Monday, 23 July 2012

More rogue violence from California police officers.

On July 21, in Anaheim, Orange County, California, the Anaheim police force assaulted a group of entirely peaceful and unassuming demonstrators with rubber bullet shotguns and attack dogs, as documented in the video below.


As the video title says, the victims of this brutal, pathological and provoked attack included women and infant children, such as a mother shot in the back by an officer while holding her baby.

And why were this small crowd of people compelled to make their forces heard on the streets of Anaheim? In objection to the cold-blooded killing of man in their community in dubious circumstance by a police officer; who will almost surely be acquitted or not held accountable for this casual homicide.

Such brutality is not limited to Orange County. Police forces throughout the state of California appear to have a traditional and routine protocol for extreme violence against any form of active political dissent. Whether this be the military-grade combat assault of an Occupy movement camp by the Oakland riot squad (who have trained and advised in cooperation with the security forces of the U.S.-supported regime in Bahrain), or the pepper-spraying of entirely non-resisting students protesting against tuition fees hikes and education cuts.

Another important aspect of the Anaheim brutality case in the fact that the police force attempted to buy (or bribe) the person who had filmed it, in clear attempt to evade any accountability or possible compromise for their mobility to engage in such assaults on local families or communities in the future. The fact that our states depend upon abject corruption and mercenary violence to detain and suppress objections to police statism and socioeconomic deprivation says more than anything about their commitment to their own systems of "democracy" and "justice".

Friday, 20 July 2012

No justice, no peace.

Within the span of a week, two families have been deprived of justice for a father, a husband and a son. After the thuggery and violence of state security forces have taken the lives of one of their loved ones, those responsible have been acquitted of any wrongdoing, despite even overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 

The first is the family of Jimmy Mubenga, who received this verdict on 17 July 2012, admit complaints of the private security firm G4S's inefficiency and failure to fulfill its state-funded contract to provide security for the Olympics in London, thereby nessecitating increased police statism and martial law from the public sector instead (and proving that neoliberal privatisation resulting in greater cost-effectiveness is a total fallacy). Failure on the security of the corporate and fascistic Olympic games is one thing, but the way the Mubenga was treated by G4S, and his family by the state and so-called justice system should invoke more moral outrage entirely. Those of who have been aware of G4S long before the Olympic security debacle are aware of the sheer cruelty and ethical dilapidation within its history and practices. Such as profiting from the enforcement of apartheid in South Africa, the detention centres and checkpoints of the Israeli government in Palestine, and the general treatment of asylum seekers in detention centres in Britain like animals, with many accounts of torture, assaults, verbal abuse and racism. In Jimmy Mubenga's case, he was restrained by G4S officers when being extradited to Angola. Passengers on the flight could hear his screams and complaints of being in pain and feeling as if endangered when being compressed on the floor by G4S guards. Though his cause of death is precisely unknown, the court somehow conveniently figured that the G4S officers in question had no responsibility in causing Jimmy Mubenga's death through their aggressive and abusive treatment and detainment of him.

On 19 July 2012 police officer Simon Harwood (who has a long history of brutal and aggressive behaviour) was acquitted of the manslaughter of Ian Tomilinson. The specific case in question was that Tomlinson was an innocent bystander during the London G20 protests in 2009,  who happened to be in the vicinity of Harwood's happily inflicted truncheon. Following this attack, Ian Tomlinson collapsed and died from a heart attack, as seen in the footage below. 


Just as in the case of Jimmy Mubenga, the state high court somehow came to the conclusion that the aggressive behaviour of the police officer in question had absolutely no relation to the medical trauma that Ian Tomlinson died from.

This diametrical confliction with basic rationality is a phenomena of injustice that is not at all in common, in context of no justice for police brutality victims and their families, or otherwise. This basic phenomena being that "independent" legal authorities, on behalf of state, police or corporate powers, will always go to the effort of making the application of accountable justice and transparency as flexible as possible, either through technical loopholes, or sheer lying and intentional failure to apply basic justice to them. They have what we can term a monopoly of truth. Whereby in an Orwellian fashion, they define reality according to their own accounts of reality, self-supplied or supplied from each self-serving authority to each other, which are then used in courts of law which undertake legal proceedings and investigations that are as farcical as any banana republic; which conclude decisions enforcing of all authoritarian power and evasion of responsibility, even when extremely clear evidence affirms the contrary of their constructed narratives, such as the footage of Harwood's baton strike in Tomlinson's case. 

One of the most fundamental imperatives of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions was opposition to the brutality of security forces. 

None of us should be delusional, and are not deceived, to think that a legal system without justice serving the moral corruption and violent ideologies of socioeconomic powers can be in anyway relied upon to fulfill justice. As in all contexts of power in the modern world, eroded fundamental freedoms can only be re-empowered through our own actions.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Politics, purpose and the enemies of joy

The discovery of the Higgs boson particle as the basis for all atomic structure in the universe by CERN in Geneva was confirmed on the anniversary of the 236th year of American independence. Like electricity and the double helix, the United States could have made one of humanity's major scientific advances of discovery, and much earlier. The precursor to the Large Hadron Collider was the Superconducting Super Collider in Waxahachie, Texas, which when established for building in 1991 was well on its way to doing so. At the same rate of LHC, the SSC would have discovered the Higgs boson at around the dawn of the new century.  But in the midst of development 1993, it was stopped dead in its tracks: after all of its funding was withdrawn by the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Congress at the time, and it failed to find a source of private finance. 


Nobody can really identify the basis for political authorities doing things like this. Perhaps only out of their sheer callousness and nihilism, culturally shared by their small-minded constituents. Or perhaps it was the priorities of public spending. We compare the roughly $2 billion cost of the LRC to the $683 billion or so of present yearly military spending by the United States government; the former being the equivalent of around 0.3% of the latter. Deactivating less than a few American weapons of mass destruction would have easily financed the equivalent of of the LHC or SSC, and all long-term scientific discovery consequentially entailing  immense benefit to humanity as a whole. It reminds us of Foucault's insistence of political engagement and actual opposition as being inherently necessary to assure human decency and facility of advancement. Or plainly as possible, the abandonment of such projects or advances are the result of nothing but sheer ignorance and pathology of these political powers, as well as in contradiction of the U.S. Constitution, which according to the intellectual ideals of those founding fathers such as Franklin and Jefferson promotion of "the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." Note the interchangeable respect for the practical sciences and creative arts, which brings me onto the origin of the term enemies of joy.


Chris Coltrane referred to the closure of a library by a Conservative Party council in this way:





Is there anything more callous or nihilistic than the closure of a library, when considering books as containing the sources of inspiration and knowledge of unimaginable importance? We recall of Carl Sagan, who wrote in his Cosmos of his passion for astrology and physics beginning in his childhood reading at a local New York library. And it is Sagan who reminded us that "the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries." We can also imagine a young Sagan being inspired by Ray Bradury, who is oft quoted on the matter: “You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” 


As torturer Agent O'Brien elaborates to Winston Smith in Orwell's dystopia, one of the primary motives of the enemies of love, knowledge and joy is the destruction of culture. Within this, an inherent drive of social engineering to cleanse and indoctrinate minds out of wonderment and individualistic cognition, whether developed in libraries or discovered at the LHC for the sake of knowledge and betterment, and into sheer servitude of bare existence. 

Friday, 6 July 2012

The destruction of the National Health Service could not be any clearer.

According to a man named Wayne Pontin, whose title is given as the chairman of the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (an assortment private for-profit healthcare companies), 'it will “not be long” before patients have to pay for primary care in the same way they pay for optical and dental services,' as a consequence of government-enforced frontline cuts to the NHS. Corporate manipulation and unethical, Non-Hippocratic behaviour towars paitents does already of course exist in the form of the "private finance iniatives" and other marketisations gradually introducted over years, including by the New Labour governments of the 1990s and 2000s. But primary care is of course the supply of universal healthcare in Britain that has existed since 1948, that provides healthcare as a right, and not as a commodity to be financially manipulated or deprived to any person. Being as clear as possible: the NHS is being systematically destroyed. It is being dismantled. It is being privatised by the coalition government, by Prime Minister David Cameron's Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, to implement the eventuality of health insurance provided by predatory and profiteering corporations at a fundamental determent to society and the health of patients; which as seen in the United States results in imaginable inhumanity and justice in the way in which patients are treated by their entirely abusive insurance providers.

Nye Bevan said that the NHS will exist so as long as there are folks good enough to fight for it. And now is truly the turning point to reclaim from the clutches of the lying Tory political forces and its mendacious corporatism.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

2008: a redux

Many of us rightfully react to the banking system's new criminality in the form of Barclays's rigging of LIBOR interest rates with profound disgust and infuriation. It is a rightful incredulity in this regard: that the banking system could continually engage in its corruption and abuse of consumers, including those within society suffering under the ideological austerity to pay for the £1 trillion bailout of their institutions during the financial crisis that they created. An extra £50 billion of free money is given to it by the state, while a charity reports a 200% influx of hungry children depending on it to avoid starvation.

In essence however, it is arguably no exception. Banks and other major corporations and financial institutions have been engaging in such practices for many years. It is a mere example of their systemic cyclical processes of criminality and financial abuse. A stand and anger against it inherently realizes the necessity for its fundamental deconstruction in favour of the economic system that society deserves. When it comes to preserving the wealth and economic control of the elite, political powers suddenly become very keen on generous Keynesian stimulus spending, which is essentially a continuation of the 2008 bailouts. The disaster of late capitalism is that it inherently must abandon its own ideological purity to maintain itself. It is certainly not free-market or laissez-faire: political agenda is economic crisis, with state forces as the apparatus of corporate socioeconomic control going to every length of preserve the vested interests of the system that is imploding in on itself multi-nationally.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Shostakovitch and art as subversion of totality




From his rise to cultural prominence in the mid-1920s, the compositions Dmitri Shostakovich were originally granted deep renown and honour by Joseph Stalin’s Soviet state. His first two symphonies were admired in particular, not just for their musical qualities, but for the affective gravitas they supplied to Soviet propaganda commemorating the tenth anniversary of Russian Revolution. In later seeking to fulfil his artistic vision, Shostakovich was uncompromising, and for this his latter compositions were severely attacked by critics; most of these critiques are known to have been guided and ordered via intimidation by Stalin directly. His descent into disfavour with the government began with his two operas, The Nose (1928) and Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and the ballet The Golden Age (1930). For his pioneering and determined rejection of the country’s conventional musical standards, such as in his use of the operatically satirical scherzo and instrumental passacaglia, they were famously attacked in the state newspaper Pravda in 1937 as “muddle instead of music”.  There is no coincidence that Shostakovich’s most negative reception corresponded to Joseph Stalin’s severity in totalitarian exertions.  Compared to most musicians composing triumphalist orchestral pieces to commemorate Stalin’s central role of victory in the aftermath of war, Shostakovich’s sombre and dissonant seventh, eighth and ninth symphonies instead expressed horror and grief in the face of both the tremendous loss of life in Stalin’s prior purges, and the war’s atrocities; the indistinguishable “mountains of corpses” seen in either the mass graves of Gulags or the trenches of Stalingrad. Essentially avant-garde in nature, they were strongly attacked as “repulsive” and “grotesque” for their “atonal” and “formalistic” qualities. It is important to put this cultural dissidence in greater contemporary context.  All Soviet artists were obliged to conform to traditional standards and styles defined by Soviet institutions. For example, graphic artists, painters and architects were expected to model their works upon isolated Soviet styles of realism and modernism.

Music in the Soviet Union is described as being “expected to be rousing simple, and tuneful, in order to demonstrate public happiness and allegiance to the state, and not to challenge or include dissonance”. Shostakovich’s deliberately experimental scores were in profound contrast to such expectations.   The notion of “tradition” in this case is a fairly exceptional one. Rather than precisely rebelling on a frontier against longstanding notions of artistic acceptability, Shostakovitch instead represented a form of opposition against the side of Stalin’s authority, which he was inspired to hold to account in synchronicity to the drastic and one-dimensional implementations of totalitarian ideology. It is accounted that many Soviets respected Stalin’s role in the war effort, even if resenting or despairing of existence under his rule. And though some benefited from his socioeconomically radical reforms and modifications to their society, the majority were obviously forced to deal with profound discord and strife. In official state-controlled media, these conflicting perspectives were simply ignored.   In conveying suffering experienced by the great proportion of people in Soviet society, as well of own life as in his fourth and fifth symphonies, Shostakovich boldly and dangerously refused to submit to these conventions. The chamber music and string quartet ensembles he favoured was important in this respect. The chamber form is described as being used by many composers “to give us the truest portraits of themselves, [and] their most intimate thought and feelings.” This emotional individualism and intellectual honesty was in great deviation from established propaganda narratives and patriotic collectivism. The third aspect of Shostakovich’s dissidence is elaborated in his disputed memoir Testimony, published by Solomon Volkov in 1979. His determination as an ethnographer to incorporate Jewish forms of folk music and poetry into to his work, such as in his String Quartet No. 2 and Piano Trio No.2, was strengthened through his stand against the anti-Semitic abuse, cultural oppression and genocide of Jews within the Soviet Union, such as the mass shooting of 400 Jews who were killed for being writers, artists and musicians that fostered Jewish culture in their work. As such pogroms of Soviet Jews were justified by to references them as “unpatriotic” and “rootless cosmopolitans” by Stalin’s regime, we can understand Shostakovich’s disobedience as being a just as “undesirable” influence against its power. In light of his Symphony No. 7 being smuggled out of the Soviet Union to Arturo Toscanini for interpretation as a score of solidarity with Jewish resistance in Western Europe, it provides understanding of the treatment of Soviet Jews as essentially differentiated from those in Nazi Germany. And beyond ethnic discrimination, Shostakovich’s music relates to the genocidal famine of the Holodomor just as it does the Holocaust. Shostakovich’s compositions inspired by Jewish musical styles such as the klemzer, expressed personal mourning of these events. Alongside his politically-charged protest, this could be considered as a simultaneous exertion of dissent, in terms of public and personal expression of such negative perspectives otherwise neglected by other artists. In conclusion, Shostakovich can be recognised as a dissident against Soviet totalitarianism in the cultural rather than usually political realm, but with the implications of this noncompliance to traditional expectations equally as a relevant to dissent within Soviet society as a whole. Even if the exact verifiability of Volkov’s Testimony is challenged, it was only until long after the end of Stalin’s rule that its directly articulated anti-Stalinism, in obvious contradiction to Stalin’s personality cult, could it be permitted for publication. In experiencing events of history as they occurred, Shostakovich strove to portray the sense of his reactions and objections to the occurring and increasing malevolence of the regime, and the sacrifices caused by the war, through the interpretative medium of music. Instead of the dissenting political speech entirely forbidden and punished with exile, purging or imprisonment. For this, numerous members of Shostakovitch own family were deported to Siberia and Central Asia. For coming to his defence following Pravda’s scathing article, friend and patron Mikhail Tukhachevsky was executed under Stalin’s order.   It perhaps this subtlety alone, aside his international standing, that spared Shostakovich from such a fate.  His distinction illustrates the importance of artistic expression in influencing, expressing and directing dissenting socio-political sentiments within an authoritarian society, which even under the ubiquity of a traditionally absolute power, has in the Lacanian sense the role via reflection and subtlety to challenge and inspire to do so indirectly. The extremity of such examples accentuates the importance of a sense of satire and creative expression generally.