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Hypocrisy of British ruling elite as the template for hypocrisy of neoliberal elite

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British scientists conducted thorough experiments
and proved that absence or weakness of air defense
capabilities in the countries rich in oil inevitably lead
 to establishing of the democracy in the particular country

hypocrisy noun - definition in British English Dictionary & Thesaurus - Cambridge Dictionary Online

hypocrisy noun [U]

/hɪˈpɒk.rɪ.si/ US /-ˈpɑː.krə-/ disapproving


A situation in which someone pretends to believe something that they do not really believe, or that is the opposite of what they do or say at another time.

hypocrisy - definition of hypocrisy by Macmillan Dictionary

behaviour in which someone claims to have certain moral principles or beliefs but behaves in a way that shows they are not sincere

There is a degree of hypocrisy in expressing outrage at environmental disasters while doing nothing to prevent them.  


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[Jun 06, 2018] Neoliberal Economics has a lot of similarities with Theology

Jun 06, 2018 |

Carlosthepossum -> innercity leftie , 3 Jun 2018 19:10

Economics has a lot of similarities with Theology.
People can believe whatever interpretation fits with their own indoctrination.
The difference being there is a truth to economics that seems to be invisible to most people, major economists included.
Your post highlights some of the stark realities that people just refuse to accept for some inexplicable reason.
Maybe the better economic managers will come to the rescue or maybe there will be a collective awakening when in a moment of clarity we start to realise how badly we have been conned.

[Jun 06, 2018] What is the "optimum" level of inequality in the society?

Jun 06, 2018 |

Janeee -> Jas636 , 3 Jun 2018 21:52

There are many societies that tolerate a certain degree of economic inequality, but still provide decent living conditions, services and infrastructure for most citizens. The notion that we either have extreme inequality or extreme poverty is empirically and morally empty.

[Jun 06, 2018] Where are the rational limits of libertarian vision?

Jun 06, 2018 |

Friarbird , 3 Jun 2018 21:42

Further down the thread, 'Weakaspiss' makes a pertinent observation; " government has forgotten they govern for all, and have a primary duty for those who are least able to prosper."

In fact, they've "forgotten" nothing.
Instead, they've fallen for the self-serving blandishments of Libertarian dogma.
Where have I learned of these ?
By reading the posts of GA's resident Libertarians.
The sub-texts of which are wonderfully instructive.

1. Nothing is more important than the individual.
2. And as an individual and a Libertarian, I am infinitely superior to you.
3. Plus I resent paying taxes, which are outright theft.
4. Since I believe, utterly without basis in reality, that taxes levied on hard-working, wonderful freedom-loving ME, sustain the likes of lazy, parasitical YOU.
5. Meanwhile, govt, if it cannot be destroyed, must always be demonised and underfunded. And so-called 'programs of public benefit' for the parasites--like Medicare, or the ABC-- must be sold outright to the private sector.
6. No I don't want to debate about it, if there's a chance I'll lose the argument.
My ego demands I win every time..
7. Certainly not with losers of lower social status, who were 'educated' in a union-run public school.
8. And don't even come near me, losers. Yuk ! You're probably not even white !
9. Because I socialise only within my own tribe, thank you very much.
10. Besides, you're probably living off my taxes.
11. Did I mention taxes somewhere ?
12. Taxes are theft.

Our conservatives have "forgotten" NOTHING.
Instead, they've fallen for a sociopathic ideology which tells them their least attractive impulses are positively praiseworthy.
Hence the nasty, ego-driven tone of current political life.
Injected directly into the bloodstream of our body politic by a Lying Rodent.
Its philosophy may be simply stated

Does your policy shit all over people you never cared for anyway ?

[Jun 06, 2018] PossumBilly

Jun 06, 2018 |

3 Jun 2018 23:25

This message is clear and concise. It is however never going to be heard beyond the 'Guardian'.

The MSM are hardly going to publish this article, nor are they going to reference it, why should they? It goes against everything they have been fighting for and the tin ear of their readership are unwilling to change teir views.

The only thing that they understand is money and the concentration of wealth. This misonception as Dennis So far this has been handed to them on a plate, the taxation system has enabled them to manipulate an multiply their earnings. So much of money the has nothing to do with adding value to this countries economy but is speculative in nature based on financial and overseas instruments.

No is the time for our government to take the lead and start as the Victorian ALP have done and invest in people and jobs on the back of strategic investment. It is a fallacy that governments don't create jobs they, through their policies do just that.

Friends of mine who make a living out of dealing both in stock and wealth creating schemes have no loyalty to this country, they are self motivated and libertarian in persuasion. "Government should get out of the way!" This is nothing short of scandalous.

Unless we stand up for our rights and a civil society that provides adequate provision for fair and balanced policy making,xwe will continue until we will see an implosion. History is littered with examples of revolution based on the kind of inequality we are seeing happen in this country. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

jclucas , 3 Jun 2018 23:25
It is indeed important to make the distinction between the ideology of neoliberalism - the ideology of private enterprise is good, and public spending is bad - and the operational system of crony capitalism - the game of mates played by government and the special interests.

And it is certainly equally important to call out the monumental hypocrisy involved in the government's application of the ideology's set of rules to the powerless and public and the government's application of corrupt practice rules to the special interests.

The system is destroying the egalitarian character of Australia and fanning the flames of nativist authoritarianism here.

But what's even more dangerous is the fundamental dishonesty that the system necessitates, and the alienating influence it has - on top of the growing economic inequality.

The system has destroyed the economic and environmental viability and sustainability of the planet on which human civilization depends.

What is becoming increasingly clear to more and more of the public is that - simple put- the system cannot be allowed to go on as it has been proceeding because it threatens the future of civilization on earth.

Change is imperative now. However, how that will unfold is unclear, as well as, the toll the destruc5turing system will take.

What is clear is that a great restructuring must happen - and soon.

Aldeano , 3 Jun 2018 23:20
The neo liberals are intent on defacing Australia. Their pusstulant tentacles stretch into our classrooms forcing our kids to believe in their god. They tell us that white millionaire farmers deserve refugee status and all the benefits bestowed on poor persecuted minorities. They tell us that the disgustingly rich deserve tax relief. Their's is a world where their children are entitled to safe electoral sets. But they can be defeated and sent to misery. We did it in the Same Sex Marriage fiasco and we can do it to their more insidious behaviours. Write to your local member. Barrage them with emails. Write to their propaganda Letters to the Editor. Donate to GetUp. Keep on keeping on.
Alan Ritchie -> Paul Felix , 3 Jun 2018 23:02
Neoliberalism, the dogma was was sourced from Milton Freidman's Monetarism economic theory. When it morphed into the 'Greed is Good' credo is unclear.
Guess you have to call the disease something, so Neoliberalism it is.
familygardener , 3 Jun 2018 20:37
So anyway.

Is capitalism stuffed?
There is much debate at the moment about which Party has the best economic plan going forward. The Coalition maintains that the best way is by giving large tax breaks to business.
This is currently being called 'Pre GST theory or old style trickle down economics'.
Lenore Taylor writes:
"The investment bank once chaired by Malcolm Turnbull has backed the view that much of the benefit from the Coalition's company tax cuts could flow to offshore investors, as the prime minister insisted his plan was the best way to ensure continued economic growth".
"The domestic benefits would be far bigger if companies used the tax cut to grow their business, but according to Goldman Sachs "survey evidence suggests that companies are less likely to voluntarily lower the dividend payment ratio", in other words, the real-world impact was likely to be closer to the scenario where 60% of the benefit flowed offshore"

[Jun 06, 2018] "Neoliberalism will literally be the death of democracy." In fact, that was the plan.

Jun 06, 2018 |

Friarbird -> 64newc , 3 Jun 2018 17:56

"Neoliberalism will literally be the death of democracy."

In fact, that's the plan.
Openly alluded to by the IPA's Gary Johns;

".... a cardinal tenet of libertarianism is to keep democracy in its place, to regard it as an activity of limited application. Government's role is to depoliticise much of life, to make it less amenable to public dispute....."

From Margo Kingston's 'Not happy, John !' (2005).
Get on to the 'Catallaxy' site.
You'll soon find out what Libertarian sociopaths think of democracy.

Scryboy -> spharks , 3 Jun 2018 17:55
I actually think many people go along with neoliberalism because they perceive it will turn out well for them. It's the every man for himself Darwinian approach to life, but the LNP reflects that view most closely. It's the one where everyone is a welfare scrounger, but if for some reason you end up needing welfare, you deserve it because of all the tax you paid, even though you've been minimising your tax for decades.
64newc , 3 Jun 2018 17:44
Neoliberalism will literally be the death of democracy.

[Jun 06, 2018] The other great con is convincing the public that voting for anyone but the two major parties is "wasting your vote".

Jun 06, 2018 |

Purge, 3 Jun 2018 17:46

The other great con is convincing the public that voting for anyone but the two major parties is "wasting your vote". This political duopoly means only those interests are ever represented and that has also led to Australia's systematic decline. Yes it's true that the majors hold majority in parliament but we've already seen that voting below the line can work- Labour had to take notes from the Greens last time they held power. Despite how hopeless it all seems we do still have the power to affect change as long as we- all of us- stop swallowing the lies.
BobsWorth2 , 3 Jun 2018 17:35
The current two party system is like a coin. On one side we have the head of Malcolm Turnbull and on the other Bill Shorten. When it comes to the toss up the corporations and wealthy get to call heads.
BelindaJonas -> Tom Dalyell , 3 Jun 2018 17:30
There is perhaps more honour amongst thieves? Hard to imagine there being less.

[Jun 06, 2018] When a country - a majority vote - knowingly, maliciously - and repeatedly - vote for an ideology of hate, exclusion and greed then what do you expect

Jun 06, 2018 |

Gekkko , 3 Jun 2018 19:22

When a country - a majority vote - knowingly, maliciously - and repeatedly - vote for an ideology of hate, exclusion and greed then what do you expect.

What did the majority vote not get in 2013 when they elected the Abbott Regime?

What red flags did they miss in that clip?

What did the majority vote actually not understand about the budget of 2014? This budget devastated this country and particularly Australian youth.

When a government turned on its own citizens - A nation of *LIFTERS (1%) and LEANERS (99%) * ( Hockey May 13, 2014) When Abbott very nearly withdrew all government aid to any Australian under 30yo

The LNP IPA have a strategy of pillage and plunder - the transfer of public wealth to the <1% richest and big corporations. They have provided the regulatory context and the ethics and morality that has allowed Australian business, big and small across the board to normalise wage-theft, the non payment of super, unpaid internships and the sort of behaviour commonly seen through the Banking RC.

What does the majority vote not see?

The neoliberal did not con us all - but it is clear that the majority vote is. A vote that has yet to account to all Australians for wrecking this country. A vote that supported the most corrupt government Australia has ever had. Don't think for a moment that that can go without a reckoning.

If you were even peripherally aware of history, you'd know that people subjected to lifelong exploitation, forced into a precarious existence or buried under annually compounding debts will, eventually, wheel guillotines into the town square and start taking names.

[Jun 06, 2018] It's apparent that elections can be won by throwing enough resources into well aimed propaganda

Slightly edited Guardian comment...
How many voters even have any idea of what "neoliberalism" is? I would be thinking not many, especially as the Murdoch press don't even use the term in their publications. They might feel the effects , but without any conceptualisation of its underpinning ideas and ideology be less likely to be able to identify policy which reflects neoliberal values. And I'm sure the powers that be like it that way.
Jun 06, 2018 |

Alan Ritchie , 3 Jun 2018 21:58

For that last 40 years some variant of neoliberalism has been the predominant dogma. Unfortunately once we moved on from hunter gatherer to an agriculture supported society we lost the connections to each other that existed at the tribal level. That sense of community does not flourish in our eight thousand year experiment with city based civilisation. It seems to only do so during times of disruption and war.

Personally my experience of living in a socially cohesive society was the 30 year period leading up to the reinfestation of the neoliberal curse that started in the 80's with Reagan and Thatcher.

So neoliberalism is the norm, socialism requires more work. We can't take it for granted that society will naturally gravitate towards egalitarianism.

Turnbull and his LNP cohort can openly mock the population with impunity safe in the knowledge that a small but powerful and rich minority, joined by group think and supported by exclusive membership institutions, schools, corporations, have a shared goal of controlling the monetary, economic system and government.

It's apparent that elections can be won by throwing enough resources into well aimed propaganda, (cue Murdoch). Cambridge Analytica was brutally effective at the last elections in the US and UK. Anyone who believes a similar scam won't be tried in Australia is being naive.
So people will still vote against their long term interests and we will likely still get another dose of self inflicted neoliberalism at the next election.

1MadUncle , 3 Jun 2018 21:51
The real problem will be that no where near enough voters will read this article or pieces like it. The Murdoch press for example would never publish it and the content won't be seriously discussed on morning TV. The ABC wouldn't dare mention a word of it.

I don't think it is all doom and gloom. I have 12 grandchildren, some now teenagers. They and their kind are smarter than we give them credit for and they won't put up with the crap we have bequeathed them. They don't get information from main stream media and although their social media contains an enormous amount of rubbish, embedded are real grievances about their lot in life. Soon they will vote. Goodbye and good riddance to the conservatives.

PDGFD1 -> sarkany , 3 Jun 2018 21:39

It is actually just a pan-national oligarchy, where legislatures and media are compromised into acceptance of destructive and unethical policies by Big Money.

Worthy of repetition since I'm not able to give you more than one 'uptick'.

In this instance, I very much suspect it will be the staggering load put on the natural environment that will spin the current "Eternal Empires" "down the sinkhole of history".
Sadly for everyone and everything else.

nogapsallowed , 3 Jun 2018 21:26
Neoliberalism wins by manipulating public distraction. The so-called reality shows of mainstream media are the furthest flight imaginable from lived experience, and even the serious news outlets succumb to the Peyton Place of Barnaby's baby and a disappeared Melania Trump. All of which makes a considered analysis such as the one republished here such a notable exception.
BlackAbbott -> familygardener , 3 Jun 2018 21:22
That man has the real meaning of neoliberalism. Neoliberal way is not incompatible with unions, wages, social services or governments that protect their citizens.

His way there should be no division and no angst of politics. Maybe that's where the problem is/ His way is not the way of modern politics and greed. Being rich does not mean being greedy. But that is what modern neoliberam with its free markets mantra have come to be seen as.

My Grandfather and Great Grandfather, would see this man as being correct with a very good attitude. He would see Wall St and many financial businesses as greedy and managed by bullies and tyrants.

[Jun 06, 2018] And everyone knows that the "trickle down" effect does not work but don't let this truth stand in the way of the neoliberals stampeding to the trough

Yep, this is a new form of crony capitalism.
Jun 06, 2018 |

shirleytemple -> incompatible , 3 Jun 2018 18:03

And everyone knows that the "trickle down" effect does not work but don't let this truth stand in the way of the neoliberals stampeding to the trough.
incompatible , 3 Jun 2018 17:56
Since the 1980s, free markets have been promoted as the best way to generate wealth (which may be true) and the best way to help everyone in society since there will be more wealth to go around. That has turned out not to work so well, since the wealth doesn't "trickle down", but instead concentrates in fewer and fewer hands.
NickThiwerspoon , 3 Jun 2018 17:54
An excellent analysis. Neo-liberalism is a mechanism which transfers money from the poor to the rich. Far from "trickle down" it is in fact "siphon up".
BelindaJonas -> Colin Connelly , 3 Jun 2018 17:29
Therein lies the crux - to some folk (most, I would hesitate) money is a means of survival.
To others, (those obsessed with it) it's the source of power. Ergo, of course you can have too much money, since it is physically impossible to spend it. But at the same time, you cannot, if so compelled, have too much power.
Put simply, it is unadulterated GREED. An addiction, if you like.
And for that, there is no cure.
morgey -> The Hope , 3 Jun 2018 18:02
'Aspiring to become rich' is the most vapid of all aspirations.
francis nongham , 3 Jun 2018 18:00
Privatization is one method of stealing the people's assessts and giving it to the wealthy through ownership of shares. The Lieberals talk of mum & dad investors yet 98% of Australian shares are owned by the wealthiest 1%
Rob Robinson , 3 Jun 2018 17:59
There are so many who believe they will benifit from these ideologies , that they reinforce those who promote them . They simply don't realise they are not part of the equation , and any benifit gained by them is simply incidental. The target recipients have always been the Corporate bodies and those with their finger in the pie . Not once , to my recollection, has the Australian people , in general terms , benifited from the sale of public companies , banks or infrastructure .
ramAustralia , 3 Jun 2018 17:56
Brilliant article, hits the nail on the head! Australia really did go "off the tracks" with the regime of John "Mugabe" Howard with a system of patronage, corruption, and systemic bribery which gave us a third world government. Like other "mineral resource rich, failed states" the nation's wealth has been mostly stolen.

[Jun 06, 2018] Seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse Page 3 of 10 Discussion The Guardian

Jun 06, 2018 |

BlackAbbott -> ID2778880 , 27 Apr 2018 04:31

It's not about money. Ultimately, it's not even about the financial system.

But it is about money and about the financial system.
Neo-liberals see things as a dollar value only nothing else is of value. The fact that Macro economics is a social science is discarded and Micro-economics covers all that is of value. The financial system is critical because it is based on lies publicly. This is one of the reasons that power may indeed be defining. But the reason behind it is the lies of finance. The key ones being tax does not fund government and banks create instant money when they give a loan. The repayments cancel the money creation they do not get collected and put out as new loans. Like wise when the federal government spends it also creates new money and drains ot away by tax which destroys it. The federal government cannot save for a rainy day. Another financial one that needs dumping is the lie that a surplus is good. It is not. So yes finance is critical Power is a symptom of the lies. Not the cause.
As soon as they reality is accepted the whole driving force of neo-liberalism falls to bits. It is exposed. Its reason to sell assets vanishes (federally) The passing of costs to the states shows as political crap.
ID2778880 -> BlackAbbott , 27 Apr 2018 04:16
It's not about money. Ultimately, it's not even about the financial system. The real showdown will start with the fight over energy and resources.

Tightening energy and resource supply, associated with environmental degradation to obtain those resources and a still increasing world population will be the death of neo-liberalism. But in my view, it is unlikely to be replaced by Communism.

Laurence Bury , 27 Apr 2018 04:20
We would have to look back to before the OPEC oil shocks of the early 1970s and the emergence of the Asian Tigers to see a different model of capitalism dependent on the West having a competitive industrial base with mass employment therein.
Hence, it is Varoufakis who is an old skool, radical chic of precisely this era and the sub-concept of neoliberalism is only of use to neo-Marxists like himself. Perhaps he can go and govern class relations (or foment their conflict) in apparently thriving Australian industry however?
MuzzaC -> curiouswes , 27 Apr 2018 04:11

I believe fraud and corruption caused the great depression.

But this is a part of the myth of the free market. If a market is truly free, those with enough money will always be able to influence the market for their own benefit. As soon as this happens the market fails in its chief function of efficiently allocating scarce resources. That's why there are regulators and anti-monopoly legislation, etc. etc. We pay billions each year to keep capitalism from eating itself.

Self-serving behaviour is only corruption if it is illegal, otherwise it's called business. It is regulation that makes it illegal, which is why we need strong, democratic control.

So saying that the GD was caused by corruption is the same as saying that free-market capitalism got out of control of democratic regulation. Same thing, different name.

AdelaideRose , 27 Apr 2018 04:10
The end of neoliberalism can't come soon enough for me. People and communities have been destroyed for the benefit of a few who don't care about anything other than their own wealth and power. Time to give the power to the people.
curiouswes -> Powerspike , 27 Apr 2018 03:24

THIS is "neo-liberalism"

not to me; I think you have a conglomerate of ideas and policies, some of which I'd categorize as neoliberal, but things like "extreme individualism" have nothing to do with neo liberalism per se.

I think if you give too much power to the state, you'll wind up with authoritarianism. maybe that doesn't concern you, maybe it does. I believe in the concept of labor unions. However I also believe in freedom. It may not be in our long term interest to give up freedom for the sake of a better economic prospect today.

HauntedTupperware , 27 Apr 2018 03:18
It's not going to happen Van. Unfortunately, this is a globally integrated system, which dwarfs the power of national politics and national economies, with maybe the exception of the US, and look what's going on in the US. Donald Trump is the president. I mean, what does that say about the United States, that they've elected a leader like Trump? How does the saying go, "Cometh the hour, cometh the man?" I guess they must have a death wish, unfortunately, they're going to take mos of the world's population with them. I'm not necessarily a pessimist, but I think a rational analysis leads to the conclusion, that we're doomed.
vanbadham -> discuz , 27 Apr 2018 03:13
The neoliberals in the West - unlike, disgustingly, those in South America - won hegemony because they did as Gramsci and Dutschke advised the left; they made "a long march through the institutions". Journalists, histoIran's, philosophers and academics were as necessary to the movement as economists and politicians. It was what enabled them to win elections. As the man said - "from the prophets, deserts come."
woddles -> curiouswes , 27 Apr 2018 03:13
So, no point?
Marxism was a suggested response to rampant capitalism where only the very few at the top benefited from the toil of all others.
I would have thought it was obvious. Or maybe you don't understand Marxism?
TWOBOBS -> AndyPe , 27 Apr 2018 03:10
I would suggest you're not on the bottom of the pile either, if you are reading the Guardian and commenting on a computer or an iPhone. The reality is, capitalism has seen the halving of world poverty levels over the last 30 years, and poverty continues to fall. Are there serious problems with inequality in the west, and the world generally? Yes. Capitalism needs to evolve. Better tax regimes and systems for wealth redistribution are needed. Communism is not the answer.
nogapsallowed , 27 Apr 2018 03:01
Every political party is a "collective" of sorts. But as far as I can scan the wasteland of Australian politics, I can't find any that is shining a path towards "freedom and enjoyment."

We need to reconceive politics just as we must the banks, churches and other terminally infected institutions of our time.

Ramsterbigboy -> Kinxil , 27 Apr 2018 02:58
"but let's stop being full anti elite, neo liberalism allowed several, unfortunately not all, of us, to feel a bit special."

That is not Van's or the Guardian's way.

Van how many "people hate it"? have you counted them by any chance?

Powerspike , 27 Apr 2018 02:52
Neo liberal practices i.e. their 1% stranglehold on the economy, their ideology of winner take all, etc are incompatible with a modern nation state, with civilised values, and with a harmonious society.
They are destroying the state and society.
BlackAbbott -> curiouswes , 27 Apr 2018 02:52

Unfortunately many don't care about truth.

And that is the reason we have neo-liberalism. The truth is not seen.
Awabakali , 27 Apr 2018 02:51
The simplest and most apposite critique of unbridled Capitalism is that is ideologically bound to the notion that consuming is good, increased production and use of finite resources is good, cheap labour is good, tax is bad, and sharing is bad...and that if Capitalism continues apace in its present form it will lead to the total pollution of the earth, the disappearance of all wild animals and plants, the end of bees and pollination, the rise of rampant diseases uncontrolled by drugs that are not affordable to the world's poor, and the eventual extinction of humans. Capitalism is not only dangerous, it is myopically spectacularly insane. Psychology demonstrates that humans have 3 classic responses to a crisis:

3.Acceptance of reality and action

1980's Denial phase: "It is exaggerated by mad greenies and ain't happening."

1990's Fantasy phase: "Recycling and prayer will fix it all."

2018 Reality and Action phase: "We are in deep shit....literally...and we need radical immediate action by governments, corporations, educational institutions and individuals to save the planet and us. Want your great grandkids to be alive in 2080? Then get out there shouting....TODAY!!!!!

Kinxil , 27 Apr 2018 02:49
"People hate it". That kind of sentence which make you consider closing the tab. Your point is sensible, neoliberalism has generated lot of bothering issues, but if it didn't exist, I wouldn't have an affordable car and computer, and I wouldn't have a giant amount of choice for goods to consider. It's time it ends, or rather rethink itself, but let's stop being full anti elite, neo liberalism allowed several, unfortunately not all, of us, to feel a bit special.
TWOBOBS -> jungney , 27 Apr 2018 02:38

No-one group or class is but collective action will create a far brighter and healthier future than the current regime of every woman for herself.

There is nothing stopping people now getting together into cooperatives/collectives/communes to start businesses, buy homes, job share.

[Jun 06, 2018] Is fascism a logical next stage of the collapse of neoliberalism, like hapened in Waimar before?

Jun 06, 2018 |

quintal -> Alpo88 , 3 Jun 2018 15:56

Hi Alpo

Fascism is the word that most interests me when looking a the present trajectory in Australia

We're not there yet

And there's no one on the government benches who's a new Hitler or Stalin or Mussolini

But the next generation ..............

They make me uncomfortable. Some of the younger and as yet unheralded apparatchiks on the conservative fringe worry me. They're smart. Know the advertising and selling the message strategies. Have money and are well connected to the barons/oligarchs who pull the strings and they're ambitious.

Paradoxically a collapse of the Liberal Party will help them. In spite of it all we need a fiscally conservative, slightly socially conservative political movement in Australia but the drift to extremism is quite pronounced and profoundly worrying, especially in a time where climate change poses existential questions about our future.

This next election will not be a cakewalk. It'll be as bitterly fought as any in a generation and the consequences of a loss will be, for progressive forces, catastrophic.


Alpo88 , 3 Jun 2018 14:58
"Although people with low expectations are easier to con, fomenting cynicism about democracy comes at a long-term cost. Indeed, as the current crop of politicians is beginning to discover, people with low expectations feel they have nothing to lose."..... Yes, but that's part of the Devilish Plan: Why do you think that the Neoliberals and Conservatives spend so much time nurturing their relationship with both Police and the Army?.... They want to be sure that if their Neoliberal-Conservative project goes truly belly up, they will be the ones holding the guns.

Yes, it's sinister.... it's dangerous.... it's a time bomb, and we can only defuse it with the help of a majority of Australians waking up, standing up and Democratically vote against Fascism.

[Jun 06, 2018] Neoliberal mantra: Blessed are the job creators

Jun 06, 2018 |

Anomander64 -> Davesnothereman , 3 Jun 2018 16:44

Shhhh... whatever you do, don't ever let them hear you criticising the "job creators" or there will be trouble.

You know we can't touch the corporations - they are sacrosanct because they are the supposed "job creators" - this one title gives them carte blanche to act however they like, to make spurious claims about economies faltering, businesses going offshore and unemployment. They also donate heavily to the political parties.

Repeat after me:
"Blessed are the job creators"
"Blessed are the job creators"
"Blessed are the job creators"
"For THEY shall inherit the wealth"

[Jun 06, 2018] The divisive societal aspects of free market fundamentalism

Jun 06, 2018 |

AsDusty, 3 Jun 2018 17:43

Half the population prefers a politics that is racist and unethical, that demonises the poor and idolises the rich, that eschews community and embraces amoral individuality. These people don't care about the economic inconsistencies of neo-liberalism, they are far more attracted to the divisive societal aspects of free market fundamentalism.

[Jun 06, 2018] Stigmatization of poor as the way to justify and increase inequality

Jun 06, 2018 |

ellaquint , 3 Jun 2018 19:35

Like Joe Hockey, Rinehart saw the problem of inequality as having more to do with the character of the poor than with the rules of the game:

They don't "see" it this way. They just say they see it this way to perpetuate that inequality. They know that their wealth depends on the labour of the other 95-99%.

To keep us all working and voting for their lackeys, they make promises of wealth if you are a persistent hard worker, never mentioning that the entire game depends on only a tiny minority ever reaching the top. No, the real people holding them back are those who don't work hard. Who don't contribute to the game. They're the ones to blame for why you're not levelling up. The true scapegoats.

It's one giant con and they know it.

[Jun 06, 2018] Victim blaming is a classic neo-con tactic, they seek to deflect from the impact of their heartless policies by demonising the victims, from the unemployed and those stuck in the welfare cycle to refugees trapped in offshore detention, indefinitely .

Jun 06, 2018 |

reinhardpolley , 3 Jun 2018 17:18

Victim blaming is a classic neo-con tactic, they seek to deflect from the impact of their heartless policies by demonising the victims, from the unemployed and those stuck in the welfare cycle to refugees trapped in offshore detention, indefinitely . We've all seen how appalling their commentary can get, from Abbott and Hockey's "lifters and leaners" to Gina Mineheart's "two dollars a day" & "spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising" they show just how out touch they are. They honestly believe that people can lift themselves out of poverty if only they "spent more time working", ignoring the fact that many are working two jobs just to stay ahead.
Seems that on planet RWNJ there are more than 24 hours in a day..
OrwelHasNothingOnLNP -> w roberts , 3 Jun 2018 17:00
Half the population need welfare to survive.
1% have 90% of all the toys in the sandpit and won't share. They feel that they are entitled to all the toys.

[Jun 06, 2018] Neoliberalism idealises competition against each other to ensure the rights of the few, by suppressing our capacity to take responsibility together through cooperation and collaboration with each other.

Jun 06, 2018 |

maven501 , 3 Jun 2018 22:54

This piece is well worth the reading particularly in light of the trashing of society's values we see played out in Trump's America. However, the writer's definition of "ideology " as a "system of ideas and ideals" even though it accords with the OED's, fails to take into account the current pernicious influence of the ideologue who distorts "ideology" into the "rationalisation of a suppression" as Joseph Dunne noted in his book, " Back to the Rough Ground" .

This is the most apt description of the modus operandi of today's neoliberalists - the justifying of their project to maximise wealth accumulation in their own self-interest by promoting the propaganda that we are powerless cogs in the machine of the economy , slaves to the whim of the omnipotent market, rather than active agents who wish to contribute to a flourishing society .

Neoliberalism idealises competition against each other to ensure the rights of the few, by suppressing our capacity to take responsibility together through cooperation and collaboration with each other.

This classic divide and conquer tactic will prevail only as long as we permit it.

Time to take a stand and be counted.

[Jun 06, 2018] The neoliberal mantra that "markets are always right" is just rubbish.

Jun 06, 2018 |

DickTyger , 27 Apr 2018 00:27

I'm a conservative and I have an good economics degree. I have to say though that I don't understand neoliberalism at all.

As a example, when I was doing economics it was made very clear to me that natural monopolies (such as electricity and water) cannot be made into a competitive market (rather like trying to put lipstick on a pig). Similarly oligopolies introduce opportunities for price manipulation (e.g. the banks). The neoliberal mantra that "markets are always right" is just rubbish. Markets work well only when certain criteria are met.

Secondly, the right of workers to collectively bargain is fundamental to a well functioning market economy. Labour is one of the inputs to production and the workers have a right to a proper return on their labour. Individual workers have no real bargaining power and can only act collectively through unions.

Finally, the related casualisation of the workforce is a disaster for workers and the long-term interests of the economy. The stagnation of wages (and inflation) is one of the products of this strong trend to casualisation (my blood boils when I hear of examples of wage theft affecting vulnerable workers).

Income inequality is a product of a capitalist system. However, when the distribution of wealth becomes very badly skewed (such as in the USA) then the political system starts to break down. Trump was a beneficiary of this flawed income distribution. All Hillary Clinton was promising was "more of the same". In short, Bernie Sanders was right.

Walter Schadel, in his book, The Great Leveler (see below), points to the role of income inequality in driving revolutions and disruptions. There are lessons in this book for our current crop of politicians both on the left and the right.

[Jun 06, 2018] N>eoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends

Neoliberals are a flavor of Trotskyites and they will reach any depths to hang on to power.
Jun 06, 2018 |
meticulousdoc , 3 Jun 2018 16:16

Just as conservative Christian theology provides an excuse for sexism and homophobia, neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests – systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends.

And when the conservative "Christians" form a neoliberal government, the results are toxic for all, except themselves and their coterie.

Nothing short of a grass roots campaign (such as that waged by GetUp!) will get rid for us of these modern let-them-eat-cake parasites who consider their divine duty to lord over us.

An excellent article, we need more of them.

[Jun 06, 2018] Privatization as a "big con"

Jun 06, 2018 |

Beekeeper49 , 3 Jun 2018 19:32

Wow! Richard Denniss says it like it is, neatly summing up "the big con".

I believe Australia is being sold from under our feet. The big asset-strip is on. Why are we not benefiting from the mining boom? The answer lies in the way Rinehart companies and others like hers have been permitted to use Singapore or other low-taxing countries to minimise taxes. That these large companies should have the gall to demand large tax cuts as well is preposterous.

When headlines indulge in fear-mongering about China, why is angst directed at Dastyari for taking a relatively small donation, whilst at the same time the Australian government has approved a joint purchase of large swathes of the Australian outback by Rinehart and Chinese interests? Have we already forgotten the Darwin port deal? Why were Robb, Bishop and the Liberal Party allowed to benefit from deals or large donations from "Chinese interests"? Yet Bob Carr is being slammed for trying over many years to develop a more harmonious relationship with China?

Australians have told federal and state governments that they hate privatisation. Not content with selling off profitable businesses such as Medibank Private, the Liberal/National Party federal government is privatising its services. Detention centres and prisons acted as a stalking-horse for the creeping privatisation of jobs. Politicians assume most voters don't notice or care when government jobs in those sectors are privatised, but other government departments are following suit.

By permitting the Future Fund and superannuation funds to invest in tax havens, the federal government has opened the door to a growing trend. If my super fund uses the Cayman Island tax haven, it is easier to justify everyone else from the PM down to evade Australian taxes as well. More insidiously, tax havens make it easier to cheat creditors in bankruptcy cases, launder dirty money, break trade sanctions and much more. We aren't even aware of how these may be playing out behind closed doors in our name. The problem with allowing Rinehart to use Singapore or Turnbull to use the Cayman Island is that other companies and individuals will increasingly Do so, and in the end, everyone is doing it. And when will we take note of cryptocurrencies and how they can act like tax havens?

Our participation in wars not of our own making is also having dire results. Think of all the money spent and lives of servicemen destroyed by serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Imagine if that money had instead been invested wisely in defence capabilities. And yet there we are, interfering in the South China Sea, trying to provoke China at Trump's behest, and it is not clear whether the Phillipines wants us there now anyway. And all the while, the cost of our participation in war games is crippling our ability to acquire defence assets, making us more reliant on the US.

The banking enquiry has only scratched the surface of how voters are being ripped off with impunity. There are growing demands that the superannuation industry, in particular retail funds, be subject to greater transparency and regulation. Yet Turnbull, Cash and colleagues prefer to direct their scorn at industry funds, simply because they are controlled by workers, via their unions.

We can sense "the big con" is all around us. We can almost smell it, so pungent is the air of exploitation, corruption and fraud. Hopefully Denniss will join others in focussing us more clearly on how we are being cheated of our birthright.

[Jun 06, 2018] Inverted totalitarism described by a Guardia commenter

Jun 06, 2018 |

Bearmuchly, 3 Jun 2018 16:37

Despite the huge changes in communication in the last several decades and the ever increasing levels of education in our society, politics have failed to engage the vast majority and that cohort of the cynical, the alienated, the disinterested, the lazy, the simply care less continues to grow.

In the last decade the only cause that evoked passion and engaged a larger number, finally forcing our elected members to act was same sex marriage .....a crescendo that took years to generate.

With the complicity of our media and the decline of that part of education that teaches analysis, social psychology and political philosophy (let alone teaches about basic political structures and mechanisms) our level of disengagement from the political process appears to be at an all time high. The performance of our legislators has become increasingly unaccountable and purely self interested .... we have re-created the "political class" of pre-war times where alienation was based on a lack of education and awareness and a sense of inferiority and powerlessness DESPITE our vastly improved communication, access to information and educational standards (not to mention affluence).

Basically, we have "dumbed down" to the extent where passion and ideology in politics is now the preserve of fewer and fewer. In a democracy this trend is of massive concern and a threat to its sustainability.... it also completely suits those that are focused on concentrating power and wealth... the more that don't give a toss the less likely you are to be encumbered by limitations, social considerations, ethics and morality.

Until we re-engage far larger numbers into the political process, raise the levels of awareness of political thought and choices, stop dumbing down and re-inject some broader passion and participation into our political processes then vested interests will continue to dominate.....and democracy will become increasingly undemocratic !

[Jun 06, 2018] The magic of Neoliberalism is to transform acts that should be illegal into legal ones

Jun 06, 2018 |

Alpo88 -> DesignConstruct , 3 Jun 2018 17:20

A "legal system of tax evasion", written like that, in quotes, is obviously a metaphor with an intended sarcasm. Clearly, logically, if a taxation system is legal, by using it you are not "evading" taxes, which is an illegal act.... Anyway, everybody seems to have understood my intention but you. Well, now you also know.

The magic of Neoliberalism is to transform acts that should be illegal into legal ones. In fact they do so explicitly as their argument for reducing taxation is exactly that of getting rid or decreasing the problem of illegal tax evasion.... so they say. Their problem is that we have no evidence that tax evasion decreases under Neoliberalism on top of the legal tax minimisation already provided. The only thing that happens under Neoliberalism is that the Tax Office tends to be under-resourced and everybody likes to conveniently look somewhere else.

DesignConstruct -> Alpo88 , 3 Jun 2018 16:52
A "legal system of tax evasion" is a non sequitur, what they have done is create a set of tax laws that enable more opportunities for tax avoidance by the well off, and Kerry very correctly took advantage of it. If you can, get a copy of the Senate hearing - it's gold.
Splatgadget -> NME765 , 3 Jun 2018 16:51
Agreed, but I'll raise you Kleptocracy.

[Jun 06, 2018] Neoliberals? Never thought they can dominate the government

Jun 06, 2018 |

BarkerT , 3 Jun 2018 17:51

I knew this government contained idiots, ne'er do wells, compulsive liars, misfits, childish imbeciles, ego maniacs, sociopaths, psychopaths, bigots, rorters, drunks, fascists, intransigents, ideologs, religious nutters, dullards, dunces, dickheads, shonks, spivs, lairs, carpetbaggers, rent seekers, lobbyists, conmen, urgers, scammers, ratbags and people unable to get work in any other field of endeavour....but Neoliberals?

Well, I never!

[Jun 06, 2018] Friarbird

Jun 06, 2018 |

3 Jun 2018 20:42

Coded language:
how we bade farewell to publicly-owned electricity.

Part 1

The perceptions of George Orwell seem as valid now as then
Since he dealt with sly deceptions of tyrannical men
So 'Orwellian language', though imprinted on a page
Now has impacts universal, which resound in every age
And in ours, language functions like a fingerprint-free glove
To absolve of guilt the guilty as, imposed from up above,
Has come theft of public assets, for the benefit of those
To whom money by the truckload only ever upward flows.

By subversion of our usage may such larceny be won
And I speak as a Victorian, so know how it is done.
It begins when greedy forces, with a nose for seeking rent
Need to seize and reshape language to conceal true intent
So collusion is essential, 'twixt such forces and the man
Who will slake their gross desires. He's a poll-i-tish-i-an
It is he who'll grasp the nettle, perform tasks of Hercules
Telling punters it is raining, while upon their backs he pees

Yet his task is mitigated. Because, what should hove in sight,
But the money-driven think-tanks of the predatory Right
Which have spent long hours fixated by their loathing of the State
So won't even wipe their bottoms, unless at an outsourced rate.
Now the think-tanks wunderkinden turn to '1984'
Where they find therein a tactic once employed in days of yore
It's to pick out words and phrases from contemporary use
Then submit their basic meanings to an arse-about abuse

Yet an overarching irony attends this tour de force
Since there's precedents in stating that a cart is now a horse.
For who bastardised a language, drawing from their bag of tricks ?
It was Stalin and Vyshinsky, back in 1936
O the horror ! O the shamefullness ! That, Sons Of Liberty
Must resort to basing tactics on the Kremlin's tyranny !
It's a classic situation when rent-seeking runs amuck
But there's easy money looming, so who gives a flying f**k ?

So consumers are persuaded, via mantra-laden talk
That they come before big shareholders in London or New York
Thus, a host of euphemisms sugar-coat the bitter pill
To the melodies seductive of a loudly-ringing till
Hark to incantantions joyous and of outcomes bound to please !
'Competition', 'lower prices', 'market-based efficiencies'!
(Though their very warmth and fuzziness will reinforce the fact
They've dragooned the highest language to describe the lowest act.)

Part 2 to follow........

[Jun 06, 2018] Neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interest

Jun 06, 2018 |

SwingingVoter , 3 Jun 2018 19:43

"neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests"

Its almost impossible to talk about a mining economiy and a "free market" in the same sentence, Richard. a mining economy is is synonymous with corruption, dutch disease and political grabs for cash etc. In the height of the 2009 GFC announced by kev07, unskilled labourers in the pilbara were still earning $100/hr. Real estate prices for 3 bed shacks in karratha were starting at $1million plus. The blue collar dominated pilbara area was overwhelmed with greed fed by left politicians hiding behind socialist ideals. The reality was that left wing economists recognized the "dutch disease" problem and their solution was to flood the area with greedy blue collar workers who were blowing their enormous salaries on prostitutes, alcohol and gambling in the hope that profits from the mining boom would be flushed into other parts of the economy.

The solution? partially transition Australia's economy to an innovation driven economy because innovation is linked to learning which is linked to stronger self esteem and self efficacy in the community. an innovation driven econmy is the better way of promting social development in the community and an innovation driven economy is the most effective way for politicians to transition to the benefits of a "free market" driven economy.... the reality is that transitioning to an innovation would require smacking the socialists over the back of the head in the hope that aspiring socialists will respect the ideas and intellectual property of others as opposed to continue to assimilate intellectual property in the name of employment generation and the common good

I dont fear the potential rise of neoliberalism, although i understand that spruiking a free market whilst talking about mining is ridiculous.
I fear the individuals who are have been talking about mining, and targeting/victimising the non politically active conservatives for more than 2 decades in the name of socialism

sierrasierra , 3 Jun 2018 19:21
"While much of neoliberalism's rhetorical power comes from the assertion that "there is no alternative," the simple fact is that the world is full of alternatives. Indeed, even the so-called free marketeers in Australia can see alternatives."

Excellent article Richard, you have captured the ideology and its dogma quite specularly.

It's dogma is nothing but empty lies held up as flawed truth's and full of scoundrels who profit from its concomitant pain.

Examples from today's headlines and a few from last week: /

[Jun 06, 2018] Marx was keenly aware of capitalism's ability to innovate and adapt. But he also knew that capitalist expansion was not eternally sustainable.

Jun 06, 2018 |

Helicalgroove -> RangerX , 3 Jun 2018 17:03

"Karl Marx exposed the peculiar dynamics of capitalism, or what he called "the bourgeois mode of production." He foresaw that capitalism had built within it the seeds of its own destruction. He knew that reigning ideologies -- think neoliberalism -- were created to serve the interests of the elites and in particular the economic elites, since "the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production" and "the ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships the relationships which make one class the ruling one." He saw that there would come a day when capitalism would exhaust its potential and collapse. He did not know when that day would come. Marx, as Meghnad Desai wrote, was "an astronomer of history, not an astrologer." Marx was keenly aware of capitalism's ability to innovate and adapt. But he also knew that capitalist expansion was not eternally sustainable. And as we witness the denouement of capitalism and the disintegration of globalism, Karl Marx is vindicated as capitalism's most prescient and important critic." /

[Jun 06, 2018] Nationalism is a decision-making tool as it always poses a question; what is good for this country ?

This is not true: this question "what is good for the country" very soon mutates to "what is good for nationalists"
Jun 06, 2018 |

DesignConstruct -> quintal , 3 Jun 2018 17:39

We need a Nationalist government, which will automatically see itself as the mortal enemy of the primary Internationalist (there used to be a song about that) force in the world today, and which affects us greatly in terms of resource exploitation: Globalisation, or what we used to call 'multi national corporations' or 'international capital'.

Nationalism is a decision-making tool as it always poses a question; what is good for this country ?

DesignConstruct -> Alpo88 , 3 Jun 2018 17:24

When/if he mentions de-Globalisation, an Aus-Indonesian defence alliance, citizen initiated referenda, and a Constitutional ban on donations and parties , then people may listen, however he cannot be accused of being too imaginative or bright. He is however advocating authoritarianism not fascism.

quintal -> DesignConstruct , 3 Jun 2018 17:16

I halfway agree

We're not there yet

But .......

Fascism doesn't require a state sanctioned religion or suppression of religion

That said the Catholicism/fundamentalist Christian bent of the present cabinet and the demonisation of any green beliefs is uncomfortably close to what you describe

And the nexus between big business and govern, the destruction of public institutions, the reduction in the capacity of media to report truth and the vitriolic attacks on opponenents are straws in an ill wind


Alpo88 -> DesignConstruct , 3 Jun 2018 17:11
You are right, it's not "fascismmmmmmmmmmmmmm".... it's Fascism. Which brings back to my memory what Tom Elliott (the son of Liberal Party former president John Elliott) wrote in the Herald Sun on 6 February 2015: "It's time we temporarily suspended the democratic process and installed a benign dictatorship to make tough but necessary decisions."

[Jun 05, 2018] Seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse Van Badham Opinion The Guardian

Jun 05, 2018 |

For 40 years, the ideology popularly known as "neoliberalism" has dominated political decision-making in the English-speaking west.

People hate it . Neoliberalism's sale of state assets, offshored jobs, stripped services, poorly-invested infrastructure and armies of the forcibly unemployed have delivered, not promised "efficiency" and "flexibility" to communities, but discomfort and misery. The wealth of a few has now swelled to a level of conspicuousness that must politely be considered vulgar yet the philosophy's entrenched itself so deeply in how governments make decisions and allocate resources that one of its megaphones once declared its triumph "the end of history".

ss="rich-link"> Australia needs tough cop to fight wage theft, Sally McManus says Read more

It wasn't, as even he admitted later . And given some of the events of the contemporary political moment, it's possible to conclude from auguries like smoke rising from a garbage fire and patterns of political blood upon the floor that history may be hastening neoliberalism towards an end that its advocates did not forecast.

Three years ago, I remarked that comedian Russell Brand may have stumbled onto a stirring spirit of the times when his "capitalism sucks" contemplations drew stadium-sized crowds. Beyond Brand – politically and materially – the crowds have only been growing.

Is the political zeitgeist an old spectre up for some new haunting? Or are the times more like a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "the combination of inequality and low wage growth is fuelling discontent. Time to sing a new song."

In days gone past, they used to slice open an animal's belly and study the shape of its spilled entrails to find out. But we could just keep an eye on the news.

Here are my seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse:

1. Girl crushes on Sally McManus

The first sign appears with the noise of thunder – personalised in the form of ACTU secretary, Sally McManus, and the trade union movement revival. No Australian of my own generation or younger would likely possess any cultural memory of a trade union leader as hero – let alone one whose packed-to-the-rafters appearance at Melbourne's Town Hall last week brought with it chants and pennants, t-shirts and cheers a column of selfie-hunters. "We want to see an end to neoliberalism!" she roared to wild applause in the barnstorming style that's drawing similar crowds across the country. You had to feel sorry for conservative commentator Janet Albrechtsen, who rode in to defend business-as-usual in a column entitled "I have to admit a slight girl-crush on ACTU boss Sally McManus". "She's really not my type," McManus retorted . Burnnnn.

Sally McManus (@sallymcmanus)

She's really not my type.

April 17, 2018
2. Yanis Varoufakis praises the Communist Manifesto

The second bears a great sword – and that's the dashing former finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis. As a scion of very modern political pedigree, he's an extraordinary (brilliant) choice to pen the new introduction to a re-released Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto . A revolutionary provocation considered so incendiary it was banned on its 1848 publication, the book only achieved distribution when its entry into court documents as evidence of sedition legally enabled it to be printed again. Varoufakis's praise of it in his introduction is no less provocative; he sees the book as a work of prediction. "We cannot end this idiocy individually," he writes of our present capitalist iteration, "because no market can ever emerge that will provide an antidote to this stupidity. Collective, democratic political action is our only chance for freedom and enjoyment."

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3. Paul Keating's rejection

It was a year ago that a third sign first appeared, when the dark horse of Australian prime ministers, Paul Keating, made public an on-balance rejection of neoliberal economics. Although Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser instigated Australia's first neoliberal policies, it was Keating's architecture of privatisation and deregulation as a Labor treasurer and prime minister that's most well remembered. Now, "we have a comatose world economy held together by debt and central bank money," Keating has said, "Liberal economics has run into a dead end and has had no answer to the contemporary malaise." What does the disavowal mean? In terms of his Labor heir Bill Shorten's growing appetite for redistributive taxation and close relationship to the union movement, it means "if Bill Shorten becomes PM, the rule of engagement between labour and capital will be rewritten," according to The Australian this week. Can't wait!

4. Hipsters picket trendy cafe

The fourth sign comes as the death of a certain kind of pale passivity and acceptance of the status quo among the young. But much as Kendall Jenner got the mood so wrong when she tried to retail Pepsi through the form of a mock riot last year, this week the kids in Melbourne got the times very, very right. On Tuesday, a flash mob of young people descended on no less than hipper-than-hip Northcote coffee palace, Barry, demanding the instant redress of alleged unfair dismissal and wage theft from staff pay packets. Not so long ago, it was the Melbourne fashion for young people to sit at cafes and joke about how exploited at work they were. The evolution to shouty pickets and cafe shut downs indicate in a period of record low wage growth, the laughs have worn quite thin.

5. The reds are back under the beds

There's always a bit of judgment and vengeance inherent to the factional shenanigans of Australia's Liberal party, but its refreshed vocabulary warrants inclusion as the fifth sign. Michael Sukkar, the member for Deakin, has been recorded in a dazzling rant declaring war on a "socialist" incursion into a party whose leader is a former merchant banker who pledged to rule for "freedom, the individual and the market" the very day he was anointed. Sukkar's insistence is wonderful complement to the performance art monologues of former Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop on Sky, where she weekly decries socialism is to blame for everything from alcoholism to energy prices. The reds may not be under the beds quite yet, but if Sukkar's convinced some commie pinkos are already gatecrashing cocktail events with the blue-tie set, they're certainly on his mind.

6. Tony Abbott becomes a fan of nationalising assets

Or maybe's Sukkar's right about the socialists termiting his beloved Liberal party. How else to explain the earthquake-like paradigm shift represented by the sixth sign? Since when do neoliberal conservatives argue for the renationalisation of infrastructure, as is the push of Tony Abbott's gang to nationalise the coal-fired Liddell power station? It may be a cynical stunt to take an unscientific stand against climate action, but seizing the means of production remains seizing the means of production, um, comrade. "You know, nationalising assets is what the Liberal party was founded to stop governments doing," said Turnbull, even as he hid in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains to weather – strange coincidence – yet another Newspoll loss.

ss="rich-link"> Yanis Varoufakis: Marx predicted our present crisis – and points the way out Read more 7. Blue-collar billionaires

In the established canon, the final sign, the seventh, installs new saints on to golden altars before praying supplicants. And I'd suggest some circumspection before the incense is lit and venerations begin. A clear electoral yearning for a sincere leadership of politics beyond the neoliberal frame has encouraged lying populists on the right, like the "blue-collar billionaire" opportunistic falsity of Trump. For a left regaining momentum, there's also danger; seizing at instant, available heroes propels into leadership politicians who are polarising and imperfect for the task.

The pressing need is not to pray for intercession; Varoufakis's call is right – "collective, democratic political action" is the genuine alternative, and it's broader democratic investment in the institutions of parties, movements, academies and media that always builds the world to come. That is, after all, what the neoliberals did. And look – just look – how far they got.

• Van Badham is a Guardian Australia columnist

sierrasierra , 27 Apr 2018 05:50

Neoliberalism so far and it's a rather interesting read if you follow global politics, yes countries like people have ' charts' and Australia's is realtively tame: /

ID2778880 -> DickTyger , 27 Apr 2018 05:48
This is absolutely true. Unintended consequences will always arise if the dim-witted tamper with complex systems they do not understand.

Brexit is a classic case. It has blown up in the faces of its proponents and the rather more level-headed among them are desperately trying to contain the spreading damage.

GraemeHarrison -> Weakaspiss , 27 Apr 2018 05:46
Ably assisted by Rupert's >75% control of print media... with his 'Get Bill' campaigns (first Hayden, later Shorten) with 'Get Juliar' in between! The masses are swayed by big media, enough to deliver the 1-3% needed to gain a parliamentary majority!
uhurhi , 27 Apr 2018 05:43
"new introduction to a re-released Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto.
Collective, democratic political action is our only chance for freedom and enjoyment."

Might be true. But frightening that people should naively still think that democracy is to be found in the 'Dictatorship of the Proletariate' [ ie those who know what's good for you even if you don't like it ] of the Communist Manefesto after the revelations of what that leads to in the Gulag Arichipeligo , Mao's China , Pol Pot , Kim John - un . How quickly the world forgets. - you might just as well advocate Mein Kampf it's the same thing in the end !

curiouswes -> Jamie Richardson , 27 Apr 2018 05:42
I don't think socialism can work without giving up too much freedom. Once you are in the Leviathan's clutches, it is difficult to break free. In the USA, we have a great system. I call it socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. It works great, but it only works great for 1% of the people.
Starwars102 -> Awabakali , 27 Apr 2018 05:40
This idea of Capitalism fundamentally and completely undermining the environment is a myth. You realise that the worst possible environmental degradation today occurs in extremely poor countries which have neither the economic base, nor the surplus money to care for the environment. Compound this with terrible legal systems in many of those countries and you get the economic degradation you have today.
GraemeHarrison -> Powerspike , 27 Apr 2018 05:36
The fact that multinationals are happy to take Australian minerals from the land, make money selling products to Australians, yet pay nil tax in Australia tells you everything you need to know about how much they care for our 'state and society'.
daily_phil , 27 Apr 2018 05:35
Does present day neo-liberalism actually qualify as a political movement?

Vested interests and the dollar seem to have all the power. Lies and deception are so common the truth is seen as the enemy. The voting public are merely fools for manipulation. Nah, neo-liberalism is not government, it is something far nastier, and clearly not what the public vote for, presuming a vote actually counts for anything anymore.

RedmondM -> charleyb23 , 27 Apr 2018 05:33
And while we are discussing totalitarian thugs how many died at the hands of Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet, Peron, Marcos and others of the right?

The death toll of just Mao far exceeds the combined death toll of the the others you mentioned.

GraemeHarrison -> vanbadham , 27 Apr 2018 05:33
Plus, unlimited funding for elections has cemented capitalism's ability to 'buy' all the elections, and hold-captive all the regulators it needs. Without the Citizens United decision from right wing SCOTUS judges, US elections would be far more representative. Only in capitalism can one believe that "money equals free speech". No such provision is in the US constitution, so it is only these Bush-appointed judges who have determined that money can rule the people. Even more stupid are the countries that have followed the USA down this slippery slope. If you can fund politicians to undermine the ATO and ASIC, why not also allow corporations to just pay bribes to judges to get decisions they would like?
MuzzaC -> curiouswes , 27 Apr 2018 05:33
Thanks curiouswes. Nice to engage in a polite discussion for a change.

I think you are right, in that all revolutions are susceptible to falling to their own methods. Any mechanism for revolution legitimises the same mechanism for counter-revolution. This is why violent revolution leads to militarism and authoritarianism. I don't think anyone welcoming Lenin at the Finland Station did so because they wanted to live in a police state. By the same token, I don't think that Socialism is inherently linked to giving the state authoritarian power. In fact Socialism and democracy are perfectly compatible, because democracy (one citizen one vote) is the counterweight to capitalism (one dollar one vote).

As for globalism, it's the natural mode of capitalism and has been for centuries. Colonial expansion and capitalism became synonymous with things like the Dutch East India Company. Neoliberalism wants global reach for capital, but not for the regulators. They want keep their tax-haven cake and eat it too. Typically, what they want is less about a free market and more about freedom to game the market.

GraemeHarrison -> Confucion , 27 Apr 2018 05:27

Democracy paralyses

No, the current malaise is not 'due' to democracy, but despite it. America has unlimited political funding by capitalism to sway elections to their desires. Australia is in almost the same position, due to weak political funding reporting, and nil limits on what 'non-party' entities can spend on elections, or in the case of Rudd's removal, how just $45m in advertising by the MCA managed to remove a sitting PM, because the handful of MCA members did not want a resource tax. Our democracy has slipped into being a plutocracy (rule by the wealthy).
Robert Davie , 27 Apr 2018 04:54
Neoliberalism has inflicted a great deal of damage on western economies through the off-shoring of industries and jobs by the wealthy elites who were aided by the donor addicted political class. As a result, western democracies have weakened themselves in the eyes of the world community who now see us as examples of dysfunctional economies and governing methods. Who can blame them when the leading champion of the rules based order is so smitten with debt it must withdraw into itself under the threat of debt default.

The way forward for us is not to look back at what is lost but too look at developing new manufacturing industries and in particular, high technology manufacturing involving vehicles, batteries, solar panels, biotechnology and other related areas.

KCJ1951 , 27 Apr 2018 04:41
What is always revealing about Vanessa and her obsession with neoliberalism, is her intellectual dishonesty wrapped in a smattering of populist half-truths while ignoring any fact that might get in the way of the emotional narrative.
How successful were the largely populist socialist governments in latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and, of course, the socialist paradise of Venezuela?
We don't have to go back 40 years Vanessa. A quick peek east across the Pacific to the last decade of failed populist socialist ideology in South America tells enough.
PS: Delighted to see that you are back to full health after the 2 months of "absolute hell" that you went through during the SSM postal survey - Q&A.
Peter Krall , 27 Apr 2018 04:40
Neoliberalism, capitalism even, may well be dying. But the spectre of socialism is dead. What you hear when kicking the cupboard is just the squeaking of the door, not the spectre supposedly rumoring inside.

Worse, socialism did not just disappear but considerable fractions degenerated into all kinds of zombies: you have the aggressive dreamers, who confound anecdotes about repair-cafes or school meals with economic modeling and won't accept any response but flattery (yes, the 'senior' economic commentator is an example). You have the fascists supporting Assad because he administrates the legacy of his Hitler-admiring father and people like the Eichmann-assistant Alois Brunner, and a lot of them identify as 'anti-imperialist left-wingers'. You have the naive nation-state nostalgics who believe the value of work can be increased by blocking immigration, ignoring that the assembly of a car for the German market can be done in the Netherlands or Slovakia just as well as in the UK.

To be sure: I know that persons like Varoufakis (or Badham) are neither fascists nor morons. I wished it were these people who shaped the society after the downfall of laissez-faire capitalism. But I fail to believe it. I believe that the end of laissez-faire capitalism will coincide with the rise of fascism. Thus, I propose to extend capitalism's life expectancy be shifting tax burdens from income and profit to wealth and to create a favorable environment for tech-addicted turbo-capitalism.

[Jun 05, 2018] Tim Winton on class and neoliberalism 'We're not citizens but economic players' Books The Guardian

Notable quotes:
"... • The Boy Behind the Curtain is published by Penguin Books and is available now ..."
Jun 05, 2018 |

he first page of Tim Winton's new essay collection, The Boy Behind the Curtain , sets a disturbing scene. A 13-year-old boy stands at the window of a suburban street, behind a terylene curtain, training a rifle on passersby.

"He was a fraught little thing," says Winton of that boy – the boy he used to be. "I feel related to him but I'm no longer completely him, thank god."

The passage opens a surprisingly intimate essay about the role of guns in Australian life, setting the tone for a collection being billed as Winton's most personal yet.

In spite of his inclination for solitude, Winton has spent much of his life in the spotlight. His first novel, An Open Swimmer, catapulted him into the public eye when it won the Vogel literary award in 1981, but it was his 1991 novel, Cloudstreet, that cemented his place in Australian letters. Winton has won the Miles Franklin award four times and been shortlisted twice for the Booker. His books have been adapted for film, TV and even opera .

ss="rich-link"> Island Home by Tim Winton review – a love song to Australia and a cry to save it Read more

The contradictions of having such a high-profile career while working in a quintessentially solitary artform are not lost on him. "I spend all day in a room with people who don't exist, and I'm not thinking about any public – but once the thing's done it goes out there and it has a public life over which I have no, or very little, control," he says.

On one reading, the boy with the rifle lurking out of sight, watching the world go by, could be a metaphor for the life of a reclusive writer. But Winton is quick to distinguish himself from such a reading. "I wouldn't like to see myself as somebody who was just cruelly observing the world behind the terylene curtain of art."

For Winton, the perceived lives of other writers always seemed completely unrelated to his own experience. "I grew up with a kind of modernist romantic idea of the writer as some kind of high priest, someone who saw themselves as separate and better, which I now find a bit repellent," he says. "I think that was something that was sold to us at school and certainly at university that writers were somehow aloof from the ordinary business of life; they didn't have to abide by the same rules as other people. The worse their behaviour off the page, the more we were supposed to cheer them on. Once I woke up to that idea as a teenager, I think I consciously resisted it."

Winton's own background was characterised by a working class sensibility and evangelical religion. His parents converted to the Church of Christ when he was a small boy, the circumstances and his experiences of which form the basis of a number of the previously unpublished essays in The Boy Behind the Curtain. As a result, when he finally did start writing, it was with a particularly industrious work ethic.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tim Winton: 'There wasn't a lot of romance in my view of what writing was about.' Photograph: Hank Kordas

"I approached it like I was a tradesperson," he says. "It didn't necessarily involve FM radio played very loudly on a worksite; it didn't always require plumbers' crack or a hard hat and there was certainly no catcalling, but for the rest of it I went a different route. There wasn't a lot of romance in my view of what writing was about."

ss="rich-link"> A fish called Tim Winton: scientists name new species after novelist Read more

Yet it was finding words, what Winton calls "the enormous luxury of language", that took him from being a 13-year-old boy who watched strangers through the eye of a rifle – a boy who was "obviously insecure and feeling threatened and probably not quite one with the world" – to a well-adjusted adult.

The "emotional infancy of men" has a lot to answer for, he says, suggesting that it's something society would do well to pay more attention to in its early stages. "The lumpiness and surly silence of boys is not something we're sufficiently interested in. They're not sufficiently attractive to us until they become victims or dangerous brutes and bullies."

ass="inline-garnett-quote inline-icon ">

I think it's a mistake to think someone who doesn't say much doesn't have strong feelings

Tim Winton

Conflicted masculinity is recurring theme throughout Winton's fiction, and his characters often suffer as a result of their inability to articulate their feelings. "I think it's a mistake to think someone who doesn't say much doesn't have strong feelings," he says. "I think we stifle people's expression or we ignore people's signals of wanting to express things at our peril."

The distinct tenor of Winton's prose, a lyricism which manages to turn even the Australian vernacular into a kind of rough poetry, lends itself to the intimacy of the personal essay. The Boy Behind the Curtain contains a number of vignettes that reflect the imagery and landscape that characterises his fiction: hot bitumen roads through the desert; the churning ocean.

But there is also a clear political streak to Winton's nonfiction, and the inclusion of a number of more direct essays in this collection mean it's difficult to collapse the work under the category of memoir. Stones for Bread, for example, calls for a return to empathy and humanity in Australia's approach to asylum seekers. The Battle for Ningaloo Reef is a clear-eyed account of the activism that prevented a major commercial development from destroying a stretch of the Western Australian coastline. And Using the C-Word concerns that other dirty word that Winton believes we are avoiding: class.

"I think there are people talking about class but they're having to do that against the flow," Winton says. "We're living in a dispensation that is endlessly reinforcing the idea that we are not citizens but economic players. And under that dispensation it's in nobody's interest, especially those in power, to encourage or foster the idea that there's any class difference."

The market doesn't care about people, Winton argues, and neither is there any genius in it. "There's no invisible hand," he says. "And if there is one, it's scratching its arse."

It's clear to Winton that neoliberalism is failing, but not without casualties, two of which are very close to his heart: the arts and the environment.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Cover image for The Boy Behind The Curtain by Tim Winton. Photograph: Penguin

"People in the arts are basically paying the price for this new regime where we pay no tax and where we get less public service and more privatised service," he says. "The arts are last on, first off in people's minds and I think that's not just sad, it's corrosive. They're just seen as fluff, as fripperies, as indulgence, as add-ons and luxury. And I don't think the arts are luxury; I think they're fundamental to civilisation. It's just that under our current dispensation, civilisation is not the point; civilisation is something that commerce has to negotiate and traduce if necessary."

Winton is one of a number of high-profile critics of the Productivity Commission's proposals to allow the parallel importation of books , and a signatory to petitions opposing funding cuts to the Australia Council . But he has also been a grassroots activist in the area of marine conservation for over 15 years.

"I don't know if I'm an activist writer or just a writer who has an activist life on the side," he says.

ass="inline-garnett-quote inline-icon ">

I don't know if I'm an activist writer or just a writer who has an activist life on the side

Tim Winton

Years of lobbying by conservation groups and the general public contributed to the Labor government announcement in 2012 of 42 marine reserves in Australian waters , including over the entire Coral Sea. The Abbott government, however, implemented a review which, in September this year, recommended significantly scaling back those reservations . It was, says Winton, an act of cowardice.

"The Abbott review was basically all about applying inertia to imminent progress," Winton says. "We've gone from world leaders [in conservation] to being too frightened to lead."

When asked what role writing fiction plays in his activist work, Winton says it comes back to the idea of "keeping people's imaginations awake".

"Imagination is the fundamental virtue of civilisation. If people can't imagine then they can't live an ethical life."

The Boy Behind the Curtain is published by Penguin Books and is available now

[May 21, 2018] There's no real Left in the UK anymore, either. The Blairites are still a force with the Labour party. Even the old Left newspapers - The Guardian, The Observer - are just neocon and neoliberal mouthpeces

May 21, 2018 |

Bevin Kacon | May 20, 2018 1:50:01 PM | 12

There's no real Left in the UK anymore, either. The Blairites are still a force with the Labour party and that party is known as The Red Tories - especially in Scotland - for the obvious reason!

Even the old Left newspapers - The Guardian, The Observer - are no longer such, as has been evidenced of late. I no longer read the UK press - Private Eye is my 'paper' reading - and would not trust one word broadcast by the BBC and, I am sorry to say, Channel 4.

bevin , May 20, 2018 3:04:03 PM | 16
The Guardian and The Observer have never been socialist papers. They were liberal, just like the democrats in the United States were liberal. And liberals, who are the advance guard of capitalism, can hardly be called 'of the left'.
The only opponents of capitalism and imperialism are socialists or nationalists, of a kind rarely seen outside the third world periphery of the system since 1917.
Anyone who sees the fascists and crooks surrounding Trump as being opponents of anything except the human race is almost as daft as someone who sees the Democrats as part of the left.
But the real prize for idiocy goes to those sad souls who see the FBI, CIA, MI6 and their clones as anything but- deepest apologies here to the Mafia and their ilk- criminal gangs, of the worst kind.

[May 03, 2018] The Skripal Case and Bombing Syria Six Things We Learned About Modern Britain

Brits reinvented McCarthyism...
May 03, 2018 |

... ... ...

1. The presumption of innocence doesn't apply to NeoCon targets.

The Skripal and Douma Incidents Are Parts of One Plan to Bring Russia Down – Chemist Innocent until proven guilty? Not if you're in the line of fire of the Endless War Lobby, comrade. Russia was accused of trying to poison the Skripals before a proper criminal investigation had even begun. The Syrian government was blamed for a chemical weapons attack, before we had independently verification that a chemical weapons attack had even taken place. The 'Official Narrative' on both cases has unravelled spectacularly. No 'smoking gun' evidence of either Russian involvement in the Skripal case or of the Douma CW attack has been produced. On the contrary, witnesses testified last week at The Hague that the Douma attack didn't happen.

But we're expected not to notice -- as the news cycle -- conveniently for the accusers- moves on to other stories.

2. Rupert Murdoch's Times newspaper plays an utterly pernicious role in British public life.

It was the Times which demanded action from Theresa May against Russia. It was the Times which has demanded (repeatedly, and again after the Skripal incident) that Ofcom acted against Russian media in the UK, such as RT. It was the Times, which accuses Russian media of peddling 'fake news', which reported Sergei Skripal as dead on its 12th March front page .

It was The Times which, on 14th March, falsely reported that 'almost 40' people had needed treatment in Salisbury, prompting Dr Stephen Davies, Comsultant in Emergency Medicine to write to the paper stating 'May I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning.'

​It was The Times, which on the day the US/UK and France launched illegal attacks on Syria in response to the unverified chemical weapons attack at Douma, carried a front page attack on British academics who dare to challenge the War Party line on Syria. It was The Times which smeared other critics of western foreign policy as 'Russian trolls', including a peace campaigner from Finland who had been battling cancer.

​John Wight has called the Times, the in-house organ of the neocon Henry Jackson Society. Its days as Britain's respected newspaper of record have certainly long gone.

3. Britain is only what is called a 'Democracy'.

Labour Leader Under Fire From Party MPs for Stance on Skripal Poisoning

Just think back to that Parliamentary debate on 14th March. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was attacked from his own side, for his cautious approach towards the government's unproven claims about the Skripal case. To add insult to injury a number of Labour MPs then signed Early Day Motion 1071 - which stated 'This House unequivocally accepts the Russian state's culpability for the poisoning of Yulia and Sergei Skripal'. Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith showed her support for Theresa May by saying 'We very much accept what the Prime Minister said.'

Corbyn, coming under enormous Establishment pressure did buckle, saying the Russian authorities 'needed to be held to account', even though later he still quite rightly insisted that 'absolute evidence' was needed.

READ MORE: UK Shouldn't 'Rush Ahead of Evidence' in Skripal Investigation -- Jeremy Corbyn

In bombing Syria on 14th April, Theresa May not only refused to recall Parliament, she also ignored public opinion which showed only 20% in favour of air strikes. In a genuine democracy that would have ruled out action. But May treated public opinion with utter contempt. That wonderful passage from 'The Comments of Moung Ka' by the Edwardian comic writer Saki springs readily to mind.

'The people of Britain are what is called a Democracy' said Moung Ka. 'A Democracy?' questioned Moung Thwa. What is that?'

'A Democracy' broke in Moung Shooglay eagerly, 'is a community that governs itself according to its own wishes and interests by electing accredited representatives who enact its laws and supervise and control their administration. It's aim and object is government of the community in the interests of the community'.

'Then', said Moung Thwa, turning to his neighbour, 'If the people of Britain are a Democracy-'

'I never said they were a Democracy', interrupted Moung Ka placidly.

'Surely we both heard you!', exclaimed Moung Thwa.

'Not correctly, said Moung Ka; 'I said they are what is called a Democracy'.

4. The 'free press' doesn't act as you'd expect a 'free press' to act.

The striking thing about the Skripal case and Syria bombings from a journalist's point of view has been the uniformity of the media coverage.

Right-wing papers like the Telegraph and liberal ones like The Guardian have taken exactly the same stance ie anti-Russian and anti-Syrian government. Whether its because of DSMA-Notices (see 6, below), or not, there's been no proper questioning of the UK government's claims about Salisbury -- and not much on Syria either. Investigative journalism? What's that?

The mainstream media is actually less diverse in its opinions now (on the things that really matter) than at the time of the Iraq war where publications like the New Statesman (now a 'centrist' Blairite organ), spoke out strongly against intervention. If you want a different perspective on Skripals and Syria you have had to tune in to Russian media, such as Sputnik and RT, and that of course is threatened by the NeoCon Thought Police, who want everyone to be singing from the same pro-war hymn sheet.

5. The role of the security services in the promotion of 'official narratives' is very important.

Every time a wheel has come off the Skripal narrative, we've been fed information to bolster it from 'official sources'. After the head of Porton Down said that the laboratory there was unable to confirm that the nerve agent allegedly used to poison the Skripals came from Russia, the line was pushed that 'intelligence-led assessments' pointed to Russian guilt. Could we see these 'assessments'? Of course not! We just have to believe that they're there. Then as the 'nerve handle placed on the door' theory began to gain a head of steam we were told that 'British Intelligence' had 'evidence' that Russia had been testing the nerve agent on door handles prior to 3rd March. Could we see this 'evidence'? No, of course not.

Alex Thomson of C4 News reported on 12th March that a 'D-Notice' had issued by the UK authorities to stop the media from fully identifying Sergei Skripal's MI6 handler who lived nearby.

​Were other DSMA-Notices issued too regarding the reporting of Salisbury? If it was so clear that Russia did it, why would they bother?

6. The British public aren't mugs (or sheep).

​Despite all the propaganda, all the hysterical headlines, all the blatantly biased coverage, the British haven't bought it. Literally or metaphorically. Inside the Tent gatekeepers have relentlessly attacked those brave individuals who have questioned the official narratives, but its these

individuals- smeared as 'crackpots' and 'conspiracy theorists' who the public are turning to for their analysis. Compare the number of retweets the former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray gets when he publishes on the Skripal case, with those who try and denigrate him. My own Twitter following has increased by several thousands since early March. Citizen Halo got a big boost in followers after she was smeared by The Times. After the lies told about Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya people no longer tamely accept what the NeoCon Establishment tells us. We're at an 'Emperor's New Clothes' moment in British politics where more and more people have found the courage to say out loud 'The Emperor has no clothes!'. The elite have been lying to us and they know that we know they've been lying. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

Follow Neil Clark on Twitter

Support his AntiStalker Legal Fund (vs. a Times journalist)

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

[Apr 20, 2018] As the British government release shedloads of crocodile tears over their paid for White Helmet video footage, and moan like spiteful children how they want to bomb more people, let look at some other inconvenient facts

Apr 20, 2018 |

Metreemewall , 13 Apr 2018 15:27

This post by Just in Thyme has just been mode rated:

"As the British government release shedloads of crocodile tears over their paid for White Helmet video footage, and moan like spiteful children how they want to bomb more people, let look at some other inconvenient facts.

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured since March 2015. The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. Meanwhile the Saudis shovel their bits of silver into the empty coffers of the NATO warmongers.

Who said money cannot buy influence, Its was the UK that backed Britain backed Saudi Arabia's election to the United Nations top human right's body as part of a vote trading deal – despite the Gulf State's appalling abuse record. Secret cables reportedly show that Britain approached Saudi Arabia about the trade ahead of the 2013 election for membership of the Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The Saudi regime has executed 135 people since January on charges ranging from murder to witchcraft.

The lynch mob government, we all voted for, and this is what democracy is really all about???"

Would anyone like to say why?

[Apr 16, 2018] British Propaganda and Disinformation An Imperial and Colonial Tradition by Wayne MADSEN

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... For decades, a little-known section of the British Foreign Office – the Information Research Department (IRD) – carried out propaganda campaigns using the international media as its platform on behalf of MI-6. Years before Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, and Sudan's Omar al-Bashir became targets for Western destabilization and "regime change." IRD and its associates at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and in the newsrooms and editorial offices of Fleet Street broadsheets, tabloids, wire services, and magazines, particularly "The Daily Telegraph," "The Times," "Financial Times," Reuters, "The Guardian," and "The Economist," ran media smear campaigns against a number of leaders considered to be leftists, communists, or FTs (fellow travelers). ..."
"... After the Cold War, this same propaganda operation took aim at Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Somalia's Mohamad Farrah Aidid, and Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Today, it is Assad's, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's, and Catalonian independence leader Carles Puigdemont's turn to be in the Anglo-American state propaganda gunsights. Even Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, long a darling of the Western media and such propaganda moguls as George Soros, is now being targeted for Western visa bans and sanctions over the situation with Muslim Rohingya insurgents in Rakhine State. ..."
"... Through IRD-MI-6-Central Intelligence Agency joint propaganda operations, many British journalists received payments, knowingly or unknowingly, from the CIA via a front in London called Forum World Features (FWF), owned by John Hay Whitney, publisher of the "New York Herald Tribune" and a former US ambassador to London. ..."
Apr 16, 2018 |

When it comes to creating bogus news stories and advancing false narratives, the British intelligence services have few peers. In fact, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI-6) has led the way for its American "cousins" and Britain's Commonwealth partners – from Canada and Australia to India and Malaysia – in the dark art of spreading falsehoods as truths. Recently, the world has witnessed such MI-6 subterfuge in news stories alleging that Russia carried out a novichok nerve agent attack against a Russian émigré and his daughter in Salisbury, England. This propaganda barrage was quickly followed by yet another – the latest in a series of similar fabrications – alleging the Syrian government attacked civilians in Douma, outside of Damascus, with chemical weapons.

It should come as no surprise that American news networks rely on British correspondents stationed in northern Syria and Beirut as their primary sources. MI-6 has historically relied on non-official cover (NOC) agents masquerading primarily as journalists, but also humanitarian aid workers, Church of England clerics, international bankers, and hotel managers, to carry out propaganda tasks. These NOCs are situated in positions where they can promulgate British government disinformation to unsuspecting actual journalists and diplomats.

For decades, a little-known section of the British Foreign Office – the Information Research Department (IRD) – carried out propaganda campaigns using the international media as its platform on behalf of MI-6. Years before Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, and Sudan's Omar al-Bashir became targets for Western destabilization and "regime change." IRD and its associates at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and in the newsrooms and editorial offices of Fleet Street broadsheets, tabloids, wire services, and magazines, particularly "The Daily Telegraph," "The Times," "Financial Times," Reuters, "The Guardian," and "The Economist," ran media smear campaigns against a number of leaders considered to be leftists, communists, or FTs (fellow travelers).

These leaders included Indonesia's President Sukarno, North Korean leader (and grandfather of Pyongyang's present leader) Kim Il-Sung, Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, Cyprus's Archbishop Makarios, Cuba's Fidel Castro, Chile's Salvador Allende, British Guiana's Cheddi Jagan, Grenada's Maurice Bishop, Jamaica's Michael Manley, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, Guinea's Sekou Toure, Burkina Faso's Thomas Sankara, Australia's Gough Whitlam, New Zealand's David Lange, Cambodia's Norodom Sihanouk, Malta's Dom Mintoff, Vanuatu's Father Walter Lini, and Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah.

After the Cold War, this same propaganda operation took aim at Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Somalia's Mohamad Farrah Aidid, and Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Today, it is Assad's, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's, and Catalonian independence leader Carles Puigdemont's turn to be in the Anglo-American state propaganda gunsights. Even Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, long a darling of the Western media and such propaganda moguls as George Soros, is now being targeted for Western visa bans and sanctions over the situation with Muslim Rohingya insurgents in Rakhine State.

Through IRD-MI-6-Central Intelligence Agency joint propaganda operations, many British journalists received payments, knowingly or unknowingly, from the CIA via a front in London called Forum World Features (FWF), owned by John Hay Whitney, publisher of the "New York Herald Tribune" and a former US ambassador to London.

It is not a stretch to believe that similar and even more formal relationships exist today between US and British intelligence and so-called British "journalists" reporting from such war zones as Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, and the Gaza Strip, as well as from much-ballyhooed nerve agent attack locations as Salisbury, England.

No sooner had recent news reports started to emerge from Douma about a Syrian chlorine gas and sarin agent attack that killed between 40 to 70 civilians, British reporters in the Middle East and London began echoing verbatim statements from the Syrian "White Helmets" and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In actuality, the White Helmets – claimed by Western media to be civilian defense first-responders but are Islamist activists connected to jihadist radical groups funded by Saudi Arabia – are believed to have staged the chemical attack in Douma by entering the municipality's hospital and dowsing patients with buckets of water, video cameras at the ready. The White Helmets distributed their videos to the global news media, with the BBC and Rupert Murdoch's Sky News providing a British imprimatur to the propaganda campaign asserting that Assad carried out another "barrel bomb" chemical attack against "his own people." And, as always, the MI-6 financed Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad news front claimed to be operated by a Syrian expatriate and British national named Rami Abdel Rahman from his clothing shop in Coventry, England, began providing second-sourcing for the White Helmet's chemical attack claims.

With President Trump bringing more and more neo-conservatives, discredited from their massive anti-Iraq propaganda operations during the Bush-Cheney era, into his own administration, the world is witnessing the prolongation of the "Trump Doctrine."

The Trump Doctrine can best be explained as follows: A nation will be subject to a US military attack depending on whether Trump is facing a severe political or sex scandal at home.

Such was the case in April 2017, when Trump ordered a cruise missile attack on the joint Syrian-Russian airbase at Shayrat, Syria. Trump was still reeling from the resignation of his National Security Adviser, Lt. General Michael Flynn, in February over the mixing of his private consulting business with his official White House duties. Trump needed a diversion and the false accusation that Assad used sarin gas on the village of Khan Sheikoun on April 4, 2017, provided the necessary pabulum for the war-hungry media.

The most recent cruise missile attack was to divert the public's attention away from Trump's personal attorney being raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a sex scandal involving Trump and a porn actress, and a "tell-all" book by Trump's fired FBI director, James Comey.

Although these two scandals provided opportunities for the neo-cons to test Trump with false flag operations in Syria, they were not the first time such actions had been carried out. In 2013, the Syrian government was blamed for a similar chemical attack on civilians in Ghouta. That year, Syrian rebels, supported by the Central Intelligence Agency, admitted to the Associated Press reporter on the ground in Syria that they had been given banned chemical weapons by Saudi Arabia, but that the weapons canisters exploded after improper handling by the rebels. Immediately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syrian rebel organizations operating out of Turkey claimed that Assad had used chemical-laden barrel bombs on "his own people." However, Turkish, American, and Lebanese sources confirmed that it was the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that had badly bungled a false flag sarin nerve agent attack on Ghouta.

Few Western media outlets were concerned about a March 19, 2013, sarin nerve agent by the Bashair al-Nasr Brigade rebel group linked to the US- and British-backed Free Syrian Army. The rebels used a "Bashair-3" unguided projectile, containing the deadly sarin agent, on civilians in Khan al-Assal, outside Aleppo. At least 27 civilians were killed, and scores of others injured in the attack. The Syrian Kurds also reported the use of chemical weapons on them during the same time frame by Syrian rebel groups backed by the United States, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. The usual propaganda operations – Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Doctors Without Borders, the BBC, CNN, and Sky News – were all silent about these attacks.

In 2013, April 2017, and April 2018, the Western media echo chamber blared out all the same talking points: "Assad killing his own people," "Syrian weapons of mass destruction," and the "mass murder of women and children." Western news networks featured videos of dead women and children, while paid propagandists, known as "contributors" to corporate news networks – all having links to the military-intelligence complex – demanded action be taken against Assad.

Trump, now being advised by the notorious neocon war hawk John Bolton, the new National Security Adviser, began referring to Assad as an "animal" and a "monster." Bolton, along with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby, helped craft similar language against Saddam Hussein prior to the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was not coincidental that Trump – at the urging of Bolton and other neocons – gave a full pardon to Libby on the very same day he ordered the cruise missile attack on Damascus and other targets in Syria. Libby was convicted in 2005 of perjury and illegally disclosing national security information.

The world is being asked to take, at face value, the word of patented liars like Trump, Bolton, and other neocons who are now busy joining the Trump administration at breakneck speed. The corporate media unabashedly acts as though it never lied about the reasons given by the United States and Britain for going to war in Iraq and Libya. Why should anyone believe them now?

Tags: UK al-Assad Propaganda

Wayne MADSEN Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club

[Oct 02, 2017] the unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens 'Double standard hypocrisy' Serbian president on EU denouncement of Catalan refere

Oct 02, 2017 |

'Double standard & hypocrisy': Serbian president on EU denouncement of Catalan referendum Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the EU of hypocrisy and double-standards following its denouncement of the Catalonian referendum as illegal, while acknowledging the independence of the breakaway province of Kosovo.
" The question every citizen of Serbia has for the European Union today is: How come that in the case of Catalonia the referendum on independence is not valid, while in the case of Kosovo secession is allowed even without a referendum, " B92 quoted Vucic as saying during a news conference.
" How did you proclaim the secession of Kosovo to be legal, even without a referendum, and how did 22 European Union countries legalize this secession, while destroying European law and the foundations of European law, on which the European policy and EU policy are based? "
On Monday the European Commission echoed the Spanish government's stance that the referendum held in Catalonia was illegal, describing the events on Sunday, which saw voters being beaten by Spanish riot police, as an "internal matter". By contrast in 2010, the European Parliament adopted a resolution urging its member states to recognize Kosovo's independence.
" This is the best example of the double standards and hypocrisy of the world politics, " Vucic said.

[Sep 01, 2017] 20 Years On: Princess Diana's Death

Sep 01, 2017 |

1. 18 months before she died, Diana wrote to two separate friends (one, her lawyer), stating that the Royal family would attempt to murder her by staging a car accident.

2. The death of Diana resolved a potentially awkward and unpleasant situation for the Royal family.

3. The press repeatedly published exaggerations and falsehoods about many areas of the case, whilst with-holding and ignoring other important evidence.

Keith Allen's 2011 documentary "Unlawful Killing" (embedded above) covers this ground, and much more. It was a brave documentary to make, given the public mood around Diana. It was, of course, widely criticised after being its premiere at the 2011 Cannes Festival. It never received a public released in this country. When it was released on YouTube in 2014, the Guardian printed a cruel and dishonest review , ignoring all content in favour of one liners. Not a surprise.

The film is hard get, especially in the UK, so I would download and share it while you have the chance.

Diana may not have been the perfect "people's princess", she probably didn't deserve the hysterical outpouring of public emotion that followed her death – very few people ever have. She probably never earned her place in Britain's pantheon of domestic saints. But she was a young woman, with two young children, dead before her time.

She was a person, and like all people, she deserves what nobody in the press is really willing to give her – an honest obituary.

michaelk says August 31, 2017

Having just watched Keith Allen's documentary, it's pretty clear why the Guardian reviewed it so negatively; Allen attacks the UK media relentlessly for its culture of studied incompetence and subservience to power. Essentially the media's role is to protect the establishment from scrutiny and divert attention away from its crimes. The final part about the media choosing to spin the jury's opinion, that Diana was unlawfully killed and this was linked to the vehicles pursuing her, into the fiction of 'just a road accident', is pretty damning. But that's what they do so well, over and over again, misdirect and cover up. Create plausible lies rather than uncover the truth.
michaelk says August 31, 2017
The 'problem' for the royal family in relation to Diana was her massive popularity with ordinary people not only in the UK but woldwide. She had charisma to burn. For whatever reason people liked what they saw and heard. Essentially, she was brought into the family in order to provide 'new blood' and 'modernize' how it was perceived. She was seen as an asset for the royal family. A face, an icon, a model. The trouble really began when Diana became too popular and too big to contain within the role she'd been alloted. She began, slowly, to question her role and the lines she'd been given, especially as her marriage was a sham. The fairytale of her marriage fell apart when she discovered that prince charming was already married whoops!

In the modern media world she became far more popular than the rest of them put together which unbalanced the entire relationship and she litterally outgrew the restrictions of her role. She became a very powerful figure, a distabilizing one by her very existance. Almost an alternative Queen in waiting. She seemed to be carving out a role for herself that was perceived as independent of the royal family and that alone made her a threat to the established order and balance within the constitution. Imagine if Diana had visited Gaza or began to speak out about the rights of the Palestinians, which isn't as far-fetched as it seems.

She might have matured and really become the 'peoples' queen' not just the peoples' princess. This idea, that the people somehow chose her to 'represent' them in opposition to the rest of the royal family is a dangerous idea that would upset and threaten an awful lot of very powerful people and institutions. So, it' not really surprising that she died the way she did. A awful lot of people heaved a long sigh of relief and a lot of problems were solved with her passing, balance and stability were restored once more to the realm.

StAug says August 31, 2017
Diana Spencer's death was of no more importance than anyone else's; she was a standard airhead of her class I only every paid particular attention to her because it was so irritating to be told that I was supposed to believe that she was "beautiful" when my own eyes could see that she was not. Having said that: it's obvious she and her lover were killed by The Royal Huns in concert with MI5/MI6; saying "perhaps it was an accident, we'll never know!" is like saying "maybe OJ was innocent!" In most murder cases, circumstantial evidence is all you have; in Diana Spencer's case, the circumstantial evidence is almost parodically unambiguous. Did she have a Death Wish or did she not, deep down, believe that They were capable of it?

In any case, why spend any time on the topic? We know the Bastards do those things and more but it's not as though she was John Lennon.

writerroddis says August 31, 2017
Good piece. My sentiments exactly. I recall at the time the indefatiguably ridiculous Julie Burchill saying Di was "a republican at heart", prompting the indefatiguably witty Mark Steel to point out that, since she'd wanted her son king we'd have to place her on the moderate wing of republicanism, wouldn't we?

Another aspect is the power the monarchy enjoys, over and above that flowing from membership of Britain's ruling class. I refer to the 'constitutional right' of the monarch to dismiss HIS/HER government. Liberals scoff – 'just a bit of archaic tradition; not worth getting fussed over'. (This despite the armed forces also swearing allegiance not to tax payer but HIS/HER MAJESTY. And despite legislation going back to the seventeenth century, used to intimidate striking miners In 84/85. Britain's ruling class has all manner of tricks up its sleeve.)

If the power of the monrachy is really nothing but colourful pageant, well, they won't mind giving it up now will they?

[Sep 09, 2016] Best of British Values is hypocrisy

Notable quotes:
"... Even the normally supportive rightwing British media appears to be taken aback by the Conservative government's hypocritical fawning. ..."
"... Forget the British pomp and ceremony, gun salutes and royal indulgence. The bottom line is to secure billions of dollars-worth of investment that the British government is counting on the Chinese president to deliver. ..."
"... The showpiece investments being chased by Britain are those in nuclear energy and high-speed rail transport. "Investment in infrastructure tops the UK government's list of desired outcomes from this week's state visit by Xi Jinping," reports the Financial Times. ..."
"... Certainly, Beijing seems to have warmly accepted the offer of a new strategic relationship in which Britain has placed itself as "the most important Western partner". President Xi praised the British government for its wise choice of offering Beijing a strategic partnership. ..."
"... As the Financial Times quoted one former "influential" US official as saying: "What we are seeing is a case study in kowtow. It's not just [British Chancellor] Osborne, it's the whole Cameron government that is bending over incredibly backwards and this will definitely create problems for Great Britain in the future." ..."
"... Cameron has said there is "no conflict of interests" but it is unlikely that Washington will view Britain's coddling of China in such an insouciant way. ..."
"... For its part China has its own strategic calculations. By engaging with Britain, the Chinese government is no doubt happy to avail of new investment opportunities overseas at a time when its domestic economy is slowing. It also tends to mitigate American attempts at isolating Beijing. Good luck to China. ..."
"... But when it comes to China, the same British government evidently has no such concerns or scruples. Because billions of dollars of Chinese investment are being courted by Britain to shore up its crumbling infrastructure and pump up its financial centre in the City of London. ..."
Feb 20, 2016 |

Britain's lavish state reception for Chinese President Xi Jinping is a dash-for-cash that shows how desperate the crumbling former empire is for foreign investment.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is laying on the finest trappings of the state to impress his Asian visitor – even as it causes misgivings within British society and tensions in Britain's "special relationship" with Washington. But Cameron has no choice. Britain is broke and badly needs capital investment.

Even the normally supportive rightwing British media appears to be taken aback by the Conservative government's hypocritical fawning.

The Daily Express reported how premier David Cameron and his Tory government are "rolling out the red carpet to beg for cash" during the Chinese leader's first state visit to Britain. Meanwhile, the Financial Times gave prominence to critics accusing Britain of "kowtowing" to China.

President Xi and his wife were this week treated to a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, where the couple stayed as special guests of Queen Elizabeth. Throughout the visit, Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne are to accompany the Chinese guests during the four-day itinerary.

Forget the British pomp and ceremony, gun salutes and royal indulgence. The bottom line is to secure billions of dollars-worth of investment that the British government is counting on the Chinese president to deliver.

"About 150 deals are expected to be sealed this week in areas such as healthcare, aircraft manufacturing and energy… Britain hopes to advance efforts to turn London into a key trading centre for China's currency, the renminbi, and to boost trade with the world's second largest economy," according to the Guardian

The showpiece investments being chased by Britain are those in nuclear energy and high-speed rail transport.

"Investment in infrastructure tops the UK government's list of desired outcomes from this week's state visit by Xi Jinping," reports the Financial Times.

Some might say that this lavish reception is just the best of British hospitality afforded to the leader of the world's second biggest economy. There's nothing wrong, they say, with Cameron calling for a "golden era" in relations between Britain and China.

Certainly, Beijing seems to have warmly accepted the offer of a new strategic relationship in which Britain has placed itself as "the most important Western partner". President Xi praised the British government for its wise choice of offering Beijing a strategic partnership.

Nevertheless, the dramatic appeal to China by British leaders has the unerring whiff of unscrupulous money-grubbing. Human rights campaigners and readers of Britain's liberal Guardian newspaper are displeased at what they say is the Conservative government's "hypocrisy" on the issue of human rights. Critics point to an alleged crackdown by Beijing authorities on media and civic groups, as well as the repression of dissent in Hong Kong.

We don't have to agree with these critics in order to see that the British government is being far from principled, according to its own much-vaunted "British values".

Previously, Britain has made protests about human rights and over Hong Kong in particular. Now, however, all that is being hushed up during President Xi's visit – to the dismay of British rights campaigners.

Ironically, while Queen Elizabeth was entertaining President Xi, her son Prince Charles stayed away from the banquet at Buckingham Palace.

It has been speculated that he was making a veiled protest over China's relations with Tibet, where Charles is a keen supporter of the Dalai Lama.

Even more fraught is Britain's balancing act with the United States.

Just as Washington is sending a convoy of warships towards Chinese islands in the South China Sea, London is rolling out the red carpet for the Chinese leader.

As the Financial Times quoted one former "influential" US official as saying: "What we are seeing is a case study in kowtow. It's not just [British Chancellor] Osborne, it's the whole Cameron government that is bending over incredibly backwards and this will definitely create problems for Great Britain in the future."

This is the second time that Britain has defied Uncle Sam over Chinese relations. Last year, Britain signed up to the newly launched Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, defying Washington's efforts at isolating China.

Cameron has said there is "no conflict of interests" but it is unlikely that Washington will view Britain's coddling of China in such an insouciant way.

For its part China has its own strategic calculations. By engaging with Britain, the Chinese government is no doubt happy to avail of new investment opportunities overseas at a time when its domestic economy is slowing. It also tends to mitigate American attempts at isolating Beijing. Good luck to China.

The point is that the whole affair shows a hypocritical expedience by the British state. Cameron and his government have been foremost in criticising Russia over alleged violations in Ukraine and human rights. On that score, London has been a cheerleader for imposing Western economic sanctions against Moscow, and dragging the rest of Europe to back Washington in a counterproductive stand-off.

But when it comes to China, the same British government evidently has no such concerns or scruples. Because billions of dollars of Chinese investment are being courted by Britain to shore up its crumbling infrastructure and pump up its financial centre in the City of London.

So when David Cameron pontificates about the "best of British values", we should know that chief among those "values" is hypocrisy. Followed by duplicity and unscrupulousness.

Cameron and his government no doubt think they are being really "smart" by playing such double-games. But in doing so, Britain exposes itself as being bereft of any principles. On the world stage, it is just a broken-down imperial has-been that now gets by with an oversized begging bowl and a posh accent.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

[Jun 12, 2015] Tracking the roots of Zionism and imperial russophobia by Laurent Guyénot

February 13, 2015 | Veterans News Now

The Disraeli case is illuminating because the questions raised about him are the same as those that arise today on the relationship between the United States and the Zionist network, questions which divide even the most respected observers.

benjamin_disraeli 1804  to 1881

by Laurent Guyénot

In order to understand the relationship between the Empire, Zionism and Western russophobia, we must go back to the late 19th century, and focus in particular on British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. The questions raised by his time and foreign policy are the same that arise today on the relationship between the United States and the Zionist network, questions which divide even the most respected observers.

Which, of the Anglo-American Empire and the international Jewry, steers the other?

Octopus Russia 1900

Map published in 1900 in Great Britain, showing Russia as an octopus extending its tentacles on Turkey and Central Europe. There are many versions of this map, the first of which dates back to 1877.

In 1853 the Crimean War breaks out between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, the latter receiving the aid of France and the United Kingdom. The war ends in 1856 by the Treaty of Paris, which aims at limiting Russian expansionism for the benefit of the Ottoman Empire. Twenty years later, in 1877, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, declaring himself protector of the Christians, goes to war once more against the Ottoman Empire, which has drowned the uprising of Serbs in the bloodbath of 1875, and likewise that of Bulgarians the following year. With the Russians at the gates of Constantinople, the Ottomans were forced to grant independence to many of the people they previously dominated. By the Treaty of San Stefano, signed in 1878, the Tsar found the autonomous principalities of Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania, and amputates the Ottoman Empire of territories populated by Georgians and Armenians.The Sultan must also commit to ensuring the safety of Christian subjects who remain under his authority.

This treaty, however, displeases Britain and Austria-Hungary, both hostile to the expansion of Russian influence area. This displeases especially England since Alexander II undertook the conquest of territories in Central Asia, where the English own many colonies. In 1878, England and Austria-Hungary convene the Congress of Berlin, which will result in the Berlin Treaty, canceling that of San Stefano: the independence of the Christian states of the Balkans is replaced by a gradual and conditional emancipation. Russian conquests are cut and Armenia is returned, for the most part, to the Ottoman Empire. The independent principalities of the Balkans are fragmented into weak, rival and ethnically divided small states, and part of Bulgaria is put back under Ottoman vassalage. This redistribution raises profound national resentment which will contribute to the sparking of the First World War, as well as the Armenian genocide (one million two hundred thousand victims).

A chessboard drenched in blood -- Pepe Escobar

A chessboard drenched in blood - Pepe Escobar

The Treaty of Berlin's main objective is to save what could be saved from a weakening Ottoman Empire in order to counter panslavism and Russia's influence. England, the first maritime power, wants to prevent Russia from getting closer to the Bosphorus. She obtains the right to use Cyprus as a naval military base, protecting the colonial roads and monitoring the Suez Canal.Thus was launched the so-called policy of the "Great Game" for colonial rule in Asia, which, for the British Empire, entails containing Russian expansion, and will lead in particular to the creation of Afghanistan as a buffer state.

It is the same policy which will be promoted by Zbigniew Brzezinski 120 years later, on behalf of American hegemony.

Thus is launched as well the means to this policy, which will be called "balkanization", a perpetual source of wars.


Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

There are several ways to tell this historical episode which carries the seed of all the tragedies of the 20th century, several possible viewpoints about the forces shaping history at this crucial time. But in the end, history is made by men, and it can be understood only if one identifies its main protagonists. One name stands out among the instigators of this pivotal time's British imperial policy:

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), Prime Minister under Queen Victoria from 1868 to 1869, and then from 1874 to 1880. Disraeli was the man who made the takeover of the Suez Canal by England possible in 1875, through funding from his friend Lionel Rothschild, son of Nathan (operation which consolidated at the same time the Rothschilds' control over the Bank of England).

Disraeli is the true inventor of British imperialism, since it was he who, in 1876, had Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India by Parliament. What is more, Disraeli is the main inspiration for the Berlin Congress. Lastly, Disraeli can be considered one of the forerunners of Zionism, since, well before Theodor Herzl, he tried to have the "restoration of Israel" entered on the Berlin Congress' agenda, hoping to convince the Sultan to concede to Palestine as an autonomous province.

Zionism was for him an old dream: soon after a trip to the Middle East at the age of 26, he published his first novel, The Wondrous Tale of Alroy, and made his hero, an influential Jew of the Middle Ages, say:

"My wish is a national existence which we have not. My wish is the Land of Promise and Jerusalem and the Temple, all we forfeited, all we have yearned after, all for which we have fought, our beauteous country, our holy creed, our simple manners, and our ancient customs."

Disraeli is descended from a family of Marranos (crypto-Jews of Portuguese origin) converted back to Judaism in Venice. His grandfather moved to London in 1748. Benjamin was baptized at the age of thirteen, when his father, Isaac D'Israeli, converted to Anglican Christianity together with all his family, as much, it seems, to escape the narrowmindedness of the synagogue, as to integrate into British society.

Genius of JudaismIsaac D'Israeli, however, is the author of a book called The Genius of Judaism (in response to Chateaubriand's The Genius of Christianity), in which he glorifies the unique qualities of the Jewish people, but violently attacks Talmudic rabbis for "sealing up the national mind of their people" and "corrupting the simplicity of their antique creed".

Benjamin Disraeli embodies in his own self the contradictions and drama of assimilated Jews in the late 19th century, which aspired to assimilation to the point that they wanted to personify all the virtues and values of European nations, but whose conversion to an already devitalized Christianity could only be a source of disappointment, and who have developed from it an even stronger and tormented attachment to their Jewishness.

At about the same time as Disraeli, Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) was baptized. He saw baptism as "the entry ticket to European culture", but complained of still being considered a Jew by the German (and preferred for this reason living in France, where he was regarded as a representative of high German culture). He wrote in his last work Romanzero:

"I do not keep secret my Judaism, to which I have not been back since I have never left it." Just like the forced conversion of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in the late 15th century, the opportunistic conversion of some assimilated Jews in the late 19th century strengthened in them a non-religious and racialist conception of jewishness: Benjamin Disraeli defined himself as "anglican of Jewish race."

Coningsby, or The New Generation

Coningsby, or The New Generation

For Hannah Arendt, Disraeli is a "race fanatic" who, ever since his first novel Alroy (1833), "sketched the plan of a Jewish empire, in which Jews would be the governing class, strictly separated. […] In his new novel Coningsby (1844), he describes a fantastic plot in which Jewish money makes and unmakes palaces and empires and pulls the strings of diplomacy. […] This idea became the heart of his political philosophy[1]. In a nonfictional work (Lord George Bentinck:

A Political Biography, 1852), Disraeli wrote that Jews "are the most striking living proof of the falsity of this pernicious doctrine in modern times, the natural equality of men […], a principle which, if it were possible to achieve, would deteriorate great races, and destroy all the geniuses of the world. […] The innate tendency of the Jewish race, which is justly proud of its blood, opposes the doctrine of the equality of men[2]." He writes again, shortly before his death, in Endymion (1880): "No-one should treat lightly the race principle, the racial question. It is the key to world history."

Disraeli is clearly on the same wavelength as Moses Hess, the spiritual father of Theodor Herzl who, after having believed in his friend Karl Marx's class struggle, converted to the "race war", considering, in Rome and Jerusalem (1862), that "the Jewish race is a pure race" with "indelible" characteristics, and that a Jew is jewish "by virtue of his racial origin, even though his ancestors may have become apostates".

What is Disraeli's motivation behind the foreign policy he imparted to the British Empire?

Is he inhabited by the fate of the British to conquer the world, or, remembering how Ezra and Nehemiah have exploited the Persian authority, does he see the British Empire as the instrument of the Jewish nation's destiny fulfillment, in other words Zionism's mule?

In mooring the Suez Canal (drilled between 1859 and 1869 by French Ferdinand de Lesseps) to British interests, does he simply seek to outdo the French, or is he laying the foundation for the future alliance between Israel and the Anglo-American Empire?

Disraeli (1) Lionel RothschildIndeed, Disraeli can henceforth argue that a Jewish autonomous government in Palestine would be quite capable of defending the British economic interests in the region. This will be Chaim Weizmann's pitch to the British thirty years later: the Jews established in Palestine, he assures, "would develop the country, bring back civilisation to it and form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal"[3]. Thus, Disraeli is truly the one who, with the help of Lionel Rothschild, laid the first stone of the new Jewish State. When in 1956 Israel invades the Sinai to take control of the Canal, she does it again promising Britain to return the control of the Canal, nationalized by Nasser, to her. And what of Disraeli's russophobia, to which, some say, he converted Queen Victoria?

Is it imperial geostrategy, or the old Jewish enmity against the last Christian kingdom, where 70% of world Jews (recently emancipated by Alexander II, but victims of recurrent pogroms) still live?

No-one can answer these questions with certainty; perhaps Disraeli could not himself. His contemporaries, however, were pondering. Disraeli's displayed hostility against Russia and his defense of the Turks, whose massacres perpetrated against the Serbs and Bulgarians were yet well known, gave rise for some to the fantasy of a Jewish conspiracy. William Ewart Gladstone, a longtime opponent of Disraeli and himself Prime Minister several times (1868-1874, 1880-1885, 1886 and 1892-1894), declared that the former "was holding British foreign policy hostage to his Jewish sympathies, and that he was more interested in relieving the anguish of Jews in Russia and Turkey than in any British interests." The newspaper The Truth of November 22, 1877, alluding to the intimacy of Disraeli with the Rothschilds suspected "a tacit conspiracy […] on the part of a considerable number of Anglo-Hebrews, to drag us into a war on behalf of the Turks". It was remembered, moreover, that in a speech in Commons Gallery in 1847, Disraeli had demanded the admission of Jews to eligible functions, on the grounds that "the Jewish mind exercises a vast influence on the affairs of Europe[4]".

Queen Victoria and Benjamin Disraeli (wiki)

Queen Victoria and Benjamin Disraeli (wiki)

Some complained about the influence of Disraeli on Queen Victoria (influence he explained to a friend in these terms: "Everyone likes flattery, and when it comes to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel[5]").

The Queen, it must be said, was already, as much of the aristocracy, under the spell of a theory in vogue assigning an Israelite origin to the Anglo-Saxons (theory which appeared under Oliver Cromwell and was renewed in 1840 by Pastor John Wilson with his Lectures on Ancient Israel and the Israelitish Origin of the Modern Nations of Europe, where he derives the word "Saxon" from "Isaac's sons"). Ready to believe that her noble lineage descended from King David, the Queen had her sons circumcised, a custom that has continued to this day. Needless to say, this court judeophilia was not to everyone's liking.

The Disraeli case is illuminating because the questions raised above about him are the same as those that arise today on the relationship between the United States and the Zionist network, questions which divide even the most respected observers. Which, of the Anglo-American Empire and the international Jewry, steers the other?

Answering this question for the half-century preceding the First World War helps answer that of the contemporary times, because the symbiotic relationship between Israel and the Empire built up in that period. The answer depends on the viewpoint taken on. The Zionists naturally have an interest in promoting the view that Israel serves the Anglo-American interests, and not the reverse. The idea sold by Disraeli to his government was to involve the Jews in British colonialism. But the Jewish Zionists really see things from the other end of the telescope, and one would hardly believe that Disraeli did not secretly share this view. When the hero of his Tancred (1847), a Jew who has been promoted Lord Beaconsfield, glorifies the British Empire in these words:

"We wish to conquer the world, led by angels, in order to bring man to happiness, under divine sovereignty,"

who lies behind this ambiguous "we"? Is it the same two-way "we" that the neoconservatives, draped in American patriotism, used in public, when issuing a "Project for a New American Century" (PNAC) whose sole beneficiary is Israel?

Chaim Herzl

Léon Pinsker, Zionist from Odessa and author in 1882 (one year after the death of Disraeli) of the first Zionist manifesto of global influence, Auto-Emancipation. Letter from a Russian Jew to his Brothers, makes no secret that, to "restore the Jewish nation", there is no other way than to "manifest irresistible pressure on international politics of the moment."[6]. This is the program that will implement, after Disraeli, the tireless diplomats Theodor Herlz and Chaim Weizmann, supported by an increasingly broad network of financial sympathisers, including Max Warburg and Jacob Schiff. Like British Disraeli, the Austro-Hungarian Herzl pins high hopes on Turkey. He reports in these terms his proposal to Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876-1909) during a hearing obtained in May 1901:

"Let the Sultan give us this piece of land and, in exchange, we will put his finances in order and we will influence public opinion in his favor in the whole world." He added: "I may influence European press (in London, in Paris, in Bonn and in Vienna) so that the Armenian issue be addressed in a sense more favorable to the Turks[7]."

In other words, he promised to devote to the service of Ottoman Turkey the two Jewish weapons par excellence: the bank and the press. Like his predecessor at the Congress of Berlin, the Sultan categorically rejected that idea, and even opposed any massive Jewish immigration to Palestine: "I prefer to be penetrated by iron than losing Palestine."

Co-founders of the (World) Zionist Organisation, Theodore Herzl (left). and Max Nordau

Co-founders of the (World) Zionist Organisation, Theodore Herzl (left). and Max Nordau

A quarter century after Disraeli saved the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan's estoppel sealed all hope of getting back Palestine; it was necessary thus that the Ottoman Empire disappear and the cards be redistributed. Herzl understands that "the division of Turkey means a world war"[8], and his partner Max Nordau, speaker with incomparable prophetic talent, predicts before the Zionist Congress of 1903, "the future world war, the peace conference where, with the help of England, a free and Jewish Palestine will be created."[9].

Writing in 1938, Jewish historian Benzion Netanyahu (father of the current Prime Minister) summarizes the feverish anticipation of this great cataclysm in the Zionist community, with, as is always the case in Jewish historiography, the eyes fixed on the fate of the chosen people and a complete indifference to the collateral victims:

"The great moment came, as he prophesied, bound together with the storm of a world war, and bearing in its wings an exterminating attack on world Jewry, which began with the massacre of the Jews of Ukraine (during the Russian Civil War) and continues to spread to the present day[10]."

Rabbi Joachim Prinz in The Secret Jews (1973)Shortly before the outbreak of the World War, in 1908, the sultanate itself would be destroyed from within by the secular revolution of the Young Turks, a movement described by T. E. Lawrence as "50% crypto-Jewish and 95% freemasonic", and led by the Dönmeh, that is to say, converted Jews of Marrano ancestry, as demonstrated by Rabbi Joachim Prinz in The Secret Jews (1973).

As for Russia, we know what cost her the First World War. The Ottoman Empire suddenly becoming the enemy of the British, Russia is now allied with them, by a complex set of alliances. On April 16, 1917, to get her out of the war, the Germans sent back home thirty-two exiled Bolsheviks including Lenin, soon joined by two hundred Mensheviks, and financed their propaganda organ, Pravda, in exchange for their promise to withdraw from the war. A year later, they signed with Leon Trotsky (his real name being Bronstein) the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which ended the Eastern Front. Angelo Rappoport, himself a Jewish socialist and author of Pioneers of the Russian Revolution (New York, 1919) estimates that 80% of the Russian revolutionaries were Jews[11]. Many American Jews were seeing Bolshevik Russia favorably.

In September 1920, The American Hebrew declares:

"The Bolshevik Revolution eliminated the most brutal dictatorship in history. This great achievement, destined to figure in history as one of the overshadowing results of the World War, was largely the product of Jewish thinking, Jewish discontent, Jewish effort to reconstruct[12]."

It must be added: "Jewish financing" because U.S. State Department documents prove the "financial support to Bolshevism and the Bolshevik revolution of known American Jews: Jacob Schiff, Felix Warburg, Otto Kahn, Mendel Schiff, Jerome Hanauer, Max Breitung and one of the Guggenheims[13]."

If times were not yet ripe at the time of Disraeli, it is also because Russian Jews were no more attracted to Palestine than European Jews; they just barely knew where it was. Emancipated since 1855 by Tsar Alexander II, who had given them free access to the university, Russian Jews aspired only to migrate to Europe and the United States. Pogroms, including the one in Odessa which lasted three days in 1871, do not convince them of the necessity to establish their own state. It is only after the assassination of Alexander II in 1881 that the increased violence against them make some sensitive to the call of Léon Pinsker published in 1882: "We must reconcile ourselves once and for all to the idea that the other nations, by reason of their inherent natural antagonism, will forever reject us[14]." It was also in 1881, year of Disraeli's death, that Baron Edmond de Rothschild, from the parisan branch, would start to buy land in Palestine and fund the installation of Jewish settlers, especially in Tel Aviv, under the aegis of his Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA).

Furthermore, to influence world affairs, proto-Zionist Disraeli did not yet have at his disposal a sufficiently tighly-knit international network that would act in concert. The international Jewish organizations such as B'nai B'rith (Hebrew for "the sons of the Alliance") founded in New York in 1843, or the Universal Israelite Alliance, founded in France in 1860 by Isaac Moses Aaron (also know as Adolphe) Crémieux, felt that Israel was doing very well as a scattered nation and had yet no designs on Palestine. This would change during the First World War; it was then that a highly efficient network connecting both sides of the Atlantic set up. Nahum Sokolow, a stakeholder in this deep history, testifies to this in his History of Zionism:

"Between London, New York, and Washington there was constant communication, either by telegraph, or by personal visit, and as a result there was perfect unity among the Zionists of both hemispheres[15]."

Thus was negotiated, behind the scenes of the carnage, the famous Balfour Declaration (a letter sent in November 1917 to the President of the "English Zionist Federation" Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, declaring the British government favorable to the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people").

Obtained in exchange for the mobilization of American Jews to lead America into the war (by Balfour's own admission, as well as Rabbi Emanuel Neumann's, of the Zionist Organization of America, and confirmed by Churchill[16]), this declaration would be incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the war to justify the British Mandate of Palestine. And so, while the Germans contrived to pull Russia out of the war by supporting the Bolshevik Revolution, the English were to make America enter it by supporting another Jewish movement, Zionism. If, on the militant field, international revolution and Jewish nationalism were presented as two competing movements, sometimes dividing Eastern European Jewish families, from the perspective of a certain cognitive elite, they are the two jaws of the same pliers; one can find at the levers the same financiers, including Jacob Schiff, sponsor of Herzl and Lenin simultaneously.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis was a lawyer and associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis was a lawyer and associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939.

Among the architects of the secret diplomacy leading to the Balfour Declaration, Nahum Sokolow praises very specifically "the beneficent personal influence of the Honourable Louis D. Brandeis, Judge of the Supreme Court"[17]. Appointed to the highest level of the judiciary in 1916 by President Wilson, Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) was one of the most powerful Zionist schemers, exercising an unparalleled influence on the White House, along with Colonel Mandell House (Wilson called House "my second personality", and House said of Brandeis: "his mind and mine are in agreement on most issues")[18]. Brandeis established a formidable tandem with his protégé Felix Frankfurter, who would be his successor in exerting influence on Roosevelt. "Acting together over a period of 25 years, they put in place a network of disciples at influential positions, and worked tirelessly for the accomplishment of their programs," writes Bruce Allen Murphy in The Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection[19]. Brandeis and Frankfurter belonged to a secret society dedicated to the Zionist cause and named the Parushim (Hebrew word for "Pharisees" or "Separated"). Sarah Schmidt, professor of Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, described the society as "a secret underground guerilla force determined to influence the course of events in a quiet, anonymous way."

At the initiation ceremony, each new member received for instruction:

"until our purpose shall be accomplished, you will be fellow of a brotherhood whose bond you will regard as greater than any other in your life-dearer than that of family, of school, of nation. By entering this brotherhood, you become a self-dedicated soldier in the army of Zion." The insider responded by vowing: "before this council, in the name of all that I hold dear and holy, I hereby vow myself, my life, my fortune, and my honor to the restoration of the Jewish nation. […] I pledge myself utterly to guard and to obey and to keep secret the laws and the labor of the fellowship, its existence and its aims. Amen[20]."

"Translated by Albert"


[1] Hannah Arendt, Les Origines du totalitarisme, Gallimard, 2002, p. 309-310.

[2] Cité dans André Pichot, Aux origines des théories raciales, de la Bible à Darwin, Flammarion, 2008, p. 397

[3] Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, Harper & Brothers, 1949, cité dans Alan Hart, Zionism, The Real Ennemies of the Jews, vol. 1, The False Messiah, Clarity Press, 2009, p. 98.

[4] Stanley Weintraub, Disraeli: A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, 1993, p. 579.

[5] Stanley Weintraub, Disraeli: A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, 1993, p. 547.

[6] Cité par Douglas Reed, La Controverse de Sion (1957), Kontre Kulture, p. 248.

[7] Journal de Theodor Herzl, 8 juin 1896 et 21 juin 1896, Tome I, p. 363 et 387 de l'édition anglaise, cité dans Roger Garaudy, Le Procès du sionisme, 1998, p. 51.

[8] Theodor Herzl, Zionism, State edition, 1937, p. 65, cité dans Benzion Netanyahu, The Founding Fathers of Zionism (1938), Balfour Books, 2012, kindle empl. 1456-9.

[9] Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, Harper & Brothers, 1949, cité par Douglas Reed, La Controverse de Sion (1957), Kontre Kulture, p. 263.

[10] Benzion Netanyahu, The Founding Fathers of Zionism, Balfour Books, 2012, empl. 1614-20.

[11] Angelo Rappoport, Pioneers of the Russian Revolution, 1919, p. 252, cité par Léon de Poncins, Les Juifs, maîtres du monde, Éditions Bossard, 1932, p. 27.

[12] Michael Jones, The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History, Fidelity Press, 2008, p. 747.

[13] Antony Sutton, Wall Street et la Révolution bolchevique (éd. anglaise 1976), Scribedit, 2012, p. 311.

[14] Benzion Netanyahu, The Founding Fathers of Zionism, Balfour Books, 2012, empl. 761-775.

[15] Nahum Sokolow, History of Zionism (1600-1918), vol. 2, 1919, p. 79-80, cité dans Alison Weir, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, 2014, kindle empl. 387-475. Weir se réfère également à Peter Grose, "Louis Brandeis, Arthur Balfour, and a Declaration That Made History," Moment 8 (novembre 1983), p. 17-39.

[16] Hart, Zionism, The Real Ennemies of the Jews, vol. 1, Clarity Press, 2009, p. 90.

[17] Nahum Sokolow, History of Zionism (1600-1918), vol. 2, 1919, p. 79-80.

[18] Arthur Howden Smith, The Real Colonel House (1918), Bibliographical Center for Research, 2010, cité dans Aline de Diéguez, Aux Sources du chaos mondial actuel, en ligne sur ; Douglas Reed, La Controverse de Sion (1957), Kontre Kulture, p. 305.

[19] Bruce Allen Murphy, The Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection: The Secret Political Activities of Two Supreme Court Justices, Oxford University Press, 1982, p. 10, cité dans Alison Weir, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, 2014, kindle e. 260-351.

[20] Sarah Schmidt, "The Parushim: A Secret Episode in American Zionist History," American Jewish Historical Quarterly n°65, décembre 1975, p. 121-139 (en ligne sur, et Sarah Schmidt, Horace M. Kallen: Prophet of American Zionism, Carlson, 1995, cités dans Alison Weir, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, 2014, kindle e. 279-351 et 2578-96.

Laurent Guyénot Engineer (National School of Advanced Technology, 1982) and medievalist (PhD in Medieval Studies at Paris IV-Sorbonne, 2009). He has authored numerous books on the subject.His latest book is JFK-9/11: 50 Years of Deep State

He has dedicated the past three years to studying the behind-the-scenes history of the United States, where he lived for five years.

[Feb 09, 2014] Tensions between US and Russia hang over Sochi despite strong opening by Owen Gibson

Nice media poodle... Diligently barking at the object the owner pointed to...
8 February 2014 | The Guardian

Picking your way through Sochi's Olympic Park at night is like weaving through a giant car park in which a series of jaw-dropping spaceships have landed at random.

The brightly lit ice palaces themselves are stunning, inside and out, and the sporting facilities have been rightly praised by almost all the athletes. But, beyond them, there is little but concrete expanses, hastily planted grass verges and an incongruous funfair.

To bring the Winter Games to his favourite holiday resort at a cost of $51bn, Vladimir Putin has had to build not only a series of world-class sporting venues but an entire city. The scale of the construction is at once impressive and dizzily disconcerting.

Endless utilitarian apartment blocks and gigantic hotels sprawl seemingly at random in the so-called "coastal cluster". In the mountains, ersatz approximations of a Swiss ski resort have sprouted. Even if you accept the argument that the Games can be used as a catalyst for development, it is impossible not to wonder how they will be filled afterwards.

Lessons have been learned from previous Games, not least London 2012, in how to best frame the sporting action for maximum impact – not only for those watching on television but those attending in person.

At Saturday's snowboarding, staged in a stunning setting under brilliant sunshine to a booming dance music soundtrack and cheering crowds, it was even possible to feel the tingle of excitement in the cool mountain air.

Buried somewhere beneath the barrage of criticism of the huge cost of building the infrastructure to host these Games, the protests about Putin's anti-gay laws and security concerns, is a sporting event struggling to get out. It might even be fun.

Not all of the criticism has been fair and there is a lingering undercurrent of bitterness from the Russian organisers, who believe they are being unfairly targeted.

The Cold War may have been studiously avoided in an intelligent opening ceremony, but the simmering tension between the US and Russia is at the heart of a tug of war over how these Games are presented to the world. American networks in particular have dwelled on tales of unfinished media hotels and ramped-up security concerns.

By the same token, the Russian organisers have been needlessly defensive and slow to acknowledge genuine, and often comical, problems with accommodation and, more seriously, prickly when it comes to criticism of their human rights record and anti-gay laws. Putin's hopes for a flawless Games that would showcase his vision of Russian might to the world is already fraying at the edges.

Rightly or wrongly, it is also the Americans who have been most vocal in their criticism of some of the sparkling new sporting facilities.

Shaun White pulled out of theslopestyle snowboarding over concerns about the safetyof the course and US downhill skier Bode Miller on Saturday warned that the Rosa Khuta piste "could kill you" after watching team-mate Marco Sullivan narrowly escape a serious crash.

Shoddy hotel rooms and malfunctioning giant snowflakes aside, everything else appears to be working as it should. Inside the so-called "ring of steel", security is surprisingly unobtrusive. Policemen are dressed down in purple tracksuits and volunteers are friendly and helpful.

What is not yet clear is where the soul of these Games will lie. Russian organisers insist ticket sales have been strong and venues have appeared fairly full so far. The extent to which ordinary Russians get behind an Olympics that, to date, have sometimes appeared the obsession of just one man will be a key factor in determining how they are remembered.

[Dec 27, 2013] Internet privacy as important as human rights, says UN's Navi Pillay by Haroon Siddique

'National Security, the last refuge of the scoundrel'.

December 26, 2013 | Guardian


The united states is no longer the world leader in freedom. It has become the world privacy snooper no different than a peeping tom. Where has the morality of the leadership of the united stated gone? Where is the leadership?

We need people outside of the united states to see that what is going on in the states is wrong? We the united states can't even govern our own actions correctly. What shame!

Thank You Edward Snowden.

floreat_d hmorgansr

Why do you not mention the U.K., their partner in mass surveillance?

But yes, the hypocrisy is greater on the side of my own country, the Land of the Free etc etc etc.

Nomadscot floreat_d

Arguably, the hypocrisy is greater this side of the pond.

At least your guys are manning (no pun intended) up and having a public discussion of sorts, albeit reluctantly and probably dishonestly.

Here, the hypocritical, two faced idiots that run the UK are still hiding behind their 'We don't discuss National Security' soundbyte, to hide their nefarious, immoral actions from public scrutiny.

As another commenter wisely stated here today - 'National Security, the last refuge of the scoundrel'.

A Lose-Lose Outcome - The American Interest

Former Uk ambassador to Russia prefers financial sector based corruption flourishing in Britain to old style corruption flourishing in Russia. Your mileage may very. This guy is thinking in convenient stereotypes of Dr. Goebbels.

That is true for Russia too, of course, the difference being that in Russia's case its variable life support is its natural resource sector. It is a commonplace that the future prosperity of Russia as well as Ukraine depends on moving on from a system based on understandings and personalized favors to one where clearly understood and independently adjudicated laws allow free enterprise to work its magic.

Forcing Ukraine into the Russian embrace might serve the interests of those close to Yanukovich's heart but it would hardly do anything to help combat corruption in either country-on the contrary. It would likely provoke a struggle for property in Ukraine as well.

'EU double standards in Ukraine absolutely outrageous'

RT Op-Edge

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at Follow him on Twitter

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Supporters of Ukraine's integration with the EU use a tractor to brake through police cordons to Ukraine's presidential administration in Kiev. (RIA Novosti / Alexei Furman)

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By supporting protesters in Ukraine while previously ignoring huge last year protests in Turkey and Spain, EU officials have revealed that for them some protesters are more equal than others, journalist Neil Clark told RT.

RT: We've seen several EU officials coming to Kiev over the last couple of weeks to support what they call the "democratic aspirations" of the people. They were not so vocal when we saw anti-government protests in Greece and Spain. Why they are more vocal now?

Neil Clark: I was actually in Spain in 2012 when there were huge demonstrations against the Spanish government, against austerity, back in September 2012.

I was there but I didn't see any eurocrats coming there to show their solidarity with the Spanish people who demanded that their government change course. I didn't see anyone coming out from Poland or Germany saying to the Spanish government to change its policies, did you?

RT: Even looking outside the EU, to Turkey, all the trouble there got much lower EU concern. We have seen that Catherine Ashton is coming to Kiev again in a couple of days.

NC: There were hundreds of thousands of people protesting there, and not just in the capital, but throughout Turkey. And it was a much more national protest, (whereas) this protest in Kiev is very much a protest of western Ukraine. And we didn't get that, we didn't Catherine Ashton going out to Istanbul or Ankara to show solidarity – or anybody from the EU for that matter.

The protesters in Turkey were peaceful,they were dealt with by great brutality from the police, there were no calls for them, the people who did the brutality, to be arrested or sacked, as it was in Ukraine.

So double standards are absolutely glaring: to riot on the streets and demonstrate in Kiev is absolutely fine by the European Union, they encourage you, they incite you, but if you would do it in Turkey or Spain – no, they don't.

The double standards here are absolutely outrageous here, really.

RT: Why don't the people from the EU go to the east of Ukraine. That's where they actually should be trying to convince people. They're going to the wrong place.

NC: Sure. We see from this that some protesters are more equal than others. The protesters in Ukraine's Kiev are good protesters, the west supports them because they want to bring down the Ukrainian government – they want to push Ukraine away from Russia.

RT: What is the real deal here?

NC: The real deal here is if we look at the polls, we learn that no more than 45 percent of the people actually support the protesters in Ukraine. And yet we have Polish MPs going to Ukraine saying that the government has got to change its course, and there have to be fresh elections.

This is not a democracy, this is the absolute perversion of democracy. The Ukrainian people voted in the election for their president and there will be other elections due. This is a question of observing the democratic process and respecting it, but I'm afraid these eurocrats are not respecting democracy, they're trying to incite regime change in Ukraine or at least bully the government to change its policies or call early elections.

It is completely wrong and as I said, if this were happening in Spain or Greece – as it has been happening – we wouldn't get the Polish and German MPs going out there and showing their solidarity with the protesters.

RT: Our guest, Professor Mark Almond [just told us]: "If you go along that rocky road, it might end up the same way in the EU in the future, for instance within Italy or Spain."

NC: But it seems if you protest in Spain – you don't really count either. I mean it is sort of a "contempt for democracy" that the EU has toward the Spanish people, who are up in arms against their government. And so it was with the Greek government, but they were ignored. They are not getting the elite's support from western capitals, quite the opposite.

I think that the European Union has a massive democratic deficit because they are following austerity policies they don't have public support for, they don't have the supporting of the majority.

And yet they've got the audacity to say to the Ukrainian government, "Look, you're going to change course because of these people on the streets in Kiev."

It is absolutely outrageous. It is so undemocratic it is unbelievable really, it is so orwellian.

RT: The EU failed to convince President Viktor Yanukovych that the EU trade deal was good for Ukraine. Now the EU officials say they support the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people, but what we're seeing is vandalism and squatting in administrative buildings. Are they hoping to undermine his government by backing the protesters?

NC: I think the EU is speaking with a forked tongue here. They say they support democracy in Ukraine but they clearly don't. They've got that democratically elected president in Ukraine, he made this decision on that issue [the trade deal with the EU]. And yet they're trying to subvert that, they're trying to incite people to go to the streets – not just peacefully – to protest.

The things we've actually seen in Ukraine are storming the government buildings, violence, tractors being used trying to smash into those buildings.

If this were happening in Britain, France or Germany – these people would of course have been denounced as rioters or yobs, and would be given very tough prison sentences.

In Britain when we had a riot, we had one man who wrote on Facebook, encouraging people to go to riot in a local town. He got sentenced to four years in prison.

And scenes we've seen in Ukraine, those protesters using bulldozers trying to smash into the government buildings? In western Europe, those people would be denounced as rioters. But as it's happening in Ukraine, we've got absolutely the opposite treatment. The European so-called democrats are cheering them on.

This is really the opposite of democracy, democracy is not happening in Ukraine with these protests, because it is an attempt to bully the democratic government to change it or have early elections, to actually bring the government down, so it is very undemocratic what is going on in Ukraine.

Hypocritical Britain hates student protests in its backyard

RT Op-Edge


Conflict, Police, Protest, UK

Western elites love student protesters. That is, when they're protesting in countries whose governments the West would like to see toppled. But they're not so fond of it in their own countries. We saw a classic example of this in Britain this week.

On Wednesday, thousands of students from across the country took part in the 'Cops off Campus' demonstration in London, to protest against heavy police presence on campuses, and the brutal way in which police broke up a peaceful protest at the University of London last week.

"Today's eviction was one of the nastiest, most brutal I've seen on a campus for a long time," tweeted ULU President Michael Chessum, about the police action on December 4, which led to 41 arrests. "I've seen people having their teeth punched out. The police were not turning up with horses and batons they were just swinging punches," he added.

Thousands of UK students march in 'Cops off Campus' protest on December 12, 2013 (Photo by Sara Firth, RT)

Thousands of UK students march in 'Cops off Campus' protest on December 12, 2013 (Photo by Sara Firth, RT)

And it seems the police acted with impunity: earlier this week we learnt that a policeman who was filmed punching a student will not be disciplined.

The crackdown on student protesters and the victimization of those who organize demonstrations is well under way. Michael Chessum himself had been arrested in November, a day after another demonstration he had organized took place. The University of London meanwhile has obtained a court order to ban 'occupational protests' for the next six months.

We have also learnt recently that police tried to launch a secret operation to spy on the political activities of students at Cambridge University.

What on earth is Britain coming to?

Just imagine if these events had happened in Venezuela, Belarus or Ukraine, or in any other country where the West's political and financial elites desire 'regime change'. We'd have had widespread media coverage and comment pieces from 'liberal interventionists' and neocon columnists, pledging their solidarity with the students, denouncing police actions and calling for sanctions to be imposed on the country, (or strengthened if they had already been applied). But when student protests are aggressively suppressed in Britain, when basic democratic rights are infringed before our very eyes, it's a different story altogether.

The sad fact is that protesting about anything in Britain today puts you in danger of arrest. Liberties which we've enjoyed for hundreds of years are gradually being eroded. It would be an exaggeration to say that Britain is already a police state, but we certainly appear to be heading in that direction.

I myself was threatened with arrest outside a railway station a few months ago for the 'crime' of peacefully handing out anti-privatization leaflets from the Campaign For Public Ownership. Police patrolling the station went in to inform the private rail company which runs services there to inform them of my activity. I was told that unless I left the station area, I would be arrested, even though I was handing out the leaflets on land which was publicly owned and not owned by the railway company.

In August, the Green MP, Caroline Lucas and her son, were among those arrested at an anti-fracking protest in West Sussex. "This is an outrageously aggressive response to a day of principled civil disobedience," protester Ewa Jasiewicz told the BBC.

Police officers guard a gate on the edge of a site run by Cuadrilla Resources, near Balcombe in southern England August 16, 2013 (Reuters / Stefan Wermuth)

Police officers guard a gate on the edge of a site run by Cuadrilla Resources, near Balcombe in southern England August 16, 2013 (Reuters / Stefan Wermuth)

The coverage of the protests in Britain was highly unsympathetic, but if they'd been protesting in Venezuela against government policy and been similarly treated, I'm sure they would have been accorded hero status.

The background to the current student protests is the privatization of state education in Britain.

The neoliberal coalition government is on a mission: to destroy state provision but Britain's students are fighting back against the commodification of education.

Students at the University of London, showing admirable solidarity, have been campaigning for the rights of the university's lowly paid outsourced staff. These staff would have been employed directly by the university in the past, but since their jobs were outsourced, they have seen their employment conditions worsen.

At the University of Sussex, students have been campaigning against privatization for over a year. In April, a peaceful occupation was ended when police turned up on campus with riot vans and dogs. Michael Segalov, part of the 'Sussex Against Privatization Campaign', revealed this week that he was one of five students who were being suspended by the university authorities. "We have not been charged with any crime or told of the specific reasons for our suspension. I believe we have been targeted for suspension, to intimidate the growing campus movement against privatization," he wrote in The Guardian. Other anti-privatization protests have taken place at universities across Britain.

It's no surprise why Britain's students are more restive today that at any time since the late 1960s.

Britain's neoliberal elite has been treating them as it treats most people - with total contempt. Before the last election, Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, pledged not to increase tuition fees, but once in government he backed the lifting of the cap on tuition fees to £9,000, condemning students to even greater levels of debt. Last month the privatization-obsessed government sold part of the Student Loans book with a face value of £890m to a private investment consortium for just £160m. This was another example, hot on the heels of the Royal Mail sale, of the way the government short-changes the taxpayer to benefit private capital.

If the government gets their way, then the entire British state - with the exception of the Armed forces and the judiciary - will be privatized. And they're determined to use draconian measures to get their unpopular policies through. The authorities have made it clear what their response is going to be to students who have the temerity to stand up for their rights and the rights of others working in the education sector: aggressive police action, student suspensions and court orders banning protests.

And they'll be relying on elite commentators in the media to 'do their job' and either ignore the clampdowns or attack the students as an 'unruly mob', before writing their pieces extolling student protesters in other countries.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

[Dec 26, 2013] Surveillance: complacency, secrecy –Britain's great vices

December 21, 2013 | The Guardian

...GCHQ, asked to comment, says no comment. The men in expensive suits who head MI5, MI6 and Cheltenham field patsy questions from a parliamentary committee and talk the plangent generalities of harm done. The editor of the Guardian finds himself under sustained attack, computer discs destroyed, Scotland Yard squads duly deployed, MPs summoning him to defend this or that. We can, and should, find such a simple narrative distressing. American democracy awakes and reacts. British democracy sleeps, and shoots messengers.

The New York Times clears the front page. The London Times fits in something at the bottom of page 10. The Daily Mail exercises its sacred right to ignore.

But, of course, no narrative involving so much encryption can be that simple. This is a saga of many connected strands. One, last week, brought us Sir Peter Gibson's part-completed report on rendition and proof positive – in words the Mail did print – of "the bleak truth that Britain … was complicit in torture". Our spies sat idly by and watched suspects treated "with extreme hardship". And our top spies formally assured ministers and the monxitors of the intelligence and security committee that British hands were clean. It was a lie; one lie among many. Yet the same ISC is now lined up to finish off Gibson's inquiry (when, that is, it has stopped fawning over M and the rest of the security alphabet as well as performing the review role Obama gave to a hand-picked, superbly resourced team).

But where does dissembling stop? And where does true reform begin? Often it is the reforms themselves that bring bigger trouble. America failed to prevent the horrors of 9/11 because it had so many agencies tripping over each other and not communicating. Reform meant that Snowden, a humble contractor, along with hundreds of thousands more, had top-level access to everything we now see swilling forth. Secrecy guarded by sharing everything? Good intentions undermined by bureaucratic blindness? Intelligence commissioned from Cheltenham poured into an American bucket with a hole in the bottom.

There are no simple truths here, merely a tangle of complexities. The saintly scions of the "intelligence community" who "keep us safe from harm" were putting their names to dodgy Iraq dossiers a decade ago. Espionage is a fallible business, human at the point of analysis and decision-making. Of course, politicians put on kid gloves when they reach for the files. Who wants to disregard an awful warning that could come back to haunt them? Better go quietly along with the herd, better not scare the horses.

But here the two worlds of DC and Cheltenham intersect at last. There is no absolute security, just as there are no definitive reforms. There is always desperate peril to secrecy. Horrible things happen when nobody knows. Exaggeration – about everything from terrorist threats to budget cuts – is endemic behind closed doors. Perhaps America, in the decade after 9/11, has feared and promised too much. But certainly Britain, drifting in a haze of conspiratorial chappishness, has changed far too little. The answer to both ailments is out there for us all to register. It is what we expect, what we understand and demand, that matters most. This secret world is our world, too. Democracy's real responses begin on the streets where we live, where we wake up, calculate the risks, and insist on having our say.


[Oct 28, 2013] stan van houcke The End of Hypocrisy


Hypocrisy is central to Washington's soft power -- its ability to get other countries to accept the legitimacy of its actions -- yet few Americans appreciate its role. Liberals tend to believe that other countries cooperate with the United States because American ideals are attractive and the U.S.-led international system is fair. Realists may be more cynical, yet if they think about Washington's hypocrisy at all, they consider it irrelevant. For them, it is Washington's cold, hard power, not its ideals, that encourages other countries to partner with the United States.

Of course, the United States is far from the only hypocrite in international politics. But the United States' hypocrisy matters more than that of other countries. That's because most of the world today lives within an order that the United States built, one that is both underwritten by U.S. power and legitimated by liberal ideas. American commitments to the rule of law, democracy, and free trade are embedded in the multilateral institutions that the country helped establish after World War II, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, and later the World Trade Organization. Despite recent challenges to U.S. preeminence, from the Iraq war to the financial crisis, the international order remains an American one.

This system needs the lubricating oil of hypocrisy to keep its gears turning. To ensure that the world order continues to be seen as legitimate, U.S. officials must regularly promote and claim fealty to its core liberal principles; the United States cannot impose its hegemony through force alone. But as the recent leaks have shown, Washington is also unable to consistently abide by the values that it trumpets. This disconnect creates the risk that other states might decide that the U.S.-led order is fundamentally illegitimate.

Of course, the United States has gotten away with hypocrisy for some time now. It has long preached the virtues of nuclear nonproliferation, for example, and has coerced some states into abandoning their atomic ambitions. At the same time, it tacitly accepted Israel's nuclearization and, in 2004, signed a formal deal affirming India's right to civilian nuclear energy despite its having flouted the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by acquiring nuclear weapons. In a similar vein, Washington talks a good game on democracy, yet it stood by as the Egyptian military overthrew an elected government in July, refusing to call a coup a coup. Then there's the "war on terror": Washington pushes foreign governments hard on human rights but claims sweeping exceptions for its own behavior when it feels its safety is threatened.

The reason the United States has until now suffered few consequences for such hypocrisy is that other states have a strong interest in turning a blind eye. Given how much they benefit from the global public goods Washington provides, they have little interest in calling the hegemon on its bad behavior. Public criticism risks pushing the U.S. government toward self-interested positions that would undermine the larger world order. Moreover, the United States can punish those who point out the inconsistency in its actions by downgrading trade relations or through other forms of direct retaliation. Allies thus usually air their concerns in private. Adversaries may point fingers, but few can convincingly occupy the moral high ground. Complaints by China and Russia hardly inspire admiration for their purer policies.

The ease with which the United States has been able to act inconsistently has bred complacency among its leaders. Since few countries ever point out the nakedness of U.S. hypocrisy, and since those that do can usually be ignored, American politicians have become desensitized to their country's double standards. But thanks to Manning and Snowden, such double standards are getting harder and harder to ignore.

[Jun 17, 2013] GCHQ intercepted foreign politicians' communications at G20 summits

They were not politicians, they were diplomats. And that's big no-no in international relations...
17 June 2013

According to the material seen by the Guardian, GCHQ generated this product by attacking both the computers and the telephones of delegates.

One document refers to a tactic which was "used a lot in recent UK conference, eg G20". The tactic, which is identified by an internal codeword which the Guardian is not revealing, is defined in an internal glossary as "active collection against an email account that acquires mail messages without removing them from the remote server". A PowerPoint slide explains that this means "reading people's email before/as they do".

The same document also refers to GCHQ, MI6 and others setting up internet cafes which "were able to extract key logging info, providing creds for delegates, meaning we have sustained intelligence options against them even after conference has finished". This appears to be a reference to acquiring delegates' online login details.

Another document summarises a sustained campaign to penetrate South African computers, recording that they gained access to the network of their foreign ministry, "investigated phone lines used by High Commission in London" and "retrieved documents including briefings for South African delegates to G20 and G8 meetings". (South Africa is a member of the G20 group and has observer status at G8 meetings.)

A detailed report records the efforts of the NSA's intercept specialists at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire to target and decode encrypted phone calls from London to Moscow which were made by the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, and other Russian delegates.

Other documents record apparently successful efforts to penetrate the security of BlackBerry smartphones: "New converged events capabilities against BlackBerry provided advance copies of G20 briefings to ministers … Diplomatic targets from all nations have an MO of using smartphones. Exploited this use at the G20 meetings last year."





It's not just about embarrassing politcal elite but also about exposing criminality. For decades we have been lecturing rest of the world about freedom and democracy. We have killed millions in the name of human rights.

Our mainstream media has spent millions of hours to advocate lies war propaganda and demonize nations who don't fully submit to our ideology and it turns out we are worse than evil socialist KGB?

Somebody said who's better than west...I'd say nobody really no ones better at intruding and spying on others as West


UK govt leading the way as a role model for responsible and trustworthy international relations.


To be honest the UK and the West deserves to have all its soft power revealed as for vacuous pile of crap it is.

We kill children in the name of human rights. We arm fanatics to promote democracy and we attack democracies to protect fanatics.


@StivBator 16 June 2013 9:07pm. Get cifFix for Chrome.

The myth that we are the keepers of decent society in the world needs to be exposed as the total bullshit it really is. Anything bad you can think of we do. Except until things like this, the rest of us are comfortable in the fact of our willful ignorance about it.

Wake the fuck up.


@UnIikelylad - I believe Atilla the Hun respected the sanctity of ambassadors. Diplomatically, it is beyond awful. Some things you just don't do, and to do it for an economic the summit stage managed to make Brown look good...


@richkid 16 June 2013 9:06pm. Get cifFix for Chrome.

Hang on people. Let's be patriotic and stop bringing out secret things into the open.

""Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Samuel Johnson, April 7, 1775.


@richkid - Blind trust in elites in general and ignorance of war in particular and a particularly unhealthy form of patriotism led to WW 1 - Resulting in over 20 million dead.

It also set in train events that arguably led to WW2 and further carnage and suffering.

The Guardian is taking a principled and courageous stand.

Lets not resort to the last refuge of the scoundrel at this early stage.


@Hedropsforglory - "Every nation that can, does this."

How do you know that? Or are you just using your imagination?

If every nation were in fact doing this, then no country's representatives would ever send any sensitive information - i.e. anything worth knowing - by these means. So it wouldn't be worth going to all this trouble to bug them.


@onomatopoiia -

This article crosses the line and is close to treasonous, and I'm not using the term as an ad hominem insult. This has the potential to do very serious harm to the UK.

The patriot loves their country, but is willing to expose, discuss and address its failings. The nationalist, however, believes their country can do little or no wrong, and will jump to condemn those who criticise it and expose its failings.


@onomatopoiia - In days gone by the enemy was invited to dinner and then poisoned. Such is the advance of civilisation that we now only pry into their emails and phone calls.


@Strummered - Or, more like striptease. All the pretentious garbs of moral and ethical leadership are being dropped to a fast tempo. The real condition is becoming obvious. May be Mahatma Gandhi understood it well in 1930 at Southampton, when he responded to a question from a reporter: "What do you think of Western Civilisation?' His reply: "That would be a good idea."


@onomatopoiia - Treason? International meetings should be based on trust, as otherwise nothing could be achieved at all. All this article reviels is the fact, that the UK is betraying everybody al all times an in so doing, assures, that no such meeting will ever be taking place in Britain unless it is just a publicity stunt. Britain was and always will be number one in the leage of trachery.


@onomatopoiia - "This article crosses the line and is close to treasonous,..."

This article and the way The Guardian is providing platform to Edward Snowden comes to show we still have press worth reading. I well and truly hope that if their right to deliver truthful information is challenged we will be there to help defend them. Democracy and freedom of speech favours the people, secrecy and concentration of power favours those who buy and sell governments. Whose side are you on?


@JamesHalfpenny - Can you honestly say we have a free press when things like this go on?

We dont know what vetting the Guardian has employed, obviously a left wing bias will get you some of the way, but is it coincidental that most public sector jobs are almost exclusively advertised in the Guardian at great taxpayers expense for a start, or that the Guardian is the preferred paper for exclusives from the Labour party, Telegraph being the Tories, & the Independent has been known to publish things for the Security Services, not to mention the political parties carrying out clandestine meetings with Murdoch to get his papers leading public opinion to help win elections?

The methods of these "democratic" political parties are arguably just as bad as the hypocritical hacking methods employed by the spooks!


@doog1972 - "The idea that hacking some emails means that the 'West' is crap is equally absurd."

The US and the UK as its lapdog are claiming to be leading the world, and they certainly are having a major influence. If the biggest military power in the world is setting up a fascist rule and acts as aggressively as it does, both in terms of military and intelligence operations, it requires other countries to respond in a similar fashion. If you are leading the world and it turns out it is a shit place to be, whose fault is it?

"The idea that the UK or in fact any country would not use as much of its power to gain leverage over economic or political rivals is laughably naive." Hitler had a huge military advantage before the second world war, and he used it to defeat his rivals - should I take it you find that natural and acceptable? To put this in a more current context, do you accept bankers and corporations screwing over the millions just so they can get more money and power and screw us even more. It would be naive to think we can build a better world for us and our kids?

"No doubt, more liberal left west bashing although am very curious as to what countries you think are paragons of virtue?" Iceland is an exemplary democracy at the moment.


@StivBator -

The West cannot legitimately claim any moral high-ground after this dirty trick by the British Government. Who can trust the West?


@qy paddy -

The system that we strive for...basic human privacy and true freedom the we though we already had.

You thought you had that? How charmingly and touchingly naive.

If you had anything close to that it is partly because clever men who you never knew were doing sneaky and sometimes dodgy things without your knowledge and in your interests.


@CanYouFlyBobby -

Western hegemony is morally bankrupt.


@CanYouFlyBobby -

The system that we strive for...basic human privacy and true freedom the we though we already had.

You thought you had that? How charmingly and touchingly naive.

If you had anything close to that it is partly because clever men who you never knew were doing sneaky and sometimes dodgy things without your knowledge and in your interests.

In your interest ? How touchingly and charmingly naive.

To regard the interests of our ruling elite as being the same as the interest of rest of us is surely naive.


@onomatopoiia - Harm to the uk government but what about harm to the British people?

As someone said below while they were spying on our allies they mandated the police to use lethal violence on the British public

I say mandated because most police were hiding their identities that day and the one police officer that killed someone was let off and all that were accused of violence were let off


@TheFrogPeopleBelieve -

You lefty morons don't understand that the world is still a hostile place and that intelligence gathering is essential to protect your county and it's interests.

I like how people who don't share your opinions are 'morons' but you somehow have reached enlightenment and all-knowledge,

Please oh beneficent one! Share with us your font of kno- oh, wait, you're just being narrow minded. My bad, sorry.


This is going to get really interesting.

I still doubt it will lead to any new legislation though.


@Roman78 - MI6 spying on foreign governments is 'really interesting'...


@Roman78 - Well at least GCHQ's powerpoint skills are better than the NSA's, if I'm going to be spied on I'd rather it was done a bit more stylishly.



True, but stuff like this is likely to make the elites distrust each other more.

In fact, I think the main benefit of leaks like these is making coordination between elite interests less likely. The more they fight between themselves, the best for us.

A very interesting insight. Julian Assange wrote an essay or two on exactly this topic in 2006:



Thanks for the link... I was struck by this quotation at the beginning:

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul this unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of statesmanship.

President Theodore Roosevelt

Damon Offord

@giveusaclue - The 'elite' has nothng to do with visible government, beyond using them as a puppet show to give the illusion of choice to keep pedants squabbling. The monkeys fighting over a banana on top of the organ means nothing in real terms.


@RadicalLivre -

In fact, I think the main benefit of leaks like these is making coordination between elite interests less likely. The more they fight between themselves, the best for us.

Until they start a war between themselves and we're the ones who die.


@noamericano - I could understand the leak about the interception of private emails and phone messages. While hardly a surprise it was good to have it confirmed.

I fail to see the public interest here however. Governments spying on each other is not news. Just like the Assange story, the Guardian sails right past the important story in it's usual shrill, hysterical manner and in the process tarnishes what good there was in the leak.


@scipio16 - Hard to see what good can come of this, do all countries spy on each other? Yes. Will publishing the fact that they do it stop this? No, never. Will publishing the methodology of how the UK did it in the past make it harder for the UK in future and put it at a disadvantage? Yes.

I suppose we'll have to get used to this diplomatic tittle tattle coming out like rabbit poo now when it clearly has no use or is not in the public interest other than this newspaper has got a man on the inside so they have to milk it for all it's worth, for no other reason than 'because they can'.


@scipio16 - Agreed. There is a huge difference between spying and tracking citizens going about their daily business, and this. This is espionage between governments and is entirely par for the course. All publishing this does is distract from the original and much more serious issue (I doubt it will affect relationships at these meetings; it's not as though each host doesn't do it to some degree when it is their turn).

An overexcited Greenwald has shot himself in the foot here.


@NatO -


This reveals the KABUKI theatre of our geo-political world quite well. And maybe it will help awaken some parts of the population to what is done (not) in our name.


@P-Ride - Standard intelligence work? Come for a heads of state meeting and get your private emails spied on? Should do wonders for the art of 'british diplomacy'.


@ConkerGatsby - Reminds of the old Vietnam era slogan of the American right--'My country right or wrong' thereby absolving themselves of any need to question what is going on. This is my country. I would like to know what is going on and approve of it, as far as possible. Fake interrnet cafes for the purpose of spying on our allies and trading partners stinks, and I don't find it acceptable


@P-Ride - Apparently the UK intelligence services are spying for their real master, Washington. How do you think a NSA consultant got this info?


@P-Ride -

Cheers Guardian, thanks for intervening to undermine the work of the UK intelligence services. This isn't domestic citizens being spied on; this is standard intelligence work.

The significance of these leaks is that they establish beyond any doubt - not that any but the most naive ever doubted it - that surveillance is driven primarily by advantage. This undermines successive governments' insistence that increased surveillence is driven by security:

The disclosure raises new questions about the boundaries of surveillance by GCHQ and its American sister organisation, the National Security Agency, whose access to phone records and internet data has been defended as necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. The G20 spying appears to have been organised for the more mundane purpose of securing an advantage in meetings. Named targets include long-standing allies such as South Africa and Turkey.

If that is the case - that surveillance is driven by advantage - then the dragnetting of our metadata, which is sufficient to complete a profile of each and every one of us - is certainly of more interest to the state for the advantage it offers in controlling and exploiting us than it is for the security it provides. The notion that surveillance exists simply for our protection has been dealt a deathblow by these revelations. All you then need to do is think of the Prism programme, and put two and two together.


@Roman78 - flouting international treaties in your name? How many years has Europe been flouting international treaties and letting northern European countries seize power and impoverish southern Europe with no appeal, in YOUR name?

But the UK didn't bother because it is not affected. Now it is affected, by this spy scandal, there is outrage. Austerity and spying, both imposed by the elite illegally in YOUR name and for their own convenience or gain. That's the (new?) world order.


@Forthestate - Wish I could "recommend" your comment a hundred times. The claims about protection from terrorists and criminals are hogwash. The information dragnet has a different purpose and everyday citizens are the target.


@PrivateTrancer - The interesting point is the objectives of the spying (economics, negotiating advantages) and the fact that the notion of 'ally' seems to be entirely contextual. This is all very much worth reporting and a reminder to those in power that it is fleeting and only by consent.


@ConkerGatsby - Whether you agree or not, do you really need to know any further details? Is it in this countries interests to reveal further details. Because you know, a spying agency in the public eye is pretty bloody useless.

Exactly how do you define 'in this countries interest' ? We are spying on a conference we are hosting. One of the duties of a host is surely security ? Not to spy on them but to prevent them being spied on ?This is not a war situation, its largely about trade and finance, where we are spying on those who we publicly regard as our allies, for the financial advantage not of the general population, but, as usual, for the advantage of the financial and political elites.

''The GCHQ intent is to ensure that intelligence relevant to HMG's desired outcomes for its presidency of the G20 reaches customers ''

It's bent. It's not defensible in open daylight, and its pointless a few of you trying to convince the rest of us that its all perfectly OK. If you have no 'moral compass' then it you just carry on but our government has been exposed as no better and possibly worse than any other set of lying, spying crooks.


@Carl Sixsmith - Dunno if you noticed, but they already are, and it's not just our trans-Atlantic calls.

This is pretty much the response of the typical statist little sheep most people have become and the mainstream media. For the entirety of the last decade you were branded a lunatic conspiracy nut for even suggesting Western governments were conducting surveillance anywhere near what they're actually doing, but as soon as it's brought to everyone's attention and confirms what most people apparently feared, the response is a resounding "meh, we knew this all along. Old news". And ironically, despite the fact such news is apparently so unimportant we can just ignore it, the people who release or publish such news are terrorists, and traitors, and treasonous dogs, and we should have them hung, drawn and quatered before parliament.

What are we gonna do when they start using tear gas and water cannons, or even live rounds, on protestors in the UK? Are we gonna say, "meh, it was bound to happen anyway"? It looks that way at this point, and frankly I have little hope for this country ever climbing out of its fascistic quagmire at this point.


@camera, @frostedw

Well all public diplomacy and negotiation is something of a game with accepted rules. Often a government needs to state a certain position in public in order to satisfy its domestic supporters, but in practice (and behind closed doors) they are willing to compromise on certain matters (but not others) to reach agreements that benefit the country.

In fact, it is part of the game of all negotiation that the party states one extreme position (e.g. I want to sell this car for £10,000) when in reality they secretly hold another position (I would sell it for £8,000). All countries do this in public to get the most advantageous terms from a negotiation.

So one purpose of the espionage is to find out which issues are ones on which governments are willing to compromise on, and which are non-negotiable (given that the government will publicly give the impression that all of their interests are non-negotiable)

Remember this is an economic summit, the purpose is nothing sinister, it is to negotiate an agreement between 20 different nations on matters of mutual interest.

Now, that is a bloody difficult thing to achieve in a short timeframe - there are 20 different nations with divergent interests and many different issues to get agreement on. It really helps purely on an efficiency basis to know what the actual limits are to each government's negotiating position. By knowing this, you can then better frame an agreement that has a chance of being accepted by everyone.

It is arguable that without espionage, or some form of 'behind the scenes' knowledge by all parties, that these types of summits would find it impossible to reach any real or meaningful agreements.

Also I said that nations are aware it goes on, in fact many governments and diplomats probably welcome spying, even on themselves, because it allows them to 'unofficially' get across their position in ways that it would be unacceptable for them to say in public

@Lockean -

Remember this is an economic summit, the purpose is nothing sinister, it is to negotiate an agreement between 20 different nations on matters of mutual interest.

Exactly! So why are we spying on them then?

Now, that is a bloody difficult thing to achieve in a short timeframe - there are 20 different nations with divergent interests and many different issues to get agreement on. It really helps purely on an efficiency basis to know what the actual limits are to each government's negotiating position. By knowing this, you can then better frame an agreement that has a chance of being accepted by everyone.

You really just come across as a spokesman for GCHQ here. It's all about being practical and sensible, nevermind that you're invading their right to talk confidentially.

It is arguable that without espionage, or some form of 'behind the scenes' knowledge by all parties, that these types of summits would find it impossible to reach any real or meaningful agreements.

Well I would say that other people and countries have a certain right to be able to keep their final position to themselves, just like a car salesman wants to keep his final position to himself. It is not your place to say that they should just accept being spied on.



fascistic quagmire

As corporations and top-level money launderers have more or less subverted Western democracies this is where we are.

Privatised services prioritise profits above the services they're supposed to provide. Wars are started by the influence of lobbyists. Intelligence agencies are the backbone of civilian government: there to neutralise expressions of discontent. A parallel society exists for the super-rich 1% - their own schools, hospials, private jets, secure living & leisure compounds, priority response from police. Widespread cheap adulterated drugs & crime gangs. Shite services and rapid persecution for minor crimes for the 99%

Carl Sixsmith

@neilwb23 -

This is pretty much the response of the typical statist little sheep most people have become and the mainstream media

No, I've known this was going on since I was old enough to realize what government actually is. A coercive, evil entity intent on maintaining power for the elite,

This is not an attribute of government though, it is an attribute of power. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it, it occurs anywhere there is a power imbalance,

Trying to sound super intelligent by referring to others as statist-sheep doesn't become you,


@frostedw - Britain will never be trusted as honest broker nor a welcoming host again.


@ConkerGatsby -

You're another one who doesn't seem to understand the difference between spying on foreign governments regarding foreign policy issues, and spying on delegates at an economic conference which is trying to sort out economic issues.


@frostedw - Why not? If it leads to economic advantage everyone in the UK could benefit.


@ConkerGatsby -

Is there anything that is unethical in your world?



Why not? If it leads to economic advantage everyone in the UK could benefit.

"Economic advantage" to whom? To the pensioners, who have their benefits cut? To the students, who have to pay more for their education? To everybody else, who has to work more for less pay? Look around you and ask yourself whether you are among those benefiting from this economic espionage.


@RadicalLivre - You mentioned vague "economic benefits", but there's no evidence of economic benefits.

The Guardian seems to think so, given in their other article on this topic they state:

The aim – which appears to have been largely successful – was to improve the UK's negotiating positions on the economic matters under discussion.

We won't be seeing any more benefits after their expose.



The aim – which appears to have been largely successful – was to improve the UK's negotiating positions on the economic matters under discussion.

If you think that UK's negotiating positions have anything to do with economic benefits for people like you or me, then you are either hopelessly ignorant, or a paid astroturfer.


@ConkerGatsby - well the M stands for Military, but they are collecting economic/business information. It does demonstrate bad faith - like playing poker with marked cards.

Not exactly cricket is it?

I wonder if any individuals took personal advantage of these spying operations...


@DESI121 -

of course they do


Oh yes! What everyone knows to be true, but revealed for once. I, for one, can't wait for the politicians to squirm around this one. And they wonder why people have little respect for them. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook


@ZeroZero2 - I suspect a certain R.Murdoch feels the same. After all he and his superlative news organisation were only using similar techniques for similar aims and look what the polies did to the poor man.

Leela Prasad

Key-logger software? so amateur.


@Leela Prasad - May well have been key-logger hardware - that way you get credentials and content even if the subject boots the computer into a secure OS.

One way to mitigate against this kind of attack would be for the secure OS to only use a virtual onscreen keyboard to login, with the positions of the keys changing randomly with each instance. This would be enough to work around key-logger credential capture, but wouldn't work against eg video hardware recording the display or sending it in real time to analysts.

Bottom line is, don't trust hardware that you don't control and don't trust networks that you don't control.


@Conundrum64 - From the editorial:

Documents leaked by Snowden show that foreign politicians and officials taking part in the G20 summit in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted by GCHQ, with some involvement from the NSA. The aim – which appears to have been largely successful – was to improve the UK's negotiating positions on the economic matters under discussion.

The techniques included setting up internet cafes where unsuspecting delegates' passwords were collected, enabling "sustained intelligence options against them even after the conference has finished". The G20 summit took place at a time of financial crisis. The participants were overwhelmingly Britain's friends. The bugging and snooping appears to have been carried out with high political authority under a 1994 legislative clause that sanctioned espionage on the grounds of "the economic wellbeing of the UK".

That's why it's eye-opening. On the eve of the G8, too.


@frostedw - That's because some of us have been around long enough to see this before...

Far more interesting for those of us remember, was the actions of right wing elements of both MI5 and the Tory party to 'remove' Harold Wilson..

Now a coup d'état, (even if in this case it was botched, and fell flat), is far more interesting than who, is reading whose e-mails...

So yes it is all a bit passé...

Especially as Peter Wright in 'Spycatcher' admitted bugging and burgling all over London years ago, including the talks on the move to majority rule in Rhodesia...

As for why I read the Guardian, it's wonderful to see bright young things like you and Circumbendibus , discovering what has been going on for years, and thinking it's all so new and exciting...


@Conundrum64 - As another nearly-annuated leftover, I also find it amusing to see you fellows tut-tutting the young 'uns for finding anything shocking.

The real and actual "Coup," long in progress, is the wealthy finding ever-more efficient ways to Have It All and leave us (and you!) with doodly-squat.

The world has only and ever changed for the better because people finally got tired of your brand of craven "wisdom." We are not perfect, but we can certainly do better.

Isn't that worth a smidgen of your effort? You and I won't be around long enough to have to live in the mess we're leaving to the future. Have a little respect for those who will.


@Conundrum64 -

As for why I read the Guardian, it's wonderful to see bright young things like you and Circumbendibus , discovering what has been going on for years, and thinking it's all so new and exciting...

Oh really, that's why you bother to read the Guardian? It's not just to make snide and cynical comments then?

Anyway, I would say three things:

Firstly, there is a massive difference in suspecting something than in actually having the evidence of it.

Secondly, there is a huge difference in the capabilities of the spy agencies these days compared to previous decades.

Thirdly, they were spying on an economic summit; what has that got to do with terrorism or other nations' foreign policy?


@KatieL - And that's end-to-end encryption with proper scrutiny of the certificates to avoid MITM attacks. This sort of stuff is available to enterprises - governments should be routinely using it (hardware, software and training).

I'd be very embarrassed if I was a delegate at an event like this whose email login had been sniffed by GCHQ.


It's interesting how this sort of thing is normally associated with Russia or China or Iran but never with countries like the United Kingdom.

It seems all you need to do to set up a strong state apparatus is throw the population the sop of some elections every 4-5 years and you can then create the illusion that you conform to a different set of morals from so-called rogue states.

Delightfully diabolical, devious and deceitful.

The west's hypocrisy over Pussy Riot is breathtaking Simon Jenkins Comment is free by Simon Jenkins

See also Pussi Riot Provocation
The Guardian

Our courts now jail at the drop of a headline – for stealing water or abuse sent on Twitter. So who are we to condemn Russia?

Jump to comments (879)

Belle Mellor 2208

Illustration by Belle Mellor

Anyone in England and Wales with a dog out of control can now be jailed for six months. If the dog causes injury, the maximum term is to be two years. I have no sympathy for such people. Keeping these beasts is weird, and those who do it probably need treatment. But the Defra minister, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, complained in May that fewer than 20 people were in jail for dangerous dog offences. The sentencing council has duly told courts to raise the threshold to two years, "to send a message".

The same sentiment a year ago motivated magistrates to play to the gallery by jailing 1,292 people for stealing bottles of water or trainers or sending idiot incitements during the dispersed rampage dubbed "urban riots". Hysterical ministers raced home from holiday to tell judges to send messages. Judges duly ruined the lives of hundreds of young people, at great public expense and to no advantage to their victims. I have no sympathy for these people either, but again the politicised response to crime was disproportionate.

A month before, a London court jailed a stoned Charlie Gilmour after he swung on a union flag from the Cenotaph and tossed a bin at a police car, thus causing widespread outrage in the offices of the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail. The judge sent him down for 18 months to send a message carefully designed to wreck his university career. Yet again we need have no sympathy for Gilmour. But there is no such thing as a rap over the knuckles in jail. Judges know that any term in prison is a sentence for life.

How can British politicians, whose statements clearly seek to influence pliable judges, criticise other sovereign states for doing likewise? Last week the Foreign Office professed itself "deeply concerned" at the fate of Russia's Pussy Riot three, jailed for two years for "hooliganism" in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral. They had staged what, by all accounts, was an obscene publicity stunt, videoing an anti-Putin song defamatory of the Virgin Mary in front of pious worshippers.

Good for free speech, we might all say. That the act outraged public decency is an understatement. In a Levada poll of Russian public opinion, just 5% thought the girls should go unpunished and 65% wanted them in prison, 29% with hard labour. Artists round the globe may plead free speech, but to treat the Pussy Riot gesture as a glorious stand for artistic liberty is like praising Johnny Rotten, who did similar things, as the Voltaire of our day. There can be disproportionate apologias as well as disproportionate sentences.

Artists can look after their own. For the British and US governments to get on high horses about Russian sentencing is hypocrisy. America and Britain damned the "disproportionate" Pussy Riot terms. In America's case this was from a nation that jails drug offenders for 20, 30 or 40 years, holds terrorism "suspects" incommunicado indefinitely and imprisons for life even trivial "three strikes" offenders. Last week alone a US military court declared that reporting the Guantánamo Bay trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be censored. Any mention of his torture in prison was banned as "reasonably expected to damage national security". This has no apparent connection to proportionate punishment or freedom of speech.

The British security establishment during the Tony Blair-Gordon Brown regime tried to censor history books for possible "terrorist" incitement. It introduced control orders, restricted courts and long-period detention without trial. It made unlicensed demonstrating an offence and has since sought prosecution of Twitter and Facebook abuse. British ministers and courts are craven to what passes for public opinion. The idea that, whenever a crime or antisocial action hits the headlines, "the courts must send a message" is politicised justice. At times, especially in tragic cases involving children, it gets near to a lynch mob. Again the only message sent is to the media. If Britain's draconian sentencing were effective, British jails would not be bursting at the seams.

There is of course a difference between the liberties enjoyed in most western democracies and the cruder jurisprudence of modern Russia, China and much of the Muslim world. It would be silly to pretend otherwise. But the difference is not so great as to merit the barrage of megaphone comment from west to east. Pussy Riot may have attacked no one physically, but no society, certainly not Britain, legislates on the basis that "words can never hurt". If a rock group invaded Westminster Abbey and gravely insulted a religious or ethnic minority before the high altar, we all know that ministers would howl for "exemplary punishment" and judges would oblige.

Commenting on the social mores of other countries may offer an offshore outlet for the righteous indignation of politicians and editorialists. It has no noticeable effect. Western comments on the treatment of women in Muslim states, dissidents in China or drug offenders in south-east Asia are dismissed as imperial interference. But then how would we feel if Moscow or Singapore or Tehran condemned the treatment of Cenotaph protesters?

British courts jail at the drop of a headline. One of the few cabinet ministers in recent years to show a sincere desire to relate punishment to crime and imprisonment to consequence is the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke. He is now being bad-mouthed out of his job by Downing Street's dark arts, frightened not of Clarke but of the rightwing press. Clarke is, with Iain Duncan Smith, a rare minister intellectually engaged with his job and eager courageously to see it through. Why are the Lib Dems not defending him? For David Cameron to sack Clarke would indeed send a message. Of the worst sort.

Selected Comments


Mr Jenkins I completely agree with you. Cracking article.

You are right to make the distinction between what we think as individuals about Pussy Riot and what our hypocritical government says.


Pointing fingers at other countries keeps the chatterers below the line here and elsewhere usefully engaged pointing out other people's supposed faults. Didn't someone once reportedly say something about looking at the beam in one's own eye first?

Not many do.

Recommend (595) Responses (2)

Simon Dosovitz

What am I supposed to say to this article? Yes, we really are the worst, and if the Russian people think feminists should do two years for a trite protest, so be it. Totally ridiculous. End bad practices here in the west AND free Pussy Riot.

Recommend (587) Responses (2)


The west's hypocrisy over Pussy Riot is breathtaking

You can swap "pussy riot" with any other incident and the phrase will still hold true.

Go on try it!!!

Recommend (460) Responses (2)


For the British and US governments to get on high horses about Russian sentencing is hypocrisy.

The UK and US governments care not for freedom of expression, they are just pissed off that Russia is no longer led by a drunken fool a la Yeltsin ready and willing to hand over the country to the IMF asset strippers.

A Saudi journalist gets illegally extradited from Malaysia and imprisoned in Saudi Arabia without trial or due process for tweeting honest thoughts about the prophet - silence from the West.

Thai citizens legitimately criticizing their monarchy end up in prison - silence from the West.

The hypocrisy is sickening and highlights how the UK and US care not for 'human rights' or 'freedom of expression' but use these memes as a tool to further their geopolitical interests and ferment unrest whilst remaining silent on the human rights abuses carried out in states that tow the line.

Recommend (1423) Responses (4)


Response to conanthebarbarian,

It seems the only way we can live with our own shortcomings is to be in complete denial.

Recommend (183) Responses (1)


Last week the Foreign Office professed itself "deeply concerned" at the fate of Russia's Pussy Riot

What a lovely sentence.

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by jailing 1,292 people for stealing bottles of water or trainers ...

Oh for heaven's sake, people died during that "dispersed rampage".

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Exemplary punishment ; if a rioter is jailed for two years for stealing £10's worth of water. then a Banker should get two years added to his sentence for each ten pounds stolen or frauded from the public. So; £10 = 2 years, £100 = twenty years, £1'000 = two hundred years ......1 billion£ (1'000'000'000) is one hundred thousand years in prison. That at least is proportionally correct.

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You are you saying that we are hypocritical to condemn Russia when we are harsher over here? That's just not true. You can trivialise the riots as "stealing bottles of water" but it was total contempt for society and the rioters were (generally) lucky not to kill. As for why the prisons are full, hasn't that got a lot to do with the fact that they are perceived as a soft touch-did you hear the Salford yob who murdered Anuj Bidve mocking his sentence?

In the case of Pussy Riot, seems to me that the Russian people are fairly clear that gross disrespect is something that they will not tolerate and it's got little to do with Putin. The comparison to the West is indeed chastening - they are prepared to stand up against publicity-seeking punks who disrespect everything around them. We would give them a community order and wait for the next escalation.

Your point about full prisons has more to do with a lack of deterrence than a harshness in sentencing. As for the excellent Mr Clarke, can any Justice Secretary explain why drugs and fags are still tolerated in our jails - to outlaw them tomorrow would be the biggest single deterrent possible -it should be fixed by any competent minister, day 1. As for considering IDS a minister "intellectually engaged with his job" that's about as accurate as the portrayal of Pussy Riot as political martyrs. Free Stephanie Flanders!

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Good article. Though..

If the dog causes injury, the maximum term is to be two years. I have no sympathy for such people. Keeping these beasts is weird, and those who do it probably need treatment.

'Keeping these beasts' is compassionate and humane and if you've been to the Caribbean or Africa, you'd have seen how lucky domesticated dogs in the UK are. But overall, i'm grateful for this article, it at least made me grateful knowing that i'm not a sociopath for not finding treatment of the girls as hysterical as most of the world media portrayed.

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Response to hermionegingold,

Not sure about that. the pussy riot girls have made a laughing stock of the thug putin. i don't think that's such a bad thing. what they did was distasteful to me but how they have been treated is far more distressing.

What a tender soul! What do you find so distressing? That these girls - two of them mothers, let's not forget - can't continue their practices of museum orgies or masturbating with frozen chickens in the supermarket? They're obviously not as delicate as you.

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Our courts now jail at the drop of a headline – for stealing water or abuse sent on Twitter. So who are we to condemn Russia?

Well, quite a lot of "us" don't support gross overreactions by British courts either, and didn't vote for the current government, so yes, I feel perfectly free to condemn Putin's government, too.

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Iain Duncan Smith, a rare minister intellectually engaged with his job and eager courageously to see it through.

I agree with most of the article, except for this one. IDS, along with Fox, Osborne and Gove, is ruining everythng that is good about Britian.

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Neville Walker

Good article Simon, though you might have added that the CPS recently tried to frame an innocent (but troublesome) man for possessing photographs of legal sexual practices that were neither especially extreme nor particularly uncommon.

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Response to bootboys,

9:11PM get off your perch dear.

i intrinsically find anyone entering a house of worship to derail those of genuine faith a no no. just bad manners

that's all i meant. nothing more .

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Response to bootboys,

9:11PM What a tender soul! What do you find so distressing? That these girls - two of them mothers, let's not forget - can't continue their practices of museum orgies or masturbating with frozen chickens in the supermarket?

They're not harming anyone. And what relevance is it that 2 of them have children, other than it highlights the cruelty of the criminal justice system's overreaction in sending them to prison?


Well said Simon. I couldn't believe it when Pussy Riot was the main news story on the day the South African miners were shot dead.


Response to lundiel,

9:17PM Then they threatened to sack the rest, a British company acting like ancient colonialists who regarded the lives of black people inferior.

How far have we actually moved on when there is so little outcry over atrocities done in our name?


Response to kingcreosote,

9:17PM kidnap is a criminal offence, quite rightly, offending religious beliefs shouldn't be.

not sure what your point is?

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That's ridiculous. I've never thought an article like this may appear on The Guardian. Thanks Simon Jenkins!

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Neville Walker

Response to hermionegingold,

think you miss his point, which is that disproportionate and unjust as the treatment of Pussy Riot has been, the legal systems in the UK and US are often guilty of very similar misdemeanours. Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, 42 days (kicked out, thankfully), trial by tabloid, and so on. Not to mention the US' continued addiction to the death penalty or its vindictive (and probably illegal) treatment of Bradley Manning.

"the courts must send a message" is politicised justice

Absolutely. The duty of the court is to impose just sentences on the guilty, not to send messages to the population at large.


Response to whimsicaleye,

The UK and US governments care not for freedom of expression, they are just pissed off that Russia is no longer led by a drunken fool a la Yeltsin ready and willing to hand over the country to the IMF asset strippers.

Absolutely true. Same about every other concerns about "democracy" and "freedom" in other countries usually spoken by Hillary etc.


Our courts now jail at the drop of a headline – for stealing water or abuse sent on Twitter. So who are we to condemn Russia?

That just about sums it all up -- No need to read the rest of the article! I was brought up to believe what a terrible place the USSR was. In fact it was the only place on the planet I never wanted to visit, having been everywhere else. Times do change though. The collapse of the Soviet Union, brought about a change of mind. I decided to travel East, life is too short, and I did not want to miss out!

What I felt during my two visits there, was that I was deceived by others but also my self. Life in Russia is unique. You could not wish for a friendlier people. The streets were ABSOLUTELY spotless, and every female young and old dressed immaculately. On the Moscow Metro youngsters were literally flying off their seats to offer them to the elders! That is how it used to be on London's underground when I was a student, many decades ago, but not any more. The Russians are proud and peaceful people. They love their churches. Old ladies turn up in the middle of the day to light their candles. It was outside one of these churches that I met for the first time "Nicholas the Tsar, Lenin and Pushkin" having a conversation -- I did not part with my 200 Roubles though!

Now bring into play Pussy Riot into this kind of environment, and you create an explosive cocktail. For that what it was. And the church with the legal system will not stand for it. Then blame it all on Putin, and everybody is happy. Petty windedness. That is what it is. And it does not make us any better one iota.


The finger pointing our govts. do is solely for domestic use. The other countries don't raise an eyebrow over what is said anymore.


Comparing sentences between e.g. Britain and Russia is a pointless exercise. The point is rather that Pussy Riot are held by many to be victims of arbitrary law-making by a supine and corrupt judiciary. What does Simon jenkins say, for example, about the case of the Czech rockers Plastic People of the Universe in the 1970s with which this case has been very plausibly compared. Would he have stood up for the authorities then, merely on the basis that "western justice" is not perfect?


Response to Neville Walker,

actually i think your assessment has more clarity than the article.

that justice is yet another failed venture we have embarked upon my view is that russia on this one is about 20 years out of date. the next generation over there are making a political stand. i think we should support them even if we don't always agree with their methods (and by that i mean sensibilities never violence)


But then how would we feel if Moscow or Singapore or Tehran condemned the treatment of Cenotaph protesters?

I wouldn't feel anything, beyond acknowledging they'd be fuckin' morons if they did.

Anyone who defaces the cenotaph is a tool. Anyone who offends the misogynistic, homophobic and racist bigots that wield power in the Russian Orthodox Church - to say nothing of mocking the thug Putin - is making a stand.

Why are you incapable of making this obvious distinction, Jenkins?


Response to Neville Walker,

I think you miss his point, which is that disproportionate and unjust as the treatment of Pussy Riot has been, the legal systems in the UK and US are often guilty of very similar misdemeanours. Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, 42 days (kicked out, thankfully), trial by tabloid, and so on. Not to mention the US' continued addiction to the death penalty or its vindictive (and probably illegal) treatment of Bradley Manning.

I agree. It seems that many readers have missed the essence of the article.


Response to bootboys,

"can't continue their practices of museum orgies or masturbating with frozen chickens in the supermarket?"

You didn't mention what they were convicted of so I guess the church thing wasn't so serious after all.

And now the likelihood of seeing frozen chickens thawed out in the market place has increased exponentially as pussy riot avengers will hit the streets with protest.


Response to brijl92,

You are you saying that we are hypocritical to condemn Russia when we are harsher over here? That's just not true. You can trivialise the riots as "stealing bottles of water" but it was total contempt for society and the rioters were (generally) lucky not to kill.

Contempt for society is not a crime. If it were, there'd hardly be a Thatcherite outside of prison.

As for the rioters being lucky not to kill, that's not how justice works. If you commit a crime, and there is evidence you committed it, you get charged. Then there is a trial, and if the evidence is deemed strong enough by a jury, you get punished.

You don't randomly hand out draconian sentences to some rioters for trivial offences, because the rioters "in general" could, maybe, possibly have killed someone if things had turned out differently. That's contrary to any notion of justice.

You can only be legitimately punished for actions you personally carried out and which actually happened. How you (or anyone) can disagree with this notion is beyond me.


Look up Jamie Bevan. Welsh Language activist imprisoned initially for action against the unelected Tory government's Cardiff offices, in protest against their cavalier attitude to S4C. Further punishment was meted out to him for- get this- insisting on filling in forms in Welsh. Welsh being a language that, in law, carries equal standing with English in the Merthyr area where he is detained. While a man is in prison for wanting to interact with the legal system of his own country in his own language, we have a Pussy Riot of our own.


Response to hermionegingold,

Exactly the point of the article the west is just as guilty as Russia in its hypocrisy and so are many of its leaders.

This article is about as true as it can get....

The West has its blasphemy, the Russians theirs.....just change the name of who you call the powerful, and the name of who is going to do time. When you do that, the hypocrisy becomes obvious.


@blueballoo2000, it's not that we don't have a right to criticise Russia, it's that we should be criticising our own political and media establishment equally loudly.

Putin's government is abhorrent and dictatorial, and worse than ours. Nevertheless, our government is pretty bloody awful too, willing to trample on human rights to satisfy the right wing press.

It's easy to attack Russia. Attacking Britain would be cleverer and braver.


Response to osekar,

excellent article anyway the pussy girls ill be out in two month.

If that happens do you think it will have nothing to do with the amount of international attention and condemnation these women's treatment has received?

Some people seem to think we have to choose between condemning things which happen here and condemning the treatment of Pussy Riot. I don't see that at all.

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