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.

Posts of December

The worst news by far this month was how the anti-democratic system in the US decided to hand state power to a racist misogynist. There’s been many things written about that since the appointment (it’s not an election), so I’m just sharing three of them here: an article in Al Jazeera written by a Palestinian cultural heritage researcher, showing how a series of american presidents and politicians, including both Clintons, have on numerous occasions fucked over Palestine to boost their own profiles. I’m not sharing it in order to say that Trump isn’t that bad – just that in many places outside of the US he represents the continuation of arrogant figures who get to arbitrarily decide whether to intensify ongoing domination, colonialism, and general fucking-over of distant lands. But Trump is that bad, particularly for any people whose existence exposes the myth of white happy america. And that is exactly what the post sub-titled “Make it impossible for this system to govern on stolen land” does: naming a system that is united by the violence it serves to indigenous americans, people of african descent, people of demonised religions, non-white or english-speaking migrants, LGTQBI people, and the list could go on. And how to make it impossible for him/them/it to govern, that’s the reason why the other piece I’m sharing is a list of practical steps to practice solidarity and organise community self-defense in anticipation of a structural violence that looks set to accelerate, published on Cindy Milstein’s blog.

And much else from November follows a similar theme. It’s all about the rise of the fascist right and colonialism, or less pessimistically, anti-colonial resistance and self-defense. In what by now seems something from a different age, this article in ROAR just before Trump lost the election places the targeting of the HDP by Erdogan and subsequently by ISIS, as part of a longer pattern from the elections of 2015 and intensifying after the coup attempt earlier this year in which the country looks firmly on the road from republican democracy to fascist dictatorship.

In terms of anti-colonial resistance, next door to the US, the resistance at Standing Rock is inspirational and there has again been a lot written about it. My pick is this article about two police who left the force instead of attacking the protectors. I know its a drop in the ocean, but moments when the police or military decide that the side of the 1% is not their side are what make revolutions. And we are never going to beat them with violence, the only hope we have is to make it impossible for them to continue defending themselves and waging war on us. Another piece is one by a student in South Africa writing about the #Fees Must Fall movement for decolonising education, their goals (not just stopping university student fees), their victories so far, and some of the internal tensions that it must overcome. And third, a transcribed lecture on the Haiti Revolution and its influence on African history and literature, nationalism and internationalism, black radicalism and the black revolutionary tradition. Interesting stuff there.

And towards the end of the month we had the death of Fidel Castro. Regardless of where you stand on his politics, most people will agree that his death marks the passing of one of last and the most iconic figures of the cold war. Something from a different era, not just pre this current post-neoliberal fascist dystopia, but also pre-neoliberalism itself. The media was predictably formulaic talking about mourning in communist Havana and celebrations in dissident Florida. So the piece I picked was something on Al Jazeera that doesn’t try to balance the two views – he was a monster AND a socialist superman – but more importantly outside of the two cold war core spheres of influence, Cuba, Fidel and Che were known as anti-imperialist internationalists who helped the Vietnam liberation front, the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and participated in the Movement of the non-Aligned (although in the end they were shown up to be in the pockets of the Soviets..). (incidentally, for anybody who thinks this is too apologetic, ok, here a second link to a book review outlining the early roots of Che’s Stalinism).

And finally, a few pieces in the spirit of community self-defense, first there is a post shaming the Guardian for its cheerleading and generally unbalanced and uncritical coverage of MI5 (british spying institution) and the imperialist wars of the international community. The Guardian was an important part of my development of political awareness but some of the things I have seen there in recent times are outrageous (e.g. showing ‘balance’ between the Labour party’s membership and the parliamentary party’s attempt to block them from democratically participating in the party) so to honour this betrayal I am pushing to share any post calling them out (I even have a new tag for this – ‘Shame on the Guardian’). Second, an article about Barrett Brown, a journalist arrested and jailed for reporting on companies using and selling electronic surveillance technologies. And third, a resource guide on information security and on how to protect yourself digitally.

Era of 21st century fascism is already here: Trump is a disaster but it didn’t start with him

What happened on the 8th of November was truly disastrous. I remember in 2000 when Bush won with this program to re-launch Star Wars (the satellite nuclear missile defense system from the Cold War – didn’t happen in the end) and to go back to Iraq (did happen), that this was terrible for the world. But now this is far worse.

Since the results announced that Clinton had won the vote but the fucked-up anti-democratic system was handing the most powerful state machinery in the world to a Fascist, hate crimes have predictably rocketed as bigots feel empowered by the moral authority that he has unleashed. And this is still 2 months before he actually takes power – lets see the kind of pain he is prepared to inflict on people then, both in the US and in the rest of the world.

This is all tragic, but it is important to remember that it did not start with him. He is part of a wider pattern where the extreme-right have taken whole or partial electoral power. Even when they only have partial power this has seen a buoyancy of hate crimes – e.g. Greece when Golden Dawn won 21 seats in the (first) 2012 election, or Netherlands when the liberal People’s Party and the Christian Democrats accepted the support of the PVV for their minority government in 2010. But when the power of the state has been handed to them they have used all its machinery of violence on whatever scapegoats within its territory (e.g. Hungary and the UK targeting of ‘immigrants’; Poland’s trend of increasingly controlling legislation of womens’ bodies and movements) or outside its territory (e.g. Turkey extension into Syria of its ongoing genocide against the Kurds; Iran’s and Russia’s support for Assad’s mass murder of a people risen to ensure their own people know what is coming to them if they assert any basic democratic rights).While all certainly unique to their own circumstances, they do share a pattern that was already there before Trump’s arrival. But it has now announced itself with a bang with this pig (because the power of the US state machinery makes it so much more dangerous and because of US-centric world media that means it unfortunately is the centre of the world and as they say, if its not happening in america then it isn’t happening) although with tight elections around the corner in Austria and France and who knows where else as the trend plays out, it is clearly not limited to one man’s victory.

Nor is it likely to be limited to a handful of sets of states. As mentioned, many have regional police-man ambitions, while the weird and erratic economic shifts they instigate are going to have repercussions in trading partner states. Which is important because while for better r worse neoliberalism has been seen since the 1970s as the only political-economic order possible, its hegemony has been in crisis since 2008 and despite all our efforts it now looks like it is the right who are set to claim this ground. As Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilsen wrote a few years ago

“whether neoliberalism is ending is perhaps not the main question we should now be asking. Such hegemonic projects have relatively short shelf-lives, induced by their declining ability to meet the interests of the key members of the alliances which underpin them. The real question is more one of how much damage neoliberalism will do in its prolonged death agonies; and, even more importantly, what (or more sociologically, who) will replace it and how”

There are a number of essential actions that need to be taken immediately: neighbourhood organising to protect victims (this does not have to mean vigilante-ism; sometimes it is as simple as racially privileged people accompanying racially targeted people just to lessen the sense of immunity that police or bigots might have), actions targeting specific policies or wars, pressures on elites in states that have yet to fall to the right to withdraw moral support from and condemn the actions of these bigots so that they are not permitted to pretend to be legitimate participants in democracies (aside: a few months ago I had a conversation with an elderly life-long lefty from France, who told me that worse that the socialist party’s move to the centre-right was that socialist or other left politicians now agree to sit on discussion panels with the Front Nationale, whereas 20 years ago all lefties would leave their seats and refuse to facilitate the masquerading of hate speech as democratic debate – this is the long process of how we have let the likes of Trump come to pass). But beyond this, there is a need for movement-building that seriously comes to terms with a possible post-neoliberal world order, although far from the one we have been trying to bring into being.

That is a huge task, and even starting to think in this way is huge (not to mention depressing) and clearly cannot be dealt with here. So I’m going to finish this post by casting blame. For better or for worse, neoliberalism is dying. Due to its own inherent contradictions but also because of capitalist elites who transformed their own growth and profitability set-backs into an unprecedented economic crisis, neoliberalism has had an image-problem as a legitimate order since 2008. But because of their allies managing policy making institutions who refused to let bad investment and greed get what they deserve – nothing – and instead sucking wealth from the rest of society, because they relentlessly imposed such policies against all resistance, and did everything to stop a left-wing democratic and humane discourse from building itself as an alternative to neoliberalism, because of this, the have let the monsters take over. Obama created Trump, Hollande fostered La Pen, and Gordon Brown made Theresa May. The blood of fascism’s coming victims will be on their hands.

Speaking from inside: two statements from prison movements

I came across two statements worth sharing today. The first is from the Korydallos Womens’ Prison in Greece, where prisoners have been protesting for months about issues of overcrowding, excercise facilities, and medical mismanagement. It is significant that the highest concentration of solidarity actions with the US prison strike have come from Athens, many of them from inside prisons. Therefore it is only right that the rest of us share the stories of the struggles in greek prisons. Text shared from InsurrectionNews:

On Friday Oct. 14th a delegate from the Ministry of Justice came to the women’s prison as per our request. During the meeting we discussed in depth our issues and proposed solutions in order to re-allocate the prison space and satisfy the needs of women prisoners. The main issues concern the integration of the story below our wing into the women’s prison in order to achieve decongestion as well as the necessity of an area for our yard time where we could spend time outside in humane conditions. The discussion moved within the framework of providing information without the ministry making any commitment. However, there was a mutual understanding of our fair demands and a promise to provide solutions to our problems. Until those promises become actions we decided to continue our mobilizing which basically means that the prison will remain open during midday lock down and delay evening lock down by one hour.

Korydallos Women’s Prison

And secondly, The Ferguson National Response Network have issued a call for support for Joshua Williams, jailed for taking part in the Ferguson uprising in response racial murder by police. He has been placed in level 5 custody with violent offenders. The message is simple – if you protest against the institutions of the state you can be tossed in the worst parts of prison where fuck knows what will happen you. Call shared from itsgoingdown.

From Ferguson National Response Network

Josh Williams, who was jailed for his role in the Ferguson uprising, has been placed in level 5 of the prison, a violent environment which threatens his safety, and is asking for help in first getting moved to a different level, and also to be moved to another prison closer to home.

Phone numbers: (573)-751-2389 and (573)-751-3222

Emails: constituentservices@doc.mo.gov, InspectorGeneral@doc.mo.gov, comofc@oa.mo.gov, doc.media@doc.mo.gov

Message: “Hello, I am a concerned citizen contacting you on behalf of Joshua Williams #1292002, who is currently housed at the ERDCC in Bonne Terre, MO. Joshua Williams has been unjustly housed with violent offenders in level 5 at this facility, when he should be in level 2. Joshua Williams is a non-violent, wrongly convicted young man with no priors. Because the prison has jeopardized the safety of Joshua Williams and housed him haphazardly, we are also demanding that Joshua Williams be transferred to a facility closer to his home in St Louis, MO.

We need Joshua Williams transferred from level 5 to level 2, and his transfer papers should be approved and in process immediately.

I need this message to be passed on to the director, deputy director, and any other parties who can expedite this process. This is an emergency and of the utmost importance.”

You can also drop Josh a line with a few words of support at:

Josh Williams #1292002
E.R.D.C.C.
2727 Highway K
Bonne Terre, MO 63628

ONLINE OCT 19, 20, 21 Flood the Phones for Joshua Williams Call 573-751-2389 or 573-751-3222