Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dec.31 Getting past our prejudices and myths.

It's New Year's Eve, and I've been chauffering visitors all day. Fortunately, there is little to be said about the Irving press. There is nothing worth reading in Section A news. And there is only one opinion column worth reading. It's on A9, and it's about dementia and altzheimer's. (or maybe I'm just getting sensitive about the topic.)

What is does have is an editorial cartoon that is well drawn – but spreads an ignorance that is already too well-spread.

It shows a fighter-bomber flown by a grinning Putin. For many years, aircraft have carried decals to indicate how many of the enemy the pilot has shot down. In this cartoon, as the bombs drop, the decals are of men, women and children. There is really quite enough ignorance and hatred in this world without adding to it.

Aircraft have been killing men, women and children for over a century. And they have been doing so deliberately for over a century. But perhaps the great turning point came in 1942 when Britain, the U.S. - yes, and Canada, too – decided civilians would become the main target of bombers. (And, yes, I did say Canada.)

And the biggest killers by far have been the western powers. They have killed millions of innocent men, women and children since World War 2. They are still killing today with bombs and aerial mines dropped in 1960. Today, Canadians are dropping bombs in Iraq. Could we have a funny cartoon of them? Today, Saudi Arabia is dropping bombs on children in Yemen, bombs sold to it by the U.S. How about a neat cartoon of one of those starving kids with his stomach blown out?

It's bad enough that we cannot see evil in ourselves, only in others. There is a terrorist attack in Paris, and the whole of the U.S. is living in an hysteria of panic, fear, hatred...and never a thought for the millions they have killed, and go on killing every day.

We don't need any more fear and hypocrisy and blood lust than we already have. A cartoonist is supposed to have the guts to show us the unpleasant reality that we don't want to see.

World News doesn't have any – unless you consider the last page of it which is one of the biggest stories in the section. It's about how cute cats are. And it has 6, colour photos of cats being cute.
The only other bit worth reading is in C2. It's a column by student columnist Aurelie Pare. It's about how young people should be taking up environmental issues. But they aren't. They've been raised to believe in only brainless entertainment and consumption. In short, they are far too much like their parents.
Fortunately, there are other newspapers in this world.

The Guardian has the story of severe and unheard of flooding in Northern England and Scotland. The reason for it, according to the British government and British scientists, is climate change – very much like the terrible storms the U.S. is getting. But we don't need to worry. I'm sure Mr. Irving wouldn't allow anything like that to happen here. Anyway, we know this is all just a lot of busybodies worrying about nothing. Anyway, if we get diesel buses, I'm sure that will take care of the whole thing.

Whenever a nation or a religion get angry at us, our news media invariably plant all the blame on them, and they commonly pronounce the other side as driven by evil. That's, to put it kindly, simple-minded.

The opinion column below explains how the disruption of Muslim society began a century ago with deals made by the British and French to create new countries in the middle east, often with phony kings, and then to exploit those countries. That's true enough; but it doesn't go back nearly far enough. The British, for example, ruled their empire by setting religious groups against each other. That is what has led to Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan pointing nuclear weapons at each other.

It was all made worse, much worse, by the U.S.-British invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The best way to understand that is to read books by people on the other side, or friendly to the other side. For that purpose, the best book on China I've seen is Wealth and Power. And I'm just now reading one by an American historian who grew up in Afghanistan. His analysis of that country's problems and the origins of them is quite different from the western one. It's Tamim Ansary, “Games Without Rules”.

I really didn't want to publish the next excerpt. It's an opinion from al Jazeera. I had hoped to find something cheerier for New Year's Eve. I can only remind readers that we are the ones who set all this in motion. It started with the British in India, the British and French in Africa and the Middle East, and now the Americans who really blew the lid off with their very foolish invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm not sure the author is right about ISIS continuing to grow for years to come – but there's no doubt we have created a situation in which that might happen.

So, what's the biggest problem facing us in 2016? It's not ISIS. It's not war with China or with Russia. The most immediate problem face is the political power of big money. When we go rid of most kings and aristocracies a couple of hundred years ago, we thought we were establishing democracies. We really didn't.

The dominant power in our society became big money. I don't call it capitalism, because it isn't capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system. That's all it is. When it begins dictating policy to government, it's making itself a political system as well. But big money's only interest is bigger money – and making it now. It has no understanding of social needs, and no morality to make up for that lack of understanding. Nor does it have any understanding of foreign affairs except as a means to make money for the already wealthy.

For at least 200 years, big money has dominated almost every aspect of our lives, a domination that was enhanced by the development of cheap newspapers just over a century ago, and now by TV and film. Big money is the force behind imperialism – and the prime beneficiary of imperialism.

The idea that we fought two world wars to bring democracy and equality to the world is simply not true. It is true that we restored democracy to a few countries, like France, that had lost it to Germany. But the only country to get freedom and democracy for the first time was India – and it got them only because the British could not longer stop it. Africa had to fight for what freedom it got – and it didn't get much. Latin America remained under the domination of American dictators and puppets.

We should remember those who served. But we do nobody any good in pretending that they died to preserve democracy. We should remember and we should feel indebted to them – but we should remember the truth.

The world is in great turmoil. It's in turmoil because so much of the power in this world is not in the hands of government, but in the hands of greedy and incompetent and murderous asses who constitute the very wealthy of this world.

Free trade agreements have been used to take power away from our governments, and give even more of it to the wealthy who answer to nobody. 2016, if it sees the approval of Trans-Pacific and European trade deals, could see the final step in reducing national governments to irrelevance. (Even as it is, the power of big money has made the American leadership race into just another piece of bad TV.)

That power, lacking in intelligence and morality, has created all the other problems we face, including climate change and international war. And for proof of their lack of intelligence and morality, read tomorrow's (or any day's) edition of the Irving press.


  1. Thanks for all you write Graeme.Have yourself and your family a joyous New Year.

  2. Thank you. But it doesn't have to be joyous. I'll settle for quiet.