This is from the beginning:
Yes, indeed - but mind
please these are the accusations of Blairites, neo-Tory New Labourites,
and other well-earning people, varying from Blair himself (worth at
least 20 million pounds, currently: a real socialist), Kinnock
himself and Brown himself to plenty of their journalistic followers,
quite a few who seem to be journalists for The Guardian.
How have the Labour left,
from arguably its lowest ebb in the party’s history, apparently ended
up on the brink of taking the leadership on a wave of support? If you
listen to many self-described “centre-left” voices, it’s because the
Labour party has gone quite, quite mad. Cod psychology now abounds to
describe the rise of Corbynism: narcissism, people wanting
to show off how right-on they are on Facebook,
mass delusion, an emotional spasm, and so on. Corbyn supporters are
having a temper tantrum against the electorate, so this patronising
narrative goes, they think voters have “false consciousness” on a grand
scale. Some sort of mass psychological disorder has gripped one of the
great parties of the left in the western world, and the only real
debate is how it must be cured or eradicated.
Here is some more on the Blairite bullshit:
Some of these
commentators huddle together on social media, competing over how snarky
and belittling they can be towards those oh-so-childish/unhinged/
ridiculous (delete as applicable) Corbynites, unable to understand that
rare thing, the birth of a genuinely grassroots political movement. And
that’s the problem: this snarkiness is all some seem to have left. Much
of the self-described “centre-left” – I’d say Blairism, but some embrace the label more than
others – now lack a clear vision, or a set of policies, or even a
coherent distinct set of values.
And here is the
reason why the Blairites are bullshitting in a major way:
The radical left has
often been critiqued – including by me – for offering little but
slogans, normally about stopping something bad like cuts or
privatisation. And yet Corbyn’s campaign has been unique in the Labour
leadership campaign in actually offering coherent policies and a
fleshed-out economic strategy: a radical housing programme; tax
justice; democratic public ownership of utilities and services; a
public investment bank to transform the economy; quantitative easing to
invest in desperately needed infrastructure; a £10 minimum wage; a
National Education Service; a costed abolition of tuition fees; women’s
rights; and so on. His campaign is making astounding headway – against
the odds – because it offers a coherent, inspiring and, crucially, a
hopeful vision. His rivals offer little of any substance.
Precisely. And I like
the article, although I disagree with Jones on Blair's policies:
They were bad
because they did not include the above, and they were a neo-Toryism
plus some leftist fringes to appeal to and to deceive the
electorate that they were voting for "a leftist party". They were not.
2. GCHQ and Me
The next article is by Duncan
Campbell (<- Wikipedia) on The Intercept:
This is a long and - I
think - quite interesting article that summarizes 40 years
of research into "mass surveillance" i.e. governmental secret spying on
Here are Duncan
(and see the Wikipedia on him):
In my 40 years of
reporting on mass surveillance, I have been raided three times; jailed
once; had television programs I made or assisted making banned from
airing under government pressure five times; seen tapes seized; faced
being shoved out of a helicopter; had my phone tapped for at least a
decade; and — with this arrest — been lined up to face up to 30 years
imprisonment for alleged violations of secrecy laws. And why do I
keep going? Because from the beginning, my investigations revealed a
once-unimaginable scope of governmental surveillance, collusion, and
concealment by the British and U.S. governments — practices that were
always as much about domestic spying during times of peace as they were
about keeping citizens safe from supposed foreign enemies, thus giving
the British government the potential power to become, as our source
that night had put it, a virtual “police state.”
An important part of the
reason I found this quite interesting is that it shows how far back
mass spying (as is the more correct term, I think)
For example, here is the first article Duncan Campbell wrote about the
GCHQ, which was then also first publicly named, and its mate the NSA.
It is from 1976:
“The Eavesdroppers” put
GCHQ in view as Britain’s largest spy network organization. “With the
huge U.S National Security Agency as partner, [GCHQ] intercepts and
decodes communications throughout the world,” I wrote.
The very existence of
GCHQ and the Sigint network were then closely guarded secrets. My
article was based on open sources and help from ex-NSA whistleblowers.
One was Perry Fellwock, a former U.S. Air Force analyst who helped expose the
scale of illegal NSA surveillance during Watergate.
And this is about the
British governmental reaction:
In March 1977, one
month after our nighttime arrest, we were all charged with breaking
Britain’s Official Secrets Act, for the “unlawful receipt of
information.” Then we were charged with espionage. Each espionage
charge carried a maximum of 14 years. I was also charged with espionage
for collecting open source information on U.K. government plans. In
total, I faced 30 years.
In fact, he was cleared,
perhaps in part because of "testimony" given by the GCHQ's officials
was to the following effect:
The interview, and then
our arrests, were a first encounter with the power of Government
Communications Headquarters, better known by its acronym, GCHQ,
Britain’s electronic surveillance agency.
Then - after considerably
more, that I leave to the readers' interests - in 1988
In a typical interchange,
one Sigint unit chief was shown a road sign outside his base:
Q: Is that the name of
A: I cannot answer that
question, that is a secret.
Q: Is that the board
which passers-by on the main road see outside your unit’s base?
Q: Read it out to the
A: I cannot do that. It
is a secret.
Campbell was informed about ECHELON, by an
American woman who had worked for the NSA:
The scale of the
operation she described took my breath away (this was 1988, remember).
The NSA and its partners had arranged for everything we communicated to
be grabbed and potentially analyzed. ECHELON was at the heart of a
massive, billion-dollar expansion of global electronic surveillance for
the 21st century, she explained. She feared the scale of automated
surveillance. “Its immensity almost defies comprehension. … It is
important for the truth to come out,” she said. “I don’t believe we
should put up with being controlled by Big Brother.”
This was 1988...
There is a lot more
article, and also on Duncan
Campbell's website, that are both recommended.
3. The Revolt Against the Ruling Class
The next article is by Robert
Reich on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Yes, I think that is
correct. (As an aside: "political insiders" tend to work for the
government, as officials or journalists.)
“He can’t possibly win
the nomination,” is the phrase heard most often when Washington
insiders mention either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.
Yet as enthusiasm for the
bombastic billionaire and the socialist senior continues to build
within each party, the political establishment is mystified.
don’t see that the biggest political phenomenon in America today
is a revolt against the “ruling class” of insiders that have dominated
Washington for more than three decades.
In two very different ways,
Trump and Sanders are agents of this revolt. I’ll explain the two ways
in a moment.
Here is a sketch of the background:
Yes indeed, though I
would have added the main tool that made this possible: Deregulation, that is, the termination
of the laws that made the
exercise of enormous egoistic
America has long had a
ruling class but the public was willing to tolerate it during the three
decades after World War II, when prosperity was widely shared and when
the Soviet Union posed a palpable threat. Then, the ruling class seemed
benevolent and wise.
Yet in the last three
decades – when almost all the nation’s economic gains have gone to the
top while the wages of most people have gone nowhere – the ruling class
has seemed to pad its own pockets at the expense of the rest of America.
self-dealing on a monumental scale – starting with the junk-bond
takeovers of the 1980s, followed by the Savings and Loan crisis, the
corporate scandals of the early 2000s (Enron, Adelphia, Global
Crossing, Tyco, Worldcom), and culminating in the near meltdown of Wall
Street in 2008 and the taxpayer-financed bailout.
Along the way, millions
of Americans lost their jobs their savings, and their homes.
Here is the last bit I will quote from the article (skipping i.a. the
explanation of Donald Trump):
Occupy didn’t last but it
put inequality on map. And the sentiments that fueled Occupy are still
personifies them. The more he advocates a fundamental retooling of our
economy and democracy in favor of average working people, the more
popular he becomes among those who no longer trust the ruling class to
bring about necessary change.
Yet despite the growing
revolt against the ruling class, it seems likely that the nominees in
2016 will be Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. After all, the ruling class
still controls America.
But the revolt against
the ruling class won’t end with the 2016 election, regardless.
Which means the ruling
class will have to change the way it rules America. Or it won’t rule
too much longer.
Yes and no, but
mostly no, and that for three reasons.
First, I don't know
whether Bernie Sanders speaks for "the sentiments that fueled Occupy" (that seems something
quite vague, at the very least): I don't know what these are, in the
first place, and also I would say Bernie Sanders is basically
articulating a fairly classic leftist program he has been
advocating for nearly 40 years now, quite regardless of the
people who did Occupy.
And the main reason
that Sanders is currently popular is that more and more Americans
disbelieve the propaganda they have been fed, and do so for a very
sound reason: It did not work, and they are as poor or poorer than they
were thirty years ago, for all that the propaganda delivered
was an incredible easing of the position of the rich, and a continuous
decline of the incomes of the middle class and the poor.
Second, while I
suppose that the bets that the presidential race of 2016 will be,
between the representatives of the two dynasties, the Bushes and the
Clintons, it seems to me unwise, especially since it still
1 1/2 years to the elections, to dismiss Sanders as a presidential
He might make it if
his message were given more attention on the main media, and he might
get more on the main media if he persists in drawing huge crowds.
Third, Robert Reich
is four years older than I am, which means that he will be 78 after
another 8 years of - say - Clinton. I conceded that the gambling money
is - still - on Clinton... but isn't it a bit defeatist to
gamble on her because that is were the money is, while one knows
that she will -
very probably - be simply continueing the mess?
But yes, I also know
that one of the differences between Reich and me is that he knows and
is befriended with the Clintons.
4. The Ebola vaccine we dared to dream of is
The last article
of today is by Jeremy Farrar on The Guardian:
This starts with a
A success rate of
100% in trials is spectacular. There is no excuse for inertia on
other diseases now
This is here because I wrote
about Ebola before, and it seems that now there is a vaccine that seems
to be safe and prevents its spreading - which is a consider- able
Its opening is as follows:
I normally like to
avoid superlatives when describing the interim results of a medical
trial, but it is difficult to talk about the report of the experimental Ebola vaccine in
the Lancet as being anything less than spectacular. More than 7,600
people in Guinea have received the vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV, in a
study that targeted people from communities with cases of Ebola. None
who received it immediately has so far contracted the virus. That’s an
efficacy of 100%. And not only has it been shown to be so effective, it
has also been well tolerated, with few side effects. This is rare for vaccines such as this one that contain a live
virus, and it’s something to be thankful for.
There is considerably
more in the article, but that is the main message: There is a vaccine
that seems to stop the spreading of Ebola (<-
Wikipedia). (Qualification: The news has not yet been treated on