Tag Archive: fascism

Whenever a new form of media comes along the early adopters are often naive about what they can and can’t do and are trusting, some might say complacent, about the consequences of ‘putting themselves out there!’  Of course in the early days there is an element of security through obscurity but trends take off and as the money men come in so all profitable angles become important with advertising is one of the most paramount of all.  In the old days marketers had to position their wares based on a large demographic such as people watching a certain television program or reading a certain newspaper, which often encompassed a wide and diverse set of people.  This also cost a lot of money, both to employ people to come up with the campaign and then in order to put the campaign somewhere, the more prominent the more costly.  However the Internet has revolutionised advertising by making ads more readily available and at far lower cost, in fact you could argue it is the democratisation of advertising, after all you receive ads more targeted to things in which you have already actively or passively expressed an interest.  You can even make ads yourself, or show your approval of ads from others.

Facebook has long since been regarded as something of a corporate battleground, we complained about the ads long ago and then complained about the metadata being used to target or attribute to them we bewailed the obvious snooping angles through this data being kept somewhere who knows where and accessible to who knows whom.  Now the reluctant acceptance of the widespread of data and personal information is almost complete, ‘we may not like it but after all what are we going to do?’  Today if you are not careful not only can you be traced via backdoor means but by the very open actions of your own friends and often you yourself.  What is worse is that you may have put your date of birth, phone number, email address, where you work, where you used to work and where you went to school (often used as a security question).  You may even have befriended your family (Mother’s maiden name very often used as a security question) and/or told people about your pet (name often used as a security question).  In addition to this you may have linked your twitter account, your linkedn account and used your Facebook account to log into all sorts of services. Did you turn off friends tagging you in their pictures or status updates, did you stop people tagging you in pictures that reveal where you were and when or with whom, or worse still where you might be and when?  What is on your public profile, visible to the whole world?  But this entry is not directly about Facebook and your personal security, this is about what you actively do believing you are acting for the right reasons and the consequences that these actions may increasingly have as a result of a new culture in pernicious advertising.

The recent furore surrounding the Emma Watson and 4Chan affair is a high profile case in point.  Long before I knew anything of the matter in origin I had seen innumerable posts decrying the actions of one party, expressing outrage that Emma Watson’s views should have caused such a disgraceful backlash and soundly lambasting the supposed perpetrator who appeared to be acting in some form of both spite and blackmail.  The ‘one party’ attacked was in fact a bulletin board community, thus it is rather like attacking Facebook for a user threatening to do something that isn’t illegal, good luck with that.  Whatever one may think of online communities, bulletin boards, dark internet etc. the fact is that it has hirthto been largely under the radar of the corporates.  This is clearly all about to change.

In order to infiltrate the new potential user base such things offer new strategies must be adopted, new ways to get information out there quickly and build user profiles in order to do so quicker still.  The traditional media remains quite passive in that it requires people specifically going to it and therefore are likely to be stored in the system somewhere already.  The new generation are more savvy and obtain and share their information and pursuits in different ways however some of those more prominent have already started to become more mainstream, the success of sites such as 38 Degrees and Avaaz has already been replicated by many of the international charities in order to harness armchair people power to promote and support their causes, this has shown a method of campaign proliferation that is far more active like a sort of idea crowd-surfing.  What this has shown a great deal of the time is that nothing spreads more like wildfire than moral outrage.  Indeed the speed with which some information goes around it makes Chinese Whispers look like the best way to obtain your news.  The trouble with this is that as with Chinese Whispers it is very difficult to tell what has been conflated/misinterpreted/misheard/reworded where and by whom and even were you to be able to do so by the time you had got to the bottom of it the message would have gone several stages further and your attempts to correct it would no longer be valid because they would not in effect have any relevance to what the message at that point was.  It would be rather like saying that homo erectus would actually have been better off with a tail after all.

The Emma Watson affair has made what would otherwise be a low-level exposure bulletin board very prominent and in a negative light, it remains to be seen what reach this will have for all associated with it but certainly it will be being trawled for information about its users and what they might be up to as we speak.  It has brought forward what appears on the surface to be a fictitious marketing company, this will only further increase speculation and keep public focus that little bit longer than if people were to really find out what or who was behind it all no matter how big or small they might have been.  Finally the only exposure that has actually happened has been that Emma Watson’s speech on feminism and equality has come to greater attention than i otherwise might have done which is a consolation.  Whether this was in any way intended (has everyone assumed automatically it wasn’t?) but it is something upon which to feel all was not entirely negative and assuages some people as to their haste to condemn as they will be able to cast their opinions over the very cause and effect of the whole affair and what it says about us as a society – herewith Exhibit A!

However it is not by any means an isolated example, nor is it the only method of publicising that which might otherwise be seen less favourably or be more obscure.  There are more forces than corporate money men involved.  The Emma Watson affair is my first conscious view of the use of people’s opposition to something to distribute widely but the use of people’s wish to affirm has been around for a while.

There has been a spate of seemingly uncontentious posts by a far-right group in England called Britain First (the clue is somewhat in the name really isn’t it?!) which advocates a number of singularly unpleasant policies and generally seeks to propagate them in an inflammatory manner such as turning up at mosques and holding hostile protests against Islam about which they appear to know very little and declaiming Christianity about which they appear to know only marginally more.  This is not anything especially new for the far-right and were that merely the extent of their action they would be marginalised severely by the fact that much of Britain’s mainstream political parties espouse the sort of nationalism that in the 1970s would have represented that of derided extremists the National Front, then seen as a group of fascist skinheads and thugs.  Fascists no longer wear the same uniform as one another and have blended far more into the mainstream political landscape across Europe as a whole and their appeal is broadening.  What Britain First have either cleverly or inadvertently done is to promulgate their existence with what look like innocuous positive affirmations such as supporting troops abroad, using the poppy symbol synonymous with the Royal British Legion and World War veterans (sad irony to have a fascist, nationalist party use a symbol for those who fought to oppose fascism and nationalism), even down to opposing animal rights abuses.  All the sorts of things that people might say “Who could possibly be against that…?”  Precisely, so why is there the need to share it?  Is it perhaps because to not do so implies you might be or be a supporter of “them [insert demon of the week here].”  Because really the implied suffix of the “Who could be against that...” question is “…unless you are one of them [insert aforementioned demon].”  And it is this that makes people share it in an effort to ensure no-one thinks that they might be one of “them.” (not that I’ve anything against “them” you understand, some of my friends are “them…!”)

One of Britain First’s particularly loathsome but widely-publicised efforts was to commandeer the death of soldier Lee Rigby who was murdered in the street in South East London by religious extremists.  Britain First used this event to their own islamophobic ends until Lee Rigby’s mother, Lyn complained publicly saying that the party did not represent her son’s views in the slightest and that he would and she was appalled by the way his cause had been hijacked.

“Well yet again can anymore heartbreak be thrown at me and my family, so heartbroken tonight. Electoral commission phoned saying that a party in Wales has stood for election in the European parliament named Britain First using Lee’s name to promote their party and some fucker from the commission allowed it to go through but [they] cannot take any action till after the election which is held on my sons anniversary of his murder. Their views are not what Lee believed in and has no support from the family. Their will be a family apology from the electoral commission but cannot be made public till after 22nd of May. Lee’s legacy will live on through Team Lee United Forces and all the good I hope to achieve xxxx”

By this time though the damage had been largely done as the phrase “Remember Lee Rigby” had already been used by Britain First as part of their entry on the Election ballot paper and the party was associated with what would be seen as positive enforcement of British values and memory of a soldier murdered.  No-one remembers the Electoral Commission’s apology, no-one remembers the investigation carried out by the Speaker of the Houses Of Parliament who presides over the Commission, nor whether such an investigation even took place.  They don’t even necessarily remember all the details of the situation but it started the creeping process of ‘normalising’ Britain First so they could claim to be ‘patriots’ which is a common name extreme nationalists use for themselves.

I have heard all too often the defence of “I would never have shared it if I had known who it was really from...” or “I know ‘person x’ and they would never have knowingly passed on something from ‘nasty group y.’” It is worth looking closer at the Britain First posts where very often there remains an undercurrent of racism and bigotry, the troops abroad, the animal rights abuses often being linked to the practice of halal butchery the Lee Rigby campaign and it’s demonising certain parts of the population.

There is the inevitable more blatant fascist post such as the one claiming asylum seekers and illegal immigrants were being given £29,000 in benefits and cutting snippets from the Daily Mail (always a sure sign of bigotry).  Many people will express shock and outrage, especially when it is put in the context of a paragraph stating that a pensioner gets around £6000 a year (a figure which lamentably is near enough correct).  If one stops to question at all then you can pick this argument apart quite easily.  Illegal immigrants get no benefit at all, they are illegal!  The Conservative government benefit cap is £26,000, this is the very maximum amount of money any household can have and that is subject to some fairly draconian methods of assessment so I am yet to come across anyone getting anywhere near that amount.  I have come across a fair few getting £4ooo ps though.  Anyway you get the picture.  Certainly some of the people sharing such posts are bigoted racists, but Britain First has 300,000 likes on its Facebook page are these all racist bigots or are many misguided and duped?

In the past it was just sometimes a question of memes, chain messages, spam that you may be inadvertently passing on, now it is more insidious and perhaps only viral marketing at best.  The other argument commonly used, indeed sometimes with the best intentions and even on occasions with results is the “I didn’t want to take the chance...” gambit.  This in its common form applies to something of abhorrence to people that has some degree of urgency in action required and people think it is better to ensure it is widespread in order to avoid the chance being lost and action (not) occurring.  However if taken to its lowest point it can be that which leads to the point of forwarding those chain emails that say bad luck will befall you if you do not or that some multinational company will pay you in the form of goods/services or hard cash if you tell all your friends about the scheme by sending this email to everyone in your address book.

Caveat Poster, if something seems far-fetched it probably is, if something is asking you to sign up to something think whether or not you would do so in the street.  If someone is asking you to share an opinion they have ask yourself if you’d let them stand up in court on your behalf, check the provenance of sources and one easy way to validate things is to run it through the hoaxkill type sites first, very often you will find that the tortured dog or 82 year old lady or homeless child is either something that never happened, or did so 10 years ago.

The trouble is that the advertisers already have you, because where do you draw the line, do you risk what you see as something bad happening by not reposting, retweeting, sharing, liking, tagging even if you haven’t had the chance to check its validity?  Or do you think that it shouldn’t do any great harm really and if it’s advertisers then they’re all bastards and something should be done about them, scum of the Earth etc. etc…?  Granted whilst it may not be as malign as the supposed inheritance you have from a fictitious relative in Africa but you are passing on something as if you had sneezed and then shaken hands with someone without even wiping.  Think of that next time you open a toilet door as well!

All that Twitter’s Is Not Necessarily Gold!

Song Of The Day ~ The Winners – Freedom

I have scanned the polling card on election day many times before and been saddened and sometimes angry at what I have seen that which serves only to greater highlight the democratic deficit.  In turn this fuels the need in my mind to break down some of this over-federalisation in order to put back some actual stake for people and their representatives in the affairs at a level that affects them day to day, rather than a succession of wooly contexts used by populists and demagogues whose wish is only to feather their own nests with a cushy number becoming ever more and more out of touch with those whom they are supposed to represent.

As regards the anti-federalist side of things I suppose I should be careful what I wish for really shouldn’t I?  This election card is awash with those who wish to decentralise from the European superstate and wrest back control of government on a more local level.  So, is this the great coming of Anarchism, is it the workers taking control of the means of production, is it the cohesion of people realising that they need control over what affects them and their families all the time?  No it is not, indeed it is anything but.  This is good old-fashioned racist, xenophobic, nimbyist, ‘I’m alright, Jack’, selfish, protectionist, money-orientated, contemptible BULLSHIT!  Personally I find it morally repugnant, as despicable as offensive and on a grand scale it seems to explain the root of where all the principle global problems emanate but this is not an election manifesto on behalf of the “Let’s Start Looking More At What We Ourselves Can Do Positively For Our Society And Environment And Less About What The Nasty People Who Look/Act/Sound/Appear Different From Us Are Doing: According To Those People Who Don’t Like Them And Make Shit Up To Justify Their Claims Which Are Motivated By Self-serving Greed” Party.  (Doesn’t trip off the tongue really does it?!  I’ve long history of names being too long for forms this is just another example of text-based discrimination where the name I want to put down will not fit in the box in which it is supposed to!)

Every country has benefitted from immigration just as it has given benefit to other countries by emigration, think of it this way how often when you are stuck on a sticky problem does a person with a different way of looking at things bring new impetus just by having an experience different from your own very often having things that are not more complicated just different?  Many hands make light work after all.  A-ha shouts the bigot but too many cooks spoil the broth but you will find there are more cliches about togetherness than there are about individualism and there is good reason for this namely that humans, biologically are not solitary animals, neither do they stay in the one conglomerate block for life again with good biological reasons not to do so.

The human race itself survives on movement in order to properly proliferate, it is in fact a genetic abomination to limit the gene pool because to go down that road to its furthest extent leads to incest.  Therefore by extension the widening of the gene pool creates as diverse a society as possible in doing so utilising every available quality for evolutionary efficiency, which is paramount.  This is not to say that things which are not biologically efficient are per se wrong or not natural, there are many examples across species and genii but there must be a majority of overall biological efficiency or the race is likely to wane rather than prosper.

Let us therefore talk about what is really all behind this, it is a nasty insidious racism and the mood across the Western World right now is one we have encountered before with catastrophic and genocidal consequences.  It is all too easy to think that this is nothing like the 1930s, to have a presumption that society is more civilised now – it won’t surprise many I’m sure to know that this is just what was thought in the 30s too.  Let us not forget that the National Socialist German Workers Party spread its net widely in order to collate votes from left and right, indeed there are many who still think because the word “socialist” was in the Nazis party name that this made them left-wing, but these people are idiots and should be pointed to and laughed at!

To put the cat slightly amongst the pigeons though the 1930s was at least consistent in its racism.  The Fascists shipped out rich and poor in an ethnic cleansing of very specific sections of society, merely stripping all down to the same bare bones, whilst these days if you have money then you may buy yourself immunity or even passage of legitimate immigration (In Britain currently there is no plan to alter the visa that an be obtained if the applicant has £1m to invest).  In these modern days society does not have ‘indulgences’ to absolve you from your wrongdoings in the eyes of the church, it has indulgence by the rich for the rich to absolve themselves from the responsibilities to, or restrictions of society around them.

The British National Party are an objectionable band of oldschool bigoted thugs.  It would be easy to try to dismiss them in this regard and think of them as in the 1970s when they were the National Front and scorned by most in society for whom memories of the blackshirts were all too prevalent.  However the BNP are all too emblematic of the very way this sort of right-wing hegemony has taken hold.  It isn’t so long ago that it was seen as shocking that they even were given a slot on TV for a Party Political Broadcast let alone any genuine exposure on things that mattered. Now it is seen almost as ‘normal’ that a representative is called to comment or even given platform on national debates.

In general though the BNP’s appeal remains anchored around the disenfranchised white working class male, those who before might have been seen to be usually core Labour Party and Trade Union movement supporters.  The Trade Union movement has long since been unfairly discredited on the political stage, seen as self-serving and obdurate, something perhaps people might like to reflect on as they enjoy their weekend! (However in the UK there are still more than 6 million trade union members which represents almost the entire national votes for the Liberal Democrats and more than half that of the total Conservative vote in the election in 2010).  The BNP has picked up the slack in this area in particular amongst the younger generation who do not have the knowledge of trade unionism as a force that their (grand)parents would have, thus its politics have sought to simply blame someone else for the disenfranchisement of its members, something of easy populist appeal.  The BNP still represent something less palatable for the Middle Classes who tend to see the BNP as far more associated with the blunter end of fascism though there were signs of this slowly changing as the BNP increased its vote not just in traditional working class areas.

It is clearly on the back of this trend that we now have the UK Independence Party.  Where the Scottish Nationalists and the Welsh Nationalists are more geared to the left and looking at a degree of social democracy and [hushed tones] the odd flirt with mild Socialism the UK Independence Party are fervently right-wing and far from being a complete anti-federailst party they are more that of separatism and self-interest.  UKIP are headed up by a former stockbroker and their representatives have been causing a great deal of controversy, one of their Members of the European Parliament, Godfrey Bloom, has been especially unpleasant and has made comments such as Britain should not send aid to “bongo bongo land” because the recipients spent the money on “Ray-Ban sunglasses, apartments in Paris, Ferraris and all the rest of it”. He was heard shouting “this room is full of sluts” at a London event about increasing the number of women in politics. In December 2013 a UKIP candidate was suspended over suggestions that compulsory abortion should be considered for foetuses with Down’s syndrome or spina bifid a referring to the termination of babies as part of potential NHS cost-cutting measures. If born these would become “a burden on the state as well as on the family”.

But it is one thing to besmirch the representatives of the party for things they have purported to say but it is quite another to examine the party’s standpoint and those who support it.  Indeed according to a piece of research conducted Dr Matt Wall, lecturer in politics at Swansea University, the broader views outside the Europhobic and anti-immigration tenets of those who say they support UKIP such as taxation and same sex marriage are considerately more disparate, which continues to bolster the notion that the vote is a protest one.   This is precisely the reason UKIP tends to steer away from questions that do not involve anything to do with Johnny Foreigner and his control of, or presence in, the UK.  To engage in these debates would highlight the difference and potentially less palatable policies that many prospective voters may

• TAX: UKIP favours a flat tax – a single combined rate of income tax and national insurance paid by all workers. claiming this would allow people to keep more of the money they have earned. They are yet to decide what rate it would be.  Their claims that this would lead to a smaller state being able to provide for the poorest seem at best shaky since it is also their plan to cut public spending by £77bn
• EDUCATION: UKIP backs selection by ability and would encourage the creation of new grammar schools.

• ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE: UKIP is sceptical about the existence of man-made climate change and would scrap all subsidies for renewable energy.

• LAW AND ORDER: UKIP would double prison places and protect “frontline” policing to enforce “zero tolerance” of crime.

• THE ECONOMY: UKIP is proposing “tens of billions” of tax cuts and had set out £77bn of cuts to public expenditure to deal with the deficit.

• SOCIAL ISSUES: UKIP argues that multiculturalism has “split” British society. It would legislate to allow smoking in pubs, in designated rooms, and hold local referendums on repealing the hunting ban.
On the subject of homosexuality UKIP are particularly outspoken, a UKIP candidate allegedly described gay sex as “disgusting” and said homosexuals were not “normal” on a Ukip online forum another said that being gay Is a ‘Spiritual Disease’. The UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, stated thereafter he would not expel members for voicing “old-fashioned” views about homosexuality.  In fact they went further and the chairman of UKIP’s youth wing, Olly Neville, was sacked after speaking out in favour of gay marriage.

Naturally on the subject of foreigners the party does not hold back A Sunday Mirror investigation in 2013 found the party’s East Midlands chairman, Chris Pain had described illegal immigrants as “sandal-wearing, bomb-making, camel-riding, goat-fucking, rag heads”  UKIP Leader Nigel Farage was caught up in a media story that his right-wing views were seen as extreme whilst he was at Public School, Channel 4 went on to say that Farage was known for marching through a Sussex village singing Hitler Youth songs, an allegation Farage unsurprisingly denied.

If you look at the Office for National Statistics data in fact net migration (immigration minus migration) the figure has remained the same around 200,00 people per year.  Given that the statistics show that nearly 200,000 are either coming to study (170,000) or British nationals returning home (20,000) in fact the net migration is negligible as compared to what many would have you believe.  Furthermore the ‘flood’ of Romanians and Bulgarians predicted when the border controls were changed for citizens of these 2 countries to that of the rest of the EU has simply not happened. The number of Romanians and Bulgarians working in the UK has fallen by 4,000 since employment restrictions were lifted in January, the Office for National Statistics figures show a total of 140,000 employed in the UK between January and March 2014.  David Cameron told MPs the reduction was “notable” i.e. it is written down somewhere and not ‘remarkable’ in that he doesn’t intend to tell anyone!

It is also important to ask why people are coming at all.  Firstly if work is scarce and wages are low in your home country and another country in which you speak the language has opportunities you will certainly consider it, if you have a family that lure will be all the stronger.  If the minimum wage in that country is in fact higher than what you would reasonably expect to get at home then it makes it a more attractive proposition, this is also just as attractive to employers who can save themselves a large some of money employing cheap migrant labour with fewer working rights or conditions.  So who is at fault?

I have seen it said that to dismiss UKIP merely as a protest party or that of an appeal to a very specific middle class racist portion of the electorate would be wrong and indeed I agree, it would, this is not simply a group of trumped up toffs feeling aggrieved that their ability to make money is being infringed upon by bureaucrats, this is a group of racist toffs feeling aggrieved that their ability to make money is being infringed upon by bureaucrats whilst being supported by people with xenophobic or racist tendencies and those who have been informed solely by a rabidly right-wing media, run themselves by groups of racist toffs feeling aggrieved that their ability to make money is being infringed upon by bureaucrats.  The media is very much to blame here, for a long time there has been an anti-Europe campaign in sections of the press and although many of the myths purported about decisions made in Brussels have been debunked they have been so in less public an arena.  This has allowed the media to have long since reinforced their message and if necessary to print an apology and/or addendum on page 27 in the editorial section, that most of those who believe what they are spoon fed by the media won’t read anyway.  There is a BBC page about the “euromyths” here  where things have been reported by the media as attributable to Brussels.  You would be forgiven for thinking that most of this lot looks like a right bunch of old tripe but this is precisely the sort of constant campaigning that leads to a generally accepted viewpoint.  In the examples proven to be false I have still heard people say “yeah well that one might not have been true but look at the others…”

The problem does not finish with UKIP though it is the emergence of a large group of splinter far-right parties that have no counter balance on the Left or even in the Centre.  Some of these such as the English Democrats far from wanting simply the UK on the forefront of the agenda wish to go further and cite England should be the main focus.  (Though these people are often the very embodiment of a restricted gene pool!)  Others such as An Independence from Europe claim to be to the left of UKIP, rather like claiming to be a moderate Attila the Hun!  Liberty GB are another anti-European and it appears human rights, party and the Christian Peoples Alliance do not appear to be very Christian nor much of an alliance.

Again I’m afraid you need look no further than the German electoral position in the Weimar Republic from 1919-1933 where the parallels in political parties, media spin, xenophobia and desire to cut free from rules imposed by external powers are quite chilling.  You have been warned.

Song Of The Day ~ Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next

I was one of those not happy about the notion of seeing BNP leader Nick Griffin on the BBC’s flagship Question Time but knowing that it was something that had to be done in order to face up to a growing trend towards the extreme-right in this country.  My principle concern was that Griffin would be given a soft option, an apathetic audience with relatively soft questions and toothless politicians. Whilst I do not believe my worst fears were realised I have nonetheless some serious concerns regarding how the debate and Griffin himself were handled.

During the first question on whether the BNP should be allowed to adopt Churchill as one of their own, Jack Straw was afforded nearly five minutes, unheard of certainly in my experience of the program.  Straw used the time to give the usual speech about tolerance and fighting the war against fascism etc etc.  it came across, at least to me as pretty easy pickings really, there was little of genuine interest or personal stamp on it.  It was the same sort of asinine bollocks that condensed down to its minimal is the “I’m not a racist but…”

Griffin himself declared that Churchill would have found the BNP his natural home as fighting against its own foreign invasion.  Bonnie Greer pointed out that of course having an American mother with Mowhawk ethnicity meant that Churchill might not even have been allowed in the party but Griffin was undeterred.  Churchill he said spent much of his early political career fighting mass immigration and warning of the dangers of Islam.  Churchill has very much enjoyed the same sort of approach to criticism as immigration does now, I found it interesting that none of the panel mentioned that Churchill in his early political life was an ardent eugenicist and advocated the sterilisation of the mentally ill in a Home Office paper he tabled in 1911.

According to the 2001 census the population of Britain still consists of 92% of people who classify themselves as white, according to the CIA factbook 77% of the United Kingdom as a whole are English with a further 15% made up by Scottish, Welsh and Irish.  Griffin’s stated view to return to a Britain that is 99% White British is therefore clearly incitement to ethnic cleansing.  Bearing in mind London accounts for a huge amount of the modern immigrant population with, according to The Guardian an estimated 30% or 2.2 million claiming in 2005 to have been born outside the UK that leaves very little to spread around the rest of the country.

However according to Griffin 84% of the total population support the BNP’s policy on immigration.  Hang on, run that by me again – 84%, which represents 50 million people in the United Kingdom as a whole, or if you like, the entire White English population and then some.  Griffin further asserts that two thirds of the immigrant population support the policy too.  Is this an example of them pulling the rope up behind them?  We will never know for when asked where this statistic had come from Griffin could not come up with an answer.  Which is code for, I made it up and hoped I could just float it out there without justification.

Griffin’s true colours do occasionally show, he is simply not slick enough to keep himself entirely behind the mask.  Interesting though that whilst he chooses to identify the “indigenous” Britons as those who arrived 17000 years ago he chooses to say that “Britain must remain a fundamentally British and Christian country.”  Interesting because for nearly 16000 of those years Britain was not a Christian country at all.  Clearly Griffin is happy to pick and choose what he likes and offer a very subjective revisionist view of history.  This was shown up by Bonnie Greer again who criticised the lack of mention of the Romans in the BNP’s take on British history, not merely for the fact that they were foreign invaders (not that the Celts or the tribes who came before them were really any different since much of Britain had only become inhabitable after the end of the Ice Age.  People did not suddenly come out of cryogenic suspension on the land they had to come from abroad.

It was also quite evident that Griffin is not a lover of homosexual men, he claims to be speaking for many people when he says the sight of two men kissing makes him feel deeply uncomfortable.  I wonder if he finds two women kissing equally unpleasant.  None of the politicians on the panel made a particularly big play against this point either.

The program, in general, was in a way reminiscent of George Galloway in Big Brother, a man who claimed to be in it for the ideals and yet shown to be quite clearly out of their depth due to the arrogance of their own self-belief.  Griffin wrought his hands and tried to smarm and obfuscate the direct questions wherever he could.  It was compere David Dimbleby though who brought up many of the cogent points that showed Griffin up for the rank amateur he really is.  “If you look at the things I’m quoted to have said…” Griffin protested, to which Dimbleby asked immediately which quotes had been attributed to him that were not true.  “Too many to mention” Griffin replied.  This was not however a BNP broadcast, or a short radio interview, or standing outside court being questioned by journalists, this was a serious political program compared by a presenter of considerable experience.  Dimbleby did not let Griffin off the hook and queried if Griffin had therefore never denied the holocaust.  Griffin’s answer spoke volumes for its lack of substance.  “I’ve not got a conviction for holocaust denial.”

I think all but the most rabid fascist party supporters knew quite clearly what this meant.

Suffice to say I believe the only two people who came out of the affair with any dignity were Bonnie Greer and David Dimbleby.  What worries me very much about such an event is that there still seems to be this naive consensus amongst the neo-liberals and neo-conservatives that no-one really supports the BNP they’re just doing it out of protest.  As such they drastically underestimate the lack of education about serious issues of our time and by refusing to engage on proper policy debates and publicly shoot down the odious characters of the far-right they allow a continued perception that these people are somehow swashbuckling political mavericks who say what everyone is thinking but no mainstream politician dares say.  This has happened before on numerous occasions and is generally a clear road to fuel fascism in society at large and at the very least an acquiescence of policies that one might expect educated people to be appalled by.  The three politicians on the QT panel were considered to be relative heavyweights at yet their arguments were sufficiently dilute as to almost be tacit acquiescence.  They have for too long hidden behind the notion that there is no place for extremism whilst the political hegemony has become more and more right-wing, such that some things considered mainstream now would in days gone by have been seen as very much on the path to fundamentalism.

In truth Griffin came across for what he was, an arrogant man with fascist-leanings who is not especially erudite but has been ostracised and vilified to the point of having become practically a living martyr and regarded as a dangerous intellectual only amongst his party cronies, themselves perhaps the lowest common denominator of cerebral evolution.  I expect to hear him come out and say Enoch Powell was right in his “rivers of blood” speech but I do not expect to hear people allow him to get away with that unchallenged.  When are the rivers of blood coming?  There are now enough immigrants in Britain that would have made Powell’s eyes pop out but there is still no rivers of blood.  Tension, yes, there is plenty of that, caused in no small part by the polarisation of communities into immigrant and non-immigrant by the right-wing anti-immigration agenda.

What Griffin is not is out of touch, and herein lies the chilling postscript of the piece for he has, like the failed Austrian painter he would so dearly love to imitate, managed to exploit public malaise and disenfranchisement and stir up division and hatred against easy target sections of the populations.  Those even more disenfranchised than the “indigenous.”  He has used the classic tactics of inaccurate hyperbole and erroneous statistics and the mainstream politicians have consistently allowed him and his party to dictate the agenda due to their own failure, or inability, to address the central issues on the table.  Make no mistake this is not the end of the story and if we are to avoid the examples of Germany and Italy of the 1930s a great deal of work is to be done.

Song Of The Day ~ Fleetwood Mac – Dragonfly

A Time For Real Heroes

Whilst you’d be hard-pressed in the UK now to escape The Sun and Jeremy Clarkson’s campaign for improved conditions and recognition for the soldiers returning from Iraq there is a distinct absence of mention for the former Flight Lieutenant Malcom Kendall-Smith, the court-martialled RAF doctor who refused to follow orders when he was to be deployed to Basra.

Dealing with army casualties is a difficult moral dilemma, for whilst one can feel sorry for anyone whom has incurred injury, the armed forces is one of those professions where such is very much part of the job.  It is, or should be, known as part and parcel of joining up that the principle purpose of the armed forces is armed conflict.  It is therefore somewhat rich that we the taxpayers whilst already paying part of our money for the armed forces should now have to come up with further money for individuals returning from an illegal war and of whom the army has largely washed its hands.  This is of course nothing new, once a soldier is past operational usefulness the army’s ‘resources’ always seem somewhat stretched as the many victims of Gulf War Syndrome can attest to.

The case of Malcolm Kendall-Smith is kept quiet for very different reasons as it raises the very real dilemma many soldiers may face at stages during their career when called upon to participate in military activity that they may not believe in, that may be immoral, illegal or both.  Kendall-Smith had made a considered decision about his moral obligations as to serving in the conflict, having been a tutor in moral philosophy at a New Zealand university, one is to presume he would have considered the arguments very carefully indeed.  After studying the arguments for and against the invasion he declared that he did not want to be complicit in an illegal war and tried to resign from the RAF.  Rather than the usual course of shortening his RAF contract Kendall-Smith told his court-martial “I would, in fact, refuse the orders as a duty under international law, the Nuremberg principles and the law of armed conflict”.  This might seem like a more head above the parapet method than the quiet resignation of his commission but having decided to make the stand I think it is both understandable and laudable that Kendall-Smith chose to take the flack for doing so.  He may not however have anticipated the full fall-out of his decision.

We might have thought that we have come a long way since shooting victims of shell-shock and imprisoning conscientious objectors during WWI and using the COs for slave labour in WWII.  We might also have thought that the days of blind obedience to orders no matter what they were without any thought of consequences were also thankfully over, the Nuremburg Principles following the trials of the Nazis coupled with the Geneva Convention should have ensured this.  However there is still very much a subjective interpretation as to when these principles are applied and this is often decided by the military themselves which is very much a lunatics and asylum situation.

Although Principle IV of the Nuremberg Principles states that acting under orders of a “Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law,” the judge advocate in the court-martial case, Jack Bayliss, rejected Kendall-Smith’s claim that by serving in Iraq he could be complicit in a crime of aggression. Such a crime “cannot be committed by those in relatively junior positions such as that of the defendant. If a defendant believed that to go to Basra would make him complicit in the crime of aggression, his understanding of the law was wrong,” Bayliss said.  Furthermore he accused Kendall-Smith of an “amazing arrogance” and said the sentence was intended to make an example of him.  “Obedience of orders is at the heart of any disciplined force.  Refusal to obey orders means that the force is not a disciplined force but a disorganised rabble.  Those who wear the Queen’s uniform cannot pick and choose which orders they will obey. Those who seek to do so must face the serious consequences.

Kendall-Smith was found guilty on all five charges of disobeying orders, and sentenced to a penalty of eight months in prison. As well as the jail sentence, which he served in a civilian prison, Kendall-Smith was ordered to pay £20,000 towards his defence costs, which had been covered by legal aid which was to come from his personal savings of £20,000.  The campaign to help him pay these punitive charges received no media attention whatsoever.  Kendall-Smith himself was released in June 2006 under curfew until September and banned from speaking to the media until December.  There is no record of his case in the mainstream media after this point.

At the same time a similar case was being heard in Canada denying refugee status to an American soldier who wished to conscientiously object.  Jeremy Hinzman was told by the judge, Justice Anne Mactavish that “An individual must be involved at the policy-making level to be culpable for a crime against peace … the ordinary foot soldier is not expected to make his or her own personal assessment as to the legality of a conflict. Similarly, such an individual cannot be held criminally responsible for fighting in support of an illegal war, assuming that his or her personal war-time conduct is otherwise proper.”  These two statements from judges are especially interesting because there is nothing in the actual Nuremberg principles that states this and therefore their information must come from elsewhere, but where, it is not cited in their speeches and must one presumes be a legal interpretation and not a binding legal principle.

This is of course a completely different logic to that used at the trials in the aftermath of the holocaust.  In the Nuremberg trials if it was asserted that one could have known what was taking place then the lack of active participation was not a defence, thus the directors of Krupp AG and IG Farben were convicted of war crimes even though they themselves were not the ones who used the cannisters of Zyklon B that had been manufactured.  Likewise many SS officials who could not be proven to have taken active part in mass slaughter were complicit in knowing that such actions had been taking place without themselves doing anything to stop it.

At what point therefore does one become of low enough rank not to have to face up to the moral questions that implementing an order might present?  People still accuse ordinary German citizens during the 1940s as having been complicit in the holocaust because “they must have known what was going on and they did nothing to stop it.”  However how many people here have sought to speak out over extraordinary rendition, or the internees at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base or Abu Gharaib prison?  The fact is we have become very complacent with our rights and we assume they will always be protected, Germany shows quite clinically how this can very quickly become the case, and it does so in the context of an increasingly galvanised nationalism on the back of a disastrous economic climate.

Ring any bells?

Song Of The Day ~ The Boxer Rebellion – Semi-Automatic

It’s rare these days to get a salvo fired across the bows, sadly even rarer to get one with any substance. I shall leave any readers to judge what they will of Clive’s offering left on the Cyber Neo-Fascism entry.

“Oh great, Thought this blog was going to be someting diferent with more than the usual lefty bush bashing and hatred of anyone whos views are even slightly right of centre. But anyway if that email compelled you to make such an enlightened and wise response i to feel compelled to reply. well yes your knowledge on the historical foreign origin of british language and subculture seems well informed, but what about a contemporary view?i meen modern british culture is still british, regardless of foreign origins. the email you reply to sounds extreem ish but his/her views are no diferent to a lot of other peoples.why can a muslim girl wear a burka to school but alas, a christian cannot were a cross under his shirt?in your onslaught of criticism regarding the article you fail to adress why it has been written or the authors point of view regarding its writing thus not providing any form of balanced opinion meerly the type of leftist, neo communist crap most other blogers spout in the name of liberty and freedom of speech.which is in reality bullying and brutalising. earn yourself respect, balance your opinions instead of launching into “communist gulag opinion bashing mode”, ask yourself why it was made, then maybe, just maybe you might realise that not everyone except yourself and your admirers is a Nazi”

I’m not entirely sure what gives Clive the impression that I have an abject hatred of anyone whose views are slightly right of centre. I detest the right-wing bully boys and the neo-nazis etc. but I see most centre-right people to be at worst a little selfish and at best rather misguided, hate would be far too strong a word.

I am not quite sure what Clive means by taking a contemporary view of the “language and subculture” rather than the historical one which I mentioned and he does not dispute. Is this the sort of “contemporary” view that simply disregards any historical precedent? Modern British culture may well be British but one has to take that in its entirety and remember that many of the factors that make that culture up come from relatively contemporary immigrant sources like the West Indies, India, Pakistan, China, Ireland and now it will be Eastern Europe. Therefore the people who bring and enrich this culture are as much intertwined with Britain and the British as their lexical inluences, cuisine and clothing etc. As I have said culture just as language is not a fixed thing but a constantly evolving entity if you really want to put it in a box then go ahead, be a dinosaur, but don’t expect me to live my life that way.

Clive’s example of the Muslim children being allowed to go to school in burkhas whilst Christian children are not being allowed to wear crosses is not anchored with any evidence. I do not know of a specific case of this happening in this country, it is common to the sort of urban myths that the right are usually happy to propagate. I am aware of a ban restricting the wearing of the hijab in French schools, I do not know if this ban extends to Christian iconography, if not then it surely must to avoid inconsistency and discrimination. In my opinion there are only two ways to solve the matter. The first is to say there will be nothing of any religious significance worn in schools or offices for fear of causing offence, of course at this point people will start talking about an infringement of their human rights and perhaps they have a point, I’m not religious so what do I care?!!! (For non-regular readers I must point out that this was a joke!) The second solution is to say that there will be no restriction on the wearing of items that constitute ones of religious significance, regardless of what that may entail. There is no middle ground from what I can see it is just a varied level of discrimination.

As for why the author has written this email, oh I know exactly why they have written it. It is the same Christian White Supremecist krypto-fascist bullshit that the far-right has used for years. Pressing all the right emotive buttons to make out that there is always someone to blame for your life not going the way you want. It is full of easy no-thought answers none of which actually stand up to scrutiny if deconstructed, which is why I deconstructed it.

If there are so many bloggers out there spouting neo Communist ideals then I cannot help but be rather pleased though I’m sure that is not the intention of Clive’s point. I do not think my argument was bullying nor do I feel it was brutalising, I think I simply took the points in turn and refuted the argument that was being offered using actual historical fact rather than emotion-grabbing hyperbole.

The email was written to provoke mistrust and hatred, to ferment the idea that the multiculturalism which we have seen for centuries is somehow a new thing that is rending the fabric of “British” society assunder. Like all of the views of the far-right this does not stand up to scrutiny, but of course the far-right are not looking for people to do their research. However the politically correct lobby are wholly to blame for giving the right this ammunition, their ill-informed and crass attempts to create some form of homogeneity is as ridiculous as the right’s attempts to do the same by different means. Do not, however assume that the political correctness lobby is in any way affiliated to left-wing politics, it is the politics of the control-seeking middle classes who use the well-meaning but not very bright to carry out their work.

Whilst I firmly believe that the origin of the original email is seriously right-wing I do not feel that many who will be taken in by it are. Many people dissolutioned and disenfranchised will not have the time or the motivation to delve into the root causes of societal malaise. However I would be grossly derelict in my duty were I not to point out from my perspective what I feel is wrong and misleading. I try to be reasonably balanced and rational where possible but ultimately with the current media and popular bias severely to the right of me I do not feel it is really my job to show 2 sides of the coin, I am a left-winger that is the nature of the opinions I espouse and I make no secret of that. If you want the view from the right there is no dearth of places where you can find it. To water down my argument in some effort to provide balance would be a ridiculous dilution for no apparent purpose. Finally in the case of responding to racist bigoted nonsense why on Earth would I want to hold back, the world especially politically is so full of homogenised passionless cronies, I like to think that agree or disagree with my politics there is no ambiguity about what I feel.

Song Of The Day ~ The Duke Spirit – Cuts Across The World

Original Comments:

Mark Ellott made this comment,
Frankly, I wouldn’t have dignified the original SPAM letter with a response – kudos to you for taking the time. Perhaps the strongest argument against these SPAM chain letters is that they not only press all the emotive buttons, but that they rely on myth rather than fact. Clive falls into the same trap – where, exactly can children not wear a cross under their shirts? Evidence, please. The bans in France apply to all religious symbols. France is a secular state and religion has no place in the state’s business; in this case, schools. But that is France, not Britain. I am not aware of any cases in Britain where people are not allowed to wear crosses.
comment added :: 23rd January 2006, 18:10 GMT+01 :: http://longrider.blog-city.com
Pimme made this comment,
I just ignore the inflammatory stuff these days…a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still…
comment added :: 24th January 2006, 02:14 GMT+01 :: http://pimme.blog-city.com

Kind of makes a cogent point that doesn’t it? Not to mention a very valid one as well. I know of anther example I have already cited where the “proper identification” was used in a eugenic fashion namely that in Rwanda where the Belgians had marked ethnicity on ID cards. Is the same going to be the case in the UK? Who knows, nowadays with smart cards, magnetic strips, biometrics etc. etc. who is going to have any idea precisely what information will be transferred to such a card and by whom it may later be used? After all there was originally talk of such information being on the photocard part of your driver’s license and the public outcry made that suggestion go very quickly to ground. Governments certainly since I have been interested in politics have been intent on eroding covil liberties in an effort to ‘protect us.’ What is it that these ID cards are supposed to bring to us? We are told that they will make us safer, prevent fraud etc. and terrorism and yet all the actual studies that have gone into this show that such boasts are fanciful at best and outright subterfuge at worst.

Did you know for example that if you are a member of a ‘listed organisation’ you will have an MI5 file? Such listed organisations can include anything political, specifically anything deemed left-leaning. This is not to over-egg the pudding, it does not mean you will have spooks pursuing you at every turn just because you were signed up to the Anglo-Cuban alliance whilst you were at college in the 80s or such like. But you will very probably have such a file as a result. There are well over 500,000 MI5 files on British citizens and those of us that live here. There are 3 categories of status for such files. A ‘red light’ means that there is neither investigtion nor plans to reopen anything. An ‘amber light’ means that there is currently no grounds to carry out any investigative activity but the file remains open should any further evidence come to light and require re-examination of the status. Finally a ‘green light’ is obviously a file on an individual where investigations are taking place.

The question is how may that impact on our daily lives? For the most part one might think not a lot, and should your job remain low profile and the same be thought of those you associate with then this is largely likely to be the case. However there are a number of approved organisations that are entitled to enquire as to whether you have an MI5 file if you should apply for a job there. The BBC is one such organisation as is the Civil Service, I do not have any details as to which private companies are allowed to do it. The vast majority of them are not permitted to know what is in the file or the status of it simply whether it exists, they can then make a judgement accordingly. This is however still a form of covert repression regardless of how seldom it may actually occur because the infrastructure is already in place should it ever be required on a grander scale.

I could go on about the lack of a genuinely secret ballot at every election here but you know the drill and frankly you really ought to be aware by now that you can trust this government about as much as you could trust the last one.

So what can you do about it. Well lobby the windbag that is your MP for starters, you never know you might be lucky enough to have one of the handful who listens, I wouldn’t hold your breath though. A useful point to start at is here. I have done just that, I enclose a copy of the letter I have sent and should I receive a reply I will also post that. If you wish to use any of the parts of the letter I have written you are free to do so.

Dear Insert tosser’s name here

I am a comparitively new member of your constituency having moved into X some 6 months ago. I see from your voting record that you were broadly in favour of the government’s stance on the Iraq war and furthermore that you support the current wave of anti-terror legislation.

Can you explain to me how the fact that the war was waged on false principles given to Parliament affects your viewpoint now? How should I feel as one of those who marched against the war in London on February 15th 2003 and subsequent marches? How do you see your ability to represent me when in essence it could be said that you sided with a government line without subjecting it to the sort of scrutiny that I would expect from the man elected as my representative in the legislature?

Furthermore since evidence has shown that the current ID cards measures would not have stopped any of the bombings in London or Madrid or Bali can you explain why you are in support of another measure that is singularly unpopular outside the cadres of the Labour Party and whether this is something you have sought advice on within the community? What is your view on the tragic murder of Jean Charles de Menenzes which has been a direct result of the current furore over the terrorist threat?

On issues such as these I have just raised what is your procedure to canvass the opinion of your constituents? Do you believe as an MP that your job is to vote according to your views, that of your party, or do you feel it is important to put those to one side if the majority of your constituents are not in agreement with your personal or party’s position?

I appreciate you are a busy man and will have many pressing constituency matters to attend to but I would be very interested in your answers to these questions at your earliest convenience.

This will of course not change anything but it will annoy them. You should steer clear of direct insults, calling them an 4rse-licking right-wing new labour cun7, however aposite it may be, will only give them cause to ignore your correspondance and it is far more irritating to them if they actually have to answer it, government guidelines suggesting that it should be done within 10 days. Of course any reply will be vaccuous and banal but that opens up the lines of communication to see just how far their heads are up the backsides of the party whips.

Now go sign the No2ID petition here and look around to see what else you can find.

Song Of The Day ~ Bob Dylan – Tangled Up In Blue

Original Comments:

Mark Ellott made this comment,
I have written regularly to my MP on this matter. The last time just prior to the third reading. He simply repeats the tired dogma that Charles Clarke trots out. That they are blatant lies, that they have been proved to be lies, that the government’s own information watchdog called them on it, matters not one whit. Rational discourse with these buffoons is wasted.
-Redbaron responds- To be honest mate I don’t doubt you one iota, but for me to launch into a vitriolic attack on my MP it is only fair that I ensure that it is merited, as indeed is my suspicion. Hence he has his chance, should he fail to take it I will have full justification for my ire and will ensure that at any local meetings I am something of a fly in the ointment.-

comment added :: 20th October 2005, 18:53 GMT+01 :: http://longrider.blog-city.com

jamal made this comment,
The picture says it all. Time will tell what the impact will be, but one things for sure it that it wont be positive.
MP’s should be lobbied in this way as this is what they are there for. Our taxes pay them to represent our ideals. Therefore if we sit back and ignore these issues so will they. The difference is that they will get paid for it.

comment added :: 21st October 2005, 02:19 GMT+01 :: http://opinionated.blogsome.com/

Jay made this comment,
If ur a clean citizen then what r u afraid of. And, why are you a communist? In a socialist society there are NO freedoms and you’d be repressed. If you’re “broke,” try working for a commie paper.
-Redbaron responds – Jay, I’m happy thaat you stop by and debate but the arguments you espouse now seem to be very hackneyed and somewhat anchored in the Reagan era. You first point hinges on your definition of “clean.” Look at the picture, that in Nazi Germany was considered ‘unclean’, now whether or not we agree with that definition it is undisputable that this was the state policy. You are placing yourself in the hands of the whim of the government and that has been proven to be a dangerous and volatile thing.

Your second point seems to be part of the whole arcane definition of Communism in the format that it allegedly appeared in the Stalin era of the USSR. If you read your theory you will find this is very far from any definition of Communism. Study the Paris Commune in 1871 and Russia in the immeadiate aftermath of 1917 and you will find a very different story. Furthermore you presume that I have freedoms and am not repressed now in this capitalist society, a belief that stems very much from a latent materialistic viewpoint of what constitutes free.

comment added :: 21st October 2005, 10:14 GMT+01 :: http://spongeblog.blog-city.com

Mark Ellott made this comment,
Jay – do your homework, please. The nothing to hide, nothing to fear argument is strictly for the intellectually lazy. You might also want to read the bill…
comment added :: 21st October 2005, 19:18 GMT+01 :: http://longrider.blog-city.com
jamal made this comment,
..in fact, the “nothing to hide nothing to fear” arguement is what I hear the politicians that want to introduce the bill arguing.
This arguement has no substantial weight, just as the terrorism does not justify ID cards either, as 7/7 could have occured with or without them.

comment added :: 22nd October 2005, 03:52 GMT+01 :: http://opinionated.blogsome.com/

guerrilla radio made this comment,
a carton from “liberazione”: http://guerrillaradio.iobloggo.com/archive.php?eid =1341 Israel says: it is new antisemitism!
but what is the reality today in Palestine? a big lager.

vik italian blogger from milan.

comment added :: 15th May 2006, 21:47 GMT+01 :: http://guerrillaradio.iobloggo.com/archive.php?eid