Jul 312022
 

The title of this post is long, but I shall make up for that with a body text that is commensurately brief.

I put to you that almost all human beings

want:

  • enough to eat three times a day
  • a bed to sleep in (without bedbugs)

do not want:

  • to fear for their children
  • to fear being assaulted when they sleep

I could make both lists very much longer, but I am sticking to the most basic of basics, because even at this most basic of basic levels, we – that is, almost all human beings – are heading in the wrong direction. Those who never had enough to eat, will be eating even less. Those whose only fear for their children was that they might get hooked on drugs or that the girls might get raped will now have far greater worries.

War games may be fun on computers, but they are not fun in real life. Climate change is not even fun on computers, and it is devastating for farmers, for the victims of hurricanes, floods and fires, for domestic and wild animals, even for whales and surfers. Climate change is or will be – in the shorter rather than the long run – hell on earth. You may or may not believe me – or rather, you might as well, because … Climate change is not linear, it is ex-po-nen-tial.

The global Earth Overshoot Day fell on 28 July this year.

What are we doing about it? What are the people to whom we entrusted the responsibility of leading our countries doing about it? They are militarising. Against each other (i.e. not against climate change).

I promised to make this brief, and I intend to keep my promise, because there are people who know far more about militarisation than I do.

I urge you to take a look at this site: https://nocoldwar.org

Jul 252022
 

If the West has presented a narrative that gives a clear, recognisable picture of reality, why should it so adamantly suppress the Russian narrative, which is that USA is waging, and has long been preparing a proxy war against Russia?

Likewise, had Zelensky’s narrative given a clear recognisable picture of reality, why should he have closed down TV channels, nationalising the remaining TV channels to create a single “united news”, and why should he have banned 11 political parties, including the largest opposition party – whose former leader has, incidentally, been arrested and is being held in custody without a trial. Why is Zelensky prosecuting hundreds of people for treason, including Bakanov, chief of the security service.

Interestingly, Bakanov was head of Kvartal 95, the company founded by Zelensky, whose partners were implicated with him – i.e. Zelensky – in the Pandora Papers. You didn’t know that Zelensky was one of the heads of state that was exposed in the Pandora Papers?

Ukraine was and is a fabulously corrupt country. One of the main fixtures of Ukrainian corruption has been the oligarch Mr Kolomoisky, accused of all sorts of financial crimes, who has been Zelensky’s main backer, so much so that the IMF refused at length to grant Ukraine a loan because of ties between the two men.

I am linking to an article in the New York Times about Mr. Kolomoisky, which you may not be able to read (unless you are a NY Times subscriber). In 2014, he financed a pro-government militia against the East Ukrainian separatists. I quote the N.Y. Times:

But Mr. Kolomoisky, widely seen as Ukraine’s most powerful figure outside government, given his role as the patron of the recently elected President Volodymyr Zelensky, has experienced a remarkable change of heart: It is time, he said, for Ukraine to give up on the West and turn back toward Russia.

“They’re stronger anyway. We have to improve our relations,” he said, comparing Russia’s power to that of Ukraine. “People want peace, a good life, they don’t want to be at war. And you” — America — “are forcing us to be at war…

… the United States is simply using Ukraine to try to weaken its geopolitical rival. “War against Russia,” he said, “to the last Ukrainian.” Rebuilding ties with Russia has become necessary for Ukraine’s economic survival, Mr. Kolomoisky argued.

I should tress that the article is dated November 13, 2019, long before the war even started.

Speaking of fraud and Zelensky’s attitude to corruption in Ukraine, you should also take a look at a Washington Post Article dated March 17, 2020. Obviously, the article would not have been published today, nor the one I linked to in N.Y. Times. My point being: Whatever else Zelensky might be, he certainly is not the shining prince of democracy he is made out to be by the western press today.

Fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, etc – financial crimes – are all very complicated businesses, so complicated that reading the details about Zelensky’s network is terribly strenuous. We are tempted to jump to the next section, which is a pity, because financial crimes are real, they are serious and they undermine everything some of us still believe in.

They say that Russia underestimated Ukrainian nationalism and hence Ukrainian resistance. That may very well be true. I have no doubt that Ukrainians resented the political suppression of the Soviet era, and that they longed to get out of the USSR. Nevertheless, I know that a very large segment of the Ukrainian population spoke Russian, felt Russian and thought Russian until fairly recently. Hard to tell, exactly, just how large a segment, and for just how long. There has been a concerted effort on the part of the Ukrainian authorities, to “Ukrainianise” the country, i.e. to suppress all that is Russian, including the language. This process is referred to on the Russian side as “genocide” – to my mind, a ludicrous misnomer. Nevertheless, the pressure on Russian speakers will no doubt have been considered repressive.

My experience is that if you whip a recalcitrant child, it will hate you – silently, perhaps, but implacably. Suppression of an ethnic group is usually not a good idea. Military violence against a country that considers itself a country is usually not a good idea either.

On the other hand, how will a country react to being forced to sacrifice its male population in an absolutely pointless, hopeless and interminable war that could have been avoided?

Of course, every attempt is made in the West, to conceal the fact that the war could have been avoided, but in the long run, maybe Ukrainians will understand they’ve been had, not only by Russia but by USA/NATO/EU as well. We shall perhaps see a very angry army of widows.

For years, international analysts, and even advisers to the White House, not to mention historians, have warned USA/NATO: stay away from Ukraine. Anybody who knows anything about Russian history must know that Ukraine is not a coveted object of Russian imperialism, it is and has always been felt, by the Russians, to be at the very heart of Russia. I leave it there for you: Go study the history of Russia.

That USA/NATO chose to disregard those warnings must be considered a slap in the face by the Russians (and certainly not just by Putin); or should I say “another” slap in the face, because there have been many since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Have you not heard of them? I suspect you might not, because that is something the Western press chooses to not write about, just as it doesn’t write about Zelensky and the Pandora papers.

You may argue that Russia is, politically, a nasty piece of work – with too many political prisoners – and I whole-heartedly agree with you!

But in USA with its soft-talking lying, cheating, slippery, vile and cynical financial elite, there are too many too-poor people and too many people in prison. Most of the prisoners are where they are, not because of their views, but because of their colour and/or their poverty. In fact USA has the largest number of prisoners in the world, larger even than China, and not just per capita. Far larger than Russia. That is neither “narrative” nor fairytale: that is a fact.

Jul 152022
 

The other day, I tried to explain to my sister-in-law that USA/NATO had effectively been provoking the Russians over a long period of time . The person I was talking to was non other than my sister-in-law. She smiled and said, “well, you would say that, wouldn’t you – you like Putin.”

“I what?!!!”

“Well, at least you don’t like USA.”

It is true that I don’t like plutocracies; nor do I like oligarchies. Both control the dominant narrative within their respective hegemonic spheres.

In a recent interview, John Pilger – still alive and going strong, bless him – complained about the rapidly shrinking narrative space for journalists. He contemptuously referred to western coverage of the Ukraine war as an unprecedented “tsunami of jingoism” with which the media was “utterly consumed”.

Just so: “utterly consumed”. Mainstream media, which is what “respectable people” heed, and social media – from which also less “respectable” people take their cues – are all “utterly consumed” with this single monolithic story: Putin is a monster that pounced on the innocent little Democracy Ukraine which we are honour-bound to defend to the last Ukrainian.

How on earth has this story become so entrenched against all odds – in spite of so very many incontrovertible facts that belie it?

The late 1980s saw the publication of “Manufacturing Consent. The Political Economy of the Mass Media”. For young people advocating change and progress, this book has for decades been an eye-opener all over the world, while the establishment reacted once and for all with a lot of slamming of doors.

Three decades down the road, the advertising industry has developed the manufacture of consent – i.e. an understanding of how to control what we think, what we believe, what we fear, what we want – to a level so sophisticated as to make us faint-hearted. Yet, I want to honour the authors Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman (not the least faint-hearted) for demonstrating that propaganda is, here, there and everywhere, a tool used to serve geopolitical, ideological and corporate needs; not least in the so-called free world.

I would urge you to study an enlightening analysis in the Huffington Post called “Don’t Believe Everything You Think: Marketing, Manipulation & The American Mind” by Samuel C. Spitale.

It starts with a safe outline of the obvious, but as he gets into the finer print, I think you will find it interesting regardless of your geopolitical views. The fact that the article dates back to 2017 and seems totally oblivious to the existence of countries outside USA makes it no less relevant as a study of 2022 jingoism and manufacture of consent.

For non-US examples, I add a semi-humorous list compiled by Caitlin Johnstone of some of the “false narratives ” with which “the political/media class pummels our consciousness day in and day out”.

  • We live in a free and democratic society
  • Your government is your friend
  • Capitalism is totally working just fine
  • Putin is trying to take over the world
  • Maduro must go
  • Assad must go
  • The governments of Iran, North Korea, and every other nation which doesn’t bow to imperialist interests must go
  • Assange is a rapist Nazi Russian agent who mistreated his cat so it’s good he’s locked up
  • The TV would never lie to you

I must say I’d never heard the one about TV, but the others are all too familiar.

Meanwhile, in Chile, people have opened the gates for an entirely different kind of narrative. Whether or not the new draft Constitution will be approved by the national plebiscite scheduled for 4 September remains to be seen. You may be sure, there are very powerful forces dead set against it, as the richest percentile stands to lose a great deal. For instance, Article 25 stipulates:

Es deber del Estado asegurar la igualdad de trato y oportunidades. En Chile no hay persona ni grupo privilegiado.

I’ve read a lot of legalese in my time, but I’ve never seen anything quite like that: beautiful and simple. Every man, woman and child – presuming they can read – will understand those two sentences. It will take years to implement them, but people will know their rights.

Jul 112022
 

During the seventies, feminists maintained that if women had power, there would be no wars. Women, feminists claimed, know that food on the table is more important than guns. After all, we can’t eat corpses. Back then, of course, many women spent most of their lives cooking, cleaning and looking after children. But now, with so many women in power – women who never even have to boil a potato and who delegate the care of their children to underpaid strangers – it would seem that women are no better.

Mind you, I’m all for women’s equal rights. Unequivocally so! It’s just that – well, women are no better, that’s all. Look at von der Leyen and Nancy Pelosi, hawks of the first order. Nancy Pelosi, for one, should know that the greatest threats to USA are not the Chinese nor the Russians, but domestic problems. Serious domestic problems. She knows! But she is bluffing, hoping to keep the Democratic Party morale up against all odds.

Domestic problems, yes, and the global climate crisis, which is still just nibbling away at the edges of human existence, not least in the continent we all initially came from, Africa; but it will come roaring over us, all of us, including the Chinese and the Russians unless we get our acts together. We’ve had foretastes in the shape of forest fires, floods, droughts, hurricanes, cyclones, mass migrations, power outages… – but in the end, we’ll know all of the above and more, at once and everywhere. You don’t believe me? Not my problem, really, because I’ll be gone soon, and I’m not religious, so if the human species doesn’t survive, that won’t bother me much. I will point out, however, in case you have forgotten, that even today, long after Freud, denialism is still considered a serious obstacle to rational problem solving.

To be frank, it is my problem, too, because I really hate seeing people suffer. Also in the US, people are suffering and have been suffering for decades. Decades! And your politicians haven’t done a thing about it, too busy defending the neoliberal economic order and, more recently, too obsessed with the idea of recovering the country’s irreversibly lost hegemony. The Biden administration’s proposed fiscal budget for 2023 includes spending USD 813 BILLION on “defence and national security”, but apparently both houses of Congress will demand to spend more (yes, more not less!). USD 813 billion is more than was spent on “defence and national security” during any year of the Korean and Vietnam wars, and more than what is spent by China and Russia and the 7 next top military spenders combined.

More than half of what US Americans paid to the military last year, about $2,000 per taxpayer, according to an analysis by the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies…..will have gone to giant weapons contractors like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, along with thousands of smaller arms-making firms.

People in Europe are also suffering now, and will suffer more because of this stupid war of attrition against Russia. And of course Ukraine is suffering terribly, having been tricked into waging a war it cannot win. Mind you, Russia is not – repeat NOT – suffering. The sanctions on Russian gas and fertilisers and wheat, etc. are bringing Europe (but not Russia) to its knees. That will not – repeat NOT – benefit USA, because who will buy products from the US when Europe’s purchasing power has been reduced to pennies? There will still be Australians, of course.

USA has its holier than the Bible+Talmud+Koran so-called constitutional amendments. The defence of these “amendments” is reminiscent of religious fundamentalists’ vindication of “laws” imposed many centuries ago, laws that might have made sense at the time when they were adopted, but that are completely out-of-time and out-of-place today, in short downright nefarious.

Guns! Good heavens, how ludicrous! How pathetic! Above all, how sick! Frankly I prefer an honest hurricane, which at least reminds survivors that we – women and men – are not omnipotent.

Jul 062022
 

The Norwegian foreign ministry has decided to block transport of supplies to the Russian settlement Barentsburg on Svalbard, or Spitzbergen, as the island is also called. The Russian foreign ministry has threatened retaliatory action. This is in essence very much the same situation as the one in Kaliningrad. The 400 people living in Polar conditions in Barentsburg are completely cut off from the world and depend on regular food and medical supplies from Russia, supplies that have now been blocked.

This move on the part of Norway will not harm Russia financially or militarily. It will merely – unless Russia retaliates – harm 400 innocent people in Barentsburg. Only Norway’s former Prime Minister, Secretary General Rocky, could possibly consider this move useful from a strategic point of view: If Russia does retaliate, if Russia sends warships to Svalbard to supply its community there, would that not constitute belligerent action against a NATO member and would that not constitute an excuse to attack Russia?

When I wrote my previous post, I was not aware of this situation. I did not know that Norway had replaced a long tradition of cordial relations with Russia with one of reckless provocation.

Hardly no mention of this matter has been made in the Norwegian press, which is starting to remind me of the Russian press in reverse, as it were. Likewise, the New York Times – always loyal to the currently Neocon Democratic Party – has made no mention of the matter. In other countries’ news outlets, however, it is at least considered worth mentioning. See discussion in Le Monde, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post (true, only in Spanish) and the French state-owned France24.

For those of you who read Norwegian, I eventually found a link from the northernmost local department of the Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK). People not living in that area, i.e. the county neighbouring Russia – a county in which attitudes to Russia have been not only cordial but warm ever since Russia liberated Finmark from the Germans in 1945 – will not normally have seen that link.

I repeat: NATO is not protecting us, not defending us. Over the past decade, and under the leadership of USA, NATO has played a very insolent game, presumably in the hope that Russia would crawl under the table. There has been little real diplomacy and, in the face of growing Islamist terrorism, surprisingly little cooperation with regard to issues which threaten us all. Instead there have been provocations, the aim of which appears to have been to enter into a duel to the death, as it were, between powers. Europe has everything to lose by heading Stoltenberg’s summons.