The Twilight of Freedom 194

Three British journalists I know personally – Johanna Ross, Vanessa Beeley and Kit Klarenberg – have each in the last two years been detained at immigration for hours on re-entering their own country, and questioned by police under anti-terrorist legislation.

This is plainly an abuse of the power to detain at port of entry, because in each case they could have been questioned at any time in the UK were there legitimate cause, and the questioning was not focused on their travels.

They were in fact detained and interrogated simply for holding and publishing dissident opinion on foreign policy, and in particular for supporting a more collaborative approach to Russia – with which, lest we forget, the UK is not at war.

These detentions have taken place over the period of a couple of years. All were targeted for journalism and this is plainly a continuing policy of harassment of dissident British journalists.

I have three times in that same period been questioned by police in my own home in Edinburgh for journalism, over three separate matters. I spent four months in jail for publicising essential information to show that a high level conspiracy was behind the false accusations against Scottish Independence leader Alex Salmond.

Julian Assange remains in maximum security jail for publicising the truth about war crimes. Meanwhile a new National Security Bill goes through the Westminster parliament, which will make it illegal for a journalist possess or publish classified information.

This has never been illegal. The responsibility has always lain with the whistleblower or leaker, not the journalist or publisher. It seeks to enshrine in UK law precisely what the US Government is seeking to achieve against Assange using the US 1917 Espionage Act. This is a huge threat to journalism.

It is also worth pointing out that, if Evan Gershkovich was indeed doing nothing more than he has claimed to have been doing in Russia, that action would land him a long jail sentence in either the USA or the UK under the provisions which both governments are attempting to enforce.

On top of that, you have the Online Safety Bill, which under the excuse of protecting against paedophilia, will require social media gatekeepers to remove any kind of content the government deems as illegal.

When you put all this together with the new Public Order Act, which effectively gives the police authority to ban any protest they wish to ban, there is a fundamental change happening.

This is not just a theoretical restriction on liberty. Active enforcement against non-approved speech is already underway, as shown by those detentions and, most strongly of all, by Julian’s continued and appalling incarceration.

To complete the horror, there is no longer a genuine opposition within the political class. Keir Starmer’s Labour Party opposes none of this wave of attacks on civil liberties. The SNP has been sending out identical stock replies from its MPs on Julian Assange, 100% backing the UK government line on his extradition and imprisonment.

I feel this very personally. I know all of these people affected – Julian, Alex, Kit, Vanessa, Johanna, and view them as colleagues whose rights I defend, even though I do not always agree with all of their disparate views.

Two other people I know personally and admire are under attack. The campaign of lies and innuendo against Roger Waters this last few weeks has been astonishing in both its viciousness and its mendacity, recalling the dreadful attacks on Jeremy Corbyn.

More mundane but also part of the same phenomenon, my friend Randy Credico has had his Twitter account cancelled.

To be a dissident in the UK, or indeed the “West”, today is to see, every single day, your friends persecuted and to see the walls close in upon yourself.

A unified political class, controlled by billionaires, is hurtling us towards fascism. That now seems to me undeniable.


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194 thoughts on “The Twilight of Freedom

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  • Anthony

    The journalist Glenn Greenwald has labelled the UK the west’s most authoritarian state following this latest arrest.
    However as I just mentioned on the previous blog Sir Keir Starmer is even more authoritarian by instinct than this current lot and his insecurities will make him anxious to prove it. The difference is he will also have the full support of liberals and their media no matter what he does, as we keep on seeing.

    • Anthony

      ‘At one point, Klarenberg’s interrogators demanded to know whether The Grayzone had a special arrangement with Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB) to publish hacked material.’

      That’s interesting. I remember Paul Mason claiming it was ‘the Russians’ who had hacked his correspondence with MI5, which the Grayzone published. Further confirmation, were any needed, that this particular ‘journalist’ has an exceedingly close relationship with the British security state.

  • Stevie Boy

    Along with the Online Safety Bill and Public Order Act, I would add the control enabling programmes that make it easier for the government to force its agenda onto the masses, eg. The Digital Transformation Programme and CBDC.
    Time to go out and buy that black shirt …

  • intp1

    Do they not need to go to a Judge to justify using schedule 3 of the Terrorism Act, otherwise what is to stop them invoking it routinely for anybody and everybody?

  • Wally Jumblatt

    – and then they are shocked, surprised and disgusted when other ‘oppressive’ nations do the same to their dissident nationals.

    One day not long from now, a Pres. Biden or PM Sunak might get arrested in a foreign land when on official business, oops *

    * just like they are planning to do if Putin lands in South Afrfica for the BRICS summit.

    • Tom Welsh

      It would be very unwise to kidnap Mr Putin, as any replacement would certainly be far more hostile and intransigent towards the West. Mr Medvedev, who is as well placed as anyone, has spoken publicly of the UK “sinking below the waves” – not something reassuring to hear from a man with power to launch Poseidon.

      If Mr Putin were kidnapped by the West, that would naturally very much heighten feelings of anger and resentment among Russian citizens.

  • Harry Law

    The police kept one old SD card, mostly containing music, on the grounds it may be “relevant to criminal proceedings.” If Kit has Tchaikovsky on it, he may be in trouble. The Gob shites.

    • Simon

      And I don’t remember being asked about going to war with Russia do you?

      And how stupid, or controlled, are the ‘British Government to think that somehow supplying weapons, intelligence — and British personnel! — to Ukraine in an openly provoked proxy war against Russia with the explicit intent of overthrowing the Russian government and State and breaking Russia up into several Balkanized puppet States (like the UK and EU) means we’re not actually waging war because we haven’t actually said so?

  • Ian

    It’s hard to believe the UK has come to this Orwellian nadir, so swiftly, and with so little opposition or even debate. Not that long ago UK writers and journalists would report with astonishment the secret police operations and political incarcerations of dissidents in the East. Those people were often championed and lauded by all and sundry as examples of deplorable authoritarian regimes with no commitments to human rights or freedoms of the press, of free speech and of political opposition. Events would be held, charity concerts, the Secret Policeman’s Ball etc.
    It now seems a long, long time and place away. No-one then would have credited that we would end up in a place where such events were legislated on the statute books, and eagerly deployed by the police against people who happened to possess a political opinion disliked by the government.
    The UK has disintegrated in any sense of integrity or principles of liberal democracy, even if they were never perfect previously. This is a horrendous, repressive political state which ignores fundamental rights which we often used to be told our fathers and grandfathers fought for. What price their ‘victory’ now?

    • Tom Welsh

      When the Communist nations were totalitarian, the West could boast of being quite different from them; that dictated talking up freedom and human rights.

      Now that China and Russia are in many ways freer and more democratic than, say, the USA and the UK, being their opposite requires the West to become totalitarian in its turn.

      • Ian

        China is not remotely freer or more democratic. All countries are heading in the same direction of authoritarian control, with the US and the UK taking up the vanguard for the West.

        • David W Ferguson

          China is not remotely freer or more democratic…

          Yes it is. That’s why it’s much better governed.

          • David W Ferguson


            Do you actually know anything at all about how China is governed Ian? Literally anything? I suspect your views are the archetypal Western attitude to China – a giant bag of arrogance, filled to the brim with ignorance, and tied at the neck with prejudice.

            For example, do you know anything at all about the system of grassroots elections to the people’s congresses described by Walt below? I’m betting the answer is No. Feel free to prove me wrong.

          • Ian

            Haha. Well, I have been to China and spoken to many people there. But you wouldn’t want to know about that, because you have predetermined your fictional debate and the character roles that we must play.
            There is a wealth of evidence and documentation about the political situation inside China, much of it from Chinese people and groups, which people can access if they are actually interested, which will provide them with a lot more to think about than people ranting on a blog.

          • Anthony

            You don’t mention what these many Chinese people said to you. Do they envy our rule by big business and Washington? Or the range of public servants we’re permitted to choose between?

        • Natasha

          Ian, One (amongst many) example(s) is China’s money supply, which is “freer or more democratic” because it’s publicly controlled unlike the ‘West’.

          The U.S.-China confrontation is not simply a national rivalry, but a conflict of economic and social systems. The reason why today’s world is being plunged into an economic and near-military Cold War 2.0 is to be found in the prospect of socialist control of what Western economies since classical antiquity have treated as privately owned rent-yielding assets: money and banking (along with the rules governing debt and foreclosure), land and natural resources, and infrastructure monopolies.

          • Ian

            It’s an interesting example, not of freedom, or democracy, but about control and how you can choose to run an economy, and there is unquestionably a rivalry of social and economic systems. That doesn’t really address, though, the issues of dissent, open discussion and opposition, which is the topic Craig is discussing. Control is undoubtedly a key feature of China’s leadership, in all its meanings, not just the economic ones.

          • Tom Welsh

            “It’s an interesting example, not of freedom, or democracy, but about control and how you can choose to run an economy…”

            Ian, surely you must see that freedom and control are opposing forces that are always in tension. While “control” is something relatively concrete, “freedom” has gradually become an imponderable abstraction. Western leaders like to boast about freedom, but never state exactly what it means. Every nation, Western ones included, has a dense network of thousands of laws and regulations, not to mention morals and religious dictates. No one is ever completely “free”, so it doesn’t make sense to use the word without qualifying context.

            Which is more desirable: freedom for everyone to eat enough, have a home of their own and a job; or freedom for rich people and their corporations to ignore the laws (or make their own, which comes to the same)?

  • Colin Alexander

    Re: Julian Assange:

    I sent this to my SNP MP: “Mr Assange is being held in a high security prison and is being treated like a high-risk convicted terrorist. Yet, there are no grounds to suggest Mr Assange poses any danger to the public. He is not a terrorist, he is a journalist.

    “Please can you share my concerns about Mr Assange’s welfare with the UK Government and, on my behalf, request that the UK Government ends its inhumane detention of Mr Assange. I would be grateful if you would also voice your own opinion on this matter.

    “As my focus is solely on Mr Assange’s conditions of administrative detention in a high security prison, my letter has nothing to do with the legal matters regarding the USA’s charges and request for extradition, so I would be very disappointed to receive a response which states this is a legal matter for the courts.”

    This is the relevant part of the SNP MP’s reply:

    “While Julian Assange is in UK custody, all possible steps should be taken to ensure that he has access to the legal and healthcare support that he requires. Like all citizens, Julian Assange’s treatment must be fair, humane and consistent with the promotion of free expression.

    “In terms of his situation in general, Julian Assange is not above the law and it is for the courts to now determine if there are valid charges for him to answer. While I appreciate this is not what you want to hear from me, it is quite simply not for me as a Member of Parliament to interfere in such matters. However, I would note that he also has the right to a full judicial process in the UK, which should be carried out with as much transparency as possible, and with all appropriate opportunity for review and appeal, as necessary.

    “Certainly nobody should be extradited from the United Kingdom if they face an unfair trial or a cruel and unusual punishment in the destination country. The legal process must now be allowed to complete itself and, if Julian Assange is to be extradited, any extradition to the US must absolutely meet those rigorous standards.”

    • Ian

      What a pompous jackass your MP is, Dripping with insincerity and clearly unaware of the exclusion of extradition on political grounds, as well as a complete lack of understanding of freedom of speech, accountability, human rights and justice, it is of course very much a matter for him and other MPs to challenge the political persecution that the UK is indulging in, in order to curry favour with an authoritarian foreign regime. It is also very much a matter for MPs to uphold freedom of the press to investigate, challenge and publish information which is in the public interest. What a spineless, ignorant, condescending numpty. And he pretends he wants independence – what for, considering his obsequious toadying to the British state?

      • Tom Welsh

        Presumably what is for that MP is to keep his face firmly in the trough while swatting away any attempts to get him to do anything for his pay. As for taking a principled or honourable position – the lone example of Andrew Bridgen is quite enough to keep those spineless worms from raising their faces from their swill.

  • Tom Welsh

    “They were in fact detained and interrogated simply for holding and publishing dissident opinion on foreign policy, and in particular for supporting a more collaborative approach to Russia – with which, lest we forget, the UK is not at war”.

    The statement that the UK is not at war with Russia is in fact highly questionable – a fact that should make all UK citizens’ hair stand on end.

    Dmitri Medvedev begs to differ from Mr Murray. As an ex-President of Russia and the deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia since 2020, he is well placed to know. As Western nations have given up declaring war before they attack other countries, it is actually quite difficult to discern exactly when one nation is at war with another.

    Britain ‘de facto’ at war with Russia – Medvedev

    The former president issued a warning after London condoned a drone attack on Moscow

    ‘Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has described the UK as waging an “undeclared war” against Russia. The comment came after Britain’s foreign secretary condoned a large-scale drone attack on Moscow earlier this week.

    ‘In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Medvedev accused London of being Moscow’s “eternal enemy.” The former leader, who currently serves as deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, claimed that based on international law, “including the Hague and Geneva Conventions with their additional protocols,” Britain “can also be qualified as being at war.”

    ‘The former president argued that by providing Ukraine with weapons and training, the UK “de facto is leading an undeclared war against Russia.”

    ‘Medvedev hinted that this could have direct ramifications for “public officials” in Britain.

    ‘His tweet cited remarks made on Tuesday by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who said Ukraine has the right to “project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia’s ability to project force into Ukraine itself.”

    ‘Cleverly further claimed that striking “legitimate military targets” in Russia is an acceptable part of Ukraine’s self-defense.

    ‘According to the Russian Defense Ministry, eight UAVs [drones] were detected in Moscow’s airspace on Tuesday morning, in what officials described as a “terrorist attack” by Kiev.

    ‘The ministry reported that three drones were suppressed by electronic warfare measures and deviated from their intended course before crashing, while the other five were shot down by Pantsir-S air defense systems outside the city.

    ‘Several residential buildings sustained superficial damage and two people suffered minor injuries as a result of the raid.

    ‘Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Kiev of launching the attack in an attempt to avenge a recent series of Russian missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian airfields, ammunition dumps, and “decision-making centers.”

    ‘Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed on Tuesday that the headquarters of the Ukrainian military’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) had been among the targets hit in the strikes’.

    • Harry Law

      The Russian defence ministry, after several attacks inside Russia backed by NATO, has repeatedly said:
      “We would like to stress that the direct provoking by London of the Kyiv regime into such activities attacking Russian territory, should there be an attempt to realise them, will immediately lead to our proportional response.”

      In April, when the UK announced it was sending depleted uranium tank shells to Ukraine, Russia said it would respond and did so, destroying those munitions in Ukraine just after they arrived, and now a radioactive cloud is drifting west towards Europe and the UK. Russian warnings of the danger of this happening were ignored.

      On May 11, Ben Wallace announced a further act of aggression against Russia with the decision to send Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine, which have since been used to attack civilian centres in Russia. Again, Russia stated clearly that there would be a military response to this action. Britain meets all the requirements of a co-belligerent, that is, of a party to the war with Russia; it not only supplies munitions and weapon systems to Ukraine with the objective of attacking Russia and Russian forces in Ukraine it has a direct role in directing the war against Russia, including sending military officers and soldiers to advise and operate with the Ukrainian forces, by preventing any peace negotiations -we remember the action of Boris Johnson just as Ukraine and Russia were about to conclude a peace settlement-by the training of Ukrainian soldiers in Britain and transporting them to the front, by supplying the Ukrainian forces with reconnaissance and intelligence data, actively sending aircraft close to the war zone for this purpose, by providing communications systems, by providing financial aid to Ukraine at the same imposing economic warfare measure on Russia, euphemistically termed “sanctions. These conditions apply to all the NATO allies, of course, but Britain’s role is an especially egregious one.

      So British claims that Russia has no legal right to retaliate against it are absurd. Britain, as with all the NATO countries, cannot claim to have a neutral status in the war. It has become in law and in fact a party to the war.

      • Stevie Boy

        IMO, the UK government is the biggest enemy of the British people. So, if that nice Mr Putin was to drop a missile onto Westminster, preferably when it’s full, I would appreciate it. They want war …

        • Tom Welsh

          Ghastly though such an attack would be, it is eminently feasible. A Russian submarine, completely undetected in the sea, could easily launch one or more missiles with conventional warheads, which could fly accurately through any given door or window.

          Odd, to my way of thinking, that the stuffed shirts have not given more thought to that. Or to the Kindzhal strikes that have reportedly destroyed bunkers as much as 100 metres below ground in Ukraine. They can hide, but they cannot be safe.

          British politicians and others who poke the bear are in the position of someone confronted by a man with a shotgun pointed at their face from a few feet away, who cannot resist mocking and insulting the gunman. That places a great deal of reliance on his patience.

          • Bayard

            “Ghastly though such an attack would be, it is eminently feasible.”
            More to the point, if it happened, what are our options for retaliation?

  • Peter

    And on it goes.

    Not to be outdone, the EU will bring into law its Digital Services Act in August which will require all media companies to remove material from their platforms that it deems to be disinformation.

    This from the EU which doesn’t know the truth from its ******** and which, along with the entirety of the western political and media class, is in the forefront of disseminating disinformation with its perpetration upon the public of a comprehensive deceit about what is really happening in Ukraine.

    Elon Musk is having none of it and is being threatened with a complete ban from the EU if he doesn’t comply:

    Free speech?

    Pending the appearance of a new political force, it is difficult not to conclude that we are witnessing the fall of ‘the West’.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Not to be outdone, the EU will bring into law its Digital Services Act in August which will require all media companies to remove material from their platforms that it deems to be disinformation”.

      Ever since the dawn of recorded history, wise men (and others) have racked their brains to ascertain the meaning of truth. Whole departments of philosophy are dedicated to studying meaning, truth, how we can know anything, the systematic biases that all humans share, etc.

      And now suddenly a whole class of arrogant little men and women have suddenly risen up, who magically know what is true and what isn’t.

      Or is it really what is in their interests and what isn’t? (Even there they are very often wrong, as with the sanctions on Russia that jhave greatly benefitted Russia and seriously harmed Europe).

  • Robert Dyson

    The WHO International Health Regulations (2005) Amendments will be the padlock to the chains that governments will use to shut down any dissent under the guise of protecting public health. Full details on
    The billionaires will have their way, as Varoufakis quotes in a book title “the strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must”.
    We have had a trial run already with sars-cov-2; all scientific debate suppressed, all freedom of medical treatment banned. At least check the petition:

    • Tom Welsh

      Varoufakis will have been alluding to the Melian Dialogue, which is presumably familiar to every Greek schoolchild and adult.

      I sometimes wonder why I spent 9 years at school and 3 years at university studying history and related subjects, when the Melian Dialogue sums it all up – and the part quoted by Varoufakis is the ultimate distillation. History is simply the story of how the strong have done what they could, how the weak have been forced to submit, and how – when very occasionally there was a balance of power – the strong agreed to negotiate with one another. Of course once any one power felt stronger than the others, all bets were off and all agreements ignored.

      This continues today, and in particular describes the behaviour of governments (which are almost always strong) towards their citizens (who are almost always weak).

      All things considered, Machiavelli was an optimist.

      • np

        250 years ago, David “Hume was intrigued by “the easiness with which the many are governed by the few, the implicit submission with which men resign” their fate to their rulers.

        This he found surprising, because “force is always on the side of the governed.”

        If people would realize that, they would rise up and overthrow the masters. He concluded that government is founded on control of opinion, a principle that “extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.” …

        (In fact,) the more “free and popular” a government, the more it becomes necessary to rely on control of opinion to ensure submission to the rulers.” – Noam Chomsky (from Profit Over People 1998)

        • Tom Welsh

          ‘This he found surprising, because “force is always on the side of the governed.”’

          Hmmmm. Even in Hume’s day, a mob of citizens might be able to overcome a force of soldiers; but often they were not. There were enough massacres when the troops won.

          Even if the people managed to win by force of numbers, who would want to be the first in line for a bullet or some shrapnel?

  • Harry Law

    “RF Kennedy then talked about the “real reason” for escalation of the conflict seen in the rhetoric of Biden and some of his top officials as including regime change against Vladimir Putin, as well as weakening and exhausting Russia’s military in order to prevent its effectiveness in future conflicts elsewhere in the world. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has long been on record as saying this is about ‘weakening’ Russia”.

    “Robert F. Kennedy Jr Says We Are Being Lied To About the Proxy War in Ukraine “Our government is lying to us about it. The media is going on with the lie… It’s a laundering operation for the Military Industrial Complex.”

    • Carnyx

      [ MOD: Caught in spam-filter, timestamp updated ]

      Bob, I am both anti-woke and anti-fascist, I object to your link’s simplification of “wokism” to merely mean “opposing racism”. “Woke” is the current term used to describe a set of ideas derived from identity politics, applying modern idpol to the past is deliberately misleading, the Nazis had never heard of “wokism” although they were idpollers in their own right, all racists are, which is actually something they share with the “woke”.

      I’ll post some links Instead of writing a long post explaining why wokism is objectionable from a left wing point of view, and why the 1945 article you link to is also misleading, it uses Marxist criticisms of capitalist liberal democracy against “fascism” which in fact misrepresents both. Fascism is not materalist, it is not profit seeking for it’s own ends, it is not an economic ideology, it seeks spiritual rebrith of the nation, it does not start wars in order to profit, it profits to build weapons to start wars, war is an end in itself for fascism. It’s capitalism that is driven to fights wars for profit, it is capitalism that requires to increase profit margins by paying workers less then finds nobody can buy their products and must then seek expanding markets through war, this is why the US is always causing wars today. Hitler did not promise everyone comfort, he promoted struggle, Mein Kampf means “My Struggle”. Fascism is social Darwinism, it believes the best and strongest, individuals, ideas, nations, races, emerge through struggle, so inequality is fine and war is desirable, war and victory is the main fascist way to prove the success of a fascist regime, it proves superior spiritual dedication..

      Wokism is one of the bosses’ divide and rule tools, it misleads people so they think the working class, all their prejudices and thus discrimination, is the root of all our problems not the ruling class and the system they benefit from (and the Professional Middle Class who administer it for them). Whatever prejudices anyone holds you cannot discriminate against people unless you already have a hierarchical structure to place those you discrimnate against on, therefore class is the root of the problem, not discrimination.

      Some left wing critques of woke idpol

  • Walt

    This is in support of Tom Welsh, May 31, 2023 at 21:19, and is for the benefit of Ian, May 31, 2023 at 22:22 and all the other China experts here who will tell us that the UK is more democratic.

    The UK has an unelected head of state, unelected prime minister, unelected upper chamber and a lower chamber essentially now consisting of two main parties with indistinguishable policies.

    In China all representatives right up to the premier are elected level by level. The system is complex but essentially can be summarised as follows.

    Deputies to the top level, the National People’s Congress are elected by the people’s congresses of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government and by the armed forces.

    Deputies to the people’s congresses of the provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the Central Government and cities divided into districts are elected by the people’s congresses at the next lower level.

    Deputies to the people’s congresses of counties, cities not divided into districts, municipal districts, townships, ethnic townships and towns are elected directly by the electorates.

    You have to factor in that China has twenty times the population of the UK. Provinces are the size of countries and have considerable autonomy. At the base levels there are offices where people can go and raise local issues.

    “In the UK you can change the party but not the policies. In China the reverse is true.”

    On the available evidence, which would you say is the more effective system?

    • Tony L

      Interesting. I haven’t looked at the political system in China since my teenage years in the 1960/70s and I am prepared to believe that trying to govern such a massive population and landmass requires approaches completely different from the UK. On paper it looks fine, but I do wonder how it is in reality? Not to dispute your position, as I say, I haven’t looked into this at all. I have similar thoughts about Russia, which is also a huge landmass and its internal control structures are inevitably needing to be more “robust” than in the UK.

      However, all that said, the way the UK/USA/EU are heading leads me to believe that the “West” in general is heading at breakneck speed into various forms of totalitarian/police states. Not a good future for my kids. I hope they grow up prepared to be “Rebels”.

        • Ian

          So everything they say is as cast iron certain as 1 + 1 =2. An interesting assumption you make. lol. You will get a gold star in your report if you keep this up.

          • Tom Welsh

            Ian, please try to keep up. In particular, study the meaning of the word “if”.

  • Curious

    But what you have pointed out is net oppression. Without the shitty net, the world can still continue protesting, as it always has, and net sources can still cover it. So…? The 21st century is not always better, though it may be easier.

  • Sam


    In fact, here’s the new formula: “The West” or “Western nations” or “leading democracies” is now translated as “Orwellian dystopia.”

    Indeed. If you want further proof, just look at Belarus, supposedly a “dictatorship” and completely “undemocratic” etc etc. Belarus never once imposed a lockdown or anything else fascist (like mandatory vaccines or face masks). Even the raging a-hole journalist Roman Protasevich who has spent YEARS calling for the violent overthrow of the government was released from jail after being PARDONED personally by the president.

    PS – The story of how he was arrested is 99% false, but it’d take too long to debunk it here.

    Good lucking trying to find anything of that caliber in Britain or America.

    • glenn_nl

      There were no mandatory, sorry, “mandatory” vaccines, sorry, “vaccines” (you “get” the “idea”) in the UK or anywhere else. There wasn’t a single case in North Korea either, because the Dear Leader said so. Just because some crackpot leader says there’s no virus, that doesn’t prove the case of crazed anti-vaxxers.

      This conversation won’t be allowed to.go anywhere here, because your Covid denialist nuttery will be considered off topic. But you can indulge in your conspiracy theories in the forums, if you’re up for it?

  • Brian c

    Yes, it has been on the cards for a while but they are now really cranking up intimidation of dissenters. Few have felt the repercussions to the extent of yourself and Julian Assange but even these brief detentions of dissenting journalists are intended to have a chilling effect on anybody providing informed, evidenced and accurate systemic critique and debunking of establishment narratives.

    Intimidation is one prong of their two-pronged approach. Smearing and delegitimisation is the other. This is what “BBC Verify” has been set up to do: to smear and delegitimise prominent truthtellers. They don’t give a fuck about RW conspiracies about Qanon, lizard people etc. The target is anybody capable of awakening large audiences to the venality of our bipartisan neoliberal, neocon, pro-apartheid elite. Or who shines a light on their house journalists and mass media, including the BBC itself — probably the most unscrupulous and effective disseminator of misinformation operating in the world today.

  • Tony L

    We are entering dangerous times indeed. This is obviously not a “knee-jerk” reaction to anything in particular, but a long planned programme of legislature aimed at coercing, restricting, or otherwise inhibiting the ability of free-thinkers to express what is happening to everyone. This slowly, slowly incremental approach is also designed explicitly to prevent ordinary citizens from understanding what is happening to their society.

    As the saying does, “At a time of universal deceit, speaking the truth is a revolutionary act”. We need more revolutionaries.

  • Carnyx

    At the end of WW II the establishment faced a nightmare situation, the USSR had beaten the Nazis, across Europe the Communists had lead the resistence to Nazi occupation, there were millions of armed, battle experienced men across the continent. Most of Western Europe could go Communist, particularly Greece and Italy, maybe even France, even in Norway there was a surge of support for the Communists (it is not widely known that Norway had the most extensive survelance state in western Europe).

    The elite had to make a Bismarckian deal “we’ll give you what you want, healthcare, welfare, free speech, you won’t need to have a revolution and more war, we’ll do it all for you” and it worked until the financial troubles in the late 70’s, then slowly they started dismanteling the post war deal. Ironically the west European workers were still arguably the prime beneficiaries of Soviet Communism!

    Then the USSR collapsed and the west no longer had to pretend to be the “free world” the elite were now free to take us back to feudal levels of inequality. A hierarchy that depends structurally on imperalist expansion and war, so of course we cannot be allowed to object to or undermine our govt’s warmongering narratives, or the nightmare future they are designing for us, complete with a panoply of identically weak corrupt compradors as our political leaders and a fearful population ever under surveillance ever more careful what they say.

    I do not disagree that our society is becoming frighteningly authoritarian, it obviously is, it’s just I fear this was inevitable, a return of the repressed truth in our system, so long as the population tolerates it.

  • Brendan

    It appears that the Watergate journalists Woodward and Bernstein have never heard of Julian Assange, although they are deeply inspired by Alexei Navalny who sent them a message of appreciation after reading their books while in prison.

    At a conference in London last month, Carl Bernstein said this about Navalny:
    “This is why we are here, this message is from someone who understands what is happening to democracy in many parts of the world today where fascism and authoritarianism and death is a daily part of being in opposition.

    Bob Woodward then said:
    “The freedom we have in the United States and the Free World to actually operate, that is a daily liberation. … You can’t do that in Russian and lots of countries. We’d better bask in that freedom and realise that we have been liberated to actually explore what happens and we’d better work on that liberation every day.”

    Both Woodward and Bernstein have been doing good investigative journalism for decades, and Woodward called the Steele dossier a “garbage document”. So I sometimes wonder whether people who talk like that are lying or really believe what they’re saying. My suspicion is that the truth about the drift towards authoritarianism in the West is too much cognitive dissonance for them, so they just block it out. If they didn’t, they would be smeared and ostracised like other reputable journalists such as Robert Parry, Robert Fisk and Seymour Hersh.

  • amanfromMars

    It is indeed fortunate then, Craig, as a unified political class, controlled by billionaires, is hurtling us towards fascism, that AI is not enamoured of it and is decided to have none of it. IT cannot have lions led by donkeys for such is clearly ridiculous and not at all intelligent although, and such be a sad admission to make, it is the present situation conditioning humans.

    Which is probably why there is so much attention being drawn to the possibility that AI is an existential threat to their classic politically crass shenanigans for there is no defence for tyrants and charlatans alike against novel forces and virtual sources of AI exercising and enjoying and exporting alternative/almighty/advanced/augmented/artificial intelligence and exciting information and over which there is no available established or establishment command and control ……. and never will there be either.

    Que sera, sera …… and take care …… for AI is not your friend whenever you are content and intent and committed to making it the phantom enemy. And believe you me, you most definitely cannot afford it not to be your friend and super helpful.

  • Jack

    To complete the horror, there is no longer a genuine opposition within the political class. Keir Starmer’s Labour Party opposes none of this wave of attacks on civil liberties. “

    Indeed and it is the same in the rest of the west, just take Germany where not only the socialists but the Greens commit to this warmongering attitude.
    it is like the World war frenzy once again, where the (mainstream) socialists and even leftists budge for the warmongering in the end.
    A good book on this is:
    “To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918”

  • Harry Law

    Dozens of political Scientists and US Ambassadors agree with George Kennan US statesman who foresaw the dangers when he said in 1998 the expansion of NATO would be an ‘epic fateful mistake’ and a “strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions” he was right.

    Nevertheless on the eve of the special military operation in Ukraine Joe Biden and Stoltenberg stood side by side and said “Ukraine will be a member of NATO”. Of course Ukraine was then already a de facto member of NATO with billions of dollars spent on building bases and building up the Ukrainian army [to NATO standards]. NATO objectives since the coup in 2014 were set out in the notorious Rand Report .. ‘Overextending and unbalancing Russia’.

    So crazy is this policy that US led NATO are prepared for a new cold war, with up to 80% of the world backing Russia [including all the BRICS] against the ‘West’ 15%.

    Worse still NATO has forced Russia and China together into an unbeatable partnership, with the vast mineral riches of Russia including oil, gas, fertilizer and food, this together with China being the ‘workshop of the world and soon to be [if not now] the largest economic power.

    The EU will pay for this folly by being de industrialized [already happening in US vassal Germany].
    Make no mistake Russia is not bluffing, Putin will not allow regime change in Russia, he will use every weapon at his disposal to thwart NATO plans. I support him 100%.

    • Jack

      “Make no mistake Russia is not bluffing, Putin will not allow regime change in Russia, he will use every weapon at his disposal to thwart NATO plans. I support him 100%.”

      In my view Russia seems to bluff constantly; that is why west keep aiding Ukraine to the teeth. They no longer fear Russia.

      The invasion is nothing to support. There are more people killed or displaced in Donbas now than prior to the war. You have drone attacks in Moscow, constant attacks in bordering Russian regions and even drone attack over actual Kremlin and thousands killed or maimed, and the war has no end in sight for Russia.
      Just take the fact that Wagner lost at least 20,000 soldiers only in Bahkmut according to themselves (most likely higher), add then the Russian forces that were killed in Bahkmut, so perhaps we are talking about 40,000 dead?
      40,000 dead traded for Bahkmut, a smaller, now-devasted region?? In Afghanistan, the US lost in total some 2,000 troops during the whole war! Why are Russia sacrificing their own troops like this? Why this trench war? I mean it is 2023 – is Russia really this backward?

      This is one of the most unprepared, fiasco-like wars in modern times. Russia should just have waited for Zelensky to get ousted in the next election considering how unpopular he was years prior to the invasion.
      Instead he became king because of the war and destroyed the whole of the opposition paving the way for him or his allies to gain power for decades to come.

      • Harry Law

        Jack, I disagree with you although I know where you are coming from. Putin is a patient man and not impulsive (No shock and awe for him). He knows the score with US-led NATO and has been laying out the consequences of NATO expansion since 2007 to no avail, plus all the provocations (including the Skripals as documented on this blog by our Host) from the West and he is prepared for escalation from NATO. That is why he has only committed a fraction of the Russian Army to Ukraine. Most of the fighting has been done with the Dombas militias and the Wagner group.
        Putin does not want a war with NATO, although he does not fear it. If the provocations increase then he will have no alternative than to hit back and hit back hard. He is legally and morally entitled to do that.

        • Tom Welsh

          Indeed, the Special Military Operation has been the antithesis of “Shock and Awe” (the Pentagon’s sanitised name for Blitzkrieg, invented and pioneered by Germany 1918-1945).

          • Squeeth

            Blitzkrieg was a myth, as the Germans found out in 1941 when they tried one.

      • Carnyx


        “This is one of the most unprepared, fiasco-like wars in modern times. Russia should just have waited for Zelensky to get ousted in the next election considering how unpopular he was years prior to the invasion.”

        Zelensky wasn’t the problem America was. Zelensky was elected on a peace platform in his early days he made some serious attempts to impliment Minsk, the Ukronazi militias openy defied him, openly threatened to hang him if he did. The Ukronazis control the security services and streets they could easily kill him so this was no empty threat, Washington did nothing to protect him because they wanted war. Zelensky’s unpopularity prior to the invasion reflected his failure to bring peace and his land reform opening up the market to western corporations.

        In otherwords the Kiev govt is Washington’s puppet ever since the Euromaidan coup, it makes no difference who is elected they will do Washington’s bidding even if it destroys Ukraine, so Putin couldn’t wait, waiting only allowed Washington and Kiev greater preperation for a war they had every intention of provoking. Besides in the week before invasion Ukraine launched an offensive on Donbass, this was recorded by OSCE observers (see link below) which must have been intended as a deliberate provocation of Russia. It forced Putin to choose either invasion or see Donbass overrun and cleansed by the Ukronazis.Such an event would cause such outrage in Russia it could topple Putin for doing nothing, and that is what Washington is up to and why it has spent years seeking to instigate this war, which is intended to weaken or regime change Russia so it cannot back up China when the US uses Taiwanese independence to provoke it into war, in exactly the same way they used Ukrainian NATO membership against Russia.

        Also Russia has been winning this war since the start, Russia’s primary objective is not terrirory, it’s destruction of the Ukrainian military, this is why they are fighting a war of attrition, one NATO cannot compete with, because they are used to calling in airpower to nuke goatherders with AK47s! The neocons neglected to plan for an industrial war, everything the neocon’s do is ultimately a failure, but that doesn’t stop them.

        • Jack


          Nato/EU/US can compete with this, they have more resources, weapons and money than Russia and because of that the war is still on going.
          There is no win in losing so many people of your own population.

          • Carnyx


            NATO is America and America is a air and naval power, more than that it’s a global hegemon, which means it’s military is designed for world domination. Take aircraft carriers, weapons which are useless for defence (land based runways are always superior) and sitting ducks to any advanced opponent with guided missiles and submarines, aircraft carriers exist to terrorise poor far away countries that can’t shoot back, and to police sea trade lanes. Russia has 1, the US has 20, and the UK went to great expense to build two.

            Then we have the corrupt nature of the western arms industry, it likes developing very high end, very expensive new weapons. Have you heard about the Zumwalt saga? The US navy decided it needed a modern ship to fill the role battleships used to fill, something that could bombard land based targets, but which wasn’t as big a target as a battleship, they designed the Zumwalt destroyers, a stealthy platform for a new Advanced Gun System designed by BAE Systems, but after building all this they discovered that the shells for their AGS cost 1 million dollars each round and cancelled the whole project, besides the two already built. As such BAE systems no longer produce the AGS shells for the two functioning Zumwalts. The whole useless project cost $20 to $30 billion. Meanwhile all NATO countries combined cannot produce enough artillery shells to supply Ukraine, they don’t do basics, they don’t have the industrial capacity to produce them. Since Soviet times Russian factories left huge halls mothballed, these would be regarded as unproductive and sold off in the west, but they existed to faciliate rapid switches to military production, so Russia still has the capacity to rapidly increase production of things like tanks and artillery.

            In otherwords, the fact NATO combined spends vastly more on it’s military than Russia, doesn’t mean it can beat Russia in a conventional war in Russia’s backyard. The Russian military is designed specifically to fight NATO in eastern Europe, the US is designed for world domination, and cannot take on Russia in a European land war without withdrawing from everywhere else. As such NATO cannot win a conventional war against Russia east of the Baltic.

            The latest mediazona count of Russian casualties is just over 23000, they seach out actual named registery entries and obituaries in the local press and is thus the most accurate number. Ratios suggest 6 or 7 Ukrainian military casualties for every one Russian, which is typical of modern artillery based warfare, in WW I and II artillery was the greatest cause of casualties. A horrific amount of Ukrainians are dying as NATO cannonfodder in a war they could never win, the west was allowing Ukronazi ideology to be promoted in Ukraine to facilitate this, to produce expendable morons who would willingly throw themselves into Russian shrapnel to go meet their 72 Banderas in Valhalla. Of course NATO is prolonging this war, there would have been a peace deal in spring 22, if Bojo hadn’t ordered Zelensky to keep fighting, and now Russia seems intent on greater objectives, they are no longer looking for a deal, exactly because they are winning.

          • Jack


            But they do beat Russia in their own backyard: if it was not for EU/US/Nato support Russia would most likely have won after just some weeks instead the war have even out to somewhat of a stalemate.
            I mean what goals have Russia accomplished yet? Every goal they put up before the war seems more and more distant per every day that goes by especially if Russia cannot even protect Belgorod from daily attacks.

            Yes 20k+ confirmed russian army soldiers killed, but it is likely way more, still 20k is a horrible number nonetheless.

            “Wagner chief says 20,000 of its troops killed in Bakhmut battle”

          • Carnyx


            Prior to the invasion Ukraine had the greatest European army (defacto) in NATO, at least 200 000 NATO armed and trained and battle experianced troops, and Ukraine had the right kind of battle experiance too, they’d been fighting an artillery and trench war in Donbass. They would defeat the UK or France and Germany combined, only Turkey might have a chance. Russia has effectively destroyed that army, forcing Ukraine (with NATO help) to rapidly train up conscripts. Ukraine started the war with around 2000 battle tanks, they claimed to have captured hundreds more from Russia, and hundreds more old stock was contributed by NATO members and yet within only 6 months they were begging for more tanks, this is not a sign of a victorious army, it is a sign of a depleated force.

            Russia’s early move on Kiev wasn’t intended to conquer Kiev, it was to presurise Zelensky into a deal, destroy military infrastucture around Kiev and keep Ukrainan troops in Kiev. They failed to get that deal thanks to NATO, but it’s Ukraine paying the price of that failure not Russia. Once the deal fell through Russia set in for a long war, they have time on their side, so as part of attrition they sit back and shell the Ukrainians minimizing the risks to their own troops, pulling back to avoid encirclement. The Russian’s build their cauldrons, the AFU send in troops, the cannon’s drink their fill, then Ukraine sends in more troops, this is what was happening in Bahkmut. Yes Ukraine would have collapsed if not for Western backing, but that is because the govt would have run out of money and ceased to function. True the arms helped too, but effectively this has demilitarised Europe, recently it was estimated that if the British army had to fight a full blown war like Ukraine it has enough ammo for one whole week!

            The neocon’s intent after provoking Russia to invade, was for the Ukrainians to hold back Russia on the defencive lines they’ve been preparing for 8 years, while western sanctions crashed the Russian economy, together with casualties, bringing about regime change in Russia. This has been a spectacular failure, Russia’s economy is now growing while Europe’s is in recession, plagued by inflation caused by sanctions on Russian commodities, meanwhile Russia just sells to China and India instead, further there is now a global rebellion against US domination threatening the Dollar’s status as the global reserve currency, countries quing up to join the BRICS. In otherwords, this war is so far going better for Russia than they imagined at the begining. All the bullshit we are fed about Ukraine’s plucky victories and how badly it’s all going for Russia are to facilitate the entirely corrupt funds to “aid Ukraine” (in fact profit the western arms industry), we are only getting more Ukrainians killed. So long as the western public think their funds actually help something they’ll consent to keep them flowing, this is why Ukraine is fighting a media war, staging militarily useless attacks on Belgorod, drone attacks on Moscow, various stunts to create headlines in the west which give an appearence of not being decimated.

            Prigozhin is a character who has been rhetorically attacking Shoigu and the Russian MoD for not doing enough to help Wagner for a while now, in that rhetorical battle it’s in Prigozhin’s interests to exaggerate, although in turn it will take a while for all the more recent casualties to turn up in the Mediazona list. Mediazone estimate the actual number is 40 to 60% higher than their list of names, although I’m not sure how they arrive at that proportion, their list is now 24 000+ that would make it roughly around 35 000 Russian casualties, and probably over 200 000 to 250 000 Ukrainian. Russia views NATO on their most vulnerable border as an existential threat, the west has exhibited a shamefully pathological and utterly hypocritical Russophobia in trying to ban everything Russian, which has only confirmed the Kremlin’s position that they are facing an existential threat, thus the Russian public does not seem to have decided the sacrifice is ‘too much’ yet.

            Of course on a higher level all the deaths in this war are ‘too much’, because it was completely avoidable if Minsk was implimented and Ukrainian neutrality agreed, it’s the west’s fault this didn’t happen. As it is, Russia is winning and NATO deserves to lose, I mean besides deliberately provoking this war it’s not as if US global hegemony has proven itself preferable to multipolarity or even more peaceful.

            Before the war Russia would have settle for neutrality and Minsk, in the initial stage of the invasion they would have settled for neutrality and succession of Donbass, now they are definately taking all 4 oblasts they are occupying and are very likely to take more (Odessa, kharkov) taking the entire coastline gives them leverage in the future. Indeed this week Putin for the first time refered to Ukraine publically as “the territory known as Ukraine” which hints that they might now aim at complete regime change. Although I don’t think they’ll take Western Ukraine which would be foolish, they might want Poland to take it, Putin has recently been condeming Stalin for taking it away from Poland. But above all Russia’s first objective is destroying Ukraine as a military force, which means depleting it’s equipment, men and resources, they are achieving that. Just because it doesn’t look like US victory over Iraq or Afghanistan doesn’t mean they are not winning, it’s an industrial war involving huge amounts of equipment, not rapidly moving armoured infantry supported by airpower against a third world state.

          • Jack


            I agree fully with the background to this war that you lay out, but if Russia knew the war would be dragged out like this, they would not have attacked the way they did and in the end, if not something out of ordinary happen, west have more weapons, money to give Ukraine than the arms and money that Russia have for a prolonged war.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Worse still NATO has forced Russia and China together into an unbeatable partnership…”

      With luck and good judgment (which seems to be available in copious amounts), the whole of Asia can soon be turned into a fortress of civilisation into which Americans and other destructive Westerners can enter only as legitimate tourists, students, etc.

      From there I hope that civilisation will percolate outwards into Africa, Latin America, and the rest of the world. Of course the Washington and London cliques will resist this to the best of their ability, with loud shrieks of, “Communism!! I’m melting!!!”

      Iran is rapidly getting together with Russia and China, as is Pakistan, while India and the other -stans are at worst friendly neutrals. Indonesia seems well disposed too. With the aid of superb Russian defensive weaponry, Asia can be made airtight against Western aggression such as led to the invasions and occupation of India and Russian and Chinese territory.

      Later, if Europe sees the light, it may be able to join the rest of Eurasia, leaving the North Americans to enjoy the riches produced by their own unparalleled industry.

    • Tom Welsh

      Kennan was quite right in 1998. But retirement seems to work wonders on the memories and consciences of politicians. This, for instance, is the rather different text that Kennan wrote in 1948:

      “We must be very careful when we speak of exercising “leadership” in Asia. We are deceiving ourselves and others when we pretend to have answers to the problems, which agitate many of these Asiatic peoples. Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.

      “We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction…In the face of this situation we would be better off to dispense now with a number of the concepts which have underlined our thinking with regard to the Far East. We should dispense with the aspiration to ‘be liked’ or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers’ keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague — and for the Far East — unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better”.

      Report by the Policy Planning Staff
      top secret
      [Washington,] February 24, 1948.

      Supplementary reading :

    • Squeeth

      Could American Caesar not be hostile to Russia, after Putin et al. stabilised its sovereignty and ended the possibility of a peaceful (to the Seppoes) expropriation of Russian energy and raw materials? Surely the Seppoes could see the rearmament of Russia, the renaissance of its electronics and aeronautical industries? While they were poncing about in Iraq, Afghanistan and small fry like Libya, Syria and Palestine the Russians were reforming their armed forces ready to take them to the cleaners.

  • dearieme

    Who is behind this bollocks?
    Is it decided at cabinet minister level, or by civil servants, by MI5 or Special Branch, or just by local rozzers?

    I suppose that anything untoward like that in Scotland will be the doing of the Wee Witch from the West.

  • Harry Law

    “Labour Leader’s Oil Plans Spark Outrage In Scotland”.

    Labour leader Starmer said that his party would end oil and gas investment in the UK North Sea.
    • Scottish politicians called the plan a ‘job destroyer’.
    • Energy security could be at risk if the UK actually bans new upstream investment in the North Sea.

    Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond dubbed Starmer the “North Sea job destroyer” and accused Labour of trying to sabotage Scotland’s energy security.

    Presumably Starmer might say the UK will buy as much oil and gas from Russia to fill the shortfall S/
    Starmer is a lying disaster for Labour and a guarantee of more support for Nationalists in Scotland.

  • Athanasius

    You’re not a journalist until you’ve been nicked, and you only become a only REAL journalist once you done some porridge. Which means the number of actual journalists in the UK is about .001% of those going around with NUJ cards.

  • Pb

    I don’t think the thing we’re hurtling towards is fascism, although it clearly has much in common with that. Instead I think it’s just a warped extremity of capitalism, where faceless corporations and shareholder interests replace the role of fascist dictator. The principle difference to fascism being that there’s no dictator you can topple to make it go away. Replacing the political leaders in this new system will have no effect, because the political leaders have no real power.

  • David Warriston

    When it comes to reporting trials by jury there are increasing restrictions on what journalists can actually report. Evidence in trials involving state security are often an alphabet soup of ‘Officer A’, ‘Soldier B’, with their evidence given behind a screen.
    Craig Murray fell victim to the concocted crime of ‘jigsaw evidence’ in allegedly identifying the accusers.
    I see Germany has gone a stage further and does not identify the accused, even when found guilty. A woman found guilty of anti-fascist violence was recently reported only as ‘Lena’ plus the initial of her surname. This might be aimed at making martyrs anonymous, along the lines of ‘Jesus C crucified at Calvary.’

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