Tagged: Politics

The Washington Circus

When Donald Trump became the President of The United States last year, he did so on the back of a lot of promises to the American people. Those who believed his promises tipped the balance, and he was elected. Perhaps the most powerful of those promises was the he would ‘Make America Great Again’.

Looking back over this new administration, it seems to me that he has reneged on all his promises. From building the ‘Mexican Wall’, to turfing out all the illegal immigrants, creating American jobs for American people, and that one about making America great again. He and his merry-go-round cabinet and administration appear to have achieved very little. He didn’t manage to repeal Obamacare, and has also made the running of the world’s most powerful country a laughing-stock. He did get in some spiteful laws concerning transgender people and abortion, removed his country from any serious attempts to cut pollution and fossil fuel use and has played a lot of golf. The shameless promotion of the members of his own family has left him wide open to accusations of nepotism and favouritism too.

Not since the confusion of Italian politics, or the pre-war governments of France, have we seen so much disarray in the running of a country. Trump has lost the support of many influential politicians in his own country, and his appearances on the international stage have been marked by his lack of statesmanship, and obvious lack of political experience. Pushing past other leaders of countries to get a good spot in a group photo, or stumbling over embarrassing speeches when centre stage. Rather than extricate his troops from conflicts around the world, he has presided over increases of boots on the ground, missile attacks, and threats of action against other countries. The promises to build the economy of his own country, and to adopt isolationist polices if necessary have all just faded away.

His use of Twitter during the election campaign was inspired. He connected with people using the social media platforms as they did. But he didn’t know when to stop. His Twitter tirades have assumed the style of a spoiled child, with a school playground mentality of name-calling and ‘yah-boo’. He has sacked the people best qualified to carry out important tasks in his administration, and replaced them with others unsuited to those roles. He attacks his own appointees publicly, and criticises members of his own party too.

On the BBC News today, an American political analyst was offering an overview of the recent events in Washington, and the defeat of the repeal of Obamacare. At the end of the report, the BBC presenter was chuckling. Thanking the analyst, he concluded, “well at least it is entertaining.” The American government has become something to laugh at. The President of the United States is acting like the chief clown in a Washington circus.

I wasn’t smiling along with him though. A circus might be entertaining, but it has no place in the running of the most powerful nation on Earth. A nation that could well take us all down with it.

The UK Election: The Post-Mortem

So what are we to make of our election results?

Theresa May made some wrong moves, and threw away one of the biggest leads in decades.

The tax on property, to allow for social care in later life.
Big mistake.

Austerity policies.
Big mistake.

Not attending any televised debates.
Big mistake.

Underestimating the UK electorate.
Big mistake.

What about Jeremy Corbyn, written off, before the election?

He came across as sincere and passionate.
Huge positive.

He said things that people wanted to hear.
Huge positive.

He attracted the votes from disillusioned elderly people, and first-time young voters.
Huge positive.

Many people believed his Socialist rhetoric.
Amazingly positive.

He secured his position as leader of the opposition Labour Party.
Massive positive.

UKIP all but disappeared from the political scene, and their leader resigned. So much for the far right, in UK politics.

The Liberals had some gains, but nothing remotely significant.
Situation normal for them, after the fuss has died down.

Scotland rejected the second independence referendum, and the Nationalist path, with a loss of 30% of Nationalist seats.

Theresa May is unlikely to ride out this storm, and almost certain to either resign, or be ousted.

The knives are out in Westminster, and the sides are forming. She is in neither camp.

Corbyn cannot form a government, but a second election in the short term looks very likely.

That was one hell of a day, in British politics!

Where’s David?

Following the referendum vote last summer, David Cameron beat a hasty retreat from his job as Prime Minister, closely followed by his resignation as a Conservative member of Parliament. He was so keen to get out of politics, it’s a wonder that his shoes didn’t catch fire at the speed of his departure. It says something of a man whose life was supposedly so dedicated to politics that he became the holder of the highest job in the land, only to clear off the moment he didn’t win something. Like a spoiled boy taking his football home, because his team didn’t score a goal.

We haven’t heard that much about him since, have we? He gave up a huge salary, (but presumably kept a good pension) and couldn’t even be bothered to continue to represent the Oxfordshire voters who supported him over the years. He cast aside his responsibilities like a badly-stained raincoat, without so much as a look over his shoulder.

But fear not. ‘Call me Dave’ isn’t begging for loose change outside a railway station. Far from it.
He has signed up with a lucrative agency that supplies speakers for events and dinners. The potential earnings are huge, especially for someone who can bleat on about how and why he gave up the top job in UK politics. He has claimed that he can offer ‘lessons in leadership’ as well. (Stop laughing…)

And just in case that’s not enough to keep him in designer socks, he has also struck a book deal, for his official ‘warts and all’ autobiography. Publishers Harper Collins are reported to have offered a deal that could be worth up to £800,000 at the very least. That alone is equivalent to forty years salary for someone earning the average of around £20,000 a year.
Now they just have to find someone to write the book.

And what of his wife, the lovely Samantha? Will she be sitting dutifully at home, waiting to heat up his macaroni cheese when he gets in after a long lunchtime speaking engagement? Apparently not. For she has put her name to a new up-market fashion brand, with prices starting at £100, and going up to a lot more than that. She told Vogue magazine that her forty-piece collection would be aimed at High Street shoppers. Shows how long it has been since she shopped in a High Street in Britain.

So we need not worry. Dave and Sam are sorted. Their old friends have rallied round, found them some nice little jobs, and they are set for life. Makes me feel all warm inside.

Guest post: An American’s view

I was very pleased to receive this guest post from Ed Westen in America. It is always good to hear some opinions from the other side of the Atlantic. Especially when they are well-informed, and from the heart.

“Your REDFLAGFLYING post today, “Trump and May and Corbyn,” got me to thinking, especially your last question: “Or is Democracy only good when you get what you want?” In the US, we say that our Constitution exists to protect the minority (read: those out of power) while working the will of the majority. In the UK, you enshrine minority protection with the concept, actualized, of “a loyal opposition.” The whole idea is that policy changes should neither disenfranchise those who lost an election nor make it impossible for them to gain power the next time. So, there are limits on the power of the majority. Under the US Constitution there are limits as to what the majority (winner in the last election) can do in policy area, vague and ill-defined limits, but limits none-the-less. I should think completely privatizing medicine and health care in the UK would breach one of those policy limits; but cutting away at it might be possible. In the US, overt discrimination would breach a limit; but imposing, say, voter registration requirements blacks and other minorities might find difficult to meet may, in some carefully worded laws, pass successfully given the right composition on the courts.

It turns out that neither of us live in a democracy. Rather we live in “moneyarchies.” Those with the money pick candidates for office. The rest of us pick from the choices the moneyed elite present to us. Those with money are on the Right. That is they are a conservative force in our societies. Their control over elections, media and commerce (especially jobs for the rest of us) gives them almost complete control over policy. A large segment of our populations, for reasons of class, race, simply being “rich wannabees” or having been brainwashed by what they are allowed to see, becomes their voter support.

However, make no mistake about it, even the candidates the moneyed class offers us on the Left will largely do the bidding of the moneyed elites. The moneyed elite is not a uniform oligarchy. No, it is divided by the same quest for power over each other as they have for power over us. Think of their conflicts as similar to the Wars of The Roses—a lot of foot soldier causalities, and very few royals hurt.

Strangely, the moneyed classes do not quite understand the nature or source of their wealth. By that I mean they do not know how money is created. They do not know that the more people active in their capitalist markets, the more wealth is actually available to them. They do not know their insistence on dominating politics with their choices of candidates to offer us retards the growth of their and our wealth.

Public policy in your and my countries is based on a tug of war involving what will be funded and who will pay. It is largely viewed as a zero-sum game. Take from one group to pay for something for another. What very few see, is that largely it is the rich taking from the rest of society. If the Right wins, one group of rich people get policy preference. If the Left wins another group of rich people get a slightly different set of policy preferences. This state of affairs will continue as long as private money dictates who the candidate for public office are. AND, as long as money is created by funneling it through the rich. Make financing public elections with private money illegal and democratize the creation of money and you not only change the rules of the game, you will change the policy outcomes.”

Ed Westen, 2017.

You can read more about Ed’s ideas here.
https://democratizemoney.wordpress.com/
And his entertaining daily blog, including fiction and photographs, is here.
https://deartedandjody.wordpress.com/blog/

Forty helpful tips for anti-communists: A re-blog

I found this on the wonderfully-named ‘Stalin’s Moustache.’

1. Constantly insist that Marxism is discredited, outdated, and totally dead and buried. Then proceed to build a lucrative career on beating that supposedly ‘dead’ horse for the rest of your working life.

2. Remember, any unnatural death that occurs under a ‘Communist’ regime is not only attributable to the leaders of the state, but also Marxism as an ideology. Ignore deaths that occur for the same reason in non-Communist states.

3. Communism or Marxism is whatever you want it to be. Feel free to label countries, movements, and regimes as ‘Communist’ regardless of things like actual goals, stated ideology, diplomatic relations, economic policy, or property relations.

4. If there was a conflict involving Communists, the conflict and all ensuing deaths can be laid at the feet of Communism. Be careful when applying this to WWII. Fascist movements who fought against the Soviets or Communist partisans are fine, but try not to openly praise Nazi Germany. Save that for private conversations if you must do so.

5. You decide what Marxism ‘really means,’ and who the rightful representatives of Communism were. Feign interest that Trotsky was somehow robbed of power by Stalin, despite the fact that you hate him as well.

6. Constantly talk about George Orwell. Quote from Animal Farm or 1984. Do not worry about the fact that Orwell never set foot in the Soviet Union and both of those books are novels.

7. Quote massive death tolls without regards to demographics or consistency. 3 million famine deaths? 7 million? 10 million? 100 million deaths total? You need not worry about anyone checking your work, which is good for you seeing that you probably haven’t done any.

8. Everyone ever arrested under a Communist regime was most likely innocent of any crime. Communists only arrested harmless poets and political prophets who had a beautiful message to share with the world.

9. Everything Stalin did or didn’t do had some sinister ulterior motive. Everything.

10. Keeping with the spirit of #9, remember that Stalin was an omnipotent being, perhaps an incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu, who had full awareness of everything going on in the Soviet Union and total control over every occurrence which took place between 1924 and 1953. Everything that occurred during that time was the will of Stalin. Stalin knew the exact details of every criminal case that took place during that era and out of his boundless cruelty, had tons of innocent people shot for no reason regardless of where they were or their position in life. Being omnipotent, he was not dependent on information passed up from tens of thousands of subordinates.

11. Constantly attack ‘Communist’ regimes for actions that occur in capitalist regimes up to this very day.

12. Claim that Marxism is utopian because of its description of a possible future society. Alternately claim that Marxism failed because it never gave a detailed description of how a Communist society would look. Do not pay attention to the massive contradiction here.

13. Start referring to Marxism as being some kind of religious faith, Messianic, or whatever other spiritualist bullshit you can come up with. When people point out that you can draw similarities between virtually any political ideology and other religions, ignore them.

14. Remember the one-two anti-Communist attack: Attack the post-Stalin system on economic grounds, and claim it just doesn’t work. Since an informed opponent will most likely point out that actual socialist economics did indeed work during the Stalin era, and in fact worked very well, attack that era on human rights grounds.

15. Two words – Human nature. What is human nature? For your purposes, human nature is a quick explanation why political ideas or systems you don’t like are wrong.

16. Bolshevik revolutions were carried out with violence and bloodshed. Bourgeois revolutions were all carried out by democratic referendums, and there was no violence whatsoever.

17. Use words like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ constantly. Do not accept any challenge to define these terms.

18. Communists can be for or against whatever is popular in your particular area. If you are preaching to a right-wing crowd, Communists are for degeneration and homosexuality. If you are preaching to a more mainstream audience, Communists were homophobic. Essentially, Communists are for moral degeneration and puritanical prudery at the same time. Again, do not notice the contradiction.

19. Constantly flog Stalin over the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement, while totally ignoring massive support and collaboration with Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan on the part of America, Britain, and France, long before the war and even after in some ways. As usual, do not allow your opponent to examine the context of the non-aggression pact.

20. Praise the new-found ‘freedom’ of Eastern Europe. Ignore the massive depopulation via migration, plunging birthrates, huge alcohol and drug problems, political instability, civil wars, ethnic cleansing, sex trafficking and child prostitution, organized crime, high suicide rates, unemployment, disease, etc. Who cares about all that when you have freedom of speech?!

21. Constantly talk about the culture of fear in Communist nations, about that ‘knock on the door’ in the middle of the night. Ignore the ‘kick in your door in the middle of the night, stick a shotgun in your back, and haul your ass out of bed etc. because you are suspected of dealing,’ a normal occurrence in the American War on Drugs.

22. Attack Communists for suppression of religion. Attack Islamic fundamentalists for not being secular. What contradiction?!

23. Do not notice the irony that the US is currently fighting an incredibly expensive, losing war against an opponent which it funded, supported, and even handed its first victory in Afghanistan.

24. What should you say when confronted with all the continuing and often worsening problems in the world today, and asked for a solution? FREEDOM!! (Repeat as necessary until your opponent goes away)

25. Nothing from “Communists” can be trusted. Unless it somehow works in your favor, ala Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’ from 1956, or anything Trotsky wrote.

26. Communist leaders were ‘paranoid’ for devoting so much time to security against counter-revolution. Ignore the mountains of evidence, including the restoration of capitalism in the East Bloc, that this threat was indeed real.

27. Communist regimes were never popular. If proof is presented in various cases to show otherwise, claim that the people were brainwashed. Make no effort to consider the budgetary and logistic constraints on such an undertaking.

28. Communist propaganda is crude and primitive. If someone mentions Red Dawn or worse, mentions the J. Edgar Hoover-endorsed comic book series known as The Godless Communists, run away.

29. Praise secularism in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘pluralism’ until faced with a Communist. Then play the religion card.

30. Atrocities and other bad things that happen under non-Communist regimes are the fault of individual ‘bad people’. Anything bad that happens under a ‘Communist’ regime is the fault of the ideology and system. And Stalin.

31. Being an anti-Communist means not having to have any sort of ideological consistency whatsoever. Preach populist left-wing pseudo-socialism 90% of the time, and then compare the capitalist system to ‘Stalin’s Russia’ (if you never really studied the subject, just read 1984 and Animal Farm). Bitch about capitalism 99% of the time, but balk when someone suggests Communism as an alternative. Far right wing Fascist? Constantly bitch about cultural degeneracy under capitalism, while remaining fanatically opposed to Marxism for no discernable reason save for your affinity for historic nationalism.

32. If you’re an anarchist, keep pointing out the ‘failure’ of Marxism while ignoring the fact that your ideology has a 100% failure rate throughout its entire history. Blame those failures on Communists, or stronger military powers. Ignore the fact that the most wonderful society is worthless if it can’t defend itself from reaction.

33. Neo-Nazi? Communism is Jewish!! Debate over.

34. Neo-Hippy? Tibet!

35. Constantly condemn the genocide that allegedly occurred under Mao, while ignoring the US’ relations with China established by Nixon, and the massive role capitalist China has played in the modern US economy. When you want to talk positively about China, it’s a capitalist country. If you need to criticize it, it’s still ‘Communist’.

36. Claim Marxism is not empirical. Neither are neo-liberalism, ‘democracy’, or ‘freedom’, but don’t worry about that.

37. Always insist that despite the location, country, historical era, past experience, and all other factors, Communists must want to recreate a modern-day copy of Stalin’s Russia, and all that entails according to you. Do not notice the inherent idiocy in this concept, such as your particular country being already industrialized, and not having a historical problem of severe backwardness.

38. Learn to use the magic word ‘totalitarian’. This word allows you to link two ideological opposites, Communism and Fascism.

39. Ignore the fact that socialist states experienced more economic problems parallel to the number of market reforms they made.

40. When challenged about numbers or historical context, resort to labels like ‘ruthless tyrant,’ ‘cruel murderer,’ and such. Remember, people like Stalin were mass-murderers because of all the people they killed, and we know they killed all those people because they were mass-murderers. It totally tracks!

originally by J. Slavinski, ht cp.

A Tendency To Militancy

I didn’t vote today. I never expected to read those words written (typed) by me. I was always a great advocate of the need to vote, and felt that the many years of struggle and suffering of others to guarantee me that vote deserved my effort. I simply cannot see the point of voting for a European Parliament in which I have no faith or belief. To me, it is like being given the choice of voting for three different fascist parties, and feeling that I should at least use that vote, even if I despised their policies. Not only is it completely pointless, it is never going to happen.

When I was a younger man, I expressed militant ideas. I espoused the causes of revolutions in far-off lands, and agreed with the justifications of armed struggle, and achieving a goal by any means necessary. I was class-conscious, to the point of hatred, and regarded many sections of society as my sworn enemies. Somewhere in my now older head, all of this still swirls around. I have T-shirts emblazoned with the logos of Brigate Rosse, slogans from the Spanish Civil War, and silhouettes of Lenin.  I don’t just lean to the Left, I lurch wholeheartedly towards it. My heart longs for a return to the days of the Soviet Union, devoid of utilities billionaires, and Tito’s Yugoslavia, offering a practical approach to European Communism.

My head knows that this is all gone, never to return. The Red Brigades became gangsters and kidnappers, Yugoslavia destroyed itself in sectarian blood-lust, and they pulled down most of the statues of Lenin to make room for Starbucks. The world has moved to the Right. In almost every European country, the choice for the people is between one version of a right-wing party, or another. Business rules; ideals don’t pay dividends. The few countries in other lands which still boast anything remotely resembling a left-wing government are paralysed by the need to trade with capitalists, to sell their oil, their cheaply manufactured goods, or the fast-diminishing natural resources of their land. Globalisation has finally arrived, and along with it, the politics of nationalism, racism, and self-interest.

So what of the ‘enemies’? If there is ‘another side’, a modern-day natural enemy to the capitalist vine that is slowly choking the planet, then that is surely Islamic Fundamentalism. But this is no cause to defend. Its own politics are even further to the right, significantly more terrible than those pale imitations in the West. It comes with a medieval callousness, and a completely ruthless agenda. If it was not for the religious zealotry, the flippant disregard for women as individuals, and total intolerance of all things non-Muslim, I might find myself admiring such fanaticism. We should look on in terror, as here is a war we can never win. They are the future, because they don’t care about the future. They want to restore the past, and they are prepared to die, to see that happen.

When I look back at my apparently militant youth, I see now that it was many things. Fashion, protest, rebellion by argument, even something as basic as choosing a side. It was never really militancy. We may well have called it that, but we only have to look to modern day Islam to see what it really means. Total commitment, sacrifice, abstention, loyalty, and devotion. I might have had some of this, but never in large enough measure. Compared to these people, I was a child playing with ideas as toys.

Ineffective Opposition

It seems to be the general view that the Tories (read Coalition) will lose the next election. The people of the UK are tired of recession, belt-tightening measures, and cuts in social security payments. Apparently. The Liberals are discredited, and consigned to some electoral wasteland, never to reappear as a force in British politics. The job market has been handed over to the employers, and no-hours contracts, no union agreements, and poor hourly rates are driving the popularity of the Tories into the ground. The leaders of that party are Public School has-beens with no integrity, and are simply lining their own pockets, and those of their friends. They are espousing the policies of the far Right, for fear of UKIP, and because of the general popularity of restrictions on immigration.

All of this may be true. Much of it is often quoted by Leftist thinkers and commentators, although the news media seems to have given up attacking the government, and even the BBC are now accused of a distinct, and uncomfortable to watch, Right-Wing bias. UKIP are shooting themselves in the foot, with their members exposed as former National Front and BNP supporters, and their elected officials are being revealed, in some cases, as little more than sexist or homophobic buffoons. The Greens have little significance, outside of some local protests about nuclear power, and as the Scots are unlikely to vote for independence,  the SNP may make some noise, but will ultimately lose face.

So, where is the opposition? There is the actual Opposition, in the form of the Labour Party. It may just as well not be there. It has no forward-thinking policies, has completely abandoned Socialism, and even unashamedly admits that it will continue some present Tory policies, if it is lucky enough to be elected. There are no strong people in its shadow cabinet, and the real Left-Wing thinkers left in that party have no influence, and even less power. It is slowly dismantling its lifelong affiliation with the Trade Unions, and distancing itself from the old guard Labour politicians, and the few outspoken characters in its ranks.

Worst of all, it has a completely ineffectual leader. A man who has the presence of an awkward schoolboy, no talent at public speaking, and the charisma of a traffic warden. Miliband is the most ineffectual leader that Labour has ever had, and considering Kinnock, that takes some doing. He never comes across as genuine, whether he feels he is, or not. He has no qualities of a statesman, and even manages to make Cameron look like a man with gravitas and sincerity. His public appearances at photo opportunities look awkward and contrived, and anything he utters on camera sounds insincere, and lacks substance. In the Commons, he comes over like a sixth former in a debating society, smug at what he considers to be his triumphs, embarrassed and awkward when he loses the point of the argument. His ‘team’ sit around behind him and alongside him, looking as if they wished they weren’t there, and as if they must be ruing the day that they elected him as their leader.

If Labour do not shake themselves up before the next election, get back to communicating with the people, and choose a leader capable and worthy of leading the party to victory, then we will all lose. We won’t have a coalition as we do now, but instead we will have a re-energised, far-Right Tory government, elected on a platform of being anti-Europe, anti-immigration, and anti-people on benefits, and the unemployed. They will be pro-business, pro-financiers, and pro-the rich. Working peoples’ rights will be further reduced, and the country will descend into a new Victorian Age, of us and them, rich and poor. Labour owe it to their voters to be a real opposition, and not just one in name only. And they must get rid of Miliband, or face disaster in the polls.