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UK’s Political Freak-Show Set to Run and Run

MPs on all sides are intent on derailing Brexit while the Zionist wrecking-crew continue gunning for Corbyn

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | March 2, 2019

The EU referendum question did not ask political parties, big business, the banks, Parliament or the media for their opinion. It asked ordinary citizens across the UK. Parliament got its instructions: leave.

To say that Saint Theresa and her Government have gone about it the wrong way is putting it mildly. The EU bureaucrats never wanted to hand us a deal – why would they, it’s not in their nature. It might have been better to just walk away after first agreeing on terms with European industry and commerce for continuing trade, and letting the Europeans argue the toss with their ‘crats in Brussels? Similarly our collaboration on the environment, security, and science.

Twenty-five years of EU membership have left us half-crippled and malfunctioning. We’ll have to re-learn many things including the lost art of export selling. We should have been doing that these last 2 years. The Institute of Export has been there to help.

Tangled with the shambles of Brexit is the continuing witchhunt by the Zionist Inquisition which stalks our marbled corridors and menaces politicians in their smoke-filled rooms, especially Labour. Indeed, a 62-minute documentary film with the title WitchHunt was due to be screened at the House of Commons next week but has been ‘pulled’ after an outcry from the very people it exposes. They, of course, haven’t yet seen it.

Within hours of invitations being sent to Labour MPs and journalists, there were calls for the expulsion from the Labour Party of Chris Williamson MP whose office had booked a room for the film show. Williamson was later suspended from the party for saying Labour had “given too much ground” in the face of criticism over anti-Semitism. Unbelievable, eh?

Incidentally, the film has been praised by directors Peter Kosminsky, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach (Kosminsky and Leigh are both Jewish).

Kosminsky: “[WitchHunt] packs a powerful punch, telling a story we just aren’t hearing at the moment.”

Leigh: “This impeccably-executed film exposes with chilling accuracy the terrifying threat that now confronts democracy, and the depressing intractability of the Israel-Palestine situation.”

Loach: “The case of Jackie Walker is important. This film asks whether her lengthy suspension from the Labour Party and attempts to expel her are fair, or an injustice which should be challenged. She is not the only one in this position. See the film and make up your own mind.”

The film is due for online release on 17 March after touring a number of UK cities with its director Jon Pullman. The press briefing describes it thus:

“In 2015, while the far right was gaining ground around the world, socialist MP Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the UK Labour Party in a landslide victory. Accusations of antisemitism within the party immediately began to circulate. Well-known anti-racists and left-wing Jews, such as Jackie Walker, were amongst the chief targets. WitchHunt sets out to investigate the stories and the people behind the headlines, examining the nature of the accusations. Is this a witchhunt, as some claim? If so, who is behind it, and what is the political purpose of such a campaign?

“Has the media failed in its duty to fairness and accuracy in reporting on such serious allegations? Through a series of interviews, analysis and witness testimony, WitchHunt explores the connections between the attacks on Labour, the ongoing tragedy of Palestine and the wider struggle against race-based oppression.”

And this week the BBC continued to stoke the anti-Semitism ruckus by wheeling in TWO Friends of Israel MPs (the unbearably bombastic Zahawi and the tediously pedantic Gardiner) as panelists on their flagship political debate programme Question Time. Both spoke on anti-Semitism without declaring their interest. Chairperson Fiona Bruce should have tipped off the audience but didn’t.

It’s true that the Labour Party is swamped by complaints of anti-Semitism, many of them absurd or vexatious, and is struggling to deal with them in a reasonable time. But that’s no excuse for Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader and no particular friend of Corbyn, to barge in and email all Labour parliamentarians asking them to send him complaints about anti-Semitism for monitoring. This would, of course, undermine and compromise the official process now managed by the party’s new General Secretary Jennie Formby.

Watson describes himself as “a proud and long-standing supporter of Labour Friends of Israel” and is a recipient of considerable funds from Jewish sources. He calls the BDS movement “morally wrong” and says those who campaign for it “seek to demonize and delegitimize the world’s only Jewish state”.

With his leanings, he represents an ever-present knife in Corbyn’s back. All things considered, perhaps Watson himself should be suspended.

Meanwhile, our Israel-adoring Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, was busy arranging for the political wing of Hezbollah to join its military wing on the list of proscribed terror organizations. This is not a very good idea since, in Lebanon, Hezbollah is seen as a political movement and a provider of social services as well as a militia. As such it forms an important part of the Lebanese government and Javid’s move could cause obstacles for the UK in the rehabilitation of the region and when providing humanitarian help to refugees pouring into Lebanon to escape the horrors of Syria. But Javid insists: “Hezbollah has identified as one of its biggest targets the state of Israel and its people…..  This Government have continued to call on Hezbollah to end its armed status; it has not listened …. it is evident that Hezbollah has got more involved in and drawn into the Syrian conflict, and is responsible for the death and injury of countless innocent civilians. …..”

Javid, a merchant banker in the literal and rhyming sense, might just as well call on Israel to disarm. He conveniently overlooks the fact that Hezbollah was formed to counter Israel’s invasion and occupation of South Lebanon in 1982. Hezbollah is funded by Iran, a bitter foe of Israel, and is, therefore, by crazy logic, an enemy of Israel’s chums like the stupid wing of the UK’s Conservative Party. But let’s not leave out Labour. A big noise in Labour Friends of Israel, Louise Ellman MP, congratulated Javid on “bringing this much-needed measure before the House…..  Hezbollah is not our friend, and today was a good opportunity to say so….. Hezbollah specifically targets Jewish people and Jewish organizations.”

Hezbollah, it seems, hasn’t been forgiven in some quarters for doing rather well against Israel’s mighty military in the 2006 war.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

People’s Vote: Corbyn Signs His Own Death Warrant

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | February 26, 2019

Throughout his leadership of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has disappointed some of his most ardent admirers by his refusal to hang tough. Yes, he has played many situations with canniness and subtlety, but too often he has been soft, appeased and conciliated where it is either unnecessary, or worse, entirely counter productive.

Too often he vows to “listen” to the problems of dissenting New Labour MPs, instead of asserting his authority. Too many times he has promised to “tackle antisemitism”, instead of bluntly telling everyone – “Labour is NOT antisemitic, this is a smear campaign”.

Corbyn should know by now that he can’t win by playing their game by their rules. You can’t appease people who do not want to be appeased. You can’t clean up a smear campaign, and trying just spreads the smears further.

However, none of his previous mistakes compare to the kamikaze of backing a people’s vote on Brexit, a huge mistake that undermines the Labour movement from multiple angles.

Firstly, there is “The Independent Group” to consider – this is, essentially, a cave to their demands. Corbyn has now shown he will bow to threats of defection and the loss of eight entirely forgettable MPs. More than bowing to the pressure, he has handed them legitimacy. Before today The Independent Group was a joke – their launch fell flat, they are all variously personally compromised, they have no policies, no ideology, no leader and they are even registered as business, NOT a political party.

They should have been ignored, mocked even, but not taken seriously. This decision hands them power. A dreadful mistake, that breathes life into a New Labour movement that has been husking out its last moments ever since Corbyn was elected leader.

Yes, it’s true this is technically no change from the Labour Conference position – but this announcement has meaning. Whatever the truth of the situation – the media can now present TIG as a small group who stood for their principles, and in doing so bent “Corbyn’s Personality Cult” back to the path of reason. Paying off a blackmailer is never the solution. They always want more.

Secondly, there is the Lexit vote. Brexit is not a purely left-vs-right issue. The media have tried to present Brexit as a battle between lovely cuddly progressives who want to remain and awful mean racists who want to leave. Obviously it was never that simple. There is a very real portion of the left who believe the EU is anti-democratic. It’s important to remember that being anti-EU was always a traditionally socialist position. A second referendum is a betrayal of those people, and weakening of Corbyn’s socialist base. There are marginal seats, especially in the poorer areas of the country, who will swing against Labour if it is perceived they are campaigning to stop Brexit.

Third, a teetering and hilariously incompetent Tory government has been shown a crack of hope here. They can now pitch themselves as “The British Party”, standing up for the nation against the “European” Labour party who want to “sell us out to Brussels”. You can be sure that’s how the Mail, Times and Sun will sell it. May can leverage this into a “khaki election” and win on a landslide of national pride.

Finally, and most importantly, there is the question of undermining democracy itself. It has never, ever, before been suggested we simply re-do a vote because we don’t like the outcome. Brexit has been sold as a vote “built on misinformation”, we have been told that “the realities have changed”, and that new voters have come of age, whilst old voters died. We have even been told Brexit needs to be undone because it is a threat to our “national security”.

A second referendum lends credence to these arguments – it sets the precedent. Demographic changes, dishonesty, national security. These lines of argument are vague and unquantifiable enough that they could then be cited as reason to delegitimize literally ANY vote. Up to, and including, a general election…. that Jeremy Corbyn won.

“Labour lied about privatising water”…. re-do the vote.
“Millions of old lefties have died since the last election”…. re-do the vote.
Corbyn’s campaign manager is a security threat…. re-do the vote.

The EU has form when it comes to replaying referenda until they get the result they want, but it is new in the British experience.

The actual form the vote is still undecided. Will it be a choice between two deals? Will there be a “remain option”? But this is largely immaterial. If the option is “this deal or no deal” and “no deal” has been ruled out, then a no vote on the deal is a vote to remain. The threat of no deal has been hammered home to us in a thousand different ways. A vote which “forces” no deal will be seen as a threat to the nation and discarded. Moving the deadline back is already being mooted, they can do this as many times as they want until people forget we were ever meant to leave, or will accept a deal which is just remain renamed.

The problem is not Brexit. The establishment has a million different tools for deconstructing, preventing, obfuscating and totally halting Brexit. The problem, from the establishment POV, is Jeremy Corbyn. They can’t stop Brexit until Corbyn has been removed… and Corbyn has now handed them the power to do this.

It’s important to hold all these issues in their proper perspective – this is about Corbyn, not Brexit. Corbyn is the threat, not Brexit.

In or out of the EU, a Tory or New Labour government would still push austerity for the poor and tax breaks for the rich.
In or out of the EU, a Tory or New Labour government will pour money into the arms industry whilst neglecting public services.
In or out of the EU, a Tory or New Labour government will still support American interventions in Syria, Venezuela and around the globe.

And, in or out of the EU, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party would have reversed all of those policies.

That’s why MPs from every party have been actively trying to weaken his leadership, remove him from office and destroy public faith in his ideas. More than that, Corbyn is the only party leader who might actually deliver a proper departure from the EU (he would need to do so, in some ways, to enact his manifesto). Corbyn, and his fellow socialists, undermine the idea of Brexit as the cause of the racist rich.

If anyone but Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Labour party one of two things would have already happened:

  1. The 2D Blairite elected in Corbyn’s place would have “united for common purpose” with the Tories to deliver Brexit in name only, and we’d have left the EU under a deal that was essentially the exact status quo under a rebranded status quo. Austerity – check. Free movement – check. Preparing to contribute to the EU army. Some small concessions, perhaps. Even less democratic representation.
  2. Brexit would have been called off entirely and we’d all have been “saved from an act of national self-harm”.

Brexit is NOT the biggest political crisis in Britain’s history. It isn’t even the most important political question facing us this decade, year or month. Austerity is. Growing poverty. Defunded public services. Privatisation of our transport, water and eventually our NHS. These are real crises.

The most important question we need to ask is – what is better for ordinary people, a Conservative government or a Labour government?

Do we want to be a neo-liberal state slowly crushing the poorest and most vulnerable beneath austerity’s boot heel? Or do we want to change, and try take care of each other?

For all the criticism of Jeremy Corbyn from the left, he has been steadfast in trying to secure a socialist government for this country, and undo the evil of the austerity. In backing the “people’s vote”, I fear he has dashed any chance of that happening.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Expulsion of Russian diplomats portends troubled times

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | March 27, 2018

The mass expulsion of Russian diplomats by some countries of the European Union and North America on Monday is an unprecedented and intriguing development. First, the US alone accounts for some two-thirds of the expulsion – 60 diplomats. Curiously, even Britain, which is apparently the aggrieved party in the Skripal affair, expelled less than half that number – 23. Broadly, however, this is an Anglo-American move with which a number of EU countries and Canada display solidarity.

Second, President Trump is apparently more loyal to Her Majesty in the Buckingham Palace than Prime Minister Theresa May. This gives an intriguing twist to the tale. Why is there such an excessive interest on the part of Washington, especially at a time when the fervor of the Anglo-American kinship has significantly dampened during the Trump era? (President Trump is yet to visit the UK.)

Is it a massive diversionary tactic by the White House the day after porn star Stormy Daniels took Trump’s pants off in her TV interview on ’60 Minutes’? Or, is this yet another attempt by Trump to flaunt that he isn’t ‘soft’ on Russia? Or, is it the Deep State in action – as the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle might well suggest? There are no easy answers.

Third, only less than half the 28 member countries of the EU have signaled support for the Anglo-American campaign over the spy incident. There is much reluctance or skepticism within the EU about what is going on. Surprisingly, though, Germany, which had voiced skepticism at an early stage, has now joined the pack. Which probably shows that there has been immense pressure from Washington and London.

Nonetheless, curiously, the EU countries by and large made only ‘token’ expulsions. As many as 7 EU countries simply moved on by expelling one Russian diplomat each. Having said that, the pressure campaign is continuing and the likelihood of more EU countries joining the expulsion cannot be ruled out. Austria has point-blank refused to join. (So has Turkey, which virtually rules out a NATO stance, which requires unanimous support from all member countries.)

What is truly extraordinary is that the circumstances surrounding the alleged poisoning of an MI6 double agent of Russian extraction are still shrouded in mystery. The British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn openly cautioned against rushed judgment in a piece in the Guardian. By the way, even PM May claims only that it is “highly likely” that there was Russian involvement (not excluding rogue elements.) Yet, a cardinal principle in Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence is that no one is deemed guilty unless proven guilty.

Indeed, a range of explanations is possible as to what really might have happened in Salisbury. Read an excellent analysis by the respected British scholar on Russia Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent and Associate Fellow of Chatham House, titled THE SKRIPAL AFFAIR.

Even in America, there are voices of scepticism. An enterprising columnist drew up 30 questions that beg an answer. (See the column by Bob Slane featured on the website of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, titled 30 Questions That Journalists Should Be Asking About the Skripal Case.)

To my mind, this entire controversy snowballed into a litmus test of the Euro-Atlantic partnership – in particular, the US’ trans-Atlantic leadership – at a defining moment when Britain is giving up EU membership. This is one thing. But, more importantly, does the build-up portend something far more sinister than one would anticipate? One particular passage from Prof. Sakwa’s essay becomes a chilling reminder about what may be lying in the womb of time:

“The only question is whether the confrontation will dissipate, as it did over Agadir in 1911, or whether this is the Sarajevo slow-burning crisis that could explode into flame at some later point… Will it be another case of the sinking of the Maine in 1898, where the subsequent public hysteria provoked war against Spain only to be discovered later that the ship’s ammunition stores had accidentally exploded; or a Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, which was also a false flag operation but provoked the escalation of the Vietnam War. The West may be ‘uniting’ against Russia, as The Times put it on 16 March, but to what purpose.”

March 27, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Poll Shows More Britons Favoring Brexit Than Keeping Northern Ireland

Sputnik – March 27, 2018

Opinion surveys have shown British attitudes becoming increasingly fragmented and polarized, with radically different views about the country’s future.

A poll commissioned by the London-based LBC Radio station and published on March 26 has shown that a greater proportion of the British population support prioritizing the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union than retaining Northern Ireland as part of the UK. The survey was conducted over two days from March 21 to 22.

​36 percent of the 1,630 adults in Great Britain said Brexit was of chief importance to them, with 29 percent giving priority to the union with Northern Ireland and 22 percent said that neither was of any importance to them. Residents of Northern Ireland itself were not included in the poll.

Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels have brought an unprecedented level of concern over how to preserve the unity of the UK, as Ireland has threatened to veto an agreement that creates a hard border with the UK and the Democratic Unionist Party which shares power with Theresa May in London has refused to back any separate status for Northern Ireland that might weaken its links to the rest of the country.Northern Ireland, like Scotland and London, voted to remain in the EU in the June 2016 referendum, with at least 56 percent backing the Remain campaign. Despite also backing Remain, the DUP has since come to support the UK leaving the EU’s Customs Union and the Single Market, so as to keep the country bound to London.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, which ended the decades-long period of conflict known as The Troubles in 1998, the question of whether the country remains united with Britain or joins with the Republic of Ireland must be made solely by the people of Northern Ireland.

March 27, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Immigration and Capital

By Maximilian Forte | Zero Anthropology | August 3, 2016

Immigration, rightly or wrongly, has been marched to the frontline of current political struggles in Europe and North America. Whether exaggerated or accurate, the role of immigration is situated as a central factor in the Brexit referendum in the UK, and the rise of the “America First” Trump movement in the US. It seems impossible that one can have a calm discussion about immigration today, without all sorts of agendas, assumptions, insinuations and recriminations coming into play. Staking a claim in immigration debates are a wide range of actors and interests, with everything from national identity and national security to multiculturalism, human rights, and cosmopolitan globalism. However, what is relatively neglected in the public debates is discussion of the political economy of immigration, and especially a critique of the role of immigration in sustaining capitalism.

Before going forward, we have to first dismiss certain diversionary tactics commonly used in public debate, that unfortunately misdirect too many people. First, being “anti-immigration” does not make one a “racist”. One does not follow from the other. Being a racist means adopting a racial view of humanity as being ordered according to what are imagined to be superior and inferior, biologically-rooted differences. Preferring “one’s own kind” (whatever that means) might be the basis for ethnocentrism, but not necessarily racism as such. It’s important not to always lunge hysterically for the most inflammatory-sounding terms, just because your rhetorical polemics demand an instant “win” (because you don’t win anything; you just sound like someone who doesn’t know what he or she is talking about). Also, xenophobia neither implies racism nor ethnocentrism, because it can exceed both by being a fear or dislike of anyone who is “foreign” or “strange”. Conversely, one can be entirely racist, and quite pro­-immigration at the same time, as long as immigration is restricted to members of one’s own race. Other forms of racist pro-immigration policies would include slavery itself, indentured labour, down to the casual racism of “let’s have Mexicans, they make such wonderful gardeners”. Furthermore, the available survey data in the US suggests that, “far from being rooted in racism, opposition to immigration in the U.S. seems to be rooted in concerns about the ability of less-skilled immigrants to support themselves without Medicaid, SNAP, the earned-income tax credit, and various other supports” (Salam, 2016b). Salam adds this point: “My guess is that if immigration policy were not viewed through a racial lens, opposition to immigration would in fact increase substantially”. Also, there is a distinction to be drawn between opinions that are anti-immigrant and policies that are anti-immigration, even if there can be overlap between the two. Finally, all of this obscures the basic questions that are seemingly never asked today in most public debates: 1) Are questions about racism, identity, and openness the most important ones to be asked about immigration? And, 2) Why must workers be pro-immigration?

When we turn our attention to the current political economy of immigration in Europe and North America, and the relationship between immigration and capital, we might discover two odd absences. One is that those on the left who in past years were vocal critics of mass immigration, especially of the illegal kind, have either been silent on the topic in current debates, or have reversed positions without any explanation. Second, you may find Marxist writers who, armed with all of the necessary conceptual and empirical tools, avoid drawing explicit connections in their own work that could be the basis for a critique of immigration. My guess is that what explains both absences is this fear of being stigmatized as xenophobic, or worse yet, racist—but as shown above, such fear is illogical and should be pushed aside.

From the Left: Past Public Criticism of Immigration

In the not-too-distant past, leftist activists and politicians, such as Naomi Klein and Bernie Sanders, have both gone public in criticizing immigration for its role in depressing wages, increasing unemployment, deepening proletarian dependency and despair, and fostering an elitist form of cosmopolitan detachment from place. For the record, let’s review the two.

Naomi Klein argued that “rooted people” are “the biggest threat” to neoliberal capitalism because they have “roots and stories,” so the global capitalists prefer to “hire mobile people”. Klein also recognized that this “economic model creates armies of surplus labour,” and migrant labourers are useful in “keeping wages very, very low”. Naomi Klein also spoke of the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where those who lost their homes, mostly African-Americans, did not get the jobs—instead, “a migrant workforce” was used.

Second, Bernie Sanders, who would later denounce “open borders” as a plot by the right-wing oligarchs, the Koch brothers, told Lou Dobbs the following in 2007:

“If poverty is increasing and if wages are going down, I don’t know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down, even lower than they are right now.”

Dobbs added,

“And as we know, the principle industries which hire the bulk of illegal aliens—that is construction, landscaping, leisure, hospitality—those are all industries in which wages are declining….I don’t hear that discussed on the Senate floor by the proponents of this amnesty legislation.”

To which Sanders responded:

“That’s right. They have no good response.”

You can view/listen to the complete exchange here:

I am not playing this out here to rub salt into the wounds of Sanders supporters. Instead, it is simply to point how far back the left has retreated when it comes to a critique of the political economy of immigration, such that they can hardly have any legitimate complaint that the ground they vacated has been taken up by the Trump movement in the US, or by right-wing advocates of Brexit in the UK. As the Bloomberg article pointed out, “it’s Sanders’s rhetoric against guest-worker programs for legal immigrants that has brought him trouble with the left”. Should it have? Should Sanders have gone back on his record, and adopted his enthusiastically pro-immigrant stance (embracing even those who entered illegally)?

Yet Sanders is not the focus of this article; instead my broad purpose here is to argue for the negative in answering these questions. I will do so first by revisiting the work of a Marxist writer, David Harvey, even though he seems to evade the critique of immigration in his 2014 book on the contradictions of capitalism. While the writings of Marxist scholars can be useful for understanding how immigration works to uphold capitalism, and especially its neoliberal form, the writers themselves seem reluctant to draw out those connections too clearly, creating an eerie silence around what should be obvious.

Immigration: Serving the Owners of Capital

Those who consider themselves leftist and anti-capitalist while being pro-immigration with few if any restrictions, might be on the wrong side of the argument in one way or another. In David Harvey’s 2014 book, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, there are some useful insights about immigration’s role in propping up capital. However, the material is scattered throughout the book (I gathered the relevant elements below), and one might wonder if Harvey thus missed the eighteenth contradiction—the contradiction between unrestricted capitalism and the anti-immigration politics of working class movements. At least capitalists would think of the contradiction as an important one, given their now extreme public panic over the working class gaining the political upper hand, under the leadership of populist nationalists.

In Seventeen Contradictions Harvey notes that for many Marxists the contradiction between capital and labour is the primary contradiction of capitalism, not that Harvey (himself a Marxist) agrees that this contradiction can stand alone as an explanation for all capitalist crises (p. 65). Harvey’s own definitions of capital, and the way he distinguishes it from capitalism, leave much to be desired (see pps. 7, 73).1 Having fixed the place of labour in the unfolding history of capitalism—whether paramount or not it remains central—Harvey in his usual anthropomorphosis of capital says that “capital strives to produce a geographical landscape favourable to its own reproduction and subsequent evolution” (p. 146)—although it’s actual capitalists who do that, and not capital as such. What he could have added is that reworking the geographical landscape means how humans fit into landscapes, and moving workers around the planet is a definite reworking of “geography”. Having established the centrality of the capital-labour contradiction, and having introduced the significance of geographic changes, Harvey adds the third key component of his analysis: “that an economy based on dispossession lies at the heart of what capital is foundationally about” (p. 54). How are workers dispossessed?

The usefulness of immigration in the capitalist system lies in the ability of capitalists to use immigration to break the monopoly power of labour (p. 120). Simply put, labourers can assert a virtual monopoly over their work, especially when such work is specialized and the number of labourers is contained. The inflow of immigrants can thus help to break the labourers’ monopoly, by creating competition among the ranks of workers. Harvey explains this in detail—but without speaking of immigration—using an example which ends up being very relevant to the present in the US:

“What is on capital’s agenda is not the eradication of skills per se but the abolition of monopolisable skills. When new skills become important, such as computer programming, then the issue for capital is not necessarily the abolition of those skills (which it may ultimately achieve through artificial intelligence) but the undermining of their potential monopoly character by opening up abundant avenues for training in them. When the labour force equipped with programming skills grows from relatively small to super-abundant, then this breaks monopoly power and brings down the cost of that labour to a much lower level than was formerly the case. When computer programmers are ten-a-penny, then capital is perfectly happy to identify this as one form of skilled labour in its employ…” (pp. 119-120).

Now we can update that explanation by factoring in immigration. Harvey highlights increased access to training as means of increasing the numbers of skilled workers, but he misses—and this is odd, because he has worked in universities for most of his life—the fact that another key way to increase the numbers is by bringing in foreign students to undergo such training, and then retaining those foreign students, or otherwise importing specialists from abroad through formal immigration. This is in fact a central plank in the platform of Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential run—around which silence generally prevails thanks to the diversionary tactics of political correctness that I mentioned above. Thus in Hillary Clinton’s Initiative on Technology & Innovation, we can read the following:

Attract and Retain the Top Talent from Around the World: Our immigration system is plagued by visa backlogs and other barriers that prevent high-skilled workers and entrepreneurs from coming to, staying in, and creating jobs in America. Far too often, we require talented persons from other countries who are trained in U.S. universities to return home, rather than stay in here and continue to contribute to our economy. As part of a comprehensive immigration solution, Hillary would ‘staple’ a green card to STEM masters and PhDs from accredited institutions—enabling international students who complete degrees in these fields to move to green card status. Hillary will also support ‘start-up’ visas that allow top entrepreneurs from abroad to come to the United States, build companies in technology-oriented globally traded sectors, and create more jobs and opportunities for American workers. Immigrant entrepreneurs would have to obtain a commitment of financial support from U.S. investors before obtaining the visa, and would have to create a certain number of jobs and reach performance benchmarks in order to pursue a green card”.

Thus US students who acquired massive debts to gain degrees in STEM disciplines, will find it increasingly harder to get their heads above water when they have to compete with immigrants for a finite number of positions, or when their salaries drop as the availability of replacement workers increases. What Clinton is proposing is nothing very new: she would be formalizing and making more efficient the already existing realities of competition from foreign white-collar workers (see Munro, 2016).

At the root of capitalists’ power to depress wage levels, is the depression of employment opportunities. In the US case, it is not just the fact that immigrant workers are competing for jobs, it’s that they are also getting a disproportionate share of the available employment opportunities. Thus while foreign-born workers make up only 15% of all workers, they gained 31% of new jobs (see Kummer, 2015).

In Marx’s analysis, the interest of capitalists is in possessing a vast “industrial reserve army” in order to contain the ambitions of the employed (Harvey, 2014, pp. 79-80). And, as Harvey adds, “if such a labour surplus did not exist, then capital would need to create one” (p. 80). How would it do that? Harvey identifies two ways to create a labour surplus: technologically induced unemployment (automation), and opening access to new labour supplies (such as outsourcing to China) (p. 80). It is again peculiar that Harvey does not list another obvious option: expand the “domestic” supply of labour by importing labourers (immigration). Since immigration can play an important role in creating a labour surplus, then why not mention it?

So far we have talked about how immigration is used to break the monopoly power of labour, by expanding the domestic supply of labour, or by outsourcing. Harvey does mention in passing that immigration can serve as a spatial fix for the capitalist system, by redistributing surplus labour where it is needed most (p. 152). But spatial fixes of a contemporary kind appear in two forms—one of them is what we call outsourcing or offshoring (p. 148). Offshoring essentially makes workers subsidize capital—it is one of the absurdities of contemporary “free trade” that all sorts of government subsidies to workers are banned, but workers can be super-exploited at atrociously low wage levels that account for the competitive global cheapness of their products. That is a subsidy, just not a voluntary one, and not a state subsidy. However, offshoring, where jobs go overseas, is just one way to increase competition among workers. A second method is what we might call onshoring: it’s not the jobs that go to meet workers overseas, it’s workers overseas who migrate to meet the jobs—immigration. Unfortunately, Harvey does not mention onshoring as part of a pair of options along with offshoring.

Historically, immigration has been used to depress the wages of workers in the receiving nation. This is especially true in the US case. As Paul Street recently explained,

“The ever-shifting supply and demand for labor power is a factor that holds no small relevance to the triumphs, trials and tribulations of the American working class past and present. As the leading left U.S. economist Richard Wolff explains, the long historical rise in real wages in the United States ended more than thirty years ago thanks to ‘the combination of computerization, exported jobs, women surging into the labor market, and a new wave of immigration… this time mainly from Latin America, especially Mexico and Central America…. Capitalists from Main Street to Wall Street quickly realized that employers could slow or stop wage increases, given that supply now exceeded demand in the labor market…’

“If you don’t believe immigration is used by employers to depress living and working standards in the U.S., then take a job in any U.S. factory that has a significant number of unpleasant low-skill tasks. You will see your capitalist bosses keeping wages down and workers cowed and oppressed by (among other things) hiring immigrants whose experience of extreme poverty, violence, and other forms of misery in their lands of origin make them more than ready to work obediently and without outward complaint for $10 an hour or less in ‘modern manufacturing’”.

Nonetheless, “expert opinion” persists in creating the myth that immigration has no negative impact on workers.

Another key way that immigration can sustain capital has to do with the purchasing power of wages. As we have seen, it’s in the interest of capitalists to keep wages as low as possible. However, the contradiction that arises—and Harvey devotes considerable attention to this—is that lower wages means less money available to purchase goods, which shrinks market size, and reduces the profit gained by capitalists. So if workers all have less money, what to do to sustain demand? One option is to increase wages—bad. Another option is to increase credit, as is being done. A third option is to increase the total mass of workers—as is also being done. Workers may all have less money to spend, but by importing more workers, you have a greater number of people spending (however little). Thus immigration can help to sustain or even increase demand, without increasing wages (see p. 82).

“A phenomenal rate of growth in the total labour force,” Harvey writes, “would augment the mass of capital being produced even though the individual rate of return was falling” (p. 107). However, Harvey does not mention that one way to engineer a phenomenal growth in the total labour force is by fostering mass immigration, or tacitly allowing for large numbers of people to enter illegally. What Harvey does say is that immigration can help to support future economic growth, but it’s not clear how as soon after he says that, in the US case, “job creation since 2008 has not kept pace with the expansion of the labour force” and that the seeming decline in the unemployment rate instead reflects “a shrinkage in the proportion of working-age population seeking to participate in the labour force” (pp. 230-231). Again, he fails to consider the impact of millions entering the work force from abroad.

Why David Harvey would appear reticent about producing a focused critique of immigration, might be explained by one very peculiar line in his book, where he seems to blame the working class itself, and its attitudes toward others, for its own unemployment through offshoring:

“When a rising anti-immigrant fervour among the working classes grabbed hold, capital migrated to the Mexican maquilas, the Chinese and Bangladeshi factories, in a mass movement to wherever surplus labour was to be had”. (Harvey, 2014, p. 174)

What a disappointing statement. Suddenly, capital is no longer in charge, in this abrupt deviation from Harvey’s central narrative. It is the working classes that have somehow “grabbed hold”. How did they achieve such power as to grab hold of the very production processes that they never owned? And if the working classes had a cheerier view of competition from immigrant labour, would those jobs not have still gone overseas? Do capitalists make their decisions on where to gain the most profit, by first consulting workers on what they feel about others? I don’t know that there is any evidence at all that can remotely validate such an absurd conclusion.

Where Harvey might have found a more fruitful point of entry, in his own discussion, is where he wrote that “three of the most lucrative businesses in contemporary capitalism” are “trafficking women, peddling drugs or clandestinely selling arms” (p. 32). Trafficking “women”? Why not trafficking workers—as is the case with illegal immigration, which is exploited by human traffickers in far greater numbers than the trade in women alone? Either way, “open” or weak borders are a boon to the “three most lucrative businesses” of contemporary capitalism. The best way to maximize the growth in the total labour force is precisely by illegal means, because as should be obvious “illegal” means that the movement is: (a) unregulated by the state, and not subject to political debate; (b) unrestricted in volume; and, (c) the situation where workers cannot avail themselves of rights under labour laws.

In the frame of current political debates in the US, Harvey reminds us of some important points. One is that it was under the administration of President Bill Clinton that the US saw a vast increase in the number of poverty-ridden unemployed workers. In return, Harvey points out, “Clinton has been handsomely rewarded since by business organisations, earning some $17 million in 2012 from speaker’s fees mainly from business groups” (p. 176). One of the many things shared in common between Bill and Hillary Clinton is therefore a consistent set of policy-making designed to ensure the growth of the “reserve army” of workers. Otherwise, with current debates in mind, there is little in the book to explain how Mexico, as an example, gains from the outflow of migrants to the US (producing remittances) along with the production of cheap goods for export. One would think this was important, because it disturbs established neo-Marxist models of the one-way flow of capital from the periphery to the centre—or maybe it doesn’t, but that is why further discussion would be useful.

Otherwise, Harvey does have some useful insights into how we are witnessing a conflict between “politics” and “economics” over migration policies (p. 156). By politics, he means the state, and the territoriality of state power, and by economics he means the interests of capital. As Harvey observes, “the constructed loyalty of citizens to their states conflicts in principle with capital’s singular loyalty to making money and nothing else” (p. 157). In what again should have been an opening for Harvey to reflect on immigration, he writes that, “affections and loyalties to particular places and cultural forms are viewed as anachronisms” which he follows by asking: “Is this not what the spread of the neoliberal ethic proposed and eventually accomplished?” (p. 277). Here we might revisit Naomi Klein’s comments above.

A less charitable argument about Seventeen Contradictions would be that the persistent reluctance of David Harvey in allowing his critiques to incorporate the realities of immigration is troubling, in part because it suggests a weakness not just in the analytical frame, but also in the ability or willingness to analyze. A more charitable argument would say that Harvey explicitly admits to leaving out race and gender among the contradictions he studies (p. 7), and therefore immigration might just be another of the contradictions he did not address. His reasoning is that race and gender conflicts are not specific to capitalism—and one might say that mass migrations of human populations long preceded capitalism too. However, contemporary inter-state migration definitely is a phenomenon of the modern capitalist system, and thus his logic of exclusion would not apply, and I might add that his argument is also on particularly shaky grounds when it comes to racism (which is not a prehistoric form of labour discipline and discrimination).

Immigration: Serving the Owners of Votes

If you agree with Marx, that it’s in the interest of capitalists to possess a large reserve army of unemployed workers to keep wage levels down and to possibly break the back of collective labour organization, then you would not think that the creation of disposable workers was in any way new. (You also do not need to be a Marxist to agree with what is in fact an observation of reality.) However, it should also be clear that in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe, deindustrialization that stems from free-trade deals has left many more unemployed than previously. The phenomenon of increased job loss due to globalized free trade is particular to neoliberal capitalism. Clearly for those benefiting from this state of affairs—the political and economic elites who rule this system to their own advantage—a crisis has set it in for them now that they experience a backlash from those they dispossessed. Liberal democracy, a system of power, was only permitted once politics were divorced from economics, and voting did not appear to threaten the economic system (Macpherson, 1965, pp. 12, 13, 51). However, once dispossessed workers find a way to register their protests through elections, then that boundary begins to break down. No wonder then that liberal democratic elites now routinely proclaim that what we are witnessing today is the “suicide of democracy,” writing even in apocalyptic terms that “the end is nigh” and that “tyranny” is coming. What is at an end—because it had to be, it was so obviously irrational and unsustainable—is the “democratic elitist” system the rulers created that they hoped would preserve the economic system by removing popular politics (Bachrach, 1980). Instead, voters now realize that in exceptional cases they can, in effect, cast a vote on globalization, free trade, and neoliberalism—as in the case of the UK’s Brexit vote and in the case of the Trump movement in the US.

(But who knew that the elites could be so delicate, and hysterical, that now when they are richer than ever before in human history any talk of a reduction in their ability to take more is conceived in terms of suicide and apocalypse?)

Otherwise liberal democracy never makes such questions about free-trade or immigration available for popular decision-making. It never meant to, as workers are held in deep disdain (see Krugman, 2016; Confessore, 2016). In the case of Brexit, there has been open disregard for democracy by those who voted for Remain—everything from calling on parliament to simply ignore the result of the referendum, to calling for a second referendum with a higher threshold for victory for Brexit to be possible, and both efforts have failed. Members of the metropolitan left have turned on the working class. That some of the advocates of Remain were motivated by the prospects of new quantities of cheap labour, is something that did not escape attention. The oligarchs are in deep trouble, and they would like the rest of us to save them.

An oligarchic system that is in trouble, looks for solutions of course. Having rendered the majority of existing workers disposable, the key lies in finding ways to also make them disposable as voters. Fortunately for the oligarchs, history offers them solutions. On the US State Department’s own website, there are lessons for regime survival from politicians who imported grateful immigrants as a new supply of voters. One of these cases concerns Guyana under the rule of Forbes Burnham and the People’s National Congress (PNC). With a working class divided between Afro- and Indo-Guyanese, with the latter supporting the opposition party and having greater numbers, what Burnham did was to import black immigrants from some of the nearby smaller islands of the Caribbean, who would vote PNC in thanks for Burnham’s patronage. Similar things happened in Trinidad & Tobago, under the US-allied government of Eric Williams and the People’s National Movement (PNM). In this it was widely suspected that the large growth in the immigrant population from Grenada and St. Vincent boosted the PNM voter base.

In the US, there seems to be relief bordering on glee when Democrats can pronounce the decline in the number of white working class voters, and the rise in number of Hispanic voters—thanks to both immigration, both legal and illegal, which their policies helped to support. I would not argue that the current rulers of the US directly took hints on regime survival from states that used immigration to engineer new demographic bases of support—nor do I think that the logic is so exotic that it needs to be imported. Instead, the point is to understand how immigration is used as a tool for regime survival in an ethnically-divided nation. An unusually wise insight came from one of the right-wing talk radio hosts in the US who, in mocking the political correctness of calling illegal immigrants “undocumented workers,” he instead called them “undocumented Democrats”.

“Open borders” provide the opportunity for extending the lifespan of an unpopular regime. The ruling elites realize that: (a) disposable workers are disposable voters, and, (b) that they can always import a new voter base, grateful for their patronage—as long as they can make their pro-immigration talk stick. This is where they turn to identity politics, the neo-tribal lobby, and righteous moral narcissism that exploits calculated expressions of outrage. As the oligarchs turn to the rest of us to save them, many have fallen for the seductive, exploitative politics of identity and moral outrage. Some do so under the illusion that they are in some age-old fight against “fascism,” and they come to the fight appropriately armed with photos posted to social media of the classic Marxist texts from the 1800s and early 1900s that they are proudly reading. Others do so because once again they let instant emotional reactions guide them toward aims they barely perceive.

What is instructive is that the real Fascism did not take root in a nation that was experiencing high levels of immigration. Instead, it emerged in one of the world’s leading producers of emigrants: Italy, where the very concept of fascism was invented. Indeed, actually existing historical Fascism included a plan for colonization in order to settle and employ a burgeoning population at home—none of which describes Trump’s positions.

While immigration can sustain regime survival at home, it can also be a destabilizing factor when it stems from regime change abroad. Immigration was a leading factor motivating the recent Brexit victory in the UK (see Kummer, 2016a, for details). As some have explained, “British society has been transformed by a wave of immigration unprecedented in its history”: since the advent of Tony Blair’s government, “roughly twice as many immigrants arrived in the United Kingdom as had arrived in the previous half-century” (Salam, 2016a). As a result, some have argued that Brexit is a victory for Britain’s working class.

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In the European case, the aftermath of the massive inflow of refugees and migrants during the past two years, traveling via Turkey, Greece, and Libya, has not promoted stability for the dominant political class. Here we see European governments, some of which actively supported/support US regime change campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, reaping the blowback of a refugee influx. Having created weakened states or virtual non-states in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, while severely undermining the Syrian state, the unprecedented levels of violence in those nations have generated massive refugee populations. For a while, it was possible to transfer the burden to nations little or least able to afford hosting refugees, such as Jordan, Turkey, and even a badly crippled Greece. Syria itself hosted hundreds of thousands of Iraqis after the US invasion. Once a portion of the region’s refugee populations began to move northward, into the European Union, the ruling political elites effectively transferred the costs to the working class, by crowding them out of already reduced social services that have shrunk under austerity, and expecting them to be accommodating. Protests from the working class were then labelled “racist” and “xenophobic,” especially by supposed “progressives”. The point here ought not to have been whether those who can least afford making room for refugees and migrants should be welcoming or hostile—the point is that Western nations should not have created those refugee populations in the first place, as they did with their invasions, occupations, and bombing campaigns.

Conclusion: The Vanishing Left?

Thus far we have witnessed a number of cases where the left, broadly speaking, has abandoned any effort to articulate a critical perspective on immigration. We see it in cases such as,

  • the retreat of leftist politicians and activists from critiques of immigration, as with Naomi Klein and Bernie Sanders, who have either gone silent or reversed themselves;
  • the clear reluctance of Marxist academics like David Harvey in drawing obvious connections within their own work;
  • leftists denouncing working classes resisting the added austerity of losing access to health, education, and social services to make room for migrants; and,
  • political elites who try to appeal to the left, claiming to be progressives who support migrants from Mexico and Central America.

However, given the way immigration has been enmeshed in sustaining neoliberal capitalism, and given the current collapse of neoliberal rule, the left is threatening itself with extinction by following along the tracks of neoliberal politicians. “I won’t vote for a racist or bigot” can easily be translated as “I am saving the oligarchy”. What we may be witnessing in the West then is an even bigger historical turning point than some of us might have previously imagined—where the future will be shaped by the left’s absence from the future. Even if one is less pessimistic, the left could amount to little more than a residue, a legacy, that occasionally appears in the form of various surface appearances or a series of phrases and motifs, rather than a substantial social force.

Without a left, current left-right distinctions (which are already blurred and evaporating, on all sides) will become increasingly meaningless, especially as the right begins to take over key issues and concerns that were once the domain of the left. Taken a few steps further, in the US case what could happen is a new reversal: the Democrats will be more clearly positioned as the Party of Big Business, while the Republicans will become the Party of Workers, but in no absolute fashion as both parties are essentially multi-class alliances. Whatever left there may be, whatever left may mean, it will have to rework its alignments accordingly and write new core texts for itself.

The most important thing we should do now, in broad political terms, is to subject immigration to democratic decision-making. It needs to be debated thoroughly, and there should be broad public consultation. Simply shaming people into silence, with the aid of facile and sometimes hypocritical charges of “racism,” will not do as a substitute for democracy. The public needs to know how immigration can impact wages, prices, employment opportunities, social services, and union organizing—given that the subject is so deeply tied to economic, welfare, and trade policy. At present in the US I suspect that, for too many on the left, the US should be held more answerable to non-US citizens for its immigration policy than to US citizens, and this is a harmful and irrational approach. In addition, too often immigration policy-making has been sequestered behind the closed doors of committees that are laced with influence from private interests, producing twisted and shady immigration programs, and deflecting debate until momentous turning points—by which time the political field has become so polarized, that debate proceeds only in the most absolute terms. Finally, in terms of US foreign policy, what needs to be reversed is the decades-long practice of promoting the US internationally as a beacon, a model, the highest point of human achievement in wealth and development, that makes it the automatic choice of destination for so many, who choose it with little question and without knowing better.

Notes

  1. I confess that sometimes I find Harvey’s explanations and definitions to be murky—for example, at one point he defines capital in a manner that seems to include everything economic: capital is money, land, resources, factories, and labourers labouring (p. 73). If labour is capital, then how can there be a contradiction between capital and labour? At other moments, his distinction between capital and capitalism becomes cloudy, such that we may not know if he means a contradiction of capital, or a contradiction in capitalism—and the title of his book (“the end of capitalism”) does not help to make the case for the former. He says he is making a clear distinction between capital and capitalism, and where he says he does that he only offers his definition of capitalism (p. 7). So no distinction is actually offered, and nearly 70 pages later capital is defined basically as a thing or maybe as processes for making things—and since things do not make history, and processes are processes of something, it would seem that capitalism is what makes sense of capital. As I confessed, it was quite confusing. However, given the routine anthropomorphosis of capital in Harvey’s work, such that “capital” takes on human qualities of initiative, decision-making, and action, this suggests that he too might not be all that clear on when to write “capital” and when to write “capitalists”.

References

Bachrach, Peter. (1980). The Theory of Democratic Elitism: A Critique. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Clinton, Hillary. (2016). Hillary Clinton’s Initiative on Technology & Innovation. HillaryClinton.com, June 27.

Confessore, Nicholas. (2016). “How the G.O.P. Elite Lost Its Voters to Donald Trump”. The New York Times, March 28.

Editors, Globe and Mail. (2016). “The end is nigh: Donald Trump, and other signs of the apocalypse”. The Globe and Mail, July 24.

Encyclopedia.com. (2007). Trinidad and Tobago. Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations.

Forte, Maximilian C. (2016a). “The Wall: A Monument to the Nation-State”. Zero Anthropology, April 17.

Forte, Maximilian C. (2016b). “Social Imperialism and New Victorian Identity Politics”. Zero Anthropology, July 30.

Gilens, Martin, & Page, Benjamin I. (2014). “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens”. Pre-publication draft, April 9.

Greenfield, Jeff. (2016). “Doubts Start Creeping In for Democrats”. Politico Magazine, August 1.

Guyana Times. (2015). “Letter to the Editor: Kamaluddin Mohamed did greater damage than good”. Guyana Times, December 14.

John, Arit. (2015). “Bernie Sanders Has an Immigration Problem With the Left”. Bloomberg, November 13.

Harvey, David. (2014). Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism. London: Profile Books Ltd.

Krugman, Paul. (2016). “Republican Elite’s Reign of Disdain”. The New York Times, March 18.

Kummer, Larry. (2015). “The numbers about immigration that fuel Trump’s campaign”. Fabius Maximus, September 17.

Kummer, Larry. (2016a). “Immigration: a cause of Brexit, denied by the Left”. Fabius Maximus, June 28.

Kummer, Larry. (2016b). “A Harvard Professor explains the populist revolt against immigration & globalization”. Fabius Maximus, July 14.

Kummer, Larry. (2016c). “A UK engineer explains: elites oppose Brexit because they import cheap workers”. Fabius Maximus, July 1.

Limbaugh, Rush. (2015). “I’ve Been Properly Credited for Coining the Term ‘Undocumented Democrats’”. The Rush Limbaugh Show, December 22.

Macpherson, C.B. (1965). The Real World of Democracy. Toronto: House of Anansi Press Inc.

Munro, Neil. (2016). “Hillary Clinton’s Vow To College Grads: I’ll Outsource Your Jobs To Foreign GraduatesBreitbart, June 28.

Romney, Mitt. (2016). Full transcript: Mitt Romney’s remarks on Donald Trump and the 2016 race. Politico, March 3.

Sadiq, Nauman. (2016). “Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class”. CounterPunch, June 24.

Salam, Reihan. (2016a). “Why Immigration Pushed Britons to Brexit: It’s not only about race”. Slate, June 24.

Salam, Reihan, (2016b). “Why Are Immigration Advocates So Quick to Play the Race Card?National Review, July 1.

Savransky, Rebecca. (2016). “Trump: My GOP will be a ‘worker’s party’”. The Hill, May 26.

Street, Paul. (2016). “Political Correctness: Handle with Care”. CounterPunch, July 22.

Sullivan, Andrew. (2016). “Democracies end when they are too democratic. And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny”. New York Magazine, May 1.

Survival International. (1975). News from Survival International, 10, April.

US Department of State. (2009). Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume XXXII, Dominican Republic; Cuba; Haiti; Guyana.

West, Patrick. (2016). “The post-Brexit ugliness of the left: Money-obsessed and anti-working class – the liberal left has revealed its ugly side”. Spiked, July 8.

December 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Britain’s next Prime Minister could likely be Jeremy Corbyn

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | May 30, 2017

Brexit which in many ways put British politics on the international map for the first time since the 1960s, was not supposed to happen. The establishment of all the major parties, the business sector, academia, the mainstream media, the arts and science community (which still hold some influence in Britain) were all opposed to it.

Likewise, the polling data was so set against Brexit that on the night of the vote, a sober Nigel Farage all but conceded defeat. Several hours and several drinks later he emerged to give a victory speech.

The people who voted for Brexit voted for a number of reasons and even more crucially in a key number of geographical places.

Many people voted for Brexit because they were seething with anger over those who opposed it. The elite were unpopular and the elite did not want Brexit, this meant that ordinary people in middle and northern England as well as most of Wales voted for Brexit. Other issues ranging from European border policy, to trade and nostalgia for empire played far less of a factor than many pundits think. Brexit was a visceral vote, not a calculated vote.

The EU is an elitist institution and Britain’s own local elite loved it. For most people that was enough to make them support it.

While the dishonest and discredited elites ran the pro-EU campaign Brexit was spearheaded from the right by Nigel Farage while its most prominent left wing advocate was George Galloway. Both Farage and Galloway are figures one either loves or hates, but few people can legitimately question their sincerity. After all, neither have embraced causes that were guaranteed to get them invited to Buckingham Palace.

Many thought that if two straight-forward men who are on different sides of the political divide both embraced Brexit, it can’t be all that bad for honest, ordinary people and furthermore, contrary to what the neo-liberal mainstream media says, Farage’s supporters are not all racist obscurantists and Galloways’ supporters are not ‘only Muslims’. Such remarks slander both men and their supporters who on the whole are ordinary, decent, normal people of all backgrounds who for various reasons are tired of a broken status-quo.

Jeremy Corbyn may well be on the verge of achieving something similar to Brexit, only more. Corbyn, like Brexit is anti-establishment and like Brexit the entire establishment are against him…with this notable exception: small, medium and even some big businesses.

Jeremy Corbyn will certainly appeal to working class Brexit voters in England’s north and midlands as well as Wales (aka Brexit country) who have longed for a Labour leader that puts bread and butter issues first. Corbyn is all about jobs, funding essential services and putting hospitals before banks, schools before hedge funds, wages for real people over tax-loop holes for foreign companies. This is music to the ears of a Labour base who became alienated from Labour after years of neo-liberal policies first instigated by the war criminal Tony Blair.

But what about business, will they vote for a socialist Labour leader? Many interestingly will. Most businesses of all sizes have generally benefited from some aspects of EU membership, most crucially from the Single Market which non-EU countries Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are a happy part of.

Corbyn has said he is committed to getting Britain a deal that involves retaining the benefits of the Single Market and this has made many in the business community silently sympathetic to a Labour leader who has taken a stand on the Single Market whereas Conservative leader Theresa May has a policy which amounts to little more than ‘frankly I don’t give a damn’.

So this means Corbyn has the working class and wider Midlands, Northern England and Welsh Brexit vote, the anti-establishment Brexit vote and ironically also the business minded pro-Single Market Vote.

And then there is Scotland. Scotland voted in favour of retaining EU membership and what’s more is that when Scotland held a referendum on independence from the UK in 2014, one of the biggest selling points on the ‘remain part of the UK’ side was that membership of the UK guaranteed membership of the EU. My how times have changed!

Because of this, Scottish Nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Parliament want a new independence referendum. Theresa May has responded to this call with disdain and contempt. Her refusal to engage in a dialogue with Scotland smacks of a colonial attitude when Scotland is a democratic part of the United Kingdom. It’s unreal that someone like May can think this way in the year 2017.

By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn said that he will listen to Scotland, engage positively with the Scottish people and will in any case respect their exercise of democratic self-determination if that is what they ultimately seek. This means that if the vote in England is a dead-heat, the Scottish Nationalists who will almost certainly win every major seat in Scotland will have the ability to form a coalition with Corbyn and make him the British Prime Minister.

Under this scenario one sees that Corbyn has retained much of the ‘Brexit coalition’ with the added bonus of almost all of Scotland’s backing if he eventually needs it, plus more members of the business community than many think. Even those in the business community who might not like Corbyn’s tax policies, realise that leaving the Single Market is a far bigger problem and one that could take much longer to reverse.

In the wealthy parts of Southern England, the Conservatives might be in for another unexpected shock. Most people in England’s wealthiest areas voted to remain in the EU and many are privately shocked that the once pro-EU Conservative party is taking such an undiplomatic and frankly unknowing approach to Brexit.

Many such affluent voters may end up voting for the unambiguously pro-EU Liberal Democratic party who in most other policy areas are little different than mainstream moderate Conservatives.

The polls which got Brexit and Trump totally wrong are still saying that the Conservatives will win, but only by a small margin. The reality could be very different. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour might capture most of middle and northern England, all of Wales and find allies in Scotland. Theresa May’s Conservatives may end up losing some seats in their own affluent backyard, among those who still cherish the EU as much as they did when they voted against Brexit alongside former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

We could be looking at the most unlikely political revolution in British history…. since last year, anyway.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of a would be Corbyn victory is that he managed to quietly build an unlikely coalition without sacrificing his principles. Perhaps this is the real lesson of the campaign.

May 30, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , | 4 Comments

London mayor backtracks after sparking row by likening Scottish nationalism to racism

RT | February 26, 2017

London Mayor Sadiq Khan sparked a row in tweets preceding his latest speech by implying Scottish nationalism is akin to racism. He was forced to backpedal after Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, slammed his remarks as “spectacularly ill-judged.”

“The last thing we need now is to pit different parts of our country or sections of our society against each other – or to further fuel division or seek separation.”

“There’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish, and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race, or religion,” Khan said in tweeted remarks preceding his speech to the Scottish Labour conference in Perth on Saturday. He also implied that a new Scottish independence referendum would be destabilizing.

“The world is an increasingly divided place – with Brexit, the election of President Trump and the rise of populist and narrow nationalist parties around the world,” he said.

He then went on to stress the need to find an “antidote to Brexit and the rise of right-wing populist parties” that does not “break away or push our neighbors away,” but is based on unity.

SNP [Scottish National Party] leader Nicola Sturgeon branded Khan’s statements as “spectacularly ill-judged,” tweeting that Khan’s “intervention… is an insult to all those Scots who support independence for reasons of inclusion & social justice.”

Sturgeon was not the only one who found his words insulting. People posted angry remarks on Twitter, saying London mayor’s own policies are more akin to racism, while warning that Khan’s Labour party now has little chance of success in Scotland.

However, shortly before delivering his speech to the Labor conference, Khan clarified his statements with the BBC, insisting that he was “not saying that nationalists are somehow racist or bigoted.”

“Of course, I am not saying that the SNP are racists or bigots.”

“What I am saying is that the world is increasingly divided by Brexit result and the election of President Trump, with the rise of populist and narrow nationalist parties across the world, now is the time to come together, now is the time for unity, not a time for division or isolation,” Khan told a BBC reporter.

While he followed his initial script during his speech, Khan also attempted to make his points more clearly.

“With the world becoming an increasingly divided place. Brexit. President Trump. And the rise of populist and narrow nationalist parties around the world. Now’s not the time to play on people’s fears. Or to pit one part of our country – or one section of our society – against each other.”

“In that respect, there’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish, and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race, or religion. Now, of course, I’m not saying that nationalists are somehow racist or bigoted – but now, more than ever – what we don’t need is more division and separation,” he specified.

Scotland voted 55 to 45 percent in favor of remaining in the UK in a tightly contested September 2014 referendum, but then largely opposed the UK’s decision to leave the European Union known as Brexit last year, with 62 percent of the Scottish population voting for Britain to remain in the EU. As the British government is increasingly leaning toward a “hard Brexit,” which would entail totally withdrawing from the European single market and customs union, the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) has intensified calls for a second independence referendum lately, publishing a draft bill for the vote last October. However, the British government could block the second referendum, according to Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who said earlier this month that London would not allow a repeat of the 2014 plebiscite.

Scottish independence campaigners claim that an independent Scotland would continue to work closely with the rest of the UK, insisting that their civic nationalism is inclusive and non-sectarian.

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

British Fingerprints in Dirty Tricks Against Trump

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.01.2017

Britain’s divisive Brexit politics are playing out through the new US presidency of Donald Trump. It seems that a faction within the British political establishment which is opposed to Britain leaving the European Union has joined forces with American intelligence counterparts to hamper Trump’s new administration.

By hampering Trump, the pro-EU British faction would in turn achieve a blow against a possible bilateral trade deal emerging between the US and Britain. Such a bilateral trade deal is vital for post-Brexit Britain to survive outside of the EU. If emerging US-British trade relations were sabotaged by disenfranchising President Trump, then Britain would necessarily have to turn back to rejoining the European Union, which is precisely what a powerful British faction desires.

What unites the anti-Trump forces on both sides of the Atlantic is that they share an atlanticist, pro-NATO worldview, which underpins American hegemony over Europe and Anglo-American-dominated global finance. This atlanticist perspective is vehemently anti-Russian because an independent Russia under President Vladimir Putin is seen as an impediment to the US-led global order of Anglo-American dominance.

The atlanticists in the US and Britain are represented in part by the upper echelons of the intelligence-military apparatus, embodied by the American Central Intelligence Agency and Britain’s Military Intelligence (Section) 6 (MI6).

Notably, incoming US President Donald Trump has expressed indifference towards NATO. This week he repeated comments in which he called the US-led military alliance «obsolete». Trump’s views are no doubt a cause of grave consternation among US-British atlanticists.

It is now emerging that British state intelligence services are involved much more deeply in the dirty tricks operation to smear Trump than might have been appreciated heretofore. The British involvement tends to validate the above atlanticist analysis.

The dirty tricks operation overseen by US intelligence agencies and willing news media outlets appears to be aimed at undermining Trump and, perhaps, even leading to his impeachment.

The former British MI6 agent, named as Christopher Steele, who authored the latest sexual allegations against Trump, was initially reported as working independently for US political parties. However, it now seems that Steele was not acting as an independent consultant to Trump’s political opponents during the US election, as media reports tended to indicate.

Britain’s Independent newspaper has lately reported that Steele’s so-called «Russian dossier» – which claimed that Trump was being blackmailed by the Kremlin over sex orgy tapes – was tacitly given official British endorsement.

That endorsement came in two ways. First, according to the Independent, former British ambassador to Russia, Sir Andrew Woods, reportedly gave assurances to US Senator John McCain that the dossier’s allegations of Russian blackmail against Trump were credible. Woods met with McCain at a security conference in Canada back in November. McCain then passed the allegations on to the American FBI – so «alarmed» was he by the British diplomat’s briefing.

The second way that Britain has endorsed the Russian dossier is the newly appointed head of MI6, Sir Alex Younger, is reported to have used the material produced by his former colleague, Christopher Steele, in preparing his first speech as head of the British intelligence service given in December at the agency’s headquarters in London. That amounts to an imprimatur from MI6 on the Russian dossier.

Thus, in two important signals from senior official British sources, the Russian dossier on Trump was elevated to a serious intelligence document, rather than being seen as cheap gossip.

Excerpts from the document published by US media last week make sensational claims about Trump engaging in orgies with prostitutes in the presidential suite of the Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel while attending a Miss World contest in 2014. It is claimed that Russian secret services captured the alleged lewd activity on tape and will now be able to leverage this «kompromat» in order to blackmail Trump who becomes inaugurated this week as the 45th president of the United States.

Several informed analysts have dismissed the Russian dossier as an amateurish fake, pointing out its vague hearsay, factual errors and questionable format not typical of standard intelligence work. Also, both Donald Trump and the Kremlin have categorically rejected the claims as far-fetched nonsense.

While most US media did not publish the salacious details of Trump’s alleged trysts, and while they offered riders that the information was «not confirmed» and «unverifiable», nevertheless the gamut of news outlets gave wide coverage to the story which in turn directed public attention to internet versions of the «sensational» claims. So the US mainstream media certainly lent critical amplification, which gave the story a stamp of credibility.

US intelligence agencies, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA chief John Brennan, appended the two-page Russian dossier in their separate briefings to outgoing President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump last week. Those briefings were said to mainly focus on US intelligence claims that Russian state-sponsored hackers had carried out cyber attacks to influence the US election last November.

Therefore, US intelligence, their British counterparts and the mass media all played a concerted role to elevate low-grade gossip against Trump into a seemingly credible scandal.

Trump has been waging a war of words with the US intelligence agencies, snubbing them by cutting back on presidential briefings and rubbishing their claims of Russian hacking as «ridiculous». Recently, Trump appeared to shift towards accepting the US intel assessment that Russia had carried out cyber attacks. But he balked at any suggestion that the alleged hacking was a factor in why he won the election against Hillary Clinton.

At a news conference before the weekend, Trump turned up the heat on the US intelligence agencies by blaming them for leaking to the media their briefing to him on the notorious Russian dossier. Trump compared their tactics to that of «Nazi Germany». CIA chief John Brennan couldn’t contain his anger and told media that such a comparison was «outrageous».

Trump may have savaged the Russian blackmail allegations as «fake news». But there are indications that US and British intelligence – and their reliable media mouthpieces – are not giving up on their dirty tricks operation, which has all the hallmarks of a vendetta.

Pointedly, James Clapper, the outgoing US Director of National Intelligence, has said that the secret services have not arrived at a judgment as to whether the Russian blackmail claims are substantive or not. British state-owned BBC has also reported that CIA sources believe that Russian agents have multiple copies of «tapes of a sexual nature» allegedly involving Trump in separate orgies with prostitutes in Moscow and St Petersburg.

In other words this scandal, regardless of veracity, could run and run and run, with the intended effect of undermining Trump and crimping his policies, especially those aimed at normalizing US-Russia relations, as he has vowed to do. If enough scandal is generated, the allegations against Trump being a sexually depraved president compromised by Russian agents – a declared foreign enemy of the US – might even result in his impeachment from the White House on the grounds of treason.

Both the American and British intelligence services appear to be working together, facilitated by aligned news media, to bolster flimsy claims against Trump into allegations of apparent substance. The shadowy «deep state» organs in the US and Britain are doing this because they share a common atlanticist ideology which views Anglo-American dominance over the European Union as the basis for world order. Crucial to this architecture is NATO holding sway over Europe, which in turn relies on demonizing Russia as a «threat to European security».

Clamping down on Trump, either through impeachment or at least corrosive media smears, would serve to further the atlanticist agenda.

For a section of British power – UK-based global corporations and London finance – the prospect of a Brexit from the EU is deeply opposed. The Financial Times list of top UK-based companies were predominantly against leaving the EU ahead of last year’s referendum. Combined with the strategic atlanticist ideology of the military-intelligence apparatus there is a potent British desire to scupper the Trump presidency.

But, as it happens, the American and British picture is complicated by the fact that the British government of Prime Minister Theresa May is very much dependent on cooperation and goodwill from the Trump administration in order for post-Brexit Britain to survive in the world economy outside the EU.

The British government is committed to leaving the EU as determined by the popular referendum last June. To be fair to May’s government, it is deferring to the popular will on this issue. Premier May is even talking about a «hard Brexit» whereby, Britain does not have future access to the European single market. Fervent communications between Downing Street and the Trump transition team show that the British government views new bilateral trade deals with the US as vital for the future of Britain’s economy. And Trump has reciprocated this week by saying that Britain will be given top priority in the signing of new trade deals.

In this way, the British establishment’s divisions over Brexit – some for, some against – are a fortunate break for Trump. Because that will limit how much the British intelligence services can engage in dirty tricks against the president in league with their American counterparts. In short, the atlanticist desire to thwart Trump has lost its power to act malevolently in the aftermath of Britain’s Brexit.

That might also be another reason why Donald Trump has given such a welcoming view on the Brexit – as «a great thing». Perhaps, he knows that it strengthens his political position against deep state opponents who otherwise in a different era might have been strong enough to oust him.

Trump and Brexit potentially mean that the atlanticist sway over Europe is fading. And that’s good news for Russia.

January 21, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Europe’s Battle: Nationalists vs. Elites

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By Andrew Spannaus | Consortium News | October 26, 2016

In recent years “nationalism” has become a bad word in Europe, a synonym of closure, racism and wars. Over the past 20-25 years European elites have instead embraced a concept of globalization based on a world without economic, physical and social borders.

This view assumes the gradual affirmation of a set of shared values internationally, consisting of human rights and economic freedom, that however much the remaining closed, autocratic regimes may try, will inevitably become the standard for the entire world.

It is essentially the argument put forward by Francis Fukuyama in “The End of History:” liberal democracy and free markets have won the ideological war, and represent the culmination of human evolution.

The political events of 2016 are upending this view of the globalization of human rights and economic liberalism. The American electorate has supported a series of outsiders – most notably Donald Trump, who has run his campaign in direct opposition to the U.S. political and financial class, invoking economic protectionism and a stronger national identity.

Against expectations, the population of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, marking an irreparable break in the supposedly inevitable process of European unification. And across Europe support is growing for more extreme, anti-system political forces, that threaten not only to withdraw from the common currency – the Euro – but also to seal the borders in response to economic and security threats associated with immigration.

Establishment’s Failure

It is no exaggeration to speak of the failure of the entire transatlantic political establishment. Since the 1970s, Western economies have undergone a post-industrial transformation that has favored short-term gain over long-term investment. The notion of economic freedom has translated principally into support for deregulation and speculative finance.

Central Banks have made unlimited resources available to the financial sector while large areas of the real economy struggle to survive, feeding discontent among the population. It is true that new economic sectors have arisen, along with widespread changes made possible by technologies that were inconceivable until a few years ago, but the overall effect has been to hollow out the middle class and create large-scale income equality.

In Europe, the principal vehicle of this process has been the economic policy of the European Union. From the implementation of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, European nations have been stuck in a monetary straitjacket, that prevents governments from taking effective economic action. In the name of market principles, liberalization has been implemented that favors large financial interests while lowering standards of living for the middle class.

Countries are constitutionally required to move towards a balanced budget, with the European Commission and the European Central Bank essentially having veto power over national policies. This has translated into harsh austerity, including the massive budget cuts and tax increases inflicted on countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy in recent years.

Despite paying lip service to the need for change, the economic and political elites have refused to abandon this approach, that not only ignores the suffering of the population, but actually makes the problem worse. In fact the austerity causes a drop in economic activity and thus exacerbates budget problems, leading to a vicious cycle that Europe seems unable to stop.

A Big Backlash

The resulting backlash is calling into question the process of European integration as a whole, provoking a strenuous defense by the elite of institutions that are said to have guaranteed “50 years of peace” after the Second World War.

It is true, of course, that there are some benefits to E.U. integration, and that nobody wants to return to a situation of conflict among the member states. But the current policies are quite different than the fruitful cooperation that existed until the 1990s, when the financial elite began its move to exert supranational control.

Now, the failed economic policies of the past 20 years are no longer sustainable. Governments are forced to negotiate over .1 percent of the budget deficit with the bureaucracy in Brussels, while the need for public and private investment runs in the trillions.

The pro-finance, anti-production policies must change not for ideological reasons or to serve some specific interest group; they must change because there is no other choice. People are revolting against a political class that does not respond adequately to widespread economic and social discontent. In times of economic distress the population becomes more vulnerable to demagogues, raising the risk of dangerous outcomes, as seen with Fascism and Nazism in the 1920s and 1930s.

Currently, there are unprepared and unpredictable political forces with growing support across Europe, that in some cases represent a threat to the democratic rights and values that the European Union aims to promote. Defending the orthodoxy of E.U. policy against popular movements that target failed economic policies, will only further damage precisely those values on which Europe is said to stand.

What to Do

At this point Europe needs a return to measures that promote productive investment and innovation, rather than cut social welfare programs and encourage further deregulation.

There are two potential directions: a wholesale change in the policies of the E.U. institutions, without modifying their essential structure, or a step back from the process of cancellation of national sovereignty.

The first option seems unrealistic, for various reasons. These include the constitutional nature of many economic and budget constraints, and the stubbornness demonstrated by the European ruling class in recent years; a class that, despite numerous alarm bells, does not at all seem ready to abandon an elitist view of globalization.

The response to the Brexit vote is a glaring example. Representatives of the E.U. institutions lashed out with arrogance and bitterness, essentially accusing half of the British population of being ignorant, racist and isolationist. It’s a comforting excuse based on partial truths, that avoids reflection on Europe’s own mistakes.

At this point a return of decision-making power to national governments is becoming inevitable: not in order to stop international cooperation, or to reject shared values, but because the model pursued by the supranational institutions and their allies in the financial world has failed, and risks producing both serious internal conflicts, and unacceptable strategic failures in an increasingly complex world.


Andrew Spannaus is a freelance journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He is the founder of Transatlantico.info, that provides news, analysis and consulting to Italian institutions and businesses.

October 26, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment