the execution was a "deeply depressing day for anyone with a modicum of compassion or commitment to justice in Britain and throughout the world ... As that country [China] plays a greater role in the world they have to understand their responsibility to adhere to the most basic standards of human rights. China will only be fully respected when and if they make the choice to join the human rights mainstream."
China does not care because China funds Western debt fuelled consumerism, a policy promoted with zeal by Gordon Brown, a spent force and a soon to be forgotten lame duck Prime Minister from an era of delusions in which the world was to be remodelled according to neoliberal globalisation .
Russia had pursued neoliberalism after 1990 and the result was state collapse, reduced power, the collapse of its land based empire, the mass immiseration of its people and US triumphalism and West's rip off of its assets to a tune of $300 billion.All in the name of "democratic geopolitics".
China decided not to take that path offered by those using human rights as a cynical tool to advocate "open societies" open to Western commericial power, dominance and control as had happened in the C19th as the Opium Wars and the Open Door policy promoted by the USA and other Western nation demonstrate.
Whilst China realised that human rights were merely a tool of imperial "Westernism" and acted to assert national sovereignty, consolidate the state and produce the goods underpinning Western consumerism, the reaction in the West was largely positive with human rights agendas slipping out of view as Lord Rees Mogg of the Times praises Chinese leaders.
Getting Asians to slave away to make cheeper goods for spolit Western consumers was part of the feelgood factor, even if executed prisoners, continued concentration slave camps, the subjugation of Tibet and so on was known when outsourcing and debt fuelled consumerism was promoted.
Lewis and Brown's statements count for nothing: Britain is not respected, has no global standing and has sunk in its future with the declining superpower in the USA that used human rights to prize open Iraq , get the TAPI pipeline built to block off Chinese and Iranian collusion through the IPI.
Unfortunately, the US invasion of Iraq to control and develop Iraqi oil cost exhorbitant amounts of money, propelled imperial overstretch further and, together with the financial crash of 2008, has meant that the oil concessions it intended to control are being parcelled out to the in large amounts to the Chinese.
If Britain and Brown had cared for human rights so much they should not have bought into the fashionable guff from those like the moronic Charles Leadbetter about Living on Thin Air, the service economy and all that which now acts as a mere conduit for the large amounts of capital from the Chinese super-economy.
The main point is this: Britain made a Faustian bargain with China and seldom upsets the "Chimerica", the convenient relationship that the UK has slavishly and cravenly emulated to keep consumer buying cheap goods, one reason why complete dolts like Brendan O'Neill of Spiked write about not "knocking China".
The efforts of Vaclav Havel to defend human rights in an open letter to President Hu Jintao and the dissident author, Liu Xiaobo, jailed for 11 years for "inciting subversion of state power" and Chinese repression in Tibet are negated by the fact Havel destroyed his credibillity in supporting the US invasion of Iraq.
Moreover, New Labour and Rupert Murdoch and the liberal BBC have genuflected to China for numerous reasons: the criticism of China in the Western media in miniscule compared to Russia because the West "lost" control over Russia when Putin reasserted Russian power in 1999 and China is a huge emerging power in a way Russia is not.
In China those propenents of global neoliberalism had to deal with a totalitarian regime that massacred opponents and could be taken seriously as a Great Power that the West could not manipulate by perverting human rights as a tool for coalitioning opposition forces. China wanted to avoid Russian weakness.
So China developed its own mandarin brand of neoconservatism without the double standards in pretending to affecting to believe in human rights the reality and "is" needs to be seperated from "ought" just to see things more clearly: the West sold out its principles wholsale when human rights where made a tool of US imperial expansion, despite all the rationalisations from "enlightened self interest"
The late JG Ballard who witnessed Western weakness and the war of the world in Shanghai as a boy commented in the New Statesman on the reversal from the dominance of the British Empire he was born into and the rise of the China he saw under attack in 1937 wrote in 2005 the
Downing Street apparatus that has assembled itself around him, a public relations firm pretending to be a brainier, British White House. Blair is our president, but he has little real power. The inertial forces that lock Britain into its past are too great for him, and all the levers in his hands have snapped.
Blair took us into Iraq because he was flattered to be summoned from the lower school and invited into the senior prefect's study. Bush and the neo-cons are driven by emotion, and this appeals to Blair. The emotions are the one language that he understands, and reality is defined by what he feels he ought to believe.
He commands no battle groups, and Britain's per capita income is one of the lowest in western Europe. Without the largely foreign-owned City of London the whole country would be a suburb of Longbridge, retraining as an offshore call-centre servicing the Chinese super-economy.
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
The term "systemic alternative" is used by both ex-CPGB member and worshipper of Chinese superpowe Martin Jacques and Seumas Milne: its a term that means it does not matter whether people were repressed or reduced to privation as long as the hope of an alternative existed.
Not of, course, through something as mundane a democratic liberalisation within the "Eastern bloc" but through a solidarity of Communist nations which would check US capitalism and via Moscow funf politically correct anti-imperialist movements.
The Guardian has a number of journalists who support the idea that the USSR was a 'deformed state' that at least checked the rampant crimes and invasions of the USA, what John Pilger justly calls "rapacious power", from becoming "the New Rulers of the World".
The idea proposed by Neil Clark that Galloway is one of the few politicians left in Britain with grit and principles is pure wish thinking no less than the idea that "life was better under Communism", though it had more stability and transition was led by callous neoliberal ideologues
The resentment in "Eastern Europe" was similar to that of workers in Thatcher's Britain in the 1980s where centralised authoritarian power and neoliberal economics was used to destroy social solidarity, traditional working communities and create the illusion of a "service economy"Galloway in the 1980s opposed all that but since 1991 and the fall of the USSR which offered a "systemic alternative" as former CPGB activists still maintain, is and was an expert rhetorician and can expose flaws in opponents arguments in the way MPs ought to in challenging consensus.
Any politician who berates the smug clone parties and their utter uselessness at holding power to acccount is a good thing. But Galloway is not principled as he works directly for Press TV which is funded by the Iranian regime.
The problem with Galloway is his "tranferred nationalism" his way of seeing "good" and "bad" nations according to outdated Cold War realpolitik which ignores the reality of divisions within those nations and would rather support authoritarians so long as pro-Western reformers lose.
The bitterness comes from politics globally within every nation being skwewered between a layer of the super rich and "haves" and comared with increasingly militant hard done by middle classes who have lost their professional status and become white collar proles.
And that's only in the West. Elsewhere the creation of a thin later of the rich and Westernised plugged in to the global economy and IT contrasts with those who have nothing to lose but to hope violent change will bring some chance of forcing change.
That;s clear in the Middle East, Galloway's sucking up to Arab dictators is as odious as Hitchens has pointed out and the idiocy of Hitchens was to think that by supporting Iraq he was defeating the global "totalitarianism" posed by Galloway's Communist alliance with "Islamodascists"
Into the bargain, a victory in Iraq would "prove Galloway wrong. Unfortunately, Galloway was right, though he sheds crocodile tears over the Iraq War that he knew he could not prevent but exploited to push his media career ( key word "credibility" ).
The division of the left into the "decent left" or "pro-liberation left" itself s consumer branding of a new form of "leftist" identity politics from which Galloway is not immune. The very word "lefistism" is indicative of broader trends within the West.
"Leftism" acts as word denoting more an inclination towards tadical or trendier progressive causes or causes that can be branded as such-fighting "Islamophobia", fighting for "gay rights" and other boring and self-indulgent identity politics.
Galloway has cashed in on populist anger at the way New Labour isn't social democrat but a neoliberal party with a slither of "leftist" identity politics whilst the Tories offered no real opposition to the war in Iraq.
Parliament is dead as a debating chamber, where mediocraties trade platitudes and do not even scrutinise legislation with a principled view other than in scoring political points on the "opposition".
Moreover, the fall of the Soviet Union was a Good Thing for those who had had enough in "Eastern Europe" at the time and left wing double standards are present too: Latin America can have its liberation struggles but not Eastern Europe.
For those sunburnt journos like Pilger associating with the dissidents, quoting the oddline of Kundera and praising Charter 77 receives minimal treatment in his works: the nations of Eastern Europe were white, anti-communist and boringly ethnically homogenic.This even in 2006 Pilger fails to ask questions about the morality if realpolitik when Lukashenko and Chavez all and praise each other: for Lukashenko is authoritarian populist and rules a "social state". But Belarus also is the last European state to have the death penalty.
Pilger suggests that Galloway, on record for claiming the demise of 'the Soviet Union was the saddest day of his life' is one of the few principled politicians standing up for the workers, but he is hardly special in opposing Iraq and his pro-Soviet politics contains Orwellian doublethink.
Firstly, Galloway is a stated admirer of Colonel Nasser who was supported during the Cold War by the USSR.
Yet he always whips up Islamist mobs by chanting 'Allahu Akbar' and supporting the Palestinian offshoot of the Eygptian Muslim Brotherhood which was repressed by none other than Colonel Nasser.
Secondly, whilst the USA and UK did give aid to the mujahadeen, it was invaded by the USSR that Galloway continued to support right up until its dissolution in 1991. So for Galloway, Islamists are only termed 'resistance' when the enemy is the West.
Thirdly, the usual line is that the USSR only invaded because the USA destabilised Afghanistan prior to the invasion in 1979. Whilst it's true that Brzezinski did funnel aid to the mujahadeen before, it only tipped the balance further towards intervention. It was not the sole cause.
The USSR invaded for a number of geopolitical reasons and only one of these was the fear of growing US influence and the rise if Islamist politics some 70 years after Trotsky proclaimed "the putresecent tissie of Islam will vanish at the first puff".
The mujahadeen revolt was already in full swing and Afghanistan collapsing because of the PDPA's draconian attempt to frogmarch a traditional Sufi Islamic nation to Communism by terror and murdering village clerics
Afghanistan was destabilised by the PDPA but by the rise of the revolutionary Islamism of the similar kind that Galloway supports when it fits in with his half-baked ideological preconceptions and platform demagoguery. Far more Muslims were killed in Afghanistan by the USSR.
The ultimate absurdity of Galloway's political stance is made plain when the nature of his Respect Party is considered.
While it has been supported by otherwise unheard of Communist sectaries, it is also supported by the Muslim Association of Britain, a British based offshoot modelled on the Muslim Brotherhood.
The intellectual leader of the Eygptian Muslim Brotherhood was Sayyid Qutb, whose Milestones has been a key text influencing not only Hamas but also Al Qaida. It also convinced Galloway's anti-imperialist hero Colonel Nasser to have Qutb executed in 1966.Something those cretins chanting 'Allahu Akbar' before Galloway in his London speeches might be better of reflecting on in what passes for their minds. But Galloway and his supporters are not the only ones who need a lesson in Cold War politics'
Pilger's doublethink is curious too in using Orwell to put forward a politics that Orwell would have seen as ultimate doublethink in praising Chavez only because he's anti-US and though praising Chevez's undoubted social, educational and healthcare reforms ignores difficulties.In 2006 in response to a question about Belarus's domestic policies, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela said "We see here a model social state like the one we are beginning to create."
Bilateral relations have improved between the two nations since then as part on the non-alingned bloc Belarus, Iran, Chinas etc but Pilger never writes anything about it or human rights because he has sunk in his support unconditionally with Chavez.
An article of 2009 makes the scale of the co-operation clear from realpolitik terms it makes sense to defend these nations from US depradations but do human rights either have to used cynically as a tool of US regime change or for that reasonn repressed as "destabilising"
As Gomel Region news in Belarus revealed at length in September 2009,
Belarus will fulfill all the agreements reached with Venezuela, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez 8 September. “Belarus will stay committed to the agreements reached before this visit and those that can be made during the visit,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The Belarusian leader thanked Hugo Chavez for the support and assistance Venezuela offered Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko praised the first successes of the joint refinery set up in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan head of state added that “he is always glad to visit Belarus”. “Every time I go on a tour I will not leave an opportunity to stay in Belarus for a day or two,” the President of Venezuela said. Venezuela tends to further strengthen the relations with Belarus, Hugo Chavez stressed.
According to him, Venezuela just starts learning things about Belarus. “There are signs of new dynamism in Belarus-Venezuela relations. We have not known anything about Belarus before”.
Speaking about the visit to the Minsk Automobile Plant, Hugo Chavez stressed that Belarus was able to retain a low unemployment rate despite the global crisis.
The problem with Pilger is that he then conflates several instances of shoddy British realpolitik and craven hypocrisy over human rights over the arms trade, Saudi Arabia and Iraq
Pilger's romanticism retains a somewhat Trotskyist ideological position that makes the USA and UK one 'root cause' of all the world problems in which the world in starkly divided into Rapacious Empire and Monolithic Nationalist Resistance,
As we hear the moralising drone of ex-British military "security experts" telling us what to think about current events in Mumbai, we might recall Britain's historic role as midwife to violent extremism in modern Islam, from the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1950s through the overthrow of Iran's liberal democratic government to MI6's arming of the Afghan mujahideen, the Taliban in waiting.
The aim was and remains the denial of nationalism to peoples struggling to be free, especially in the Middle East, where oil, says a secret Foreign Office document from 1947, is "a vital prize for any power interested in world influence and domination".
Now that's odd because Pilger in the past has actually given his limited blessing to Hamas and Hizbollah.
The first movement has its roots in the ideology of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which is also the model for the MAB, one of the main partners of the SWP in the RESPECT that Pilger supports. And it doesn't give a fig about human rights when sponsoring suicide bombers.
The second Hizbollah cannot be said to have been set up by the British in any sense. Islamist revolutionary movements have their own agenda and history in the opposition to what is considered the failure of the secular Arab nationalist revolutionary movements.
Islamist ideology was present in Afghanistan in the 1960s before the UK supported the mujahadeen.
The failure of Colonel Nasser, Pan Arabism and Arafat et al cannot simply be blamed on Britain.
Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, there have been continuous territorial and national problems which owe as much to Britain's post-WW1 role as to the lack of any concept of territorial jurisdiction based on a secular rule of law .
Following 1918, it was difficult to create states with much territorial legitimacy because the legacy of the Empire. Not the British but the Ottoman. Many flashpoints are still a consequence of that, even in the Balkans. Yet Pilger ignores that because it doesn't fit in with the ideology.
In the same way the atrocious human rights record of Iran which has the highest rate of executions next to China does not stop Pilger's hero Hugo Chavez from aligning with it.
States often operate according to self interests whilst prating about universal values. That's as true of Britain as Venezuela. But Pilger never mentions that despite giving vocal support to Chavez.
Hugo Chavez is also aligning himself very closely with Russia which is not known bu Western socialist standards for having a particularly good record on human rights in Chechnya.
Venezuela and Russia have been conducting joint naval manoeuvres and have arms deals agreements as well.
Yet Pilger does not condemn that. Nor does he condemn the bilateral deals with Belarus which also have an important role in propping up the international arms industry. If Britain is to be condemned, then it must be because the trade is inherently bad to Pilger.
Pilger does not make that argument with regards Venezuela. So it must be that it is the choice of nations that Britain chooses that is wrong.
Yet if Chavez is doing deals with Russia and also voting in the UN General Assembly not to to oppose the Burmese military junta, then Pilger is demonstrating the hypocrisy he has made a living from exposing and is thus doubly hypocritical.
The reason for this is that Pilger's interpretation of morality is the defence of the myth of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Most of the oeuvre of the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist left is based on trying to prove that the failure of revolutions is wholly due to imperialist machinations that derailed them into "Stalinist" excesses.
Never that the original sin was planted within the revolution itself as experience has repeatedly demonstrated. If it can be proved that Britain had a Gulag in Kenya, then Stalinism is nothing out of the ordinary and can't be used as a reason why revolution cannot be tried again and again.
Mike Davis is another Trotskyist who wants to use history as propaganda in Late Victorian Holocausts.
The Stalin terror famine Davies contends was part of a deliberate attempt to kill people in Ukraine and to exterminate the kulaks. Yet in British India the effects of a natural famine were compounded by incompetence.
The people killed in the Indian famines were victims of manslaughter and callous laissez faire policies whereas those victims in Ukraine were murdered intentionally in full consciousness of what was happening.
The failure to distinguish is a rationalisation of an ideology of revolutionary change. Double standards are hated to the point that the only standard is destroying the old world: in other words sheer nihilism, the point made by Koestler in Darkness ar Noon ( 1940)
The one that goes from one extreme-that a crime is not a crime if 'we' commit it to the equally hypocritical one that crimes are only real crimes if we commit them whilst Stalinism is a historical 'detour' or 'deviation'
Hence no metion during the Vietnam War was made by Pilger of Tariq Ali od the NLF's Stalinist command structures : condemnist the USA's war crimes was right and necessary but to glide over those committed on behalf of the Vietnamese was disingenous.
At one level, of course, Galloway gets people talking, that's his job. He works for Talk Radio and essentially he's become a a left wing version of the US shock Jocks and his rudeness to callers is often unnecessary. But it just provokes.
In posing as a Scottish Catholic and yet a non-sectarian ( hence the Communism ) Galloway cultivated a pose that enabled him to side with Irish Republicanism when people cared about it, but he never cared about Poland's subjugation under the USSR.
Galloway is not that principled: this is disappointing but true. He's a demagogue who trades on the nostalgia for the political passion that socialists once had and the rhetoric of which he can still put on in thatrical performances using Marxoid terms like "lackey" and "lickspittle".
The failure of socialism and social democracy in the West has thus been transfered it on to sectarian "resistance" movements to US geostrategical allies like Israel whose creation and support until the 1950s came from the USSR and not the USA.
But beyond a vague wish list, his RESPECT party is a vehicle for him and his ego as well as ramping up the outrage of Muslims and trying to forge some new proto-proletarian spearhead of global resistance to US Imperialism.
Irish Republicanism once had that cachet but its become a bore now and few give a fig for it as those like Gerry Adams become forlorn and forgotten figures who cannot command media attention compared with "the Islamist threat".
Though RESPECT claims to encourage Muslim and non-Muslim membership, the propaganda is about drawing on atavistic passions between East and West that gives the liberal interventionists firepower in claiming they have a universalist position whilst Galloway is sectarian.
After all, what good in served in working for Iran's Press TV, obfuscating about the Tehran regimes condemnation of homosexuals to death and repression simply because Iran is anti-American. This is a politics of psychopathology.
After all, it is possible to bear in mind it is possible to oppose US plans for invasion and the regime in Tehran whilst drawing attention to the human rights abuses it supports and does not condem, as Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez do not.
Naturally, if Britain allies with repressive regimes like Burma for realpolitik reasons, John Pilger leapt upon it but, curiously, he never presses Chavez on the morality of supporting regimes based on murder and killing like Chavez's ally Zimbabwe or his support for, um, Burma.
That mindset derives from Ostalgia for Soviet Communism, the idea that to criticise the Soviet power bloc gives succour to the USA and Imperialism and despire "divertions" and "imperfections" the eventual global triumph of Communism
For the ultimate triumph of "the noble cause" will mean that the dirty realpolitik necessary now will be brought to an end, a fallacy which led so many fellow travellers to screen out perception of Stalin's crimes in the 1930s.
As a former Communist, Galloway's Clydeside style Communism and anti-British imperialism stems from sticking up for the underdog against the "braying classes" in Westminister from the Celtic fringe and now the alienated Muslims from the former dominions of the British Empire.
Hatred for British and now US Imperialism gets transferred into uncritical support for any power unit that can stop the USA, whether its some mythical "the resistance" in Iraq which both Tari Ali and Pilger warble on about like its Vitnam all over again
Moreover Seumas Milne speaks of "the Iraqi resistance" but it does not exist in the same way Third World anti-colonial movements backed by Moscow's finances and arms once did. It's sectarian, divided, ethinically and tribally.
It's yet more boring identity politics and part of what JG Ballard called "the entertainment economy" at one level but parlt the craving for the release from the boredom of neoliberalism and consumerism whilst Pilger's books sell like hotcakes and he's still regularly on ITV