And so this is Christmas, what have you done? The old year is over, a new one just begun.
Well, almost. I can’t alas, offer much in the bliss department this year, nor would you expect me to. I leave to others the bringing of glad tidings of great joy. As my flawed but brilliant teacher was given to saying: any fool can be happy; more important by far is being real.
No shortage of reality in these reads. We start with as venomous a piece of anti-semitism (the real McCoy) as ever was penned, packing into its mercifully short length a mix of hatred, non sequitur and – more widespread, this – confusion as to the true nature of capitalism.
We proceed to analysis of the election – yes, that one – and thence to heartfelt indictment of our rulers’ criminality in Syria. For afters we get a first hand account of what happens when an honest journalist working in mainstream media tries to tell the truth on matters critical to the interests and agendas of those same rulers.
All sitting comfortably? Then we will begin.
This being the nastiest of my December reads – of any reads, truth be told – I’ll get it out of the way first. Written by Andrew Joyce on the far right Occidental Observer site, what it says on the tin is a reliable guide to the poison within.
First a little basic logic. These things are broadly true: organised crime in Prohibition America was dominated by Irish and Sicilian gangs; Jews are overrepresented in finance capitalism.
But then, Irish and Sicilian Americans had the advantage that they could if so minded draw on covert traditions and organisational forms forged in resistance to colonial rule in Europe, and now eminently suited for the opportunities opened up by Prohibition and the American Dream.
For their part, Ashkenazi Jews are overrepresented in many areas favouring intelligence: finance capital, yes, but also media, science, arts and the Left (Marx, Trotsky and Luxemburg exemplify a wider trend). The mean IQ of Ashkenazis is 107-15 against 90-110 in the population at large.
So when we’re invited to conclude that Irish/Sicilian Americans are likely to be racketeers, Jews financiers, truth is being twisted by knaves to lay traps for fools. Even without those empirical explanations just given, if Group A is significantly overrepresented in a much smaller group, B, we may not (validly!) infer that B is significantly overrepresented in A.
That said, this piece unwittingly gives a decent summary of capitalism, albeit one suffused with a second confusion: failure to grasp that ‘vulture capitalism’, far from describing some deviant form of an otherwise sane and sensible organising of social relations for the purpose of wealth creation, is a tautology akin to ‘carnivorous tigers’ or ‘antisemitic nazis’.
What Jewish vultures engage in is not productive [but] greed-motivated parasitism on a perversely extravagant and highly nepotistic scale. Jewish enterprise — exploitative, inorganic, and attached to socio-political goals that have nothing to do with individual freedom and private property [is] the free enterprise Jews learn about — as illustrated in their extraordinary over-representation in all forms of financial exploitation and white collar crime. … Vulture capitalism is Jewish capitalism.
No, Mr Joyce. Vulture capitalism is determined not by peculiarities in the Jewish psyche but by capital’s intrinsic tendencies to monopoly, to imperialism and to the triumph of rentier (‘casino’) over industrial (‘productive’) capital. Vulture capitalism is advanced capitalism pure and simple.
Read 2: “Why Labour Lost”
My second read, by Alexander Mercouris in Consortium News, isn’t a barrel of laughs either. To those like me who argued that four years of vile slurs on Corbyn played a huge part in Labour’s defeat in the most important election since 1945, it says ‘yes, but this was not the sole cause’.
To those who blame the Brexit fudge, citing the facts that almost all English seats lost were in Leave-voting Northern and Midlands towns (Scotland was lost long before Corbyn) it says ‘yes, but Labour’s youth and metropolitan Remainer vote was equally vital, and could equally have jumped ship had Labour ignored its cries of alarm’.
(All the same, Mercouris points to Corbyn’s underestimation of the EU issue, compounded both by lack of political capital and of political nous. A cannier operator, he insists – Harold Wilson is his comparator – might have managed better the challenges of that perilous faultline on Brexit.)
To those who’ll brook no criticism of Corbyn it offers a defence of his integrity. Further, it notes an absolute and relative vote greater than Brown’s (2010) and Milliband’s (2015) while equalling Blair’s (2005). Most important of all, it pays homage to Corbyn’s throwing down the gauntlet to decades of tory-lite Labour, in which cynicism, demoralisation and impotent fury had been read by the Westminster Village as consent.
And with those who say the scale of defeat has been exaggerated by those desiring a swerve to the right, it concurs. Likewise with those who insist that political realities underpinning Blair’s successively shrinking majorities are gone forever.
The heartland vote can no longer be taken for granted, the way Blair and Campbell did when wooing the middle classes. As Brexit has at one and the same time reflected and exacerbated, Britain is a nation grievously divided.
The perspective is parliamentarian while mine is not. Yet of all the analyses I’ve read, and that’s a good many, this is the most thorough, nuanced, insightful and fair-minded.
Of the hundreds of pieces I’ve read, and scores I’ve written, on the West’s criminality in Syria – its scale matched by that of a propaganda blitzkreig that has painted black white and deceived millions labouring under the delusion they live in sound democracies underwritten by free, fair and honest media – this piece from Jan Oberg comes closest to capturing my sense of fear and outrage on what has been done to that country in the risible name of humanitarianism.
It opens like this …
The liberation of Eastern Aleppo took place 3 years and a few days ago – December 12, 2016. On December 12, 2012, Western countries and allies, perversely calling themselves ‘Friends of Syria’ , carried through a regime change by statement and set up a Syrian National Council of people never elected by anyone in Syria and told the world that it was, from now on, the only ‘legitimate representative of the Syrian people!’
During the 4 years, Western, Saudi, Turkish and the Gulf States supported innumerable illegal, destructive and mainly foreign terrorist groups with the goal to undermine the legitimate Syrian government and destabilise the country – as had been recommended by US ambassador William Roebuck in Damascus as far back as in 2006.
December 12, 2016, marked a fundamental turning point. Aleppo did not “fall to the dictator/butcher/mass murderer” aka President Bashar al-Assad – no, it was liberated and the occupation by terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Nusra during 4,5 years ended.
NATO Turkey had been singularly active in pillaging everything of value in Aleppo and its huge industrial zone, bringing it over to Turkey and converting money to weapons and training facilities for terror groups – a quite peculiar way to contribute to the US Global War on Terror: Like the US itself, Turkey did its utmost to support terrorism in Syria.
Also, Assad’s predicted genocide on his own people there and then – well, just didn’t happen.
I documented this historic moment of change and liberation of Syrians from occupation because I was there, one of the extremely few Westerners, and the only one from Scandinavia:
Six series with strong text and documentary photography – now seen by over 170,000 on the Internet – and lots of articles on The Transnational.
Regrettably, not one Western media wanted, or dared, publish any of it.
Aleppo was said to fall by the Western press. But what fell in Aleppo in December 2016 was: a) the regime change policy; b) the international war on Syria which is still, mostly and falsely, called a basically civil/domestic war, and c) the constructed Western media narrative filled with fiction, fake and – not the least, omission – omitted facts, history, complexities and perspectives including that of international law, voices, experts and argument.
… and goes on in the same vein.
Incidentally, as a keen photographer I can vouch for Jan Oberg’s splendid images of Syria. It was these – reminiscent of Steve McCurry’s iconic work from India, Iran, Cambodia and above all Afghanistan – that first caught my eye three years ago. Jan kindly allowed me to reproduce two of his photos from Aleppo in this post on the liberation of that city.
Here’s a bonus read. I’d had it down for my third and final choice before Jan Oberg came in, a week later, with his post of December 20. As it happens, Oberg cites in that piece the author – former Newsweek journalist Tareq Haddad – of this my fourth recommend.
The corruption of mainstream media informs both my second read (subverting meaningful democracy at home) and my third (abetting what Nuremberg declared the supreme war crime: the waging of aggressive war). It is a theme Mr Haddad is unusually well placed to illustrate from his own experience.
 On this logical error the sixties propaganda war on cannabis is also instructive. Most heroin users, we were told, start on cannabis. Does this mean cannabis users turn sooner or later to heroin? It might help to note that most heroin users also dabbled with milk before graduating to the hard stuff. (And that prohibition puts cannabis and heroin users in close proximity.)
 Joyce’s invoking of Jewish nepotism is laughable given the other clubs – Freemasons and Ivy League Frat Soc, Whites and Rotary Club, Eton and Bullingdon – in which the wheels of ‘free enterprise’ are greased.
 As I write this on Boxing Day, a bog-standard call for a return by Labour to ‘sensible’ policies appears in the Independent. I say, and not for the first time, there’s nothing sensible about trying to turn back the clock to an era whose defining psephological features have been swept aside by empirical refutation of ‘trickledown’ economics, and by the acceleration of neoliberal policies post 2008.
 I also recommend in this regard a Media Lens piece of December 19, The Arrogance of BBC News.