Thoughts on the Woolwich atrocity


The cold blooded murder of Lee Rigby of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers – just outside his barracks in Woolwich – saw Al Qaeda-type savagery and bestiality explode in our midst for the first time since 7/7. It is the kind of savagery and bestiality that is no respector of borders, race, religion, or creed. It is the same kind of savagery we saw last week in the film of the so-called freedom fighter in Syria cutting out the heart and lungs of a dead Syrian soldier, prior to holding them up to the camera and starting to eat them.

The Muslim community in this country has nothing to apologise for. It does not deserve to be put in the dock for the actions of a few crazed killers who seek to justify bestiality with a distorted and twisted ideology. What does deserve to be put in the dock is a foreign policy that on the one hand fuels and courts extremism and extremists, while on the other wages war on it with the blunt instruments of drone strikes, missile strikes, and wars of occupation.

Islamic extremism is something our leaders have used when its suits them, doing so in order to pursue certain geopolitical objectives. The beast who mutilated the body of the dead soldier in Syria last week is no different from the beasts who butchered a British soldier in Woolwich. Yet Britain along with France is currently seeking to overturn a EU ban on supplying weapons to non state actors in order to arm various rebel factions operating in Syria, many if not most of which are adherents of Sunni extremism and the ideology of Al Qaeda.

It is utter madness.

Read the whole article on Socialist Unity.

Muslim anger and Western domination

In Iraq there is chaos. In Afghanistan there is chaos. In Libya there is chaos. In Syria there is chaos. Wherever the West intervenes, either directly or indirectly, chaos is the result. The historical charge sheet is just too long and damning to refute in this regard.

The insult felt in response to what for non-Muslims may seem a relatively minor attack on a religion, reflects the humiliation and powerlessness felt throughout the Muslim world in the face of this long history of domination. The effect has been to drive more and more Muslims to express their resistance to it via the conduit of religion. The result is that today Islam does not only connote a religious identity, but also political, cultural and physical resistance to western hegemony.

More on Socialist Unity

This is class war. The Barclays scandal and predatory banks

It was Bertolt Brecht who reminded us that it’s a far greater crime to own a bank than to rob one.

Events over the past week of the breaking Barclays scandal with regard to fixing the bank to bank lending rate (Libor), compounded by the nature and depth of corruption within the banking industry overall, have emphasised how right he was. They also illustrate that we don’t need a war on poverty in this country. Instead, we need a war on the rich.

When a small coterie of obscenely rich bankers can plunge the economy into crisis with its greed and lack of social responsibility then subsequently be handed billions in taxpayers’ money and still refuse to accede to the needs of the real economy, surely it is time to take those banks into public ownership, exactly where they belong.

The bankers as a group have shown very little if any remorse for their culpability in creating the economic crisis which millions are currently bear the brunt of; the likes of Fred Goodwin, formerly CEO of RBS and now of whichever expensive golf club he spends his days at, and Bob Diamond of Barclays, were and are unapologetic. Goodwin was intent on hanging on to his job when the RBS scandal broke during his tenure, and he was equally determined to hang on to his exorbitant and publicly funded pension when he finally did depart, while Bob Diamond tried digging his heels in and remained defiant before only resigning due to the mounting external and public pressure rendering his stance untenable. In other words he was forced to resign rather than do so as an act of contrition or accountability. The handsome pay off he likely will trouser will of course help to palliate any lingering grief he may be experiencing over his departure.

Seriously, the sheer arrogance of these individuals is simply astounding. Perhaps it is because they know the extent of their relationships with the Tories that leaves them feeling bullet-proof. Indeed, the Tories could reasonably be renamed the Bankers Party when we consider the millions they’ve received from the City over the years.

It is a truism that where extreme wealth exists so does extreme poverty. Neither is a natural phenomenon. Neither falls from the sky like the rain. Both arise and exist as a direct consequence of the actions of the few at the expense of the many under an economic system predicated on profit, regardless of the human, social or environmental cost.

Over the past 30 years working people have been under a sustained attack from the champions of neoliberalism at home and abroad in response to the falling rate of profit, an endemic feature of capitalism.

So brutal has this assault been that it has brought us to the point where you would think that the very ideas of a living wage, decent and affordable housing, trade union rights, a 40-hour week, a decent pension, full employment and a welfare state belong to the pages of science fiction.

Yet, at one time, we had those things. We had them and lost them and now find ourselves plunged into the night of pensioner poverty, child poverty, homelessness, and various other symptoms of the social and economic injustice which has blighted our communities. Rising drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, rising crime – all are the direct result of a system which the tiny elite who currently occupy the commanding heights are willing to accept as the natural order of things.

The policies of the Tory led coalition government reveal that not only does it govern in the interests of this tiny elite but are part of it. Twenty three members out of a cabinet of twenty nine are millionaires, both Tory and Lib Dem. This is unprecedented in modern times, redolent of the 19th century rather than the 21st.

There is no other way to put it other than we are in the midst of class war. Denying people the means of existence via pension, wage, jobs and benefit cuts are acts of war. Making the many pay for the greed and corruption of the few is an act of war. It is the reason why the Tories and their backers in the media exert themselves in dividing people between private and public sector, the employed and unemployed, disabled and able bodied, immigrants and indigenous. The Romans called it divide et impera – divide and conquer. The Tories regard it as a legitimate approach to governance, the better to shaft us all.

The important thing amid the smokescreen of rhetoric and dissembling that is being used to confuse and distract people from this reality is to understand at bottom what the guiding purpose of conservatism is. In this regard, the words of the great economist John Kenneth Galbraith should be engraved on the consciousness of everyone with an interest in a society founded on the principles of social and economic justice. To wit:

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

Social cleansing hits London just in time for Olympics

The news that Newham Council in London, which is Labour run and presides over one of the capital’s poorest boroughs, has approached local authorities as far 160 miles away to house families currently on its waiting list to be housed, comes as no surprise given the determination of the Government to attack the living standards of the poor and working class in order to minimise the impact of the recession on the rich, in whose interests they govern.

Adding to the controversy is the fact that Newham is the location of the Olympic stadium and main Olympics facilities, leading to accusations that the council is attempting to divert poor families on its waiting list for private housing away from the area in order to meet the increased demand that has arrived on the back of the Games.

More on Socialist Unity.

Get my new novel War at Amazon

War (Edinburgh Trilogy)

Loyalist paramilitaries in Belfast decide that Edinburgh is ripe for the taking, the perfect place to launder drug money as they set out to expand their activities across Europe. This means taking over the business interests of John Anderson, former gangster and drug dealer turned legitimate businessman.

They think it will be a cakewalk.

They’re wrong.

And here’s the first paragraph of my post about Trayvon Martin.

The tragic and senseless killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida recently once more confirms that racism remains an ever-present corrosive in US society despite the election of the nation’s first black president in 2008. Indeed it comes as a shocking rejoinder to those who, swept up in the symbolism of that event, temporarily lost sight of the ugly truth that continues to polarise American society.