Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Deconstructing the War on Terror

AnthropoidApe, a fellow contributor to the Guardian's Comment Is Free pages, today offered a deconstruction of the BushCo term "War on Terror" which sums up perfectly the geopolitical game today. We at Manuscripts Don't Burn cannot better AnthropoidApe's word-perfect commentary, and so, with great thanks to him, we would like to present it here for amusement, and also for posterity:

"Plenty of people have pointed out that the term "War on Terror" is incoherent (because you can't make war on a tactic) and oxymoronic (because war IS terror).

The term is Orwellian because it is chosen by powerful criminals to dress up their crimes as virtue.

Nevertheless, the term bears analysis. It's not a stupid or trivial throw-away line. The term "War on Terror" is a core slogan for the US regime and despite some effort they have never been able to replace it with anything better. It remains a key term in the neocon lexicon because it attempts to redefine "war" in a neocon way.

The "War on Terror" purports to fight a tactic instead of a concrete opponent because it is not really a war. The "War on Terror" has no realistic, achievable war aims. There is no prospect of it ending in victory, and even the conditions of such a victory are not concretely specified. It is predicted and intended to go on and on and on... for the foreseeable future.

In short, the "War on Terror" is not a war but a political regime. It is the military dictatorship of the Commander-in-Chief of the United States over his country and the world. The "War on Terror" is another name for the "Pax Americana" - because War is Peace - and you are either for it or against it.

The "War on Terror" regime is organised as a full dictatorship despite the survival of republican institutions in the USA and of world institutions like the United Nations. "War on Terror" ideology subordinates those institutions to the will of the Decider, just like the political institutions of the Roman Republic, shells of which lived on under the emperors. The Bush dynasty autocrat George the Second in his glory and majesty gives orders to the US people, to the UN Security Council and to other sovereign states, with no trace of embarrassment. In his own thinking he is king of the world.

As part of the "War on Terror", the dictator abrogates any laws or human rights whatever with impunity. That principle is what passes for the legal basis of the regime and its application is exemplified by detention without trial, by official kidnappings, torture and disappearances and by the genocidal imperialist conquest of Iraq.

The Cheney-Bush gang want to call their regime a "war" because they need political and legal cover for their spree of crime and violence. The notions of "war" and "wartime" sustain the domestic climate of fear and chauvinism that they strive after.

On the other hand, they want none of those trappings of the "old" concept of war in which both sides are belligerents of equal standing. No, any violent resistance to their ("anti-terror") violence must be illegitimate.

Employing the legal category of "prisoner of war" and respecting the international laws of war centred on the Geneva Conventions would cramp the imperial style. Instead those laws are flouted and we are provided with a new conceptual apparatus and a new euphemistic terminology: "unlawful combatant" (=POW), "enhanced interrogation techniques" including "sleep management" (=torture), "extraordinary rendition" (=kidnapping and deportation to torture), "ghost detainee" (=disappeared person), "black site" (=secret prison) etc. The asymmetrical term "War on Terror" fits right in because it recognises the US (with a retinue of vassal allies) as the sole legitimate belligerent and constructs all the Empire's armed opponents as criminal "terrorists" rather than warriors.

In short the "War on Terror" is called a war simply to licence large-scale aggressive violence and international diktat by the US regime.

In the non-rhotic NZ dialect, "War on Terror" sounds just the same as "War on Terra" and a friend of mine always writes it that way. It's apt: the only way to construe the "War on Terror" regime as a real war is to see it as a world wide, long term and often violent conflict over whether the US empire will by divine right rule and pillage our planet forever or whether other nations will also be independent and sovereign. In other words, a war of the US neocons against all the peoples of Terra.

I'm backing Terra to win."

- AnthropoidApe on the Guardian website, 30th January 2008

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Ron Paul - Attracting some flack at last

After polling well above Giuliani and Thompson in the US caucuses this month, the mainstream media have finally started to take notice of Ron Paul's existence. Without any press coverage whatsoever, he has been able to gain between 6-10% of the vote in every poll so far. However, up until the last few days he has been studiously ignored by the media. Only now have they chosen to see him - and that only to start mudslinging at this uncompromising right-winger who seems determined to give the US establishment a damn good dressing-down, or die trying.

It's clear that Ron Paul is persona non grata to the corporate feudalists in the US and UK - alone amongst the electoral candidates currently on view he stands against big business control of the US. You can watch him on Youtube - he speaks sensibly and honestly. He refuses to pander to the hysterical PC demands of the media - if a subject is many-sided and complex, he will go with that and discuss it. Issues in life are often grey - the corporate media insist that everything should be simplified to soundbite black and white and marketed to the viewer in dumbed-down packaging.

So Ron Paul is anathema to the "establishment"; as people begin to notice him, we will see some serious shit being thrown his way. The entire US propaganda machine will be mobilised against him - just watch it happen.

Ron Paul raises real issues. You may not agree with him (Manuscripts Don't Burn DOES NOT!), you may think he's a nut, but his presence in the American electoral debate is the best damn thing for sensible discussion of the perils posed by the increasingly monolithic, brainwashing, and corporate media-military-industrial complex currently shredding the US constitution and annihilating the reputation of a country which only a few decades ago was admired around the world.

Sometimes, when a political situation becomes so grim it needs a radical overhaul, an individual appears who stands for an ideal which transcends political divisions and promises - actually promises, and not with some dreary predictable media-approved spin - to stop the rot and restore the rule of law.

Manuscripts Don't Burn is left-wing, and disagrees with almost every detailed policy Ron Paul represents. Except one: that individual freedom in America is an endangered species. America is being screwed by the corporate feudalists, the constitution is in tatters, people are more oppressed, threatened, and worse off than they've been for years. The cultural capital, the intellectual, economic, and political heritage, and the international goodwill which America has built up, and deserved, over two centuries of championing the best and brightest of political, social and economic structures, is now being pissed down the drain by a bunch of control-freak totalitarians whose only interest is to steer the world into war and destruction to line the pockets of arms manufacturers and military contractors who don't give a damn for anything but their own continued hegemony.

In such a dark state of affairs, even Manuscripts Don't Burn recognises that Ron Paul is the only person standing up to them. He'll probably be assassinated by a "lone gunman" if he ever gets anywhere near being elected, but till that time we will vote for his platform. There simply isn't anyone else who isn't in the pockets of the corporates.

Oh - and the UK? Makes no difference. The UK government is what the US government tells it to be. Period.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

George MacDonald Fraser on The State of the Nation

This is definitely a first: Manuscripts Don't Burn is actually posting a link to an article in today's Daily Mail!

Seemingly unaware of the crashing irony, today's Daily Mail published an edited extract from the late George MacDonald Fraser's "The Light's On At Signpost", in which MacDonald Fraser surveys the enormous changes which have taken place in Britain since the time of his birth, between the Wars.

Manuscripts Don't Burn recommends this article. As great fans of the Flashman series, we cannot help but admire MacDonald Fraser's blunt, unforgiving portrayal of the UK's slump into a corrupt, undemocratic, Third World nation.

Just for the record, we are posting the link to this article here. More like this, please. And Rest In Peace, George, and thanks for the films and the Flashman books. We liked those.

The Long Johns - The Economic Meltdown Explained

Manuscripts Don't Burn would like to present the Two Johns with their clear-as-crystal explanation of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the results of our latest and greatest attempt to redistribute and siphon money away from the poor and back into the pockets of the rich - and just why the western world is currently on the verge of economic collapse. Well, why shouldn't one laugh? The only other options are far too horrible to contemplate...

Britain - A Country That Has Lost Its Way

Something, somewhere, appears to have gone a little wrong. Everyone knows it, indeed many of us can point exactly to where the problems are, but no one seems to be doing anything about it. Prices of food, fuel, heating, electricity, water, gas, public transport are all going up well above 10% a year, and yet the government tells us inflation is 2.1%. We go about our daily business, and more and more our activities are scrutinised, every minor infraction is criminalised and penalised: fined for spending too much time in McDonald's or supermarket car-parks; fined for putting your rubbish in the wrong bin; herded into ID cards, compulsory organ donation; cameras everywhere; almost impossible queues for even basic health services; postal services which cost the earth and which have a worse track record than 50 years ago; longer working hours, for less money; commuter trains which feel like cattle waggons, and which cost the earth and which "officially" work fine though everyone knows they don't; illegal wars in far-off places for the gain of private companies; bellicose gestures and racial and religious hatred and intolerant fascist attitudes ("string 'em up!" "bring back National Service!", "it's the only language these people understand!") in the press and on the TV; health scares, food scares, terrorists, child molesters, murderers, yobs, fraudsters; fat cats, dysfunctional celebs, binge-drinking, insane levels of debt; dumbing down of news, education, the media; glorification of ignorance, cheap docusoap TV, wall-to-wall Eastenders and football teams who earn millions whilst losing games; lack of skilled workers forcing governments to import immigrant labour to make up the shortfall; UK-born citizens leaving the country in droves - 200,000 a year at last count.

We all know this. The list above isn't even complete; any of us could go on, and on, with the unending litany of what is clearly an increasingly dysfunctional society. And now we stand on the edge of a very nasty economic collapse, and pundits tell us that the UK is the most exposed country in the world to a protracted economic crisis due to the Thatcherite dream of a ruined manufacturing base, badly-skilled workforce, and almost entirely service-based economy - indeed, financial services-based.

So, what is next? What happens when you have to make the choice between eating or heating? When you can't afford to keep a roof over your head, and the bank wants it back and leaves it empty 'cos no one can afford to buy? Where do you go? It's happened before - although hardly within living memory, and not in this country for a while. It's going to come as a bit of a shock to the complacent and blase British public. But what does happen then? Increasing oppression and authoritarianism? It looks that way, in the US and the UK at least. We are fast returning to the Good Old Days of the 19th century, when the rich were rich and the poor and needy doffed their caps and were grateful for the workhouse. The gap between rich and poor has not been this severe since 1914; our coal production levels have fallen to pre-industrial levels; and decent food is once again becoming a scarce luxury for the new British poor.

Splendid job. It looks like Britain had a chance to make it out of its backward, class-ridden mire, and in the post-war years seemed to be managing, for a while. But nothing but nostalgia ties us to those days any more; look around, at 30 years of retrenchment and redistribution of wealth from the hands of the poor to the pockets of the rich, and tell us we're wrong.

The time is fast becoming ripe for a Brave New World, with a Great Leader to restore our lost pride, make the trains run on time, and purge England of its lefties, intellectuals, and funny foreigners and their funny foreign ways. Just remember, when the time comes, that we once had a chance to stop this happening...

You may think Manuscripts Don't Burn holds out little hope for the regeneration of good old Blighty. You would be right. Unless you're in the Inner Party, with loads of cash to back you up, the UK is stuffed.

Manuscripts Don't Burn shakes its head in disbelief. Does nobody read history any more? Do we forget, so easily? If so, perhaps we deserve no better.

God Bless Britain. Cos nobody else will.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

The Ethical Chicken Debate

Manuscripts Don't Burn has noticed an appalling amount of condescension, snobbery, and bitterness bandied around the media and blogosphere over the past week on the subject of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver's attempts to highlight the disgusting state of our battery-farmed chicken industry. Clearly there are some deep-seated issues here.

Manuscripts Don't Burn knows several people who live on the breadline and eat mostly processed food - tins, centrifugally-harvested burgers, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, etc, etc. To our knowledge little or no fresh food enters their diet. It seems that this is not untypical.

Given that for a £6 free-range chicken one can feed a family of four for 3 days (roast chicken, curry, sandwiches, soup, in that order), processed food is clearly the more expensive option. So poverty, at least, is not the reason. If anything, a lack of cooking know-how, of confidence in buying and feeding oneself, and a dependency mentality on advertising and the slop doled out in ready-meals and burgers seem to be at the root of the "burger and chips Happy Meal" obesity epidemic which is raging through the poorer sectors of the Anglo-Saxon Empire. To poor to eat? Hardly.

From the price point of view, eating real food is not exclusive or beyond the reach of "poor" people. So Manuscripts Don't Burn would like to humbly request the Blogosphere to please drop this faux "guilt trip" that it's beyond the reach of those terribly hard-up poor people and start helping people get educated about the provenance and consequences of our badly screwed up food industry. The whole idea of "well, we have to have cheap and crappy food available so the poor can afford it" attitude is offensive.

Ban battery chickens. Most of all, ban the gross profiteering the supermarket middleman extort from the chicken farmers, who receive an average of 7 pence on a £2.50 battery chicken, and, yes, we can all suddenly afford to eat meat produced in a decent environment.

And stop the class-ridden snobbery, Britain, for God's sake.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Simone de Beauvoir: The Job is Never Done

Today marks a hundred years since the birth of Simone de Beauvoir, philosopher and probably the most influential feminist of the last century. Her book "The Second Sex" was indeed a seminal book: it has been banned, vilified, and heralded as the harbinger of a brave new world. The fact that so much of it seems like common sense today shows just how influential it has been.

Nowadays, reading "The Second Sex" can seem a little dated, and writers like Camille Paglia and Joanna Russ can pack a bit more punch. But, as Manuscripts Don't Burn looks around at our society today, on January 9th 2008, at the reformation of the Spice Girls sexually-oppressive "Girl Power" and the constant inculcating refrain everywhere in our society of youth, beauty, mindlessness and celebrity heralded as the One True Goal which every woman should aim for, we realise that the messages of The Second Sex still need to be repeated, loud and clear, on a daily basis.

But we live in an age where culture is defined by lowest common denominator economic figures - even philosophies have to sell well, and compete with pop music, soap opera, and the cult of mindless celebrity - where accessibility and pithy soundbites rule. Philosophies have to serve the state and conclude capitalism to be the best of all possible worlds, or be so empty, vacuous, and populist that they couldn't possibly do any harm apart from keeping philosophy students busy in our increasingly vacuous academies of business, marketing and media studies.

Paradoxically the Anglo-Saxon Empire is coming to resemble the Soviet Union in an uncanny fashion. The State has a very definite ideology, in which the media and education systems collude by excluding any alternative discourse, or at best relegating it to the lunatic fringe. Even the battleground of language is largely harnessed by the system towards reinforcing the dominant ideology, and everyone must have their state-sanctioned papers (ie be deemed "economically viable") before their work can be propagated. Living here in France, where intellectualism is not derided, and where people do not aggressively sing praises to their own ignorance to near-universal acclaim, Manuscripts Don't Burn does wonder how much further the dumbing down of the UK and US can go. "And now, Karl Marx, your starter for ten: who won the FA cup in...?"

Thank heavens, for the time being at least, for the internet, where alternative discourse remains alive and well. Small wonder the Powers That Be want to present it as such a terrible threat. One wonders what de Beauvoir would have made of it.

Monday, 7 January 2008

"To Prevent Homegrown Terrorism, and For Other Purposes"

Manuscripts Don't Burn has recently read the Bill "H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007", which passed the House back in late 2007 and is now up for Senate approval. Its stated aim is "To Prevent Homegrown Terrorism, and For Other Purposes". Ignoring that rather throwaway "And For Other Purposes" for a moment, the Bill creates a Commission of permanent unelected members tasked with surveying the US population AND worldwide Internet activity and identifying any activity which may, in any way at all, be considered to contribute towards "violent radicalisation, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence". In particular, Manuscripts Don't Burn notes the Bill's definition of "violent radicalisation" as:

"the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change"

Yup. Read it again. You were right the first time. According to this Bill, you don't actually have to DO anything. You just have to be - even a little bit - thinking about, say, becoming a Marxist. You know, the little guys with the red flags who believe in revolution? If you think any one of a number of things - in fact, if you pretty much think at all, for after all our very political and economic system is based on violence and deprivation by force at some point along the chain - then you're "It".

The Bill seems oblivious to the irony that the US is currently embarked upon a huge project of "facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change" throughout the Middle East, Africa, and doubtless Latin and South America too: no government passes Bills which effectively criminalise its own activities. No, Dear Reader, this Bill is aimed at You and I. It is designed to make us think, "heck, should I even be thinking this - I could be arrested!" When the Proles start policing themselves through fear of The Unseen Hand of Despotism, then the darkness is almost complete.

Watch this space. Thought-crime legislation is becoming all too frequent these days, and the process is far too dull and boring for most people to be bothered following. Manuscripts Don't Burn notes that this law only establishes a Commission to "identify" who these homegrown turrists, free-thinkers, and dissidents are - it conveniently leaves out what is to be done about them. That bit, clearly, is yet to come - and in the meantime Halliburton continues to build its mysterious "refugee camps" up and down the country.

The Pakistan Gambit (3): Pakistani Army Says No To US Troops

Seemingly oblivious to its own overweening arrogance, the Bush administration's senior national security advisors are debating whether or not to expand CIA and US military activities to conduct "far more aggressive covert operations" in the tribal areas of Pakistan, reported the New York Times last Saturday.

The Pakistani Army wasted no time at all in reacting angrily to this complete invasion of sovereignity. "It is not up to the US administration, it is Pakistan's government who is responsible for this country," chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad told AFP yesterday, as reported on the Yahoo website.

Manuscripts Don't Burn is under no illusions as to why this story broke on Saturday. As we said last month, the focus - for the time being at least - of the NWO's bogus "War on Turr" has switched to Pakistan, doubtless due to self-evident Russian and Chinese warnings that Iran for now is a no-go area for BushCo's bullying. However, Pakistan clearly is not - and it certainly isn't able to stand up for itself against the might of the USA. Again as we mentioned last month, Pakistan remains highly strategic for the oil grab currently underway by the folks at the Project for the New American Century, and is on its list of "Countries to Invade"; likewise occupation of Pakistan by American forces provides a neat encirclement of Iran, increasingly isolating that country which stubbornly refuses to implode in the face of US aggression.

Either way, Manuscripts Don't Burn would like to note the breathtaking arrogance of the Bush administration - including the delightful Mr Cheney - openly discussing options for military activities within Pakistan's internationally recognised borders, without actually informing its head of state. Musharraf, like the rest of us, doubtless learned it from the New York Times.

A clearer attempt to drive a wedge between the Pakistan's President and its army we have never seen. Divide and rule, as ever, is the name of the game, and Musharraf must be made to realise who he relies upon for his job.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Ron Paul - The Man Who Won't Go Away

Well, Manuscripts Don't Burn has had to ferret around in the bowels of the online media to turn up any mention of the Presidential candidate who polled 10% of Iowa yesterday, over twice that of Rudy Giuliani. Mention of Ron Paul is being quietly downplayed.

We've decided to showcase Larry King's interview of Ron Paul, which was controversial and contentious, and made Paul look rather good, was never broadcast but relegated to a "web exclusive" in a direct-to-video moment. Manuscripts Don't Burn didn't realise the "equal airtime" law could be circumvented in this way: apparently filming a candidate and then posting a link in some godforsaken corner of the internet satisfies the requirement that you're treating a candidate in the same way as one you give prime billing on your televised news spots. That's news to us - who on earth to they think they're kidding?

You can watch the Larry King interview here - it's worth it just to hear Paul say loud and clear that he believes America's interventionist meddling throughout the world and its endless corporate wars are a complete disaster - and remember that 10% of the vote went to him.

Manuscripts Don't Burn likewise notes as interesting the fact that Fox have now started to discuss whether they should be covering him. A rather late night section from Fox questioning why they've been ignoring him so far is here.

Now, Manuscripts Don't Burn doesn't agree with Ron Paul's politics at all. But, he appears to be taking the corporate feudalists on head on, which gains him kudos in our book. In any case, in the interests of what remains of our tattered democracy, he surely needs a little more than blatant attempts at patronising belittlement by the media...

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Abandon All Hope, You Who Enter Here...

There used to be a joke in the Soviet Union that the Russians rounded up for execution in Stalin's purges used to ask if they had to bring their own gun. Manuscripts Don't Burn wonders if the architects of New Britain used this as their Mission Statement...

Today and yesterday the media is full of outrage and hysteria over the enormous screwup on our railways. Even more than usual, you can't get anywhere, everything's broken, and the fares have gone up. Manuscripts Don't Burn looks on from overseas at the Funny Little Island, and sadly shakes its head...

Perhaps we could ask the French or the Germans to come and run our train system for us? Just a thought... In fact, all the answers are obvious, but of course doing Something Sensible would remove all that luvverly money passing directly from taxpayers to private hands in the Great Train Ripoff, all part of the Reverse Wealth Distribution Master Plan so assiduously implemented over the last 30 years, so it'll never happen.

Manuscripts Don't Burn has a significant wager as to how much more the Great British public will take before they start rioting. It's incredible - by international standards it ought to have happened years ago - but no, the Machine has kept on piling on the bullshit, and the British citizen has just moaned a bit more and coughed up.

Manuscripts Don't Burn thinks this is a great way to make money. "Hey, we can just keep pumping these chumps for more and more, and they just keep paying! We don't even have to give them anything! Brilliant!"

What's next? A free poke in the eye with every journey? Mandatory health insurance surcharge on every ticket to cope with death by overcrowding? Outbreaks of cannibalism and feral behaviour on isolated broken down trains in the wilderness?

No wonder the rest of Europe laughs at Third World Britain. A sad, shoddy state of affairs, indeed.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Teach the Children to Kill

Over the past weekend Manuscripts Don't Burn has been assaulted by yet another of those "we-can't-believe-we're-having-this-conversation" moments. This time, the issue at hand is whether it's a good idea to allow primary school children to play with toy guns (and other weapons) in school...

Hurrah for common sense at last! Manuscripts Don't Burn thinks guns in school is a great idea, especially for boys. If we can only get toy ones, then fair enough, but we think also that under proper supervision boys at primary school should also be given training with real guns, and small caliber ordnance where appropriate, and introduced to blood sports at as young an age as possible.

Additionally, elementary boxing courses and lessons in self-defense should be introduced to playschool and pre-school classes (obviously with some of the less sportsmanlike elements, such as gouging and gas attacks, taken out to protect young minds), together with marching practise, perhaps with some of our much underused retired military drill instructors, to instil a sense of camaraderie amongst the very young boys. Likewise, boisterous singing and enforced communal showers could be used to open up some of the shyer boys, and prevent them growing up into sexual deviants.

Finally, regular manhunts of one of the smaller, faster boys (this could be someone elected from amongst the boys, as an example of the benefits of the democratic approach) could be introduced to the school curriculum with only a minimal increase in medical expenses.

Taken together, all of these stirring activities could also be presented as a focus for support activities undertaken by the gels, specifically cheering from the sidelines, cooking celebratory cakes, and sewing up wounds. Gels could also be encouraged to make banners, and to vote for their favourite boy, to inculcate a spirit of decent competition amongst the lads.

It's a violent world out there, and we need to teach our children to be violent as early as possible, otherwise they will be unable to fully take part in our rich society and enjoy the unending cycle of fear and loathing, violence and oppression of which we are all so proud.

Excellent debate. Well done everyone. As you were.