GDP (Millions of US$)
Sunday, June 19, 2016
We will soon be voting on whether to remain members of the grand European project or to leave it. I present below some observations.
Britain is currently the world's fifth largest economy based on total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – Britain’s GDP currently stands at $2.8 trillion. The list below (at least in terms of relative position) agrees with the World Bank, UN and CIA world Factbook position on global GDP trends.
IMF World GDP Ranking 2015
World trade declined 1.7% in the first three months of 2016. It is this trend that is the main threat to British prosperity and not the hysterical projection of BREXIT proposed by champions of the Remain campaign.
The reverse projection, bumper growth, would put Britain on course to become the world's fourth largest economic powerhouse ahead of an ageing Japan and Germany in the 2030s, according to the Centre for Economic & Business Research’s latest world economic league table. The total cash value of the UK economy will grow to around $4.7 trillion by 2031, but is expected to be quickly overtaken by Brazil in fourth spot by the 2040s.
That is if we place our trust in economic star-gazing.
The UK is the fifth biggest economy in the world. 44% of our exports go to the EU. However, the EU benefits from maintaining a healthy economic relationship with us to a far greater degree. Britain in the year ending 2015 had a £68 billion trade deficit with the EU. So no, the European Union is not going to threaten us with dire consequences when the potential material damage would be far worse for them than for us.
Europe is declining in financial importance while Asia and South America are ascendant. The EU currently represents about 20% of Global trade but that percentage is declining. It is estimated that in the future the EU will be no more than 10% of the global economy. The EU has no trade deals with the worlds’ largest economy (the USA). Nor does the EU have trade deals with Brazil, India, Australia, or China. If we left the EU we would remain its biggest single export market.
We are a net contributor to the EU budget (we give Europe £10.1 billion per year more than we receive from Europe). The Remain campaign focuses on the £350 million that the exit campaigners remind us, is sent to Brussels bureaucrats every week, to be spent by unelected European politicians. They aren’t entirely straight with us. We receive in terms of university, research and agricultural grants (amongst other items) £156 million per week from the European Union. That still leaves Britain with a net figure of £194 million per week haemorrhaging from British coffers. This is where the excess payment figure of £10.1 billion originates.
I do not have a principled objection to paying money into an integrated Europe except that Europe is neither integrated nor is it unified towards one purpose. I will explain.
A friend of mine is a keen cyclist who likes to follows the route of the Tour de France on his bicycle. He does cycling trips around Europe. On his trips to Spain he has observed that there are entire stretches of A-class road that he and his friends would cycle along where they would not see a single car, often for many kilometers. The hundreds of millions of Euros those roads cost to build across Spain were simply the visual manifestation ‘proving’ the power and influence of corrupt local Spanish politicians. There was no local benefit to their construction, there was certainly no regional or national purpose served by their planning and implementation.
What those empty, meandering roads epitomized were the corruption as well as the greed at the heart of the current European project. That attitude we know from history is core to any project or grand historical scheme benefiting entrenched tribes or factions usually at the expense of some other tribe or faction. The issue the EU faces today is that there is no accountability and no public recognition that anything is wrong.
The reluctance to forego any diminution of its own financial benefit is the big problem killing the EU – corruption facilitates decline, it does not engender democracy, human rights or world peace. Corruption creates national bottlenecks that embitter the losing faction (the ones missing out on all those truckloads of cash). ‘Priorities’ may be significant for one nation but completely insignificant for another.
The EU, if it is to successfully pool its resources and focus on integration of all of its citizens has lots of questions it is not even beginning to discuss. For instance: If countries have entirely different pension or taxation policies then their individual cost and revenue streams are going to be always out of synchronization with each other. Inequality breeds exploitation and resentment. If the people in each country in the union do not enjoy the same opportunities then the basis for a stable relationship does not exist. Good governance is measured by equality of risk. That also means however that in order for the EU to succeed it must have fiscal integration as an end target and that requires uniformity of fiscal policy. Without it, the perception of institutionalized corruption will continue to drag down the EU project. Shouldn’t we be addressing those issues?
In the United States of America there are 50 states and the District of Colombia. Only the federal government is permitted to run a deficit while individual states are forbidden to do so. But then, the EU is not a federated system but a confederation. The difference is crucial. A confederation is a union of States individually maintaining primary sovereignty over their affairs while devolving some authority to the central bureaucracy. In a federation, primary sovereignty is given to the central government which exercises control over every member state in areas defined by but not exclusively including the military, diplomatic relations and the economy.
The predicament of the EU is that political unity means having a single army, a single currency and unified border controls. The contradictions that define a confederation make it inherently too weak to maintain the union and too conflicted to bring about the equality that is needed to unify its separate units. In order to work the European Union has to be an integrated i.e. a federated entity.
If the European Union is working towards a federated, possibly even a two tier unity then it explains the Incrementalism which is fundamental to current EU policy. But because of the inherent dishonesty within this approach the EU must be reformed and this reform is not liable to happen under current conditions where the debate over intentions has not even started.
In one lecture I attended (with thanks to Professor Brendan Simms) it was proposed that Europe was not a club that many were clambering to join but a shared destiny. “Europe is Greece, Rome and the Enlightenment” (apologies but I don’t know who said this). The rejection of enlightenment principles (some Eastern European nations as well as Turkey have little experience of the Enlightenment) means that common interests are not always the reason for joining. Turkey understands the union as a confederation rather than as a union so it can never agree to fulfill all of the conditions of full membership. It is on record as having repeatedly reminded Turkish expatriates that their primary loyalty is to Turkey and that they must not integrate into their host society (going so far as to threaten those people who stand aside from the Turkish nation).
People are selected for a European political sinecure as a means of rewarding them for past service to their party or as a means of ridding the party of an individual who has become a political liability or embarrassment. Direct elections to the European parliament and for top jobs in the European Commission would enhance the prestige of the European Parliament; it would also herald in an era of political transparency and accountability. Both are necessary for a healthy democracy to remain so and entirely missing from the current European project.
Brendan Simms pointed out that Poland in 1717 and the Holy Roman Empire (in 1806) disappeared because they could not reform. Contrast this with The 1707 Act of Union which consolidated power in the United Kingdom and similarly the USA in the 1780’s. Both created frameworks for unity and a common identity guaranteed by the power wielded by centralized authority.
“There was a pharaoh and he knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1.8) this refers to the arrival of a new Egyptian king who did not know Joseph or his generation of immigrant workers. The textual reference to forgetting Joseph raises questions about the extent to which oppression is linked to a minority group's involvement in, and commitment to the larger society. But it also raises questions about the historical tensions between host societies and their guest workers/immigrants and the fears, whether rational or not that makes the debate so difficult to present.
Simms said that the World War 2 generation are dead and even their children are in the 70’s (at the very least). What happens when they forget the war? The German people are still very embarrassed by it. But is it not relevant that Poland, Germany, Greece and France have all got significant voting populations that have embraced the National Front? I will just point out some of the other countries with recent electoral results below.
The Swiss People’s party is a right wing, populist, political party and the largest party in the Swiss Federal Assembly. It is also Eurosceptic. In Denmark’s general election in 2015 the Danish People’s Party (described by the media as right and far-right wing) secured 21% of the vote; in Hungary, the far-right Jobbik Party (described as radical nationalist) won over 20% of the parliamentary vote. In Austria the Freedom Party polled 49.7% of the vote on 22nd May 2016. Norbert Hofer came within 0.6% of being elected President of Austria. His party, founded after WW2 by “former” Nazis is nationalist and anti-immigration, its credentials are toxic.
Throughout Europe, nations are not rejecting greater union; they are fighting an identity crisis they do not see being adequately addressed by their political elite. The issue of immigration and refugee absorption are part of the debate over European identity that again, is being ignored because the issues they raise are apparently too complex for our simple brains to comprehend.
It is this disrespect that politicians and bureaucrats have for us all that is at the heart of the rise of fascism in Britain and throughout Europe.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
How to examine the issue of our European identity and Britain’s current campaign to decide on whether we stay in Europe or Leave it?
The EU has held up identity politics as a means of empowering minorities at the expense of the majority. The EU in its current form has marginalized the working classes, impoverishing successive generations of the poor. Given the extremely high unemployment position of European youth (the EU average is 19.4% as at February 2016) it is not surprising that traditional fascism is once more on the march.
Britain has betrayed the working classes, effectively reneging on its commitment to narrowing the gap between the classes. In Britain, since 1976 there has been a continuous deterioration in the position of the lower classes vis-à-vis the middle to upper classes. Since 1976 every British parliament has recorded progressively fewer MPs who were not educated within the private school system. We have been told that only the ‘lower classes’ vote to leave - so now it is a simple class issue and we can assume the implication that ‘they’ should stay ‘down’ in their ‘rightful place’.
So are immigration and economics the only vital issues in the debate? Must our vote on the 23rd of June be based on these two issues? There are many issues causing unease within society. Unless we are able to discuss them all without fear of being labeled something we are not then all we are going to receive are insults and platitudes, and that is the summation of the debating tactics of both sides.
The half-truths thrown about by both sides of the Brexit campaign have helped to discredit the campaign. We are told that leaving will destroy much of the nations’ wealth and bring to an end our comfortable way of life. We have even been told a Brexit could precipitate a World War. The one constant of this campaign has been the contempt demonstrated by all parties to the debate. Former Prime Minister, Sir John Major described Boris Johnson as a likeable man and a court jester. Lord Stuart Rose who is fronting efforts to keep Britain in the EU dropped a bombshell when he admitted to a group of MPs’, big business favors membership of the EU because it is depressing British wages. (Daily Express Mar 3, 2016). The corollary is that a Brexit would boost British workers' wages. The truth is that a Brexit would cut off employer access to an unimpeded and excessive flow of cheap labor.
It sounds bizarre that no-one has criticized the low level of debate. Our politicians and business leaders, panels of experts and the unions, across the board they have all been guilty of engaging in a campaign of mendacity, half–truths sold as gospel and derision universally waged against opponents.
This has not just been a dirty campaign, it has been a campaign that has assumed we are all either too stupid or too greedy to listen to any intelligent debate.
Binary prejudice is the idea that we are blind to anything that does not fit into neat dualistic categories defined by the most vocal or forceful group within society. It sounds like something that could explain why our politicians and business leaders treat us so badly.
Something is or is not and there is no room for shades of colour. It is the simplistic argument of an uncomplicated, more brutal era. It is not that old hatreds are returning; in many people they never went away but simmered with malevolent patience just below the surface; a veneer of civility and calm. And then we are made to feel guilty that arguments over immigration are just about prejudice, when they are not. Society has lost its post World War 2 inhibitions which prevented the bigot from expressing their prejudices or acting out their fantasies. Partly as a consequence of this renewed nihilism we are witnessing a return to the expression of many of our old fears. Our security is conditioned on practicing a McCarthyistic mantra (in the UK it is mostly left of centre but in much of Europe, fascism is also emphatically right-wing). An unintended consequence of our appeasement of Islamism has been that it has encouraged both bloodshed and prejudice. Of greater threat to the stability of society, it has led to a lack of credibility in government’s willingness to protect the people. And that is a fundamental break in the social contract that is at the centre of modern government. When government does not acknowledge or address people’s fears over the personal threat that extremism creates, a direct consequence is the counter-radicalism response.
Economic and physical insecurity has returned and we have also lost our moral compass. But are we that different to the Europeans many of us want separation from or are we all assumed to be equally stupid?
We have lost our way and a simple example proves it:
On the 5th of June 2016 the Swiss government ran a referendum which proposed providing every person with a basic income as a constitutional right. Put another way, it proposed paying all its unemployable citizens a wage for life. Switzerland argued that recognizing some jobs as having ‘disappeared’ meant that society was responsible for not financially penalizing the ‘unemployable.’ The resolution was defeated by a margin of over 3:1 (76.9% against to 23.1% for).
23% of people voted in favor and many who voted against it would have done so from personal greed only!
Maimonides was a Sephardi philosopher, astronomer, Rabbi and physician who lived from 1135-8 to 1204. He proposed ten levels of charity, of which the highest level (and therefore the greatest act of charity) was that a man (or woman) gave a fellow human being the means by which they could support themselves and their family. If in the name of globalization we have lost that Maimonidean understanding of human dignity as the Swiss surely have, then truly, our society has lost its way. It is the obligation of society to care for its people. It is not a national right for a nation to right-off its vulnerable members of society, either by ignoring them or by paying them off.
If Europe is not just a club but part of our shared destiny then it is an integrationist enterprise which will one day come about through full fiscal union, creeping legal annexation and the final act of creation - a federal European super-state. Policy will then be imposed: with federal diktat from the top and local negotiation on implementation passed down to national parliaments. Am I exaggerating this scenario?
In the three year period 2011-2014 66% of laws and 67% of new offences enacted in the UK parliament came from the Council of Ministers (European Commission). This Incrementalism is fundamental to EU integration on a policy level. The issue not being debated is that without political transparency and accountability the EU is travelling at speed down a path to becoming no better than one more corrupt dictatorship.
The EU is incapable of reforming itself without a serious scare (which a Brexit would provide). That is something we should have been discussing. The EU has a vision – that shared destiny I referred to earlier. We are not discussing any of the issues that arise out of that vision. We are not dealing with any of the issues that have always confronted human society because they are both philosophical and political construction (and politics is by its nature, prejudiced). To discuss anything in practice would mean getting our metaphorical hands dirty. Far easier to speak in generalities and leave the detail to future generations.
This is the real reason everyone in the debate is being so coy about the question of our relationship to the European Union.
If no nation can stand alone then what are the real differences between remaining in Europe and leaving the Union (given that even then we will be enormously impacted by our relationship with the EU)?
The issues are of huge importance and yet all anyone has done so far is to insult us and to attempt to scare us without attempting to provide any serious discussion of the pertinent issues. The one thing we know with certainty is that all predictions are forecasts and therefore not factual but based on personal bias.
Monday, May 23, 2016
Am I the only person in Britain who notices the sophistry and lies of our politicians? Throughout the period of debate that precedes the vote on our continued membership of the European Union the nature of that debate is truly indicative of the casual contempt our politicians hold us in. An example follows:
On Friday, the 21st of May I read two negative articles on the same page in the British press, on the consequences of Brexit (Britain leaving the European Union). The first, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (George Osborne) said “A UK vote to leave would cause an ‘immediate economic shock’ that could hold back growth in house prices…by 2018 houses could be worth up to 18% less than if the UK voted to remain (in the European Union)”. But what this means is not what it initially sounds like. At current rates of growth, if we stay in the European Union then house prices (in London) will go up by an annualized rate of 30% or more by 2018 but only by 12% in that same period, if we leave the EU.
Any rate of growth approaching either magnitude of increase is unsustainable and potentially catastrophic for the British economy.
The second article by the Labour Party's shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer reported that “Councils could be given the power to limit ‘skyrocketing’ rent increases under new Labor proposals. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will pledge to help people who are ‘at the mercy of an unforgiving, unrestrained housing market.’”
HELLO. Skyrocketing rents are a direct consequence of failed government policy on housing construction. Both of them are also, a direct consequence of immigration strategy (whether ‘do nothing’ or otherwise) by governments and parties of all political persuasion.
The British housing market is highly subsidized by the state. Prices are kept artificially sky-high by huge government subsidies cleverly packaged as humanitarian aid to immigrants and the poor. By giving almost cart-blanche to local councils to pay out enormous sums of money to housing associations, in rents (actually an improvement over the limitless amounts that were paid out in the recent past) there is no market incentive for rents to ever reduce. And the rental market is driving the construction market, not as it should be, the other way round.
If a ‘correction’ is coming it will be catastrophic and it will be 100% the fault of the government and her loyal opposition. They have refused to offer an alternative model to the current housing finance model (which encourages buy-to-let) and its’ associated, artificially inhibited construction market.
If you refuse to alienate your environmental lobby, upper middle-class and rural voters - and make mass housing construction on green-belt land almost impossible to get through the planning application stage (which in any case, takes years to complete) then you have to build thousands of twenty story skyscrapers to house the estimated 323,000 net migration to Britain which is the latest figure we have for the year ending September 2015. Note, this figure may only include those people who according to the United Nations definition of a migrant; have been resident in the UK for at least 12 months. Note also that this net figure does not include illegal immigrants.
If you only build, nationally, forty thousand housing units every year, you have a growing deficit, a gawping, massive, unassailable abyss that has opened up between the available stock of housing and the requirement for affordable housing. The result is that prices will ‘skyrocket.’ It is called ‘supply and demand’ and that is something most high school student can tell you about – we do not need to be mislead by leading economists or politicians as to the reasons for the housing crisis.
If the government obligates all British local councils to pay the rental accommodation costs of all people living in its area (assuming they are unable to afford local accommodation) - irrespective of their legality or status, then you force local councils to encourage a speculative housing market. Anyone with excess funds and a sympathetic bank manager is able to buy up almost all the existing housing stock as soon as it becomes available. They then offer it for rent at ever-escalating and exorbitant prices because they KNOW the local councils must house everyone and will pay almost anything they are asked to pay in order to comply with central government’s diktat.
Now why do both the government and her Majesties ever loyal opposition then try to scare us all with the two aforementioned articles in the Press?
Is it because they think we are all both greedy and stupid?
They want us to vote affirmatively, to stay in the European Union on June 23, 2016 even though government policy (and that includes, but not exclusively, our membership of the EU) is responsible for our housing shortfall, for the ridiculous price of housing and for our insane rental costs. And they (the Labor Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats) have no intention of ever rocking that electorally popular housing boat.
Friday, April 29, 2016
If speech is free, then our generation has lost the sense of responsibility that comes with the endeavor. The use of speech is a forgotten privilege because speech has consequences. There is accountable speech, there is inflammatory speech and there is irresponsible speech. The ability to make sounds does not imply an obligation to do so. The Talmud warns against lashon hara which translates from the Hebrew as ‘evil tongue’ but which means derogatory speech. To quote Wikipedia “Speech is considered to be lashon hara if it says something negative about a person or party, is not previously known to the public, is not seriously intended to correct or improve a negative situation, and is true.”
Our society has become intoxicated with this nihilistic joy of verbal expression, as if self-restraint is a dirty word. But perhaps the worst thing about it is that it has encouraged those who lie for a living; racists and bigots all, to emerge in full rancid flower. It has encouraged sloppy and altogether malicious scholarship because without a distance being drawn between academia and its student charges there can be no respect for any truth save those ‘truths’ most hysterically enunciated. The antisemitic BDS movement employs this tactic.
If the greatest gift that modern society has given us is our freedom to choose then our greatest failure has been our inability to recognize the danger to our society that a nihilistic approach to those choices entails. A good example is the election in the UK of Malia Bouattia as President of the National Union of Students (an organization that claims to represent some 7 million students). Malia opposed an NUS resolution condemning and boycotting theocratic, fascist, slave trading and genocidal Islamic State; she expressed public concern about the presence of a “large Jewish Society” in a UK university. Of course “the Jews” don’t preach hate; they are intellectually passive about their own rights, in fact they are generally, intellectually passive about their fate. For those reasons they have always made an easy target for the rabble-rouser. I suspect that Malia Bouattia did not express similar concern when one of Britain’s most prestigious university's London based Islamic society consistently churned out wannabe mass killers and terrorists. We can only conclude, therefore, that her motivation was racially biased in its conception.
Just because we can, it does not mean that we should. It is a fundamental principle of civil society. We have largely lost that basic understanding of what makes for a healthy society.
Sense of proportionality and restraint is the essence of being a responsible adult. And as children as young as sixteen demand and receive adult rights and privileges such as (in Scotland, Great Britain) the right to vote, the concomitant responsibilities associated with those rights are being ignored with a contempt that augurs badly for society.
The issue that most concerns me about free speech and the radicalization of debate by students (and many of their ‘progressive,’ intolerant professors) is that history is neither pretty nor linear. If I want to pick and choose the objects or narratives of our history, whether I shared parts of them or not, then I am engaged in censorship and that also worries me.
Campaigners in Oxford University, for instance, staged a “Mass March for Decolonization” where they called for the removal of “imperialist iconography.” In this particular case they were referring to the statue of Cecil Rhodes, British businessman and an enthusiastic proponent of “settler colonialism” for whom the former Rhodesia was named.
But here is the problem. Political Correctness is a disease. It is one step away from the latest fascist political philosophy, intersectionality. An unholy hierarchy of causes are permitted to be defined as worthy of inclusion in a saintly martyrs temple while everything else is rewritten to reflect the “correct” interpretation of history. At the next level, there are people and narratives, simply erased from history.
This is already an ancient practice. The Egyptians would scrape away all references to the non-person or event that celebrated the life and achievements of said non-person. All monuments referring to the non-person were obliterated. The non-person was literally, erased from history. German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, writing in 1820-21 with painful prescience posited that "Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.”
The Nazis, in our own era burnt books and then, they burnt people.
It isn’t just that these people want to shut down debate; they want to rewrite history, sanitize it so that it fits into their own set of intellectual parameters, irrespective of any non-linear, messy but divergent realities that may clash with theirs. That is fascism. It may no longer be appropriate for Cecil Rhodes to stand outside Oriel College (even with the £100m in gifts that the college may lose if his statue is removed). But then perhaps a better way to commemorate his life would be to move him to Rhodes House, which has been awarding scholarships to train future world leaders since 1902. Or maybe, a set of statues that commemorate Rhodes’s less salubrious attributes could be sculptured to surround him. That would be of educational value. An unprejudiced education is after all, something that even those people both fortunate and privileged enough to make it into the hallowed halls of Oxford University, might one day learn to appreciate?
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Donald Trump is a populist leader and that makes him dangerous.
His grandstanding and verbal violence are not the way a mature democracy is supposed to operate. The 55% of his supporters who are allegedly white and 'working class' plus the undefined others showing their support for him do not appear to be too concerned with his incitement.
It would be interesting to know how he will fare with some of those other constituencies - specifically the 56 million people of Latino/Hispanic descent living in the USA who represent 18% of the total US population, or the 41 million African-American people (13%) or the 29 million people who are of some other racial profile (9%). The American electorate that Trump has potentially alienated is equal to some 126 million people or 39% of the total United States population!
But let us say that many of those people who are not white and working class but did support him are the following:
1) Fearful for their jobs,
2) Fearful for an uptick in immigration,
3) Fearful of Muslim influence over America,
5) Scared of Bernie Sanders because he is: a) A socialist or b) Jewish (See 4 above!)
Then that still leaves us with the big question: Can Trump win when he has alienated so large a percentage of the North American electorate?
Americans may not be so politically engaged, but with the uptick in violence that Trump and his supporters started, I would be worried about any likely escalation creating the environment for political assassination. And that is something that has not been seen for many years. I would be more worried about the genie he has potentially let out of the campaigning bottle than the likelihood of him being selected as the Republican candidate for the 2016 elections and then going on to win the election.
Since the end of the Second World War and with the exception of the Reagan-Bush era (12 years), there have been no periods of rule by one party, for longer than 8 years. It would be unhealthy for the American political scene for one party to rule for three consecutive four year periods. Even if people are really scared for their future, one party-rule ethically atrophies its most passionate supporters. The longer a party holds onto the reigns of power, the less sensitive it becomes to reason and a healthy civil administration; the longer a party rules, the less it represents its electorate. Longevity breeds megalomania and becomes a threat to the stability of the system – any system.
We have already seen the violent response to Trump’s campaign rally in Chicago. It has the potential to trigger a cycle of violence. It may convince the Republican Party to take a stand against him if it believes that his selection would lead to:
a) Defeat in November 2016 and
b) The Republican Party consigned
to the political wilderness.
There is a view that as the date for selection approaches, Donald Trump will come up with a series of grand gestures meant to placate his opponents and derail Hillary Clinton’s own presidential bid.
Donald Trump has demonstrated his misogyny. It would be creepy for him to now change direction and be “nice” to women although that is one constituency he should have tried not to alienate. In a race between Hillary and Donald even a women who is critical of the Clintons may find a vote for Trump politically unpalatable. The African-American population also needs a grand gesture from Donald Trump. They too have personally felt the downside to immigration. If he can play to their insecurity, if he made Dr Carson his vice-presidential running mate and announced measures that placated the Latino populace, it may convince a sufficiently significant sector of both groups, if not to vote for him, then at least to stay away from Hillary. And that too would work in his favor.
People have brought up the “soft bigotry of low expectations” to which George W. Bush referred, in his speech to the NAACP in the year 2000. The liberal agenda has not been entirely helpful to the American poor of any race, religion or ethnicity. A focused attack on the privileged liberal agenda which can be seen in its extremity as anti-American, anti-Christian, antisemitic and even, anti-female could also create opportunities for Donald Trump, not simply to put his democrat opponents on the defensive but also to bring out voters to stand with him. Bernie Sanders anti-Zionist propaganda and some of Hillary Clinton's unsavory bed-fellows cannot be ignored if they are thrust forward into the credibility debate.
Trump has opportunities to create a realignment of forces in America. The issue is not just about party politics. A changed direction is needed because the malaise providing the impetus for Trumps ascendancy has its genesis in popular dissatisfaction with much that is happening both in America and across the globe and crucially, the failure of a credible political response to it. Hollywood cannot mask a perception of American decline.
Saying that populist policies are the bread and butter of fascism does not detract from the popular concerns driving them. If anything, the accusation is elitist condescension. Put another way, pulling our hair out because the candidacy choices are unsavory to some of us misses the reason for Donald Trump’s popularity.
Demagogue, clown, or plodder that he may be, Trump vocalizes the disquiet felt by large parts of American public opinion on a wide variety of issues.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
You can tell what a person truly thinks, even when they do not publicly express all that they believe in, when you look at their friends and advisers, the events they attend and the organizations they belong to.
Jeremy Corby is an example of an influential ‘would be’ fascist leader who took center stage after a long period during which time he maintained a relatively low profile. Until his time came to step forward and take advantage of popular but noxious beliefs that for decades were discussed in quiet corners but were too inappropriate for public discussion. But note how even today he is never unambiguous in his condemnation of antisemitism within the ranks of his own party.
In fact, he makes an excellent case study for fascism.
As leader of the British Labour Party, his cohorts include:
- Press TV - the mouthpiece of the Shia Muslim, theologically antisemitic Islamic Republic of Iran
- Hamas - the theologically antisemitic, anti-Christian and homophobic, Islamic-fascist ruler of Gaza which makes a habit of throwing gays off tall buildings
- Hezbollah – the radical Shia Muslim group that like Islamic State has as its main goal the establishment of an Islamic government across the Arab world. It has murdered Lebanese liberals and continues today to destabilize Lebanon
- Holocaust deniers (Paul Eisen)
- Antisemites (Paul Eisen, Carlos Latuff, the Reverend (CofE) Stephen Sizer, Raed Salah)
Jeremy Corbyn could have refused their advances, their money, listened to what they said and read what they wrote; and walked away from them, fast. But “he is remarkably good at proffering apologetics for dictatorship and tyranny”. (James Bloodworth. editor of Left Foot Forward)
By embracing them he becomes them.
His excuse that dialogue is the only way to resolve conflict is predicated on the idea that our interlocutors desire a change in their own situation that does not result in our physical destruction. Jeremy Corbyn will support dictatorial, racist, anti-Western, misogynistic, homophobic, radical, theologically fundamentalist regimes that despise everything we stand for and then justify his support for them by asking us to believe that somehow we have something in common with them? Perhaps he means us to believe that even after all that has been mentioned previously, there is still something to talk about?
The problem is that the Jeremy Corbyn's of this world actively provide a fig leaf for fascism.
Jeremy Corbyn’s protestations of virtue are hollow, a sham, and at best he is no more than a political dilettante; at worse, a liar who serves to salve the conscience of his supporters.
During World War Two the Nazis realized that they could commit any atrocity, on any scale, if the public did not have to witness it. Early in their rule they internalized the lesson that the German people would accept the euthanasia program that took away their ‘defective’ children and their infirm elderly – as long as the narrative was in place that afforded them the means to deny any knowledge of their loved ones’ fate.
A principle cannot be altered to suit an inconvenient truth. Those that choose to elect the Jeremy Corbyn’s of this world can argue for an unbroken history of dedication to social democracy with its concern for people, somehow balancing their selective concerns against a predilection for providing support to fascist causes and associating with hate soaked bigots.
In the light of day it is difficult to tell the difference between what many on today’s progressive left believe, how they act, and how they differ from the good folk of 1930’s Germany who turned a blind eye to Nazism.
We arrived at this point because of our ignorance of global history.
Our knowledge of history’s villains is so poor that we recognize only a small part of the evil that has been committed in the name of the gods. Conquest and slavery are not only a Western malaise but at least we recognize the errors of our past. We have ignored other colonial enterprises because they were not ours; we have dismissed superstitions and disregarded the prejudices of many nations that are erroneously labeled as third world or developing because it complicated our guilt and our self-flagellation. Global history is a rich tapestry of good as well as bad. The terrible atrocities Islamic State have committed were already an acceptable part of a rich Muslim cultural tradition that throughout their history viewed the non-believer as worthy only of subjugation and conquest.
By excluding that tradition, by choosing to side with regimes that reject our way of life, we give them a green light to oppress their own people and to attack us until we submit to them.
This is not a multicultural paradise to which we should all aspire; it is a dystopian vision of hell.
Note: since I published this item (on Algemeiner.com) Mr Corbyn has said 'Anyone that commits any act of antisemitism is auto-excluded from the party and an inquiry follows immediately.' Talk is cheap Mr Corbyn, even when it is mouthed on prime-time television. We have had no personal action taken by you either with respect to Israel or the Jews to demonstrate your fidelity to either equality or the truth.
Sunday, April 3, 2016
If Jews are to foster social cohesion as an important and indeed necessary instrument of nation building in Israel, then the required group identity, however much based on the ideology or utopian vision of Zionism, has to include everyone, even those people with whom we are in serious ideological competition or conflict.
A criticism often directed at Zionist or pro-Jewish groups by their opponents is that free speech means the freedom to criticize, and in turn this means that even when the anti-Zionists’ (or antisemites’) one-sided debates are governed by intimidation and cant, the attempt to deny them their right to speak is to silence “critical voices”. This is a false argument, it is the cant deployed by fascists to stifle meaningful debate if only because it is one-sided and based on deceit. Therefore, it can only work if the other side to the conflict is silenced. In this censorship is the essence of the tactics employed by those who oppose Israel's existence.
Where Israel and its supporters have failed is that they do not replicate the tactics of their enemies. When faced with intimidation and violence you use all legal means available to you in order to punish your persecutors. You do not “play nice” with fascists as most of Israel’s enemies are. Intimidation and violence are the fascists preferred method to stifle debate. It is the antithesis of academic or intellectual freedom. The Nuremberg rallies were also examples of ‘free’ speech. The Nazis rose to power using intellectual fig leafs provided by the presence of eminent lawyers, and the scholarly erudition of the professors in their ranks. Its tactics were little different to those employed by the Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement which is ubiquitous in Western colleges and universities.
In the UK and USA today Jewish academics are being intimidated into silence or driven from their campuses; thus fascism censors us as it takes control. If we do not fight it we are driven into effectively renouncing our equal right to free speech by a vociferous, passionately believing, hateful minority of intellectual thugs. Fascism has little to do with universal truths and everything to do with positioning a narrative to the absolute exclusion of all else. In this way, history, for the Palestinians and their supporters begins with defeat in a war they will forever deny they were responsible for starting; thereafter they are always victims and never anything other than passive players in this tragic drama.
Being passive players in a global drama, they have no responsibility for anything that befalls them and no responsibility for the deaths they cause. If they slaughter Jewish children at a school it is the Jews or the Zionists who are at fault for being the foot soldiers of an illegitimate regime. It is the signature tactic of the tyrant and the terrorist. Whatever occurs is always someone else's fault. But we are left clearly understanding the consequences of our failure to submit to terror.
It is the main reason Western journalists are so obsequious in their toadying to an Islamist, anti-Zionist agenda when they report the news. It theoretically inoculates the journalist against “Islamic anger” (fatal retribution). It is an excellent way to deflect criticism and crush debate.
The first stage in any conflict is to win the propaganda war. The Palestinians and their fascist supporters in the BDS campaign have already won the first stage. The second stage is to stifle any contrary debate. Controlling academia and the press are the crucial battlegrounds. The Jewish people and their supporters are rapidly losing that second stage.
If we want to influence a person of power so that our own message may reach more people, we must display similar concerns and prejudices. Instead of ‘justifying’ or ‘explaining’ we must respond with our own accusations, non-stop, relentlessly and mercilessly.
We have suffered far too many centuries of Islamic discrimination and persecution to allow the past 68 years of independence to be all that the world is educated to recognizing. A wealth of historically terrible misdeeds mirrored in contemporary events in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and elsewhere are all we need, to remind the world of why Jews sought self-determination in the first place. And why people that omit that history from the current debate are not just Israel’s enemies but the enemies of human civilization.