Friday, 19 December 2008
And Justice for All...re-stated to kill the last story and reinstate this one
The Diogenes Club does not exist in a vacuumn and members are encouraged to make intelligence gathering forays into the world. We are supposed to bring back how things are or might be to our table for our mutual consideration.
We are not simple consumers of the news, in fact as you will have read, sometimes we make the news, or are or have been a part of it. However this experience has bought us close to the manufacture of the news, and it is perhaps time to contemplate the truth or otherwise of the possible orchestration of our discriminations.
The London School of Economics conference, “Under Siege: Islam, war and the media” combined a concern for better reporting with the diet of news and impressions we actually do get. So I attended.
Sceptical news gatherers and intelligent readers have long debated if we are being misled by the news machine over important matters of our time. I saw a documentary soon after the hue and cry over 9/11 that argued Al Queida didn’t actually exist. Not only that it didn’t exist in the wild, then anyway, but it was originally a data-base of sponsored anti communist freedom fighters bent to the mast of the US’s initially covert foreign policies. This is nothing new in history, by the way. But it might be misinformation.
My own library bought “Unholy Wars” by J K Cooley as a corrective to this view, indicating the threat was palpable, and real. Terrorism had adopted or created a self-perpetuating quality in our time whatever the name, that many on the ground had not for seen cascading from the Afghan adventure..
Yet the suspicion lingers here and there outside the mainstream press that the actus rea of handing a loaded gun to freedom fighters might have been a mens rea conspiracy all along. Or become a kite of convenience to fly when the time was ripe.
The neo-con adoption of this idea being allegedly to engineer a dissent that would coalesce the rest of the world against a common enemy…. via terrorism....with said terrorism becoming a scapegoat that would occasion perpetual measures to contain any sort of as it happens anti-western (read anti-capitalist) freedoms.
At the level of geo-politics it was a genie that was deliberately let out of the bottle. Or so the conspiracy theorists argue.
This assumes some cabal is orchestrating events, as historians know has happened in the past. Think of the murmurings about the Red Brigades and the Italian secret state. Think of the Italian film Illustrious Corpses. Think especially of
Romanzo Criminale. And think of the decades between those films. It is an idea that has considerable persistence, outside of the mainstream media at least.
Not surprisingly one speaker from the floor I think argued the scape-goating of the Jews in the last century under Nazi rule was clearly orchestrated for military and strategic ends.
It is a fact, borne of academia, that in the tabloids 96% of coverage since 2001 of Muslim affairs has been negative, and the LSE conference speakers claimed this carefully measured distortion of the real world is not just ‘ambient’ racism. It is orchestrated by the industry…the media industry for whatever reasons.
As one (not so dumb) blonde student argued, “we need to go higher.....”
Inayat Bunglawala, (present) of the Muslim Council of Britain, claimed this practice betrays a process clearly designed to marginalise Muslims, and was a recipe for driving people to extremes.
A representative of Indymedia from the floor asked an apparently rhetorical question, “was this orchestrated and if so, by whom?”
I should perhaps state at this point that I have seen the documentary “The Century of the Self” i.e. “The Engineering of Consent” about the history of the Public Relations industry and how it has been bent to the mast of American foreign policy in orchestrating popular conceptions. Perhaps you had better see it now. Here it is:
That was something I suggested everyone in a workshop on “Journalists and the “terror” laws” should see.
Jeremy Dear, the president of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) was chairing the debate, and he argued that the consequence of this coverage, of having a “war” on “terror” had come to mean that our freedoms, our civil liberties, our human rights, our privacy even was under threat.
Our emotions over extremism was dictating the discourse and was being driven by major media groups. At least , Jeremy Dear suggested, this directing our attention was for what he saw as “being for military and strategic ends”.
This is something other speakers debated, saying evidence for this was difficult to find.
At the end of the day, our blonde student went against this measured orthodoxy of the other speakers and argued that such orchestration did exist, and suggested the reason was that Islam was in a significant way a threat to Western capitalism, and the fight to suppress Communism so well documented by serious historians, could apply to secret state moves against Islam through state orchestrated Islamaphobia. Apparently some Muslims at least may not observe Western values and interests observed in ‘interest rates’, for example.
By the way, apparently the reactionary (?) Taliban have banned Teddy bears. This I do find easier to understand as a symbol of a different world-view.
It is hard not to be ethno-centric in finding such moves difficult to countenance. . It is just I have yet to hear an actual justification why Teddy Bears were added to the list of banned items, even if a BBC journalist was there when it was decided.
I for one would like to know why teddy bears are banned, even if I accept that the gift of a teddy bear can indicate a possible inappropriate love between two people?
It was not all plain speaking at the conference however.
Or do I mean conspiratorial thoughts writ large?
Nick Davies, BBC trainer of journalists and author of the devastating recent Flat Earth News, thought that this ideology of marginalising Muslim world views was the usual commercial news filter to do with meeting readers’ expectations. He saw no proof it was orchestrated by a minority group. Even if the result is that of maintaining a dominant ideology.
A leading Irish journalist, Eamonn McCann was speaking on the same platform, advised those present that whilst there undoubtedly was an ideology hostile to Islam, he saw no cabal directing it. However, he did remember Tony Blair saying once that his invasion of the Middle East was more to do with supporting moderate Islam against reactionary Islam, rather than the whole debate over weapons of Mass Destruction or Regime Change. This was an emphatic point of Eamon’s testimony.
From the floor someone from Global Vision 2000 said that especially now there was a financial meltdown in the West, his organisation was going to focus on there being a “usurious” military, industrial and financial cabal directing events, even if the speakers were playing this down.
A point was made about the oil price being fixed to the dollar having some influence or effect in all this, but I started to lose it at this point.
Nevertheless, dear reader, I am trying to bring you some of the flavour of the debate. To avoid otherwise inevitable parochialism. I do not intend to become a slave to Rupert Murdoch’s world view, if indeed he has one, and neither do I wish you to be tied to his mastheads which industry speakers felt beat to a different drum
There was considerable support for the view that the media has been reduced to a ‘slave’ status, of an anti-intellectual or anti-investigative culture in our media-houses and an inevitable recycling of uncritical second hand information supplied by an Edward Bernay’s like Public Relations Industry. At least the Diogenes club forgives the errors of high debate for the sake of what it might provoke. For The Diogenes Club is a kaleidoscope of experience before the world of opinions and ideas.
For journalists, it was pointed out, are victims to a terrible weakness in the experience they have of their editor’s or their reader’s world-views, never mind journalist’s own contracts, conditions of service and job security.
Sinister developments were suggested by workshop chair photojournalist Marc Vallee who specialises in photographing political protests. He produced a colleague (present) who had been stopped and searched about 28 times this year despite having spotless press credentials. And the cause, Sections 43 and 24 of the recent Terrorism Act.
It would be a little like a member of the Diogenes Club being shunned for his or her ignorance at a meeting. The Diogenes Club follows the principle of “instructive sympathy” not intimidation.
A man in the check shirt present was political photographer Marc Vallee, next to him was Mr Hicham Yezza, an Algerian-born researcher and downloader of the Al Queida training manual. (This is something he and I have both done, but he spent 6 days in jail for it until his liberty was recovered) The Guantanamo Human Rghts lawyer Louise Christian sat at the end next to Hicham Yezza’s own moderate magazine on political discourse.
This de facto harassment limiting research and news coverage happens regularly, said Marc, despite his own carrying around a letter from the Home Secretary that “there are no legal restrictions on photography in a public place…” with a plausible caveat currently disputed that some restrictions “may be justified in reasonable circumstances”
See for how crazy this can become:
Secret state researcher Tony Gosling (left) attended and interviewed one of the audience. See his website: www.bilderberg.org
He recently demonstrated his grasp of world affairs on Sky’s Channel 200.
Tony has another website www.public-interest.co.uk and maintains a constant presence in the world of intrigue as an independent public interest journalist. I must ask him about a man formerly from the CIA and a book on circuses in the USA that never got published. He has touched on many stories like that, but may not have been aware of his connections connections?
Various clear victims of state suspicion were present. Our researcher imprisoned for 6 days and questioned for 20 hours continuously (Hicham Yezza) had only looked at the Al Queida training manual online. Also there was a (7 year) former inmate of Guantanamo Bay speaking, (Inayat Bunglawala).
Your author himself has been a “victim” of state suspicion in the past, but thankfully ‘This is England’ and it has never come to anything.
Anyway a refreshing argument came to the fore. It was claimed that any repression, any over-reaction by the state or its organs, is likely to be counter productive, and exacerbate the situation. In fact this is a stated aim of the PPOG anti –terror group of the American state for solely military reasons. Please see
I wrote this up before at the end of this article:
I hope you agree with my sentiments. My point is that the US government is seeking to provoke or at least monitor reactions from extreme events to mop up dissent and establish presumably consent for the war on terror. This is as close I get to the charge of the state orchestrating negative news coverage, by the way.
But my perceptions are not those are not those of “the ‘Lyrical’ terrorist” who got into hot water for her poetry allowing for violence...in arguably a disproportionate way.
I might even sympathise with the non-violent but anti prevailing existing world order perspective as outlined by Global Vision 2000, if it is viable or vaiid.
Please note, I know nothing about this, it is an offer for you to pursue this link for the sake of completeness. My time is short and a lot of this is new to me. I am but a beach-hut man.
Anyway, why am I writing all this stuff about terrorism, Islam and the media? I have no monopoly on the truth, even if I am starting to see the coinage of our dissent and consent to be policed in this way.
The answer is that my freedom, to wander into London to listen to academics, activists, journalists and previously suspected terrorists on matters of topical concern, is only possible at a massive cost in surveillance and covert state supervision.
What do I mean by that? Well, I am no stranger to counter surveillance training, ( I downloaded that part of the Al Queida manual a few years ago, remember ~ before it was illegal presumably) The video cameras trained on the speakers on the platform periodically turned on the audience. I hope I am not betraying a practice that might be useful for terrorists to know ~ for that might be an offence. Some of the “usual suspects” I recognised from other media meetings seemed to clock the fact i clocked the roaming camera work, and as you can see from this article, I publish what I see. It is all on You Tube, by the way.
In a public place you might remember this is quite lawful. But we must get used to this. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. And hopefully exposure of anything untoward. For we live in a democracy where ideally debate is open, transparent and accountable. We need to be on top of events, and not permit abuses of our awareness of threats or our trust in the organs of the state.
The important thing is that if we now live in a global village, we do not want to be the ‘village idiot’, nor do we want our guardians to be idiots either. Nor do we want our organs of news to be missing anything …which currently, according to the BBC’s Nick Davies, they are, despite whatever honesty under his tutelage they can muster.
The lesson from the participants…all of them… was that the only defence for our liberties is to challenge, comment, report and if necessary expose abuses of our human rights.
And, for necessary balance, I should add that everyone in the conference hall at the LSE was reminded by one speaker that “whilst some of these powers are disproportionate to the risks, inciting, influencing, grooming or brainwashing a generation must be kept under review.
(But it is not just terrorists that would influence or brainwash us, as we have seen).
The speaker added the caveat no one wants to glorify terrorism or provide anything likely to be useful to terrorists”. Who was that speaker?
It was Louise Christian, lawyer to many (state legitimated) forced detainees at Guantanamo Bay. She was most concerned that laws are being passed where the perpetrator may not know that they are offending the new often disproportionate terror laws.
By way of example, after seeing an Algerian born researcher arrested for downloading the Al Queida manual, something I have done in part, I am a bit cautious about setting foot on foreign soil. In England I feel reassured our checks and balances remain proportionate. But I am hopeful to travel to Woodland Hills in Hollywood to authorise a screenplay for a film of the “World of Tim”
(my idea for a working title for my adventurous past).
Yet I fear that thanks to my touching on so many sensitive subjects in the last decade… and downloading the bit of the Al Queida manual .. just the bit on counter surveillance (thanks to my seeking any meaning or uses of the words “two blue seeds” and “twig” after these strange objects were prominently left in my beach hut after a break in after a bizzare episode in my life ) …my freedom to travel might be compromised in a hostile world.
As it is when I travel abroad a message flashes up on the (Condor Ferries) booking computer if I change my plans, saying “Inform UK CID”.
Not that I mind, it is better to be “looked over” and “known” than to be “overlooked” and then possibly maltreated through some misapprehension in the heat of a moment. I still regard the police as my friend and am anxious that I do not waste their time with my Quixotic researches.
If you think none of this matters, just listen to the world’s real news on the magazine programme Outlook on the BBC’s World Service at 3am and compare it with the diet you get for popular consumption in the more popular media. It is a dangerous world beyond my trivial orbit, limited influence and supposed understanding
I am proud to pay my licence fee, just for the World Service. It may be my only contribution to achieving some real mediation of the real world to us all. For I am limited in what I can see, hear and understand.
We all need an antidote, a corrective, to parochialism.
The BBC can and does provide it, you just need to be awake in the wee small hours, or make time to listen again when you can…for the sake of your own education, for ignorance is no defence against terrorism…from any source.
My money is on the blonde in the audience. Ironically, as the conference drew to a close, I heard one academic claim a certain student …”was not a particularly good student”…
I suspect they were referring to her negatively for in their view oversimplifying a subject for which they as lecturers had an absolute monopoly.
But she was no Dumb Blonde, and maybe, she was not a Muslim either, for as such (judging by a 96% negative press in the unthinking tabloids) she would almost certainly have been marginalised even further by those guardians of the truth that seemed to me to be talking of this forward creature only to dismiss her as a “poor student” .
I hate discrimination, I hate ignorance. I hate slavery. I hate racism I hate sexism, well, pretty much.
Did I say I hate violence.
But if you are a pantomime star, or maybe the heroine who fights for the downtrodden, Xena: Warrior Princess, please get in touch. Some female interest is apparently just the thing for the pipe-dream biography “The World of Tim”.
Even if for Xena” Warrior Princess, the quickest way to a man’s heart was through his ribcage. Ignoring that violence, we need to remember that for peace we should plan for war. But here I mean the war of ideas, for hearts and minds, or we will all be driven to extremes.
I like people who can put their finger on the nub of a problem. A sword, even a pantomime sword, is a very useful pointer in any theatre. Our blonde student, for me was only saying what the President of the National Union of Journalists had said. It was just that her point came at a lull in our thinking...we had been lulled into complacency and lazy thinking through advice the evidence for a cabal was not there. And other activists from the floor had been saying the same thing...we have had our views orchestrated for us by a dominant ideology.
Everything is a meme, struggling for survival.
So many academics have become apologists or consultants to the secret state there is currently a debate as to how far the LSE can be trusted to maintain academic freedoms. This is healthy. This is normal. For we must guard the good as well as the bad.
For a little diversion here look at what one determined researcher has discovered about the well-respected Columbia University in America.
My apologies to academe, the Taliban, and the Security Services I am an ignorant hut dweller, but happy to oblige anyone in discourse and not I hope compound any discourtesy if I have caused offence.
When I return to my tiny circumscribed world, beach hut or barrel, , I will be a bit happier that I can see behind the sensationalist headlines about radical Muslims. For they have a case.
The Diogenes Club has rarely intervened in the world, we have had a hundred years of secret state influence in the political agenda with, for example, communism. Witness P2 in Italy, P25 and was it P26 in Switzerland, never mind all the conventional history supporting this dominance where better documented or more transparent. The Diogenes Club may have had something to do in all of this, but certainly it has had little to say “on the record”. For we are not it would seem a “results driven” organisation with the urgency and agenda of, for example, the P organisations, and now the PPOG or the original (?) CIA.
But then that is the practice of diplomacy, is being a little like a politician, that is: sitting on the fence but keeping an ear to the ground on both sides at the same time. I prefer talking to fighting. Even if it is talking about fighting. In a pre-emptive sense perhaps.
For you can learn more about the world by the light of a candle than the intervention of a flash gun. Oh! that everyone thought so. And Oh! that we could settle our differences without fighting or committing any violence on the truths we encounter. The trouble is we keep encountering or maybe keep creating falsehoods.
Maybe the world should be run by truth seeking and truth establishing monks, not quite of this world, but for it.
For I like a little discipline. Discipline of thought that is. Of action sometimes. Of restraint., maybe. Or do we already have it? And if so, where?
Perhaps I should draw a veil over these bovine machinations. Or seek some leadership from famous figures or a movement of some kind. Yup. There has recently been a programme on The Universal Declaration of Human Rights . A shame the MediaWars people sought to ban one Revisionist Historian from speaking? What he said needed hearing.