29 April 2006
Left & Right
Various tossers are currently trying to link the far right British National Party to various leftwing parties like Respect. This is on the basis of some common policies, such as opposition to the war against Iraq and the BNP's desire to nationalise certain industries.
The problem with this is that political ideologies are about more than a list of policies. The BNP may very well be trying to square a circle, but that circle isn't getting squared. The far right still belives that race is more important than class. They may want to expropriate the property of Asian and Black businessmen - just as happened in Germany to Jewish businessmen in the 1930s - but we want to do it to all of them. Class to us is the defining factor.
Secondly, socialists accept that the middle class is nothing more than a buffer between us and the owners of capital. They act partly as a distraction - work hard, suck dick, lick arse: and you too can hope to buy a Barrett home - but their main role is that of a buffer. By allowing these creatures to exist, British capitalism has bought itself a collection of stooges who see their interests as being the same as that of capitalism. Thus they will defend the system even though it only really gives them a few scraps from its table. If they can be removed from the frame, then working class people are much less likely to buy into the capitalists' vision of the future.
For this reason socialists tend to be in favour of high inflation: put bluntly, a large middle class cannot exist under that monetary regime. Since to destroy capitalism we must first destroy capitalism's stooges, the corruption of the currency is something that all pretty much all socialists since Lenin have believed in.
By way of contrast, parties like the BNP are basically committed to the protection of that same middle class - especially its lower end, where you get the clowns who worry that if the Blacks move in next door, the value of their home will fall.
OK, everybody clear on the difference between left and right? Good, good.
28 April 2006
John Prescott: two jags, two shags
|John Prescott may have enjoyed another tumble with another mistress. The betting is on Rosie Winterton MP as being the purveyer of the other horizontal jog. According to one hack: "Learning that John Prescott's had an affair is a bit like learning that Simon Hughes is gay. I mean, everyone knew he has affairs. He's had a string of affairs throughout his life and this has come as no surprise."|
It is also reported that shag # 1 got herself rumbled by her boyfriend when she began mumbling things like "big boy" in her sleep. . .
27 April 2006
Modern guerrilla warfare part three
When considering the guerrilla war in Iraq the first thing that needs to be taken into account is that it is a guerrilla war; it is not an urban uprising. The latter is a quasi-conventional event, along the lines of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The Polish Home Army, operating in conventional miliitary formation, managed to seize control of a large part of Warsaw from the Germans. The Poles held out for 63 days and were then forced to surrender.
By way of contrast the Iraqis are fighting what is basically a guerrilla war in an urban setting. Small groups of guerrillas will attack enemy forces whenever they see the chance. Their tactical aim is to cause maximum casualties to the enemy and suffer minimum casualties themselves. The strategic aim is to so sicken and weary the enemy that he will withdraw from the field.
That said, the Iraq war has introduced three factors into the guerrilla war concept that are either new, or have never been seen on this scale before.
The first is the decentralised nature of the Iraqi resistence. The reasons for this were discussed in earlier essays, but to summarise the argument briefly, we can say that the state is collapsing and older loyalties are coming to the surface once again. Families, clans and tribes - entities that the West thought dead and buried - are remerging into the light. Guerrilla resistence like this is even harder to defeat because even if one faction decides to negotiate, the rest are just as likely to carry on fighting.
Leading on from this the urban nature of the conflict makes it much easier to actually recruit guerrillas and supporters. Instead of having to trek from village to village repeating the same message at each stop, the urban guerrilla can speak to his relatives and friends who all live in his neighbourhood. This probably accounts for the way in which the Iraqi guerrilla war became so lethal so fast. Normally one would expect the guerrillas to spend a couple of years at least laying the groundwork for their coming war. In Iraq that did not happen and the most logical reason is that the guerrillas were already known in the areas where they operated because they happened to live there.
Secondly, the urban environment allows for what one writer calls "open source" warfare to flourish. Basically a guerrilla group will try out a new form of attack on the enemy. Other groups will watch what happens and, if the style of attack seems promising, they will copy and improve upon it. The urban setting allows these improvements to happen rapidly, nobody has to wait until perfection is achieved which is what would happen in the countryside. In the city the groups can quickly copy from one another because everything is pretty much going on under everyone else's noses.
Take the famous improvised explosive device as a case in point. They started out as little more than landmines planted in the hope that an enemy patrol would run over them. Then the Iraqis began to run wires to the explosives to ensure that they actually hit an American force, rather than some lorry driver. As the Americans started to search for the wires, the Iraqis switched to electronic detonators. The Americans learned the frequencies that the Iraqis were using and began to jam the signals. The Iraqis then switched to other frequencies and the lethal game continued.
Thirdly, an urban setting allows the internet to be used for cheap and readily available agitprop. If guerrilla war is mainly political war, which it is, then the guerrillas have to be able to comunicate their message to the enemy's civilian population: otherwise how can they be pursuaded to pressure their government to end the war? In a classical guerrilla war this is done slowly. Eventually the message percolates through that the war is being lost. However, this takes time; American public opinion did not shift against the war in Vietnam until about 1968, a full seven years after the war had begun. However, that opinion has already turned against the Iraq war within three years of the conflict starting. It is not that American television is more anti-imperialist than it was a generation ago; a more likely explanation is that the internet allows the Iraqis to publicise their activities freely.
The Baghdad Sniper can serve as a casy study here. Had such a fighter existed in any of the earlier anti-colonial wars it is highly unlikely that we would have even heard of him. As it is this writer can think of no TV programme that has ever been dedicated to him and the number of newspaper articles that refer to him is very small. Yet Juba is famous because vidoes of him shooting Americans are available on the web. Supporters of Iraq publicise those videos and people then download them. The message gets out.
Obviously in years to come the imperialists will think up new ways to counter the new form of guerrilla warfare that we have discussed in these essays. However, for the moment the advantage lies with us, the ordinary people of this Earth. Increasingly we live in megacities, cities that are impossible to police even at the best of times. These cities are awash with guns and the ease of communication that all cities have means that training a resistence force is relatively easy - at least when compared to the countryside.
It is possible - more than possible, it is quite likely - that one of those magacities in Asia, Africa or Latin America will provide the anvil that will finally break imperialism's hammer.
26 April 2006
Modern guerrilla warfare, part two
If a date and place had to be found to mark the transition from a classical to a new form of guerrilla war, then the date would be 1976 and the South African black township of Soweto would be the place.
The African National Congress had an armed wing that was trying to run a classical guerrilla war in the countryside. In theory the omens looked good because the Zimbwean liberation war was proceeding along familiar lines out in the bush and would end in almost complete victory for the guerrillas just four years later. However, the South Africans, having read all the counter-guerrilla manuals, were able to hold the line against the rural guerrillas. The conflict there was little more than an irritation to the government and was being easly contained.
The explosion of violence in Soweto took both the government and the ANC by surprise. Ostensibly it was a protest at the use of Afrikaans in black schools, but it son became a generalised protest at white rule and quickly spread to other urban areas. What the South African government was faced with was a series of rolling insurrections that they just could not contain. As quickly as one group of local leaders were arrested, another group took their place. The more protesters were gunned down on the streets, the more turned out to demonstrate the following day.
To make matters worse, urban areas are easy for television crews to get to, so images of the death and destruction were quickly passed around the world. The government found itself in a bind. The only way to curtail the violence was to up the ante to a level that the international community would not accept. Since demands for sanctions against South Africa were growing anyway, this was clearly not an option that the government could take. Thus the violence continued.
Although it was not obvious at the time, it is now clear that these demonstrations marked the end for the notion that guerrillas are a vanguard of the people, and that the people need to be led towards liberation. Furthermore, they demonstrated just how hard it is to contain an urban insurrection and how quickly it can spread.
A city is a kind of man-made jungle and its streets form concrete valleys. The untrained defenders have an advantage because they know every house and street in their district. Furthermore, and this is something that most people in the West do not appreciate, the megacities of the Third World are not only vast, but consist of nothing more than mile after mile of concrete blocks that all look the same. An outside force can easily get lost in any of those districts and the force, usually mounted in vehicles and restricted to the roads, gets pelted from all sides with rocks and petrol bombs.
In a situation like that it is easy for the conventional force to over react. When people are injured or killed the only thing that happens is that more rioters are created. In an urban environment news of the rioting will spread quickly because just the act of living in a city means that news travels faster than it does in the countryside. Needless to say even primitive cities have telephone lines and enough educated people to print illegal flyers or newspapers. Using these aids the pot can be kept boiling and quite small groups of agitators can help ensure that the situation deteriorates still further.
The only thing that was missing from Soweto in 1976 was weaponry. Today most Third World cities are awash with arms, a situation that the Americans discovered to their cost during the Mogadishu operation in 1993.
The Somailis had two very simple weapons and they had them in vast quantities. The first was the AK-47 assault rifle and the second was the RPG-7 grenade launcher. The AK-47 is basically designed to be dropped, soaked in water or mud, never cleaned - and still keep firing. It is the weapon of choice for every insurgent and so many have been produced that they are available in all good African or Latin American markets for about £50.
However, it is the RPG-7 that is the real darling of the piece. It was developed as a cheap way to destroy armoured vehicles, but the Afghanis discovered that it has another use as well. The weapon self-destructs after about 1,000 yards of flight. The Afghan trick was to fire the warhead at an aproaching Soviet helicopter and try to ensure that the weapon exploded close to the rear rotor blade. If they succeeded, the helicpoter was brought down and the crew could be dealt with by the men with the AK-47s. By trial and error they discovered an anti-aircraft weapon that could be distributed in vast quantities and which needed only minimal training in its use.
Once the Afghan war was over, the former fighters went back to their countries of origin and took the knowledge of how to fight a modern, air-mobile force with them. When the Americans went into Mogadishu they encountered a people not only armed to the teeth, but possessed of the basic skills needed to off-set the Americans' advantage of air power. Once the invaders were on the ground the advantage passed to the Somalis. The Americans may have killed many more Somalis than they lost themselves, but it was the Somali battle flags that flew over the ruins of Mogadishu once the fighting was over: the Stars and Stripes was nowhere to be seen.
In the next part of this series we shall look at Iraq, the IED and the internet.
25 April 2006
Modern guerrilla warfare part one
Few seem to have noticed but the war against Iraq has created a new type of guerrilla conflict. It is one that is fought in the cities and not the countryside. It tears up the guerrilla war rulebook which everyone has been relying on since the middle of the last century. More importantly, the counter guerrilla manuals will also have to be rewritten. Until that happens the advantage will rest with the anti-colonial peoples of this planet.
From Mao Tse-Tung's On Guerrilla Warfare in 1937 to Che Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare written in 1961, the principle has always been that guerrillas start in the countryside and slowly encircle the cities. Robert Taber outlined this strategy as a kind of three act play with prologue in The War of the Flea, his classic study of guerrilla war, first published in 1965.
The prologue to this drama concerns the first blow; the strike at an army barracks or police station by the handful of guerrillas that exist at that time. Once the attack is over they retreat into the countryside and bide their time. The army for its part will launch a quick sweep of the area and then claim that all the bandits have been either killed of captured.
Act one has the guerrillas avoiding contact with all and any government forces that happen to be in their area. They are holding meetings with the locals, trying to recruit new guerrillas and, more importantly even than new fighters at this stage, they are seeking sympathisers who will stash their arms and protect them from the government. If any military operations are mounted, they will usually be simple affairs to capture weaponry or encourage those locals still undecided to support the insurgent band. A good example of the latter would be the tactic of the Zimbabwean guerrillas in the early stages of their bush war. They would kill a European farmer's cow and give everyone in the village a good feast. It killed two birds with one stone; firstly because it struck a blow against the enemy and secondly because it filled a lot of stomachs. Everyone was happy - except for the farmer, and he didn't count.
Act two shows the guerrillas mounting small raids on isolated police stations or hitting the odd army patrol. After each attack the guerrillas melt back into the civilian population to avoid the inevitable retaliation. As guerrilla attacks increase and their numbers grow, the government decides that some areas are not worth fighting for. These are abandonded to the guerrillas who use them as base areas. Newspapers and radio stations operate from them and they are used to trainmore guerrillas.
Act three has the guerrillas expanding until they control a sizable area of the country. The conflict starts to resemble a civil war with the country divided up geographically between the two opposing forces. The difference is that the guerrillas will control the countryside and the government the towns and cities. Eventually the guerrillas will have captured enough heavy weaponry to launch attacks on the main cities. The war ends when the guerrillas take the capital and the government officials flee.
This classical model has been outdated and probably will never be used again. The imperialists are not as stupid as we would like and their theoreticions have been hard at work coming up with models of counter-guerrilla warfare. The Americans drew on their experiences of fighting Indians, Filipinos and the Vietnamese to argue that what was needed were small, mobile patrols to do the actual fighting, a well-funded campaign of social reform and the speedy recruitment of local troops. The aim was for the army to hold the line until the money began to flow. Thus the bulk of the population would be bought off by having their immediate grievences met. Local mercenaries would then mop up the remainder of the guerrilla force; a force that could never get beyond act one of the classical model.
The British pretty much used this strategy in Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s. They were helped by the fact that the Mau Mau were basically a Kikuyo body, so the colonial power could recruit anti-Mau Mau forces from the other tribes. However, it still took eight years to suppress the revolt and the British were forced to make so many concessions to get local support that independence could no longer be avoided. The British may have won the battles, but the war went to the Mau Mau.
In central America during the 1980s the USA had rather more success. Mercenary armies and death squads were raised, trained and paid for. Large amounts of aid were funneled to the regimes in places like El Salvador. The result was bloody, but socialism was stopped in its tracks for almost a generation.
Faced with this, the world's insurgents have had to come up with new tactics. How they did that will form the basis of my next essay on this theme.
24 April 2006
The myth of the bunker buster
What I know about bunker busters is just about nil, but if this article is correct it doesn't matter because the damned things don't work. Basically they have to hit the ground just right and if a facility is buried under tons of granite and many feet under ground they tend to leave it shaken but not stirred.
If the science in this article is correct, then the putative American attack on Iran is not about destroying facilites that the Iranians don't seem to have anyway. The most likely explanation is regime change. The problem is that regime change tends not to come about under enemy bombardment: the troops will have to go in.
So the Americans will use bunker busters that they must know do not work to hit empty facilities. This to cause a war that could drag on for years.
All this is just getting dafter and dafter.
23 April 2006
Blair versus the Foreign Office
Further to my recent posting about the split between Tony Blair and Jack Straw over a possible attack on Iran, more news has come out which should strengthen the anti-war case.
The Foreign Office has presented Straw with its legal advice, stating that any such attack would be illegal under international law. Prior to the invasion of Iraq the FO also advised that the attack would be illegal, and that advice was accepted by the Attorney General, but later reversed by him. This led to the resignation of the Foreign Office's deputy legal adviser, Elizabeth Wilmhurst.
This time around the FO is taking no chances: "There is now a clear paper trail of legal advice," as one insider put it. Furthermore, the advice is believed to cover more than just an opinion on the legality of any attack. It also warns against the use of British airspace, military advisers and even argues that any verbal support that Blair might offer the Americans could be construed as legitimising an aggression against Iran.
Coming hard on the heels of the news that Bush offered Blair the option of withdrawing from the attack on Iraq at the last minute in 2003, an option which Blair refused to take, this latest set of leaks must surely leave Bush's man in London weaker than ever.
In fact, it looks as if the British state is slowly wrapping Blair in a mesh that will not allow him any wriggle room should the USA go to war with Iran. His days in Downing Street are surely numbered.
22 April 2006
Top Tory calls for British withdrawal from Iraq.
|Michael Ancram has become the first senior Tory to call for British forces to withdraw from Iraq. He argued that "It is now time for us to get out of Iraq with dignity and honour while we still can".|
It is the "while we still can" bit that I find most interesting.
Good news from Venezuela
Harry's Place reports a bit of good news from Venezuela - although being the silly sods that they are they probably haven't realised just how good the news is for the likes of us.
The Venezuelan opposition have chosen one Teodoro Petkoff as their candidate for the December presidential elections in that country. That is not to say that he will be the only candidate. This being Latin America lots and lots of others will also run, but he will be the main opposition contender.
Why is he so perfect? Well, being of Polish/Bulgarian origin he is about as Venezuelan as I am - a little matter that President Hugo Chavez Frias is sure to mention a few times during the campaign. Secondly, he is one of those metropolitan ex-Marxists who switched over to neo-liberalism. Thus he can be presented as having no real depth to his ideology; an allegation that has the added advantage of being true. Let's face it, if he can switch political clothing once, he can do it again. This is the problem that these followers of political fashion have. They may sit around, dicks in one hand and a political treatise in the other, but their no doubt sophisticated conclusions do not play with the people who reach their conclusions through the experience of actually living in a slum. Finally, he is pro-American in a country where the USA is regarded as the dot above the letter "i" in the word "shit".
All in all if I were a gambling man I would put good brass on Chavez Frias getting around 75% of the votes cast. Chavez Frias is not only of Venezuela, he is of the Venezuelan people. Just looking at his face which shows a mixture of mainly American Indian with a leavening of Africa demonstrates that. Not only that but when he speaks he does it in the language of his people, and his speech is peppered with the obscenities and double meanings for which colloquial Spanish is famous. The metropolitan types may tut-tut at this - they may even encourage Petkoff to come out with a bit of it himself - but when Chavez Frias speaks nobody can argue that he is putting on a show. Needless to say, all the opposition candidates will be pro-American; thus the patriotic position will be left to Chavez Frias to enunciate.
Now why in the name of God's balls can't the Labour Party do the same in Britain? Stop pandering to middle class filth and rally the tribe in the way that so many Latin American leaders are doing?
21 April 2006
Michael Hirsh from Newsweek has beeen looking at the American created mess that is Iraq and has come up with an idea that he says should keep the country together. He calls the wheeze "compassionate colonialism," and seems to think that it's a new idea:
How does compassionate colonialism work? First, you create an Iraqi army that will never be able to stand on its own (the postwar Japan and Germany model)—an army as addicted to U.S. logistical support and know-how as any junkie on heroin. Washington just recently awarded humvees to the Iraqi Army as its "heavy armor." But forget about tanks. . . American helicopters and planes rule the skies here, and that's not going to change for many years. Then, you insist on a friendly government, while letting the Iraqis think it is they who are deciding to be friendly (though this "good will" is driven by the always hovering threat of a withdrawal of support). And finally, you give your companies an inside track on long-term oil contracts—again by noting that their presence in Iraq guarantees U.S. support—without actually expropriating the oil.One error in this argument is that the puppet forces do have heavy armour - about 77 tanks were shipped from Hungary late last year. For the rest, it sounds pretty similar to what the West has tried to do in any number of former colonies ever since decolonisation began after the Second World War. To take Iraq itself as an example, the British set up a puppet state which became nominally independent in 1932, but informal control was maintained by British administrators and two large Royal Airforce bases.
Will it work this time around? The omens do not look good. The British managed to suppress the Arab revolt in 1920 and had time to install their rulers before the bulk of the British army left the country. The Americans do not have this option. Their casualty figures have begun to climb again and whatever they do will have to happen while the war goes on in the background.
Put another way, since Iraq has never stopped fighting the aggressors, there is no evidence to suggest that this plan will allow the Americans to even diminish the number of troops that they have in the country. The local puppets are squabbling amongst themselves and whatever credibility they had with the Iraqi population seems to be vanishing. Unless troop numbers are reduced, the Iraqis will see that the occupation continues - thus their war to liberate their country will go on.
Iraq has become a vicious circle: the Americans want to reduce their forces and leave a puppet regime in power, but they cannot install one until the fighting dies down. That will not happen so long as their army remains in the country.
It is unlikely, therefore, that compassionate colonialism will be a goer as a way to end this war.
20 April 2006
Who is this dipstick?
U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman has just explained that an attack on Iran will not involve ground troops. In fact reading his words, it all looks a bit of a doddle. Hit a few targets from the air, everything over in a few days, all very easy-peasy. That's a relief!
I was rather worried that the Iranians would charge out and catch the American army all spread in in bite sized chunks all across Iraq, or use their Chinese supplied anti-ship missiles to block the Straights of Hormuz. Hell - maybe they could do both at the same time and turn Hezbollah loose against Israel as well as sending suicide teams to make London look as like it did after a rather bad air raid in 1940.
However, now that the Senator has spoken we can all rest assured that the Iranians will play by Washington's rules and will accept the air attacks on their country without retaliating in any way, shape or form.
Galloway on Labour
George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green & Bow has published a stinging attack on Blairism in The Guardian today. His arguments are basically the same as those put forward on this blog since its inception, that "every country needs a labour party - but that Britain no longer has one".
His key quote came as a boot to the bollocks for the whole NuLab gang:
When Mr Blair bragged to the assembled claque at a soiree in the headquarters of Goldman Sachs - whose partners are among the richest people in Britain - that everyone present was paying less in income tax under him than under Margaret Thatcher, he seemed neither to understand nor care how repellent that sounded during a third Labour term and with multiple urban deprivation beginning just a stone's throw from the City.
This is why NuLab is doomed to fail. The fact that the wealthy are doing better under Blair than they did under Thatcher just sticks in the throat of the average Labour voter.
How soon before Blair gets dumped?
The Independent is reporting that the divisions over imperialism's forward march now seem to have spread to the British government. The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, has told the cabinet that he will not support any attack on Iran. Tony Blair for his part has still refused to rule out British support for any such move. According to the report, "most Labour MPs. . .would revolt" if Blair tried to support Washington in any future attack.
Reading the article it looks as if a shot has just been fired across the good ship USS Blair's bows. First Straw went on record as opposing military action, then four hours later, Blair was asked a question in the Commons that led to his answer. Finally this report has emerged of a putative coup against Blair.
The battle lines have now been drawn and we await Washington's next move. If they do attack Iran and Blair does not back down, then we shall find out what the Labour backbenches are made of.
19 April 2006
British brigadier attacks American gung ho methods
Yet more evidence to suggest that the thieves have begun to fall out - and are now looking around for someone to carry the can for the Iraq disaster.
Brigadier Alan Sharpe has criticised the American habit of playing to the TV audience with "loud voices, full body armour, wrap-around sunglasses, air strikes and daily broadcasts from shoulder-holster wearing brigadier-generals proudly announcing how many Iraqis have been killed by US forces today". The brigadier went on to say that none of this is "a hearts and minds winning tool".
He concluded by telling the story of an Iraqi prisoner who was being berated by a loud-mouthed American against returning to his "previously nefarious ways". The American was accompanied by a British brigadier, probably Clarke himself, who kept a discrete silence.
The Iraqi was remarkably unfazed by this bombast and replied:"Hey, Mr American, next time before you shout so much you should speak to him. He is British - they know how to invade a country."
The Daily Telegraph presents this report as an example of the superior British colonial methods, but there is another way to look at it. If the Iraq adventure is going to hell on a fast horse, then saving face is of paramount importance. As was noted recently, the American generals seem to have started a campaign against their own regime in Washington. Brig Clarke has probably started the British version of the face saver. Basically, we can expect everyone to start blaming everyone else for the coming disaster.
To be fair, they all have a point: the Americans were told that there were not enough troops to hold Iraq, and the British have always complained about the heavy-handed nature of the American occupation. To be even fairer, this is a war of aggression waged to subjugate an independent country. It is now clear that when the war ends, the Iraqi flag will be the one flying over the rubble of Baghdad. Anglo-American influence will be about nil, and those who collaborated with the occuptation will be dealt with summarily.
Anti-imperialists need to be ready to rubbish these arguments that the warmongers will put forward. If we don't then the myth will grow that victory was snatched away by bad planning or heavy handedness. Should that be allowed to take root, then the next colonial adventure is only a matter of time. The fact is that everyone, everywhere will fight for their home, no matter what the government was like before the invaders came. That point needs to be rammed home by the anti-imperialist movement. Along with a loud cry of: "We told you that from the beginning".
18 April 2006
This says is all really, doesn't it?
Cheers: Muscular Liberals Watch
Let slip the dogs of the BNP!
The British local elections will be held next month and NuLab if facing a humiliating meltdown. Rather than face up to the reality of the situation, which is that working class people see nothing worth voting for in NuLab, the Blairites are casting around for scapegoats. They seem to have decided that the British National Party fits the bill nicely. Unfortunately, being Blairites, they cannot see the truth that is staring them in the face.
The Daily Telegraph can, hence these words:
The BNP is exploiting a growing sense of frustration with genuine problems: the lack of affordable housing, the increase in low-level crime, the failure of inner-city schools, the loss of a sense of identity among white working-class men following the collapse of traditional industries.
Now, I must add a caveat here: it is a middle-class myth to claim that most working-class people took their sense of identity from their work. The ones who did were the old skilled working-class, many of whom went off to become Thatcher's C2 constituency especially in the South. For the rest of us, work was and is the price that we pay for our money. We may have identified with our unions, but never with the employer or his factory. The old adage went "boss's place, boss's profit, boss's problems" - and I do not remember anyone who showed anything more than a passing interest in any of them.
We identified ourselves through our unions, that is true, but mainly self-identification came about - again then and now - via the way that people are treated by others. Put another way, if someone is treated as being working class, then it tends to suggest that this is how he will see himself.
This aside, the rest seems to be accurate. If Labour is going to ignore its basic constituency and assume that this constituency can be taken for granted, if policies are going to be crafted by and for a middle class minority who have no links to the Labour Movement and who are little more than political consumers who follow a fashion, then Labour cannot complain when its voters desert it in droves.
It looks as if what is happening with the BNP canard is yet more NuLab spin. The party cannot face up to the fact that it policies are anathama to ordinary people, so it has to blame someone for the decline in votes. The fact that turnout has been declining for almost a decade is neither here nor there. What is important is that in the past, working class abstentions were offest by NuLab's middle-class voters who turned out in large numbers for the party. Iraq has put paid to them, so now people who were being mocked as chavs a few month ago are suddenly being seen in a new light.
If the BNP yell does not bring them back in the fold - and I see no reason why it should - then the next move will probably be to smear the whole of the white working class as fascists. Why I hear you ask? So that as Blairism vanishes over the horizon it can be reborn, in a Euston Manifesto way, as an alliance of the liberal Middle-Class.
It looks to me as if this is the endgame. These creatures have never had anything but contempt for the people who turned out to vote for them, so they will feel no qualms about leaving the party that they took over and used for a decade. For our part, so long as Labour does not swing to the toy-town left, but advocates instead solid Labourist policies that appeal to the working man, then I see no reason why the party's vote should not climb once more, as the BNP fades into oblivion.
It looks win-win to me.
17 April 2006
A time for the generals
American generals are starting to speak out against the continued war against Iraq. Well, retired generals are starting to speak out, but it is a sign of the times. Just about the only serving officer who thought that the invasion was insane was General Eric Shineski who was rewarded for his candour be early retirement. Thus expecting currently serving officer to put their careers on the line is a bit much, but the retired dissidents' list is fairly long.
It should be noted that most are only speaking out because the war is lost and they want to salvage something from the wreckage, but that in itself is good news for us. The imperialists are now fighting amongst themselves. First some of the NeoCons jumped ship. Then their cheerleaders started to abandon the cause. Now the generals are speaking out.
With every day that passes the warmongers get more and more isolated.
16 April 2006
Blair Force One
|The British government is trying to figure out how to raise £30 million to buy a 40-seater jet for the Prime Minister and senior cabinet figures. Obviously Tony can't fly off to get his orders from Washington in any old royal jet. Needless to say the whole thing has been dubbed Blair Force One by cynical insiders, and Gordon Brown is reported to be opposed to the whole idea.|
Could this become an issue during next month's local elections?
Please note that the source for this is The Times. Anything that this scab sheet prints should be treated with caution.
15 April 2006
More on The Euston Manifesto
Following on from yesterday's posting about the Euston Manifesto, I see that this is not the first time that this collection of chancers has tried to start a front organisation. However, as Crooked Timber pointed out, all previous goes have, well, gone:
The “decent left” who brought us Unite Against Terror, Labour Friends of Iraq, Democratiya, Engage and any number of other internet fronts, have now launched their Euston Manifesto . Together with lots of general commitments to motherhood and apple pie, there are the usual obsessions: Iraq, Israel, the alleged anti-Americanism and anti-semitism of those who disagree with them.
For his part, Guido Fawkes argues that whilst the hand shandyists for war are playing nicely amongst and with themselves - for some reason I always imagine them playing with themselves - "the rest of us can safely ignore them".
A lady named Jane Ashcroft took me to task in the comment box yesterday, saying that I should have commented on the Manifesto itself, rather than rubbished it in the way that I did. As a basic rule the lady is quite correct, what matters is the text and not who writes it. However, that is not the case with this particular text.
The point is that Blairism is illegitimate - as I have said many times before - within the context of a political party that was set up to represent the economic interests of the working class. To debate with Blairites is to legitimise their position within the party - and that is the whole point at issue. These entryists have no legitimacy within the Labour Movement and I am not going to provide them with any.
Once they have gone then obviously they are not just going to vanish up whatever orifice they use to speak with. They will form, either alone or in tandem with others, a political force that a revitalised Labour party will have to deal with. When that time comes then of course the moment for the debate that Miss Ashcroft wants will have arrived.
14 April 2006
The Euston Manifesto
A new front organisation appears to have been set up, probably as a way to keep Blairism alive after the deluge to come. It is called The Euston Manifesto, and aims to unite the "socialist left" with "egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment".
This was the aim of Blair when he was leader of the opposition, and talks took place between him and Paddy Ashdown, the then Liberal-Democratic Party leader, towards that end. It all got put on the back burner when the Tories self-destructed in 1997, but as support for NuLab sags the idea seems to have been dusted off again.
I doubt if it is a properly organised front - the old Communist Party would be needed for that - rather it looks like a marker for the future that has been put down by some Blairites. It can be expected to swing into action when Blairism is finally repudiated by the Labour Party. Then it will act as a forum for those who wish to unite Blairism with the Lib-Dems and the Tory left.
At the moment the Euston Manifesto is linked to Bloggers for Labour, a stooge organisation of true believers that acts as an electronic cheerleader for Blairite scabbery.
That said, its roots do seem to be American. Reading the actual manifesto, the American habit of switching an "S" for a "Z" seems to be the norm, thus we are treated to such delights as organizations, globalization and democratization. We are also given to believe that the plural of forum is forums. Sometimes the standard English is idiotically mixed with the American variant, and this is why we get to read of the International Labour Organization. It looks to this cynical eye as if some semi-literate was given the job of proof-reading an American original and ballsed the job up.
Reading through this rubbish as a whole three paragraphs jump out and hit the British reader in the eye. The first is this one:
We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures - freedom of opinion and assembly, free elections, the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and the separation of state and religion. We value the traditions and institutions, the legacy of good governance, of those countries in which liberal, pluralist democracies have taken hold.
Now, hardly any of the above forms a part of British political thought. Demands for a separation of the legislature from the government are impossible to reconcile with our parliamentary system. Probably this is why we tend not to make such demands. Likewise, most Englishmen are Anglicans. We may not go to Church, but the church we do not go to is the Anglican one. Toleration for minorities, be they Catholic, Moonie or Scientologist is an established fact, but there is no demand in Britain that the Church of England be placed on a par with these strange creeds.
Secondly, the manifesto explicitly lays down suppport for the USA and Israel as part of its foreign policy cornerstone. Israel? Now, whatever one's views are on what the former French Ambassador to the Court of St. James once rather engagingly called that shitty little country, the fact remains that its future is not something that most British people are particularly interested in. By way of contrast the European Union, an issue of far more importance to our country, does not even rate a mention.
So who is responsible for this load of old wank? It's hard to tell at the moment. The British wing are Blairites, and we can speculate that the idea came from the USA - probably the original wording as well - and has been fed to a group of mugs in the UK. Clearly they believe in it, but they are mugs, so they would, wouldn't they? For the rest of us, be we honest Labourites or decent Tories, there is nothing here of interest to either us or our country.
13 April 2006
Thoughts on Iran
If ever there was a country that you did not want to attack it's Iran. Just look at the figures - the land area alone is over 1.5 million kilometres. The population is about 68 million with a median age of 25. Over a quarter of them are under 14. Put another way, Iran is three times the size of Iraq in terms of both land area and population. The Iranians not only have the manpower to defend their country, but that median age means that they have plenty of young men who would be only to willing to march off to the sound of the guns. Young men are like that - hand shandyists for war excepted - and in spite of fantasies to the contrary, there is little evidence to suggest that they will not rally to their country's call as the men of my grandfathers' generation did in the Europe of 1914.
To make matters even worse for the Americans, Iran has not been worn down by over a decade of sanctions and her population are well-fed. To make matters even worse for the invaders, Iraq has demonstrated the way forward and all the Iranians have to do is copy that example. The regular army stands as well as any Third World force should be expected to stand. That is to say they will probably fold after a month or so. Then the Iranians will switch to guerrillas war, using the weapons that have no doubt already been hidden away. After that it is really just a matter of letting former junior officers and senior NCOs from the old army have their way. The Third World may be lousy at regular warfare, but it tends to be rather good at the guerrilla kind. To make matter even sweeter, Iran is just as urbanised as Iraq, so the Americans will be fighting in the vast concrete canyons that make up the Iranian cities. This war would be Iraq write large and very bloody.
The Iranians, not being stupid, would probably sign some deal with the Iraqis and the two wars could merge into one. At the same time they could encourage Hezbollah in Lebanon to make life as unpleasant as possible for the Israelis. As a final kicker, they could block the narrow Straights of Hormuz which is how most of the Middle-East's oil gets out.
So why are the Americans now claiming that Iran could make a nuclear bomb in 16 days when all reasoned analysis puts them over a decade away? Inventing pretexts for a war that America could lose and lose badly makes no sense at all. The only possible motive that even begins to make sense - and that only in the dark, twisted corridors of the neocon mind - is that the political numbers in the USA could ensure that Bush ends up a lame-duck after November's mid-term elections. It's a gamble in other words that the American voters can be scared into supporting yet another war, and a further gamble that it can be won within the just over two years that this fool still has in office. Either that, or it's a gamble that his successor will not have the courage to call it a day and will be forced to keep on fighting.
12 April 2006
Italy may leave the war.
It looks as if Romani Prodi's centre-left coalition has been elected in Italy, which means that the Italians will probably withdraw their roughly 2,500 troops from Iraq.
Get ready for the hand shandyists for war to start telling Italian jokes, as they try to convince themselves that the withdrawal of yet another bunch of occupation forces does not amount to much.
On one level they are correct. 2,500 soldiers out of a combined imperial force of almost 150,000 really does not amount to very much at all. However, to baldly state that and expect that statement to amount to very much is foolish indeed. Guerrilla war is 90% political, and it is on that level that we need to consider the putative Italian evacuation of Iraq.
When the Americans invaded that country three years ago they were gloating that a coalition of the willing went along with them. Politically it allowed the USA to say that it was not an American operation, rather it was a group effort by over 30 countries to liberate Iraq. This was nonsense, but that is not the point: the point is that it was credible to the people who cheered on the invasion. It was a fig-leaf in other words, and like all figleafs it didn't have to cover everything. As this cover gets slowly stripped away, the nakedness of the American aggression is left bare for all to see.
This should have two further effects. The first is on American moral. Not the moral of the hard-line hand shandyists, but of the population in general. Basically, guerrilla wars end when the occupiers can no longer tolerate the continuation of the conflict. That may be because they can no longer stand the economic costs of the war, or it may be because the political costs have become to high to carry. Italy's withdrawal may have the effect of encouraging people who are dubious about the war already to move over into the anti-war camp. In addition, those who are pro-war, may decide that a more dubious posture is called for.
As far as Iraq is concerned, another of her enemies has been forced to leave the war. This will encourage Iraqi nationalists to redouble their efforts to expell yet more imperialist forces. The war will probably intensify, if that is at all possible. Iraqis who are trying to sit out the war on the sidelines may very well decide to join or support the resistance, since they now look more and more like winners. It is far better to be amongst those who will line up for medals when Iraq is finally liberated than to be with those who will have to join another line for the firing squad.
All in all, April looks like a good month for Iraq, a good month for anti-imperialism, and yet another lousy month for the warmongers.
11 April 2006
Afghanistan, Iraq & Iran.
Talk of war against Iran grows by the day, but I am still not convinced by any of it. The Afghan front has opened up once more and the Americans have finally admitted that Taliban forces are "very hard to combat". Iraq is still unconquered, so the thought that the Americans can open a third front strikes me as ludicrous.
I am right, aren't I?
10 April 2006
Comandante Gringo makes some interesting points in one of my comment boxes. Apropos not a lot, he argues that this blog lost momentum due to my absence in January, and that prior to my trip we had been picking up a lot of new readers thanks to referrals from other blogs. He goes on to say that more established blogs "network like crazy" and that those blogs are never neglected.
Last year the Exile was getting around 70 and 150 hits a day; now we get between 30 and a 100. However, the higher count was not due to referals from other blogs: it was due to the fact that the Exile was new and I was willing to trot around other blogs leaving comments left, right and centre.
This year the Exile's postings have been commented on by much bigger blogs and the site does get hits that come from those places. However, we tend not to keep the people who come over to have a butcher's. My theory is that most of the sites that refer to the Exile are hand shandy places. Their punters are, well, wankers. They leave a comment, get the piss taken out of them, and so they take their hooks and never come back. What the Exile needs are links to sites that share my basic philosophy: that socialism is the economic response of people like me to a system that tells against our economic self interest. All the rest is just wank as far as I am concerned.
In the meantime I shall continue plodding along, even though running a blog and posting almost daily is taking its toll. I have tried to find people who want to offer guest posts on certain days of the week, but without success. That would give them a blog to work with, but without having all the ear ache of actually running one of their own. If anybody is interested, well, they know how to get in touch. All I ask is honesty: the guest bloggers can be Tories, but let them be honest about it. So, if you are the heir to some factory owner's fortune and want to tell folk why unions should be abolished, that's fine. However, if you are some sad-arsed suburban loser who hasn't got the balls to be a worker, nor the brass to be a gaffer, then kindly fuck off. Harry's Place is for you. . .
Although small, this blog has picked up a small but loyal band of regular readers. To them I give thanks, and a pledge that the Exile will keep on running. Please check back soon for the next post!
09 April 2006
7th July report leaks out
|The official report into the 7th July London bombings has been leaked and concludes that the bombers had no links to al-Qaida.|
The men met via the internet and were not part of any international conspiracy. Each was determined to become a martyr for his cause, and they gained their bomb making knowledge from the web.
Sadly for the hand-shandyists for war - especially the tosser who wrote in yesterday - that is all there is to it. Supporting the war against Iraq is not a step on the road to defeating people like this because they had no links to either Iraq or al-Qaida.
08 April 2006
A warmonger writes. . .
What are we to make of this load of old wank that appeared in my comment box? Normally I would not comment directly on the deluded ravings of some hysterical warmonger. Still less do I make it a habit of legitimising the rantings of the entryists who have temporarily taken over the Labour Party by quoting their inane ramblings. That said. . . This is my toy. . . And I make the bloody rules. Here is what little Dave T. from Harry's Place had to say:
Exile, have you spoken to any british servicemen serving in iraq, or who have served there? What would you consider to be the general mood in the british army right now? Please reply. If not, then shut the fuck up supporting islamofascism, 9/11, 7/7 London blasts etc and start supporting Greatest forward march of freedom in the greater middle east, since the fall of the berlin wall.
Now, is this what the 'monging fraternity are reduced to in their increasingly desperate attempts to defend a lost war that has disgraced Britain's name? Since when has any war ever been justified by reference to the opinions of the soldiery? The armed forces are servants of the Crown which acts through Parliament. To argue otherwise, which this fool seems to be doing, is to argue against the constitution.
I suspect that this was not the 'monger's intention. To be charitable - and I am a generous and charitable man - it looks to me as if the 'monger came home from his first night out at the pub and the beer made him feel clever. The Exile smiles at the follies of the prepubescent and remembers his own foolishness when he first sneaked into a swill shop in about 1970.
On the other hand, it could be that this 'monger is trying with all his might to salvage something from the wreckage of a policy that has only brought discredit upon the country. Every 'monger thesis has been greeted with mocking laughter and we await the results of next month's local elections to see if Blair and his collection of cockroaches will survive into the summer.
If this is the case then our little 'monger has failed. President Charles de Gaulle once said that to be defeated is not to be disgraced, but that does not apply to the people who led Britain into this disasterous adventure. Their fate is to be vilified and mocked until the day that they die.
07 April 2006
Telegraph now opposes Iraq war
|You can tell that things are going wrong in Iraq when the likes of the Daily Telegraph - a paper that supported the war - publishes a leader calling for it to end:|
Three years after the original invasion, supporters of the war should assess the situation with pitiless clarity. Three years is more than enough time to have trained a new generation of police recruits and native soldiers.
The continuing insurgency can no longer be regarded as a mopping-up exercise, or a prolongation of the military campaign. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether our troops are containing a civil conflict that would be occurring anyway, or whether they are in fact exacerbating the unrest by their presence.
The leader goes on to quote from a recent opinion poll in the UK which shows that 55% of the population are now against this war.
06 April 2006
Apache helicopter video
The Times reports that the USA is "outraged" by some video footage that shows the wreckage of an Apache helicopter that was shot down in Iraq, as well as a crewman's body.
So outraged are they that they seem to be scampering around the web like blue arsed flies, trying to cut off links to the 21 meg RM video. This page has link details, and if you go here and scroll down, then you will find several links to the actual video. Alas most of them are already dead.
Most of us are outraged that after three long years this war of aggression is still going on.
Non-UK readers should note that The Times is owned by Rupert Murdock and is written, printed and distributed by scab labour. Anything it says should be treated with caution.
05 April 2006
Building opposition to imperialism: two opposing views
Neil Clark quotes approvingly from this document which argues that anti-imperialist groups can use the country's decentralised structures against the warmongers.
The problem with this argument is that, as Scott Ritter has shown, the imperialists are already planning for their next aggression, probably against Iran this time. Ritter makes the point that it is no use opposing wars after they have started, which is what the argument above is, because all that happens is that anti-imperialists are left responding to events. Ritter posits that we need to get ahead of the game and aim to snooker ever claim that the imperialists make.
For this to happen, he says, a permanent think tank needs to be established that will study the imperialist groups and teach people how to counter their arguments. To defeat the enemy we need to understand the enemy, in the same way that a military commander understands the way his opposite number thinks.
I have to agree with Ritter on this. I am tired of being left in imperialism's wake as it marches forward into other lands. It is time we got our act together and met them head on. Only that way can we even hope to actually stop a war.
04 April 2006
Soldiers who can say no.
Max Hastings has posted an interesting article on the Guardian's blog page. In it he argues that many professional soldiers on both sides of the Atlantic were dubious, to say the least, about the wars against Afghnaistan and Iraq. His key paragraph reads:
Perhaps the most important lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan is that senior soldiers on both sides of the Atlantic should be braver about saying no. Armed forces are the servants of democratic governments. But their commanders should recognise a constitutional duty to dig in their heels when invited by politicians to undertake operations they perceive as militarily unsound. This the 2003 Iraq invasion emphatically was, because of the US government's refusal meaningfully to address "phase IV" occupation planning.
I must admit that I sympathise with the sentiments expressed in this article, but am very, very dubious about this conclusion. If we take the argument to its logical end, then such ideas could be used to justify coups and rumours of coups. The streets of many Latin American capitals have seen more than their fair share of dead, legitimate politicians, and soldiers who claim that they had a duty to uphold some principle or other.
Clearly Max Hastings is not advocating this, but the problem with his argument is that once a principle is established it can then be used for venal, as well as noble, purposes. Giving the armed forces a constitutional role in policy making - for that is what this article is about - could lead down a dangerous and slippery path that is best avoided altogether.
It makes far more sense to argue that it is Parliament's role to oversee the executive, and that Parliament has failed in that duty. One might argue that the Royal Prerogatives that are currently held by the Prime Minister, such as the power to declare war, should be in Parliament's hands. It might also be argued that the party system acts to prevent proper oversight of the government, since so many MPs are on the government's payroll. How to restore a proper balance between the government and the legislature is a legitimate debate that is long overdue in the United Kingdom.
However, what is not legitimate - if only because it is so damned dangerous to constitutional order - is a debate about giving the armed forces a veto over government decisions.
02 April 2006
Iran: talks to be held tomorrow to discuss the attack
|Talks are to be held tomorrow, Monday, between the government and military chiefs to discuss a possible attack on Iran. The fact that this has leaked suggests that somebody in Whitehall is seriously concerned about this drift to war.|
Events just seem to be moving at an alarming pace. In January Whitehall insiders were claiming that the costs of any such attack would outweigh any benefits. Last month Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said that any attack was "inconceivable". Was he doing exactly the same thing that he did before the attack on Iraq: playing down the rumours of war, whilst all the time preparing for one?
'Monger of the month: March
This month's winner stands head and shoulders below every other sad-arsed little tosser that wrote in to provide cheap laughs for the Exile. In fact, so convinced was I that this fool would crawl away with the prize that I pretty much telegraphed the result there and then. As nobody else has even come close to matching this knob's combination of asinine stupidity, coupled with off-the-wall head bangery, regular readers will probably have already guessed who this month's lucky winner is.
On the 20th March I posted an essay which discussed the future of socialism and Islamism: could the two work together, I wondered? Comandante Gringo argued that we should support anti-colonial movements because they are at least a step up from the colonial status-quo. This was a good point, and one that I had failed to make.
Then, steaming in like some deranged ferret on a bad acid trip, came this month's winner. He tried to introduce the Rippentrop-Molotov Pact to the debate, clearly thinking that an alliance between two roughly equal sovereign states was comparable with a bunch of Iraqis who are trying to get the largest power the world has ever seen out of their country. Then he seemed to be suggesting that the 3% of the British people who are Muslim can somehow take over the country if British socialism is so foolish enough to make a common, anti-capitalist cause with them.
This individual is too wonderful for words. Ladies and gentleman I give you the 'Monger of the Month for March 2006! Step forward Sackcloth & Ashes to receive the derision that you have wanked so hard to deserve.
Every month this blog will award due recognition to the animal, vegetable or mineral who has made the most asinine, stupid and/or off-the-wall comment or comments. Nationality is not important, but anyone who signs themself as anonymous will not be included. The publisher-editor's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
01 April 2006
Thoughts on Ladronia
John Laughland has an interesting article in The Spectator on the often forgotten but quite fascinating country that is Ladronia. It must be 25 years since I last visited this jewel of the Balkans, and Laughland's article has brought back many happy memories.
The Ladronians - or the Ladrones as they should more properly be called - are a curious mixture of South Slav and Mexican. This is a fact that is often overlooked in any study of this quite remarkable country. Mexico's involvement with Ladronia dates back to the Spanish Civil War when Mexico used the good offices of Ladronia to funnel military supplies to the Spanish government. Many Mexican who were involved in those shipments chose to remain in Ladronia and married into the local population.
This has led to a very interesting adoption of many old Mexican customs and Spanish words into everyday life of Ladronia. For instance, when one asks a Ladronian official to give an estimate of the time needed to produce a document from the voluminous archives, the reply is invariably the Spanish word for tomorrow - mañana - but meant in the Mexican sense of not-today and-I-don't-know-or-care-when. This comment is invariably accompanied by a raising of one hand to the level of the head and then bringing it down, at the same time flexing the hand in a forward gesture. This is the Mexican-Ladronian way of telling the person that he, the official, wishes you to go and do something obscene with and to your mother while he gets back to doing nothing.
During the summer months, the male ladron will sit outside with his friends playing dominos all afternoon. His curious habit of lifting his shirt, exposing his large stomach - the famous gran goot in Ladron - and then stroking it lovingly, is a another good example of an imported Mexican cultural norm. It signifies that the man is at ease with his life and has no intention of doing anything with it.
All in all a fascinating country to visit.
Cheers: Neil Clark
War against Iran to begin this month, says American academic
I pray that he is wrong, but Professor Jorge Hirsch of the University of California at San Diego has predicted war between his country and Iran, starting this month.
His argument is fairly complicated, but the gist of it is that the Americans will not be able to use the threat of nuclear weapons as their pretext because the IAEA has found no evidence whatsoever that Iran is even close to developing a nuclear bomb. Prof. Hirsch aruges that biological weapons will be the excuse, probably with an American claim that Iran has found some way to mutate the bird flu so that it can be carried by wild birds and then passed from to humans. The advantage of this is that birds begin to migrate in the spring, so the Americans could use this fact as a reason to attack Iran now - that is before the migration begins.
I do not know if any of this will come to pass. I still hold to the view that an attack on Iran when Iraq is still unconquered and, seemingly, unconquerable would be an act of lunacy.