Rock Bottom: Are We There Yet (now Boris is PM)?

In the last post, The Matrix and How to Escape It, I conjectured about the role of fiction – from fairytales to Hollywood – in creating our readiness to believe nonsense, such as conspiracy theories, New Age ideas or political propaganda, and I suggested that the escape route from this mind-numbing “Matrix” is through educating ourselves, learning critical thinking skills, limiting our exposure to biased social media and embracing realism.

I almost deleted the bit of the title, “and How to Escape It”, because I wasn’t sure about that part. Is there any escape from the Matrix? Can we wake up? If you do, does it actually get you anywhere other than depressed, watching the Pied Piper gathering in the sleeping children?

I suppose it depends on whether the goal is merely to become aware of what’s happening or actually change it, and then whether reform can take place through gradual increase in political enlightenment, peaceful protest and rational voting habits, or if we’re heading for a violent revolution. Our masters don’t show any signs of being ready to relinquish their power or cease abusing it to our detriment and that of the planet. I used to pity the poor deluded preppers; now I’m thinking of stockpiling, and perhaps “for a no-deal Brexit” is a good enough excuse.

sea waves

I still have a little faith in my hypothesis: things get worse until they reach rock bottom, and then, with luck, you bounce, but my aspiration to realistic analysis demands considering the alternative where we just keep going down (and all my assumptions behind the model, of course, ideally:- Are things really getting worse? Is cyclic change part of the process? Etc.).

A while ago, I was unrealistically pessimistic about the younger generation being rather unconcerned about global warming. I hadn’t been paying attention to the news, while Greta Thunberg was organising school strikes, and the Extinction Rebellion protesters were beginning to hit the headlines. So I was wrong about that, perhaps, and there it was, evidence for my hypothesis at last. On public awareness and action on global warming, it looks like we might be near rock bottom, and starting to bounce.

I heard someone make an interesting point a while ago. Had Trump not been elected, he said, the festering anger that he tapped into would still have been there, perhaps made even worse by Clinton’s election reinforcing their conspiracy theories, but, because he was, his supporters will eventually be faced with the failure of his empty promises, and the failure of the populist experiment. So perhaps Trump, however awful, is better than the counter-factual. We have to make mistakes and fail to learn what we did wrong.

I speak of this now, of course, because I’m a Brit, and we’re in dire straits. BoJo the Clown recently became British Prime Minister, echoing the rise of the liar who blagged his way to the top position in the United States of America. While Boris Johnson doesn’t seem to be following the Law of Attraction and isn’t likely to have been in the pastoral care of Norman Vincent Peale, he’s similarly touting the power of positive thinking to solve the Brexit impasse (by playing Russian roulette with the country across the table from the EU negotiators) or to make a no-deal Brexit a good thing.

It seems more likely (given the circumstancs) that he’s using this trope, the common New-Age solipsistic appeal to optimism, to persuade the gullible voters that either of those is a good plan, rather than a desperate attempt to avoid certain realities, which are that the Brexit Referendum was idiotic from the start, you can’t have a clear mandate from asking a non-specific question, and the only solution is to gently explain that to the public, apologise, and ask more specific questions until the answers are clear (admittedly, something it’s almost too late to do now).

Eton boys – of which Johnson was one – are required to gain elected positions in their school by persuading their peers to vote for them by any means, rather than by genuine accomplishment or usefulness, and the result is the perfection of empty charm and empty promises, ideally suited to a political career. One has to develop the ability to lie convincingly, or distract someone from the potential humiliation of your having bribed them, and what better way than not to care what the truth is whilst becoming equally immune to ethical concerns? I imagine Johnson has very little idea how his ridiculous gamble will turn out; he just knows how to fight dirty and claim victory whatever the outcome. He has, like Trump, little use for facts unless they’re about the geography of his personal battleground.

On appointment to Prime Minister, Mr Johnson immediately sacked members of Cabinet who might bring critical balance to his headlong dash towards the Brexit cliff, along with a few who backed his rivals, perhaps remembering what he said was his favourite scene from the movies when asked: “the multiple retributive killings at the end of The Godfather“.

It takes almost no effort to discover what a self-serving, lying piece of shit Boris Johnson is and thus form the opinion that we shouldn’t trust the man with a cake fork, let alone the country’s rudder, yet the small minority of Tory members who had a vote on the leadership apparently haven’t enough grip on reality to make that assessment, nor, judging by his popularity in the polls, do vast swathes of this deluded land. Given an even larger stage on which to perform his impression of a people’s statesman, he will now persuade many more that he can untie the Gordian knot of Brexit and make Britain great again…until he doesn’t. And when it all goes tits up, he’ll persuade the same people that falling off the cliff (or being pushed) was a great success or necessary, or that whatever materializes was inevitable, and someone else’s fault, despite his valiant – nay, superhuman – efforts. As with the New-Age quack, he can just accuse everyone of not engaging enough optimism to pull it off; we didn’t believe in ourselves enough, and thus the cancer has unfortunately metastasized. The practitioner will be off fixing the next game only he can win while the patient fades.

I try not to attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity, but in this case a fair balance was involved: the malice of those with power and the stupidity of those without it. Some of the Leavers complain indignantly that we accuse them of being stupid and not knowing what they were voting for, which plea only demonstrates that they’re stupid enough to imagine they had sufficient grasp of global politics and economics to make a sensible binary choice given an unexplained compex question, and to ignore the possibility that they were deceived. Imagine we’d been asked to choose between different designs of rocket for our space programme, or the best technique for a particular type of brain surgery, and the only source of information we were ever likely to come across was partisan tweets and Facebook posts designed to get us to vote on emotion. But Brexiting isn’t rocket science or brain surgery. It’s more complicated by an unimaginable factor.

As it happens, somebody had been manipulating our beliefs since year dot, and BoJo had a big hand in that. When Brexit was hardly a glint in Johnson’s eye and he was Brussels Correspondent for the Telegraph (having previously been sacked from the Times for making shit up), he was instrumental in starting a wave of Euroscepticism based on lies about silly bureaucratic rules, which the Brits – enjoying both a good laugh and a good moan – lapped up and passed on everywhere they met. All and sundry on the Right joined in, soon persuading us that we, the Most Important People In History, were having to toe somebody else’s ridiculously unreasonable and undemocratic line.

It was horrific, the oppression by Brussels. We had always suffered from Continental meddling in this little island; we always lived in fear of invasion by the French or Germans, always resented any kind of foreigner coming to our shores. We let in some of our “colonial cousins” when we needed bus drivers and nurses, until we thought better of it and devised laws to strip them of their British citizenship; now suddently we were overrun with deprived Eastern immigrants selfishly doing the jobs we didn’t want to do for almost or literally nothing, and there were even Islamic terrorists, allegedly, one or two surviving illegal boat journeys from the Middle East, wanting to cut our heads off for farting. None of us were safe in our beds.

But worst of all, we had Brussels telling us what shape bananas ought to be. Of course, this wasn’t all Mr Johnson’s fault. The most virulent racist throwbacks had always been trying to drive the country Hard-Rightward, and Nigel Farage managed to present a pseudo-political narrative that condensed and conflated all these xenophobic proclivities and disguised them as nostalgia for how Britain used to be: jolly faces quaffing pints in the summer sun outside a quaint old pub to the sound of quoits and Morris dancers, our doors at home left unlocked.

To cut a long story short, what was happening is that the elites were continuing their project of stealing as much from the poor as possible. The gentrification and vanity projects and bank bailouts and lavish bonuses and tax dodging weren’t enough; they had to squeeze the plebs too with pay freezes, closure of libraries and youth centres, cut-backs in emergency services, cuts in unemployment and sickness benefits. We had to “live within our means” and “tighten our belts”. Austerity was a moral good. It’s just simple housekeeping, so, no, sorry, we don’t have the money to fill the pot-holes in your road.

What Thatcher started, selling the country’s assets to the highest bidder, had come to this: a capital city full of empty properties owned by absentee billionaires while citizens froze on the streets or burned in their inflamable tower blocks or hanged themselves in prison. But, somehow, just over half of us were persuaded all our ills were down to being part of the European Union, letting in too many foreigners and not being able to make our own laws about the colour of sausages.

By the time we got to the Referendum, Johnson famously wrote two articles about leaving the EU, one pro, the other con, and later claimed that this was just his way of thinking it all through, rather than preparing for a last-minute opportunistic decision which to back. Those who know him aren’t fooled; they know he is a calculating strategist, always choosing the path most likely to lead to his personal advancement. He saw the only opportunity was heading the Leave side, and pasted that enormous lie on the big red bus.

He didn’t come up with it, of course. The author of the £350-million-a-week-for-the-NHS lie, mastermind of the Leave Campaign, was the even more self-serving Dominic Cummings, whom the self-serving David Cameron once called a “career psychopath”. Cummings also penned the ear-worm, “Take Back Control”, which almost certainly won the day, so double-thinky it could be straight out of Nineteen Eighty-Four. There is an enormous physical and legal infrastructure that unites us with the Continent, built over decades, and much of the rest of the world is hostile or indiferent to us; we’re going to be about as in control as if we’d got tired of riding a train and uncoupled the carriage we’re in at the points.

Anyway, Cummings has now been given a chance to finish the job, appointed as a senior policy adviser, despite recently being held in contempt of Parliament for refusing to give evidence to a committee of MPs. What were they investigating? Fake news during the Referendum, of course, all those extreme, baseless memes delivered as targeted advertising to us on social media, which nudged us to that “clear mandate” of 52%. At the time, the Committee lamented their lack of legal teeth in administering such an admonishment, and, as we now see, career psychopaths given a slap on the wrist just carry on as usual.

Rather than take condemnation by Parliament seriously, Johnson has put him in charge of the bus again. This is what the Matrix engineers need, highly motivated psychopaths with knowledge of the law, so they can bamboozle us right up to the legal line without crossing it, if possible. The same principle informs Trump’s career, although the immunity from indictment of a US President means you can actually cross the line with relative impunity.

Our Western democracies have been corrupted to the point of ruin. Politicians (many of them) now appeal to the basest instincts of humanity, whipping us up into rage against minorities, immigrants, the sick, the poor, anyone other than those actually responsible for the serious problems we face, whilst proclaiming the power of optimism to solve them. They need not stoop to presenting rational argument or unbiased facts: we’re trained now not to expect them, if we ever did, and in the main we did not. What we want is to believe somebody (the good guy) and/or blame somebody else (the bad guy). We’ll build a wall and push the bill underneath. We’ll wave a magic wand and disappear the EU’s intransigent backstop.

Mr Johnson was always a vacuous liar, and is now pumping out impossible dreams of a new British golden age, lies that almost rival the gall of the US President’s, who currently tweets that Boris is “great”, and “Britain Trump” (sic).

So, I don’t know. Is there an escape from this hall of mirrors? We are fortunate not to have descended into a mirror hell, like that of Russia or China. Not yet, but that must surely be a real danger, however unimaginable it may seem to us, the “free”. It seems as though all semblance of personal integrity and professional pride has evaporated from the Western political scene, just when we need it the most, leaving our democratic power as impotent as it was before Magna Carta.

I am sure those virtues are bubbling away still in the Labour Party, and perhaps more hotly than our media allows us to believe, but I fear that the Left doesn’t know whether to embrace populism, as the regrettable but expedient option in the modern world, or have faith that there’s still an appetite for realism and honour among the electorate. Jeremy Corbyn was uniquely doing both, becoming popular by telling us the truth, but he soon lost that skill. Why, when he’s interviewed now, does he sound like a smug prefect at school explaining that the teachers are doing a bad job and he’s ready to do a better one? Surely he’d galvanize more support by talking tougher, being angrier and exposing the corrupt capitalist machinery, describing exactly how it churns and spits people out, so we understand why we’re covered in our own blood. The usual complaint is that he’s too far Left and Labour needs a more moderate leader. What we need is someone to talk truth to power, loudly and continuously.

Because we really have been lulled into incomprehension and apathy, sucked into the Matrix. We’re living in a nightmare just comfortable enough to sleep through. There are even realists on the Tory side – like Rory Stewart – who can’t wake us up. We don’t want the truth. We can’t handle the truth.

We were unready for the Information Revolution, I suppose, having not reached a sufficient level of education via the printing press to resist the charms of rhetoric-peddlers. Given a voice by Zuckerberg and friends – indeed our own publishing house – the erstwhile silent majority had no idea what to do with it other than to rail with moral indignation against some other underprivileged section of our own class, which the rich have persuaded us is the problem.

Are we learning? Are we getting anywhere at all? I keep seeing those men and women stretching themselves across the road in front of Johnson’s cavalcade, ushered aside by the police. Maybe we’re bouncing, or about to. Maybe rock bottom is hereabouts. Maybe, somehow, before too long, we can wrest our governments from the grip of career psychopaths. If not soon, it’ll be too late.

This is, of course, a simplistic view, the descent and rebounding, and climate protests aren’t designed to change our entire political systems. I’ve been mixing up all sorts of stuff here, and I have no answers. I’m just trying to clarify things for myself. Like most of us, I’m trying to come to terms with what just happened. It may be now that a hard landing on the Brexit shore might teach us something we won’t learn by retreating to second referendums, and denying “the will of the people” – however badly that will was coerced – might teach us only what we already failed to learn from our long, disgusting history: how vicious, racist and insane the British people are capable of becoming.

I feel strongly that focusing on realism, resisting fake news and questioning everything, is the key to a healthy democracy as well as personal sanity. You can’t speak truth to power unless you figure out what the truth is.

About lettersquash

I am a sixty-something English blogger, musician and programmer. I love nature, walking, cycling and camping. I write about philosophy, atheism, politics and - increasingly - just whatever is going on for me.
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9 Responses to Rock Bottom: Are We There Yet (now Boris is PM)?

  1. Yakaru says:

    Interesting and succinct take on this. (I’ve tried to write several posts dealing with these topics and never quite got any of them to crystalise.)

    Yeh- I also noticed Johnson telling people to be positive. And taking back control is what what New Age scammers sell too. And the viral marketing that The Secret pioneered is also how these crooks use social media to surround people with the same set of lies and isolate them from other sources of information until they can’t even understand what anyone else is saying.

    Here in Germany no one talks of hitting rock bottom — for obvious reasons. Looking from here it is clear that countries can easily fall off a cliff and having done so, there’s nothing to stop them wandering off into the ocean, like the US is currently doing. They won’t be coming back. (I’m not so concerned about Trump — he is so stupid and clueless that he thinks Kim Jong Un is more powerful than him. I am much more worried about others can make out of the mess and chaos he causes.)

    It’s strange that the two most dominant English speaking countries (US & UK) have both decided to self destruct in this manner.


  2. Yakaru says:

    I wanted to add (and sorry for the double post), that I think you might be being a little too generous to Corbyn. For my tastes I immediately had him categorised as an old scholl leftist antisemite, and therefore in possession of all that goes with it: hatred of the west, desire to break up the UK, believer in the idea that mankind is inherently good if placed into a socialist paradise, etc. My view of him went down hill from there. And of course he’s a Brexiter with dreams of turning the UK into Venezuala…


  3. lettersquash says:

    Hi Yakaru, no problem at all about double posting.

    Here in Germany no one talks of hitting rock bottom — for obvious reasons.

    Really? That’s not what I imagined. Or maybe all the decades of angst have been enough. Do Germans avoid mentioning the war or the Nazi past, is that what you mean? I’m afraid I know almost nothing about it, but I understood that Germans had had a very difficult time coming to terms with that, as one would expect, and I imagined there would have been deep and endless discourse about it in academia and probably the public arena too. Anyway, I think (as I said, not knowing really) that Germany is probably a good example of the bounce phenomenon, if there’s any merit to that model at all, and assuming that era is considered the country’s “rock bottom”, having admirable levels of social inclusion and diversity now – but I’d have to look that up.

    Wow, your views of Corbyn are a big surprise to me, and gave me pause for thought. What you wrote sets up the stereotype, “old school leftist antisemite”, and then suggests further disreputable qualities that you assume will apply: “hatred of the west, desire to break up the UK, believer in the idea that mankind is inherently good if placed into a socialist paradise, etc.” And your opinion of him went down from there! I don’t know where you’re getting your news from, but I think it’s been feeding you a certain amount of propaganda. However, again, I have to admit that politics isn’t my forte, and I’ve no head for history. I kind of lean Left myself, although with reservations and concerns.

    I just did a very quick search, and found at least some support for the idea that the “old school leftist” might also be antisemitic (as the link below acknowledges). Hatred of the West is something I’ve seen Noam Chomsky accused of, because he is highly critical of Western imperial war-mongering and economic oppression, responsible for damage and death in the world that’s hard to overstate (which I imagine you are all too aware of). He’s damn right, and Corbyn will be of a similar opinion, and, in that sense, I also “hate the West”. These attrocities aren’t just historic, but continue with vast arms sales and global manipulations of resources and tribal conflicts. Yeah, I hate the West. But what that means is that I love the West – it’s tough love being critical and wanting us to be better. Parts of the West have learned, including Germany. … Britain and the US, not so much. (I wonder if that’s why we’re self-destructing.) So again, I suspect this “West-hating” thing is a just defamation by ideological patriotists.

    I’m not sure if Corbyn wants to “break up the UK”. For whatever reason, he was sympathetic to the Irish Nationalist movement, and the reason may be because the fact that Northern Ireland is part of the UK is seen by many as one of those oppressive acts of the British. I know very little about that and wouldn’t presume to have an opinion, except to say that a lot of territorial disputes like that come down to deciding when “year dot” was – whose land was it “originally” (Picts? Celts?…). The same problem is partly at the root of the Israeli conflict.

    I guess Corbyn might possibly believe that “mankind is inherently good if placed into a socialist paradise”, although I doubt he’s that naive. But that’s perhaps the most apropos criticism, since he has obviously been backing socialism and communism all his adult life. That’s my worry, in a nutshell, because the history of socialism isn’t encouraging. Yet capitalism isn’t fit for purpose either. There’s no perfect system, but a good one must include principles of collectivism, and we’ve almost lost all sight of that.

    Corbyn reaches out to “terrorists” and others who are considered persona non grata in the typical responses of governments and the public, and I think in some – probably most – circumstances that rejectionist response is unhelpful, while reaching out is the only way to begin making peace. And this, of course, is portrayed by those who either innocently don’t understand how conflicts continue and end, or by those with an axe to grind, as guilt by association. Hence the “Corbyn wants to make Britain like Venezuela” meme, and the “friend of Hamas” meme, and this also adds to the “antisemite” meme. Criticism of the Zionist agenda is, of course, another complex issue that gets conflated with antisemitism, though I’m not saying there aren’t examples of the latter in the Labour Party, as with anywhere else. It’s also likely that with Corbyn’s rise to popularity and more frank discussion of our society’s ills, a lot of more extreme anti-Zionists were attracted to the Party, and with them a significant new influx of actual antisemites.

    Really appreciate your comments, as ever. For your consideration:


  4. Yakaru says:

    Ah, I worded that badly. (I wrote that screed quickly while traveling.) I meant Germans feel that there’s really no such thing as hitting rock bottom because they went further down than any country has ever gone and they were powerless to stop it, and there was no end until it was militarily destroyed.

    The bouncing back was of course thanks to US loans etc., and also the fact that up until WWI they were the world leader in every field of science, culture, art, industry, state administration, etc etc and more. They have done more than any country with a dark past to work through it, distance themselves and reverse what they could reverse. But I’d use a different metaphor than hitting rock bottom and bouncing back. (I don’t know which different metaphor though!)

    Ok… Corbyn…
    Mostly I get my news on him from the Guardian and his own statements.

    In my opinion, he should have been expelled from the Labour Party for laying that wreath at the grave of that Black September terrorist.

    I agree with (the usually anodyne) Jonathon Freedland’s take on it in general

    –“As one who knows this community well, I can tell you: what’s motivating those Jews protesting about antisemitism in Labour is fear of antisemitism, no more and no less. It’s wrong to suggest their true purpose is thwarting the Corbyn project, as if the Jews who demonstrated in Westminster on Monday are pretending to be outraged by anti-Jewish racism when their real motive is stopping the renationalisation of the railways.”–

    I just can’t hear any more of this “Israel is like the Nazis” lunacy, or “Yes, I did retweet an antisemitic conspiracy but I didn’t read it, and I apologise, and now I’ve done it again”. He clearly acted to prevent antisemites getting suspended or expelled, and has instead set half a million pounds worth of lawyers on the whistleblowers.

    Comparing what the US did in Fallujah to ISIS is revealing in its stupidity, as is describing Hamas as his “friends” and a “movement for social justice”. And appearing on Iranian Press TV and getting paid 10 grand after they broadcast a false confession gained under torture. Simply unacceptable, I think, for a potential leader.

    (Also, I would take issue with the distinction between antizionism and antisemitism. It’s the same thing. Zionism is simply the idea that Jews have a right to a home — in this case, the country they’ve already got.)

    And had Labour had a pro EU leader, Brexit wouldn’t have happened. Instead he took a two week holiday during the campaign. And since then he’s only gotten weaker — the best he can manage to pretend to be sitting on the fence. Half the UK has gone mad, and they’ll love Johnson, but the other half are left without representation.

    (Sorry if all that sounds ill tempered. I’ve just spent 13 hours traveling on trains thanks to a missed connection, and my nerves are frazzled. I spent the time getting almost through the rest of Lipton’s book, so I might have used the word ‘stupid’ here too many times as a result.)


  5. lettersquash says:

    Re Germany, I think we see it very similarly, and I now see what you meant. That’s the problem with metaphors, as well as not being very good at healing sickness!

    On Corbyn, I didn’t find your tone a problem at all. It matches your view of the subject. I’m seriously challenged here, seriously uninformed, and will have to read more about it. I apologise for suggesting that you were reacting from propoganda, and it might turn out more true of my own view. So I should leave those details until I can say more with evidence. I find your reading difficult to square with other things documented about him (AFAIK), including his various helpful acts towards Jewish groups, and some serious support from Jewish groups too.

    I do think anti-Zionism can be distinguished from antisemitism, and defended. I am not persuaded by the plea for Jews to “have a home”, when this means having a “Jewish State”. I am vehemently against religious (or any other similar sectarian) identification of statehood. Jews should seek homes where they are welcome, and seek to be welcome everwhere they want to be, as should all of us. I am not in favour of an Islamic Caliphate, however limited in scope or geography. I resent people telling me Britain is a Christian country. And for this reason: that very definition, “Jewish State”, is a discrimination against all other people, and leads in practice to discrimination against those citizens of the country who don’t have that trait, however much the official line is that they’re just as welcome.

    It would be so much better if people could begin to get beyond the unreal identities they stick on themselves, as well as their unreal religions, stop claiming that their bit of the earth is God-promised, and recognise that these magical idiotic claims keep the war grinding on generation after generation. Saying anyone at all is antisemitic whilst proclaiming that Jews are God’s chosen people is quite some irony. What are the rest of us, irrelevant, evil, God’s second-class citizens? How’s that not the worst kind of xenophobia, right at the root of the Jewish creed? Love them. Fuck their bullshit. And if they’re just secular Jews, fuck their double-bullshit. (And can they please stop bulldozing other people’s houses down and building new ones for themselves?)

    And saying any of that, of course, means I’m antisemitic. QED.


  6. Yakaru says:

    I’ve been trying for several years to write a post on this whole topic, and still haven’t done because it’s such a collision of themes and issues — it’s hard to separate out the threads. It also took me several years to find sources of information that I found reliable to use without discovering later that they were concealing things or hadn’t considered important information. So I’m still trying to figure out how to communicate about it, as well as getting some kind of handle on what is going on that area… So I hope I’m not driving your discussion on this far off Corbyn, who you at least mentioned your post — I’ll try and stay on topic…

    The death toll in the Israel-Arab conflict is about 70,000 since 1949. That’s about 6 months worth of Syrian civil war. More than 3000 Palestinian refugees have been killed in Syria over the last year or so, but no one covers it. Hamas executes drug users, imprisons unmarried women who get pregnant and force them to raise their child in prison, execute suspected informers without trial, execute gays, use torture. Instead of using their massive amount of international aid for building houses, creating jobs, they use it for digging tunnels into Israel — 700,000 tons of concrete were put into that as of a few years ago, while the media was covering how people are still homeless because Israel bombed their houses. And the tunnels are dug by children, who of course get buried alive when the tunnels collapse. But the media won’t cover it, and Corbyn calls them a movement for social justice.

    This doesn’t mean no one should criticise Israel, but it does mean that if they are doing that without criticising and reporting on the human rights abuses of Hamas, then that is biased. Also, reporting on “Israel’s blockade of Gaza” rather than Egypt and Israel’s blockade of Gaza, is skewed as well.

    The Palestinian Authority gives out an extraordinary amount of its aid money to the families of successful terrorists — money for number of Jews killed, less if Jews were only injured. It’s unbelievable that no one talks about this. Instead there is only criticism of Israel for locking up terrorists who are usually called assailants by the media, because they see them as freedom fighters trying to get their territory back.

    But the territory disputes are horribly misrepresented in the media and by Corbyn. It is presented as Palestinians trying to get back land that was wrongly taken from them, but this is a massive distortion. They claim they were expelled by in Israel in 1949, but forget to mention that they declared war on Israel and lost. Arabs weren’t expelled (there were some isolated incidents, but it wasn’t a policy or strategy), which is why there are so many Arabs still living happily in Israel.

    Same in 1968 — Arab countries attacked Israel again and the West Bank which Jordan had invaded and occupied in 1949. The borders were never clearly drawn, but the media presents Palestinian claims as obviously justified, but in many areas it’s more like a tricky legal dispute over residential zoning, which has turned violent. It’s incredibly complicated when you look into it.

    The most fanatical Jews want kick a whole bunch of Palestinians out of their homes; the most fanatical Palestinians think they have the right to expel or slaughter all the Jews and destroy Israel. Yet it is only the latter who are presented in the media without comment, as normal. From the river to the sea Palestine will be free — which you’ll hear at rallies in London which Corbyn attends. That’s what they’re talking about. But the media presents it as if they complaining about their homes getting bulldozed. Nope — they’re fighting a multigenerational war on the Jews, and it’s so insane that it’s hard to see it for what it is, and it’s assumed in the media that they just very angry.

    And that anger has become the measure for the supposed crimes of the Israelis. And that’s where this double standard comes from — instead of treating Israel like any other nation, they’re measured against the rage that (some) Palestinians express.

    Indonesia has killed a million or so people in Irian Jaya and 300,000 in East Timor while stealing their land, but it barely gets mentioned. No one questions Pakistan’s or Bangladesh’s “right to exist”, or demands that Kashmir be handed over to the Kashmiris. Yet Israelis bulldozing a few homes in disputed areas that were built without building permits (or the rent hadn’t been paid for years) are gets front page news coverage.

    And Corbyn invites people calling for the (genocidal) destruction of Israel into Parliament.

    Sorry, I’ve blabbed far too much. This is why I haven’t posted anything on it. I lived in Israel for several months and spent years looking into this stuff. It’s hard enough to get a handle on it at all, and even harder to write about succinctly. Could you make any sense of it?


  7. Yakaru says:

    Dave Rich, The Left’s Jewish Problem; (brief interview here, or here)

    Benny Morris, Righteous Victims, History of the Israeli-Arab Conflict (leftist historian, deeply critical of religious fanatics in Israeli government society, covers history of C20 in a sensible manner) – many talks on you tube.


  8. lettersquash says:

    Could you make any sense of it?

    Yes, your point came over well, including how difficult it is to deal with all the complexities. Thank you – I don’t mind conversations going “off topic” either.

    I’ve watched the interviews, and of course feel much persuaded by them. I did recently watch a documentary on the way the Labour Party has dealt with this, which highlighted the interference in the inquiry and processing of claims, so that already but some serious doubts in my head, but now I’m even more aware how little I’ve actually researched on the Israel question, and I’m impressed by how carefully you have, despite feeling you’ve not done enough yet. You’re an inspiration. I’d have less than a sentence to say about German politics.

    I’ve always been equivocal about the Labour Party for many reasons, and never directly supported them (I might have voted for them once or twice, but generally didn’t vote for a very long time, and have voted Green for some time now), but I was infected with the enthusiasm for Corbyn, and I realise I’ve reacted to criticism with some of the “conspiracy theories” in mind that Dave Rich talks of. It’s quite possible – increasingly looking likely – I’ve misjudged this all badly.

    I’m a little shocked by my antisemitism (which it probably actually is) last time, but there it is. I don’t retract it, it’s just a different kind, a different definition (and probably not what people generally would mean by it). I’d protect anyone as much as I could from abuse for their religion, creed, lineage or virtually anything else, because abuse is always a bad thing, but criticism isn’t abuse. I’m anti-Jewish philosophically, just as I’m anti-Christian, and write about that with very little concern that I’m abusing “the Christian community”, though I’m almost certainly offending members of it. I’m fairly confident you understand that position, from things you’ve said about supporting free speech and your own criticism of unscientific belief.

    On the politics, I’ll have to do a lot more research, or just remember not to talk about things I haven’t researched enough. I’m wondering why, as you keep saying, all those other things aren’t mentioned, and particularly why there’s such a one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. I would expect that the default Western position would be to favour the Jews and condemn the Arabs, yet you say there’s a serious bias the other way. Heck, maybe our MSM is rife with Leftists…as they say in certain quarters… 😐


  9. Yakaru says:

    I’m relieved to read that. I was surprised you saw Corbyn so differently. (I know little about the guy beyond his attitudes to Jews, though I’d noticed that Gary Younge, whose opinions I respect enormously and wouldn’t want to argue with about politics, likes Corbyn — so clearly I’d missed something.)

    But I have seen it up close for so long. On twitter I’d see someone pointing out an antisemitic statement by a Labour MP, and then see about 200 replies from Labour members screaming about Zio-nazis running a smear campaign in the Zionist-controlled media to bring down “Jeremy”, along with death and rape threats and calls for the death of Israel. Then there’d be a half-hearted apology from the MP, regretting “the offense caused”.

    Corbyn recently said that people “sometimes dip over line the line into antisemitism” when they criticise Israel. But this shows exactly that he still hasn’t realised that the way the criticism of Israel is usually done is intrinsically antisemitic — applying a different standard from that applied to any other country, excusing the use of terrorism against random civilians as long as they’re Jewish, among other things. As if it’s true that Israel is exclusively to blame, and then sometimes people get so angry angry that they step over the line into insults.

    But regardless of the guilt of the Israeli government, why attack Jews in the UK for it? I’ve never been attacked as an Australian for the behaviour of my government, so why Jews? To do so is inherently antisemitic.

    There’s the added problem, that despite all the criticism of Israel’s actions (some of it certainly justified), and boycotts, and foreign leaders refusing to visit, etc, there has been little improvement in the situation of Palestinians. This suggests to me that Israel isn’t really their only problem. No one speaks up for their domestic rights. They have been very clearly used as political pawns by other Arab countries trying to gang up on Israel. (thus, children of refugees who fled the area during the various Arab-instigated wars are still designated as refugees and not allowed to integrate into society or find work, etc. This is the case in Jordan and Syria, probably Lebanon.)

    The media misreports it because if they report on human rights abuses in Gaza or the PA, they get kicked out. For others (including plenty of well informed and decent people like Obama or John Kerry), the narrative of ‘rich white people oppressing poor brown people’ is simply too strong to look behind, and they never quite get it.

    Many Jews, and especially many Israelis — in my experience, at least — wouldn’t bat an eyelid at your (and my) rejection of Jewish religion and all that goes with it. About half the Jews in Israel identify as ‘secular Jews’, and the Jewish fanatics are widely loathed. Even my (ex)girlfriend who was fairly far down the road towards traditional Judaism hated them. She recalled when she first moved to Israel in 2000 having fanatics throw stones on her car for driving on the Sabbath. These days the country is surprisingly secular — with some ridiculous and disgraceful exceptions. (Jews can’t marry non-Jews in Israel, so must leave, get married and come back; and non-Jewish spouses of Jewish immigrants can easily find their applications rejected simply because of their non-Jewishness. Plus the of course the lunatic settlers.)

    Another thing Corbyn did recently was ostentatiously meet with a rabbi. But the guy was a fanatical anti-Zionist who opposed the existence of Israel until the coming of the Messiah. And he was for the subjugation of women and a bunch of other crazy crap. Thus for the general public he displayed sympathy for Jews, while secretly thumbing his nose at the Jewish community.

    I used to be very hostile to Israel myself, and held some ideas that I would now call antisemitic. (The ideas, not me — as I hadn’t figured out where they came from.) When I started visiting my girlfriend in Israel, I deliberately did NOT read up on any of the history because I didn’t want my opinions to cause any trouble. But the society struck as surprisingly secular and functioning healthily and peacefully.

    In 2014 that war started, (we’d just broken up by then), and I followed the actions of the Israeli government in such a conflict as it unfolded.

    What I saw was that they continually tried to de-escalate the situation and keep their own fanatics under control, insisting they’d find and prosecute the people who had executed a group if Israeli teenagers. Then a group killed (horribly) a Palestinian child in retribution, and Hamas started firing rockets. The Israeli military targeted the source of the rockets as well as they could, dropping dud bombs on targeted buildings with the warning for everyone to get out in 15 minutes. Then they tried a unilateral ceasefire for 36 hours but the rockets kept coming. Then they sent in ground troops and discovered a vast network of attack tunnels under the border into civilian areas and started destroying them, losing 17 soldiers in the process.

    I also saw footage of Hamas setting up rocket launching areas (set up under a tent) and then launching the rockets — next to a hotel where journalists were staying, obviously hoping for the hotel to be bombed. The whole thing was secretly filmed and smuggled out. There were also credible reports of rockets being launched from a playground with children playing in it, which misfired and blew up killing the combatant and several children. Hamas rockets also knocked out power lines cutting off electricity to a large part of Gaza. You can still read condemnations of Israel in the BBC and Guardian for “failing to repair them”, but not saying who blew them up in the first place. This kind of misreporting is a daily occurrence in these outlets. (I follow a couple of blogs that track these incidents.)

    The Palestinians have been offered their own state, under perfectly reasonable conditions, at least half a dozen times since 1948, and rejected the offer each time. In that period, Israel has become largely secular, highly successful state with one of the most stable and innovative economies in the world. This extraordinary disparity can’t just be due to Israeli intransigence over small patches of disputed land, but more likely due to the decision by Arab leaders to reject co-existence with the Jews and plan long term for the destruction of Israel and “rivers of blood in the streets of Tel Aviv”. Israel’s success is an embarrassment to them, given their own failures to build a (more or less) secular, democratic society (according to Egyptian thinker, Hamid Abdel-Samad).

    Anyway, John I guess I should write something about all this on my blog — thanks for letting me rant, and for your responses. I appreciate it!


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