Barack Obama, front man for the ‘man’ By William Bowles

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By William Bowles
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16 August 2009

I contend that ever since the first slave ship left the shores of Africa, the ideology of racism has been central to the success of capitalism. Without it and the wealth that slavery produced, Europe and its bastard offspring, the United States, would never have accumulated the capital that made today’s world possible. And if the corrosive and utterly destructive effects of the ideology of racism were not apparent to you before the election of Barack ‘Hope & Change’ Obama, then surely by now they should be, and especially its effects on the ‘left’.

And in all likelihood, the inner sanctum, those who selected Obama in the first place were fully aware of what would happen when they put up a black man to front a white, racist United States. Obama was, and is fully intended to be the whipping boy of that there is no doubt, exploiting his own ambitions and hubris. Whether Obama has failures or successes, matters not one iota for if failures, well play the race card and if successes, well play the race card.

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Obama – Bush Lite or just Dark? by William Bowles

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By William Bowles
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6 August 2009

When it emerged that Barack Obama was to be the candidate for 2008 election I wrote extensively on why such a ‘radical’ solution was chosen, asserting that selecting a black man was a stroke of genius, if the ‘masters of the universe’ could pull it off. Amazing really, considering the people who did it, essentially the Democratic Leadership Council (see, ‘Not corrupted by DLC, says Obama’, Blackcommentator.com and where you can find a wealth of information on the DLC and Obama) and that the selection was made at least five years ago (see my ‘Barack Obama — a wolf in sheep’s clothing or just the shepherd?’). At the same time, I was also aware of the paradox(es) involved and the potential pitfalls that might mean either bumping him off or removing him by some other means, I kid you not.

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North Korea and Iran: So what does the West want? by William Bowles

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By William Bowles
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6 August 2009

Some while back (InI passim) I used to write regularly on the London Independent’s allegedly progressive take on events but after awhile I just got sick and tired of reading the damn thing. However, I’ve had a change of heart and decided to pick up the cudgel again. Why?

Well last night, I was watching Channel 4 News’ coverage of the return of the two US journalists to the US from North Korea and the carefully orchestrated ‘low key’ PR event, managed no doubt by Obama’s Twittering, Myspaced, Facebookie posse. But how can anything be low-key when exposed to the News Corporation’s gaze?

The entire thing looked like the final night of the Big Brother house replete with copious tears, and profuse thanks to BC etc. Hey look, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that they’ve returned safely (but really, what were the odds of two of the Empire’s finest doing twelve years hard labour?)

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Is the Western Left afraid of revolution? by William Bowles

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By William Bowles
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6 August 2009

Heretical no doubt but the history of the Left in the allegedly developed world is not exactly littered with success stories, worse still is our relationship with the developing world as the confusion surrounding who to support (or not to) in Iran most clearly reveals. And this is not a new phenomenon as the ideological battles, for example over Cuba, reveal, or more recently Venezuela. It seems that in spite of our failure to bring about an end to capitalism in no way impedes our desire to tell everyone else what should be done to bring about social change.

The traditional tag (on the left) is chauvinism, that is to say, bigotry and prejudice let alone arrogance, the old ‘we know best’ attitude but from whence does it come?

Most evidently, it’s far easier to pontificate about what ‘they’ should or should not be doing in some far off place rather than dealing with our own issues and most importantly, our own ruling class.
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Iran: Whose side are you on continued…? By William Bowles

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By William Bowles
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28 July 2009

Okay, the battle on the ‘left’ concerning who to support in Iran appears to come down to the following:

On the one hand we appear to have those who say that the mass demonstrations are solely the result of the West’s attempts to undermine and overthrow the existing regime, utilizing a ‘colour revolution’ similar to those used in the Ukraine and Georgia. And there can be no doubt that Western intelligence agencies are up to their necks in destabilization strategies (see below). If this is indeed true the question to ask is: Have Western agencies fomented or exploited the opposition and to what degree has it been a success as measured by the mass demonstrations and by elements of the Left supporting the demonstrations?

On the other side as it were, are those who say there is no foreign intervention, the mass movement is wholly indigenous and reflects growing opposition to the theocracy, or at the very least Western machinations are only incidental to the situation. A good example of this approach is advocated by Hamid Dabashi in his essay ‘Left is wrong on Iran’ where he says,

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Iran: Whose side are you on? By William Bowles

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By William Bowles
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27 July 2009

I have been reading, with much despair and a deal of consternation, the torrent of ‘analysis’ coming out of ‘left’ field about which, if any, side to support in the ongoing struggles in Iran and, at the end of the day, a good deal more is revealed about the ‘left’ in the West than the situation in Iran.

Typically, the ‘left’ has much ‘advice’ to offer Iran, yet the real issue for us, here in the ‘developed’ world is what are we going to do about our governments. Yet such arrogance is not new, it has its roots in the ideology of racism which unfortunately permeates all of us here in the so-called developed world. We look outward instead of inward, where the issues we really need to confront, reside. Let the Iranian people get on with sorting out their own ruling class, they don’t need us to ‘guide’ them.

It is imperative to separate the issue of Western involvement in events from the distinctly Iranian issues of class, religion, gender and so forth, that regardless, have their causes (and solutions) in Iran. This is not say that Western involvement/interference doesn’t affect events and end up being part of the process, but then this is precisely the problem we in the West have to confront: How to separate out the effects of our incessant meddling in other countries’ affairs from the indigenous processes? So, whatever happened to analysis, class, economic, social and otherwise?

The election

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Covering (up) the coup in Honduras – the BBC does its bit for the Empire by William Bowles

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By William Bowles
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1 July 2009

The devil lives in the small print, the devil in this case being the BBC in its coverage of the coup d’etat that ousted President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras on 27 June, 2009.

Take the following para from a BBC piece titled ‘US treads careful path on Honduras’ (30 June, 2009)

“So while Washington’s reaction has been strong and swift, when it comes to statements, its actions have so far been measured.

Now you may wonder why the BBC chose the word ‘measured’ to describe the US’ response to the military coup d’etat? Not only why but how? The following para explains,

“This is a signal that Washington is not keen to use its clout to help Mr Zelaya return to power, shying away from any action that could be seen as interventionism in a region where the US has a long, complex history.”

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Iran, the arrogance of Empire and the death of Michael Jackson By William Bowles

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By William Bowles
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27 June 2009

The arrogance of Empire is so pervasive, so intrinsic to our everyday lives, that it seems ‘natural’ for us to be telling other countries how to behave, what’s right and what’s wrong. This is brought home to me every day as I struggle through the vast stream of news that flows into my inbox. The sheer weight of corporate/state media output is staggering, but especially the seamless integration of the ‘take’ on a story, regardless of country of origin.

Of course there’s no active collusion between the handful of media conglomerates that control the flow of ‘news’, there doesn’t need to be; they take their cues from their respective governments as to what the ‘message’ should be.

This is most apparent in the way the media have presented the unfurling drama in Iran, a drama whose direction has been shaped directly through the intervention of the Western media machine. Regardless of the ‘take’ the Western media has—their centrality to transmitting messages to millions in the West—the media inevitably has become part of the message. So powerful is the global media machine how could it be otherwise?

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Marx, the first real globalist By William Bowles

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By William Bowles
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18  June 2009

If nothing else, the wholesale plunder of the planet’s natural resources has brought into sharp focus the necessity for some kind of global (and globally enforceable) regulation of what’s left of the planet’s precious cargo of life. But can capitalism undertake such a task? Not only that, is it willing to do so and is even some kind of ‘reformed’ capitalism capable of doing so given that the basic drive of capitalism is expand or die.

The clarion call of Marx and his 19th century socialists was Internationalism, ‘All Workers of the World Unite’, predicated as it was on the globalizing nature of industrial capitalism as it sought to expand the capitalist market into every nook and cranny where there was a buck to be made. And in so doing, Marx correctly predicted that industrial capitalism would create an organized and politically conscious working class wherever it spread, who were at the time, the most advanced section of working people, and that it would be the organized working class ‘led’ by a revolutionary organization that would do away with capitalism and replace it with a rational, planned socialist economy.

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From the personal to the political-and back again By William Bowles

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By William Bowles
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June 13, 2009

The last few months have not been pleasant for me, wrestling with my own inner demons. Yeah, we Brits are not meant to be open about our inner selves, stiff upper lip and all that crap, and, in the scheme of things there are more than enough demons stalking the planet without me adding to them.

That said, what the fuck! Where do you think our demons come from in the first place! So in the midst of all the mayhem around us, here I am struggling to write, something that has up until now anyway, been the most natural thing in the world for me to do.

That such an innate act, that of creating should be denied to me, came as a shock. Denied my own voice, I felt imprisoned inside my own skull. But even writing about such things feels like an indulgence, after all who wants to read about my personal problems when the world is going to hell in a hand-basket?

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Welcome to the crony capitalist convention by William Bowles

where New Labour got into bed with the bankers but we were the ones who got screwed

By William Bowles
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13 February 2009

The cry goes up, ‘wha’ happened?’ The former boss of HBOS and one of the world’s biggest banks, Sir James Crosby became head of the Financial Services Authority, allegedly the ‘watchdog’ of the financial sector and then it emerges that Crosby was one of the architects of what Michael Hudson describes as,

“The commercial banks…us[ing] their credit-creating power not to expand the production of goods and services or raise living standards but simply to inflate prices for real estate (making fortunes for their brokerage, property appraisal and insurance affiliates), stocks and bonds (making more fortunes for their investment bank subsidiaries), fine arts (whose demand is now essentially for trophies, degrading the idea of art accordingly) and other assets already in place.” — ‘Bubble Economy 2.0: The Financial Recovery Plan from Hell’ By Michael Hudson’

Not exactly how the BBC’s economic ‘guru’ Robert Peston explains it. Peston, in a vain attempt to put a gloss on the disaster has this to say,

“But – amazing as it may now seem – HBOS and the FSA did not believe, in 2004 and 2005, that it was appropriate to assess the riskiness of its rate of growth on the basis that funds from wholesale sources could vanish.”

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Reform or Revolution? by William Bowles

By William Bowles
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10 February 2009

In 1945, following the defeat of Fascism, the Labour Party was swept into power with a mandate to bring about radical change to British society. There followed the nationalization of transport, energy, communications, the establishment of the National Health System, an overhaul of education (actually done by the preceding Tory government), massive investment in public housing.

We were promised Socialism, what we got however was a ‘reformed’ capitalism, Keynesianism, and for domestic consumption only, elsewise it was ‘business as usual’, except that the state was broke and in debt up to its eyeballs to the US (a debt only recently paid off).

The reality however was that those changes were demanded by the organized working class through its trade unions and constituency (local) Labour Parties and of course supported by our minuscule left. In other words, it was propelled by grassroots activism and importantly, they were demands that could not be ignored. British capitalism was not only broke it was backward in a big way. Had they not reformed capitalism, in all likelyhood there would have been a real revolution (not that the US would have allowed it anymore than it did in France and Italy). It really was the case of the Labour government heading off revolution at the pass, but then this has been the Labour Party’s role since its founding.

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My Dad, me and Nature by William Bowles

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5 February 2009

Unlike most of the kids I grew up with, my folks introduced me to Nature at a very early age and they introduced it to me in very specific ways, especially my father, Roy. Not just trips to the country at weekends, weather permitting, but a view of Nature as all-encompassing including us humans.

Roy was a self-taught man who had left school at perhaps fourteen or fifteen and like others of his class, time and politics, he felt a deep sense of inferiority when it came to knowledge. Thus he did everything he could to educate himself in all kinds of subjects especially the English language, science, history and of course politics and surprisingly for those days, Nature.

Our books reflected this for many of them were about Nature and evolution and although too young really take them in, they had a lasting impact on me that was to be reinforced when at around seven I joined the Woodcraft Folk, the cooperative movement’s answer to the Boy Scouts/Girl Guides, with its ‘Rasta’ colours of Red, Green and Gold and it was mixed, boys and girls together.

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Higher Ground, by William Bowles

By William Bowles
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30 January 2009

I am a third generation lefty, my parents and grandparents on both sides were lefties of one flavour or another, but I think I am the first one to actually write pretty much full time about events from left field.

Throughout my three-score and some on this planet it’s gone from bad to better to worse to downright disastrous, the process propelled by the insane ‘logic’ of capital.

Trying to chart the ebb and flow of it all is not easy, it’s complex and contradictory, just as we human beings are and sometimes I just get sick and tired of the whole damn thing and wonder why I even bother. There’s no money [in] it, exposure to an awful lot of grief, misery and injustice that I have absolutely no control over, so why do it?

The glib answer would be that somebody has to, but in fact nobody forced me to, the imperative comes from somewhere far deeper, triggered I suspect in my childhood and not just because I grew up surrounded by Reds.

I venture to guess that at the risk of going all Freudian, Jungian, Bethelheimian or whatever, the catalyst was the simple fact that I was different, that in turn forced me onto the ‘outside’ as it were, looking in.

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The Final Solution is a No-State Solution, by William Bowles

By William Bowles
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28 January 2009

It was either in 1941 or maybe 1942 that the Nazis implemented the ‘Final Solution’, the extermination of all ‘non-Aryan’ peoples that included not only the Jews but also the Roma and the Serbs. So the term Holocaust is not copyright © the Jewish ‘race’ in spite of their appropriation of the Upper case.

The numbers are not important, let the historians and researchers argue over whether it was five or six million Jews or whether it was half-a-million or two million Roma who ‘went up the chimney’[1] (I don’t have a number for the Serbs, but perhaps a million died at the hands of the Croatian Ustase, the local Nazis in the then Yugoslavia, as well as at the hands of German Nazi occupiers).

What is important about the ‘Final Solution’ is that it was a state-sponsored project to not only entirely eradicate ‘non-Aryans’ but to erase all traces of their existence; their history, their cultures and languages, what today we call genocide. An apt lesson for the creation of the state of Israel, that for its creation, also required the total removal of all things non-Jewish.

The parallels with the Nazi state are so obvious yet not alluded to at all in the current tragedy of the Palestinian people, but Eretz (Greater) Israel flows from the same source, the imperial urge to expand and subdue, to exterminate all that is non ‘Jewish’ in the land that is Palestine.

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