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The task of workers and progressive people in this election campaign has to been to organise in favour of bringing to power an anti-war government. It has been to occupy the space for change in this regard, and to seriously challenge the pro-war consensus and anti-social agenda of the Westminster cartel.
There have been many pressures urging and cajoling the electorate to give up their struggles, and to engage in the beauty contest between the "three leaders" as the way forward, as the crucial step. However, the point has been for the working class and people to get further organised, to envision and nurture the alternative. It has been to reject the hysteria and the raising of passions aimed to divide the polity, and to disorient the people from uniting around an aim that favours their own interests. It has been for thinking people to reject the conspiracy of silence between all the big parties and the monopoly and local media against the war in Afghanistan being highlighted as a crucial issue.
The three big Westminster parties have all been speaking about "change" in an attempt to impose their own version of "change" on the people, and to prevent the people forming their own vision and advancing their own struggle for the alternative, based on the necessity for change. But it has emerged in all this hysteria about "change" that the ruling elite cannot find a champion for their pro-war, anti-worker and anti-social project. They seem intent on destroying some contenders and making do with others. This is providing an opportunity for the working class to put forward its own pro-social and anti-war agenda and rally all the people round it.
As WDIE said at the beginning of the election campaign: "The election can be used, not for the people to abandon their struggles for peace and the realisation of their rights, but to advance the fight for an anti-war government. The movement to elect alternative and genuinely anti-war candidates is gaining momentum. The future can be secured only through the peoples own efforts. The new is taking shape concretely, and the working class and people can contribute by working to elect those candidates who recognise in practice the need for an anti-war government and who fight for its realisation."
Fight for an Anti-War Government!
John Pilger, New Statesman, May 4, 2010
Is there any difference between Australia's leaders and the three front-runners in Britain's election when it comes to attitudes to war?
Staring at the vast military history section of the airport shop, I had a choice: the derring-do of psychopaths or scholarly tomes with their illicit devotion to the cult of organised killing. There was nothing I recognised from reporting war. Nothing on the spectacle of children's limbs hanging in trees and nothing on the burden of shit in your trousers. War is a good read. War is fun. More war, please.
On 25 April, the day before I flew out of Australia, I sat in a bar beneath the great sails of the Sydney Opera House. It was Anzac Day, the 95th anniversary of the invasion of Ottoman Turkey by Australian and New Zealand troops at the behest of British imperialism. The landing was an incompetent stunt of blood sacrifice conjured by Winston Churchill, yet it is celebrated in Australia as an unofficial national day. The ABC evening news always comes live from the sacred shore at Gallipoli, where, this year, as many as 8,000 flag-wrapped Antipodeans listened, dewy-eyed, to the Australian governor general, Quentin Bryce, who is the Queen's viceroy, describe the point of pointless mass killing. It was, she said, all about a "love of nation, of service, of family, the love we allow ourselves to receive. [It is a love that] rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. And it never fails."
Of all the attempts at justifying state murder I can recall, this drivel of DIY therapy, clearly aimed at the young, takes the blue riband. Not once did Bryce honour the fallen with the two words that the survivors of 1915 brought home with them: "Never again." Not once did she refer to a truly heroic anti-conscription campaign, led by women, that stemmed the flow of Australian blood in the First World War, the product not of a gormlessness that "believes all things", but of anger in defence of life.
The next item on the TV news was the Australian defence minister, John Faulkner, with the troops in Afghanistan. Bathed in the light of a perfect sunrise, he made the Anzac connection to the illegal invasion of Afghanistan in which, on 12 February last year, Australian soldiers killed five children. No mention was made of them. On cue, this was followed by an item that a war memorial in Sydney had been "defaced by men of Middle Eastern appearance". More war, please.
In the bar of the Opera House, a young man wore campaign medals that were not his. That is the fashion now. Smashing his beer glass on the floor, he stepped over the mess, which was cleaned up by another young man who the TV newsreader would say was of Middle Eastern appearance. Once again, war is a fashionable extremism for those suckered by the Edwardian notion that a man needs to prove himself "under fire" in a country whose people he derides as "gooks" or "ragheads" or simply "scum". (The current public inquiry in London into the torture and murder of an Iraqi hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa, by British troops has heard that "the attitude held" was that "all Iraqis were scum".)
There is a hitch. In this, the ninth year of the thoroughly Edwardian invasion of Afghanistan, more than two-thirds of the home populations of the invaders want their troops to get out of where they have no right to be. This is true of Australia, the United States, Britain, Canada and Germany. What this says is that, behind the media façade of politicised ritual such as the parade of coffins through Wootton Bassett millions of people are trusting their own critical and moral intelligence and ignoring propaganda that has militarised contemporary history, journalism and parliamentary politics Australia's Labour prime minister, Kevin Rudd, for instance, describes the military as his country's "highest calling".
Here in Britain, Polly Toynbee anoints the war criminal Tony Blair as "the perfect emblem for his people's own contradictory whims". No, he was the perfect emblem for a liberal intelligentsia prepared cynically to indulge his crime. That is the unsaid of the British election campaign, along with the fact that 77 per cent of the British people want the troops home. In Iraq, duly forgotten, what has been done is a holocaust. More than a million people are dead and four million have been driven from their homes. Not a single mention has been made of them in the entire campaign. Rather, the news is that Blair is Labour's "secret weapon".
All three party leaders are warmongers. Nick Clegg, the darling of former Blair lovers, says that, as prime minister, he will "participate" in another invasion of a "failed state" provided there is "the right equipment, the right resources". His one reservation is the standard genuflection towards a military now scandalised by a colonial cruelty of which the Baha Mousa case is but one of many.
For Clegg, as for Brown and Cameron, the horrific weapons used by British forces, such as cluster bombs, depleted uranium and the Hellfire missile, which sucks the air out of its victims' lungs, do not exist. The limbs of children in trees do not exist. This year alone, Britain will spend £4bn on the war in Afghanistan. That is what Brown and Cameron almost certainly intend to cut from the health service.
Edward S Herman explained this genteel extremism in his essay "The Banality of Evil". There is a strict division of labour, ranging from the scientists working in the laboratories of the weapons industry, to the intelligence and "national security" personnel who supply the paranoia and "strategies", to the politicians who approve them. As for journalists, our task is to censor by omission and make the crime seem normal for you, the public. For, above all, it is your understanding and your awakening that are feared.
Finian Cunningham, Global Research, May 2, 2010
Voters go to the polls on Thursday in a general election that promises to be historic for all the wrong reasons.
Firstly, voter turnout threatens to hit a post-Second World War record low. Over the past six decades, the percentage of eligible Britons casting their vote has steadily fallen from 80-70 per cent to around 60 per cent. With public apathy and antipathy towards the three main political parties the incumbent Labour government, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats running at all-time highs, there is a real prospect that the general election of 2010 will see as many citizens forfeiting their democratic right as those turning out to vote.
Part of the collapse in democratic participation in Britain (as elsewhere) is due to growing public realization that the main parties are "out of touch" in terms of putting forward solutions to address the severe problems facing society: mounting social misery, unemployment, poverty and debt, both individually and nationally. The budget deficit is estimated to be around £163 billion, which, some commentators say, puts Britain on a par with Greece in terms of its gravity.
This brings us to the second most notable characteristic of the 2010 election: there is now patently no political choice on offer to voters. The putative essence of western-style parliamentary democracy is that "the people" exercise a choice in selecting a political party based on manifestos of differing ideas and policies.
From 1945-97, there was at least the semblance that the Labour Party in particular represented the interests of the working and lower middle classes. But under the "reforming" leadership of Tony Blair and his successor, Gordon Brown, "New Labour" has become indistinguishable from the other main parties in terms of slavishly fawning over big business and the wealthy elite. Prior to the 1997 election, which brought Labour to government, one senior Conservative smugly noted that, in terms of economic policy, there was "not a cigarette paper between" the Thatcherite Tory Party and Blairs New Labour.
That election, by the way, marked the post-Second World War slump in voter participation, which now looks set to slump even further.
The facts on the ground tend to corroborate this morphing of politics into a mainstream mulch of nothingness for ordinary people. The gap between rich and poor has widened over the past 13 years of Labour government, even surpassing the notoriously pro-wealthy previous 19 years of Conservative government. A recent Rich List compiled by the Sunday Times found that Britains 1,000 super-rich saw their wealth increase by one-third or £77 billion to a total £334 billion during 2009 alone. Evidently, the only thing that a large chunk Labour Prime Minister Gordon Browns £1,000 billion stimulus package achieved was stimulating the assets of the already wealthy.
All three main political parties have said that economic austerity is the necessary tough medicine to cure Britains sick fiscal condition. Despite the outrageous aggrandizement of wealth by a tiny elite, the wider public is being told that they will have to pay for the economic crisis through higher taxes and massive cuts in public services.
In an advertently shocking admission of the stranglehold on Britains politics, a Financial Times (26 April) front-page headline read: "Brutal choices over British deficit". Its report went on to say: "The next government will have to cut public sector pay, freeze benefits, slash jobs, abolish a range of welfare entitlements and take the axe to programmes such as school building and road maintenance." In other words: you can vote, but it wont make a difference this is how the economy is going to be run as dictated by capital.
Ruled out from the outset, it seems, are imminently sensible and workable options, such as taxing the super-rich whose combined wealth is more than twice than of Britains budget deficit, or immediately ending budget-draining criminal wars of foreign occupation.
This "no choice democracy" is being foisted on ordinary people everywhere, from North America to Europe. It is the other side of the prescription of "economic structural adjustment" that for decades was the "tough medicine" that international capital forced poverty-stricken nations to swallow. The "choice" it seems is: you can hold your nose while swallowing this, or you may not hold your nose. The non-election of 2010 marks the nadir in western so-called liberal democracy in which "we the people" have pointedly no choice in how our societies are to be run. Because we are all Third Worlders now. Bankrupt politics in hand with bankrupt economics.
One indirect benefit, however, could the widening realization among ordinary people whether in Britain, the US, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Latvia, etc. that a solution to the crisis in the capitalist political economy cannot be found in the present dead-end framework of mainstream parties.
Finian Cunningham is a journalist and musician http://www.myspace.com/finiancunninghammusic
The governor of the Bank of England warned last night that the austerity measures required to shore up the country's finances would be so unpopular that the next government would be out of power for a generation.
Mervyn King's comments were revealed just hours before the final leaders' debate.
The American economist David Hale, who has known King for many years, said in an Australian television interview: "I saw the governor of the Bank of England last week when I was in London, and he told me whoever wins this election will be out of power for a whole generation because of how tough the fiscal austerity will have to be."
The Bank of England declined to comment, but confirmed that King and Hale had had a private meeting in early March.
His comments come amid growing concern that none of the three main parties has been open about the scale of spending cuts and tax rises that will be necessary.
(New Statesman, April 30, 2010)
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