Has Western Democracy Now Failed? 320

Keir Starmer’s determination to use his refusal to alleviate child poverty as the issue with which to demonstrate his macho Thatcherite credentials, has provided one of those moments when blurred perceptions crystallise.

A Labour government in the UK under Starmer will bring no significant changes in economic or foreign policy and will make no difference whatsoever to the lives of working class people.

If dividends were taxed at the same rate as wages, that alone would bring in very many times the cost of lifting the two-child benefit cap. But that would hurt the owners of capital and be redistributive, so it is firmly off Starmer’s agenda.

Starmer, Reeves and Streeting have no intention of attempting to bridge society’s stunning and ever-growing wealth gap.

Rather they seek to emphasise “wealth creation” and return to trickledown theory. Alongside “wealth creation” they talk of “reform”, by which they mean more deregulation and more private, for profit provision of public services.

The Labour Party has not only abandoned all thought of securing a capital interest for the worker in the enterprise where they work. The Labour Party has also abandoned the ideas both of state intervention in the unequal dynamic between worker and employer, and of facilitating and supporting self-organisation of Labour.

Tory anti-union legislation is to remain, and who can forget Starmer banning Labour MPs from official union picket lines?

The Labour Party in power is also not going to repeal the hostile environment for immigrants legislation, or the Tory attacks on civil liberties and the right to protest.

What precisely therefore is the purpose of the Labour Party? An extension to which question is, what then is the purpose of the next UK general election?

To register disgust at the rule of the Tories by voting in an alternative set of Tories?

There has been an undercurrent of concern about the sprint to the right under Starmer, but somehow the two-child benefit cap has crystallised it in the public mind. The fact that there is no real choice on offer to the electorate has even broken into the mainstream media narrative (the embedded video, not the tweet, though I agree with that too).

It is not just a Westminster thing. Famously, the SNP have won eight successive electoral mandates on Scottish Independence while their elected representatives have done absolutely zero about it. They have not even really pretended they intend to do anything about it.

Western democracy appears to have failed in the sense that elections can achieve nothing that makes any difference to the lives of ordinary people. They only make a difference to lives of members of the political class, who jump on or off the gravy train according to the result.

This is not an accident. Those who have threatened the neoliberal order have been destroyed by lies like Corbyn – lies which the billionaire- and state-controlled media were delighted to amplify – or cheated out of election like Bernie Sanders.

In the United States, the current lawfare attempts to remove Donald Trump as a Presidential candidate are an extraordinary denial of democracy. Trump is accused of paying off sexual partners and of retaining classified documents.

Bill Clinton paid off sexual partners in a much more egregious fashion and Hillary’s data-handling arrangements were much worse, with zero legal consequences for either, but that does not seem in the least to concern the “liberal” Establishment.

The role of the US security services in the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story during the last Presidential election should have been a giant wake-up call. But liberals were more interested in stopping Trump than in preventing the security state from manipulating the result of elections.

There is an “end justifies the means” approach by supposedly liberal thinkers that supports any action against Trump, as it supports the banking ostracism of Farage, because their views are not entirely those of the neoliberal Establishment.

Neither Trump nor Farage are close to my own views, though I differ from them in different ways from, but no more than I differ from, Starmer and Biden. But what is happening to both of them should be put together with what happened to Corbyn and with the gutting of Labour by Starmer, and even (God help us) with what happened to Truss, as part of the same process of ensuring the political agenda does not offer any real choice.

It has become banal to note that concentration of media ownership between state and billionaires, and social media gatekeeping by billionaires’ corporations in cahoots with state security services, has contributed to the limitation of accepted “respectable” viewpoints.

I am less and less confident I see any solution.

In looking to start this chain of thought, I was thinking of saying that I no longer believe in the Western model of democracy, but can find no acceptable alternative. On writing I find that I do in fact believe in the western model of democracy, but that model no longer exists.

What we had from roughly 1920 to 1990, when voting really could make a difference, is not what we have now.

Voting for Clement Attlee made a difference. The Establishment won’t make that mistake again.

The concentration of media ownership is only one facet of the concentration of wealth and political power which appears irreversible by democratic means, in that we will never be given the opportunity to vote for anyone in official politics who opposes it, or to hear the arguments against it on any media platform with an equal access to the market for ideas.

We live in a post-democratic society. That is difficult to accept, but it is true.


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320 thoughts on “Has Western Democracy Now Failed?

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  • James Chater

    It’s failed utterly in the USA and the UK, but it has never been tried in these countries. In countries where it has been tried, with proportional representation, good government, efficient public services and the rule of law, it does work, albeit imperfectly: Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark. Less well in France, germany and Italy. Unfortunately, however, the first group is demographically insignificant, with larger countries getting all the attention. Still, they show what can be done and so keep hope alive.

    • Bramble

      If at any time, that was in 1945. When a politician running on the same impulses offered a watered-down version of those policies recently, he was viciously hounded out of the political arena by left, right and centre alike, with voters so totally captured by the propaganda engines operated by the media that they were incapable of seeing how they were being manipulated. The more the manipulation becomes obvious, the more they double-down on it, and the more it is swallowed, despite its complete bankruptcy. Intellectually and morally, the West has been zombified.

  • Ruth

    One thing that can be done by everyone is not to vote. As both major parties are controlled by the Establishment it doesn’t matter which wins

    • glenn_nl

      With all due respect, that has to be the most daft advice anyone could possibly offer. For at least a dozen reasons. The most obvious being, about half the population didn’t bother voting in the last few elections – and look where that has got us.

      “Don’t vote”, indeed, as if that would get The Establishment shaking in its boots. Could you please explain your logic here?

      As Tony Benn often said, people have died to bring us the right to vote. To fail to do so, is to besmirch their sacrifice.

      • zoot

        they shake even less in their boots when people actually vote for them. or is a vote for the Democratic Party somehow a blow against the establishment?

      • Lovely

        How can you vote for two brands of poisonous failed nonsense as Craig correctly pointed out? What is your suggestion? If a massive proportion of people did not vote or spoiled their votes in protest of course it would be a potential significant catalyst to change. People also died for your freedom as well as your vote so please don’t file it in the bin and then give yourself a pat on the back for supposedly doing the right thing.

      • Tom Welsh

        ‘“Don’t vote”, indeed, as if that would get The Establishment shaking in its boots. Could you please explain your logic here?’

        I can’t speak for Ruth, although I fully agree with her. The logic is about as simple as it could be. You say that half the eligible voters didn’t exercise their right to vote, and that had no effect. But what if no one at all voted? (Except of course for a hard core of stooges, relatives, etc.) Then it would be glaringly obvious that none of the voters have any confidence in the system of elections.

        “As Tony Benn often said, people have died to bring us the right to vote. To fail to do so, is to besmirch their sacrifice”.

        Like many things that “Tony Benn” (whom I still think of as Viscount Stansgate) said, that’s rubbish. He was a magnificent example of a very intelligent, highly educated person who could come out with fantastic nonsense that any ordinary working man would see through immediately.

        I rather doubt if anyone has “died to bring us the right to vote”. They may have fought for such rights, but no one sets out to die for any reason at all.

        Incidentally, everyone in the USSR had the right to vote – and was strongly encouraged (and somewhat “motivated”) to do so. But it was a bit pointless, because there was only one party to vote for.

        As Gore Vidal and countless others have pointed out, the “Western” system of “democracy” improves on the Soviet system by having TWO parties, both of which carry out essentially the same policies at the behest of the people who own them both. In his inimitable words,

        “There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party… and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt – until recently… and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties”.

        Or, as Julius Nyerere said it with even more biting wit, “The United States is also a one-party state, but with typical American extravagance, they have two of them”.

        Virtually the same applies to the “Conservative” (which isn’t) and “Labour” (which isn’t) parties in the UK. Which should I vote for if I want an end to the incessant campaigns of hatred against Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, etc. etc.? Which should I vote for to end the “carbon dioxide” nonsense? Or the “Covid” nonsense? Obviously, neither, because they are both firmly committed to doing nothing that is in the interests of the majority of voters. Their interests clash with the interests of the rich, you see. And the rich control everything. Wouldn’t you, if you were rich enough?

        If you prefer rigorous academic research,

        “By directly pitting the predictions of ideal-type theories against each other within a single statistical model (using a unique data set that includes imperfect but useful measures of the key independent variables for nearly two thousand policy issues), we have been able to produce some striking findings. One is the nearly total failure of “median voter” and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy…

        “Nor do organized interest groups substitute for direct citizen influence, by embodying citizens’ will and ensuring that their wishes prevail in the fashion postulated by theories of Majoritarian Pluralism. Interest groups do have substantial independent impacts on policy, and a few groups (particularly labor unions) represent average citizens’ views reasonably well. But the interest-group system as a whole does not. Overall, net interest-group alignments are not significantly related to the preferences of average citizens. The net alignments of the most influential, business-oriented groups are negatively related to the average citizen’s wishes…

        “What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it”.

        – Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/perspectives-on-politics/article/testing-theories-of-american-politics-elites-interest-groups-and-average-citizens/62327F513959D0A304D4893B382B992B/core-reader

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          Re: ‘no one sets out to die for any reason at all’

          I think you may mean that no one sets out to die for *no* reason at all, Tom, as about 1.5% of people die by suicide.

          On a related note, do you know the country that has (by far) the world’s highest suicide rate? The answer is Greenland – and, perhaps counterintuitively, far more of those suicides occur in its brief summers than in its long, dark winters.

          • Tom Welsh

            OK, you are right about suicides. What I meant, though, was that no one sets out to accomplish some idealistic goal by dying. There may be a few such people – Joan of Arc, etc. – but as General Patton remarked, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country”. That’s an oversimplification, but it’s dramatic and sounds good. And Patton did have a point.

            This is a rather large digression from my original contention; but surely human beings simply don’t belong in the extreme north and south where climatic conditions are hostile to us. Our ancestors evolved for millions of years in Africa, with what we would consider very hot temperatures most of the time, and masses of bright sunlight in the open or the treetops. Black and brown people coming straight from hot countries even to the UK are plunging themselves into a climate to which they are not very well adapted. There’s the chronic shortage of Vitamin D (also nitric oxide and various sulphates that are probably at least as important, according to Dr Stephenie Seneff and others) and so such people are likely to be chronically unhealthy. Physical ill-health is usually reflected in mental ill-health, or at least unhappiness.

            As I recall, people who live in the far north or south also tend to resort to alcohol – which brings further problems. As a species, I think we grossly underestimate our dependence on the environment (and often don’t really notice it’s there at all). When I was a kid, I was mad about space travel, but now it’s known that outer space is about the unhealthiest place you can go and survive (with luck). Even the lack of real gravity can be a killer.

          • deepgreen

            as usual you raise a few tricky points regarding what causes to die for. I dare say a sizeable number of people have died in their wish to assert the principle of having a vote. But surely the issue is related to some assessment of risk. I dare say the suffragettes who died in their campaign for votes for women had weighed up the risks and decided (informally or formally) that their possible death was a risk worth taking to achieve the desired outcome. Some choices are tantamount to suicide- such as exploring the ocean depths in a glorified tin can.

            Tom suggests that the elections held in the USSR were hollow affairs as there was but one party. I understand however that there was a choice of different party members for whatever position was on offer. As anyone knows who has contested for a position in one of our parties, there is great distinction made between the different candidates and the process can be brutal . Somehow we have arrived at a situation rather comparable to those party selections in the USSR.
            Mr. Markeir Starcher has managed to create a weird political chimera of himself and his assumed political hero.
            When I lived in the US I was amazed that the police chief was elected-as was the guy who ‘controlled’ weights and measures. Petrol pumps has stickers saying ‘certified by ‘Fred Savage’ the elected head of county weights and measures department. My Scottish sensibilities assumed that these roles were bound by objective quantitative criteria but only an elected official could be trusted to ensure fair play in the various counties that made up the political system in the US. But of course. The selection of a Chief Constable in Scotland is no less political – such functionaries are chosen by appointed office holders in some committee. The same applied to judges and various judicial appointments at the county level. It is difficult to compare systems but my inclination is that the system in US is less likely to have occult features.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply Tom. Alcohol consumption in Greenland is much reduced since the 70’s, and is now less per capita than Denmark, but the suicide rate has remained roughly the same. Most people in Greenland eat a fair bit of fish, so the problem is probably not lack of vitamin D (although more people are vegetarian/vegan these days, so it might be worth the Greenland government’s while trying to investigate their suicide victims’ diets).

            However, for people living at lower latitudes who don’t eat plenty of fish, taking 25 micrograms (1000 IU) of vitamin D per day in the form of supplements (particularly in winter) is likely to prevent several serious health problems later in life. Big pharma companies are aware of this, of course – that’s why they don’t want everybody else knowing about it, and get the doctors into whose lives they inveigle themselves – usually in the first week at med school – to repeat their as-long-as-you-eat-a-balanced-diet-there’s-no-need-for-supplements mantra ad nauseum.


            Thanks for your reply DG. I doubt whether the passengers on the Titan sub thought it would be a one-way trip. They probably thought they would be safer than Titanic director James Cameron since he went a lot deeper.

        • pretzelattack

          once again you confuse actual science (climatology) with ideology. you make some good points, i wish you would stop lumping in climate change skepticism with the good points.

          • Tom Welsh

            Yes, it’s annoying, isn’t it? I often get that same feeling of cognitive dissonance when someone I would like to admire makes a good point, but then blots his copybook by disagreeing with me about something else. There are a lot of complicated issues facing us all, and unfortunately many of them are a lot more complicated than they need be, because so many people have an interest in preventing the public from understanding them. For any topic to be reported as “pure science”, there must be no money, power, or prestige invested in it; and you will find very few of those.

            All I can say is that I try very hard not to develop any bees in my bonnet; I believe that truth is vital, and I seek it as best I can. Obviously, I will often be wrong regardless, and I appreciate being set right. As Alexander Pope said in his usual stylish way, “A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday”. On the other hand, I try not to let myself be bullied or frightened into changing my opinions.

            When I look at the case for anthropogenic global warming, I see mainly a lot of energetic efforts to persuade as many ordinary people as possible that it is happening and they are threatened by it. But the climate lobby doesn’t look like proper science, any more than the Covid lobby. In each case, there is a powerful element of self-enrichment and empire building. As Upton Sinclair most perceptively wrote over a century ago, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”. And there are a LOT of people whose salaries, reputations, and future hopes – not to mention their pensions, mortgages, and children’s education – depend on keeping the AGW bandwagon rolling.

            Here is a small selection from the evidence I have collected over the years. I don’t expect it to change anyone’s mind, but you might like to let some of it trickle gently over your synapses and see if anything happens.

            First of all, one of the most distinguished physicists and mathematicians who has ever lived: https://e360.yale.edu/features/freeman_dyson_takes_on_the_climate_establishment






          • pretzelattack

            the science started about 200 years ago, and was generally accepted, as it is now, in most countries, even in countries where the fossil fuel industry has a wealth of power and influence and money. then the fossil fuel industry decided not to listen to their own scientists, and launched a public relations campaign using the tobacco industry playbook, and now there is a lot of fake controversy. tellingly, the fossil fuel industry can’t bribe enough physicists and geologists and climatologists to produce fake reports pointing to some other cause of climate change, unlike the pharmaceutical industry’s success in bribing doctors and research scientists, which speaks to the integrity of this branch of science. propaganda works, as evidenced by the mindless support for the war in Ukraine in the US. it works for the notable and very rich arm of the war machine, the fossil fuel industry, as well.

            I live in the US, where large corporations have been amassing more and more power over the last few decades. this includes the fossil fuel industry. they are not helpless victims of a smear campaign by evil scientists.

          • Bayard

            “the science started about 200 years ago, ”
            It is not “the science”, it is not even science. Yes, there were the same false theories floating around 200 years ago, but they were as wrong then as they are now. “Climatology” is as much science as “Scientology” and it is about as much a religion as Scientology, too. Science, proper science, proceeds by the “scientific method”. This is that you observe the world, then you formulate a theory to explain some of the phenomena you observe. Then you set out to disprove your theory and invite others to try to disprove it, too. Theories are never confirmed, they only are not disproved. Eventually someone succeeds in disproving the theory and a new theory is formulated. That is how science and knowledge advances. Religions, however, take a difference course. The theory, the laws, the rules come first and are promulgated as being universal and unchangeable. Dissent and attempts to prove them wrong or false are strongly discouraged. People who dare to try to do so are called derogatory names or silenced, or both. In extreme cases such people are killed.
            Now which course is closest to that followed by “climate science”?

          • Bayard

            ” I don’t expect it to change anyone’s mind, but you might like to let some of it trickle gently over your synapses and see if anything happens.”

            Don’t hold your breath. You might as well expect results from trying to convince a confirmed atheist of the merits of Christianity, or vice versa.

          • pretzelattack

            you’re spectacularly wrong Bayard. there wasn’t a theory back then, frankly, you’re pulling all this out of an orifice. scientists all over the world disagree with you, in every country. and the fossil fuel company scientists told the companies the same thing that scientists working for the government or in academia or in other companies did. when the fossil fuel industry finally got around to backing a public study, as opposed to a public relations campaign, the study was highly embarassing to them. and they haven’t to my knowledge funded one since. while admitting in public that global warming is a problem, they still fund the doubt campaign. you can pretend, if you want, that some of the richest corporations in the world, with politicians and lawyers and scientists in pocket or on their staffs, are helpless to refute this, to you, obviously bogus science. or you could pretend that defense contractors, or Pfizer or other pharmaceutical giants are just the victims of bad publicity, but this flies in the face of reality.

          • Clark

            I’m an atheist, and I accept the merits of Christianity.

            That’s also what Freeman Dyson said in the transcript of an interview with him, the first of Tom Welsh’s link. I looked at the first five, and found no science to assess in any of them.

            You might at first think that Dyson’s talking science, but actually he’s purely opining; his scientific output are his published papers, and I think you’d agree that this interview is very different from such works. Scientific papers present evidence and reasoning in a structured manner so that they can be checked, assessed and challenged very specifically, whereas the interview consists of broad opinions sprinkled with didactic claims.

            I think Dyson is actually making the point that he doesn’t have to be serious outside of his field. If you don’t know, this is something academics do occasionally, and it usually annoys a few other academics. Note how he repeatedly insists that he’s not a climate expert, and even says he’s not really interested in climate science. He’s exercising, in fact demonstrating, his freedom of speech, which is something he lacks within his field. Within his field, what he says must be consistent with known reality, or he’d lose the credibility of his peers who could see he was talking nonsense and could tell us precisely how. Dyson can say whatever he wants about climate science because he’s not a climate scientist. He’s demonstrating why we should ask climate scientists if we want to know about climate. If we want to know about theoretical physics we should ask Dyson, because he wouldn’t get away with bullshitting within his own field. What do you think he’d say if asked, “Prof Dyson, is theoretical physics a scam? Have theoretical physicists systematically fabricated a counter-intuitive model of the subatomic realm just to attract funding and attention, and so they can pretend not to be acting all superior?”

            Regarding the OffGuardian link, that waffle sounds convincing until you think of looking at Earth from the distance of, say, Pluto. Then that little point of electromagnetic radiation clearly does have a spectrum which indicates a specific temperature, which I suppose is its average temperature. So the concept certainly isn’t meaningless. All the arm waving about how badly the measurements are done is completely without reference to any actual papers or discussion within the field, as if the author doesn’t know the field at all.

            The best in the lot was a link to one whole actual paper, but why not just link to it directly? Has anyone read it, or looked to see if it has been cited or discussed?

          • George Mc

            Clark: “that waffle sounds convincing until you think of looking at Earth from the distance of, say, Pluto.”

            Quite right. I’m standing on Pluto now and I can confirm.

      • Lovely

        We’ve already got extremists in power. Any constructive alternatives are welcome for discussion. However, repeating dogmatic mantras about needing to vote when there are only really nasty options is not helpful. In fact it’s likely these clingy attitudes of inaction are part of the reason why things are deteriorating so fast.

      • Johnny Conspiranoid

        “That’s how extremists get into power.”
        Extremists are already in power and all the other candidates are the same kind of extremists. How should we vote?

        • Pears Morgaine

          You guys. You wouldn’t know an extremist government if it kicked your door in at 3.am and made you ‘disappear’.

          • Xavi

            There is no need or reason for them to do that in Britain. The British have been among the most servile people on earth for centuries. Many outside radicals including Lenin, Marx and Engels have commented on the comparative passivity and servility of the British working class and labour movement and its reactionary nature. A lot of it is bound up with chauvinist imperialism and monarchism. James Connolly pointed out that any people who venerate royalty have a slavish and servile mentality and that the British were among the world’s worst in that regard. It’s a big reason why Labour MPs applauded when news of Connolly’s execution reached Parliament. There is simply no reason for the British establishment to kick in the doors of these sort of people and disappear them.

          • Tom Welsh

            Actually, Pears, I have lived under such governments in three different, widely separated, countries.

            Nowadays, however, extreme violence is understood to be unnecessary. Why make someone “disappear” into a dungeon or the grave, when all that is necessary is to deny him the oxygen of publicity? A journalist who writes for traditional media can easily be shut up by legal censorship, or – more practically – by a quiet word from Sir Humphrey over the sherry. (“On an entirely different topic, did you know that the Mastership of Alucard College will soon be vacant? The PM is having great difficulty in finding a suitable candidate…”)

            It is nearly 100 years since the journalist Hannon Swaffer declared that, “Freedom of the press in Britain means freedom to print such of the proprietor’s prejudices as the advertisers don’t object to”. Nowadays, in sharp contrast with the 1920s, the government’s wishes must also be taken into account.

            Better still is to leave the objectionable writer at liberty and simply discredit him. That has been done to Mr Assange, presumably as additional insurance in case he one day escapes from durance vile.

          • Lovely

            Mr Morgaine, you forget that there are different types of extremism, some more subtle than others. The subtle ones being more dangerous potentially in that they are much more tricky to identify and fight. Your own case proves our point. You are a frog about half way through your own boiling water experiment.

          • Pears Morgaine

            ” You are a frog about half way through your own boiling water experiment. ” Well that’s a rather tired old myth, I didn’t think anybody still believed it.

            Extremists have an ideology, an objective and a strict programme of how to achieve it. I’m not aware that any of our political parties are doing anything more than making it up as they go along.

          • Bayard

            “You wouldn’t know an extremist government if it kicked your door in at 3.am and made you ‘disappear’.”
            If the government had kicked my door in and made me disappear, how would you know that it had? Do you think they would tell anyone, let alone you?

          • Johnny Conspiranoid

            ” I didn’t think anybody still believed it.”
            Where are you getting your information from?

          • Xavi

            Pears Morgan, there is no longer an excuse for this in the third decade of the 21st century:
            “Extremists have an ideology, an objective and a strict programme of how to achieve it. I’m not aware that any of our political parties are doing anything more than making it up as they go along”.

            Such a statement these days can only be explained by pitiable ignorance or tedious dishonesty. The political parties of Great Britain are among the most ideologically hidebound on earth. More so than the Chinese Communist Party and certainly far stricter in adhering to their extremist ideology.

            WHat eXtremist iDeology?? The one your favourite commentators are still trying to pretend after four decades doesn’t exist – neoliberalism. Uncompromising political ideology of the rich. The ideology of austerity, rentierism, financialization, privatisation of public utilities and services, deregulation of big business, liberalization of “markets” like housing, healthcare, low tax, anti union.

            Or in TV/newspaper terminology, the moderate pragmatic political centreground. It is a political ideology whose hegemony has rendered Britain one of the most unequal countries in Europe and seen living standards there decline year on year for over a generation. Your political parties are certainly not “making it up as they go along” when they enact it. That describes only Sir Kid Starver when he was trying to seize back neoliberal control of the Labour party.

        • deepgreen

          The discourse started well but it has all become a bit ‘playgroundy’.

          A few posts back Tom Welsh provided a bunch of websites expressing climate scepticism.
          I manfully ploughed through them and am amazed by the revelations they provide, which is that the whole climate change is a fabricated belief system and in reality there is no such problem.
          I am grateful that Tom has managed to reveal climate change as a monumental worldwide hoax which has ‘taken in’ the huge generality of international scientific and much political opinion-all duped by dodgy players. The inundation of pacific islands is not worth worrying about- the continued collapse of polar ice sheets is not related to human activity apparently.
          So let me thank all the contributors here who have managed to reveal our stupidity by the power of obscurantism and contrarianism.
          I think the next stage is to ensure that all the big hitters in the UK have the opportunity to adjust their thinking by making them aware of the assembled thoughts here on the blog.

    • deepgreen

      It might work if an overwhelming majority registered their dissent by not voting but my experience suggests that the urge for conformity would prevail, especially when the media got involved. With widespread dissent MSM would become irrelevant – so there would be intense resistance from that quarter. The established political elements too would be mobilised to act/prevent such a direct challenge to authority.

    • pete

      Not daft advice Ruth, but difficult to get wide acceptance to such a proposal. The powers that be are only too keen to encourage voter apathy or to interpret it as a tacit acceptance of the status quo. Better to get a ‘non of the above’ option added to the voting papers, so the disapproval of the electorate can be measured. It is more urgent than ever, now that it is difficult to tell the difference between the two main UK parties.

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      “. As both major parties are controlled by the Establishment it doesn’t matter which wins”
      Or you could vote for a very small party as a protest. There aren’t many of them though.

  • Vita Fugit

    We in the West have long lived under a Democratic Dictatorship – the illusion of choice, but in reality nothing at all changes. The people who say, “I’m to the Right and I hate those Leftie Labours/Democrats!” or equally, “I’m to the left and I hate those fascist Tories/Republicans!” are all deluded fools, as it truly matters not which of those two imposters you vote for. As for those who call themselves “Centrists”, please god save us from them, the most deluded of all.
    You are correct, Democracy in the West is entirely broken. It would take a few French-style revolutions to fix it, but I fear the chains of control on all our lives are already too strong for us to unshackle ourselves, especially with our young folk being the most captured of all. I see very little cause for optimism in the coming decades.

  • Ben

    Is that really the same Cooper or a “Stepford Wives” model? Whatever you think of Cooper, and I used to like her, she used to be more convincing than in this performance. Has she brainwashed herself? She doesn’t look very happy with her current predicament.

  • iain

    Everything about politics in the West is a sham. We don’t have functioning democracies (just loads of neoliberal spivs), our environmental movement is corporate sponsored, and no-one in public life can mention the militaristic US neoFascist global empire (unless to praise it as the guiding light of kindness and goodness in the world). What a time to be alive.

  • AG

    naked capitalism today:

    Could Winning an Election Be the End of Keir Starmer?
    Posted on July 24, 2023 by Yves Smith

    “After Keir Starmer disgracefully pushed Jeremy Corbyn to Labour’s sidelines, the idea that Starmer might quickly crash and burn as a national leader seems an outcome sorely to be wished. Note, however that Richard Murphy warns today that the Tories might take some radical moves before their expected ouster, such as abolishing the inheritance tax. So the instability of UK politics does not look primed to deliver good outcomes to ordinary people.

    Text by Paul Rogers
    Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies in the Department of Peace Studies and International Relations at Bradford University, and an Honorary Fellow at the Joint Service Command and Staff College. He is openDemocracy’s international security correspondent. He is on Twitter at: @ProfPRogers. Originally published at openDemocracy”


    There are widespread, if largely anecdotal, suggestions that many of the former Labour Party members have not joined other parties but are active in non-party community-orientated politics. There are also signs of deep frustration with national party politics, at least across England, partly as a result of Labour’s shift rightwards.

    Of the many indications of these trends, two recent examples stand out. In the north-east, the popular if decidedly leftist politician Jamie Driscoll is the mayor of a local district, North of Tyne, but has not made the shortlist for selection as Labour candidate for a planned larger region, the North-East Mayoral Combined Authority. This has caused widespread anger among party members in the region.

    Driscoll has now resigned from Labour and is putting himself forward for election as an independent. Support has been impressive. As he put it earlier this week: “It’ll be tough going, against national parties with slick press offices. But when we launched a crowdfunder for the campaign yesterday, I said if we could raise £25,000 by the end of August, I would run. We’ve raised £75,000 in small donations in just one day. People believe in this campaign.”

    p.s. how is the sit. in Ireland btw?
    I was there as a kid with fond memories from times when artists allegedly still didn´t have to pay taxes

    • Bob (not OG)

      So what if anything is the end of Starmer after he wins the election? He’ll just be replaced by another clone who will continue the program.
      The point that has been made, emphatically, in the responses to Craig’s question is that there is no democracy.
      But that’s only the first (red) pill. You must finish the course, if you dare.
      After seeing that the people have no say in our precious ‘democracy’, look a little deeper. You’ll see that ‘progress’ is also an illusion. What has science actually given us? ‘Healthcare and longer lives’ you might reply, but is it really such a joy to live an extended life as a slave in a dystopian technocracy, bombarded by constant adverts and state propaganda, in a ‘culture’ that celebrates stupidity, shallowness and wealth? Where we think we control machines but in reality they control us? Surrounded by concrete and tarmac and ceaseless construction work? Where you can’t go for a walk without being subjected to deafening traffic noise and choking diesel fumes?
      All science has done is enable us to convert natural resources into products + pollution more efficiently. Oh, and don’t forget weapons, it’s made us great at making killing machines. How wonderful Einstein and Oppenheimer (recently celebrated in a new film) were. The mass murder at Hiroshima and Nagasaki would not have been possible without their genius. (Later they felt all guilty, LOL.)
      I don’t know the answer. Long term, it may involve the end of central goverment… local collectives that grow their own food, etc…
      Ulimately, we must stop relying on and trusting in the state, and so become more resllient. Anything else is a continuation of the machine / wealth pyramid.

      • AG

        I agree, it is in essence schizophrenia which e.g. you could observe in Israel until recently: Millions protesting to no avail.
        (Not to mention that the protests were about preserving the already proto-Fascist status quo, but even that seems too much to ask for.)

        So it is demented.

        (as to the nukes: Oppenheimer was responsible, Einstein declined any cooperation, just like Leo Szilard – which is funny since Szilard and Einstein were the two men who demanded FDR to start building the bomb in the first place.

        When it came to choosing the target the politicians/military eventually prevailed in a commission which had some scientists included for decorative purpose I guess. The original plan by Lawrence to drop the bomb onto a deserted island was considered irresponsible regarding the funds used for building it and of course “unwise” regarding Stalin.

        In fact a handful of scientists like Jo Rotblat quit Manhattan before it ended for moral reasons when in 1944 they were sure there was no German bomb. Those scientists are mostly unknown today.

        In Germany there were a few who declined to take part in the Nazi nuclear research knowing they would end up in the Wehrmacht and potentially sent to the front since no military exemption.

        Haven´t seen “Oppenheimer” yet, so I keep from political prejudice of the film.)

        Kevin Gosztola asking for financial support to carry on his reporting on Assange. I hope its ok I post it here:


        “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his legal team believe that Assange may be extradited to the United States before the end of summer.

        It is unfortunately time for us to prepare for court proceedings, and so far, you came through for us marvelously.

        I am so grateful to our readers for exceeding our goal of raising $1,000 to support my coverage of Assange’s U.S. court proceedings. You raised over $3,000.

        Now that we have plenty to cover the costs of traveling to Alexandria, Virginia, if Assange is arraigned, let’s build on this momentum and raise our goal to support our coverage going forward.”

      • Bayard

        “What has science actually given us? ‘Healthcare and longer lives’ you might reply, but is it really such a joy to live an extended life as a slave in a dystopian technocracy, bombarded by constant adverts and state propaganda, in a ‘culture’ that celebrates stupidity, shallowness and wealth?”
        Spend a week with toothache outside the reach of modern dentistry and painkillers and you might think differently about that.

        • Bob (not OG)

          “Spend a week with toothache outside the reach of modern dentistry and painkillers and you might think differently about that.”
          I just did and I don’t.

        • Tom Welsh

          Science and even the technology that is based on it are well and good. It’s the frantic pursuit of money and power that causes harm. A dentist applying modern medical and surgical techniques is a great blessing. It’s the huge self-serving financial empire that tends to grow up as a parasite of honest doctors, dentists, nurses and technicians that is the problem.

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      “In the north-east, the popular if decidedly leftist politician Jamie Driscoll ”
      The word ‘if’ in this sentence says that it is an anomaly for a leftist politician to be popular, but without providing any reason.
      Just wanted to say that.

      • vin_ot

        That’s Paul Rogers, NATO-supporting ‘peace studies’ professor and frequent foreign policy commentator on the BBC. I recently heard him explaining the Ukraine war to the Novara lot where he described the 2014 coup as an uprising and said Russia sabotaged its own gas pipelines last year ‘to remind people of other forms of unconventional war’ or somesuch. I have no doubt we will continue to see and hear much more of him.

        • AG

          @ both of you, yes.

          My intentions with the hyperlink were rather limited in intellectual scope, admittedly.

          @ MOD

          re: Szilard
          Thank you.

          (One of Sigmund Freud´s last students who had survived German concentration camp was named Szilagy. So both versions of the name exist.)

  • AG

    re: democracy

    far-fetched example but may be it will illustrate an important pattern.

    The news of a court deal with Hunter Biden came out this evening in Germany. No biggie naturally.

    It was a short text.

    And nothing of the “Burisma” case. Not even a name.

    Only the very last paragraph with a feint hint, no one could decipher if not well-versed in this matter:

    At the same time, Republican forces repeatedly use the charges against Biden to allege the president’s son’s alleged involvement in various international conspiracies. Observers suspect that Biden’s trial will again play a major public role in the race for the U.S. presidency. Incumbent President Joe Biden is vying for re-election in the upcoming November 2024 elections.

    Imagine Hunter Biden were the son of a Russian politician. (well, er, Putin…?)…

    The vocabulary: “alleged”, “Republican forces” (what on Earth is that? Star Wars?) “international conspiracies”.

    Any of these could have very well been formulated totally different: Assume, suspect, believe…members of the Republican Party…reporters… and of course no “conspiracy” but the “attempt to get a Ukrainian state attorney fired over a case of corruption”. Not to speak of Dad Biden´s possible involvement. (or is that already 100% proven?)

    As journalist Patrick Lawrence pointed out on Scheerpost last year: the fall of the House of Journalism and its foreign correspondents.

    People know so darn little about other places. It so easy to manipulate them. That´s how the Ukrainian mess came about. And Labour. And so on.

    Had Julian Assange been indicted not by a Swedish court but Italian may be, or Greek, or perhaps Belgian (seedy, “oriental” places; I don´t want to say Russia again) the press in other Western countries would have demanded his release and not bought into the rape thing.

    But since it was Sweden and the Swedes are all very nice people who have great social services, respect fo civil rights and a perfect social democracy and have been building cars like VOLVO it was unthinkable that it was in fact a corrupted hierarchy within the police and its legislatory force. Had they just read more Swedish crime novels.

    This is democracy. Or the lack of it.

    • Tatyana

      If Putin’s son was involved in pumping money out of, let it be, Mexico, directing this money into Putin’s pockets, and at the same time the Russian KGB, and intelligence, and the tax service, and all journalism would cover this story and whitewash the Family – then all people from the outside would look at these events with disgust, and all people inside the country would demand to remove Putin from his post, put him and his son in prison, and punish all those involved in covering up this story.
      But that would mean democracy in the sense that democracy is the rule of the people. And what we are now watching is the sort of democracy in the sense that democracy is the rule of the Democrats.

      • AG

        sry if you are the wrong person to ask:

        Do you (or anyone else here) happen to know recommended scholarship on the history of progressive gender politics in the (early) Soviet Union.

        I only know of personal accounts from literature where Russian artists lived in wild threesomes in the 1920s.

        I know from older generation Russians that the USSR was much freer in terms of sexual everyday life than what they had encountered in the US later in life.

        After all the Marxist origins were accompanied by corresponding calls for private progressive freedom.
        These were part of early programmatic policies but eventually eclipsed entirely by Stalin and his henchmen until the 1960s (?).

        But this is only piecemeal. I am looking for real studies.

        p.s. You know those rumours of Putin´s relationship in West Germany and his family when he was stationed here.
        Naturally these things are true for every secret service. But they never come up when it’s about CIA.

        MI-6 yes, cause that’s the crazy English. And half of those were gay anyway.

        • Tatyana

          What an unexpected question, AG! I don’t recall that there were any significant gender liberties. Of course gays existed, but they did not expose their relationship as the norm. You could meet openly gay people more often in the creative intelligentsia, this stratum was called “Bohemia” and their lifestyle “bohemian”. (Then the image of gypsies leading a free nomadic lifestyle was romanticized. Gypsies in Russia are Roma people.)
          After the anti-monarchist revolution, the Bolsheviks came to power and they tried to remove everything that enslaves a person. There were strong movements about gender equality, in the sense of feminism.
          Opposition to traditional marriage, or rather the strongly enslaved role of a married woman. Since traditional marriages were performed by the church (and religion basically promotes humility and submission to all sorts of “bosses” and also prohibits abortion), then religion, yes, also came under attack. So it was more feminism than something gender-related in the modern sense of the word.

          A society of radical nudists existed for about 2 years, or rather they called themselves “naturists”. They appeared naked in public places with self-presentation as “free children of the sun and air”, but this did not find wide support from the people.
          So morality remained traditional, with clothes and two sexes 🙂
          What was different is that women were given the right to marry of their choice, have abortions, receive wages on a par with men’s wages, and were able to fully support themselves. A big help was free medicine, free education and a network of kindergartens, including for the youngest babies. An enterprise, like a plant or a factory, built such kindergartens, with medical personnel, with their own kitchen, with strict control – children could be sent there literally from the age of two months. So mothers could continue their careers.
          I myself was born during the USSR and lived a little in that system. I wish it existed today. I have never met such a developed system of support for motherhood and such provision of child care. Summer camps at seaside resorts were especially good 🙂

          • Tatyana

            I reread it and decided to clarify about kindergartens for very young children – this meant not only a day stay, but, if necessary, a night stay too.
            I once was left there for the night. This was a fairly common practice for those parents who worked night shifts or had an urgency. The teacher collected from all classes those children who would stay overnight. We were fed, we played, we had a shower and a bedtime story, and we slept in the same beds where we had daytime sleep. It was quite an adventure!
            I also remember that there was delicious food there. The kindergarten were well supplied with products of the highest quality, and these were products and recipes made according to Soviet standards, especially high for baby food. All organic, well-balanced in nutrients and double checked in labs for quality. I still cook an omelet with peas and butter, like there.
            My father’s company provided ‘vouchers’ to seaside resorts, and I remember well my first time in the city of Anapa – a wonderful natural sandy beach with wide shallow water, as if purposely made for children’s recreation.
            I see much good in that life arrangement – if you get a qualification, then you have guaranteed employment. And if you are employed, then you have all the social guarantees.
            Even the most incapable person could learn a simple profession and get a job, which meant that his children would be looked after, fed and educated, and he himself would not die from a toothache due to the fact that he could not afford the service of a dentist.
            And then capitalism came, everything went into private hands and people went crazy.

          • Tom Welsh

            “I still cook an omelet with peas and butter, like there”.

            Delicious, Tatyana! Sometimes the simplest of dishes can be the best. Onions and garlic are also good; add some parboiled potato and you have a basic Spanish omelette. Nowadays I would like a glass of red wine with it – maybe an inky Malbec.

          • Tom Welsh

            It’s treating half truths as the whole truth that plays the devil. Certainly the desire to earn money can motivate people. But it should never be the only motive.

          • AG


            thx for the extensive response(s).

            There are certain issues, such as the history of progressive politics and demands for emancipation that have been at the core of the Bolshevik utopian project that are totally buried in history, some of which you mentioned.

            To point out a few detailed aspects from everyday life, that every citzien in the West could relate to, would be an important step.

            Marital law being one among those. Abortion. Labour rights.etc.

            (In the US it took until the 1975 SCOTUS ruling Taylor v. Louisiana I think to grant “full personhood to women granting them the right to serve on federal juries as peers.”)

            * * *
            I don´t watch TV. This 3 min. BBC item was linked in a German article.

            The BBC guy I dont know, Steve Rosenberg.

            The report needs no more comment.

            But THIS is the kind of reporting that pro-Russian commentators in the West like to use to prove how much backwards Russians are. Which gives us the moral responsibility to help “you guys” to become a modern state.

            In case you didn´t know.

            I assume they have never been to the arch-Catholic Bavarian country-side.

            p.s. In case you care:

            British video-blogger Alexander Mercouris in his daily video on some interesting diplomatic background regarding the war and about a piece of very shady reporting by the Moscow Times.

            Beginning at about 22:00. Personally I found it interesting, for about half an hour from there I think.


          • Tatyana

            Thank you, AG, most interesting! BBC needs some effort to watch, perhaps restricted in my country, but I know how 🙂

            Tom, frying onions with garlic, I think, is a feature of cuisines of southern countries. I noticed that this technique is often found in Asian and Eastern cuisines. We are used to separating onions and garlic. Here fried onions are combined with potatoes or cabbage, as well as added in almost all hot soups. And garlic is traditionally not fried, but is used raw, finely ground, for fatty pork meat recipes, or in sauces similar to pesto or aioli, for fresh vegetables.
            Now, to politics. I discovered today an article by Alexander Dougin on RIA, he speculates on what type of censorship should we develop in Russia! Wow!
            The person is little known here, mostly people know that his daughter Daria was blown up in her car by Ukrainian terrorist a year ago. Alexander is a professor of philosophy and is under sanctions. His views are classified as fascist, by some people. He himself claims that he is looking for a fourth system of political structure, in addition to fascism, socialism and liberalism. ( from what Wiki says about him, I personally think that he is testing one or the other on himself, joining different communities and joining political movements, studying them from the inside) This is such an interesting fusion of views, and undoubtedly rich experience, so just because of this I want to bring some passages from the article. I will deconstruct that piece, draw out the theses and arrange them in a logical order.

            – any society builds itself around a well-defined ideology
            – the bearers of the ruling ideology make laws, give their interpretation, monitor the application and the system of punishment
            – modern liberal ideology considers any collective identity, including race, gender, and even being a human (transhumanism), a free choice of an individual
            – for liberals, the classic opponents are those who recognize either a national (right) or class (left) collective identity
            – hence the persecution of supporters of the traditional family, patriots, supporters of any collectivist ideas
            – Liberalism builds its censorship policy on criticism, marginalization, demonization of any illiberal theories, value systems and practices, criminalizes them by removing everything connected with them from any information and network platforms, and then eliminates the bearers of illiberal views themselves. This is called “cancel culture”, “wokeism” and so on.
            – modern Western society is no different from other totalitarian regimes, be it communism or fascism

            Liberals – after all, they are the ideological hegemon! – are considered not just acceptable, but normative carriers of the dominant worldview. Liberals immediately place their enemies in the category of “fascists” (right) or “Stalinists” (left), and then their fate is unenviable. Today, the “deification of Zelensky”, empathy for the Ukrainian Nazis (who are “not Nazis” at all, since they are fighting for the liberal West against illiberal Russia) and obligatory Russophobia have been added to the universally mandatory set of liberal values.

            – our values are traditional: mercy, patriotism, family, unity, the primacy of the spiritual over the material, *justice – have little in common with liberalism
            – our society is in the civilizational conflict with the West
            – the issue of censorship and even repression becomes more and more urgent
            – at the moment there is a ban on criticizing the president, the army and the special military operation in public space
            – Foreign Agent status for liberal media is a step in the right direction
            – we need more
            – the presence of a liberal ideology is an alarm signal “Beware of liberal extremism!”. The case of the liberal terrorist Daria Trepova, who brutally murdered the military reporter Vladlen Tatarsky and maimed other peaceful and innocent people, is quite indicative
            – it is necessary to go beyond all three political ideologies of the European Modern Age (liberalism, communism and nationalism) and establish, on the basis of the fundamental values of our people and our state, our own authentic sovereign worldview. And then, starting from it, build our own strategy of censorship and repression.

            Well, friends, when I see ‘censorship and repression’ I strongly disagree. At the same time I uderstand that the state must have some. What I think is they should find a nice word to put instead the ‘censorship and repression’ first, then I’ll give it another thought.
            Another remark is on *justice. Here in Russia we understand the concept mostly in this way: justice is such a decision/action that the offended person feels no longer offended, feels fully compensated. How to know if they feel so? We check with ourselves, just put ourselves in their shoes and check if we were happy with this decision/action. So, the word describes feelings more, than it describes the law system. It really is so, and corresponds with another our concept, that a person and their inner world is more important than anything material. That is why we may easily live through poverty as far as we have humor, and good music, and nice people around. National mentality, sort of.

  • mark cutts

    Unfortunately the Labour Party has always viewed itself as a political bulwark against the ‘ excesses ‘ of ‘ rampant ‘ capitalism.

    A sort of political wing of The Citizen’s Advice Bureaux.

    Whether the parties are of the Communist or Democratic variety they both have the bad habit of ‘ Doing things for the people ‘ rather than allowing the people to do things with and for themselves.

    Because the people they are doing things for cannot be arsed doing things for themselves – then either way this is easy money.

    And here we are.

    So, in my opinion until the punters who moan at their losses blame the bent jockeys for their lack of success then the whole charade will continue until we try and ride the horses ourselves.

    And until (to continue the horse racing analogy) we take charge of the rigged odds and the bookies we will always lose – worldwide.

    I sort of like David Ike but as he says “There are 7 billion of us and only a few of them – so how come THEY run the show? “

  • Xavi

    Interesting listening to Ken Clarke on R4 this morning. The darling of British centrist liberals said he could not understand why Sir Tony Blair was in the Labour Party and that had any other Labour leader won in 1997 they would have repealed Thatcher’s legislation. He said Blair is a Thatcherite and is now back in charge of the Labour party.

    I’m sure much of this is feigned, and that Clarke fully understands British politics is a tightly controlled dictatorship of capital, and that the loyal Labour opposition merely play their role as the occasional understudy. With Corbyn safely gone the Clarkes, Davises and Stewarts can return to posturing as caring “One Nation” Conservatives, confident no British journalist is going to bring up their voting records on austerity, the hostile environment etc.

  • mikjall

    I haven’t read the 110 existing comments (read some, many quite good), so possibly this has been said before. But, while I really like this piece by Craig, it seems to me that someone as experienced and knowledgable as he—with a long, careerist’s view of how things work—come with this rather suprisingly late to the party. I have thought it screamingly obvious for a very long time that we are not living in societies that can be decribed as “democratic”. “Western liberal democracy” does not pass the laugh test. I’m not as sure as Craig is that we had anything deserving of the name from 1920 to 1990 either, but I agree with Craig that it has certainly gone steeply downhill from there. Those who think that we have to keep on voting for the kind of trashpots who are on offer—over, and over, and over again—astound me. It is true that not voting will perhaps not accomplish much; but do you really think that we should be endorsing those creatures by voting for them? If people stopped voting for the duopoly morons (duopolism is everywhere, not just in the UK and the US)—as apparently nearly happened in the Spanish elections of a few days ago—some exploitable panic might set in. Even more effective would be if everyone did vote for non-duopoly candidates: it hardly matters for whom. Perhaps some awful people would be voted into office, especially in “down ticket” elections; but so what? They would certainly not be worse than the duopoly trash, and they would not run in packs. And anyway the main objective must be to break the duopoly parties into tiny pieces and flush them down the drain rather than to “coalesce” around some third-party candidate. There would be time enough for that sort of thing later. Voters should stop hating one another and should turn their attention to despising and rejecting the people who are really destroying them. Are we smart enough to put and end to this s**t?

    • Tom Welsh

      “Those who think that we have to keep on voting for the kind of trashpots who are on offer—over, and over, and over again—astound me”.

      Exactly so. My position is, “I am not voting in this election because there is no candidate whom I would want to have any share in government. Let me know when there are some candidates who deserve my vote – or at least deserve that I consider their merits – and I shall think about voting”.

      For whom should I vote if I want the UK to stop waging war and seeking to harm other nations? If I don’t believe that human activities cause global warming? If I think that “Covid” was nothing worse than a bad flu and should have been dealt with the same way? If I am not prejudiced against anybody except the greedy and wicked, and I would like everyone to be treated fairly? If I believe that every person (with a tiny number of exceptions) is born either male or female – although they should be free to live in whatever way they wish once they are old enough to make such decisions? If I think that the people of each nation should be sovereign, and should never be enslaved by foreigners? If I consider Russia today to be a freer country than the USA or the UK, and think that China has made huge progress towards a freer, fairer, and wealthier society? And so on.

      • Tatyana

        Be careful with such statements, Tom. You express disagreement with the policy of your state. I know an example where people thought like that and you know what?
        At first they were told that they could pack their things and move to Russia – some chose to do so, while others refused to leave their land.
        Then they were denied the right to be full citizens of their own country, to somehow participate in the political process – they asked for help from the international community. The community pretended to resolve the conflict through diplomacy, but that was a lie.
        In reality, the opinions of those people were branded as harmful and dangerous, and semi-legal radical paramilitary groups were allowed to persecute them.
        Then the right to suppress was already fixed at the legislative level and – whoa! – now the state has a right to kill them legally!
        And you know what? All the most democratic democracies of this world convince you that everything is done right, in the name of freedom and democracy, and many close to you buy this story.

        Realistically though, a couple of old farts can’t die until they see their old enemy down, at any cost.

        So if you keep getting in their way with your outrageously dissident thoughts, those old farts might find a way to silence you Bless you with Holy Democratic Censorship (don’t confuse it with Satanic Totalitarian Censorship!)

        • Tatyana

          Ha ha, I bet right now some Witnesses of Russian Propaganda and other Crusaders of Democracy are grinding their brains, picking up arguments pro censorship 🙂

          Have your media published investigations into the Twitter files? The part where agents of the Ukrainian KGB submitted lists of users somewhere to the CIA or the FBI, and they, in turn, “put pressure” on social networks to block these accounts? The funniest part was when they blocked the official account of the US State Department in Russian language 🙂
          I followed this news, and the Ukrainian official said that the criterion for the lists was very simple – if something negative is written about Ukraine, then it must be deleted.

          Now I am no longer surprised seeing here and there some especially stubborn members of the Ukrainian Nazis Whithewashing Squad. Previously I used to think that people can’t be that blind and stupid, and then someone mentioned gold bars, and it made me think that blindness and stupidity pays well.
          I have my own criterion for deciding whether a principle is true or fake. Versatility. If a principle applies to everyone, without discrimination or privilege, then it is a true principle. Otherwise, this is not a principle, but a trick, hipocrisy for personal gain.
          You know, this war is forcing people to test their beliefs and to take sides. At the very beginning, when a beautiful young Ukrainian maiden asked Roger Waters to support Ukraine, I thought that I would be disappointed in yet another hero of mine. You know, crying innocent beauties is a very emotional appeal. But Mr. Waters remained true to the principles, he made effort to read and investigate and encouraged others to read and understand the situation, and not blindly believe the propaganda.
          Another hero, probably for my entire generation, is Mr. Elon Musk. I am glad that he is also true to his principles.
          And I hope that Mr. Murray will also never stop defending free speech for all.

          So, in my understanding, there are just people blindly repeating other people’s slogans. There are people who want to know more and make their informed opinion before taking a side. And there are heroes – people with universal human principles, who are not afraid to defend them.

      • deepgreen

        I read the link from your much revered physicist Freeman Dyson, but fandom in one sphere of activity is no basis for support in another. Clark made a pretty good argument debunking Dyson’s ideas in his response to your comments. I noted that the other links were to decidedly fringe blogsites.
        I too suggested there was absurdity in your contrarian view which by implication means that you are (in effect) saying that the climate change issue is a huge worldwide hoax, and apart from yourself and other ‘right’ (ie superior, not political) thinkers, there is nothing to concern us. Indeed Freeman Dyson makes the point that a warming world will have benefits- a trope propagated by the utterly discredited denialist religio-political institutes associated with major vested interests such as Exxon Mobil and political narcissists such as Nigel Lawson. or institutes funded by the Koch family.
        However I was struck by the news today that you have a fellow traveller in the form of Lord Frost (that intellectual giant of the Brexit campaign) who was reported as saying the same as Freeman Dyson – that there were ‘benefits’ to a warming climate that would offset the negative effects. It’s strange because one senses that you would not prefer to associate with a Tory dimwit clod like Frost.

        While I also recognise that the Guardian has ceased to be a reliable source on some matters it remains credible in some. Today there was an article explaining that the climate system, being hugely complex, does not not cause a linear effect from increased global temperature (its failure to provide a simplistic narrative is taken by denialists to undermine the body of evidence) but an unpredictable series of events which must be considered in their totality and in retrospect. See https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/07/why-scientists-are-using-the-word-scary-over-the-climate-crisis.
        It is very difficult to feel positive about the current situation in the UK. This AM the wrongly imprisoned person (stitched up by Greater Manchester police), when asked about his future, said that if at all possible it would not be in the UK, which has declined into an oppressive travesty of a progressive democracy. It clearly, by whatever means, has surrendered to xenophobic, vitriolic hyperbole with no meaningful way to resist. A closed political system with no productive political public discourse.

        • Bayard

          “saying that the climate change issue is a huge worldwide hoax, and apart from yourself and other ‘right’ (ie superior, not political) thinkers, there is nothing to concern us.”
          Climate change is a fact, and very few people deny this. The climate has always changed and always will change. That is why we are no longer living in an ice age. What is a hoax is the idea that we humans can do anything to stop it changing and that the change is caused by CO2. There is actually no physical mechanism whereby the latter could be true. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to concern us. We need to adapt to climate change and it would be best if we adapt to it proactively, with a clear understanding of the changes that are likely to occur, instead of reacting to totally overblown predictions of disaster.

  • James Chater

    I am also struck by your apparent indifference to Trump’s encouragement and suspected instigation of an insurrection.

    • zoot

      the insurrection instigated by Biden, Nuland and co in Kiev has proven to be infinitely more consequential. what’s more several of the instigators of that coup are exercising vastly more power today than they had in 2014.

      those are just objective facts. yet there is total indifference to them in respectable media and political circles.

      surely that is much more damning and unsettling than Craig failing to mention the inconsequential circus to which you refer?

      • pretzelattack

        thank you! it’s impossible to see how anybody that calls that farce in Washington an insurrection does it with a straight face.

    • Tom Welsh

      Thomas Jefferson not only believed, but openly declared that he hoped 30 years would never go by without a bloody revolution in the USA, his newly independent nation. Otherwise he did not see how the rulers could be discouraged from trampling the rest of the citizens under foot.

      Jefferson seems to have been right about that.

    • nevermind

      Insurrection can happen to the best of rogue rapacious states, even if they are appearing to be relevant.
      If one’s system has fostered inequality and a controlled skewed view of power structures and or judiciary within its society for near enough 100 years,

      with the population being pathologically divided into haves and have nots, powerful religious factions and a controlled media and security forces wielding large sway….. one must not be surprised that insurrection is the historic option of choice.
      Add to that billion/trillion-rich companies that like nothing better than pulling politicians and agendas on their strings, controlling us all.

      Just watched a beautiful sunset, it was quiet for nearly 5 minutes and two hares were feeding in the field. …..

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      “I am also struck by your apparent indifference to Trump’s encouragement and suspected instigation of an insurrection.”
      That would be because it wasn’t an insurrection and Trump didn’t encourage it.

  • Tom74

    And today we have front page stories about Farage’s bank accounts. A man who shouldn’t even be in public life after the debacle of Brexit – yet it is that bank chief who has had to resign, to have had the temerity to question his credentials. Look at the ‘progressive’ politicians and journalists falling over themselves telling us how abysmal the Tories, Sunak and Thatcher are but act like mice when it comes to Farage. Why are they all protecting Farage or at least ‘aiming off’? And why has there been minimal analysis of the failures of Brexit in our media, never mind accountability for those who quite plainly lied and failed?
    I would raise the possibility that there wasn’t actually a meaningful referendum in 2016 but a takeover of power. Those involved now fear the secrets that might come out if Farage were discredited for any reason. Hence the hysteria and fear in the media and government on what should have been a piffling story.

    • Tom Welsh

      “A man who shouldn’t even be in public life after the debacle of Brexit …”

      What a peculiarly distorted view of reality you must have. Nigel Farage led the Brexit movement, and helped those British people who did not wish to be ruled from Brussels to reassert the UK’s independence and sovereignty. And you call that a “debacle”…

      As for the first part of your sentence, it seems to imply that you don’t believe those who have different ideas from you should be allowed to participate in public life.

      You do understand what that makes you, don’t you?

    • Bayard

      Farage may have instigated Brexit, but it was the Tories who cocked it up. You sound like the child crying “now look what he’s made me do”.

      As for the first part of your sentence, it seems to imply that you believe it to be OK that those who have different ideas from you should be not allowed to have a bank account.

      In case you don’t understand what that makes you, it makes you a fascist.

  • Bob (not OG)

    Forget Farage for a moment – banks should not be closing or denying accounts to people based on their political views.
    The corporate world is totally woke / fascist. The corporations control of the politicians, other groups (BIS, WHO, WEF, plus secretive organisations like the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commision etc. etc. ad nauseam) control the corporate worldview.

    You can dislike Farage whilst apprehending the bigger picture. Once people are frozen out of banking because they have the ‘wrong’ views it’s another step towards dystopia. The same kind of processess will no doubt apply when CBDCs are rolled out…

  • David

    Not to defend Keir Starmer, but taxing dividends wouldn’t help anyone or anything.

    The problems in our society, especially poverty, are caused by control of capital resting in a small number of monopolistic hands. We are constantly offered a choice between two forms of monopoly:

    1. Fascism / crony capitalism system. Control is in the hands of a small number of men who control huge corporations and exert political power through bribery and blackmail of politicians.

    2. Socialism / communism system. Control is in the hands of a small number of politicians and bureaucrats who exert direct control of the capital.

    Under both systems, the same people (or types of people) reach the control positions. And therefore in both cases they wield the control primarily to benefit themselves.

    When you see a problem where one group of people steals from another, the solution is *NOT* to try and steal some back. This simply creates a society where all are stealing from all and civilization is eventually destroyed. We are well advanced in this process right now. And the solution is especially not to provide even more resources to the government (in this case dividend taxation) which is controlled by the very people you are trying to steal back from. I mean think about it. You want to get some money back from corporate overlords – money they have managed to steal through their control of the government. So your solution is to have the government raise taxation and you somehow expect that taxation to be used for the benefit of poor people – the very people that the government helped the fascist overlords to steal from in the first place. Well good luck with that.

    The only good solution is to reverse and prevent the first theft. Remove the overarching web of institutions and regulation which serves only to protect our fascist corporate/banker overlords from any competition, and provide them with the monopolies which allow them to extract rent from the rest of us and use the ill gotten gains to corrupt our government. Then watch the wealth disparity evaporate.

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      ” Remove the overarching web of institutions and regulation which serves only to protect our fascist corporate/banker overlords ”
      To do that you will have to organise in some way which effectively creates another state, which, as you say “Under both systems, the same people (or types of people) reach the control positions. And therefore in both cases they wield the control primarily to benefit themselves.” Or perhaps you can devise some third system which is neither of the above, otherwise you will just come back to where you started from. Perhaps we should have just stuck with hunting and gathering.

    • Bayard

      “Under both systems, the same people (or types of people) reach the control positions. And therefore in both cases they wield the control primarily to benefit themselves.”

      This is true of almost all organisations, that they end up being run for the benefit of their senior management. Football clubs, charities, amenity societies, businesses of all types, government local and national, religions etc. Man is an oligarchical animal.

  • AG

    3 new articles just from this morning in the latest issue of New Left Review:

    “Torture the Evidence”
    by Daniel Finn

    “Reflections On ‘Political Capitalism’”
    by Lola Seaton

    “In a probing response to Dylan Riley and Robert Brenner’s ‘Seven Theses on American Politics’, Lola Seaton interrogates the claim that a novel regime of accumulation has emerged from the long downturn and unravels the conjunctural complexities—political, economic, environmental, geo-political—at stake in the debate that has ensued.”

    “Condition Of Britain”
    by NLR Editors

    “Introducing the four pieces that follow, by Peter Wollen, Raymond Williams, Eric Hobsbawm and Ralph Miliband, commissioned by the Italian communist Giorgio Fanti for a special issue of Il contemporaneo on the state of Britain. Retranslated by NLR, they are published here for the first time in English.”

  • AG

    This blog entry at the top is asking:

    “Has Western Democracy Now Failed?”

    No one argued democracy had failed when the Arab spring was brutally suppressed.
    Or when South/Latin America were taken over by vicious dictatorships in the 60s 70s and 80s.
    Or when the Japanese occupied their Asian neighbours killing milllions.
    Or when the Spanish Civil War got a grass roots government destroyed in order to stop a good example from happening.

    The Global South, the upcoming new mulitpolar world order people have started to talk about, etc. that is due to democracy in the sense of the word it ought to be taken seriously.

    What might appear as the weakness of “Western democracy” is a result of the opposite.

    p.s. you could also argue that 30, 40 years ago, conspiracies like the “Labour Files” or “Russiagate” would have never been discovered in the first place.

    • Tatyana

      Any ideology is just the prevailing ideas in the minds of people. As long as your ideology brings profit to a critical number of members of society, you cannot say that it has failed.
      The same thing happened here, with communism. As long as this brought profit in the form of territorial acquisitions, the industrialization of the country and the growth of prosperity, then communism was supported. As soon as “growth” stopped and stagnation began, the ideology was rejected and we searched for other.

      I think in your case, you won’t change your set of beliefs until you become impoverished. By the way, preventing a possible logical error, the cause of impoverishment will not be democracy, but the cult of superiority, because of which you refuse to cooperate with other regions. And in this regard, you are much more stupid than the same Americans, who, of course, also suffer from the cult of their own superiority, but do not allow this to affect material, beneficial relations with completely totalitarian countries. Smart people, however, consider themselves the best example, but do not demand that other countries become their exact copy as a prerequisite for cooperation.

      Brought an interesting piece, AG, you may want to have a look

  • Robin John

    Such erudition and so clearly stated rather discourages one from entering into the polemic for fear of there being no point anymore!

    HOWEVER, forewarned is forearmed, and thereby hangs the tale of our predicament. Because when the ruthless begin to exceed their already extreme “legal” violence against my democracy, I will need to know what it’s all about, and so, in that way, I count.
    Thank you Craig.

  • Sidney Butler

    Democracy and Capitalism turned out to be incompatible
    Capitalists seek monopoly and domination. They extend this to politics, as a part of their profit making. Allowing this turned ‘democracy’ from ‘one person one vote’ to ‘one dollar one vote’. In other words, ‘democracy’ became ‘oligarchy’. Capitalism must at least be highly constrained with regard to democracy, to keep the power of money from dominating opinion and speech. And I am not sure at this point if that was ever possible. Failing the ability to control the power of money within a democracy, democracy is incompatible with capitalism.

  • Whodathunkit

    “We live in a post-democratic society. That is difficult to accept, but it is true.”

    Well its easy to see that there is indeed no democracy, And if there ever was it was probably just an accident of propaganda.
    Labour now firmly supports Zionism a la Starmer, who did a splendid job of removing those pesky moderate Jews.
    Onward and upwards eh!

    It came as some surprise to me that I’ve actually been secretly banned in the past 2 days for posting that people aught to rise up and take the whole Government to court for not being representative of the will of the people
    Seems that even the worst of the internet that is 4chan/ politically incorrect has an issue with that,
    I could have posted all day long that Jews need to be exterminated, or that a violent uprising is the way forward and its a certainty I would never have been banned
    But I choose to post about not doing that simply because it gives them fuel for the fire, and we all know how much they love fires and putting them out.

    Post apocalypse everyone’s going to be wearing boiler suits, I hope to hell I never run into a politician in a boiler suit, I’m pretty handy with a shovel, And since the ideal of democracy is now dead we can safely bury our politicians next to democracy, though I think they may protest it, if they could.

    Good job I’m just a stupid oik with a ruined dream or I might have even believed their shite.
    At least there’s an uptick in the drug supply in Scotland that’ll become invaluable in the preceding years.
    Never been so pissed off since Mr Smith made a long journey to give me a piece of his mind in Dysart Harbour ‘Scotland, best part of England’ Mr Smith? hows the grave doing?
    Mr Smith, I’ll miss your acerbic wit but certainly not your assertion of Scotland being filled with undeserving humans.

    “The wizard has been unmasked as the curtain is drawn back”

    Really enjoyed reading this Mr Murray.

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