Avoid the Papers.

The general reaction here to Trump and Brexit is one of shock, especially among the middle-class who can’t understand how it has all come about.  Hypocrisy reigns.  When it’s not ranting hysterically about the state of things, the establishment is keen to prostrate itself – ostensibly on behalf of the Irish population – in front of the demagogues.
Talk of the usual bowl of shamrock for Trump from Enda Kenny and an invitation to Ireland. In Europe and the US, the collapse of the so-called centre and the resulting re-emergence of the left, has been met with the reaction of the far-right (or alt-right as those pseudo-fascists are now being called – euphemism also reigns.  Newspeak.  Alt-truth, post-truth, ‘Ignorance is strength’).  The liberals seem to detest Trump, but they despise Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour and the socialist movements even more, whom they ridicule when they’re not ignoring.  They use every method to undermine sincere alternatives that threaten their status-quo, even moderate alternatives like Bernie Sanders.  The Irish Examiner has published articles claiming the threat to Irish democracy comes from the left and not the far-right.  Other papers have written virtually the same.  Why analyse politics properly when two ideas can be portrayed as two sides of the same coin.  Ignorance is strength.  Evidence is not needed for their purpose.  The liberal part of the establishment, once again it seems, will sacrifice all social progress and reform for the sake of maintaining economic class divisions and their privileged part within those classes, just as it did in the early 20th-century with Spain and Germany.  ‘History repeats itself, first as tragedy…’
I wrote to my expatriate father:
It’s all quite surreal at times.  Orwellian.  It may be best to avoid the papers. 

Where Trump’s Support comes from

In my previous post,  I wrote about how much of the American working-class, in general, reject the ideas of both Clinton and Trump. Where, then, does Trump’s support come from?  In an earlier post I also wrote about how the middle-class is generally more conservative when it comes to things like inequality and climate change, and so members of this class are therefore more likely to be Trump supporters.  The following passage from a recent Guardian column by Sarah Smarsh confirms this:

Earlier this year, primary exit polls revealed that Trump voters were, in fact, more affluent than most Americans, with a median household income of $72,000 – higher than that of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders supporters. Forty-four percent of them had college degrees, well above the national average of 33% among whites or 29% overall. In January, political scientist Matthew MacWilliams reported findings that a penchant for authoritarianism – not income, education, gender, age or race –predicted Trump support.

These facts haven’t stopped pundits and journalists from pushing story after story about the white working class’s giddy embrace of a bloviating demagogue.

Mainstream media is set up to fail the ordinary American

Based on Trump’s campaign rhetoric and available data, it appears that most of his voters this November will be people who are getting by well enough but who think of themselves as victims.

The column is well worth reading in full.

Catastrophe in Syria and Irish Media

Disclaimer: Friends, this is a quick piece on my personal observation and contact with media reportage in Ireland over the past few months regarding Syria.  I am open to criticisms here (as always), but I’m fairly sure I’ve got it somewhat right – in the ballpark – though obviously, my references are not as thorough as I would like.  I wrote this on the spur this evening in regard to some contradictory comments I saw, coming from people of the same political background. 

Some socialists and leftists on Facebook are saying that the media has ignored the catastrophe in Syria, to report instead on the catastrophe in Gaza, other leftists (in my feed, literally the very next person) saying the exact opposite – that the media have ignored catastrophe in Gaza to report on Syria. One leftist claimed the lack of reporting on Syria is because the “wrong side” is winning there – Russia. Comments on the situation hardly get more confused or sickening than that.  A bomb coming through a family’s home is a bomb, whether it’s delivered with compliments and best intentions from Russia, the US, al-Assad, or ISIS.

Actually, there is now quite a lot of reporting in Ireland on the disaster being caused by Russian bombing (including a front page on today’s Irish Times). The current issue of National Geographic also dedicates its cover story to Syrian refugees and others from the Middle-East. But is it the right kind of reporting? Is it clarifying things in any way beyond repeating “official reports”? That being said, Irish media has comparatively ignored the US bombing of innocent civilians in Syria (including one which killed up to 73 people and another bombing of a Medicins Sans Frontieres hospital). In truth, there is no “who is worse” argument to be made here, and this despicable

In truth, there can be no “who is worse” argument to be made here, and this despicable nationalistic type of argument should not be made. But it is nonetheless very difficult for people to understand what the hell is going on. The confusion is, if anything, worsened by Irish news reports. This is a failure of journalists in Ireland at least, in particular, RTÉ who are leaders in the obfuscation and, (one could speculate) pro-US imperialist propaganda. It seems in Ireland, if you want relatively decent news, you have to turn to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, but even that is seriously lacking. Objectivity in all of this is increasingly hard to come by, and it is a significant cause of the continuing suffering and dying.

http://www.msf.org/en/topics/kunduz-hospital-airstrike

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/20/us-airstrike-allegedly-kills-56-civilians-in-northern-syria

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/10/europe-immigration-muslim-refugees-portraits/

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/voices-from-aleppo-this-is-a-city-that-will-die-the-world-is-watching-a-city-dying-1.2821447?__vfz=c_pages%3D11000002670848

 

Thoughts on Liberals And Brexit

Just a thought on much of the so-called “liberal” view of the Brexit result recently.  This group of generally liberal people who were genuinely horrified and shocked by the Brexit result and the racism and ignorance that they saw as being fundamental to it. The group is often represented by personalities such as Sir Bob Geldof, the singer and campaigner, who is paid a great deal of money to attend talks on poverty (reportedly $100,000), and who compared the 1916 Irish Revolution to ISIS terrorism.

There have been protests from liberals in support of overturning the result of the referendum decided by the British public.  There has been a campaign to make those who voted to leave the EU (mostly working-class people) to look rather stupid; things such as the insinuation (and even direct assersions) that Leave voters didn’t know what the EU was because “what is the EU?” was reportedly top of a Google search in the days before the referendum.  Nevermind that those internet searches could have been mostly Remain voters for all we know.  I would argue that it was Leave voters who most clearly understood the EU as they weren’t caught up in the convoluted idea that the EU can be reformed, nor were Leave voters distracted by the far-right rhetoric.  In a sense, it was much of the Remain campaigners and voters who became distracted by the far-right, as they chose to vote to Remain in the EU merely because it was the opposite to the stance of detestable UKIP and kin; the Blairites in Labour also took the view that, “anything the far-right does, we’ll do the opposite”, which turned out to be a disastrous stance for Jeremy Corbyn and others on the left-wing of the Labour party, (although, I will speculate, that Corbyn was privately in favour of leaving the EU).  Labour’s failure to stand for a Leave vote, created confusion and disillusionment for working-class voters on the left.  It was a massive own-goal at the time.  But things have changed in the short time since then with the resignation or dismissal of many of those Blairites on the right-wing of the Labour party who, up until recently, have dominated the party’s policy.  The liberal perspective was likewise reduced to “what is UKIP doing? – We’ll do the opposite”, rather than to ask what the situation at hand actually was.  Of course, the Brexit referendum pitted elements of the British and European bourgeoisie against each other too, as some believed to Remain was beneficial for their profits, and others thought Leaving to be beneficial for theirs.  There perhaps no better example of this than the conservative party, which was divided throughout the whole campaign.  Working-class Leave voters at least understood that the EU is an anti-democratic, anti-worker and racist institution that cannot be reformed.  Have a look at the excellent video below about why one working-class area of Britain chose to vote Leave.

I would argue that it was Leave voters who most clearly understood the EU as they weren’t caught up in the convoluted idea that the EU can be reformed, nor were Leave voters distracted by the far-right rhetoric – as many of the Remain voters were who chose to vote to Remain in the EU.  Many argued to vote Remain merely because it was the opposite to the stance of detestable UKIP and other far-right and racist groups; the Blairites in Labour also took this view, which turned out to be a disastrous stance for Jeremy Corbyn and those on the left of the Labour party, (although, I will speculate, that Corbyn was privately in favour of leaving the EU, as he has always stated that the EU is anti-democratic).  Labour’s failure to stand for a Leave vote, created confusion and disillusionment for working-class voters on the left.  It was a massive own-goal at the time.  But things have changed in the short time since then with the resignation or dismissal of many of those Blairites on the right-side of the Labour party who up until recently have dominated the party’s policy.  The liberal perspective was likewise reduced to “what is UKIP doing? – We’ll do the opposite”, rather than to ask what the situation at hand actually was.  Of course, the Brexit referendum pitted elements of the British and European bourgeoisie against each other too, as some believed to Remain was beneficial for their profits, and others thought Leaving to be beneficial for theirs.  There perhaps no better example of this than the conservative party, which was divided throughout the whole campaign.  Working-class Leave voters at least understood that the EU is an anti-democratic, anti-worker and racist institution that cannot be reformed.  Have a look at the excellent video below about why one working-class area of Britain chose to vote Leave.

Labour’s failure to stand for a Leave vote, created confusion and disillusionment for working-class voters on the left.  It was a massive own-goal at the time.  But things have changed in the short time since then with the resignation or dismissal of many of those Blairites on the right-wing of the Labour party who up until recently have dominated the party’s policy.  The liberal perspective was likewise reduced to the argument, “what is UKIP doing? – We’ll do the opposite”, rather than to ask what the situation at hand actually was.  Of course, the Brexit referendum pitted elements of the British and European bourgeoisie against each other too, as some believed to Remain was beneficial for their profits, and others thought Leaving to be beneficial for theirs.  There perhaps no better example of this than the conservative party, which was divided throughout the whole campaign.  Working-class Leave voters at least understood that the EU is an anti-democratic, anti-worker and racist institution that cannot be reformed.  Have a look at the excellent video below about why one working-class area of Britain chose to vote Leave.

Of course, the Brexit referendum pitted elements of the British and European bourgeoisie against each other too, as some believed to Remain was beneficial for their profits, and others thought Leaving to be beneficial for theirs.  There is perhaps no better example of this than the Tory Party, which was divided throughout the whole campaign.  Working-class Leave voters at least understood that the EU is an anti-democratic, anti-worker and racist institution that cannot be reformed.  Have a look at the excellent video below about why one working-class area of Britain chose to vote Leave.

I’ve heard some well-educated open-minded liberals say that not enough people voted, and others say that too many people voted and a decision of such magnitude should not have been left to the public.  The former ignores the fact that the gap would have been bigger on the side of Leave had more people exercised the vote, because more working-class people would have voted; the latter is simply undemocratic.

Screenshot 2016-07-08 at 14.40.11
A liberal commentator of Brexit on Facebook.

Another “liberal” minded person on facebook equated the decision of the majority of British people to “pissing in their pants to keep warm”, and his friends then went on to back him up, speaking of the “racism” of all of the leave voters.  The hypocrisy and irony of their own bigotry was indeed lost on them in their self-righteous and confused comments.   I suppose, to be fair, he did claim not to have understood the decision himself.  An example of bigotry borne of ignorance surely.

To those “liberals” who championed the idea that the EU isn’t perfect, but argue that it can be reformed – that reformist experiment has already been tried.  Greece attempted the experiment when they tried to implement anti-austerity measures while remaining inside the EU, believing a capitalistic Europe, through the EU could be reformed.  And look at how the EU dealt with the Greek people who dared to stand up for themselves!

The Irish “liberal” (and liberals in general) like to see themselves as open-minded, high-minded, considered, righteous, progressive and agrees with aspects of both left and right.  They consider themselves as having common sense and like to “get things done”.  They see themselves as representing the reasonable, balanced view, that considers everyone’s interests in a practical way.  In this way the liberal could be framed as representing the best of both worlds, the happy middle-ground, but in doing so, it is really nothing; they understand neither the forces driving capitalism, nor the experiences and interests of the working class; liberals are interested in improving conditions for others if possible, but not at the expense of their own privilege and position.  Generally, the positions they do help to improve are those who are already privileged or wealthy.  So they are tacitly in favour of privilege, class division, hierarchy and inequality.  The liberal respects hierarchy and division as long as they are in on it, mingling amongst it.  Look at the middle-class (generally liberal) professions in the legal and corporate areas for example.  The liberal’s fair-mindedness is so fragile, that when their position or interests are challenged they denounce the majority of voters of an entire country as stupid and racist when the vote’s result is not to the liberal’s liking, whereas the Marxist actually analyses it.

What about this for back-handed racial and class-based condescension from actor Jeremy Irons:

We have a history of immigration. We are made up of Anglo Saxons, Normans, Celts, Vikings, West Indians, Pakistanis, you know, thank God for them – you can get a pint of milk at eleven o’clock at night most places

Yes, it’s fun to work until eleven o’clock at night.  “We’re just glad you could get your pint of milk Mr. Irons, Sir.”

Liberals see socialism as misguided, unreasonable, unnecessary and dangerous.  They bar the doorways to this progressive alternative for human-kind, and then they  wonder why the far-right reactionaries are gaining followers and influence through the window.   Liberals prop up institutions like the EU, which are antagonistic to the interests of the working class, they under-mine credible leaders on the left, such as Jeremy Corbyn who have always opposed the EU, and then they are astonished that the politicians taking the lead are opportunist, populist, nationalist and racist!

Now, liberals should ask themselves – is this the extent of liberalism?

I’ll leave it with Sir Bob Geldof, who, in many ways sums up the “principles” of the modern liberal.

‘I’ll shake hands with the devil on my left and the devil on my right to get where we need to be.’ (Irish Times)

And in regard to having principles, Geldof, referring to Jeremy Corbyn whom he said should step-down despite Corbyn having a massive democratic mandate from Labour members:

‘He’s a principled man but if you’re the leader of a party you have to… park your own principles’

The liberal view: park your principles.  Analyse nothing.  Stand for nothing.  Evil motivations must be considered too.

Why Bernie Sanders Is Important For Ireland

During a conversation with an acquaintance recently, I mentioned that we hear a lot about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Ireland through our media, but virtually nothing about Bernie Sanders, as if Trump and Clinton were the only two campaigning for the US presidency.  The fact that we don’t hear about Sanders seemed innately important to me and I was (and am) concerned by it.

“It doensn’t really matter though, we can’t vote for them anyway”, was his quick answer.  His reply seemed at first quite clever due to its quickness and his assured tone, but it left me dissatisfied.  It dismissed my concerns as irrelevant.  I was irked by his off-handedness to the issue and the concerns one may have about it.  “Surely, this is an important and relevant issue?” I thought to myself.  At the time, I could not think of a response quickly enough (I was heading out with other friends for a few social drinks and I had not much time to talk).  I knew it was an important thing that we hear about Sanders – it seemed instinctively important – but I had never really given any thought to why it is, and so I could not think of a quick answer to the argument that “it doesn’t really matter” to Irish people.  “Why does it matter?”, I asked myself.

So why then, is it important for people outside of the US to hear about Bernie Sanders and his ideas, as well as Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s?  It is because Sanders represents a political alternative which is relevant to us all, regardless of our nationality, if we come from an ordinary background.  But this political alternative does not represent the interests of corporations and powerful interests in the US or elsewhere around the world.

Sanders has the potential to inspire the Irish working class, to influence our ideas and represents how the working class across the world are actually connected by these common interests.  Much of what Sanders says, is reflected in what Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger, et al say in Ireland, or what Jeremy Corbyn says in Britain; despite some political differences, all their arguments rotate around the broad idea of socialism and a re-working of how we organise the running of our society.

The fact that socialism is being discussed in the context of the US presidential election on such a large scale is surely an important thing to talk about too; the US, arguably the most advanced capitalist country on the planet.