Saturday, March 24, 2012

God help the Syrians - because nobody else will

And so, the Syrian revolution continues, and so the Syrian government continues to kill, brutalise, terrorise all those involved.  And the world's superpowers do their best impression of being really concerned, which would get buzzed off for being crap on The X Factor - although at least Simon Cowell wouldn't allow them to go on for over a year there.  And the usual motley collection of conspiracy theorists mumble and mutter that it's not really an uprising, right, because Thierry Meyssan and Lizzie Phelan have, like, presented the truth - straight from Al-Assad's press office - about what's happening, right, so it's not, like, Syrian people, it's warmongering fascist Western imperialists, yeah, and Assad's being misrepresented maaaaaaan…and so on ad fucking nauseam.

May God be with the Syrian people because the shameless bastards in our great 'freedom-loving' governments won't, and the shameless bastards of the once-noble left that stood beside the oppressed gave that up in favour of  jazz hands and pretendy protest.  Shame on us all yet again. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not-so-harmless nutters

There have been conspiracy theorists as long as there have been conspiracies, i.e. pretty much forever.    Do conspiracies exist? Of course; without them politics and politicians would probably cease to exist (can there be any more damning argument against conspiracies?).   Where the serious conspiracy theorists go wildly off-beam, though,  is believing that because conspiracies exist and because politicians will use anything and everything possible to further their own objectives this means that everything that happens everywhere is part of a covert, fiendishly cunning globally coordinated conspiracy, usually involving Jews, Al Qaeda, the Illuminati, lizard people,  Freemasons, the Bilderberg Group and/or the CIA, that only the theorists are wise enough to see.   

In Conspiracy Theory World there is and can be no such thing as coincidence; if the neighbours start putting their rubbish out ten minutes earlier, it's proof that their CIA handlers have ordered them to do so in order to catch the heroic guardians of truth off-guard prior to marching them off to FEMA camps (or just prisons in the UK - these austerity cuts are leading to all sorts of cutbacks). Massive narcissism is, after all, a defining characteristic of conspiracy theorists, who like to believe that their rantings in the windier corners of the internet are causing sleepless nights for spies everywhere.  If this were true, of course, it would be a great comfort to know that the world's intelligence services have nothing better or more dastardly to do than monitor people who last made contact with reality and soap in their schooldays. 

In ancient history before computer ownership was widespread (i.e. over 15 years ago),  the conspiracy theorists had a harder time of it; they had to share their, ah, interesting theories on our lizard overlords/the New World Order/the Jewish world domination plot etc with those around them, who would mostly back away fast muttering "Really, how fascinating…is that the time? Must dash",  or via letters to the papers.  Sadly, of course the  newspaper editors generally proved themselves to be media lapdogs and co-conspirators with The Massive Global Plot by not printing these revelations; sure, they may have claimed that they didn't want to give space to the tragic dementia babble of disturbed minds, but uh-uh,  the letters' authors knew the real reason; their uncovering of the truth was just too much for the Establishment to take. 

The advent of the worldwide web, however,  was like all the theorists'  Christmases come at once; suddenly there was a global forum where they could connect with like-minded paranoid, socially inept loners who also saw The Big Picture and knew what was really going on.  Oh sure, the foolish sheeple - the rest of us - still  couldn't or wouldn't see the truth, but the brave warriors for truth who turned down the red pill (The Matrix series is conspiracists' cinematic nirvana) could no longer be silenced by The Man and would henceforth share their insights into global geopolitics at every and any opportunity.   And boy,  have they shared. 

This heartwarming generosity would be fine if they'd just limit themselves to conspiracy theory sites and chatrooms where they could endlessly exchange their vast knowledge and insight into the Illuminati,   the Papal Nobility from Ptolemaic Egypt who control the Vatican and the world, (although they're presumably competing with the Jews and the lizard people)  and pretty much everything else.  Everyone needs a hobby, after all, and if the stupid can have their own websites (welcome to Paris, I don't see why the deranged shouldn't have theirs too.  Voltaire nailed it a few centuries back; although I probably wouldn't fight to the death for them (I might throw a small rock, but let's not get carried away here),  they deserve the same freedom of speech as everyone else. 

Unfortunately, however, the theorists won't respect  the rights of we sheeple to be left to our contented  ovine existence online.  In any chat room, on any newspaper comment thread,  you'll find them cackling at the blind sheeple who believe that Bashar Assad or Kim Jong Un and their predecessors aren't heroic leaders, that freedom's actually not a bad thing to want, or even that there are maybe some good points about  living in Western democracies, however imperfect they may be (like, oh, the failure to jail conspiracy theorists).   And with global economic turbulence and mainstream political parties becoming ever more interchangeable, the theorists'  dribblings can be more attractive than they'd otherwise be to desperate, disenchanted and naive people searching for some unifying theory to make some sense of an insane world - and we've been here before. 

As in the 1930s, therefore, this is a period when the extremists on all sides come into their own, and the conspiracy theorists, more especially those who have  a handy scapegoat to pin the world's problems on (Jews being the trustiest standby, although Muslims are fast catching up), are nothing if not extreme. So while their dementia babble may be mildly amusing in a  contemporary Bedlam tour sort of way,  we really shouldn't take the conspiracy theorists as a  harmless joke;  as Europe found out to its massive and tragic cost previously,  when enough  people fall for toxic nonsensical drivel, it really isn't funny - or harmless - at all. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Aga anarchists

From Marx onwards, posh leftists have always got sticky gussets over a good revolution, in theory at least.  Indeed, the contemporary Rioja radicals get so enthusiastic about their fantasy of revolution, which involves a pleasant, fuzzy outpouring of fraternal solidarity, camping out, holding workshops and  talking (to each other) a lot,  that they  confuse jolly student sit-ins like Occupy for  people's uprisings and are then puzzled when the people laugh at and disregard them, mistaking this public disdain for fiendish political conspiracy.  Any actual expressions of contempt for their Aga anarchy are immediately rationalised and dismissed as ignorance:  "The proles are ignorant and misled; if only they knew the truth they'd stand beside - or more properly behind - us and we'd smash the system tomorrow."  In other words, and as usual, "We Know Better Than The Little People."

When they see genuine revolutions to overthrow genuine brutal regimes, like the ones that have swept across the Middle East, however,  the same people are full of scorn; "It's all a neoconservative plot you know; the Arab proletariat are easily led, and are being manipulated by a fiendish cabal of  NATO, Al Qaeda and imperialist lackeys….'' Etc. Etc. Etc. In other words, and as usual, "We Know Better Than The Little People.''   External governments doing as they've always done, i.e. sticking their nebs in and trying to direct things for their own benefit, isn't further proof that politicians are cynical arsewipes, it's evidence that the revolutions themselves aren't genuine - after all, they're not being controlled by Tarquin and Isolde and there's not a yoga workshop in sight.  

Because, you see, the  Aga anarchists in Islington, Manhattan and all the other more upmarket areas of tasteful revolutionary fervour worldwide know that while the time for global revolution has come round at last, it has to be the right sort of revolution against the proper targets; capitalism, neoliberalism, elitism - all the things, in fact, that gave them their own positions of privilege.

While I can't actually see the British people rising up any year soon - most people are sane and know that whilst revolutions are unfortunately sometimes unavoidable and necessary to overthrow dictators,  they're murderous, brutal and best avoided unless essential - a nasty wee part of me really hopes that the Islington insurrectionaries get what they wish for. Because they'd get a serious bloody shock when they found out that actually they'd be among the first getting measured for the guillotine. But maybe they'd finally grasp that their sneering contempt for the proles is reciprocated in spades, That they aren't viewed as part of the solution but as part of the problem.  That despite their posturing and radical rhetoric, the Aga anarchists are no less part of the status quo and  no more representative of the 99 percent than David Cameron.  So they should be very grateful indeed that the revolution they claim to crave is unlikely, and just stick to camping out and being the subject of benign mockery; it's a lot safer for them.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Whither the leadership of the modern Western left and who's going to tell them they're a clueless bunch of fuds? I've been wondering this and other things while reading the updates on the dying embers of the Occupy movement, who - in Britain at least - appear to have packed up their tents in time for Glastonbury and the Summer Solstice and returned to Acacia Avenue, their mission to destroy neoliberal capitalism temporarily delayed by the small snag that the other 98 percent stubbornly refuse to join in.

It's not like the Occupiers don't have some very good points indeed - who could deny that the global economy's in meltdown and the rich are getting obscenely richer on the backs of everyone else getting poorer? Who could argue that it's time to get out of our seats, stick our heads out the windows, roar 'We're Mad As Hell And We're Not Going To Take This Any More' before digging out the pitchforks and heading out to Westminster and Washington to mete out some righteous vengeance? And all the VIP radicals are as one with Occupy - the two Naomis (Klein and Wolf), Michael Moore, Al Sharpton and other members of the activist jet set have turned up to rattle their ethically sourced Fairtrade pearls in support, while the one growth industry in the Western nations seems to be the authorship of impenetrable academic papers pondering the Massive Importance Of The Occupy Movement.

And yet…despite all this, the proles stayed home, and the Occupy movement, in the US and UK anyway, looked more like another student sit-in to protest against the brutal fascism of the university canteen's non-organic fresh fruit selection than a global revolution to sweep away neoliberalism and herald a brave new egalitarian dawn. Although the student sit-in might achieve more.

What the Western Occupiers and their fans forgot was that without the grassroots, a grassroots movement is just a movement and, with enough roughage, we all have one of those most mornings. The bien pensants yearning for revolution who don't get the people on board might as well camp out in their gardens and lecture their herbaceous borders for all the difference it will make. But the leaders of the modern left lost contact with the people some years back; indeed, many don't seem to have ever liked the actual proletariat much at all, except maybe as cleaners or waiters. Rushing to the barricades is all very well, after all, but if the barricades aren't designed by Philip Starck and manned by other well-bred radicals, they could attract all sorts of horrid undesirables, those ghastly little people who watch television and have never even read Dostoevsky in the original Russian. And that just wouldn't do at all.

This condescension might be semi-tolerable if our Contemporary Leaders of Leftist Thought were coming up with or advocating the great or even halfway decent ideas that we need to dig ourselves out of the large pile of political and socioeconomic manure we're sinking ever deeper in; adopting a Scandinavian-style mixed economy, building up a specialist manufacturing base, forcing the rich to pay tax; we're not fussy, any good idea will do.

Instead the best minds of their generation came together and brainstormed for months in order to come up with…jazz hands. Oh, and tai chi and yoga meditation classes and 'Spaces of Dissent: an interdisciplinary workshop on Occupy London' and a thousand other hobbyist events to thrill the hearts of Boden catalogue shoppers everywhere, but nobody else; if the Koch and Barclay brothers and the rest of the tax-averse global and corporate financial elite had designed a fiendishly cunning plan to discredit Occupy, they couldn't have done more than the movement achieved itself to ensure that the reaction of everyone outside the tofu and organic polenta belt was a resounding nothing. The banksters and corporate fat cats must indeed be quaking in their shoes - with laughter.

While the Occupiers gave the rich and the rest of us a few economy-size chuckles, however, the one legacy they've left behind is a certainty that the contemporary Western political left really hasn't got a scooby. When we most desperately need great radicals, the William Blakes and MLK Juniors, instead we get the Modern Parents and Student Grants. That would be bad enough in normal times, but in periods like the present when a rotten system is imploding and the far right is better organised than ever and ready and prepared as before to step in and capitalise on growing social discontent, it's a bloody tragedy.