Launch of Banned propaganda terms

Writing is getting more difficult. With everything happening so fast it is hard to stay alert and not inadvertently re-use one of the many propaganda phrases in circulation these days – words that make you start talking about something from the perspective of and full of the assumptions of the enemy classes. And then explaining why you write with weird phrases just makes pieces awkward to read.

So, what I have decided to do is make a new page on this blog, full of banned propaganda words and phrases. For the moment it is a small list, but I will be adding to it over time. Below is the first set of words and phrases that have been annoying me lately.

Immigration : – there is migration. Calling certain movements immigration only makes sense if (a) you assume the legitimacy of a defined territory into which people migrate, and (b) you are already there. Starting from the principle that decisions should be made by those most affected by them, any discussion of ‘immigration’ automatically excludes those people most affected – those who are not yet in some territory or other.

Post-coup crackdown (Turkey) :- I’m not denying there is a crackdown in Turkey at the moment. What I don’t like about the phrase is that it implies that all this is in response to the failed coup. When actually it is not. The move towards authoritarianism and the repression of democracy started long before the coup. If I was to give a date it would be the June 2015 elections when the AKP party lost its parliamentary majority – but I am open to correction and disagreement. Erdogan blatantly proclaimed that he was going to use the failed coup to his advantage and indeed the process of repression intensified since the coup. Calling it a post-coup crackdown allows him to play the over-reacting victim.

Post-truth politics :– This is one that enrages me. Are we to believe that politicians never lied until the likes of Trump came along? Does anybody remember a british prime minister who said “What I believe the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons, that he continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and that he has been able to extend the range of his ballistic missile programme”, launched a war on the basis of this lie and then stayed in power for another 6 years? Does it mean that the jobs of press offices is just to make transparency more efficient? The only thing different now is that the old elites have lost their monopoly on disinformation, which is why they have started circulating this propaganda slogan. The clever thing about it is that it itself is misinformation dressed up as a thoughtful and objective concept. Some spindoctor somewhere has earned his christmas bonus.

Trump’s victory/ Trump’s election, etc : Trump didn’t win, he got less votes than Hilary Clinton (and to put it in context, less than either of the republican candidates that ran against Obama). Calling it a victory legitimises him and the terror he is about to unleash. Calling it his election legitimises the anti-democratic system.

Best of August

The civil war in Syria gets worse, with Assad seeing success with his strategy of starving territory back into control, and Turkey crossing the border. Yet again, the establishment media has done little more than regurgitate the official spin: that Turkey is responding to the ISIL terrorist attack on its territory by committing ground troops to the fight against them in Syria. When in fact, the bomb attack was in (Turkey-occupied) Kurdistan, at the wedding of a Kurdish political activist, which was used by Turkey as an excuse to implement a plan it had drawn up not to fight ISIL but to attack the autonomist project of the Syrian Kurds in Rojava, who are the most successful grouping gaining back territory from ISIL. And the US has gone along with it and finally ended the uneasy ‘temporary’ relationship with the Kurds, possibly because they don’t want Turkey getting closer to Russia, possibly because they too see the Rojava autonomist project as a threat, probably both. Either way, it shows that for the US and Turkey alike, fighting terrorism is less of a priority than imperialist hegemony. See this and this articles on the deal.

2016_08 Puerto Rican graffitti
Puerto Rican street art by La Puerta collective calling for a revolution against US colonialism. Image from ROAR.

Workers at two app-facilitated, conditions-destroying delivery companies in London have opened an important front in precarity-capitalism by organising wildcat strikes – not because they are radical anarchists who say fuck unions and class collaborationist process, but because they aren’t actually allowed to have a union, and as ‘contractors’ they don’t officially work there, so wildcat is the only way they can get together and strike. An important fightback against capital and the propaganda of the ‘sharing economy’. As Carlos Delclos from ROAR puts it, “Companies like Uber and Amazon Mechanical Turk privatized the [mutual aid]-style networking that allows these workers to earn a living, and then challenged governments to adapt their legal structures to their “no-benefits” employment scheme”. See these pieces on the Uber eats strike here and here, and this earlier one on the Deliveroo strike.

Also in England, following the disgraceful behaviour of Byron, a hamburger chain that exploited undocumented workers for years and then rounded them up and turned them over to the immigration police, a group in the National Health Service calling themselves ‘Docs not Cops’ is organising to make hospitals and health facilities no-immigration-police-zones and to refuse them access to medical data. A good article was posted on Novara about them. And Red Pepper ran this article damning the Chilcot enquiry for purposefully avoiding questions on the real motives for the war in Iraq, and the role of private corporations and lobyists in pushing the invasion agenda. Nice to see this, because I was getting fairly sick of hearing the media call the Chilcot report ‘damning’ and peddling its face-saving language (e.g. saying Blair ‘exaggerated’ the threat from Iraq, when in truth he made it up, etc).

2016_08 Pretoria protest
Protest by students at a formerly white-only school in Pretoria, South Africa, where a ban on afros is the trigger leading to outburst, but only the latest of a series of policies that has led students to connect the dots of institutional racism. “That is what forces us to realise that no matter how hard we work or how well we speak, we remain black. That is what forces us to realise that we are still niggers. That is what forces ‘coconuts’ to become conscious”. Photo from Daily Maverick.

Elsewhere,

2016_08 Chinese anti-racist protest in France
French-Chinese community in Paris organise and take to the streets to protest against violent, anti-Chinese  racist violence following recent murder. Image from Liberation.fr

And finally an excellent intersectionalist analysis queering marxism – looking at the many ways heteronormative society pushes LGBT*Q people into precarity. I usually don’t like overly materialist left-wing analysis because they tend to reduce form of oppression to just the economic impact, but this one does a great job.