Why all the hate? 

​Yes, we do live in an Orwellian society – increasingly so. In the final analysis, all this trouble, uncertainty, fear, hate, has been caused by inequality,  poverty and class division. How?  Sections of the middle-class see their world and position threatened and crumbling,  and are fearful of it; the society which once served them so well is now failing; they ask “who is to blame?”,  “what is to be done?”. The wealthy corporate class suggests “if only taxes were lowered, we could create more jobs, and our wealth would eventually trickle down to ordinary people”.  The Government asks itself, “but where shall we collect the revenue needed if we have to reduce corporate taxes? – We’ll cut welfare and public service spending, we’ll increase taxes on ordinary people”. Many middle-class people are hit harder and working-class people suffer even more. The working-class proclaim they have nothing more to give, they have nothing to lose. This system offers them nothing. The middle-class, angry, demands that more power is given to the powerful in order to maintain the system which has given them, so-far, a comfortable living. The powerful then target those they are threatened by – the working-class, feminists and minorities who have begun to fight back and stand up for their rights. More extreme candidates, like Trump, stand forward on behalf of the powerful, gain political power, and begin to enforce the reaction,  to create the kind of society Orwell wrote about and fought against.  

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

 

Books

Books 

They’re like trophies, each one in line on the shelf marks a personal achievement; each one a destination I have reached, and I remember the experience as I glide my finger across their spines.

Well, this is how one may think of the books one has read.

The books I have yet to read are the places I have yet to visit. Theirs is a journey I have yet to embark upon.

Looking at the shelf, with its novels, compilations, philosophies, histories, short stories, I reflect on how pleased I am to have visited all these places and to have had these experiences.  Many of them have given me a view of the world that I may never have had. How would my outlook differ without the experience of even one favourite book?

Honestly, other books were not as beneficial,  but now I know what lies within them too, and that is at least worth knowing.  It’s worth knowing what is wrong as well as what is right.

Pat Hickey, and How The Media Portray Elites

One of the main issues surrounding the OCI ticket touting scandal is not whether Pat Hickey is guilty or innocent; the issue is the contrast between how a member of the establishment is portrayed and treated by the media, compared to ordinary people.  How Hickey has been portrayed contrasts starkly when compared particularly with the “Jobstown 24” who have been invariably vilified in the mainstream media, whereas the media’s focus in relation to Hickey has been the allegedly harsh treatment of him by the Brazilian authorities, and that he is an old and apparently unwell man. The story  highlights what Chomsky might describe as “worthy and unworthy victims” and it is based on classism. The media does this almost instinctively.  

The media and Government were content to let a young Irish citizen, Ibrahim Halawa, rot in Egyptian jail,  without having faced trial, almost certainly tortured, and would not have raised it had it not been for the campaigning of ordinary people on his behalf. Still no front page stories for Ibrahim though.

Sympathies for the Victims of Brussels’ Terror Attacks.

As we grapple to understand what exactly happened in Brussels, and why such horrific acts might be committed, my thoughts and sympathies go out to all of the innocent people who have been affected by this – the victims, their families and friends, and the people of Belgium, who are surely suffering from the trauma and upset which such attacks cause.  Also in my thoughts are the many people who travel to Brussels for whatever reason.  Innumerable innocent people merely going out to work and getting on with their lives.  One can only imagine the suffering and consider what the ramifications might be if a similar attack occurred in Ireland.

Why I am not Charlie

One of the finest articles I’ve read about the Charlie Hebdo murders and freedom of expression.

a paper bird

imagesThere is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it.  Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not…

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