A week of propaganda in Britain

A week of propaganda in Britain Economy Insights

Post Script: Clearly, the fear campaign launched last year and in August this year is not to be abandoned. On October 19th, The Guardian advised us that Britain is now Al Qaeda’s number 1 target. This appeared precisely as the campaign against Britain’s Pakistani community had been heated up by Straw and Blair, among others.
2008-10-27, by Ted Jackman, Independent Financial Adviser

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There is no question that a concerted effort exists in Britain to mold the population’s minds, hearts and souls. A week ago1, Digby Jones, a former head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) presented an hour-long program about the “Polish invasion”, workers from that country coming to Britain to work at low-paid jobs that British people “don’t want to do”. Obviously, he used a business economics approach that only referred to the costs and benefits to Britain. He did mention, in passing, that the outflow of workers from Poland was a negative for the Polish economy, but this was not his concern. Instead, he moved on to talk about how British education could be improved –so that workers here can compete with foreign professionals in this country. Anyone like me immediately parts company with such spokesmen for Capital, because we want to understand how the whole is affected (i.e., not just the part called Britain), and, especially why all this is happening.

Now, this labor theme has been repeated ad infinitum on TV news and in the press ever since Digby Jones’ “trailblazer”. Considering that his program required research and planning, the issue has clearly been on the books for some time. And it has since been subtly (well, quite crudely, really) fused into the propaganda the press and TV have been doing against Islamic residents in Britain. A story is being told to us in the light of the fuss over the plane terror that began around August 6th. We are being “educated”.

It may seem incredible that such disparate elements could be woven together into a single story, but the media is clearly using old mental blueprints that do not require major changes. Thus, the issue of terrorism is being linked to population density and global warming –this was evident in the BBC’s News at Ten on Thursday, August 24th. Running one piece after the other, with hinted-at links, gives an overall picture of gloom and doom, the standard fare of the BBC and the rest of the mass media in Britain today.

Thus we started by hearing about the separateness of Britain’s Muslim communities, and went on to hear that Britain’s population was now over 60 million, the “most densely populated” country in the world. Then we were introduced to global warming, but rapidly channeled into a diatribe about city warming with some rather pathetic shots of the reporter standing on the roof of a corporate giant’s HQ in London (I think it was the Barclays Tower), which is “fighting city warming” by planting some faded-looking grass up on top. Then, in their scientific openness, the BBC (or the reporter himself, not entirely convinced by the line he was pushing, perhaps) wandered around talking about how some cities are not densely populated, so warming is not necessarily so great, and so forth…

The plane terror that started at the beginning of August has been the backcloth to everything for now, but “everything” is the standard stuff we, the general public, are expected to swallow. It is important to stand back and see what has actually happened, not what might have happened, if… No bombs were found on any planes. No terror incident actually occurred. A number of people were rounded up by the police. One or two were released. Some have been charged with terror crimes. A hunt for evidence has been going on in woods and homes, and some incriminating stuff is reported to have been found. Simultaneously, a large-scale campaign pointing at Islamic communities has been pursued by the mass media in Britain2.

We are expected to believe the basic story that is being put around in the media, just as we are expected to believe in global warming and over-population and get concerned about an obesity crisis (the presentation I saw of the last on the BBC only recommended –in earnest BBC voices, of course –that people do more exercise, and had nothing to say about diet –the show goes on for the fat food companies and, they hope, presumably, bumps up the sports and recreational industries).

I’d like to ask what happens if we stand up and say we don’t believe there was a really feasible terror plot to blow up planes3, that maybe some misguided people were put up to something of the kind by infiltrators connected to the intelligence community whose aim was to serve interests that would sound rather obscure to many people. I very much doubt that this would be the first time such a deceit has been played against the British people (but, oh, how our historical memory has been battered by the incoherence of mass media reporting etc., over the last few years!), and we also have the September 11th attacks as a reference to this –attacks that are now widely thought to have been master-minded by the U.S. government itself.

But, skeptics of such a scenario would surely ask, what possible purpose could such a staged show serve? It sounds like madness. It certainly sounds that way. But hasn’t the world gone mad? Do you really believe we live on a sane planet?

And there would be those who say, after all, capitalism loses money when plane journeys are disrupted, and the airline companies are particularly unhappy. Anyone who read one of the messages in Pontecorvo’s4 great film “Burnt!” will realize that this is not a realistic argument against such violence. There, the example was sugar; here, we see a contained degree of disruption in a country where a lot of noise is made when people’s normal activities are disrupted. I do not deny the personal inconvenience caused by the loss of baggage, queues, limits on hand baggage, flight delays and so on. It would, however, be worth looking to see which air operators are being worst affected –I would think some of the smaller ones, one in particular (Ryan Air) that allows large amounts of hand baggage, and which has been the most vociferous protestor. The larger ones probably stand to gain if the smaller airlines are pushed out –that’s the usual practice, anyway. And I remember reading at the beginning of August that British Airways had recently been making massive profits, so a short-term disruption of this kind can easily be absorbed –by the large airlines.

We know, of course, that the fires of war are being stoked. Hatred is being promoted daily, and the principle battleground for now is the Middle East –I include Iraq and Afghanistan in this, though, so perhaps the term Central Asia would be better.

My core focus is the great and paradoxical-sounding crisis of economic success, which is expressing itself in increased competition from the rising new players in the world marketplace, China, India, Japan, Russia and so on, including many other smaller states (all over the world, but particularly those in Asia, which has become a powerful regional bloc), and the growing tension that capitalist success has led to between Europe and the United States.

Within Western Europe there are also differences, the most evident being between Britain and the rest of its EU partners. And although Britain and America have enjoyed a special relationship since before World War II, this may not last for ever. The breakdown of the post-War consensus and the relative chaos that has developed since the 1980s owe themselves, therefore, to the material success of the economic system, the growth and global spread of capital, technological revolutions –all paralleled by the immiseration of people, spiritually as well as materially.

All of Capitalism’s success has been based on privileging a few by squeezing and repressing the rest. Power over science has allowed this system to prosper, instead of being used for the benefit of mankind as a whole. We are caught in this crisis of capitalist success –and excess.

America led the world5 in the twentieth century by opening up an inherent abundance of wealth, far more so than Capital’s older States of Europe. At the same time, America (deliberately and by default) had become the most powerful world State by the end of World War II (and not just because of its great size6), after gaining enormously from World War I and its aftermath. Its paucity of history became its strength, so that while European capital could call on aristocracy for war and as a backcloth to its own oppressive endeavors around the world, America relative newness probably helped open the doors to a more ruthless, more unrestrained capitalism, whose resemblance to (and dependence on) organized crime benefited their simultaneous rise7.

The hypocrisy employed to disguise the vulgar truth of what is happening today tells us that we live in a more dangerous world because of terrorism and fundamentalism, not because of contemporary capitalism. And America’s reactionary scribes seek to pull society deeper into this morass of lies: America (= “the world”) has an energy crisis; imperialism seeks oil from depleted reserves; even “War in the Middle East is about oil –no blood for oil!” There’s plenty of oil, though –even too much now8. Oil has rather been one of America’s weapons in its struggle for dominance ever since the end of the 19th century, and yet again we see this happening.

America, the personification of the global system, is now pursuing a strategy that features an aggressive eastward drive. But America is not the whole world and the powerful States of Western Europe also want a piece of the action, although they are subservient to U.S. military might –no State or group of States is anywhere as well armed as is the United States9.

To return to the issue we began with, though, how, we ask, can pugnacious Digby of Digbeth’s TV presentation on Polish workers in Britain have anything to do with America’s war policy? As I stated, we want to know not simply how Britain is affected, but why all this is happening. It is happening all over the world. America, a State based on immigration, has surely been the largest importer of cheap labor (legally and illegally employed, according to U.S. law), and yet America is apparently trying to limit immigration now by cracking down on employers who employ illegal immigrant workers, trying to throw out illegal workers and building a massive fence along its southern border, while it imposes tighter restrictions on the entire population. In fact, when the crackdown on employers began in America (and for all I know, it has continued), I noticed that the companies that suffered were a few of the large number of foreign (German, in fact) companies that have been springing up in the United States over the past 20 years or so. This merely highlights the nationalistic tendency of the policy –in line with recent legislation to further impose the use of English by people resident in the United States.

And here the entire issue becomes especially interesting because the controls on immigration tell us something about the nature of labor migration under the capitalist system. Just as the development of science is slowed by the intervention of Capital and the State, so labor migration, while it is permitted by Capital, is also limited by it (as shown above) and highly controlled. Why? Perhaps we shall go into this question in a later article.

Ted Jackman

Ted Jackman contributor to abundance.org.uk
Independent Financial Adviser