Archive | December, 2017

2018 will see US fighting three and a half wars in Middle East

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By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline 

At a ‘press gaggle’ at the Pentagon on Friday, US Defence Secretary James Mattis revealed that there isn’t going to be any withdrawal from the Syrian conflict. The Trump administration, on the contrary, plans to expand the presence by deploying diplomats and contractors to the north of Syria. Mattis called this a shift “from what I would call an offensive, terrain-seizing approach to a stabilizing” one.

That is to say, he explained, while the diplomats would work toward the “initial restoration of services” and to manage and administer rebuilding cities, the Pentagon will “bring in contractors” for training people on how to clear IEDs” (improvised explosive devices), etc. and alongside there will be a continuing military component to the US presence that “would move our diplomats around, protect them.” Mattis insisted that there is a “demarcation line” separating the US military zone in north and northeastern Syria, which the “Russian regime” and Syrian government are well aware of and are tacitly respecting so far.

Evidently, the US will continue its alliance with the Syrian Kurdish militia (known as YPG) in northern Syria, including the supply of weapons. The US defense spending bill for 2018 has made provision for sending weapons worth $393 million to US partners in Syria. Overall, $500 million, which is an increase of $70 million over 2016) is the allocation for Syria under ‘Train and Equip’ requirements. The budget mentions the opposition forces supported as a part of the train and equip program in Syria as 25,000 strong. The figure will now go up to 30,000 in 2018. Besides, the US and British military are training several hundred militants to create a New Syrian Army to fight the Syrian government forces in the south. (According to Russian estimates, most of the recruits are from ISIS and al-Qaeda groups.)

To be sure, the US’ ‘regime change’ agenda in Syria is back on track. But the Syrian conflict is also transforming as another template of a broader regional confrontation with Iran (and Russia) in the Middle East. The petard of Iran is useful to encourage the Sunni Arab petrodollar states to bankroll the war and overall make the US military interventions in the Middle East to be “self-financing”. (Mattis said, “We’ve got a lot of money coming from international donors for this, including Syria.”)

Meanwhile, this also means that the wars in Syria and Yemen are going to get fused at the hips, as it were. While the Obama administration was inclined to acknowledge that Iran’s interference in the war in Yemen, if at all, has been very minimal, the Trump administration has swung to the other extreme and brands the war as quintessentially a manifestation of Iran’s expansionist policies in the region. This creates the raison d’etre for more direct US intervention in the war in Yemen.

That makes it two full-bodied wars. Then, there is half a war to be added, which is in the nature of the Trump administration’s agenda to generally push back at Iran anywhere and everywhere (eg., Iraq, Lebanon), and, if possible, to bring about a ‘regime change’ in Tehran. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post last week, the US and Israel have set up 4 working groups to advance their “joint work plan” against Iran. This decision has been taken apparently at a secret meeting at the White House in Washington two weeks ago and will be put into the pipeline in 2018.

These two and a half wars become three and a half wars if we are also to add the Afghan war, which is entering its 17th year in 2018. The US has upped the ante by seeking a military solution to the Afghan war, disregarding the saner advice that a political solution is the best way out. The big question is whether 2018 will witnesses a US-Pakistani showdown.

A report in the New York Times on Friday hinted at the Trump administration “strongly considering whether to withhold $255 million in aid that it had delayed sending to Islamabad… as a show of dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s broader intransigence toward confronting the terrorist networks that operate there.” Evidently, the US’ capacity to leverage Pakistani policies is touching rock bottom. The next step could be to deliver on the threat to punish Pakistan. If that happens, there will be hell to pay.

Indeed, in the above cauldron, one hasn’t included the succession in Saudi Arabia, which can likely happen during 2018; the growing instability in Egypt; the continuing anarchy in Libya; or the Saudi-Qatar rift and the consequent unraveling of the GCC. Who says the US is about to cut loose from the Middle East and escape to the ‘Indo-Pacific’? Do not overlook that an overarching priority of the US’ Middle East strategy is also to evict Russia from the region as it managed to do in the early 1970s so as to contain the bear in its lair in Eurasia.

Posted in Middle East, USA0 Comments

NYT Trumpwashes 70 Years of US Crimes

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By Adam Johnson | FAIR 

Trumpwashing—defined as whitewashing, obscuring or rewriting the broader US record by presenting Donald Trump as an aberration (FAIR6/3/16)—was on full display Thursday in a nominally straight news report from the New York Times’ Mark Landler (12/28/17) on how Trump has reshaped US foreign policy. Buried in the otherwise banal analysis was this gem of US imperial agitprop:

Above all, Mr. Trump has transformed the world’s view of the United States from a reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order into something more inward-looking and unpredictable. That is a seminal change from the role the country has played for 70 years, under presidents from both parties, and it has lasting implications for how other countries chart their futures.

There’s lots of ideology to unpack here, but let’s start with the empirically false assertion that the “world” viewed the United States as a “reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order.” Poll (Guardian6/15/06) after poll (Pew, 3/14/07) after poll (PRI, 1/3/14) throughout the years has shown that much of the world views the United States as threat to peace, often taking the top spot as the single greatest threat. What evidence Landler has for the world viewing the US as a sort of good-natured global babysitter is unclear, as he cites nothing to support this hugely important claim (since if Trump’s cynical disregard for “human rights” is nothing new, then there’s no real story here). It’s just thrown out with the assumption the Times readership is sufficiently nationalistic and/or amnesiac to either not notice or not care. It’s designed to flatter, not to elucidate.

"Shock and Awe" in Iraq.

The US invasion of Iraq in defiance of international law

The second dubious assertion is the idea that the US is “viewed” as being (or, by implication, objectively is) concerned with “liberal, rules-based international order.” Perhaps Landler missed the part where the US runs offshore penal colonies for untried political prisoners, and a decade-long drone war that’s killed thousands—both entirely outside the scope of international law. Or the time the US invaded and destroyed Iraq without any international authorization, killing hundreds of thousands. Or perhaps he missed the part where the United States refuses to sign “liberal, rules-based international order” treaties such as the International Criminal Court or the ban on bombs and or a prohibition on nuclear weapons. Or the part where the US not only doesn’t recognize the International Criminal Court, but has a law on its books (dubbed “the Hague Invasion Act,” passed in 2002) that if an American is ever held by the ICC for committing war crimes, the US is obligated to literally invade the Hague and free them.

And this is just in the past 15 years. Landler, even more laughably, starts the clock in 1947, which would include dozens of non-“liberal,” non-“rules-based” coups, invasions, bombing campaigns, assassinations, extrajudicial murders and so forth. The number of actions carried out by the US not sanctioned by even the thinnest pretext of “international order” is too long to list.

What exactly is this “liberal, rules-based international order,” and when did “the world” view the United States as its most reliable anchor? Landler doesn’t say, he simply asserts this highly contestable and ideological claim, and moves on to pearl-clutch about Trump ruining the US’s hard-won moral authority. He has some 100 percent uncut pro-US ideology to push under the guise of criticizing Trump, and no amount of basic historical facts will get in his way.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA0 Comments

IRAN PROTEST CRISIS: Everything you need to know

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By Joaquin Flores – Fort Russ news 

Across the websites of the Associated Press, Reuters, and the U.S establishment’s own ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’, news stories covering apparent violence in Iran and a radical change in the demands of protests have today sprang up, with a tone of extreme urgency.

So what’s the problem? And why are Iranians protesting?

Problematic, however, has been any way to independently verify these claims. The Iranian government has generally been clear that there are two unrelated types of protests going on, simultaneously. However, these claims can only be juxtaposed to claims from Iranian ‘activists’ associated with the radical reformist Green Movement, originally of former Iranian PM Mousavi. But today are themselves divided, and a branch exists today aiding in organizing the smaller protests and ‘stunts’, which is organized in connection with US support.

But the other branch was actually reeled in, absorbed, tamed, and redirected by Rouhani under the auspices of the Ayatollah Khamenei. At the same time, this had the effect of bringing elements of radical reformism closer to vectors of power than they had been since the mid 1990’s.

The elected government’s official view, as reported internationally and by Iranian state media, is actually supportive of the legitimate demands of the mainstream protests. They have already announced this to the protesters, and are working at the level of civil society intervention to de-escalate the protests and usher in a series of new policies and programs aimed at ameliorating some of the legitimate concerns. Meanwhile, government supporters have also turned out en mass to counter the international image being projected by Western media.

With official unemployment at 12% and negative economic growth for a number of years until the 2016 GDP boom that saw 12% growth, without these gains properly trickling down, and a whole period of inflation which hasn’t been recovered from yet (as sellers saw what price maximums were possible), what we are also seeing in Iran are real people protesting about real problems.

To be clear – the government of Iran is not blaming the legitimate protesters as ‘Western agents’. They have said that the protests, correctly, are chiefly related to inflation and other economic related concerns. Rouhani himself has publicly stated that he shares precisely these concerns.

Are Iran’s problems its own doing? Or are there global factors at play?

It isn’t so easy simply to dismiss these complaints from the mainstream of protesters, and dismissively point instead to the economic encirclement the west has placed upon Iran. Iran is nevertheless still a class society with a wide and growing disparity between income groups. There are Iranian billionaires, private owners of firms and joint stock companies, who while operating within the parameters of Iranian sovereignty, also acquire their economic success on the backs of countless Iranians. Their wealth and stature in Iranian society grew significantly under Rafsanjani’s tenure.

That some of these firms themselves are, or had been, the subject of sanctions, is not entirely relevant to the fact that the economic policies of some of the reformists have led to the enrichment of a few at the expense of many. And this is the discourse we are seeing and hearing from Iranians today. What therefore is being presented in Western media, is an inversion of reality.

If anything, a plurality of protesters would likely want to see a return to the policies of Ahmadinejad. Unemployment, for instance, was lowest under his administration. He also placed price controls, and subsidized other goods, in response to the spiraling inflation caused by western imposed sanctions.

Is there anything more we should say about this?

Indeed, opposition to the privatizing and anti-social policies of Rafsanjani, is where the Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran comes from. Rafsanjani, president in the late 80’s through mid 90’s, was of course not entirely unsuccessful in any number of projects important to Iran, including increasing ties with post-Soviet central Asian countries. But significant to the average Iranian laborer or small shop keeper, were his anti-popular measures. So the economic leftism of the Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran is a response to this, and Ahmadinejad rose to prominence in large part through this movement, which he leads.

All this leads to only one conclusion – the Western media is manufacturing a story, with little basis in Iran’s reality and recent history.

So there is something very clear now we must understand about the legitimate mass protests, however, which is that they have nothing substantively to do with the solution set proposed by the Green Movement or, for example, the National Trust party of Karroubi (another prominent reformist). Western media would have you believe that all of this, what you are seeing, is homogeneous in its message, and reformist or even Green, in nature.

Now, understanding the political composition of the mass protests is not so easy – some of course are critical of Rouhani for not being reformist enough, and not open enough. They may parallel some of the demands and concerns of both wings of the Green Movement, or of Karroubi’s National Trust.

What’s the history here?

The Green’s spiritual leader, who was also a leader of the 1979 Revolution, but later fell out of favor in the mid 80’s for reasons we will mention now, is Montazeri. Montazeri himself was demoted and finally pushed out of leadership circles for having liberal criticisms of the Iranian Revolution, and also opposed the regionalization or exporting of the revolution.

So these are themes from the 80’s, which still in some prominent ways are dominating the internal debate within Iranian society today.

So who is protesting?

The vast majority of protesters are either not particularly partisan, or they are – contrary to how the western media blitzkrieg over the last 48 hours has painted it – sympathetic to Ahmadinejad’s criticisms of reformist economic and foreign policy, insofar as this is a policy which has favored an increased polarization of the distribution of wealth and opportunities in the Islamic Republic. So their chief issues are economic concerns, corruption, and distribution of wealth and human services. There is enough sophistication in Iran to understand that in terms of regional politics, everything Iran does in Syria and Iraq is an important move to counter and contain Israel. This is a ‘popular militancy’ that is carried on from the revolution of 1979 itself.

So to understand Rouhani, he has pursued a very similar foreign policy – in effect – as the conservatives and ‘revolution exporters’, as seen in the way that Iran today supports Shiite brigades in Iraq and Syria, and also has their own special forces fighting there in Syria and Iraq, as well as very close support and funding for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Again, these are contrary to what both the Green movement reformists, National Trust reformists, and run-of-the-mill moderate reformists want.

But the economic policy pursued by Rouhani – with a following proviso – has been that of the reformists. That policy has been to have warm economic relations with the west. While there are some divisions there about whether Europe or the US would be a better partner, nevertheless this has been pursued, and for that we saw the government of Rouhani enter into the anti-nuclear agreement that was supposed to be the pathway out of sanctions – one that has, with mixed results, generally worked.

And internally, that policy, again, favors the individual rights of owners and bosses against the middling and lower classes.

Yet the proviso we must insert here, is that the economic policy of the reformists, in their eyes, isn’t responsible for the economic crisis – they view and criticize Rouhani for not in fact succeeding in opening up ties as much as they could be.

Sanctions is a somewhat misleading framework to understand an underlying fact, which is that there is no mechanism or impetus to force seller and buyers in two countries to come to terms, and there are plenty of mechanisms within a country hostile to Iran to nudge its firms not to trade with Iran, even if ‘sanctions’ are not in place. In this way, we can understand the significance of sanctions, but also understand all of the more complex realities that may fall under that general concept, while not being in fact ‘sanctions’ per se.

Membership in the WTO, for example, would work to overcome the problem of this de facto category of sanctions, but the US has blocked Iran’s entrance since reformists pushed for its application in 1996. But just a few months back in September 2017, Iran announced it was officially withdrawing its application. This was a major turning point, and a very ‘anti-reformist’ move by the ostensibly reformist Rouhani.

Two unrelated protest movements happening

In other words, there are at least two sets of protests going on, and while they are mirroring some similar talking points and general descriptions of grievances, their solutions are wildly at odds. We should note that in the north-west of the country, where there have been numerous but small protests, among the demands are a mixture of populist and left economic demands, with greater autonomy demands which mirror the reformists – the later of which the US would very much support as it creates opportunities and pretexts, the likes we have seen in places as far and away from each other as the former Yugoslavia and Syria re the Kurdish question.

To understand this: imagine genuine socialists and genuine libertarians both protesting in the U.S. about the failures of the public education system, with socialists urging greatly more funding, and libertarians urging that the system be abolished — literally opposite solutions to the same identified problem.

That’s how we might better understand what we are seeing today with the various protests in Iran.

CIA and Soros stunts, and Astroturfing

With the more radical wing of the Green Movement (et al, and similar), we see them pulling off various stunts. These are stunts, and not protests as such, because they involve at most several dozen ‘activists’ using camera angles, and unpopular chants, to simulate a larger protest with, what we are told are, popular radical chants.

This simulation of reality is only possible using a combination of western media hyperventilated coverage surrounding demonstrably isolated events carried out by less than a dozen individuals. A ‘twitter storm’, is being used – this is a centrally planned weaponized information method – and is essentially what one would conceive it to be, by its designation.

These are astroturf, not grass-roots type demonstrations. … Full article

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Syrian Army Thwarts Nazi regime Plan to Control Mutual Border

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On Saturday buses arrived in the villages of Mugr al-Mir and Mazaria Beit Jinn in the so-called ‘Hernon Pocket’ to transport the fighters of al-Nusra Front to Idlib and Daraa governorates. The pocket extended into government-held territory southwest of Damascus from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. According to a Syrian Arab Army (SAA) military strategic analyst, Brig. Gen. Heitham Hassun, the move will help liberate the southwestern part of Syria from terrorists.

“This will allow [the SAA] to free the entire southwestern region of Damascus from terrorists,” Brig. Gen. Hassun told Sputnik Arabic. “It is especially important to take under the SAA’s control [the territories] north of the province of Quneitra, which the Israelis had planned to manage with the assistance of the militants. Now, by retaking Mugr al-Mir and Mazaria Beit Jinn, the army will be able to conduct an operation to liberate all the terrorist-controlled areas adjacent to the occupied Golan Heights.”

The local government managed to strike a deal with the al-Nusra jihadists through intermediaries on joining the program of reconciliation and establish a ceasefire regime in the area. The victories of the SAA, which allowed the government forces to gain control over the dominant terrain, contributed to the success of the talks.

According to the military analyst, residents of local villages are making every effort to facilitate the advancement of the Syrian government forces. For instance, they provide information to the SAA about the location and the numerical force of jihadists.

Brig. Gen. Hassun said that, for its part, Israel is providing the extremists with intelligence concerning Syrian government troops. Additionally, the Israelis continue to supply weapons to terrorist groups and provide fire support if necessary, the military analyst underscored. It appears that Syria’s southern neighbor is unwilling to give up its plans for this part of Syria, the brigadier general suggested.

The Golan Heights remain an apple of discord for Damascus and Tel Aviv, prompting tit-for-tat strikes in border areas. Israel’s occupation of the western two-thirds of the Golan Heights (known in Syria as Quneitra governorate) prevents the states from signing a peace treaty. The annexation of the disputed area started during the Six-Day War in 1967 and has been repeatedly condemned by the UN in 1981 and 2008.

The eastern Golan Heights, which remained in Syrian hands following the Six-Day War and 1973 Yom Kippur War, became the target of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, as well as Daesh terrorists and other Syrian opposition forces, during the ongoing war.

Meanwhile, according to Sputnik’s source, on Friday the Syrian government forces expelled terrorists from the Abu Dali settlement in the north-east of Hama province.

Located on the border between Hama and Idlib, the settlement was used by the terrorists to disrupt the supplies from one city to another.

The SAA continues to crack down on terrorists following Russia’s partial withdrawal from Syria after a two-year-long aerial campaign. The decision to pull out was announced on December 11 by Russian President Putin, who specified, however, that the bases in Tartus and Hmeymim, as well as the center for Syrian reconciliation, would continue to operate.

On December 26, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu signaled that Russia has started to form a permanent group in Syria’s Tartus and Hmeymim. The Russian military contingent is armed with advanced weaponry systems including the cutting edge S-400 system, while S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, as well as the Bastion coastal missile systems with cruise missiles.

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What I Learned From the Intelligence Report on “Russian Hacking” ‘VIDEO’

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corbettreport 

The propaganda surrounding the “Russia hacked the election” meme is, quite frankly, beneath the intelligence of The Corbett Report community. But this hodgepodge of evidence-free assertions is still driving the 24/7 fake news cycle, so today James rolls up his sleeve and shows the latest propaganda for what it is.

SHOW NOTES AND MP4: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=21334 

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Immigration and Capital

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By Maximilian Forte | Zero Anthropology 

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, 2016Confessore, 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.

eu-poll-immigration-as-top-concern-2poll-most-important-issue-facing-the-eu

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

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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.

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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.

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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 Graduates” Breitbart, June 28.

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

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YEAR IN REVIEW: 2017 Top Ten Conspiracies

NOVANEWS
BY 

Patrick Henningsen and Shawn Helton
21st Century Wire

Once again, we’ve arrived at our New Years Eve wrap-up of some of the most compelling and conspiratorial stories of the year. Like in years past, 2017 presented a polarizing political landscape, further exposing the current establishment paradigm. Unlike the establishment gatekeepers, when we use the word ‘conspiracy’ here, we are talking about a real crime scene. Whether it was the ousting of thousands of western-backed terrorists in Iraq and Syria or a string of ‘known wolf’ attacks amplified by made-to-order media agitprop, or the heavily manufactured Russia-gate narrative relentlessly pushed by mainstream outlets and Deep State actors  – it seemed there was no shortage of topsy-turvy stagecraft designed to mislead and confuse the masses at a time when the real world is undergoing some significant geopolitical realignments.

As was the case in 2016, there were many high-profile incidents and individual stories which didn’t make our annual compendium (but they are worth mentioning) – like the ‘red herring’ laced New Year’s Eve mass shooting at Turkey’s Reina nightclub that kicked off 2017 in classic Daily Shooterfashion, along with other dubious events like Fort Lauderdale’s FBI-known shooter and subsequent CNN media circus. On the political front, it was a banner year for astroturfing starting with “The Resistance” which spent most of the first 3 months of the year demanding Trump’s impeachment before he had served 100 days in office. As part of these efforts, we saw Hollywood and the Democratic Party’s choreographed women’s march backed by political agitator and perennial globalist George Soros, as well as MoveOn.org and other Soros-backed protests which followed Trump’s highly controversial immigration ban, as contentious resignations by key members of the Trump White House loomed large. The stage was then set for Antifa’s US ‘riot tour’ which culminated the Charlottesville riots in Virginia followed by a series of ‘social justice’ protests over Confederate statues, followed by more extremist left-wing “antifascists” foot-soldiers like ‘black bloc‘ throwing molotov cocktails and smashing buildings for kicks. And that only scratches the surface of what transpired in 2017.

Other notable stories throughout the year included the Trump administration’s decision to announce the creation of an ‘Arab NATO‘ headquartered in Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest state sponsored of terror (US being the largest).  That geopolitical gambit then teed up the Trump White House to announce that the US Embassy in Tel Aviv would begin proceedings to move to Jerusalem, a shift which some critics believe is further evidence of an ultra-Zionist agenda encroaching on Israeli-occupied Palestine and the West Bank. On the Asia front, questions emerged over what North Korea actually has in terms of ICBM missiles and a nuclear deterrent, while in the Middle East speculation raged about Saudi Arabia’s historic palace purgeand sabre rattling in the region. The year then saw the exposure of a giant US-NATO-Saudi weapons trafficking operation using diplomatic flight in order to arm terrorists in Syria and Iraq. 2017 also saw the mainstream media continue to market the media construct known as Bana of Aleppo, expecting the public to believe that an 8 year old girl who could not speak English was running a Twitter account from war-torn (and terrorist-occupied) East Aleppo from the autumn of 2016 – all the while waxing poetic about the evil Assad, and the evil Russians and calling for US military intervention in Syria… pure propaganda and a clear case of child exploitation. Interestingly, this outlandish Bana propaganda myth campaign has been shamelessly promoted by the multimillionaire Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. 2017 also saw a wave of intelligence releases, set in motion by the CIA, who released more than 12 million documents pertaining to covert war programs, psychic research and the Cold War era, further outlining the symbiotic relationship between the agency and American media. This was followed by Wikileaks exposing much of the CIA’s cyber hacking capabilities in their ‘Vault 7’ and later in their Vault 8publications. Towards the end of the year, a new twist in the downing of MH17 revealed an apparent Netherlands cover-up, as another bizarre Daily Shooter event, the Texas Church shooting, would later disappear from headlines. Around the same time frame, new questions also emerged in the Sandy Hook saga concerning prior knowledge of the FBI, as New York was then stricken by a known wolf truck attacker. In December it was finally announced that after being held in prison for two years without trial, the Fed’s Bundy Ranch Standoff case was declared a mistrial. However, most of the year’s controversial stories were quickly pushed to the back page, buried underneath an avalanche of ready-to-go Weinstein-inspired sex abuse scandals involving Hollywood’s elite punctuated by obligatory hashtag campaigns like #MeToo, before snagging a number of high-profile news media personalities and some of Washington’s most coveted swamp dwellers. As an onslaught of new accusations flooded the media, the sordid revelation of a Congressional slush fund used to payoff sexual harassment accusers made headlines. The whole situation conjured DC‘s Conspiracy of Silence regarding tales of sexual misconduct in days past.

All in all, it was another year of ‘hyper-real’ media propaganda, as some stories published by mainstream media led to a cascade of retractions and corrections, and in certain cases, provided an all to convenient mask for other politically charged news throughout much of 2017. Unlike the mainstream media ‘official’ conspiracies (like Russiagate), these ones are actually real…

10.  The JFK Files  Over the course of 2017, one of America’s most compelling conspiracies was reignited following the release of thousands of intelligence files long-held by the CIA and FBI. In late October, the Trump administration called for the release of the remaining JFK files, citing the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act deadline placed into law in 1992. While the material released was reportedly a mix of new and old, some critics declared that the recently declassified files revealed even more startling evidence related to the assassination of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. This prompted larger legacy media establishments to provide a murky retelling of the JFK saga.  Predictably, a week after the releases, one newer CIA memo stated that any links between the CIA and Lee Harvey Oswald, were “unfounded.” In essence, the JFK file releases appear to have been a way for the political powers that be to shut the door on a conspiracy that has an overwhelming amount of information suggesting CIA links not only to Oswald, but many of the characters surrounding the case. In reality though, as newfound interest in the JFK files was reawakened, it cast light on the over five decade old case, reopening the door to coup d’état claims concerning JFK and Cold War era ‘false flag’ terror. In particular, terror created by Operation GLADIO, a CIA-NATO construct, which utilized covert armies to subvert the political interests of various nations through the implementation of a Cold-War era strategy of tension. The further one digs into America’s seedy underworld of organized crime, intelligence operations, unlikely coincidences and secretive relationships concerning the mysterious plot to kill Kennedy, a highly intricate web of activity emerges that points to a compelling case beyond almost any other modern-day conspiracy.

1 Grenfell Tower

9. Grenfell Tower Fire & Cover-Up – It was Britain’s biggest domestic disaster post WWII, and from the minute this story broke, reports of government and corporate corruption began to surface. This real-life Towering Inferno featured some of the most surreal revelations, including a corrupt government Qango known as TMO (Tenant Management Organisation) who had paid a contractor to install highly flammable petroleum-based ‘cladding’ on the building, supposedly to meet ‘green sustainability goals’ but also to cover-up what wealthy property developers deemed as an eye sore (social housing high rise building), part of London’s continuous and rampant ‘gentrification’ property bubble agenda. The controversy did not stop with the fire itself though, as residents and concerned members of the public began to question the abnormally low death count which was being trumpeted by the media and the government agencies. Meanwhile, thousands of residents from Grenfell Tower and the surrounding buildings continued to suffer and mourn the loss of loved ones and friends – leaving in indellible scar on the community – while the government’s elite Common Purpose management class continued on with business as usual. Six months on,  the public is still wondering whether anyone will be arrested, or held to account for this unprecedented story of criminal negligence. In one of its most seminal episodes, the SUNDAY WIRE radio show, along with its affiliate the UK Column, drove the investigative agenda early on in this story, with the mainstream media later picking talking points covered by this independent media outlet.

8. The Crisis in Yemen – Back in January 2015 – while the world was focused on the war in Syria, 21WIRE first raised the alarm over Yemen after it noticed the insatiable war-time president Barack Obama, along with Deep State and Pentagon media outlet CNN began drifting out talking points about Yemen. It wasn’t long after that, in March 2015, that Saudi Arabia – with the full military and political backing of the US and UK, began an undeclared war of aggression against Saudi’s neighbor Yemen. Nearly three years on, with tens of thousands slaughtered by Saudi airstrikes dropping their newly purchased US and UK munitions (and even enjoying air refueling by the US military) and with the Saudi and US military blockade which is keeping much-needed humanitarian aid from entering the war-ravaged country leading to mass starvation and disease outbreaks like cholera on the peninsula – why isn’t the international community calling out the illegal war against Yemen for what it is – genocide? In order to prop-up their fake narrative on Yemen, the US and UK mainstream media conglomerates and their state propaganda directors from intelligence agency information warfare units have concocted a new batch of official disinformation lies and myths used to muddy the waters of this important discussion and ultimately justify their slaughter and arms sales bonanza in Yemen. On balance, what the US, UK and Saudi Arabia have done to Yemen is by orders of magnitude worse than what Nazi Germany did to its neighbors in the initial phase of WWII. Nothing less than a new Nuremberg Trial will be suitable to help correct this act of international barbarism.

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7. London’s GLADIO-style Attacks  On March 22nd, an apparent two-pronged terror attack stretched from London’s Westminster Bridge to Parliament Square. In the days leading up to the London attacks, it was revealed that Met Police rehearsed a ‘terrifyingly realistic’ drill on the River Thames prior to yet another known wolf act of terror taking place. Adding to the drama, the London attacks occurred exactly one year after the Brussels airport bombingsIn addition, the bizarre and unexpected event took place during a massive uptick of Western allied involvement in the Syrian conflict and in less than 24 hours, London authorities revealed that the British-born attacker named Khalid Masood, (after media outlets erroneously reported the wrong suspect) was already well-known to MI5 and had worked in Saudi Arabia sometime between 2005-2008. Shortly after the attack, it was revealed that eye-witnesses reported seeing multiple assailants at the crime scene, this was something that directly contradicted the official story. In fact, in those reports, it was suggested that at least two individuals participated in the large-scale attack in one of the most heavily surveilled parts of London. This aspect of the case was quickly buried by major media outlets, echoing other high-profile cases involving ‘known wolf’ terrorists. In recent years, there’s been a pattern of multiple suspects often witnessed or said to be involved in other terror-related events. This proved to be the case in the aftermath of the Nice, France truck attack, as well as the Brussels airport bombing in 2016. Rather incredibly or unbelievably, London’s acting Police Commissioner Craig Mackey, just so happened to be at the scene to ‘witness’ the Parliament Square attack on Pc Keith Palmer. All in all, the latest symbolically charged ‘ISIS-approved’ attack on the verge of spring, appeared to be an effort to polarize the perception of Western viewers with yet another round of wartime propaganda, while also providing a media smoke screen for recent US military action in Syria. By early summer, just after the Manchester arena bombing, London once again became a target of a purported multi-pronged terror event right on the heels of the UK’s hotly contested 2017 general election. Afterwards, a number of questions were raised following the London Bridge attacks, just as there were following the Parliament Square, Westminster Bridge attacks and the Manchester Arena attack. It’s important to note the common thread between each suspicious event, and the recent UK attacks are no exception – there’s now indisputable evidence linking MI5 and MI6 British security services to various ‘known wolves‘ prior to carrying out the terror crimes mentioned above. The precarious relationship between security and terror is an ongoing pattern seen after almost every major terror attack on Western soil. Throughout 2017, the London attacks seemed to increase racial and ethnic tensions in the West, while also pushing the public into accepting a more direct military intervention in Syria, and new police state measures and surveillance powers in the UK – prompting us to ask, who benefited the most from the London Attacks? We’d say the answer to that question is pretty obvious now…

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6. Manchester’s ‘Known Wolf’ Arena Attack – Another day, another conspiratorial crime. In this case, the public was witness to yet another known wolf  terror attack allegedly carried out by an ‘ISIS-inspired’ individual who, as with numerous other cases, was under the gaze of MI5. The man named in the Manchester bombing attack, Salman Abedi, was also tied to a terror group supported by NATO in Libya during the operation to oust Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. The Manchester arena attack proved to be more than just blowback from security operations gone awry, it provided further evidence of complicity on behalf of the West in the ‘War On Terror’ era. While some researchers and analysts were a buzz with the numerological synchronicities associated with the Manchester attack, others noted some very real political circumstances and significant timelines surrounding this apparent mass-tragedy in Manchester. The event just happened to arrive on the heels of a monolithic arms deals with Saudi Arabia worth $110 billion dollars that will total $350 billion over the next 10 years, and only shortly after the Manchester attack, there were US-led coalition airstrikes supposedly targeting ISIS in both Syria and Iraq – that killed 121 civilians in the process. The strikes led to increased tension, placing external pressure on the Russian-led Astana Peace Agreement in Syria, while continuing to benefit the strategic movements of ISIS in Syria. The really damning link however, was exposed by one major UK Government eyesore after the Manchester attacks: the revelation that a community of ‘outlawed’ Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) terrorists were in fact living in close proximity to the Manchester attacker Abedi, and directly connected to Abedi himself. This was a deeply troubling development for a public unaware of the nearby danger, as British security services and officials allowed this ‘thriving’ group of fighters to reside in the UK seemingly without consequence or disclosure of their previous activities – until the Manchester attack. So naturally, when it was revealed that Ramadan Abedi (the father of the purported Manchester suicide bomber) was also a member of the UK government-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and was believed to have been a part of LIFG during the NATO-backed regime change operation in Libya in 2011 – it only raised more questions concerning the attack. It’s worth noting, Libya’s militant governor of Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, was also a part of the Mujahideen fighters closely linked to Bin Laden who became known as al-Qaeda. In fact, Belhadj “returned to his home country [in 1995] as head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an underground paramilitary organisation dedicated to Gaddafi’s downfall.” Over the years, Belhadj was incarcerated and turned loose back into the field after being rendered by the CIA and British security services. As of 2015, despite the Manchester attack links to LIFG, the group is still on the US State Department’s Delisted Foreign Terrorist Organizations. In the days after the attack, authorities released CCTV imagery apparently depicting the Manchester attacker Abedi, in what appeared to be a way to dramatize the bombing through emotionally charged imagery, as the media obscured other facts and connections observed in the aftermath of the attack itself. The Manchester attack was similar to other high-profile incidents used to distort public opinion in the wake of media styled mass-tragedies.

5.  The Las Vegas Mass Shooting – October 1st marked the return of the Great American Mass Shooting – a real record-breaker, complete with a shocking mile-long crime scene that stretched from the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino to the nearby Route 91 Festival, where thousands of concertgoers suddenly became a target. Although America had seen a host of smaller, less sensationalized mass shootings throughout the course of 2017, including the bizarre Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting and the strange Programmed to Kill Texas Church shooting, the high-profile Las Vegas calamity resuscitated the trauma inducing imagery so prevalent in the post-9/11 War On Terror era. This made-for-TV event was designed for media shock and awe, like “the 9/11 of Mass Shootings.” Over the past several years, 21WIRE has chronicled many bizarre shootings and mass casualty incidents that have rippled across America and Europe. These events have become a new kind of ritualized ‘crimescape’ moving well beyond ‘security’ concerns, but now accompanied by a complete range of  socio-political mainstream media talking points including race, religion, ‘gun reform’, ‘social media concerns’ and domestic extremism – while concurrently obscuring and obfuscating the forensic reality of the crimes themselves. We’re told that this tragic shooting attack was carried out by a classic “lone gunman” – one individual without a criminal past (or nay past, as far as we could tell) – but there proved to be much more to the story. Adding to this ‘hyper-real’ incident, the main suspect in the Las Vegas tragedy was also revealed to be a multi-millionaire ‘players club’ member, 64 year-old Stephen Paddock. With no motive and no criminal history, Las Vegas police were tasked with uncovering details of a crime overseen by billionaire bosses at MGM Resorts International and the FBI. As authorities failed to uncover a clear motive for the crime, police scanner audio, along with eye-witness testimony suggested that multiple shooters may have been at the scene, although this aspect was downplayed by mainstream media. This was quickly followed by several official ‘revisions’ in the timeline of the shooting and even the crime scene itself, as evidenced by this disastrous press conference which failed to yield any new information in the case. The star-witness of the shooting, Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos, also vanished and was declared “missing” right before a major media interview, only to resurface much later on the oddest of media venues, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” giving media gatekeepers the chance to run interference for DeGeneres‘s slot machine business partners at MGM. Along the way, bizarre media performances by Paddock’s brother, Eric Paddock, only prompted more questions and deepened the mystery surrounding this surreal case. While the public waited for MGM to release CCTV footage of the alleged shooter Paddock, not one tape materialized, except for an older tape from 2011. Staged photos of the Mandalay Bay crime scene led to other forensic questions concerning the weaponry used, compounding other acoustic anomalies already noted. Other confusing elements of the case included the missing hard drive from Paddock’s laptop, another brother’s arrest, the wiring of $100,000 to his live-in girlfriend’s (Marilou Danley) home country, the Philippines, Paddock’s previous employment at the predecessor company of Lockheed Martin, a reported break-in at one of his homes after the shooting, the absurd insertion of an “ISIS-inspired” motive (which a number of dubious click-bait media outlets ran with), and later seeing a back drop of active shooter related drills and government activity, along with details suggesting Paddock may not have been alone and much more. In the search for answers in America’s largest-ever mass shooting, months later, we still have yet to see any CCTV footage of the alleged killer or his whereabouts leading up to the tragedy, as he moved in and around Las Vegas. Imagine that: no CCTV footage. While some have attempted to make sense of the Las Vegas shooting tragedy, there are reports of a major push to revamp security in the hospitality industry through the use of gunfire detection systems, X-ray, body scanners and facial recognition in the wake of this confusing, if not partly manufactured event. The popular media concept of a lone wolf killer in today’s world has reprogrammed the public mind in the very same way that the serial killer phenomenon did decades ago. This new fear-based saga has ushered in a string of improbable Hollywood-style scenarios, inducing a frozen apathy across the masses. Rather than looking deeply at crime scene forensics or pouring over piles of collected data, these Daily Shooter crimes hold the public psyche hostage… until the next unexplained mass tragedy. Until the next episode…

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4. Syria’s Sarin Gas False Flag – In less than 24 hours after the highly dubious alleged chemical attack on April 4th (reported to be Sarin gas by Western media) in Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib province of Syria, wide-scale unsubstantiated condemnation laid blame at the doorstep of the Syrian government and Russia following the release of video footage that had yet to be forensically scrutinized. In fact, the mainstream media flooded the airwaves with a bevy of circumstantial and speculative evidence – a far cry from actual hard evidence. Leaders in Washington and Western media outlets once again set the stage for wider military intervention in Syria. Days after the release of a forensically unproven chemical attack out of Khan Shaykhun, US President Donald Trump ordered a military strike on the Syrian government’s Shayrat Air Base in response to the alleged chemical attack in Idlib. Trump’s missile strike won him instant praise from the Pentagon media oracle CNN, as well as giddy celebrations by war-mongering neocons in the US. Perhaps the most telling aspect of  Syria’s most recent mass casualty terror tragedy, was the suspicious involvement of the US-UK-NATO-Gulf state backed NGO known as the White Helmets– a group who once again was witnessed in wartime imagery that was not only full of anomalies but a production designed to evoke an emotional response rather than one based in rationality. Since their inception in late 2013, the White Helmets have largely conducted their so-called rescue operations in rebel-terrorist held areas in Syria, while producing an unprecedented amount of western-oriented war propaganda for nations deeply invested in arming and backing rebel-terrorists vying for regime change in Syria. Nearly two weeks after the alleged sarin gas attack, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Theodore Postol directly disputed claims concerning the official US report regarding the alleged chemical weapons attack out of Khan Shaykhun in the “rebel-held” terrorist-occupied Idlib province of Syria. Postol’s initial analysis, along with its addendum, appeared to echo what MIT research affiliate and former US Congressional staffer Subrata Ghoshroy observed in the aftermath of the Syrian chemical incident in East Ghouta, Damascus in 2013. In addition, other award-winning American journalists like Seymour Hersh and Gareth Porter also exposed the “sarin attack” narrative as a fabrication promulgated by a corrupt OPCW – but their reports were muted by mainstream gatekeepers. Both apparent attacks in Damascus and Idlib, were claimed through the presentation of dubious video imagery and suspicious photographs as a main source of evidence. Despite the absence of any real forensic investigation, the western media proclaimed ‘certainty’ over images and videos largely supplied by the dubious ‘NGO’ known as the ‘White Helmets.’ It would later be revealed that on April 4th, the Syrian Air Force had also struck a warehouse in Idlib where chemical weapons were said to have been produced and stockpiled by US-backed militants. What was most disturbing, was that many in US-UK leadership seemed desperate for the public to buy into any WMD claims without concrete proof and in the process, they deliberately pushed heavily propagandized imagery presented on social media as proof of the as yet forensically unproven sarin gas attack. In essence, the whole event became a wag the dog moment ensnaring not only the White House, but many leaders in the UK as well.

3. White Helmets Fraud – The White Helmets. Who are they, who created them, who funds them, and which master do they serve in Syria? In the US and in Europe, these fundamental questionsroutinely go unanswered by the western mainstream media organizations and government officials. Since first appearing on the western media scene in late 2013, the UK and US government-funded pseudo ‘NGO’ known as the White Helmets has achieved cult-like status as their pictures adorn the front pages of newspapers and CNN breaking news segments about Syria. For the last 4 years, their principle function has been to produce a steady stream of “anti-Assad regime” and anti-Russian propaganda tailored for western audiences. Since 2015, 21WIRE led the way in asking these important questions, and in 2017 the overwhelming pressure of mounting evidence of the White Helmet fraud eventually led to various shoddy academics in the US and in the UK mainstream media outlets attacking 21WIRE and its writers for challenging the official White Helmets narrative – and for exposign how the UK government has been channeling hundreds of millions of pounds into terrorist-occupied areas of Syria under the thin guise building “civil society” (US and UK trojan horse) organizations in Syria. Establishment attacks included one mainstream media outlet promoting the White Helmets, The Guardian newspaper in the UK. According to The Guardian anyone who dared to question their official government-sanctioned narrative were ‘conspiracy theorists’ and somehow part of a secret ‘Russian-backed propaganda campaign.’ Despite mountains of evidence including various fake rescue videos, colluding in acts of murder and extreme violence and evidence which clearly depicts the dodgy ‘search and rescue’ groups’ members as dual members in armed al Qaeda terrorist affiliates operating in “rebel-held” opposition areas of Syria – western mainstream media are still determined to play dumb on this issue, which only goes to prove just how ignorant mainstream gatekeepers are as to the realities on the ground in Syria, or worse – how controlled are mainstream editors’ desks by the western intelligence apparatus. Either way, Toto has already drawn the Wizard’s curtain all the way back – and it’s only a question of time before western media apologists and clueless politicians retreat into full “no comment” mode on this issue.

2. The Russia-Gate PsyOp – It’s been 18 months since the Democratic Party and the US mainstream media launched its “Russia-gate” narrative, claiming that Moscow had hacked the DNC, John Podesta and somehow influenced the result of the US 2016 Presidential Election. 18 months later, there’s still no evidence to substantiate this mainstream conspiracy theory – making Russiagate easily the biggest fake news story of the year. What’s most telling about this ‘official’ conspiracy theory (as it turns out, it’s the mainstream that peddles the grandest conspiracy theories) is that its proponents have to resort to publishing repeated lies and wild exaggerations in order to maintain the pillars supporting their narrative. So desperate were the New York Times to tie Trump to Russia that it even claimed that ‘the Russians’ where creating Facebook pages about puppies in order to ‘confuse and mislead’ vulnerable American voters. New York Times also had to retract their central lie which claimed that 17 US Intelligence agencies had all agreed that the Russians meddled in the 2016 presidential election – but still we hear legions of mindless ‘journalists’ and shaky politicians like Adam Schiff (who, not surprisingly is also promoting the White Helmets) repeating that same old canard. As part of Washington’s new McCarthyite red scare reboot, the US government labeled Russian international media network RT, and RT America as “foreign agents” – forcing the channel and its journalists to register with the US government under old outdated pre-WWII espionage legislation. Other fake claims by US media include ‘Kremlin bots‘ deployed on Facebook to mess with the fragile minds of potential voters on social media, and CNN’s all-time classic: an “Exclusive!” no less – claiming that the Russians somehow infiltrated the computer game Pokemon Go in order to ‘sow confusion among Americans.’ Honestly, we couldn’t make it up if we tried. What’s beyond ironic is that the same media who has been constantly crying “fake news!” as their prime talking point to explain how Trump beat Clinton – has been dutifully recycling their own fake news narrative for over a year now. This one will surely go down in history as the biggest political hoax of all-time – and all of the mainstream media outlets who helped promulgate this myth should also go down with it. Sadly, too many mentally-challenged lawmakers in the US, UK and Europe are actually basing their foreign policies of this mainstream fake news myth – which is all too convenient for an ever-inflating the US defense budget, NATO’s breakneck expansion eastward, and also for Brussels’ new roll-out of its EU Army

1. ‘Fake News 2.0’ – 2017 was the year of fake news. Last year, we crowned Fake News 1.0 as our top conspiracy, but this past year has seen it ascend to an entirely new level. From the beginning, this faux crisis had a clear set of political objectives. The first was to provide a scapegoat for Hillary Clinton’s catastrophic imploding presidential run, and secondly, to try and prop-up the establishment’s official conspiracy theory that somehow the Russians were spreading ‘fake news’ across social media and alternative media websites – in order to help Donald Trump win the election. On this front, many of us are indebted to Trump for branding CNN with the meme that keeps sticking, as the President hit CNN’s bumbling White House correspondent Jim Acosta, with Trump pointing to Acosta and saying, “You are fake news!” live on national TV. If was a glorious moment for sure. Newspapers like the Washington Post performed a key role for the US Deep State by pushing-out fictional news features like the one claiming 200 of the leading alternative media websites were part of some Kremlin-orchestrated network of websites carrying out “active measures” (a defunct Cold War term) propaganda against the American people. The Post even presented a bogus anonymous construct, a website called ‘PropOrNot‘ in order to try and make their conspiracy theory look official. Around the same time, a radical progressive academic from Merrimack College in Massachusetts published a “fake news list” – a database and virtual ‘blacklist’ designed to defame and slander any independent media outlets who happened to veer from the party line and challenge the policies of Hillary Clinton and Obama. Dr. Zimdars heavily politicized ‘list’ was promoted by  the LA Times which, like the fraudulent story published in The Post, claimed that hundreds of alternative media websites were producing ‘fake news’ and ‘conspiracy’ stories and therefore were unreliable as information sources. It wasn’t long before the establishment began referencing these politicized lists, holding them up as ‘proof’ of some crisis in what the liberal intelligensia proudly dubbed a “post-truth” world. Despite the establishment’s insistence on pushing this faux crisis, an increasing number of smart news consumers came to realize that for at least the last century and half, the establishment’s tightly-controlled information syndicate has been able to manufacture its own consensus reality through the use of their own ‘official’ fake news. By channeling public opinion in this way, the mainstream press has helped facilitate a number of engineered outcomes – including war. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the fake news’ circus, is that Silicon Valley monopolies like Google and Facebook have taken it upon themselves to manipulate their online platforms in such a way that they are choosing which websites and news sources will be ‘de-ranked’ and effectively hidden from the view of most users, and, in the case of Facebook – censoring real information presented by independent, non mainstream journalists, but allowing political operatives to abuse their problematic “communitarian” information policing system to strike off ‘offensive’ content. As a result a number of leading alternative commentators have been banned from Facebook for completely illegitimate reasons. Finally, we can reveal the ‘2.0’ aspect of the establishment’s ‘fake news’ faux crisis – a false pretext to unleash a wide-ranging program of internet censorship – and it’s already begun. Reasonable people should be under no illusions: Google Inc, Facebook and global monopolies like them it are the closest thing to a classic fascist-corporatist behemoth you will find in the world today. Both Google and Facebook are both actively colluding with big government and other mainstream media partners, and are guilty of ‘stealth censoring’ through either their A.I. filtering algorithms, or through flagged websites on a database used to de-rank leading independent and anti-war sites like 21st Century WireAnti-War.comConsortium NewsGlobal Research and countless others. Furthermore, Facebook is now on record as admitting to colluding with both the US and Israeli governments to delete ‘undesirable’ accounts. This is a corporation which is now actively and opening violating US laws, which is engaging in criminal activity by any other definition. These are not the only threats posed by these corporate fascists. The very same corporate digital barons have also been busy colluding with politicians in order to repeal Net Neutrality – as part of the elites’ final end-run to marginalize and ultimately crush all independent and dissenting voices online who threaten the primacy of mainstream groupthink, and who could get broader traction among the population if the playing field was truly a level one. Not only is this illegal under antitrust laws, but it represents a brutal form of fascism. It’s now clearer than ever that Silicon Valley executives and government bureaucrats cannot be trusted to manage the most important public utility of the new century – the information super highway.

So if the mainstream press can no longer be trusted, then who can you trust for objectivity and accuracy? Again, we have to ask the question: who’s watching the watchers?

Answer: We are.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Posted in Politics, World0 Comments

Our story of the year for 2017

NOVANEWS

The trial of Dareen Tatour

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Beneath the illusion of a temporary occupation lies apartheid

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Five Powerful Groups of Women to Celebrate This Year

NOVANEWS
By Robin MartyCare2

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While 2017 proved to be quite the dumpster fire — from shady politicians to horrifying mass shootings — there are still some silver linings to look back on with pride. This year, women organized harder than ever to push back against a toxic culture of masculinity.

So as the year comes to a close, it’s time to acknowledge some of the women that made 2017 shine even through the darkest of clouds.

1. The Women’s March Organizers 

We knew that 2017 would be a year like no other when the resistance started early — the day after Republican President Donald Trump’s inauguration. While the president swears that large crowds gathered to see him sworn in, they were absolutely pitiful in comparison to the hundreds of thousands who came out to march for women in DC and cities around the world.

But the Women’s March co-chairs also worked to keep people organized and fighting throughout the year, too.

“Within a year we were able to have one of the most historic moments for women in US history, which was incredibly powerful,” co-chair Tamika Mallory told Amsterdam News. “People didn’t believe that we could keep the movement going from the march. We have been able to do that.”

Now they’re organizing to get people to the polls for the 2018 midterms, in hopes of bringing the power back to the people — and out of the hands of corporations and the 1 percent.

2. The #MeToo Movement

The anti-sexual harassment/assault campaign has taken down some of the most powerful men in politics, entertainment, media and other industries, forcing men to finally examine their own role in propagating, colluding with or just ignoring — and therefore condoning — the growing rape culture in our country. From actress Rose McGowan to Congresswoman Jackie Speier, America is coming to terms with the idea that yes, all women experience harassment — and, yes, all men play some role in maintaining the power structure that allows the abuse to go on in silence.

But that silence could be over for good. #MeToo was named “Time’s Person of the Year,” and the movement’s founder — activist Tarana Burke — will be pressing the button to drop the ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Let’s hope 2018 will be a year with less violence against women.

3. The “Die-In” Women

Republicans dominated the 2017 congressional session with their desperate attempts to repeal Obamacare.Much of their failure was due to public pressure from activists — especially disability activists like Stephanie Woodward, Anita Cameron, Kat Perez and Carrie Ann Lucas — who organized and participated in “die-ins” at congressional offices. But these protests to defend affordable, accessible health care weren’t their only cause.

As Robyn Powell reports:

All the women Broadly spoke to were quick to point out that they’re also committed to fighting against a wide range of issues not related to health care, such as police brutality against people of color, income inequality, and threats to reproductive rights and immigrant rights. And health care-related issues are not nearly all the problems that their demographic faces. Disabled women are paid just 73 cents on the dollar compared to non-disabled men. In 35 states, mothers are at risk of legally losing custody of their children simply because they are disabled. Moreover, women with disabilities face astonishingly high rates of sexual assault.

4. “Moms Demand Action”

The 2017 calendar year was rife with mass shootings, from Las Vegas to Texas. Yet not only is Congress refusing to pass sensible gun control laws, but they’re also expanding gun rights so those with permits can take their own guns into states where concealed carry is forbidden. Following the five-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting earlier this month, Moms Demand Action continues to organize against the GOP and the NRA. The group aims to stop the violence that continues to claim innocent lives on a daily basis –especially given that a large portion of those victims are women.

5. Virginia’s New Legislators

If we learned nothing else from Virginia’s 2017 elections, it’s that no matter how red a district may appear, every seat must be challenged. And that’s just what a number of progressives did — many of them women. Now the state is just one vote away from Democratic control for the first time in years.

As local news station WTOP reported the day after the election:

In Northern Virginia, Democratic women ousted Republicans in seven races, including in the 13th District where local journalist Danica Roem made history as the first transgender person to be elected to a state legislature. In addition to Roem, other female winners Tuesday night will also make House history. Next year’s House of Delegates will include the first Asian-American women and the first Latinas. And the overall number of women serving in the 100-member body will jump from 17 to 27 including four Republicans.”

More female candidates are running for office than ever before, and women are swarming the polls to vote for them. It’s a lesson we will hopefully take nationwide as the 2018 midterms approaches.

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Taylor on Lessons of Radical Black Feminism in the Age of Trump

NOVANEWS

By Tasasha Henderson

Protesters chant Black Lives Matter as they march throughout the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday, September 23, 2016. (Photo: Jeff Siner / Charlotte Observer / TNS via Getty Images)

Protesters chant “Black Lives Matter” as they march throughout the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday, September 23, 2016. (Photo: Jeff Siner / Charlotte Observer / TNS via Getty Images)

Forty years ago, a group of radical Black feminists who named themselves the Combahee River Collective released a statement defining their politics and describing their political work. The Combahee River Collective Statement has endured as a powerful document that clearly named the multiple oppressions that Black women faced due to their race, sex, class and sexual orientation; developed the idea of identity politics; and provided a key roadmap of the political work and organizing necessary to uproot all oppression.

Professor and author Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has provided us with a moving commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Combahee River Collective Statement in How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective. In this work, edited by Taylor, we learn about the founding of the Combahee River Collective from three of its members, Barbara Smith, Demita Frazier and Beverly Smith. Coming out of the National Black Feminist Organization, they and the other members wanted to create an organization with a more radical vision for liberation that addressed the multiple oppressions Black women faced, including racism, sexism, classism and homophobia. Readers also learn the impact that the Combahee River Collective Statement has had on this generation of organizers and activists through a conversation with Alicia Garza, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) network.

Taylor states in the book’s introduction, “the experiences of oppression, humiliations, and the indignities created by poverty, racism, and sexism opened Black women up to the possibility of radical and revolutionary politics.” This holds true today, as a new generation of Black women activists and organizers are continuing in the Combahee River Collective tradition of centering the most marginalized communities in liberation work, so that we all can get free.

Tasasha Henderson: In the “Problems in Organizing Black Feminists” section of the Combahee River Collective Statement, the authors discuss the opposition they experienced from Black men in the 1970s, in regards to feminism. They talk about how that opposition was rooted in Black men’s fear of losing allies for their struggles and having to change their behavior. In both on-the-ground and online activism spaces today, have you seen a shift in the acceptance of Black feminist principles and praxis among Black men and other people who were traditionally opposed to Black feminism?

The ways that one engages in struggle influences the outcome of that struggle.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: In some ways, it’s difficult to compare the two very distinct periods: the period of Black insurgency and rebellion that was the context to the development of Black feminism and the era of Black Lives Matter we are in today. What I mean is that in the 1960s, there was a pervasive view — from the state down to the level of organizers — that Black men were being emasculated by Black women and that was blamed for unraveling Black families, and therein blamed for the disproportionate levels of inequality experienced in Black communities. It was also an era that had not experienced the full impact of the women’s liberation movement, though it did overlap as the struggle crossed into the 1970s. This, of course, is all in addition to the fact that the US was a deeply sexist society with very little regard for the contributions of women. It would seem unlikely in the context of all of this that sexism would not have pervaded the social movements of the day, including the Black liberation movement, which it most certainly did.

What is different today? The context is, of course, completely different. The absurdity of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s assertions about the Black family [have] been discredited even as they continue to hold resonance for others. On the other hand, we still live in a deeply sexist society that continues to devalue the contributions of women. To the extent that the women’s liberation movement impacted US society, those gains have been uneven and have tended to benefit mostly white middle-class women. The impact of the #MeToo campaign has revealed to the world what most women have always understood: the depths of sexual harassment and sexual assault in American culture [that contribute] to the diminution of respect and regard for the experiences, insights and leadership of women. All of these issues are then amplified when overlaid with race, sexual orientation and class position. All of this is to say that people in the movement do not live in bubbles, and so sexism, harassment and beyond have also impacted the BLM movement. At the same time, I think most women in the movement could probably point to many men who have been comrades and collaborators in the struggle, in addition to the episodes where this has fallen short. I don’t think the abject hostility to feminism exists within movement circles the way that it did 50 years ago, but women still struggle to be heard and respected.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. (Photo: Haymarket Books)

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. (Photo: Haymarket Books)

The “Black Feminist Issues and Projects” section of the Combahee River Collective Statement explores the importance of engaging in organizing that materially impacted people’s lives. They include examples such as workplace organizing and creating rape crisis centers. How can we continue to engage in that type of work using Black feminist praxis?

Well, this of course, is the most important organizing work, and there is lots of organizing around concrete issues facing oppressed people — whether it is the struggle for a living wage, ongoing struggles for abortion rights, organizing against the murder of transwomen of color, and beyond. The problem we face right now is that our movements are not big enough or influential enough. And so we have to not only be engaged in the day-to-day organizing around these concrete struggles, but we must also be politically engaged in convincing people politically about why struggle matters, why Black feminism matters, why anti-capitalism matters and why socialism matters.

I think the last paragraph of the Combahee River Collective Statement is so important: “In the practice of our politics we do not believe that the ends always justify the means. Many reactionary and destructive acts have been done in the name of achieving ‘correct’ political goals.” Are there recent examples of this, and how can we safeguard against repeating these mistakes?

African Americans engaged in struggle saw the anti-colonial rebellions as a model for the movement in the United States.

Well, I do think the [Combahee River Collective] was addressing historically specific situations that had arisen in the late stages of the radical movements of the 1960s. But I think there is a more general lesson to be learned, which is that often the ways that one engages in struggle influences the outcome of that struggle. So our tactics and political organizing strategies need to match up with our stated goals. This probably most expresses itself with questions about how activists or organizers should regard the issue of electoral politics. Can we purport to be radicals, anti-capitalists, socialists while backing a party invested in empire, imperialism, and the oppression of Black and Brown people all over the world? Of course, this is complicated by the presence of the Republican Party’s naked embrace of white supremacy with Donald Trump as its leader. And so this is a complex question that needs to be taken seriously and not just treated simplistically, but we also must consider the consequences of political expediency and whether it brings us closer to the “ends” we all desire. After all, while the Trump administration makes nostalgia for the Obama administration seductive, we must remember it was during that presidency that the first sustained Black movement against racism emerged in at least two generations. So it’s obviously not about getting back to the “good old days” of Democratic Party rule, but really, the question we have to continue to press on is: “How do we get free?”

In your conversation with Barbara Smith, she discusses how in the 1970s, Black women and other women of color referred to themselves as “third-world women,” in solidarity with colonized people all over the world. How important was it not only to the collective, but other Black feminists during that time, to have an internationalist perspective and understand the connections between oppressive policies in the United States and in Black and Brown countries across the globe?

When we tell the truth about the experiences of Black women, we tell the truth about the United States.

The politics of internationalism, anti-capitalism and the solidarity necessary to make those politics intelligible and legible were at the heart of Combahee River Collective Statement. In the period that the statement was written, international solidarity could not be assumed; it had to be stated as a political imperative. Indeed, Black feminist politics came of age in a period of what could be described as a highpoint of international solidarity and consciousness. From the anti-colonial struggles across Africa and the Global South to the international response in opposition to the US war in Vietnam, the notion that the oppressed of the world were connected through politics and struggle was central to the political development of an international left in that period. Indeed, African Americans came to describe the conditions in Black communities as the product of colonialism, and that Black communities were the “internal colonies” of the United States. And consequently, African Americans engaged in struggle saw the anti-colonial rebellions as a model for the movement in the United States. There was a well-developed and articulated connection between the movement abroad and the movement at home. Today, those ties between struggles abroad and struggles at home are less developed and more muffled and constrained than clearly articulated.

In some regard, it is unfair to compare the highpoint of struggle in the United States in 1968 and beyond to the current moment of ideological and political formation today. That is to say that while the radicalization is real and underway in the United States, it is still grasping for politics that can explain the genesis of this current iteration of crisis in the United States, that can offer political clarity for a direction forward for the various movements, but — and perhaps, most importantly — is rooted in the communities and workplaces of those who are the most impacted by the inequality in our society.

How do you see the principles and analyses that were outlined in the Combahee River Collective Statement show up in today’s freedom movements?

The Combahee Collective Statement was not just a document for radical Black feminists, but it was an important document for the revolutionary left as a political perspective or plan of action for the movement of the 1970s. It included areas of work that radicals could involve themselves in as a way to relate to the struggles of Black women while also raising the level of political education concerning the conditions that constrained the lives of Black women. Perhaps most important as we elaborate on this concept of “political imagination,” the Combahee statement recognized that to actually end Black women’s oppression, we needed to consider the possibility of ending capitalism. And it was here that they unlocked the dialectic at the heart of their manifesto. Orienting on the most oppressed in a society — in the United States, that meant Black women — exposed the injustice of the entire system. This is why the Combahee Collective insisted, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all systems of oppression.” The liberation of Black women is the genesis for human liberation.

Indeed, this is also a critical intervention made by the Collective. Black feminism, identity politics, the personal is politics are all terms and units of analyses that have been misconstrued as demands for separation and exclusion. But the concept of solidarity — in all of its complexity and difficulty — was at the heart of their politics. They called it coalition building and recognized its necessity in building movements beyond those who were directly affected. This was not easy, but it was necessary if we were going to organize struggles that actually won.

These are all critical lessons in the struggles we face today. After 40 years, these are analyses that are important not only in understanding the conditions that shape the life and experiences of the majority of African Americans, but most importantly, the politics of the Combahee Collective are the politics that are necessary to actually win the struggle for Black liberation and freedom.

What does that mean? It means recognizing the significance of the recent campaigns to highlight Black women’s oppression and struggles. When feminists insist on “centering” the experiences of Black women, it is not a cry for attention; it is because by doing so, the depths of oppression and exploitation in American society are laid bare for all to see. When we tell the truth about the experiences of Black women, we tell the truth about the United States. And in doing so, it reveals the same conclusion that the women of Combahee came to: that Black women will never be free within capitalism. It is a system that is dependent upon racism, gender and sexual oppression, and sexism. We live in a country where these oppressions are so tightly wound into its marrow that there has never been a single moment in its entire history … free from this injustice and oppression.

If we are going to fundamentally challenge and politically confront the white supremacist menace of Donald Trump, then we have to continue to engage with the legacy of the Combahee. We have to build upon what the Black Lives Matter movement has begun. And in doing so, we cannot restrict our thinking to what happens in the next election or the election after that. If we are only thinking in those terms, we are almost certainly never thinking of “how we get free” or “what would Black liberation look like?” And to imagine that world, we don’t need the nostalgia of Combahee; we need their politics. They called for revolutionary action to defeat capitalism. They called for a socialist reorganization of our society. They understood solidarity and coalition building were the way forward. And they believed that the liberation of Black women could free the world. These remain the tasks for the current moment.

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