Tag: #bigotry

Sometimes satire is appropriate. Calling it ‘fake news’ isn’t

My last article was a lampoon of a real vigilante group that was established to hunt out ‘fake’ beggars and homeless people, taking photos of them to use on posters that name and shame them. The group have already ‘outed’ one genuinely homeless person, and have drawn much criticism from the police, charities and councils for their ill-conceived aims and methods. 

The characters I portrayed have made up names like ‘Mr Vinnie Dicktive’ and so on. The reference to phrenology and character divination is also a sideswipe at the government, as is the reference to ‘no causal link between ‘the homeless and homelessness’, but it also serves to highlight the bigotry, hypocrisy and downright irrationality of the vigilante group.

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Some people have expressed concern that my satire may be mistaken for ‘fake news’. However, I expect that most people can recognise a parody of a group and distinguish it from ‘fake news’. I occasionally write satire because sometimes, the best thing to do when confronted with those who are nasty, irrational, prejudiced and ridiculous is to ridicule them. I’m certainly not going to apologise for that.

My friend, Hubert Huzzah, has this to say about satire and ‘fake news’:

1) Fake News is bought, paid for and advances against the interests of the people it is aimed at.

2) Satire is created by [and for] the people who Fake News is aimed at. 

For those who don’t know me, my occasional bouts of satire fall into the latter category.

However, what really angers and upsets me about some of the responses to the latest article is this. The article I wrote just previously to the satirical piece was absolutely heartbreaking. It was so harrowing to write that I wept while I wrote it. The article was about two ill and vulnerable homeless citizens who died in sub-zero temperatures last week. Ben had been discharged from hospital, forced to return to a tent as his only shelter from the elements, after being treated for pneumonia. Rob had throat cancer, and was sleeping behind the shutters of an Argos store.

People expressed their ‘shock and surprise’ that these two poor and ill homeless citizens hadn’t survived Siberian weather conditions. I felt that those comments reflected a general public numbness and detachment to the terrible circumstances of homeless people, which horrified, appalled and disgusted me. And also made me very angry.

There is something really horrifically wrong with a so-called civilised, democratic society in a very wealthy country that abandons sick and disabled people, leaving them with no effective shelter or money on the streets in sub-zero temperatures. And there must be something missing from people who then express ‘shock’ and ‘surprise’ that their fellow citizens have died in those conditions.

I was accused of having ‘bad taste’, by one person. I pointed out that I am not part of the vigilante group going around harassing and photographing homeless people and making posters that claim they are somehow faking their homelessness. This group says that they will not invade the privacy of other citizens, by ensuring they aren’t captured on any of the photos, indicating clearly that they think homeless people have less right to respect and privacy than others. The point of my satirical article was to highlight the ‘bad taste’ , spite and prejudice of the ‘Killing with Kindness’ campaign. If it made you feel uncomfortable, well good, it was intended to.

Remarkably, my satirical piece has drawn more attention, response and anger than the previous very serious article about real people, in very real and unforgiving circumstances within the context of inhumane political and public indifference to the plight of our poor fellow citizens in this country.

Related image

Related

Please don’t just walk on by, we are better than this

From the abstract to the concrete: urban design as a mechanism of behaviour change and social exclusion

Two very vulnerable homeless men left to die in sub-zero temperatures

People are faking their homelessness and poverty for money, says petty urban bourgeousie

 


 

I’m disabled through an illness called lupus. I don’t make any money from my work. However, I do what I can, when I can, and in my own way. You can support Politics and Insights and contribute by making a donation which will help me continue to research and write informative, insightful and independent articles, and to provide support to others. The smallest amount is much appreciated, and helps to keep my articles free and accessible to all – thank you. 

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Sticks and stones: abusive labels, self concept – when words become weapons

The socio-political perspective.

My friend Harry Ottley once told me, many years ago, that I could kill a man with words. It was at a time when I was struggling to come to terms with a series of horrible events. Recovering from trauma takes time and for a while, I wasn’t myself. I didn’t want any company at the time, and Harry, who simply wanted to offer support, found me somewhat antisocial and blunt.

We can heal, though. It takes time, a lot of soul-searching, it’s often a very painful process and there are no short cuts. One of the reasons I decided to study psychology and sociology was my abiding interest in how we are immersed in each other: we exist, connect, shape and are shaped in a social context: in an inter-subjective realm, our behaviours affect each other, often profoundly.

Language, narratives, ideologies, norms and all of the mechanisms we draw on to make sense of and to navigate the universe can stifle us, damage and repress us, but may also transform and liberate us.

Harry is right. What we say to each other matters very much.

The range of what we say and think and do is limited by what we don’t notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds

Some people often use the “freedom of speech” plea to justify their prejudice. They say they have a right to express their thoughts. But speech is an intentional ACT. Hate speech is intended to do harm – it’s used purposefully to intimidate and exclude vulnerable groups. Hate speech does not “democratise” speech, it tends to monopolise it. Nor is it  based on reason, critical thinking or open to debate. Bigotry is a crass parody of opinion and free speech. Bigots are conformists – they tend not to have independent thought. Prejudice thrives on Groupthink.

Being inequitable, petty or prejudiced isn’t “telling it like it is” – a claim which is an increasingly common tactic for the right, and particularly UKIP – it’s just being inequitable, petty or prejudiced.  And some things are not worth saying. Really. We may well have an equal right to express an opinion, but not all opinions are of equal worth.

And the right-wing do frequently dally with hate speech. Hate speech generally is any speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of their race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. Critics have argued that the term “hate speech” is a contemporary example of Newspeak, used to silence critics of social policies that have been poorly implemented in order to appear politically correct.

This term was adopted by US conservatives as a pejorative term for all manner of attempts to promote multiculturalism and identity politics, particularly, attempts to introduce new terms that sought to leave behind discriminatory baggage attached to older ones, and conversely, to try to make older ones taboo.

“Political correctness” arose originally from attempts at making language more culturally inclusive. Critics of political correctness show a curious blindness when it comes to examples of “conservative correctness.” Most often, the case is entirely ignored, or censorship of the Left is justified as a positive virtue.Perhaps the key argument supporting this form of linguistic and conceptual inclusion is that we still need it, unfortunately. We have a right-wing Logocracy, creating pseudo-reality by prejudicial narratives and words. We are witnessing that narrative being embedded in extremely oppressive policies and in their justification.

The negative impacts of hate speech cannot be mitigated by the responses of third-party observers, as hate speech aims at two goals. Firstly, it is an attempt to tell bigots that they are not alone. It validates and reinforces prejudice.

The second purpose of hate speech is to intimidate a targeted minority, leading them to question whether their dignity and social status is secure. In many cases, such intimidation is successful. Furthermore, hate speech is a gateway to harassment and violence. (See Allport’s scale of prejudice, which shows clearly how the Nazis used “freedom of speech” to incite hatred and then to incite genocide.) As Allport’s scale indicates, hate speech and incitement to genocide start from often subtle expressions of prejudice.

The dignity, worth and equality of every individual is the axiom of international human rights. International law condemns statements which deny the equality of all human beings. Article 20(2) of the ICCPR requires states to prohibit hate speech. Hate speech is prohibited by international and national laws, not because it is offensive, but rather, because it amounts to the intentional degradation and repression of groups that have been historically oppressed.

The most effective way to diffuse prejudice is an early preventative approach via dialogue: positive parenting, education and debate. Our schools, media and public figures have a vital part to play in positive role-modelling, like parents, in challenging bigotry, encouraging social solidarity, respect for diversity and in helping to promote understanding and empathy with others.

Hate speech categories are NOT about “disagreement” or even offence. Hate speech doesn’t invite debate. It’s about using speech to intentionally oppress others. It escalates when permitted, into harassment and violence. We learn this from history, and formulated human rights as a consequence.

UKIP would have us unlearn the lessons of the Holocaust so that people can say “I’m not being racist, but…” or “It’s not wrong to say immigrants should be sent home…” and so on.

Wittgenstein once said: “The limits of my language are the limits of my  world.”

Words are powerful. As well as describing, signifying, explaining, persuading, interpreting, obscuring, deceiving and so on, they may also issue commands and instructions. We “spell” words. Spelling may also be described as “words or a formula purported to have magickal powers.” Words act upon others and elicit responses.

Yes, they may profoundly impact on others. With words, both spoken and unspoken, we can shape and re-shape the universe. We shape and transform each other. We can create. Einstein changed the meaning of the word “mass” and transformed Newton’s universe of structures to his own – one of events. It’s a different universe.

We can oppress or liberate with a few intentional words. The choice is ours.

The psychological perspective

“Every relationship. . . implies a definition of self by others and other by self. . . A person’s ‘own’ identity can never be completely abstracted from his identity-for-others.” From Self and Others – R D Laing.

The human mind is social. Through a process of symbolic interactions, beginning as children, humans begin to define themselves meaningfully within the context of their socialisations.

The looking-glass self is a social psychological concept, first mentioned in Human Nature and the Social Order by Charles Cooley in 1902. It’s basis is that a person’s sense of self-hood arises from social, interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others. We internalise those interactions. The term refers to how people shape their self-concepts based on their understanding of how others perceive them.

People tend to conform to how they think others think them to be,  especially children, since they don’t have the necessary experiences and inner resources to reject labels, and it’s difficult, or arguably impossible, to act differently from how a person thinks he or she is perpetually perceived. Individuals use language and thought as the basis of their self concept.

Cooley said: “The thing that moves us to pride or shame is not the mere mechanical reflection of ourselves, but an imputed sentiment, the imagined effect of this reflection upon another’s mind.”

Self-fulfilling prophecy is the behavioural confirmation effect, in which behaviour, influenced by expectations, causes those expectations to come true. People react, not only to the situations they are in, but also, and often primarily, to the way they perceive the situations and to the meaning they ascribe to their perceptions.

Sociologists often use the Pygmalion effect, interchangeably with self-fulfilling prophecy, and the effect is most often cited with regard to educational under-attainment, social class, race.

“When teachers expect students to do well and show intellectual growth, they do; when teachers do not have such expectations, performance and growth are not so encouraged and may in fact be discouraged in a variety of ways. How we believe the world is and what we honestly think it can become have powerful effects on how things will turn out.”  James Rhem, executive editor for the online National Teaching and Learning Forum.

In the context of race, gender and class, negative labelling is often associated with  socio-political control mechanisms and prejudice. Stereotypes and labels estrange us from our authentic possibilities. The attributions and labels that people exchange on a symbolic level, also have the function of instruction or injunction, this function may be denied,  giving rise to one type of “mystification”, rather like hypnotic suggestion.

“Pain in this life is not avoidable, but the pain we create avoiding [our own] pain is avoidable.” Ronnie D Laing.

It’s almost impossible for individuals – especially children – to avoid experiencing changes to their psyche and  subsequent actions following repeated emotional abuse (and physical abuse, psychological violence is so very often a precursor to physical violence).

Research consistently shows that children subjected to verbal aggression, may exhibit a range of serious disorders, including chronic depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation and anger. Words Can Be Weapons is a powerful multimedia campaign based in China that illustrates how words may be turned into weapons, to illustrate that what we say can hurt and damage others, very literally.

The number of crimes committed by juveniles has doubled in China, and the Centre For Psychological Research in Shenyang says its studies link juvenile crime to childhood emotional abuse – a taboo subject in China. The centre partnered with the Beijing office of advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather. Six teenagers were interviewed in Shenyang Detention Centre about negative, hurtful statements their parents had said to them in the past, such as “moron” and “You’re a disgrace.” The video then transforms these words, powerfully, into replications of the actual weapons these young people later went on to use to commit crimes.

Juggi Ramakrishnan, Ogilvy and Mather’s executive creative director in Beijing, said, in a press release: “Verbal abuse of children is like setting off a time bomb. It explodes only much later, long after the original perpetrator has left the scene. And it is society that pays the price, as is evident from the rising rate of juvenile crime. We really needed to tell this ‘cycle-of-violence’ story in a way that will make people sit up and take notice.”

One young person begins his interview by saying:  “I guess my world must be a dark one… My mother would yell at me every day, often telling me to go away and die.”

When he heard these words again, this time from his manager, he lost his self-control and stabbed him. The campaign took the words that had haunted him his entire life, and turned them into a knife, like the one he had used in his assault.

The campaign, in the English language version of the video was published on YouTube in April but has only recently garnered the attention it deserves. It has all the content from the project, including full interviews with the young people who are residents in the Detention Centre, at: wordscanbeweapons.co

We know from extensive research that victims of emotional and psychological abuse may also become perpetrators, particularly if no support has been available for the victim. Though many do not.

Damaged self-esteem and psychological injury destabilises us, it may lead to learned, created and distorted or false behaviours as a defence against further psychic injury. Abusers distort our sense of self, lower our self-worth, disorder our emotional responses to others, destroy our faith in our own judgements, skew our perception of others, and erode our personal boundaries.

For children and young people especially, there’s a risk of victim or victimiser roles being normalised, because the experience of alternative  interactions is limited.

In psychology and sociology, internalisation is the process that involves the integration of attitudes, values, standards and the opinions of others into one’s own identity or sense of self.

Studies suggest that young people who have internalised a view of their self as “positive and good” tend to have a developmental trajectory toward pro-social behaviour, those with damaged selves are more likely struggle with the social rules, codes and norms of conduct, empathic affects to others, and adaptive behavioural strategies.

Our selves may be either authentic or false. False selves tend to be an adaptation to false realities.(As opposed to fake selves, which are contrived to manipulate others).

We live in times when the media constructs such false realities every day, with the UK government directing a scapegoating and vilification process which targets vulnerable groups, because of Tory traditional prejudices, in order to justify their ideological inclinations to dismantle the social gains of our post-war settlement, withdraw publicly funded state support for those in need. We have a conservative social order built upon bullying, abuse and coercion from the aristocratic top down: it’s a hierarchy of control and power. And the only authentic quality David Cameron has is his inauthenticity. He’s a typical public school bully, and his atrocious role-modeling gives others permission to bully.

As a consequence, everyday untenable situations arise for those least able to cope with them, because we internalise identity, and through a process of attribution, this currently involves political pretence, dishonesty, illusion, elusion, delusion, and media collusion. This is a government that has normalised abuse on every level, and the consequences of that inflicted psychic trauma will be with us for several generations to come.

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Gaslighting
is a form of  mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception and sanity. Instances may range from simple denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, to the staging of  events and using a narrative with the intention of disorienting the victim, and “invalidating” their experience. The UK government uses gaslighting techniques, by calling critics “scaremongers”, by claiming cuts to services and provisions are “reforms”, and that coercive welfare sanctions “support” people into work, or “make work pay”, especially given the largest fall in wages ever.

Pictures courtesy of  Robert Livingstone 

 


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The disgruntled beast

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Miliband doesn’t pander to populism, and upholds the inclusion, equality and diversity principles that are embedded in policies which Labour pioneered. He aims to address and curtail exploitative employers, which of course is a real problem, rather than migrants, who are being exploited in the same way that “nationals” are. We have workfare, analogous to slavery and counterproductive in decreasing unemployment, which is universally exploitative, and absolutely nothing to do with the poor migrants, and everything to do with profit-driven greed, and a government that has encouraged that greed to thrive and flourish at such catastrophic expense to others.

Miliband knows that Britain is not divided by race and culture, it’s divided by wealth inequalities fuelled by the Tory-led Coalition’s austerity policies. Blaming the unemployed, the sick and disabled and immigrants for the failings of the government has fuelled misperceptions that drive support for the far-right. People complain they can’t get council houses, and the only really honest question an honest politician ought to ask is: “Why aren’t there more council houses?”

And when there are large numbers of people receiving unemployment benefit or tax credits, then the only honest question to ask is: “Why is the economy failing to provide enough jobs, or pay adequate wages?”

Miliband’s emphasis on equality is bothering the Tories, because their entire ideology is founded on Social Darwinism: to the Tories, inequalities are an inevitability, because of their emphasis on competition between individuals for resources in the “free market.” Miliband’s social democracy program provides an alternative that challenges the established right-wing neoliberal consensus.

The media and the government have stigmatised vulnerable social groups as a justification of cruel and punitive policies aimed at those least able to fight back, as an explanation of the failings of this government to be fair and honour a degree of legislation to reflect public needs – the public they are meant to serve.

As a society that once promised equality and democracy, we now preside over massive inequalities of wealth: that’s a breeding ground for racism and other vicious resentments.

It’s awoken the disgruntled beast within people, the one that feeds on anger, demoralisation, fear, resentment and uncertainty.

And wherever antipathy and a degree of enmity exist, the far-right have always tried to perpetuate, exploit and increase rancour. The fascism of the 20s and 30s gained prominence because it played on wider public fears, manipulating them, and deflecting attention, as ever, from those who are truly to blame for dire social conditions: the ever-greedy elite. There’s a well-established link between political extremism, economic hardship and recession and social cleavages, with the far-right “anti-system” parties deceitfully winning the support of those who would never previously have thought of themselves as extremists.

Such extremism and rancour feeds the disgruntled beast. The political right have always sought to divide sections of the poor and middle class and set them to fight one against the other; to have us see enemies in our midst which do not exist, so that we see economic policies – the Tory-rigged “free market” competition – as the solution rather than the cause of our problems.

And here we are again. A Tory government, another rigged recession, and the politics of fear, despair and micro-managed discontent.

Fascism plays a specific role for the ruling class: it is a weapon against civil unrest during social crises caused by recession. It redirects public anger from the government to scapegoats. To build such a movement, fascists have to delve into the “lower classes” using a mixture of crude economic radicalism and racism. Oswald Mosley also started out as a Tory and he was a rich aristocrat. His tactic was “street politics”, rather like Farage’s appeal to woo “ordinary people.” Mosley cut himself adrift from the mainstream ruling class when in early 1934, he launched a campaign for street supremacy in key working class areas.

Farage is comparable with Mosely: he also tried to entice the working class, and those blue collar defectors who don’t feel solidarity with anyone except their “own kind” need to ask themselves how a fascist party would better reflect their interests, because fascists aren’t just fascists when it comes to your preferred target group – in this case migrants – fascists are fascists, full stop. And most migrants are working class, too.

Fascists are not known for being big on unions and worker’s rights either, Hitler smashed the unions, Mosely fought them too. But fascists do like to use the oppressed to oppress others.

Mosely was defeated by working class solidarity – Jews, communists, socialists, the labour movement, and the middle classes, who all stood side by side in Scotland, Newcastle, in the Valleys, Yorkshire, at Olympia and on Cable Street. Unity and regard for the rights and well-being of others was their greatest strength.

That community spirit and solidarity is precisely what we need to find again. The disgruntled beast is divisive, and it feeds on demoralisation, alienation, feelings of isolation and a lack of regard for others.

Identity politics and the faultlines of division

Lynton Crosby, who has declared that his role is to destroy the Labour Party, rather than promote the Conservatives, based on any notion of merit, is all about such a targeted “divide and rule” strategy. This is a right wing tactic of cultivating and manipulating apostasy amongst support for the opposition. It’s a very evident ploy in the media, too, with articles about Labour screaming headlines that don’t match content, and the Sun and Telegraph blatantly lying about Labour’s policy intentions regularly.

One major ploy has been to attempt to rally the disgruntled working classes behind the flag of identity politics – aimed exclusively at the most disgruntled, very purposefully excluding other social groups. It also sets them against each other, for example, the working class unemployed attacking migrants – it really is divisive, anti-democratic, and flies in the face of labour’s equality and diversity principles. It also enhances the political myth of convenience – the “out of touch/allthesame MPs”, some of those stoked-up disgruntled blue collar workers have defected to UKIP.

There’s an immediate danger that if the far-right succeed in colonising the anti-mainstream vote, as they are aiming to, and developing party loyalty, it will block the development of an independent working class politics capable of defending our conditions and challenging the status quo.

UKIP (and the Tories) first and foremost are traditionalists and defenders of property, with the socially paranoid ideology of the hard right. A dominant theme is a conspiratorial view of the EU as a sort of “socialist plot”, with the Eurocrats encouraging mass immigration, stifling small businesses with legislation and fuelling the welfare state. And working class cultural imperialism – some blue collar workers and working class supporters have disgruntled beasts that respond to the populist, “anti-establishment”, Islamophobic agenda. The wealthier middle class supporters who were traditionally Conservative want to force the Tories further to the right.

Thanks to the persistent propaganda work of the government and the media, the tendency is to see the far-right’s behaviour as merely the justified reaction to the provocation of socially stigmatised groups – the sick and disabled, the unemployed, Muslims and immigrants. This is the climate in which UKIP and its allies thrive. As a result, there is an urgent need to shift toward a wider cultural and political offensive against prejudice more generally. Again. The only party concerning itself with that, as ever, is Labour.

UKIP supporters manifestly don’t care about prejudice directed at others. At the very least they are not repelled by racism, sexism, disablism and homophobia, they seem unsentimental about the types of alliances they find themselves in. Yet working class UKIP supporters are cutting off their own noses to spite their faces, as UKIP are Thatcherites: neoliberal white trash. Fascists don’t support the working class –  they never have and never will. No matter how much they say otherwise.

I’ve talked about UKIP, here, but they are not the only party drawing on the propaganda of the right. I have seen Left Unity, the Greens, the SNP, and a range of so-called socialist groups utilise right-wing myths about the Labour Party, too. This means we end up repeatedly fighting to clarify truths amongst ourselves instead of simply fighting the injustices and lies of the Tories.

It also struck me that we have a raft of writers loosely writing about the Labour Party that don’t seem to promote achievements and positive policies, which is at the very least as important as the negatively weighted “critical” analyses of the last Labour government, for balance and for providing a framework for those perpetually disconsolate readers that tend to feed their pet disgruntled beasts from buzz phrases and glittering generalities for the perpetually unhappy orthodoxy obsessed narxists – like “working class disenfranchisement”, “New Labour”, “Progress”, “Blairite”, “weakened unions”, “blue labour” and so forth. Many narxists have a peculiar elitist and very  non-inclusive obsession with what socialism ought to be.

Ticked boxes and pressed disgruntle buttons.

It was mostly the disgruntled blue collar workers that found UKIP’s inverted elitism – anti-intellectualism, anti-middle-classism and a few other prejudices more appealing, and defected, in a false conscious moment of supreme nose-cutting and spited faces. I don’t see anything to be gained in fueling their discontent, propping up populism, and its irrational response – a nod in the direction of fascism from people claiming they are excluded from mainstream politics – so they defected to a party that is founded on the rhetoric of exclusion.

There are contradictions between UKIP’s ultra-Tory policies and the instincts and interests of its working class supporters. So, not quite “breaking the mould of British politics” then.  UKIP demagogically and disingenuously attack Labour for abandoning white workers, but they also focus on attacking David Cameron for not being Conservative enough.

Farage implies he has some sort of superior social knowledge and wisdom compared with the rest of the mainstream political class, and that he understands “ordinary people”, but he speaks fluently in the language of anti-progression, the fact that anyone at all is listening is indicative of an internalisation of the national right wing prejudice toward a profound anti-intellectualism.

And of course anti-intellectualism is to be expected from the Conservatives, who have historically used the repression of critical thinking as a way of deflecting scrutiny, and as a means of ensuring a compliant, non-questioning workforce to exploit. From the working class, however, it’s just the politics of resentment, and another disgruntled face of bigotry. So much for class consciousness. And solidarity.

It’s worth remembering that Marx and Engels were hardly working class, and they most certainly were intellectuals. Left wing UKIP supporters have no fig leaf to hide behind.

It’s one thing to be opposed to traditional elites, but to show support for a party so vehement in its hostility to democracy, trade unionism, socialism, human rights, our NHS and the welfare state because someone speaks with a pint and a ciggie in their hands, indicates the need for some responsible critical thinking, paying attention to details, less resentment, superficiality and disgruntled grunting.

Fascism always presents itself as your friend, it extends a cozening arm of camaraderie around your shoulder with a sly smile, a malicious grin with far too many teeth.

It’s a disgruntled beast that loves disgruntled beasts, but this public school boy and ex-Tory with offshore tax havens isn’t one of the lads from the shop floor. Farage didn’t take any lessons from the school of hard knocks, that’s for sure.

But many of us have membership in more than one oppressed group, surely its possible at least to recognise in principle the validity of other struggles against oppression, it’s important to recognise that these struggles are not in a zero-sum relationship with one another. They are complementary and cumulative. I believe the collectively oppressed are natural allies in a larger fight for justice, and create a whole greater than the sum of its parts, and this kind of intersectionality and solidarity undermines the ruling-class’s “divide and conquer.”

I think the divisions are what happens when you just feed the disgruntled beast.

That’s the problem with identity politics: it tends to enhance a further sense of social segregation, and it isn’t remotely inclusive. Of course it also enhances the myth of  “out of touch/ allthesame” politics. It’s a clever strategy, because it attacks Labour’s equality and inclusive principles – the very reason why the Labour movement happened in the first place – and places restriction on who ought to be “included”. Think of that divisive strategy  1) in terms of equality. 2) in terms of appealing to the electorate 3) in terms of policy. Note how it imposes limits and is reductive.

The Tories set this strategy up in the media, UKIP have extended it further and the minority rival parties, including the Green Party have also utilised the same rhetoric tool. Yet we KNOW right wing parties have NO interest in the working class. And those amongst the working class that have.

The Tories do not offer up public critical analysis of themselves. Indeed the anti-Labour bias on display by the Murdoch-owned news empire has never been more apparent. That’s not just because of ideology, it’s because Miliband stood up to Murdoch. But Tories don’t collectively and painfully self-scrutinise or soul search, and certainly not in public sight: they self promote. They speak with unfaltering conviction, and from that platform they control public debate and that’s despite their continuing assault on public interests.

So, where is our fully informed pro-labour spokesperson in the media? Where are the articles that inform people – the ones about what Labour do, rather than what they ought to do? Because the implicit message over and over from undoubtedly well-meaning left-leaning writers is that Labour constantly get it wrong and need advice on how to get it right, whilst their policies are not being publicly promoted, analysed, and their progress and achievements remain hidden from view. What gets attention is myth reduced to populist pseudo-critical soundbites.

The media and the message

That means, potentially, many people don’t know enough on balance to make informed choices. Disgruntled defectors often take the medium to be the message, unfortunately, and with no balance, no genuine pros and cons, just a perpetual party wish list, that reads as a list of deficits, many are fueling an often misinformed, unreasonable, hungry disgruntled beast. You present the policies from source that fill the cited alleged deficits, and dear lord, people actually get angry and abusive.

A few months ago, a well-known left wing commentator wrote a “critical” article about Labour that was based on inferences drawn from a very suspiciously muffled recording of Jon Crudass, which was a couple of minutes long, and which ended, somewhat dubiously, in mid-sentence. The recording was very well-utilised by the right wing, too.

At the time, having heard it, I challenged the writer concerned regarding the references to that very dodgy recording, and the inferences he had drawn from it, which echoed those of the Tories. I was ludicrously and condescendingly told I was being “anti-democratic”, in my “blind and uncritical” support for the Labour Party. From where I’m stood, it certainly isn’t me that is being anti-democratic, here.

It seems to be almost trendy to try and undermine Labour’s credibility and completely regardless of the accuracy of any “criticism” used. Since when was it anti-democratic to want to tell the truth, supported with facts? Why is it that people have such objections to a person being supportive of the Labour Party, anyway? That doesn’t make me undemocratic, “blind” or “uncritical” at all. I’m discerning, and the truth actually matters to me, in all of its detail. I put a lot of work in researching to ensure that I’m well-informed. And why is any of this a reason for people to direct condescending and disgusting abuse and nastiness? Yet somehow, this behaviour has become normalised and acceptable.

One response I’ve seen frequently is: “oh, but people are disillusioned with Labour”. Yeah? Well stop writing inaccurate commentaries that create disillusionment and alienation, then. Perhaps it’s time people learned to research facts for themselves, anyway, rather than allowing their apathy and disgruntledment to be fed by willing, earning authors or propaganda merchants and Tory/SNP/UKIP/Green shills and trolls on Facebook.

The Tory press operation had handed the Daily Telegraph and the BBC the transcript of that same recording of Jon Cruddas, who was approached in the foyer at the Fabian summer conference at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

A note from the Conservatives accompanying the transcript made clear that the recording had been made by researchers posing as students, according to the account on the BBC website.

The Labour Party is considering referring the transcript of the remarks to the Press Complaints Commission, and the former standards watchdog Sir Alistair Graham has accused the Tories of entrapment. It was a dirty trick. Why on earth would someone on the left take advantage of such chicanery pulled by the Tories? 

No party is above criticism, and quite rightly so. But the criticism needs to be balanced, fair, accurate and based on informed analysis and fact. And not on any old bullshit that’s masqueraded as “criticism.” Or on secretly recorded partial conversations. If debates are not open and honest, and if criticism of parties and their policies are not based on facts, that isn’t actually debate you’re engaged in: it’s a propaganda campaign.

Surely by now we all know the media lies and excludes anything important; that it’s under authoritarian Tory control? That Iain Duncan Smith “monitors” the BBC for “left wing bias”, that the Guardian’s occasional forays into truth are stifled by jackbooted officials marching into their office and smashing hard drives? Does anyone REALLY imagine that such a government spokesmedia will do any justice to reporting about the positive intentions and actions of its opposition? It won’t. Not one bit.

Yet I see people running around hysterically clutching at cherry-picked, distorted media spun soundbites, as if the media is somehow suddenly credible when it talks of the opposition, and when you actually read what was said and proposed at the unspun initial source, it bears no resemblance at all to the media tale of the unexpected. If you trouble yourself to investigate these things, the crap being published and broadcast doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. But it does feed the disgruntled beast.

And when the media resort to personal smears – like they did last year about Ralph Miliband – you KNOW they are worried about being defeated. And behold their disgruntled beast.

It’s a crucial time when we need to make sure we know the difference between truth and propaganda, fact from fiction. It’s up to us to discern – please. We are each responsible for what happens next. It mustn’t be 5 more years of the same neo-feudalist rulers.

The nitty gritty

The Right are engaged in an all out war. The disgruntled Right know that Miliband has edited their script, abandoning the free-market fundamentalist consensus established by Thatcherism in favour of social democracy.

The right-wing media barons who set the terms of what is deemed politically palatable in Britain have never forgiven Ed Miliband for his endorsement of Leveson, which they believe is an unacceptable threat to their power.

And they know Labour under Ed Miliband will probably win the 2015 election.

This is a war, and the Tories think that chucking an avalanche of lies at the opposition is enough. It isn’t. Where are their positive, supportive, life-enhancing policies for the citizens of the UK? The Tories have NOTHING but increasing poverty and pain to offer most of us, and no amount of smearing Labour and telling lies will hide that fact. And they will do all they can to make sure Labour don’t get space in the media to tell you about their own positive social democracy program, based on tackling the inequality and poverty that Tories always create.

We simply can’t tolerate another 5 years of the terrible consequences of New Right Conservatism.

Some on the left also need reminding that there is far more at stake than tiresome debating about what “real” socialism entails. I can tell you categorically that socialism isn’t about feeding your own pet disgruntled beast at the expense of concern and care for comrades who are suffering, living in absolute poverty and dying, because of the policies of this authoritarian regime. We need to address the current crisis, the sociopolitical dysfunction, and escape Cameron’s vision of a feudal dytopia before we can even begin to design our utopia, based on orthodoxy or otherwise.

The outcome of the general election, and the future of this country, and the well-being of is our citizens is what is important, please let’s not lose sight of that.

Because when you feed only the disgruntled beasts, you just end up with beasts.

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Thanks to Robert Livingtone for the excellent memes