“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell
The January 7th massacre at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris leveled a damaging hit to the very core of free inquiry and critique. The satirical publication is a pillar of reason in France and, in a way that can’t be understood by intolerant people, is also a crucial component of tolerance.
It is a part of western media and political narrative that the plight of the jihadist is of course understood. The jihadist hates westerners. But this narrative is at best flawed. Really it serves the agendas of western states. But however little we understand about the mindset of the perpetrators of this attack, it is hard to imagine a place they could have done more damage.
What leads an individual to beliefs of violence and intolerance is a complicated matter, but it is a sad irony that those individuals would probably have found more understanding and compassion in the editorial meeting they attacked than in many places elsewhere. As much as Charlie Hebdo would critique the very ideology that led to the deaths of so many of their staff, they would also critique the violent imperialism that probably has more to answer for than any other factor here.
It is hard not to think of the sentiment among tolerant people after the September 11th attacks of 2001. It didn’t demand much imagination to predict that such a violent event would be followed by a fallout so severe that it would take this issue into new eras.
It might have been hard, though, to predict how extreme and unrestrained that reaction would be. At that moment it couldn’t have been known that so many children of another generation in the Arab world would grow up in poverty, oppression and violence as their natural resources benefited only a privileged few. And the very country who benefited the most would periodically be back to drop bombs on them, paid for in part by the very wealth gained at their expense.
Innocent Muslims were soon being persecuted in the U.S. and it wasn’t long before the intense fear generated by the attack was being recast as the justification for more violence. What would ultimately be an unforgivingly collateral-heavy conflict in a resource-rich region that has been ravaged by imperial powers for longer than living memory.
Even conservative estimates place the civilian death toll in Afghanistan since 2001 at over 18,000. U.S. air strikes have killed vast numbers of innocent men, women and children. People who had never supported the Taliban (formerly the U.S.-funded Mujahideen) were seeing innocent people killed or maimed by more foreign forces. What kind of reaction is this supposed to inspire?
That the response to such tyranny can be resold in the west as reasons to commit more violence against the very same people is a toxic logic. It is propaganda that serves state interests to control domestic populations, to fight an enemy they have created, and to justify further enrichment of an elite minority at any cost.
How would the Arab world look now if it wasn’t for outside interference? Of all the ways we might deal with dangerous ideology, or with people who seek retribution for loved ones illegally killed by foreign powers, violently ravaging those regions into the middle of yet another decade leaves the notion of progress lost to the hysteria of the mob.
“One. One person had sent eight thousand Dollars to Somalia. That’s what this massive operation of control of everything you do is about. Well, that tells you who’s security is being protected. It’s the security of state power. From it’s enemy. And one of the main enemies is the population.” – Noam Chomsky
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled” – Mark Twain
“Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can’t vent any anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness.”
His full letter in response to the censorship of one of his books:
“A sickness that befalls the internet is a sickness that befalls the whole world” – Julian Assange
How different the world would be if people only campaigned for issues they weren’t affected by.
Internationally it has been clear since early on that Russia has been central in both destabilising eastern Ukraine and in supplying troops, armour and support to separatists probably always lead by Russians.
Moscow orchestrated a campaign of disinformation before the Georgia war of 2008. The conflict with Ukraine is an information war and however lame Putin’s pretences seem to us, the key is that there has been enough support garnered for things to reach this point at least. His operatives have been shouting slogans through megaphones in Ukraine for months now and at home he has a stifling grip on political dissidence.
In the wake of the shooting down of MH17 I think a lot of us thought Putin had tied himself up. The Ukrainian military was making real ground having taken Slovyansk and was threatening to capture back Luhansk (a key position between the 60 mile separatist-controlled border region and Donetsk).
At a peak of international tension, surely Putin would have to step back. His campaign had fooled no one on the international stage and he had been caught red handed. But this is a man who has fired 18 generals and Colonels in recent months. As separatists were violating an international crime scene, and despite the steady flow of Russian military personnel and support, Russia were at risk of losing their own war. It’s a shame the Ukrainian side of the border couldn’t have been secured. NATO troops could have helped to trap the separatists and force Russia’s hand. But in the end it didn’t need forcing.
Like in Georgia, Putin’s plan must have always been to engineer the ‘justification’ to invade, but that has unquestionably failed. Alarmingly it seems Putin’s response is to move now. In the last few days the Ukrainian army has been engaged on many new fronts and Russian soldiers have been captured in Ukraine. Russia are attacking Ukraine outright and nothing is uncertain now.
A lot of questions do remain though. How will NATO respond? They have talked openly of the Russian artillery and armour moving into Ukraine and have said they will establish bases in eastern Europe. Russia are moving fast now though. Will we fight them here? Or will we consolidate after they capture eastern Ukraine, which sadly seems imminent. Is there a course of action from here that isn’t inflammatory? It appears those moves can only come from Russia.
In one sense Putin is fighting an information war that fits the modern era. Creating influence has been his goal. But, as with the chronic ineptitude of western politicians to understand the tech age, he has shown himself to be glaringly out of touch. As it was put at the emergency UN meeting called today, ‘the evidence is overwhelming’ showing Russia’s direct involvement. We have all seen irrefutable video evidence of so much that might have been occluded by political rhetoric in a previous generation. And one question that remains for Putin is how much support does he really have at home?
Can he really stop the truth from spreading? Given the likelihood that his elections have been rigged I think the figures released on public support should be discarded. I wonder if people would really fight for him if it came to it. Or how far would it go? It’s come this far and it will go further still, but already I read translated Russian reports of skepticism. The families of dead Russian soldiers are outraged. Their children, it seems, have been covertly buried in the Pskov region. There is even a video of Russian journalists visiting a graveyard being attacked by two thuggish men in tracksuits. This whole affair has been full of such coincidences.
The west learns nothing new from this, but how will the Russian people square Putin’s propaganda with internal evidence of his lies? Are we seeing his pride out of control before his fall? Or what will transpire before then? The idea of Russia and China allying in aggression is scary but can a populous be lied to enough to die for their state in an age of increasing skepticism and unregulated communication? I hope not but I worry we will soon find out exactly where the line is drawn.
For anyone who wants to see an end to unnecessary suffering, a maturity towards our shared future and doesn’t subscribe to the hollow claims of those who make personal gain from our faith, for those people, eventually you will have to spend a lot of time watching humans fuck things up. No time to look at the sinking ship of planetary sustainability right now, there’s a feverish punch up breaking out on deck. No one’s even talking about bilge pumps or lowering life boats, this is a time to kill for someone who isn’t even present. It’s been too long.
“We would like to remind the public that viewing, downloading or disseminating extremist material within the U.K. may constitute an offence under terrorism legislation.”
This is part of a statement from London’s Metropolitan Police in response to the apparent beheading of James Foley by a seemingly British Islamic State militant. It is positions like this, wilfully playing on what people fear, that ‘democratic’ states use to promote the idea of internet censorship. Aaron Swartz became a martyr for internet freedom and unrestricted networks of communication are our greatest asset in trying to undermine the deliberate distraction of our governments.
It is no coincidence that states around the world continually try to control that communication. They can sense that an ability to see and spread the truth freely is dangerous to the systems of control they have established. The notion of letting people with such a glaring track record of corruption decide what is legal for their citizens to see, the notion that we should leave them to analyse the truth and report back to us what they deem fit, is despairingly incompatible with the social progress we need to stop them from continuing to abuse the positions they hold.
(https://www.goldenfrog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/infographic_blog1.png) – Internet censorship around the world.
It took thirty years to win the first step towards justice for ten women who were seduced into long-term relationships by undercover police officers attempting to infiltrate the political or human and animal rights groups they belonged to. Two of these undercover agents fathered children with the women they deceived. These operatives worked for the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) of London’s Metropolitan Police. Operating from 1968 to 2008, SDS’s brief was to infiltrate political groups and gather intelligence (presumably now partially obsolete given the unregulated reach of GCHQ). Some of the function of the SDS is now operated by the cynically named National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit.
One former SDS undercover operative, Peter Francis, claimed that the unit investigated the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence with the aim of collecting evidence that could be used to smear the image of his family if the case led to public backlash. Stephen Lawrence was killed in 1993 in a racially motivated attack that became one of the highest profile cases of its kind and ultimately led to changes in UK law. A public inquiry into the heavily criticised state handling of the case concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service was “institutionally racist”. Seemingly they also had no problem using their power to protect themselves.
In a parallel to recent revelations about the leading role that U.S. secret service operatives took in provoking terrorist activity since 9/11 (before such ‘plots’ were ‘foiled’), operatives of SDS and its later generations also used the sting tactic of promoting ideas of illegal activity. There is only so much that can be proved but the case of Mark Kennedy, a National Public Order Intelligence Unit undercover agent, gives some insight. A case against the illegal activity of six activists fell apart in 2011 when it became clear that undercover Mark Kennedy had been a leading voice in the run up to a power station break-in set-up.
That a governing political party can decide undemocratically to use taxpayer’s money to fund secret undercover operatives to infiltrate other political parties is outrageous but as always I just hope this is a clear example of how much can be justified in the name of that scary thing we must not question; national security. It is beyond debate that a long-standing tactic of our governments is to infiltrate opposing political groups and try to destroy them from within. Whether the movement is reasonable, or the people involved ethical, is clearly not a consideration.